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What’s New: June 2010

New, not necessarily blue: Afterglow's latest survey of recent releases.

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  • Brad Mehldau Highway Rider

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    Photo: CD cover.

    Brad Mehldau's 2-CD release HIGHWAY RIDER features the pianist with saxophonist Joshua Redman and strings.

  • Dee Dee Bridgewater Billie Holiday tribute

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    Photo: CD cover

    Singer Dee Dee Bridgewater checks in with a tribute to Billie Holiday.

  • Jeremy Pelt Men of Honor

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    Photo: CD cover.

    Honorable offerings: trumpeter Jeremy Pelt's new small-group CD.

  • Paul Motian Lost in a Dream

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    Photo: CD cover.

    Drummer Paul Motian's new CD spotlights his trio with pianist Jason Moran and saxophonist Chris Potter.

  • Jose James For All We Know

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    Photo: CD cover

    Singer Jose James and pianist Jef Neve suit up for a set of standards.

This week it’s our periodic round-up of some recent releases, some by vocalists, others by instrumental acts. Artists featured on the show include:

Jose James and Jef Neves

Jose James, who was born in Minneapolis, now lives in London, and has won a following in Europe and Japan, recording under his own name and with a number of jazz, club, and hiphop acts such as Basement Jaxx and Christian McBride. His new CD on the Impulse label, For All We Know, is his first to come out in America, and it came about after he and pianist Jef Neve performed together on a Belgian TV show. James liked their initial chemistry so much that he suggested they do some recording the next day. They didn’t use a producer, did no overdubs, and recorded hardly any alternate takes; the result is a quietly charged set of standards.

Brad Mehldau

Pianist Brad Mehldau has put out quite a few CDs in the past 15 years, but his new release Highway Rider is the first to feature him with an orchestra. It also reunites him with indie pop-rock producer Jon Brion, who worked with Mehldau a few years ago on the pianist’s Largo, which has become a sort of touchstone record for many young jazz artists, and with saxophonist Joshua Redman, who’s performed and recorded with Mehldau several times over the course of their careers. On Highway Rider Mehldau does a composition called “Sky Turning Grey” that he dedicates to Elliott Smith, the indie pop-rock singer-songwriter who died under somewhat cloudy circumstances in 2003, and whose songs Mehldau has interpreted from time to time.

Dee Dee Bridgewater

Another tribute shows up this week in the form of two songs from singer Dee Dee Bridgewater’s new CD Eleanora Fagan: To Billie With Love. Eleanora Fagan was Billie Holiday’s original name, and in a recent JazzTimes article Bridgewater talks about how she actually avoided listening to Billie Holiday when she was younger, not wishing to be influenced by the legendary singer. Now a jazz veteran decades later, she puts her own spin on the Holiday oeuvre of song, including a very gospel-ish rendition of “God Bless the Child.”

Paul Motian

Drummer Paul Motian was a part of the incredible Bill Evans trio between 1959 and 1961 that also included bassist Scott La Faro. The trio changed irrevocably when La Faro died in a car crash in the summer of 1961, only a few days after the group made some recordings at the Village Vanguard that have come to be regarded as some of the greatest live piano-trio sessions in jazz history. Motian has a new CD out that takes him back to the Village Vanguard, live recordings he made in February 2009 with his own trio, which includes two young-to-middling age luminaries of the jazz world, saxophonist Chris Potter and pianist Jason Moran.

Other artists on the program include:

  • Pianist Ahmad Jamal
  • Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt

Music Heard On This Episode

Paris After Dark
Ahmad Jamal — A Quiet Time (Dreyfus Jazz, 2010)
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Paris After Dark
Ahmad Jamal — A Quiet Time (Dreyfus Jazz, 2010)
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For All We Know
Jose James/Jef Neve — For All We Know (Impulse, 2010)
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Lost in a Dream
Paul Motian — Lost in a Dream (ECM, 2010)
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Sky Turning Grey (for Elliott Smith)
Brad Mehldau — Highway Rider (Nonesuch, 2010)
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You've Changed
Dee Dee Bridgewater — Eleanora Fagin--to Billie With Love (Emarcy, 2010)
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We'll Cross the River Together
Brad Mehldau — Highway Rider (Nonesuch, 2010)

Notes: Midpoint music bed.

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Without You
Jeremy Pelt — Men of Honor (HighNote, 2010)
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God Bless the Child
Dee Dee Bridgewater — Eleanora Fagin--to Billie With Love (Emarcy, 2010)
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Birdsong
Paul Motian — Lost in a Dream (ECM, 2010)
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Embraceable You
Jose James/Jef Neve — For All We Know (Impulse, 2010)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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