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Amy Black

The Muscle Shoals Sessions

Reuben Records

This songbird tackles weighty music history and recruits a fine list of guest players to make sure the beats never miss a punch. Black digs deep into the Fame Studios catalog, shaking a little dust off some terrific gems to bring them into the present. She also slips in a few originals that stay on track, honoring the Muscle Shoals sound.

– Nikki Hedrick

Kent Blazy

New Songs from Old Guitars

Independent

Slinging plenty of country tunes for the likes of Garth Brooks, Blazy has his own slew of songs to show off. On the foot-stomping “One Way In” and heartfelt “Angel,” he showcases his ability as a proficient wordsmith and storyteller.

– Nikki Hedrick

The Cookers

The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart

Smoke Sessions Records

The Magnificent Seven of jazz, the Cookers’ veteran personnel reportedly have a collective 250 years of experience, having sat in with the likes of Lee Morgan, Art Blakey, Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock, to name literally only a few. Listening to their latest offers a subway ride back and forth over the ‘60s, ‘70s and later, making most of the stops. It’s head-down stuff, unashamedly improvisational, disciplined and proud of its ensemble ethic. It’s both nostalgic and fresh, and if some of it makes you think of Freddie Hubbard, or Sonny Rollins on Williamsburg Bridge, it’s probably no accident.

– Bruce Collier

Led Zeppelin

The Complete BBC Sessions

Rhino

Reissue of the 1997 two-disc set adds tracks that were once thought lost and only resurfaced thanks to the recordings of an ardent fan. The original songs—recorded in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s—and the add-ons have been painstakingly remastered under the guidance of Zep’s guiar god himself, Jimmy Page. Like vintage wood that’s had those splintery, rough edges sanded away, Page’s fine tuning brings out a delightful compilation that includes one tune previously unavailable on any Zep record (“Sunshine Woman”). There’s also a bounty of recognizable classics like “Dazed and Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Immigrant Song”…if you’ve ever wondered why this music continues to be played regularly (and enthusiastically) after nearly 50 years, here’s your answer.

Joni Williams

John Scofield

Country for Old Men

Impulse!

Jazz and country have always had some sort of connection, as Charlie Parker once observed, and guitarist Scofield makes good on that. One of the chief virtues of good jazz is its ability to colonize virtually any genre of music, pick its locks, then make something entirely new of it while still respecting its character. Scofield’s 12 tracks cover the good old good stuff like “Wildwood Flower” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” standing some tunes on their heads while keeping others more traditional. Think you hate country? Listen to this before deciding.

– Bruce Collier

Rottenfest 2016

Independent

Nineteen songs show what shapes the Tallahassee music festival. All flavors of DIY bands—punk, metal, noise—are represented here. It’s an unconventional mix of music, from furiously fast to hypnotically slow, but if you’re attracted to the musical fringes you might find a new-to-you band to champion.

– Nikki Hedrick
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