Title: Vessels of Wood and Earth Artist: Dan Wilson Label: Brother Mister Productions/Mack Avenue Formats: CD, Digital Release date: April 23, 2021
Grammy-nominated guitarist and composer Dan Wilson’s debut album, Vessels of Wood and Earth, exhibits a rich range of tones and textures. Joined by pianist Christian Sands, bassist Marco Panascia, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts and guest vocalist Joy Brown, this incredibly talented band showcases a mastery of musical expression, revealing robust musical perspectives from each and every artist. Produced by bassist, composer, arranger, and Philadelphian jazz icon, Christian McBride, the project is a mix of both original compositions and arrangements of classic songs from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, assembled to illustrate Wilson’s foundation that is “rooted as much in tradition as it is in moving the music irresistibly forward into the modern world.” The album is the first release on Brother Mister Productions, McBride’s own record label under the Mack Avenue Music Group.
The acclaimed Grammy®-nominated woodwind quintet Imani Winds have released their latest
studio album, Bruits. Composed of the talented artists Brandon Patrick
George (flute), Toyin Spellman-Diaz (oboe), Mark Dover (clarinet), Jeff Scott (French
horn), and Monica Ellis (bassoon), Imani Winds delivers a provocative
commentary on the issues that have, and continue to, plague our country. Elucidated
by the metaphorical title, “Bruits,” a medical term for an abnormal sound generated
by blood flow through an obstructed artery, this album utilizes three inspiring
works to describe our ongoing social and political climate, reflecting on the
turmoil and strife within our country in an effort to bring about beneficial
change before the damage becomes irreparable. Additional featured performers on
the album include Grammy® award-winning pianist Cory Smythe, Metropolitan Opera
National Council & Operalia award-winning soprano Janai Brugger, and
scholar and narrator John Whittington Franklin.
World-renowned soprano Janinah Burnett, known for her performances on Broadway as well as the Metropolitan Opera, is releasing her debut studio album, Love the Color of Your Butterfly. Classical operatic themes combine with a multitude of styles, such as jazz, blues, and spirituals, coming together to showcase both Burnett’s incredible versatility as well as the influences that shaped her into the talented and expressive musician she is today: “When the time came for me to make a body of work that represented my deepest artistic desires, I took an inventory of my musical influences and creations and came up with a concept that blended my past with my present.”
JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter Dominique Fils-Aimé
expresses her eclectic interpretation of soul music in her latest album, Three
Little Words. Produced, arranged, and mixed by the acclaimed producer
Jacques Roy, this project combines a multitude of sounds, themes, and cultures,
creating a album that is both powerful and thought-invoking. The 15 tracks
feature heartwarming melodies, inspired lyrics, and beautiful arrangements that
provide a window into Fils-Aimé’s soul while also seeking to enrich the soul of
the listener. Scheduled to release during Black History Month, the album is the
final installment in the artist’s trilogy exploring the roots of African
American musical culture.
One of the most essential parts of the holiday season is the music we listen to with our family and friends. This year, we especially need to come together to celebrate (virtually or in person), so we’re offering our list of the most comforting and inspiring holiday albums that have been released over the past few months. Included are brief reviews of our top six holiday albums of 2020, including releases from Leslie Odom Jr., Warren Wolf, the original cast of Hadestown, Amber Weekes, Lynda Randle, and Pentatonix. Also included is a list of honorable mentions, since there were too many amazing albums released this holiday season to cover in depth. Although this Christmas and holiday season may be a bit different from what most of us are used to, we hope these new music selections will help make this Christmas feel just as special as the last.
Title: 25 Years Artist: Edward Simon Label: Ridgeway Records Formats: CD, Digital Release date: October 9, 2020
In celebration of a quarter century of inventive and trailblazing
music, Venezuelan-born pianist, composer and bandleader Edward Simon has
released two-disc career retrospective 25
Years. This project is a collection that celebrates his 50th
birthday, featuring tracks from thirteen of Simon’s albums that span from
1995-2018. Featuring collaborations with members of the SFJAZZ Collective and
other brilliant musicians such as tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, altoist David
Binney, bassists Scott Colley, John Patitucci and Ben Street, drummers Brian
Blade and Adam Cruz, and vocalists Luciana Souza, Lucia Polito, Genevieve
Artadi, and Gretchen Parlato, this is a self-curated album that uses jazz to
reflect the variety of musical styles that Simon has grown comfortable with
over his career, from Latin American folk and popular idioms to Afro-Latin
rhythms and European classical forms.
Title: Something To Say Artist: Cory Henry Label: Culture Collective Formats: Digital Release date: October 30, 2020
Singer, composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Cory Henry
has released his much anticipated studio album, Something To Say.
