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Heather Stewart – What It Is (2013)

With the sophomore disc What It Is, Heather Stewart steps completely into her own, presenting a disc of deep emotional honesty amid agelessly created music.

Connie Crothers and Jessica Jones – Live At the Freight (2013)

Pianist Connie Crothers and tenor saxophonist Jessica Jones color outside the lines on Live At the Freight, a duo recording taken from a session in August of 2011 at the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley.

Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre – Away with Words (2013)

There is much to recommend here for Martin Barre’s stalwart Jethro Tull fans, including sensitive new takes on eight lesser-known Tull tracks. He even takes up the flute.

(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Suite: II. Legend Of The Fountain” (1977)

(Cross the) Heartland: Pat Metheny, “Suite: II. Legend Of The Fountain” (1977)

In a style that would fully bloom years later with the emergence of Pat’s Pikasso guitar, “Suite: II. Legends Of The Fountain” has Metheny spinning up beautiful melodies and arpeggios supported by deep pedal tones and artificial harmonics.

Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, Mat Maneri – A Violent Dose Of Anything: Original Movie Soundtrack (2013)

Ivo Perelman, Matthew Shipp, Mat Maneri – A Violent Dose Of Anything: Original Movie Soundtrack (2013)

If you know anything about Ivo Perelman then the title above should strike you funny. The very idea of one of jazz’s relentlessly free form performers making a movie soundtrack just doesn’t sound right.

Hellsongs – These Are Evil Times (2013)

I never heard of this band before and, due to their handle and title of their latest album, I was expecting to be struck in the face by a blast of doom metal that would destroy my ears and soul.

The Friday Morning Listen: Emerson Lake and Palmer – Tarkus (1971)

The Friday Morning Listen: Emerson Lake and Palmer – Tarkus (1971)

So I’m sitting in our old dining room, flipping through stacks of albums…and I come upon Tarkus. “No, that’s a keeper” I say and the LP goes into the crate.

The Band, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” from The Band (1969): Across the Great Divide

The Band, “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” from The Band (1969): Across the Great Divide

Levon Helm’s delicately poignant vocal completely animates this key song from the Band – stripping bare the awful costs of these kind of conflicts.

Gimme Five: The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine on “Help Me Rhonda,” “Don’t Fight the Sea,” “Sloop John B”

Gimme Five: The Beach Boys’ Al Jardine on “Help Me Rhonda,” “Don’t Fight the Sea,” “Sloop John B”

Al Jardine joins us, just ahead of a series of concert dates with Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck, to talk about classic Beach Boys tracks — from his first lead vocal to their latest reunion effort.

John Abercrombie Quartet – 39 Steps (2013)

John Abercrombie was one of the key jazz guitarists to emerge in the mid-’70s, along with John Scofield and Pat Metheny, and an Abercrombie ECM album has been a steady occurrence since