The Record Roundup

Ralph Alessi

Imaginary Friends

ECM Records

San Francisco trumpeter and leader Ralph Alessi is joined by a non-imaginary foursome of colleagues—Ravi Coltrane (sax), Andy Milne (piano), Drew Gress (double bass) and Mark Ferber (drums). Labels like “avant garde” can put blinders on both musicians and listeners. Alessi and company sidestep that here. The quintet has discipline, musicianship, and showmanship. Each player brings formidable skills and deep concentration to the mix, stepping forward, then backward, always staying in the musical conversation. Some of it’s abstract, some (“Melee”) is actually kind of danceable. Alessi’s tone is generous and polished, and sings even in the off-kilter stuff.

– Bruce Collier

Casey Kearney

Somebody’s Favorite Song


Local songbird Kearney has done something that few locals have ever sought to accomplish and has done it in a skillful manner—she’s released an album of cover tunes. From most-requested to those that hold personal meaning to Kearney, she tackles much more than country standards here. With sterling production and out-of-the-box instrumentation, it’s more than an album of covers—it’s a fantastic vehicle to showcase Kearney’s enviable vocal range.

– Nikki Hedrick

Once Great Estate



Upon first listen, this Tallahassee-based group fits neatly into the Americana genre, with roots-based acoustic instrumentals and southern-fried vocals. But as you dive a little deeper into their four-song EP and hit the track “Devil Queen,” the swirling reverb introduces you to what the band deems Hillbilly Triphop—something warm, lightly electronic, nearly gothic, and damn original. The EP closes with “Captain,” its quicker tempo giving listeners a broader understanding of just what this band is capable of. And it’s quite a lot.

– Nikki Hedrick

Jennifer Pike

The Polish Violin


British violinist Jennifer Pike has been playing since the age of five. The Polish Violin is a tribute to her Polish ancestry, and her way of introducing four notable Polish composers (some not well-known outside Poland) to a wider audience. The composers are all drawn from approximately the same period of history (mid-to-late 19th century, early 20th). Half the pieces on the album are by Karol Szymanowski, a leading composer for violin and piano. Accompanied by pianist Petr Limonov, Pike tackles a variety of styles, from romantic to operatic to semi-modern progressive. Try a few of these for Valentine’s Day.

– Bruce Collier

The Spillers

4 Track Demo


Pensacola’s The Spillers are punk without any pomp. Need proof? Scroll to the bottom of their Bandcamp album page where they proudly state, “Recorded in a laundry room for no money.” This is no-frills, DIY music that’s unevenly volumed and creative as hell. Whether they write songs about one of Troma Entertainment’s biggest “hit” movies or do their part to further immortalize a piece of Pensacola punk history with an instrumental tune, this 10-song demo (yes, 10, not four as the album title suggests) nicely encapsulates the energy and heart of punk music.

– Nikki Hedrick

Jennifer Wharton



New York-based “low brass specialist” Jennifer Wharton is a documented team player. Her current gig is in the pit orchestra of King Kong: Alive on Broadway, one of many Broadway shows she’s worked on. She also has a formidable jazz ensemble resume. Bonegasm gives her the lead, but she still fronts a trombone foursome, plus piano, bass and drums. The tune list hints at her musical stage roots. There’s lots of razzle-dazzle, bawdy blues (e.g. “Big Long Slidin’ Thing”) and bouncy show music. The trombones get plenty of space here to flex and show their stuff. Embrace the ’bone.

– Bruce Collier – 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 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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