Yo La Tengo returns with an album that brings into high relief the best of their past successes, and we get some intriguing new jazz from Dylan Ryan’s Sand.
Don’t miss a political — but still musically adventurous — offering from Erin McKeown, either.
We’re loving some reissues focusing on cool older music, too.
There’s Boz Scaggs’ Some Change, a late-period project that consolidates so many of his strengths.
Duke Ellington is also featured on two must-have collaborative projects — both with next-generation jazzers: An Impulse recording with John Coltrane, and trio album with Charles Mingus and Max Roach. We’ll take any opportunity to return to Miles Davis’ seminal space-jazz recording In a Silent Way, as well.
There are two reissues, including a triumphal concert souvenir, from Iron Maiden. Oh, and newly released live Motorhead, too.
Elsewhere, Sean Lennon has made a do-it-yourself soundtrack recording, and there’s also a double-disc tour set from Tarja Turunen, the former Nightwish vocalist …
Anita Baker – Only Forever (R&B)
A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP [Deluxe] (Pop/Rock)
BOZ SCAGGS – SOME CHANGE [Limited Edition 180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl] (POP/ROCK): This offers some proof that the greatness that Scaggs had been around some 25-30 years earlier had not only rubbed off on him, it never wore off of him. When Scaggs sang in Steve Miller’s band he shared the spotlight with the legendary leader’s guitar; when he sang “Somebody Loan Me A Dime,” he gave way to Duane Allman’s blistering, name-making solo. Some Change, too is bolstered by some nifty guitar soloing- but by no less than Boz himself. — (More here.) S. Victor Aaron
Cannonball Adderley – Cannonball’s Bossa Nova (Jazz)
Cassandra Wilson – Belly of the Sun (Jazz)
Chet Baker Sextet – Chet is Back [+6 bonus tracks] (Jazz)
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Bossa Nova USA [+1 bonus track] (Jazz)
DUKE ELLINGTON – MONEY JUNGLE [bonus tracks] (JAZZ): My favorite Ellington recording, in that it illustrates his power and grace away from the traditional big band setting — and, even more interestingly, finds him tangling with next-gen bop guys like Charles Mingus and Max Roach. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
DYLAN RYAN SAND – SKY BLEACHED (JAZZ): As a member of many an experimental or edgy band (Herculaneum, Cursive, Icy Demons, Michael Columbia), it’s not hard to surmise that when drummer Dylan Ryan got around to leading his own band, it would be out on the margins of music, too. Sand, as his outfit is called, is a probing, open-ended improvisational trio, which isn’t all that surprising given not just the pedigree of Ryan, by those of his cohorts. Guitarist Tim Young has made music with Wayne Horvitz’s Zony Mash before moving on to John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Fiona Apple and Beck. Devin Hoff, the bassist has been involved in a lot of notable projects, too, but I’ll always think of him as the guy holding down the bottom in what’s probably the most dangerous trio in all of progressive jazz, The Nels Cline Singers. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
Edith Piaf – La Vie En Rose (Vocals)
ERIN McKEOWN – MANIFESTRA (POP/ROCK): Though she has dabbled in everything from rock to jazz to pop, Eric McKeown’s new album — in a move perhaps indicative of the times — focuses on folky, protest songs. Not that there aren’t a few fun flourishes along the way. There’s the honky horn counterpoint on “The Politician,” this nervy keyboard accompaniment on “The Proof,” a skittering dance-club rhythms of “In God We Trust,” a hiccuping guitar of “Histories,” this diaphanous piano signature of Regina Spektor-ish “Delight/Divide,” and so on. Of course, those titles are all the indication you need that Manifestra intends to explore something deeper than genre-twisting roots rock. Still, in the end, there’s just as much brave musical curiosity here as there is teeth-clinching brio, and that helps Manifestra connect across any ideological aisle. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Fred Astaire/Judy Garland – The Ultimate Doubles (Vocals)
