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Omer Avital

Abutbul Music

Jazz VIllage

Israeli-American jazz bassist, oudist, composer and leader Avital has recently released Abutbul Music, and the poor guy is currently touring France and the Netherlands. Some of the best jazz there is to hear today is coming out of the Middle East, and Avital makes maximum use of having his musical feet in two distinct cultures. The 12-track album (which includes three bonus tunes) will keep you guessing, hopping from cool-as-it gets stuff like “Bed-Stuy” to dancey Middle Eastern-flavored funk (“Eser”) to reflective fare like “Zohar Smiles.” It’s an education, but you won’t regret auditing at the School of Avital.

– Bruce Collier

Joe Bonamassa

Blues of Depression

J&R Adventures

Blues? Rock? It’s a mighty thin line, even without the help of Bonamassa. The genre lies mostly in the ears of the listener. If you have a deep hankering for music that’s soulful and more akin to classic rock than modern ideations, this album will be far from a depressing experience.

– Nikki Hedrick

Will Hoge

Solo & Live: December 2015

Cumberland Recordings

From one of Nashville’s ballsiest, a concert recording that does what any great one should—makes you wish you’d been at the gig and sends you scrambling for the artist’s earlier stuff. The versions of “The Times They Are Not Changin’” and “Jesus Came to Tennessee” (from Hoge’s great Modern Day Protest Music) are definitive, and “Still a Southern Man” may be the song of the year. if you’re a fan, you’ll love this. If you’re not a fan, this set will make you one.

– Chris Manson

Hollow Leg

Crown

hollowleg666.bandcamp.com

Swampy doom metal born right here in the Sunshine State. Hollow Leg are sludge mavens. With its snarled-growl vocal and wall of warm guitar tone, Crown is a perfectly executed return for the band. Sonically, it isn’t just a wall of noise—the airiness of the tempo creates addictive grooves that will keep fans coming back for more.

– Nikki Hedrick

Iggy Pop

Post Pop Depression

Loma Vista Recordings

If you’ve never been a Queens of the Stone Age fan, this album might be a tough sell, as it has their signature sound stamped across it. And for good reason. QOTSA frontman Josh Homme produced and co-wrote the album. With that said, it waffles on the absurd at times and is hauntingly existential at others. The feat is Iggy keeps you guessing as to which is really which. Post Pop Depression proves there’s never a wrong time for a meaningful songwriting collaboration.

– Nikki Hedrick

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra

The Abyssinian Mass

Blue Engine

Wynton Marsalis was commissioned to write a piece commemorating the 200th anniversary of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church. The Abyssinian Mass is scored for big band and Damien Sneed’s 70-piece gospel Chorale Le Chateau. The 23 movements—”Devotional” through “Amen”—do not track a traditional mass, instead following African American Christian worship services, including preaching, call-and-response, and praying in the spirit. Its broad, Ellingtonian character perfectly suits Marsalis’ ornate sense of theatricality and showmanship, and it’s a swinging epic companion to his In This House, On This Morning and Congo Square. If you like your Wynton Grande, you’ll like this.

– Bruce Collier

Parker Millsap

The Very Last Day

Oklahoma Records

Young Millsap seems to have an old soul, and a mighty soulful one at that. Pulling from all flavors of roots music—including true grit country and southern gospel—he’s landed on a sound both refreshingly new and as traditional as buttermilk biscuits. “Hades Please” is my favorite tune, encompassing Millsap’s fire as a captivating frontman.

– Nikki Hedrick

Margo Price

Midwest Farmer’s Daughter

Third Man Records

All hail the new Queen of Country. Miranda, Kacey, Brandy, Angaleena, Ashley and the rest of ‘em are gonna have to work a helluva lot harder now.

– Chris Manson
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