CLASSICAL: Celebrating contemporary U.S. composer Steve Reich’s 80th birthday, Reich’s first three albums, Music for 18 Musicians, Music for a Large Ensemble/Violin Phase/Octet, and Tehillim, originally released in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, have been reissued (The ECM Recordings) and are considered key works (Stereophile Magazine review).
Soprano Lisa Delan and pianist-arranger Kevin Korth, with contributions from cellist Matt Haimovitz, unearth songs by not-so-widely knownAmerican composers, such as novelist-composer Paul Bowles (The Sheltering Sky), Stephen Paulus, Norman Dello Joio, Randall Thompson, and John Kander (of Cabaret fame) for the new recording, Out Of The Shadows: Rediscovered American Songs (Broadway World review).
CONTEMPORARY R&B-HIP HOP-RAP: Taking the title’s name from two sources: The Joy Division song and the novel by J.G. Ballard, Danny Brown’s fourth full-length recording, Atrocity Exhibition, stretches the boundaries of not only Hip Hop-Rap but also Electronica and Alt.
Pop-Rock for an impressive document of art. Atrocity Exhibition also features guest appearances by Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt and Petite Noir, among others (Slate magazine review).
FOLK: Oakland, CA-based singer-songwriter Jessie Antonick, who performs under the name Pony Hunt, releases her debut full-length, Heart Creak, produced by The Deslondes’ Sam Doores (Hearth PR info sheet).
JAZZ: Philadelphia-based pianist and composer Orrin Evans delivers an excellent new release, #knowingishalfthebattel (Knowing Is Half The Battle), with a stellar accompaniment, including bassist-guitarist Mark Whitfield (on bass here), guitarists Kurt Rosenwinkel and Kevin Eubanks (World Jazz News review).
Pianist-vocalist-singer-songwriter, Norah Jones returns, a bit, to jazz, while maintaining her R&B roots, for her new release, The Day Breaks, featuring drummer-percussionist Brian Blade and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, among others, for a strong new album (New York Times review-article).
R&B-SOUL: Former longtime backup singer to Missy Elliot, Nicole Wray collaborated with London-based soul backup singer, Terri Walker in 2013 for a terrific R&B-Soul record under the moniker of Lady, produced by Menehan Street Band founder Leon Michels and Daptone founder Thomas Brenneck. Now, Ms. Wray, under the name of Lady Wray, delivers her first solo record, Queen Alone, with Michels and Brenneck contributing musically and behind the board (Billboard review-article).
Detroit’s Sonny Knight And The Lakers release another hard-hitting, James Brown-esque brand of R&B, with the new album, Sooner Or Later (live recent performances, c/o Twin Cities Media).
ROCK: Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Kayla Cohen, under the performing name of Itasca, has released a third full-length, Open to Chance, which could be one of my favorite albums so far this year. Itasca executes haunting vocals, strong lyrics and a subtle, yet excellent, fingerstyle guitar style. Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir offers a rare solo record inspired by “camp” or “fireside” songs from his youth, for Blue Mountain, which features The National’s Bryce and Aaron Dessner, pianist-keyboardist Rob Burger and Steve Kimock on pedal steel (Rolling Stone article). The UK duo, Ultimate Painting, featuring Veronica Falls’ member James Hoare and Mazes’ Jack Cooper, release an superb new album, Dusk, offering fully-formed compositions of catchy psychedelic pop (Allmusic review).