Music News 8/27/2020


Bettye LaVette, BLACKBIRD (Verve, $14.98) – Bettye LaVette pays tribute to the great Black women whose songs inspired her. Ms. LaVette puts her unmistakable stamp on songs associated with Ruth Brown, Lil Green, Nancy Wilson (“Save Your Love for Me”), Nina Simone (“I Hold No Grudge”), Dinah Washington (“Drinking Again”), and Billie Holiday (“Strange Fruit”). To end the album, she switches Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” to the first person, and makes a powerful statement: “All my life, I have waited for this moment to be free.” 

Gregory Porter, ALL RISE (Blue Note, $14.98) – Gregory Porter’s last album was a tribute to Nat King Cole, accompanied by lush orchestrations. For his new one, Mr. Porter has written new songs, brought back the orchestra, and he delivers it with his smooth baritone voice, steeped in jazz, soul, and gospel.  

Oumou Sangaré, ACOUSTIC (No Format, $15.98) – One of the great voices of Africa, Oumou Sangaré (from the Wassalou region of Mali) reimagines her 2017 album, Mogoya, in an unplugged setting. Accompanied only by strings (guitar and the kamele ngoni), plus background vocals, and organ, Ms. Sangaré’s expressive voice is front and center, with striking results. 

Marc-André Hamelin, LISZT & THALBERG: Opera Transcriptions & Fantasies (Hyperion, $19.98) – Hamelin is one of the most adventurous pianists when it comes to exploring little-played repertoire. Here he juxtaposes two masters of opera transcriptions and fantasies based on operas: Franz Liszt and Sigismond Thalberg (1812 – 1871). There are works based on works by Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Rossini. 



Several customers in our Book-a-Month have chosen to combine CDs and DVDs with their book selections. You can combine, or alternate books, CDs, and DVDs when you sign up for the program. I’d be happy to send CDs in whatever category you’d like: chamber music, new jazz, Americana, re-issues, international sounds, contemporary classical, or most anything else. 

To order, sign up, or for other music suggestions, email me directly: