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I first heard singer and songwriter Rebecca Martin singing standards on Paul Motian’s On Broadway, Vol. 4., and a wonderful, spare When I Was Long Ago, accompanied only by bassist Larry Grenadier and tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry.
Last November, Martin and Grenadier played the Atlas, and previewed songs from Twain, featuring all new songs by Martin (plus one standard, “Sophisticated Lady”). Martin’s voice is spare and not showy, as are the arrangements (guitar and bass mostly, with a little drums and piano).
In last Sunday’s New York Times, Nate Chinen wrote about Martin leading a group of like-minded singer/songwriters jumping between the fields of jazz and folk singing.
The Milk Carton Kids
The Ash & Clay
I love close harmony singing, and anyone who follows in the footsteps of the famous acts of the past (the Delmores, the Louvins, and the Everlys) is carrying on a fine tradition. Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale call themselves The Milk Carton Kids, and definitely have the essentials down: two voices, two guitars, and a bunch of good songs.
Note: The Milk Carton Kids will play the Birchmere on Tuesday, April 23 with singer Aoife O’Donovan also on the bill.
The Bespoke Man’s Narrative
(Mack Avenue Records, $17.98)
Pianist Aaron Diehl put together a strong young band modeled on the Modern Jazz Quartet in instrumentation (Warren Wolf on vibes, David Wong on bass, Rodney Green on drums), and has made a very strong album of originals and classics. The group takes on Ravel, Ellington, Gershwin, and Milt Jackson (of the MJQ) – all in fresh arrangements. This is a beautifully programmed and played album.
Note: We have a few signed CDs by Diehl.
Rumba de la Isla
(Calle 54 Records, $12.98)
Mixing Cuban and flamenco music can go in either direction. The late pianist Bebo Valdés accompanied the flamenco singer Diego “El Cigala” in boleros and son on Lágrimas Negras from 2003. Now percussionist Pedrito Martinez has put together a tribute to the flamenco icon Camarón de la Isla.
Steve Coleman and Five Elements
(Pi Recordings, $15.98)
Alto saxophonist Steve Coleman is still at the forefront of composition and playing—in this case, transcribing and building on spontaneously created pieces, and making connections between musical composition and organic systems. Don’t let the theories weight you down, however—Coleman’s music is always propulsive and funky, and his band-mates (Jonathan Finlayson, trumpet, Anthony Tidd, bass, Sean Rickman, drums, and Miles Okazaki, guitar) know how to navigate every turn.
If you saw Steve Coleman at the Atlas last September, this is a great recording of that group.