Maxophone, from Milan, formed in 1973 as a six-piece with an unusual assortment of instruments, due to their past experience as music students. It is a very special deluxe box set including a CD with 10 vintage tracks recovered from outtakes and alternate demo material from 1973-1975 (4 tracks are unreleased), plus a DVD with Maxophone live footage from a 1976 concert at RAI studios in Torino (RAI is the Italian national TV broadcasting company). All recordings have been carefully remastered: The songs on the CD were recorded on 4-tracks equipment. The DVD footage was professionally filmed by Italian TV in 1976, and has a bonus video track of Maxophone re-formed in 2005, playing one live track at Radio Popolare studios in Milano. The DVD also includes bonus features, such as interviews with group members.
On The Blue Room, her second Decca recording, Madeleine Peyroux and producer Larry Klein re-examine the influence of Ray Charles' revolutionary 1962 date, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. They don't try to re-create the album, but remake some of its songs and include others by composers whose work would benefit from the genre-blurring treatment Charles pioneered. Bassist David Pilch, drummer Jay Bellerose, guitarist Dean Parks, and pianist/organist Larry Goldings are the perfect collaborators. Most these ten tracks feature string arrangements by Vince Mendoza. Five tunes here are reinterpretations of Charles' from MSICAWM. "Take These Chains" commences as a sultry jazz tune, and in Peyroux's vocal, there is no supplication – only a demand. Parks' pedal steel moves between sounding like itself and a clarinet. Goldings' alternating B-3 and Rhodes piano offer wonderful color contrast and make it swing. Her take on "Bye Bye Love" feels as if it's being narrated to a confidante, and juxtaposes early Western swing with a bluesy stroll. A rock guitar introduces "I Can't Stop Loving You," but Peyroux's phrasing has more country-blues in it than we've heard from her before. The use of a trumpet in "Born to Lose" and "You Don't Know Me," with Mendoza's dreamy strings, allow for Peyroux to deliver her most stylized jazz performances on the set.
For only the second time in her career, jazz pianist and vocalist Diana Krall deviates from her tried, true m.o. of covering easily identifiable jazz standards. On Glad Rag Doll she teams with producer T-Bone Burnett and his stable of studio aces. Here the two-time Grammy winner covers mostly vaudeville and jazz tunes written in the 1920s and '30s, some relatively obscure. Most of the music here is from her father's collection of 78-rpm records. Krall picked 35 tunes from that music library and gave sheet music to Burnett. He didn't reveal his final selections until they got into the studio. Given their origins, these songs remove the sheen of detached cool that is one of Krall's vocal trademarks. Check the speakeasy feel on opener "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye," with Marc Ribot's airy chords, Jay Bellerose's loose shuffle, and Dennis Crouch's strolling upright bass. Krall's vocal actually seems to express delight in this loose and informal proceeding – though her piano playing is, as usual, tight, top-notch.
Bossa nova is not unfamiliar to Diana Krall, but 2009's Quiet Nights is her first record devoted to the gently swaying rhythm. Teaming up again with arranger Claus Ogerman, who last worked with Krall on 2001's The Look of Love and who also frequently collaborated with bossa nova godfather Antonio Carlos Jobim, Krall winds up with a mellow, lazy album that recalls the relaxed late-night sophistication of Jobim's duet album with Frank Sinatra, which Ogerman also happened to arrange and conduct. It's not just the sound, it's the songs: how '60s standards like Bacharach/David's "Walk on By" sit next to three Jobim tunes, a song by Marcos Valle ("So Nice"), and a few American Songbook standards placed at the beginning, the better to ease listeners into purer bossa nova at the end.
Snarky Puppy Duo Releases Thrilling Debut Album As Ghost-Note. If someone asked another to identify Ghost-Note within a genre, one would have trouble coming up with a good answer. The brainchild of Robert “Sput” Searight and Nate Werth has been capturing the attention of Snarky Puppy fanatics for a while now, but their debut album, Fortified, is a game changer that deserves recognition from all types of music-lovers. Immediately blasting to the #1 spot on the iTunes jazz chart upon release, Fortified is more than just a percussionist’s wildest dream, it’s a collaboration of world-class players featuring 18 of today’s rising musicians in Shaun Martin, N’Dambi, Mark Lettieri, Caleb McCampbell, Jason “JT” Thomas, RSVP, Nick Werth, Cleon Edwards, Taron Lockett, Marcelo Woloski, Wes Stephenson, Bob Lanzetti, A.J. Brown, Frank Moka, Ben Bohorquez, and Sylvester Onyejiaka.