Joyce 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.
Linda 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.
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.”
Catina 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.
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.
Lorraine Feather – Flirting
With Disaster (Jazzed Media) Released – August 7, 2015
Never cover material, always originals from singer/lyricist Lorraine Feather, who adds Dave Grusin to her stable of collaborators on this eleventh album. It’s a set that (for me) needed multiple listens to not only get familiar with unfamiliar territory, but to begin to appreciate the intracacies of Ms. Feather’s handcrafted work.
That’s not new – I’ve been known to take a pass on revewing her work simply because it’s unfamiliar.
And that’s a shame, because I’ve come to appreciate her individual works months – sometimes longer – after they fall into my hands.
Not so this time.
Favorites here include the collaboration with Grusin – adding lyrics to his “Bossa Baroque,” re-titled now, “Wait For It.” I’m also smitten with the title tune, “Flirting With Disaster,” an instrumentally-complex showcase for the band that provides the musical frame for the emotion – love is always on the edge of trouble. Another favorite is the sly and funny “I’d Be Down With That.”
I’m sure others will catch my ear the more I listen.
UK jazz doyenne and Radio Two presenter Clare Teal has another honor to add to her name…Doctor Teal.
It’s an honorary degree from her alma mater – Ms. Teal graduated from the University of Wolverhampton with a degree in music, in 1994.
The ceremony was held on September 21. The University’s release says, “A celebrated live artist, Clare has performed around the world. A career pinnacle for her was producing, presenting and performing her own Prom during the 2014 Proms Season at the Royal Albert Hall. Clare, originally from Kildwick in North Yorkshire, has built a successful career as a broadcaster, presenting her own show on BBC Radio 2 featuring big band and swing music.”
On her blog, Ms. Teal says, “Walking in procession, all robed up, along with the genuinely clever people through the streets of Wolverhampton to the Grand Theatre was a wonderful experience. The Vice Chancellor presented me with my honorary doctorate of music for services to live performance and broadcasting and put a floppy black velvet hat on my head complete with jaunty gold tassel.”