Diana Krall, Patricia Barber, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Karrin Allyson, Tierney Sutton, Brad Mehldau, Chris Potter, Ben Allison, Jason Moran, and Charles Lloyd

Jazz Sides

Phases and Stages

GVSB

The fall deluge of jazz releases is upon us, highlighted by an especially strong crop of female vocal albums. Reigning songstress Diana Krall returns with the delightfully upbeat, if predictable, Live in Paris (Verve), which gives the vocalist/pianist and her crack band more room than usual to display their formidable instrumental talents. Far more edgy, literate, and pungent is Patricia Barber's Verse (Blue Note), which oozes with Barber's prickly attitude and is cloaked in late-night ambience. The sassy, Paris-based Dee Dee Bridgewater gives a refreshing twist to Kurt Weill on This Is New (Verve), her flamenco-tinged "Bilboa Song" and a bossa-funkified "September Song" being standouts. It comes as no surprise that Karrin Allyson's In Blue (Concord) recently spent an unprecedented five weeks atop the jazz radio airplay charts. The Californian delivers a soul-satisfying palette of blues that ranges from songs by Mose Allison and Oscar Brown Jr. to Dinah Washington, Bonnie Raitt, and Joni Mitchell. Another songstress worth spinning is Tierney Sutton, whose Something Cool (Telarc) runs an easy-on-the-ears gauntlet of pop and show tunes that she spices up with her jazz interpretations. On the jazz instrumental front, it's hard to top Brad Mehldau's Largo (Warner Bros.). Whether covering Radiohead or experimenting with elements of DJ culture, this extraordinary pianist has delivered one of the best jazz albums of the year. Dabbling in sampled sounds is the ubiquitous Chris Potter, probably the hottest young saxophonist on the scene in recent years, who delivers another outstanding effort on Traveling Mercies (Verve) -- musical reflections on the cultural diversities Potter has experienced on his travels across America. Bassist/composer Ben Allison reinforces the current trend of incorporating "world music" into the jazz cauldron on Peace Pipe (Palmetto). This beautiful album artfully blends the sounds of Malian kora player Mamadou Diabate into the original and cogent music of Allison and his NYC-based Jazz Composers Collective colleagues, saxman Michael Blake and pianist Frank Kimbrough. Houston native Jason Moran is the most original new pianist in jazz as Modernistic (Blue Note) attests. This solo tour de force has Moran blending the modern with the traditional and, along with six originals, covering a swath from classicist Robert Shumann and stride master James P. Johnson to rap guru Africa Bambaataa. Saxophone veteran Charles Lloyd again channels the ruminative spirituality of John Coltrane on Lift Every Voice (ECM), a gorgeously rendered, star-studded, 2-CD set of mainly hymns, spirituals, and folk songs, with Ellington, Strayhorn, and Marvin Gaye thrown in for good measure. These lovely meditations were recorded in the wake of 9/11 and are both sorrowful and uplifting. Only a heart of stone wouldn't be moved by this music.

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