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Music News 07/16/2014

Broadway 2014: New Original Cast Recordings

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Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (PS Classics, 2 CDs, $20.98) – Audra McDonald won her sixth Tony Award for Best Actress in a Drama for her portrayal of Billie Holiday. The “musical play” by Lanie Robertson includes Ms McDonald’s versions of classic Billie tunes like “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” “Easy Livin’,” “Don’t Explain,” “Give Me a Pigfoot (and a Bottle of Beer),” and, of course, “God Bless the Child” and “Strange Fruit.”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Atlantic, $17.98) – Hedwig won the Tony for Best Revival, Neil Patrick Harris won for Best Actor in a Musical, and Lena Hall for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Stephen Trask wrote the music and lyrics, and John Cameron Mitchell (who was the mastermind behind the original cast and was the first Hedwig) wrote the book.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Ghostlight, $17.98) – Jessie Mueller won the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, portraying Ms King in a musical biography. You hear the infectious Carole King/Gerry Goffin (and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil) hits from the early Brill Building days, all the way through her breakthrough Tapestry album.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder (Ghostlight, $17.98) – The Tony winner for Best Musical, with music by Steven Lutvak and book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman. Jefferson Mays stars, playing multiple roles.


New (and in Concert)

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Puss N Boots, No Fools, No Fun (Blue Note, $13.98) – Norah Jones’s latest project is a rootsy, vocal harmony trio with Sasha Dobson (vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, drums) and Catherine Popper (vocals, acoustic guitar and bass). Besides singing, Ms Jones plays electric guitar and fiddle. The trio evolved after years of playing together in Brooklyn bars, such as the Bell House, where three of the songs were recorded live. There are original tunes by all three band members, as well as great cover song choices:

Rodney Crowell (“Bull Rider”), Roger Miller (“Tarnished Angel”), Neil Young (“Down By the River”), Tom Paxton (“Leaving London”), Robbie Robertson (“Twilight”), Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett (“Jesus, Etc.”), among them. A spontaneous, joyful presence comes through, and a fun, you-are-there feel permeates the entire album.

NOTE: Puss N Boots will be appearing at the 9:30 Club tonight, July 17.

John Hiatt, Terms of My Surrender (New West Records, $15.98) – Singer and songwriter John Hiatt has a formidable body of work. His voice brings out the grit, yearning, and the sly humor of this new batch of songs. The album was recorded with his touring band, the Combo, which can play the low-down blues with anyone.

NOTE: John Hiatt will be at Strathmore this Sunday, July 20. He is double-billed with singer and guitarist Robert Cray, who also has a recent album of great electric blues, In My Soul (Pro Vogue, $15.98).