Vinyl is back! Each month on “Vinyl Watch,” we list some of the most noteworthy new vinyl releases — including new albums, reissues, special-edition box sets and more. At JAZZIZ, we share the vinyl community’s appreciation of the experience of collecting and playing vinyl records. As an increasing number of music fans discover the joy of vinyl, we hope these lists will serve as a starting point for new musical discoveries.
Bebel Gilberto, Agora ([Pias])
Singer/songwriter Bebel Gilberto’s first new studio album in six years emerges from a period of loss and grief, during which she also lost her father, bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto. Showcasing her trademark boss-meets-electronics sound, Agora moves from funky songs to heartfelt ballads via captivating performances and wonderful songwriting. Produced by Thomas Bartlett, Agora is defined by Gilberto as “a little bit crazier, more mature and extremely sincere.”
Rez Abbasi, Django-shift (Whirlwind)
On Django-shift, Rez Abbasi goes on a personal journey towards the essence of the legendary Django Reinhardt. In the process, he shines a light on Reinhardt’s often overlooked compositional prowess, playing many of the rarely-heard works he penned throughout his life. These songs are radically recontextualized and crafted for a contemporary trio format, and performed by Abbasi on fretted and fretless acoustic guitars with drummer Michael Sarin and keyboardist Neil Alexander.
Sharhabil Ahmed, The Sudanese King of Jazz (Habibi Funk)
German-based label Habibi Funk has released another transcendental gem from the Arab-speaking works. The Sudanese King of Jazz is an album compiling songs recorded by singer/songwriter/guitarist Sherhabil Ahmed. These songs represent the Sudanese jazz genre, which bears little resemblance to Western jazz, and is a unique combination of surf, rock, funk, Congolese music and East African harmonies. Many of the songs in this collection were recorded in the ‘60s and are extremely rare.
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids, Shaman! (Strut)
Shaman! Is the new magnum opus by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids. Here, the influential and explorative jazz collective traverses a wide range of emotions via extended pieces revolving around its charismatic bandleader’s intricate compositions. Unfolding over four acts, Ackamoor describes Shaman! as defined by “personal musical statements about love and loss, mortality, the afterlife, family and salvation.” The double-album comes with cover artwork by Japanese illustrator Tokio Aoyama.
Bobby Hutcherson, The Kicker; Jackie McLean, It’s Time; Joe Henderson, The State of the Tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume 1 (Blue Note)
After a pandemic-related pause, Blue Note’s Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl series returns with three releases. The first is Bobby Hutcherson’s first session as a leader for Blue Note, The Kicker from 1963. The second is Jackie McLean’s It’s Time from 1964, featuring one of Ried Miles’ most memorable cover designs. The third is Joe Henderson’s The State of the Tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard, Volume 1, capturing a trio date with Henderson, Ron Carter and Al Foster at New York’s historic jazz shrine in 1985.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Record Store Day 2020 releases
The first installment of this year’s three-part Record Store Day extravaganza is taking place this Saturday, August 29. Several limited vinyl releases are due out and we have compiled a list of some of the standout jazz vinyl you should know about. Click here to check out the full list.
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