New Music Monday: David Crosby, Angelique Kidjo, Transatlantic, Red Dragon Cartel

For all of his sparkling credentials with the Byrds and Crosby Stills and Nash, David Crosby’s solo career can be charitably described as sporadic and largely unsatisfying. That makes any new music of interest.

The good news is, Crosby makes it worth the two decades-long wait this time, with a layered, modernized effort that has more high points than low.

We’re likewise celebrating the return of the all-star prog amalgam Transatlantic this week, as well as former Ozzy sideman Jake E. Lee — who’s leading Red Dragon Cartel now.

There is also some deep country goodness coming your way from Amy Ray, of Indigo Girls fame. Oh, and the enduring elixir that is Angelique Kidjo, whose has a stirring vocal project out.

Also highly recommended is new stuff from Helen Sung and Pete Robbins. Sung’s assembled a terrific sextet, while Robbins is returning to some treasured sounds of his youth …

Ahmad JamalHappy Moods/Listen to the Ahmad Jamal Quintet (Jazz)

AMY RAY – GOODNIGHT TENDER (COUNTRY): And that tag there — the one that reads: “country” — pay close attention to it. Ray, both as a member of the Indigo Girls and as a solo artist, has made a career of melding things. She’s mixed in Appalachian sounds with her rock, and punk with her rock, and country with her rock. But Goodnight Tender isn’t about alchemy. It’s about heart, about soul, about fiddles and boots shuffling on a dusty hardwood floor, about hearts breaking and steely determination and fragile beauty in very hard times. Ray has grown ever wiser as a writer, and ever wiser about what works. And Goodnight Tender, if you’re willing to envelop yourself in its deep country charms, simply works. — Nick DeRiso

ANGELIQUE KIDJO – EVE (VOCALS): This is the best work yet from an already incomparable artist. The rhythms are absolutely breathtaking in Eve, something that serves as a tribute to African women is both entrancing and spectacular. There’s a mixture of might and tenderness that very few can balance out, just like the women she is singing with — and about. (More here.) — Esther Berlanga-Ryan

Benny GoodmanComplete Benny Goodman in Moscow (Jazz)
Beth Nielsen ChapmanUncovered (Pop/Rock)
Cabaret VoltaireDrinking Gasoline (Pop/Rock)

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DAVID CROSBY – CROZ (POP/ROCK): As the opening “What’s Broken” elevates into a cirrus-cloud of lonesome reverie, Crosby reclaims every lost promise of his solo career — dormant now for two decades and, aside from 1971′s If I Could Only Remember My Name, largely forgettable. Croz appears ready to correct that egregious wrong, and from the first. It’s not quite that kind of triumph — there probably aren’t enough hooks here to make it a true classic — but Croz is a surprisingly diverse, often enjoyable, forward-looking return. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

David Helbock’s Random/ControlThink of Two (Jazz)
Del ShannonRunaway/Hats Off to Del Shannon (Pop/Rock)
Dionne WarwickWindows of the World/In the Valley of the Dolls; Here I Am/Live in Paris/Here Where There Is Love; Presenting/Anyone Who Had a Heart/Make Way (Pop/Rock)
DokkenBreaking the Chains; Under Lock and Key; Tooth and Nail (Pop/Rock)
Ella Jenkins123s & ABCs (Pop/Rock)
Elvin JonesGenesis (Jazz)
Frank SinatraSinatra, With Love (Vocals)
Gaslight AnthemB-Sides (Pop/Rock)

HELEN SUNG – ANTHEM FOR A NEW DAY (JAZZ): For this date, the pianist put together a crack sextet. That’s reason enough to make Anthem an entry point to her catalog, but it’s also the multiplicity she invests in this album, whether it’s mainstream, modern or fusion jazz; acoustic piano or Fender Rhodes. They’re all tied together by the exuberance of her keyboard attack, done with grace, not overly done dramatics. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

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John ColtraneOle Coltrane: The Complete Session (Jazz)
Kerry LivgrenSeeds of Change (Pop/Rock)
Lang LangThe Romance of Rachmaninov (Classical)
Mississippi John HurtClassic Years (Blues)

PETE ROBBINS – PYRAMID (JAZZ): The bandleader and award-winning composer, saxophonist ventures back to songs that shaped his love for music while still a kid, before he studied at the New England Conservatory and became a jazz musician and noted educator as the managing director of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. The rock and pop that connected with him then stayed with him and he channeled his inner child into some creative takes on five of these tunes. (More here.) — S. Victor Aaron

RED DRAGON CARTEL – RED DRAGON CARTEL (POP/ROCK): Since the death of vocalist Ray Gillen and the end of Badlands, we haven’t heard much from Jake E. Lee. The guitarist who rose to fame as Ozzy Osbourne’s sideman on Bark at the Moon and The Ultimate Sin has done a couple of solo albums, a few projects here and there and some tribute records, but has largely been silent since the 1990s. Now, he’s ready to re-introduce himself to the world with his new outfit, Red Dragon Cartel. (More here.) — Fred Phillips

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Shirley BasseyLet’s Face the Music/Born to Sing the Blues (Vocals)
Stanley TurrentineLook of Love (Jazz)
Sky FerreiraNight Time, My Time (Pop/Rock)
Todd LondaginLook Out For Love (Jazz)
Tommy ShawAmbition (Pop/Rock)
Tony BennettThe Classics: Deluxe Edition (Vocals)

TRANSATLANTIC – KALEIDOSCOPE (POP/ROCK): “Shine,” the advance single from prog supergroup Transatlantic’s first new album since 2009, quickly ramped up into a heart-filling anthem. Just what we need in the middle of a lingering polar vortex, right? The track is part of a layered project from Neal Morse, Roine Stolt, Pete Trewavas and Mike Portnoy which features two lengthy suites of music: the opening five-part “Into the Blue” and the stunning seven-part closing title track. (More here.) — Nick DeRiso

Uncle TupeloNo Depression: Legacy Edition (Country/Rock)
Various artistsJazz Divas Juke Box [Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and Lena Horne] (Jazz)

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