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Music News 07/28/2011
Eleanor Friedberger, LAST SUMMER (Merge) – Eleanor Friedberger’s Last Summer combines infectiously pop-y tunes with narrative lyrics, some with details worthy of short stories. Half of the brother-sister group, the Fiery Furnaces, Ms Friedberger’s first solo album is tuneful and never over-arranged. There are some great New York City details in “Scenes from Bensonhurst,” “Owl’s Head Park,” and “Roosevelt Island; a side-trip to LA’s “Inn of the Seventh Ray,” as well as a great upbeat break-up song. There are two fun videos here.
This is one of my summer pop favorites (I also highly recommend Red Hot & Rio 2).
STAFF PICK BY DEB MORRIS
Terri Lyne Carrington, THE MOSAIC PROJECT (Concord, $17.98))
When I worked on Sophie’s Parlor at WPFW-FM, I felt it was our duty to find the music of women jazz musicians. It wasn’t hard to find pianists like Mary Lou Williams and Marian McPartland, or singers like Ella Fitzgerald or Anita O’Day, but it was hard to find the recordings of women musicians playing other instruments. So I spent a lot of time in record stores finding reissues by instrumentalists like trumpeter Valaida Snow, trombonist and arranger Melba Liston, and recordings by guitarist Monette Sundler and saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom.
Being off the air has not dampened my interest in women musicians. New recordings by Regina Carter, Matana Roberts and Cindy Blackman immediately find their way into my collection. So when I first heard about Terri Lyne Carrington’s Mosaic Project, I was excited, and when it arrived, I was not disappointed! From the opening beat of Nona Hendryx’s “Transformation” to the final notes of the re-arranged reprise of the same song, there isn’t a track to be missed.
The album features veterans like Dianne Reeves, Geri Allen, Cassandra Wilson, Sheila E., Patrice Rushen and Dee Dee Bridgewater, and also a host of young musicians, including Esmeralda Spaulding. The horn and reed players Ingrid Jensen, Anat Cohen, Hailey Niswanger and Tineke Postma are outstanding. In the NPR piece (click here), Carrington talks about still finding people are shocked that she can play and play well. She not only plays well but she adds her talents as a composer, arranger and vocalist to her role as bandleader.
Playing well is a gross understatement: If you saw Carrington’s group accompanying Reeves, Wilson and Bridgewater at this year’s Mary Lou Williams Festival tribute to Abbey Lincoln, you know that there is a special relationship between these women. Each of the vocals on the album is stellar, my particular favorite Wilson’s “Simply Beautiful” by Al Green. Bernice Johnson Reagon’s “Echo” maintains all its power in the hands of Diane Reeves, and I can’t leave out my other favorite, Gretchan Parlato’s take on Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost in His Arms.”
And here’s a video on the recording of “I Got Lost in His Arms,” with Gretchen Parlato.
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• András Goldinger