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The Record Roundup

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Omer Avital


Zamzama Records

Israeli bassist-oudist-composer-leader Avital has a new quintet—Qantar, made up of Ofri Nehemya (drums), Asaf Yuria (tenor and soprano sax), Alexander Levin (tenor sax) and Eden Ladin (keyboards). The group is based in Brooklyn and the song list ranges from memories of Israel, faith, immigration and riffs on New York’s ever-evolving cultural scene. The nine tracks offer a swinging, spicy blend of program, mood, and dance music, played with mindreading ensemble skill and verve. Middle Eastern jazz is a fermenting cultural and political frontier, and the crossovers made by guys like Avital should give us reason to hope.

– Bruce Collier

Cardi B

Invasion of Privacy


Following a slew of chart-topping singles and a long-time-coming rise to fame, Bronx-born rapper Cardi B has solidified herself as one of the most exciting voices in popular music with her debut album. Cardi B’s personality shines on the record, with blunt verses that display a masterful level of wit and craft. Invasion of Privacy boasts impressive collaborations, including songs with SZA, Kehlani, and 21 Savage. But the real thrill of this album lies in the power of Cardi B’s command, and the promise of what’s to come.

– Jane Morgan




Fort Walton Beach-based band combines reggae vibes with experimental rock flourishes. The surprise of the album is “Falling Bad,” which alternates between pop punk inspirations and the guitar tone most often associated with modern reggae. Punk and reggae have a longstanding relationship, and it’s admirable that Duende highlights it. For a coastal area, it’s surprising how few reggae projects dot our beaches. Thanks, Duende, for creating original tunes and prospering within the genre.

– Nikki Hedrick

Christopher Glynn and Roderick Williams

Schubert: Winter Journey

Signum Classics

Life got you too happy? Here’s the remedy. Pianist Glynn and baritone Williams have teamed up to render a full English language version of Franz Schubert’s Winterreise (“Winter Journey”), a set of musical interpretations of 24 poems by Wilhelm Muller. I first encountered Winterreise in a college course on classical music. It’s an almost lost form of chamber entertainment—a soloist and accompanist take the audience through a sad, romantic tale, via songs with titles like “Frozen Tears,” “Last Hope,” and “No Room at the Inn.” The unrelenting melancholy may hang heavy, but Schubert is always tasteful.

– Bruce Collier

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Live at KEXP!

Colemine Records

There aren’t many bands I instantly love, but Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio is one of them. There’s Lamarr on B-3, Jimmy James on guitar and David McGraw on drums. The Trio has been around since 2015. The three musicians revel in an almost supernaturally simpatico style. If you want an example of real musical conversation, look no further. The seven tracks (recorded live) offer blues, funk and jazz flights that make you want to get up and shake your groove thing. You can hear the heads bobbing and hips shaking when Lamarr says, “I’m gonna just shut up and play.”

– Bruce Collier


Closer to Death

Innerstrength Records

Machinist! is heavy, dark, and dazzling. With influences that bounce across metal subgenres, Closer to Death is the absolute best work from the band to date. They have crafted something that is ominous and atmospheric. This EP showcases their hardcore roots, and the band should be damned proud of the end result.

– Nikki Hedrick


The Triumphant JOURNEY EP

Hidden JEWEL Music Group

Pensacola’s Jamal STEELE comes at hip-hop with an old school mentality, built around personal introspection and R&B flavored samples. STEELE never disappoints—he always balances a conscious approach filled with messages of strength, and crafts music that’s truly fun to spin. He also lets his geek flag fly a bit with “Young T’Challa,” a song inspired by Marvel Comics’ Black Panther. I’m excited that STEELE is creating again, and I’ve been told this is just the beginning.

– Nikki Hedrick
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