The Jazz Starts Here Playlist

June 1, 2012

Every spring, the Central Library Arts Division obtains as many music recordings that reflect the upcoming Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival that will take place at the end of June. Here is a playlist of albums featuring some of the big acts that will be playing at the festival this year.

Slipstream/ Bonnie Raitt

Slipstream provides ample proof of hust how much fans have missed Bonnie Raitt since 2005’s Souls Alike. The album was recorded over a period of a year at Ocean Way in Hollywood and at Joe Henry’s Garfield House. The four tracks cut at Henry’s studio in 2010 and 2011 include two of his own songs, and two covers of Bob Dylan tunes (“Million Miles” and “Standing in the Doorway”) from the latter’s Time Out of Mind. Raitt’s voice has never sounded better. She’s expanded her lower range with an expressiveness that is soulful, rich, and rings emotionally true — though she’s sacrificed none of her higher register. Her voice can command and reveal a devastating tenderness.- All Music Guide

Little Broken Hearts/ Nora Jones

Exorcizing the ghost of a failed relationship via the time-honored tradition of the breakup album,Norah Jones luxuriates in beautiful misery on Little Broken Hearts. Liberated by the separation but not quite ready to let it go, Jones achieves a curious subdued tension here, dressing unadorned confessionals in softly stylized studio noir created with the assistance of producer Danger Mouse, who collaborated with her the year before on the collective Rome. Seeming opposites — the classicist meets the futurist —  Jones and Danger Mouse are well matched, as both artists are not as set in their ways as their individual reputations would suggest.-All Music Guide

Radio Music Society/ Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spaulding’s fourth album, Radio Music Society (a companion piece to Chamber Music Society in name only) is one of enormous ambition — polished production, sophisticated, busy charts, and classy songwriting — that consciously juxtaposes neo-soul and adult-oriented jazz-tinged pop. It employs a stellar cast, largely of jazz musicians, to pull it off. She produced the set, with help from Q-Tip on a couple of numbers, and wrote all but two songs here: a cover of “I Can’t Help It” (a Michael Jackson cover written by Stevie Wonder ) and Wayne Shorter’s “Endangered Species.” -All Music Guide

Rare Bird Alert/ Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers

From the earliest days of his comedy career, Steve Martin has incorporated the banjo into various aspects of his act, and fellow banjo players have spoken with reverence of his skills for decades. But in recent years he has put a renewed focus on the instrument, and he won a Grammy for his album The Crow in 2010. Rare Bird Alert came along a year later, and it’s a full-fledged country/bluegrass album consisting entirely of Martin originals and recorded in collaboration with the Steep Canyon Rangers. – All Music Guide
The Very Best of Diana Krall/ Diana Krall
The Very Best Of Diana Krall collects a nice cross-section of tracks the pianist/vocalist recorded beginning with her 1996 breakthrough album, All for You, and moving through to her 2006 effort From This Moment On.  While this is primarily a compilation for fans of the sophisticated, jazz standards-oriented Krall, Verve does earn some kudos for including at least one cut from her deeply personal and subsequently not as popular effort The Girl in the Other Room. Also featured are cuts from her stellar 2002 concert album Live in Paris. If you’re a fan of straight-ahead jazz with a heavy dash of romance and haven’t checked out Krall’s work, The Very Best is superb place to start.- All Music Guide
Bossa Nova Stories/ Eliane Elias
Eliane Elias returns to the music of her native Brazil with this collection of bossa nova favorites, though there are a few American standards and pop songs recast as bossa novas as well. The pianist has grown in confidence as a vocalist over the course of several CDs, developing a sexy yet never overdone style that beautifully complements the music. Elias proves herself as a talented singing pianist, effortlessly switching between English and Portuguese lyrics. – All Music Guide
Middle of Everywhere/ Pokey LaFarge
Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three have no plans of stopping their mission of spreading the joy of early American music to the masses, exemplary in the accomplishments of their most successful year to date. The group has continued to received praise from NPR Music, having the honor of recording for the popular NPR video series Tiny Desk Concert, all while playing nearly 200 live shows across the country, including a second appearance at the renowned Newport Folk Festival and a first time performance at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. -Artist’s Representative
For True/ Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews)
Chock-full of cameos — in the manner of modern hip-hop recordings — it is an extension of Backatown but not necessarily in sound. It’s perhaps crisper in production, but the musical diversity more than compensates. In addition to trombone, Shorty plays trumpet, organ, piano, drums, synths, and, of course, sings. They are tighter, even more confident, and perhaps even more adventurous here. Though Shorty handles some tracks playing all the instruments himself, or with a guest or two, OA bear the lion’s share with gravitas. “Buckjump” is the first clue that this is part two — it could have been the closing track on Backatown. The Rebirth Brass Band guest and play a big funky horn chart as Shorty’s big trombone solo greases the skids.- All Music Guide
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