A sprawling retrospective set provides new vistas for experiencing the shooting-star genius of the late Duane Allman, and we return once more to an emotional reminiscence from Miles Davis which would ultimately be his last major concert.
As for Davis, we revisit his 1991 appearance at Montreux, an evening that focused on his work with Gil Evans. It has long been available in an audio format, but a new Blu-ray and DVD gives us a long-awaited chance to watch the old master in action.
Speaking of Davis: Lenny White, one of his former drummers, has dug up a terrific old concert featuring two other Davis alums — and they meld two of his classic sounds in one ferocious live date.
Allman’s too-brief career is explored as part of Skydog, which brings us from his earliest days to his final triumphs alongside brother Gregg and Eric Clapton.
You’ll never hear “Layla” the same way again.
Soft Machine Legacy, meanwhile, reanimates that group’s classic 1970s-era sound, while Anthrax takes on some melodic rock favorites.
We have piping-hot jazz from the likes of Matt Holman, Steven Bernstein’s Sexmob, Tomasz Stanko and Maria Marquez, and new indie-band projects from the likes of Alpha Rev and the Beaumonts — the latter of whom is this crazy-ass punkabilly crew out of Texas.
Elsewhere, there’s a classic from Nat King Cole and Count Basie is getting the gold-reissue treatment, while Tony Levin’s intriguing new effort with the Stick Men is now being offered in a deluxe model …
Aaron Diehl – The Bespoke Man’s Narrative (Jazz)
ALPHA REV – BLOOM (POP/ROCK): Making music of drama, risk and uplift, Alpha Rev sounds something like Mumford and Sons meets Coldplay — though the best of Bloom boasts an originality miles away from the latter. This Austin-based group has a way both with a rootsy groove and with the story song, smaller moments that resonate far longer than the times when they more closely approximate the sweep of Chris Martin and Co. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer – Child Ballads (Pop/Rock)
ANTHRAX – ANTHEMS (POP/ROCK): This EP has a pretty strange lineup of cover songs from the likes of Boston, Journey, Cheap Trick and Rush. The first taste, Rush’s “Anthem,” which featured an absolutely awful vocal by Joey Belladonna, wasn’t promising. (More here.) — Fred Phillips
Belinda Carlisle – Icon (Pop/Rock)
Billy Bragg – Tooth & Nail (Pop/Rock)
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Specter at the Feast (Pop/Rock)
Brian McKnight – More Than Words (R&B)
Captain and Tennille – Icon (Pop/Rock)
Clutch – Earth Rocker (Pop/Rock)
Dewa Budjana – Dawai in Paradise (Pop/Rock)
DUANE ALLMAN – SKYDOG: THE DUANE ALLMAN RETROSPECTIVE (POP/ROCK): For those who don’t know much about Duane Allman beyond the Allman Brothers’ At Fillmore East and Derek and the Dominoes’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, this ambitious seven-disc, 129-song set is a revelation. Hurtling along with the same restless, furiously creative impetus as its subject, Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective moves with a sometimes blinding speed through his tragically short but incredibly varied career — from garage and proto-Allmans amalgams like the Escorts, the Allman Joys and Hour Glass to an eye-popping collection of sideman gigs to, yes, his rightly famous contributions to classic-rock history on Fillmore and Layla. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
4 Jacks – Deal With It (Blues)
Good Lovelies – Live at Revolution (Folk)
Harry Belafonte – Calypso [Gold Disc] (Vocals)
Jamiroquai – Travelling Without Moving (R&B)
John Denver – Live at Cedar Rapids 12/10/87 (Pop/Rock)
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (R&B)
Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park (Country)
LENNY WHITE – LIVE FROM ’97 (JAZZ): The truth is, both of the late-1990s Lenny White-led solo releases that preceded the Japanese concert featured here needed a little scuffing up, and this group happily obliges. Muscular new versions of “East St. Louis,” “Wolfbane and “Dark” from 1995′s Present Tense, and “Whew! What a Dream” and “Pickpocket” from 1996′s Renderers of Spirit serve as highlights on the new archival Live from 97 release. They retain much of the keyboard-driven crossover appeal of the studio releases, even as a unit that includes fellow Miles Davis alumni Bernie Maupin and Foley take these tunes into boisterous new fusion-stoked places. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Low – The Invisible Way (Pop/Rock)
MARIA MARQUEZ – TONADA (VOCALS): The charms that come with Marquez’s music start with her voice, as you might expect. She’s been compared to Nina Simone and Cassandra Wilson, which are apt comparisons, but I’d also add Tania Maria to that list of “sounds like,” due to her smoky, exotic purr. Singing all but one selection in Spanish makes it easier to perceive her voice as another instrument, since I can’t understand the lyrics, and in that way, it’s easier to appreciate it. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
