Interpretations of Brel crop up surprisingly often on jazz vocals album. This goes a step further and gathers a stellar crop of singers for a Larry Klein produced songbook album to mark the 90th anniversary of the great Belgian singer-songwriter’s birth. Melody Gardot, Madeleine Peyroux, Marianne Faithfull, Thomas Dutronc, etc etc are all included. Not everything hits the bull’s eye but Gardot steals the show. Out on Decca.

Casteneda and Maret

You may well search hard and long but may probably never find two more virtuosic musicians deliver a new album in a set-up which is so very unusual. Swiss-born harmonica wizard Grégoire Maret and Columbian harpist Edmar Castañeda however keep things loose and erect no barriers to listening and this is far from a showboating exercise because it is so bluesy and laidback from the off.

Tunes lean towards originals and gems like a stately version of ‘Our Spanish Love Song’ by Charlie Haden and the Brazilian standard ‘Manhã de Carnaval’ by Luiz Bonfá also make the cut. Guests are Béla Fleck, another once in a lifetime virtuoso, and fine singer Andrea Tierra do not crowd in too much. Maret has the unique ability to speak to you like a singer might and for instance on Tierra vocal track ‘Acts’ matches the singer in tenderness and kind. Castañeda keeps marvellous time and brings a gravitas to the record and when he opens up say on the Bonfá standard shows how natural an improviser he is. Tailor made for radio play this has a gentle easy listening appeal but there is more grit and meaning than a gentle, indulgent stroll and is a pleasure from beginning to end. SG. photo: ACT 

Terence Blanchard

He is the foremost jazz musician who writes for film, has picked up five Grammys along the way, and now Terence Blanchard has been named the first Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies at the UCLA [University of California at Los Angeles] Herb Alpert School of Music. The chair according to UCLA is a key component of the school’s new global jazz studies programme. “Terence’s accomplishments are impressive and astounding for their range,” says school of music Dean Judith Smith. “His commitment to educating the next generation of jazz artists and his devotion to illuminating social justice issues through his music embody our UCLA values and align with the mission of our global jazz studies program.”

Blanchard says: “I’m looking forward to educating new generations of jazz artists, not only as performers, but as teachers, producers and jazz scholars who understand the power of music to transform the worlds in which they engage.”

Terence Blanchard above, photo: Henry Adebonojo 

To produce his version of ‘Moon River,’ Jacob Collier recorded himself singing 5,000 times and asked more than a few Huckleberry Friends to send a video of themselves singing the word “moon” in the key of B-flat. Chris Martin, Charlie Puth, Tori Kelly, David Crosby, Kimbra, Daniel Caesar, Merrill Garbus, JoJo, Darwin Deez, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Hans Zimmer, Steve Vai, Ty Dolla $ign and Lianne La Havas were just some of the respondees. ‘Moon River’ is from Djesse — Volume 2 to be released in July. 

Rubberband

A mouthwatering limited edition 2LP set featuring a bonus 7-inch single of the track ‘Paradise’ is being put out by Rhino. Rubberband dates back over 30 years but was never released. The entire 11-song Rubberband album will make its debut finished off by the original producers and Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn, Jr., who played drums on the original sessions for the album in 1985-86. Vocals from Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi have been layered over Davis' trumpet and keyboard sessions. Look for the release in September.

Track listing: 
1. Rubberband Of Life – featuring Ledisi
2. This Is It
3. Paradise
4. So Emotional – featuring Lalah Hathaway
5. Give It Up
6. Maze
7. Carnival Time
8. I Love What We Make Together – featuring Randy Hall
9. See I See
10. Echoes In Time/The Wrinkle
11. Rubberband

Chamber Songs

A rather beautiful treatment of a number of Robert Schumann pieces, original material, and even that sentimental old favourite ‘Besame Mucho’ in the paired down setting of a duo: clarinettist Gabriele Mirabassi and pianist Enrico Zanisi who recorded in an Italian winery, part of a series close to their label’s heart.

A very delicate performance but containing plenty of life, the duo display rapport and sensitivity. It is all quite moving in a way. Go get this: it’s a surprise treat and a textbook example of how music from a number of sources can come together and make perfect sense. SG
More info at the CAM Jazz site.

Nerija

Nérija — Nubya Garcia (tenor saxophone), Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi (alto saxophone), Rosie Turton (trombone), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Lizy Exell (drums) and Rio Kai (bass) — are to release Blume on 2 August, having signed to Domino. Check out the woozy hard bop and Afrobeat-flavoured ‘Riverfest’, above. 

Pretty fresh sounding new pianist Olly Chalk here, check him out, who with alto sax star John O’Gallagher, bassist Sam Ingvorsen and drummer Gwilym Jones launch their album Scathed Citizens this summer.

Chalk was a winner of the Peter Whittingham Development Award in January 2018. Scathed Citizens has an adventurous progressive outlook that sits well with the style of Matthew Bourne.

Hear Chalk at the Vortex on 21 August

Jazzmeia HornOne of the jazz-vocals events of the year in prospect with news of a Jazzmeia Horn album set for a late-summer release. With eight original songs Love and Liberation is to be released just as the earlier A Social Call was on the Concord label.

Horn who will be appearing with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra for dates this autumn, click for more information, has pianists Victor Gould and special guest Sullivan Fortner on the Chris Dunn-produced album plus tenor saxophonist Stacey Dillard and trumpeter Josh Evans, bassist Ben Williams, and drummer/singer Jamison Ross.

Horn comments about her songs: “Some of these songs are very cute and fun, but a lot of them are meditations and have deep meaning that people can listen to, to help free up their minds. People of all creeds and races, and even all generations because there’s a lot of tradition in this music. My godfather gave me the best compliment when I played the album for him. He said, I’m really proud of you because this music sounds like what Ella [Fitzgerald] or Billie [Holiday] or Abbey [Lincoln] or Nina [Simone] would have evolved into.” 

Covers on Love and Liberation are Jon Hendrick’s ‘No More’ , Erykah Badu’s ‘Green Eyes’, Rachelle Farrell’s ‘Reflection of My Heart’ duetting with drummer/singer Jamison Ross, and Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Mercer’s ‘I Thought About You.’ photo: Emmanuel Afolabi/Concord

Joe Stilgoe does not take himself too seriously and that characteristic sense of humour and love for retro jazz surfaces once again this time as he tackles the dreaded 1980s, when pop did its very best to eat itself! The Heat Is On: Swinging the 80s with his big band arranged by Evan Jolly features songs you never really expected to be jazzed up such as ‘The Heat Is On’, ‘Glory Of Love’, ‘When The Going Gets Tough’ and ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ for goodness’ sake. Singer-pianist Stilgoe, son of witty That’s Life entertainer Richard Stilgoe, has already sold out Ronnie Scott’s for his 30 June show coming up when the album is released on the Silva Screen label.