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


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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Fall Platters
Jeff Lofton
Jericho (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Nov. 29, 2019

Texas Platters
Golden Dawn Arkestra
Darkness Falls on the Edge of Time (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Jay Trachtenberg
<i>The Teacher</i> by Michal Ben-Naftali
The Teacher
This prize-winning novel's tale of a student piecing together the hidden life of her teacher, a Holocaust survivor who killed herself, is haunting

Feb. 14, 2020

Jay Trachtenberg's Top Books of 2019
Jay Trachtenberg's Top Books of 2019
From the social upheaval of the Sixties to the double life of an intelligence agent to the secular past of an Orthodox rabbi, splits resolved into memorable books

Dec. 20, 2019

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle