Kim Nazarian – Some Morning

Kim Nazarian - Some MorningKim Nazarian – Some Morning
Released – October 16, 2015

Recorded at sessions streatching from 2008 to 2014 – literally years in the making – this is Kim Nazarian’s first solo outing.  She breaks away from singing soprano as one of the founding members of New York Voices, that tight harmony group critic Scott Yanow calls “One of the best (and only) jazz vocal groups of the 1990s…”

The only question would be – what took so long? Riding the line between songbook, vaguely familiar, and original material, Trombonist (and husband) Jay Ashby masterfully arranges the album, recorded in so many places and at so many times, into a set that hangs together nicely.

Make no mistake, though – it’s Ms. Nazarian who’s inside that frame, and stunning, whether handling the sweet “Que Sera Sera,” a call/answer (with guitarist/vocalist) John Pizzarelli on Sunny Skylar’s “Gotta Be This Or That,” the poignant “What’ll I Do,” or intricate vocalese on Mr. Ashby’s original (and set closer), the great-big band “Road To Kursk.”

Kim Nazarian

“Que Sera Sera” was a family affair, featuring Greg Nazarian, Ms. Nazarian’s father, on saxophone.  Adding vocals is Ian Ashby, her son.  Brother-in-law, guitarist Marty Ashby, is featured on several tracks, with a nice solo on Cole Porter’s “So In Love.”

Ms. Nazarian says she hopes the project introduce her abilities as a lyricist and arranger, and will allow her opportunities to tour with her family. I’m not sure she really needs to prove anything further.  This outing is stunningly spot-on not only in its technical execution, but also in her ability to deftly interpret the diverse range of material.

The credits are lengthy, as the tracks were recorded at eight locations over that six-year period. Notables sitting in for a track or two include the aforementioned Mr. Pizzarelli, reed guy (and winner of 14 Grammys) Paquito D’Rivera, Gary Burton on vibes, and Sean Jones on Trumpet.

This set is very highly recommended.


Highlighted tracks were added to the playlist at radio.

Kristine Mills – BOSSAtoo

Kristine Mills - BOSSAtooKristine Mills – BOSSAtoo
(InkWell Publishing)

Released – October 9, 2015

Singer/songwriter Kristine Mills is no stranger to latin rhythms. The title, she says, doesn’t suggest a second album of bossa beats, but rather, the range of possibilities within the genre.

An award-winning songwriter, it’s no surprise that originals dominate this set, surrounding Sting’s “It’s Probably Me,” and a pair of Jobim classics – “Meditation,” and “Inutil Paisagem,” better known by its English title, “If You Never Come To Me.”

Kristine Mills

Regarding “Meditation” – Ms. Mills says she chose to interpret the lyrics not with a departing lover, but instead, “What if the lover in ‘Meditation’ wasn’t just going away, but passed away, and the surviving lover was singing this song at (the) funeral?”

The result is a beautifully unique and haunting rendition of a lyric you’ve heard countless times before – and to my thinking, easily scores as best track of the set.

Ms. Mills collaboration with Brian Spack leads to a pair of originals that stand out – a wistful “Silhouette,” and a remake of their own “Burden Of Choice,” with a sassy Bossa beat.

Surrounded by top-notch Brazilian talent – Klaus Mueller on Piano and arrangements, Itaiguara Brandão on guitar and bass; with the beat driven by drummer Porthino and Percussionist Rafael Barata, this sixth album from Kristine Mills is her best work yet, and is highly recommended. (Photography – Moris Malakoff)


Highlighted tracks will be added to the playlist at radio.

Joyce Moreno-Kenny Werner – Poesia

Joyce Moreno-Kenny Werner - PoesiaJoyce Moreno-Kenny Werner – Poesia (Pirouet)
Released – October 9, 2015

A baker’s dozen of gentle tracks from Joyce Moreno, an icon of Brazilian music, teamed in sparse arrangements with New York Pianist Kenny Werner. Ms. Moreno says, “We decided to go for…the most beautiful songs possible…with meaningful lyrics.”

While it’s a quiet set, there’s an undercurrent of joy and optimism, even in introspective tunes like Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time,” from the warmtime musical, “On The Town;” and Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile.”

It’s one of those times when I wish I spoke Portuguese, to appreciate the poetry of the lyrics.

Joyce Moreno - Photo by Leo Aversa

A gentle set for quiet times. Recommended.


Highlighted tracks have been added to the playlist at 62ndStreet Radio.  Photo of Ms. Moreno by Leo Aversa.

Linda Calise – La Vie~My Life

Linda Calise - La Vie~My LifeLinda Calise – La Vie~My Life
Released – July 28, 2015

Plenty of support for Linda Calise – from a ten-strong string section, backing vocalists, and a six-piece core band – but make no mistake, they’re there to put a frame around Ms. Calise’s delightful, versatile voice.

It’s a multi-genre set, from Phoebe Snow’s “Poetry Man,” to Scottish folk song, “The Water Is Wide,” to Edith Piaf’s signature song (and the title track), “La Vie en Rose,” a tribute to Ms. Calise’s mother, who died in 2009.

Whether the sweet and simple, “Dream A Little Dream,” or the more complex duet (with Ben Albert), “I Wish You Love,” Ms. Calise makes it all seem effortless.

A big band sound backs a powerful “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” my favorite from the disc.

This album is highly recommended.


Highlighted tracks have been added to the playlist at 62ndStreet Radio.

There’s a great video that goes with the title track:


Kim Nalley – Blues People

Kim Nalley - Blues PeopleKim Nalley – Blues People
Released – July 1, 2015

An impressive and eclectic collection of choices from Kim Nalley, who manages to make each one bend to her will – whether it’s “Movin’ On Up” (Yes – *that* one, from the television show), or the traditional “Amazing Grace.” Ms. Nalley’s command of these songs – her range, the emotion, is breathtaking – amplified by a sparse but powerful backing band. Tammy Hall is on piano and organ, showing off (in the very best way) her background in Texas churches.

But if every song tells a story, this is a story of the African American experience told through original compositions like “Ferguson Blues,” and “Big Hooded Black Man,” and the mainstream – Gershwin’s “Summertime,” and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”

Kim Nalley - Photo by Scott Chemis

The statements are strong, and command attention.

This disc is very highly recommended.


Highlighted tracks have been added to the playlist at 62ndStreet Radio.  Photo of Ms. Nalley by Scott Chemis.

Catina DeLuna / Lado B – Brazilian Project

Catina DeLuna - Brazilian ProjectCatina DeLuna – Brazilian Project
Released – September 4, 2015

Catina DeLuna’s group is named “Lado B,” with the translation from Portuguese as “Side B.” Anyone who’s listened to the flipside of a record and found a treasure there will get the sly name, and an album that focuses on some of the side streets of the Brazilian catalog. Ms DeLuna’s clear supple voice reminds me of the Lani Hall of the “Brazil ’66” days, effortlessly weaving melodies with words I wish I understood.

My ignorance does not take away from my appreciation of the album, nor the fine work of Otmaro Ruiz, as both a pianist and arranger, who manages to make “Garota de Ipanema” sound brand new, and the track “Estrella Azul” is also a favorite, floating above and alongside Larry Koonse on guitar.

Catina DeLuna

Make no mistake, this is a team effort – Ms. DeLuna’s instrument is that intimate voice she commands so well. But everyone shines on this set – Mr. Koonse on guitar, Edwin Livingston on bass and Aaron Serfaty on drums.

Highly recommended.


Highlighted tracks have been added to the playlist at 62ndStreet Radio.