MATT HOLMAN’S DIVERSION ENSEMBLE – WHEN FLOODED (JAZZ): Holman’s approach much of the time is to push the songs forward through various motifs and moods, but unifying it under a pulse or broad theme that provides the symmetry. There’s always room for improvisation, too, and Holman strikes a careful balance between that and scoring. He’s is a burgeoning talent who, on his first outing, sweats the details like an old vet.(More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
Michael Blanco – No Time Like the Present (Jazz)
MILES DAVIS – LIVE AT MONTREUX 1991 [with Quincy Jones and the Gil Evans Orchestra] (JAZZ): For the always-restless Davis, who was caught mid-way through a new experiment in blending hip hop and jazz when he suddenly passed, this concert is the valedictory you never expected, the farewell you hoped for but feared you’d never hear. Live at Montreux, flawed though it may because of his failing health, brings everything full circle for Miles — and for us. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
NAT KING COLE – WELCOME TO THE CLUB [Gold Disc] (JAZZ): Two of only a few recordings by Cole with a big band, and one of the first by the Count Basie Orchestra with a guest vocalist, this is a great place to start in figuring Cole’s lasting allure. Not swamped by strings, unfettered by long-lost family members, he swings with (to us) new-found abandon. Growling, crooning, he manages to bridle the typically romping Basie band, which treats the proceedings with surprising restraint and taste. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Phosphorescent – Muchacho (Pop/Rock)
Suede – Bloodsports (Pop/Rock)
THE BEAUMONTS – WHERE DO YOU WANT IT? [Vinyl] (POP/ROCK): A raunchy, no-bullshit punkabilly record, Where Do You Want It? begins with a paean to snot-slinging drunkeness — and the Beaumonts never take their steel-toed boot off the gas. Elsewhere, Where Do You Want It? makes room for a series of similarly gruff, similarly fleet, similarly hilarious honky-tonk tributes to the fairer sex, to religion and (wait, didn’t we already cover this one?) to liquor with “I Deserve a Drink.” It’s like somebody strapped a Telecaster on comedian Ron White. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
The Copper Gamins – Los Ninos de Combre (Pop/Rock)
The Ocean Blue – Ultramarine (Pop/Rock)
Tinsley Ellis – Get It (Blues)
SEXMOB – CINEMA CIRCUS SPAGHETTI (JAZZ): Slide trumpet extraordinaire Steven Bernstein returns to his first major project after a seven year studio layoff; this is also the first album by these fun lovin’ whack jazz warriors since 2009 and the first non-live record since 2006. Nearly every Sexmob album has a theme and this one pays homage to the Nino Rota compositions that graced the dreamlike films of famed Italian director Federico Fellini. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
SOFT MACHINE LEGACY – BURDEN OF PROOF (JAZZ): Soft Machine will never come to exist again, but one of the best of the Canterbury bands still lives on in an alumni band called Soft Machine Legacy. Together since 2002, the lineup is dominated by members of the underrated mid 70s version of the Softs that had by that time abandoned its psychedelic roots and was firmly in the fusion jazz camp. This album is more comparable to 1976′s Softs at first glance than Legacy’s most recent album Steam, since the personnel is nearly the same. But the polished modal minimalism of Softs is replaced by tunes that are more concise and at the same time, looser and less dense. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
TOMASZ STANKO – WISLAWA (JAZZ): An artist who happens to be a musician, Tomasz Stanko once again draws from one kind of artistry to mold art of another form. There is no slowing down for one of Eastern Europe’s all-time most important figures of jazz, and Wislawa serves to add another building block to an impressive body of work. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron
STICK MEN – DEEP [Special Edition] (POP/ROCK): This nine-track set, fan funded and easily their most complex, thoughtfully conceived and imaginatively consumptive, finds a band dominated by rhythm instruments once again exploding every cliched expectation surrounding such things. Deep moves, with determined bursts of imagination, from the expected moments of still underwater reverie to these drama-filled, almost volcanic moments of turbulent noise — often within the same song. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso
Various artists – Love For Levon [Garth Hudson, Gregg Allman, Mavis Staples, Joe Walsh, Allen Toussaint, John Prine, Bruce Hornsby, Grace Potter, Dierks Bentley, Warren Haynes, Jorma Kaukonen, John Mayer, Robert Randolph] (Pop/Rock)