For jazz fans, Friday is more than just a stepping stone to the weekend. It’s the day when new albums are released and new music fills the air. If you’re wondering just which albums will catch your ear, we’re here to help. We’ve combed through the list of albums coming out today to bring you some of our absolute favorites. From a jazzy tribute to The Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to a jazz and soul superstar’s first live album, here are five albums you can add to your collection right now.
Gregory Porter, One Night Only (Blue Note Records)
One Night Only is jazz and soul superstar Gregory Porter’s first live album. It captures the first of his three sold-out performances at London’s venerable Royal Albert Hall, including his opening night performance, where he was backed by his trusted jazz trio and a full 70-piece orchestra led by Vince Mendoza. The album is released as a CD+DVD box set including an exclusive interview and, ahead of the holiday season, Gregory’s version of the Nat King Cole festive classic, “The Christmas Song.”
Dexter Allen, Live From Ground Zero Blues Club – At the Crossroads, Clarksdale Mississippi (Pass the Pick Productions)
Guitarist Dexter Allen was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, and began his career playing the bass guitar at age 12 for his father’s gospel group traveling around the central Mississippi area. Over the years, he has developed a passionate, dynamic guitar-driven live show that is captured on his new release, Live at Ground Zero Blues Club, recorded live at actor Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The music on this album not only documents his foot stomping showmanship but also carries on the tradition of the classic high energy Delta blues shows that traces all the way back to pioneer Charley Patton. The live performance, which was also captured in stunning multi-cam HD video, exhibits Allen’s sophisticated style of soloing complimented by his smooth and powerful vocals.
Bryan Ferry and His Orchestra, Bitter-Sweet (BMG)
Roxy Music singer-songwriter Bryan Ferry returns to the studio to further explore the same jazz influences that underpinned his 2012 instrumental album, The Jazz Age. Bitter-Sweet, his new album, includes eight vocal tracks and was inspired by Ferry’s work on the score for the Sky Atlantic/Netflix television series Babylon Berlin – a German period drama based on the books by Volker Kitscher and set in the 1920s. The new album embraces ragtime, blues and jazz, and puts a new twist on well-loved Roxy Music and Ferry solo tracks, including the title song, “While My Heart Is Still Beating,” “Boys and Girls” and “Dance Away.” Bitter-Sweet is also available in a Deluxe CD edition, which comes with an 18-page case bound book, and limited-edition vinyl.
Various Artists, A Day In the Life: Impressions of Pepper (Impulse! Records)
Impulse! Records recently brought together some of the greatest contemporary progressive jazz musicians – including saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings, the Onyx Collective, guitarist Mary Halvorson, drummer Makaya McCraven and The JuJu Exchange, among others – to pay tribute to The Beatles’ iconic 1967 album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. However, A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper is not an album of covers. As its title suggests, it is an album of impressions of the original album’s iconic songs, where artists take simple melody lines or subtle bass riffs to create something entirely new. Initially released on limited-edition vinyl for Record Store Day Black Friday on November 23, A Day in the Life is available today on CD, digital and streaming platforms.
The Art Ensemble of Chicago – The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles (ECM Records)
ECM Records celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Art Ensemble of Chicago with a new 21-CD limited-edition box set, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles. The release seems appropriate as both the label and the acclaimed avant-garde jazz group happen to have been established in 1969. The set features a variety of recordings from such luminaries as Lester Bowie, Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams, William Parker and many others. Along with the music, it includes a 300-page book with original album covers, previously unpublished photographs, liner notes, archival documents and poetry by Joseph Jarman, among other things.
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