Half Notes: Lorraine Feather – Tales of the Unusual (2012)

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In a genre that’s rapidly becoming overwhelmed with vocalists reinterpreting the Great American Snoozebook (important in their time, but rapidly becoming threadbare old saws — if only because of their endless modern repetitions), Lorraine Feather (daughter of the legendary jazz critic Leonard Feather) is not kidding with this album title. Each and every song has new lyrics written by Feather and — in keeping with her 2011 project Ages, which is up for Grammy tonight in the jazz vocal album category — a series of close longtime collaborators. Together, they stray well off the beaten path on Tales of the Unusual, due February 14. In fact, the closest Feather gets to the familiar are two songs that build off music from Duke Ellington and Nino Rota, creator of the legendary score for “The Godfather.” But she’s not about to stumble into boring convention, turning Duke’s classic “Jubilee Stomp” into a magically offbeat story about a country girl who won the Indy 500 on foot, called “Indiana Lana.” “Where is Everybody” is built around the initial episode of TV’s “The Twilight Zone.” It’s that kind of album, feverishly imaginative and playfully courageous.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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