Henry “Red” Allen – Ol’ Man River (Jazz)
IRON MAIDEN – POWERSLAVE; LIVE AFTER DEATH [heavyweight picture discs] (POP/ROCK): New vinyl version of two of Maiden’s finest. Powerslave is a certified metal classic, and Live After Death is arguably one of the finest live albums of all time. — Fred Phillips
J.J. Cale – In Session At Paradise Studio [featuring Leon Russell] (Pop/Rock)
JOHN COLTRANE – AND DUKE ELLINGTON [bonus tracks] (JAZZ): To be reissued along with Ballads, this album is a modernistic update in keeping with the vernacular of Coltrane’s home label at the time, Impulse. But it’s clear from the beginning — a beautiful, meditative turn on “In a Sentimental Mood” — that there is a warm admiration from Trane for this elder statesman of this great American music form, as well. This project is, then, the best of both worlds, an intriguing example of the adaptive genius of one and the emerging genius of the other. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Jeff Black – B-Sides and Confessions Vol. 2 (Folk)
Johnny Mathis – A Special Part Of Me: Expanded Edition (Vocals)
Katie Armiger – Fall Into Me (Country)
Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials – Roughhousin’ (Blues)
MILES DAVIS – IN A SILENT WAY (JAZZ): To be reissued along with Round About Midnight, this album is defined by its hypnotic, looped grooves — and Joe Zawinul’s graceful masterpiece in the middle of it. The original ambient album of the modern era. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
Mors Principium Est. – And Death Said Live (Pop/Rock)
MOTORHEAD – ROUNDHOUSE: FEBRUARY 18, 1978 (POP/ROCK): A re-issue of a live recording featuring some early Motorhead songs and a collection of covers that include John Mayall’s “I’m Your Witch Doctor,” the blues-rock classic “Train Kept A-Rollin’” and the Pink Fairies’ “City Kids.” There’s also a bonus track featuring a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Desire,” which Lemmy Kilmister co-penned for the 1991 Ozzy album No More Tears. — Fred Phillips
Norbert Leo Butz – Memory and Mayhem: Live at 54 Below (Vocals)
Oscar Peterson – Night Train [bonus tracks] (Jazz)
Otis Rush – Right Place, Wrong Time (Blues)
Paradox – Tales of the Weird (Pop/Rock)
Patti LuPone – Far Away Places: Live at 54 Below (Vocals)
Ray Charles – Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vols. 1-2 (Country)
Ronnie Lane – Live at Rockpalast 1980 (Pop/Rock)
SEAN LENNON – ALTER EGOS (POP/ROCK): The original score to a new indie film from writer-director Jordan Galland about superheroes who falls from grace with ordinary citizens, the journey toward this finished album was anything but ordinary: Lennon ended up writing 20 cues in just four days, quite a test for a composer who had only written for one previous film. That was 2009′s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead,” also by Galland — a high school buddy who gave Lennon unsupervised musical freedom. Lennon ended up playing all of the instruments himself, adding the orchestral touches through his computer.
Shadow Circus – On A Dark And Stormy Night (Pop/Rock)
TARJA TURUNEN – ACT 1 (POP/ROCK): Here’s a two-disc live set from the former Nightwish vocalist, combining material from her solo albums, Nightwish favorites and a few covers. — Fred Phillips
The Canadian Tenors – Lead With Your Heart (Vocals)
The Rascals – Time Peace: The Rascals Greatest Hits [180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl] (Pop/Rock)
Various artists – West of Memphis: Voices for Justice [Henry Rollins, Nick Cave, Lucinda Williams, Marilyn Manson, Band of Horses, Eddie Vedder, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith] (Pop/Rock)
YO LA TENGO – FADE (POP/ROCK): Long time fans won’t necessarily hear new things from Yo La Tengo on Fade, and yet it feels like a huge leap forward for these ageless indie-rock favorites. Credit a new-found polish in melding sounds onto Fade, its continued exploration of mature subject matter focused on the act of growing up — and growing old — and, importantly, its smart brevity. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Ziggy Marley – In Concert (International)
Zoot Sims – Quartet in Paris (Jazz)