Count Basie Orchestra and Various Artists
All About That Basie
A batch of modern jazz artists pooled their talents on this, including Kurt Elling, Stevie Wonder, Jon Faddis, Joey DeFrancesco, Wycliffe Gordon, Take 6 and others. With the backing of the Count Basie Orchestra (at age 80, collectively still the Ultimate Sidemen), each artist takes a track and gives it a personal spin. Faddis covers “Tequila,” Stevie Wonder croons harmonica over a gentle, dignified-swing version of “My Cherie Amour,” and the Orchestra turns in one of the most unusual arrangements of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” you might ever hear. I never thought you could dance to that song. My mistake.
– Bruce Collier
Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
Love Is Here to Stay
In addition to Tony Bennett and Diana Krall, this album features the talents of the Bill Charlap Trio. At age 92, Bennett’s voice does not have its once back wall-hitting power, but his rhythm and mastery of a lyric are still strong, maybe even richer than before. Krall’s purring, intimately off-kilter voice and instinct for placing notes are ideal served up alongside the old pro. The playlist is all George and Ira Gershwin classics and standards, with equal parts joy and regret. “They Can’t Take That Away from Me” and “Fascinating Rhythm” are standouts. It’s low-key, close-up stuff, so lean in.
– Bruce Collier
Gershwin Reimagined: An American in London
Pianist Shelly Berg (and Trio) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra sat down together in London and produced Gershwin Reimagined. The album also features guest musicians Arturo Sandoval, Ledisi, and others. It’s described as a “sonically high-def contemporary treatment” of some of George and Ira’s greatest hits. The Gershwins come with a pretty long shelf life as it is, but there are fresh surprises here, such as a fiddle-piano version of “Fascinating Rhythm” that invokes vintage metropolitan Gershwin with a touch of Western Swing. This is a good example of how to spin classics with innovation and respect.
– Bruce Collier
T E E M I N G
30A Songwriters Festival alum serves up a new full-length of organic acoustic tunes. In our wild, fast-paced world, it’s always reassuring that music can be stripped down to the essentials and clearly express us at our most human. The quiet production and unique choices (the choir-like vocals on “If You Ask Me To,” for starters) make T E E M I N G feel vulnerable and intimate, like a secret shared between friends.
– Nikki Hedrick
If there was a litmus test to single out longtime locals here, one likely question would be, “Are you on a first name basis with the members of Duck Phat?” If your answer is no, don’t worry—it just means a few more parties in your future to the tune of southern music inspired by the deep bayous and Appalachian traditions. There’s so much fun and bright energy packed onto Big Phun that it requires an alternate spelling. It’s a wonderful thing that this album exists and will bring joy for many years to come.
– Nikki Hedrick
Ms. Mattea performed at the 30A Songwriters Festival in January, and I was amazed that the late-‘80s/early-‘90s country music hitmaker’s voice hadn’t seemed to diminish one whit. She continues to shine on this collection of timeless songs, including Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now.” I don’t know if Ms. Mattea wrote any of the others, but she certainly owns them all now.
– Chris Manson
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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