Jay Lawrence, et al.
Jazz Hang Records
Drummer Jay Lawrence draws unto himself bassist John Patitucci, trumpeter Terrell Stafford, pianist Renee Rosnes, tenor saxophonist Harry Allen and guitarists Anthony Wilson, Yotam Silberstein and Romero Lubambo for Sonic Paragon. At least three of this crew are noted soloists, so pulling them together required planning. The result is a mix—a very good sampling—of respective styles and ensemble pieces. There’s New Orleans (“Tchoupitoulas”), Cuban-ish (“Full Moon in Havana”) and bits and pieces of bop and cool jazz. All hands shine, but Lawrence, Rosnes and Allen are especially prominent, confidently trading back and forth. Good listening anytime.
– Bruce Collier
Coffee Every Morning
Local country darling Jessie Ritter—profiled in the Aug. 9-22 Beachcomber—is out to wow with her original tunes. With a light twang and modern lyrics about love and budding relationships, Ritter will likely win over any country fan. Her angrier take on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” may raise a few eyebrows, but the songbird revises the vibe and helps the classic song feel more contemporary. She’s backed by top-notch musicians, and the tracks are full of life and the occasional steel guitar.
– Nikki Hedrick
His distinctive voice seems seasoned by time and the jagged edges of life. Standouts here include the fast tempo-strut of “Jullian” and the four-minute instrumental “Down River,” which sounds ripe for a movie soundtrack. A friend to the region, Slim continues to build a following as a vivid storyteller. Roots music fans will appreciate the simple traditional percussion, and I’m pretty sure a washboard makes an appearance here and there as well. Although deeply connected to blues and southern soul, Slim plays to his strengths as an artist instead of being concerned with following some musty rulebook.
– Nikki Hedrick
Strunz & Farah
Tales of Two Guitars
Guitarists Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah teamed up with an array of side musicians on bass, flute, timbales, cajon, kamancheh (Iranian stringed instrument), santur (hammered dulcimer) and other instruments to produce Tales of Two Guitars. Strunz and Farah, respectively natives of Costa Rica and Iran, have been performing together since 1979, and have sat in with the likes of Miles Davis, Chick Corea, John Mayall and Ray Charles, among many others. The 13 compositions on this album are all originals. It’s heady, compelling stuff, flowing unselfishly among the players, freely sampling and interweaving Spanish and Middle Eastern scales and rhythms.
– Bruce Collier
The War and Treaty
Strong World Entertainment
If I could bet on a band to “make it” (whatever that currently means in the music industry), The War and Treaty would be at the top of my heap. Every year, there are always one or two lesser-known artists at the 30A Songwriters Festival that become all the buzz—the one that everyone says, “Make time to go see them. Trust me.” This year, it was The War and Treaty. Every outrageously big note on this album? They nail it live. Soul fans, blues fans…I honestly don’t care what you listen to, but give this band a shot. In a few years I’ll be telling you, “I told you so…” I mean, Emmylou Harris (who has a guest appearance on one song) loves them, and you should, too.
– Nikki Hedrick
Kobe-born, New York-based jazz pianist (and organist) Miki Yamanaka’s first full-length album is just the latest step for an already busy musician. Yamanaka has several regular gigs and residencies, tours, and doubles as both composer and educator. She’s accompanied here by a small combo of bass and percussion. The 10 tracks include some jazz and pop standards (“Monk’s Dream” and “For All We Know”), and fan fiction allusions (“A Fake Hero”). Yamanaka’s performance style combines generous measures of humor and reflection. There’s an air of improvisation, but the music remains precise and delicate—mature, sophisticated and under control.
– Bruce Collier
Pauseandplay.com – Since 1997, P&P has been the definitive place for music fans to find out when a new album is coming out. Also stay up on the latest reissues and music‑related DVD/Blu‑rays and books. Elton John says he uses Pauseandplay.com to keep track of new music, and Entertainment Weekly has included it on its list of “The 100 Greatest Web Sites,” one of only 17 music sites to be selected.
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