Anat Cohen  –  “With her new CD, Luminosa, (Israeli clarinetist) Cohen integrates many musical influences into a unique brand of Brazilian-tinged improvisation. The clarinet’s many-octave range lends itself to caricature. It can be the black crow of instruments, darting high and low to scavenge for musical sketches. But Cohen has the courage to use the instrument’s broad range for soulfulness… Cohen relishes the clarinet’s dark beauty as much as its bright dexterity. She takes the instrument seriously enough to enlist it for both song and dance. On Luminosa, Anat Cohen creates an ideal role for her clarinet, and the instrument shines with the dignity and joy it deserves.” (NPR Music)

Anzic Records, 2015

Coming Forth by Day

Cassandra Wilson  –  The jazz singer pays homage to one of her idols, the incessantly celebrated, yet still “undersung,” Billie Holiday. While many artists have released albums covering Ms. Holiday, who would be 100 years’ old in April, ‘15, Wilson’s utilizes thick, bluesy rhythm (courtesy of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds), a stunning strings section, guitar reverb, and sensual tenor sax, all contributing to the lusciously orchestrated Coming Forth by Day. In spite of a mix that places her voice well out of the foreground, this record has reinvigorated Wilson’s status as one of the premier jazz vocalists.

Legacy, 2015

Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

Original Sound Track (drum score by Antonio Sanchez) –  Mexico City native Antonio Sanchez studied under Danilo Perez at the Berklee school and has been first choice jazz drummer for heavy hitters like Pat Metheny and Jim Hall. Group. In 2014, he was invited by González Iñárritu to compose the score for the director’s critically acclaimed and award-winning film Birdman. This soundtrack ingeniously juxtaposes drums with classical pieces, with a majority of the score comprised of energetic, momentous, sharp-shooting rhythms.

Milon, 2014

Brand New Day

Donna Lewis  –  The Welsh artist rose to adult pop fame in the mid-1990s with her hit single “I Love You Always Forever,” but with Brand New Day, a record of jazz-inflected covers and originals, she easily breaks free of the contemporary singer-songwriter boundaries. With the high-profile musical company of The Bad Plus (pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King) and production by cross-genre composer David Torn, Lewis’ approachable, breathy voice and unique phrasing brings freshness to covers of David Bowie’s “Bring Me the Disco King” and Neil Young’s “Helpless,” and even revitalizes her 1996 chart-topper.

Palmetto, 2015

World’s Fair

Julian Lage  –  Guitar prodigy Julian Lage releases a solo project with an orchestral backbone, large in part since he was inspired by classical master Andres Segovia. Dubbing his instrument his “own tiny orchestra,” Guitar World notes, “in his hands the musical possibilities seem endless.” As Lage himself describes, “What I’m doing is distinctly American in a way. There are certain aesthetics on this record that you’re more likely to find in contemporary acoustic chamber music, American classical music and old-time fiddle music.” Though World’s Fair is a slight migration from his typical sound, it’s an apropos album for any jazz/Americana lover.

Modern Lore, 2015

A Clear Midnight

Julia Hulsmann Quartet  –  The Berlin-based Julia Hülsmann began playing piano at the age of 11, and formed her first band at 16. Renowned for her pristine technique and a breadth of creative influences ranging from Thelonious Monk to Emily Dickinson, Hülsmann is gaining international attention through her records through Munich’s respected ECM label, most recently with the release of the gorgeous record A Clear Midnight. Teaming up with singer Theo Bleckmann, the five-piece celebrates the “unsung Weill” alongside the master’s best-loved works including “Mack the Knife,” “Speak Low,” and “September Song.”

ECM, 2015

Black Bar Jukebox

Allan Harris  –  Inspired by the African-American music culture of the 1970’s, vocalist, guitarist, and composer Alan Harris delivers a solid set of jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, country, and Latin genres heard on jukeboxes in the barbershops, clubs, and restaurants of the time. Accompanied by Jake Goldbas on drums, Leon Boykins on keys, and Pascal Le Bouef, along with special guests Samuel Torres on percussion and Yotam Silberstein on guitar, Harris returns to his Harlem roots. Featuring 13 songs, Black Bar Jukebox is a combination of standards and original compositions, delivered with a rich and soulful sound; it is sure to please music lovers from every generation.

Love Records, 2015

Heavy Feel

Larry Coryell  –  Heavy Feel is guitarist, and former Seattleite, Larry Coryell’s third release on Wide Hive Records, and has proven to be one of his strongest records. The deservingly titled album brings a heavy, full-produced sound, and showcases the bandleader’s formidable guitar playing. Recorded in one day, Heavy Feel is filled with tracks crafted under Coryell’s significant improvisational feel. Bassist Matt Montgomery, drummer Mike Hughes, and saxophonist George Brooks accompanying the guitarist.

Wide Hive, 2015

Twisted Soul

Jessi Teich  –  Blending old blues, jazz, and soul, 10-time international songwriting award-winner Jessi Teich brings a pop sensibility to her Paris-recorded album Twisted Soul. The Berklee College of Music graduate describes her album as “a crossover record with a jazz spinal cord,” with a “poperatic” story arc. “The album showcases Jessi’s sinuous vocal prowess as well as her heralded songwriting capacity,” writes JazzCorner. “She writes impressionistically about heartbreak, love, loss, gain, and sisterhood on Twisted Soul, tracing her surrender to – and eventual escape from – a controlling, abusive lover. All the while, she masterfully mixes jazz sophistication, blues grit, and soul’s tragic romance, with an edgy-but-elegant aesthetic.”

Madame Freak Records, 2015

Time and the River

David Sanborn  –  Time and the River is the 25th release under the leadership of the legendary saxophonist David Sanborn, whose distinctive alto tone virtually set the standard for subsequent years of “Smooth Jazz.” Produced by Marcus Miller, who also plays bass on the recording, Time and the River includes Roy Assaf (keyboards), Ricky Peterson (Hammond organ), Yotam Silberstein and Nick Moroch (guitars), Peter Hess (horns, flute), Marcus Baylor (drums), and Javier Diaz (percussion). The album also features trombonist Tim Vaughn, trumpeter Justin Mullens, and veteran contemporary jazz vocalists Randy Crawford. As usual, Sanborn weaves infectious, lyrical jazz lines with deep funk grooves and a pop sensibility.

Okeh, 2015