Produced by Henry himself, the album wonderfully expresses Henry’s wide variety
of musical talents in each of its eleven tracks, which tackle subjects ranging
from love and breakups to injustices and the effects of being emotionally
drained, resulting in a project that artistically reflects the climate of the
world today. “I feel good because all of the songs came together and they mean
something to me,” Henry humbly advises, “so I hope they mean something to other
Title: All Love Everything Artist: Aloe Blacc Label: BMG Rights Formats: CD, Digital Release date: June 25, 2020
songwriter, producer, and activist Aloe Blacc
has released his fifth and latest studio album, All Love Everything. Full of warm, nostalgic sounds, soulful
vocals, and an inspiring chorus, Blacc delivers heartfelt, yet grounded,
melodies that pull the listener into emotions of love, loss, and many of the
Title: Jazz Dance Suites Artist: Charles McPherson Label: Chazz Mack Music Formats: CD, Digital Release date: September 25, 2020
Distinguished alto saxophonist, composer and
McPherson, known for his bebop and bluesy style and
improvisational ingenuity, adds to his plethora of notable works with Jazz
Dance Suites. Inspired and
dedicated to his daughter Camille, a soloist in the San Diego Ballet, McPherson’s
album of ballet music is a fusion of refreshing harmonies and unique lyrical
melodies that wonderfully combine with inventive rhythm and syncopation,
creating a bouncy and vibrant project that is a beautiful compliment to dance.
Title: Image a Nation Artist: Valvin “V” Roane Label: BBE Music Format: Digital Release date: October 2, 2020
Philadelphia R&B/soul singer, songwriter and producer Valvin “V” Roane is making his return with Image a Nation, his first full-length project with Barely Breaking Even (BBE Music) in 15 years. In collaboration with production partners Jontae Slade, Andre Capers and Yameen Allworld, V creates an album that colorfully illustrates the changes in the world around us through both the lyrical and melodic structures within the project.
Title: One World Artist: Billy Ocean Label: Sony Formats: CD, Digital Release date: September 4, 2020
GRAMMY Award-winning singer Billy Ocean
has released his first new original album in ten years. On One World, he
reunites with producer Barry Eastmond, who was responsible for some of his
biggest hits, including “When the Going Gets Tough”
This release follows a spectacular few years for Ocean. In 2018, the
Trinidadian-British R&B singer-songwriter was awarded the Ivor Novello
Award for International Achievement in recognition of his international success
and the enduring popularity of his music. More recently, he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s 2020 New Year Honors list
for his contributions to music. Additionally, his iconic music videos
have all been restored from original tapes and released in HD. All of the excitement surrounding his long due
recognition can be felt in One World.
Title: b7 Artist: Brandy Label: eOne Formats: CD, Digital Release date: July 31, 2020
After nearly eight years since her last album, GRAMMY
Award-winning singer/songwriter Brandy has released her long awaited seventh
studio album, b7. Despite the lengthy period of time between projects,
Brandy has consistently been active in the R&B scene, creating tracks like
“I Wanna Be Down” and “Ascension,” as well as being featured in a plethora of other
artist’s songs and breaking the internet with her recent Brandy vs Monica
Verzuz Battle. This exposure has gone a long way toward helping Brandy hone her
truly unique sound and style, as well as a high level of production expertise. Her
colorful, yet restrained, 15-track project, which she executively produced with
assistance from DJ Camper and the late LaShawn Daniels, is truly the
culmination of her musical and life experiences to date.
Title: Intérimes Artist: Adeline Label: Self-released Formats: Digital Release date: July 10, 2020
Soulful and sultry vocalist, bassist and producer Adeline has released her highly
anticipated sophomore project, Intérimes, a collection of seven songs
that incorporates the sounds and styles of R&B, soul and funk. The title of
the French-Caribbean artist’s release is a mash-up of the French words
“intérim” (the time in between) and “rime” (French for rhyme), noting that each
track captures a specific mood as a day turns into night. The project is
completely self-produced, allowing Adeline to create music that perfectly
complements her style. “Producing my own music is when I feel most complete
artistically. Everyone’s process is the best process as long as it’s true to
them. Producing is just the way that I love to make music. And the biggest part
of it is that it’s fun!”
Title: The Album Artist: Teyana Taylor Label: G.O.O.D. / Def Jam Formats: Digital Release date: June 19, 2020
Dancer/choreographer, actress, model, and R&B superstar Teyana Taylor has released her long
awaited and highly anticipated third studio album, The Album. With a
host of producers, including Taylor herself, this album truly showcases her personality,
sexuality and vulnerabilities that lie under her persona. The Album features
collaborations from a plethora of artists, such as Rick Ross, Erykah Badu,
Quavo, Kehlani, Missy Elliott, Future, Big Sean, Ms. Lauryn Hill, King Combs,
Davido, and Taylor’s husband and daughter, Iman Shumpert and Junie.
Keyboardist, songwriter, and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Chris Jasper has had a very extensive and successful career, recording 12 albums as a member of the Isley Brothers, in addition to 16 self-produced solo albums. Jasper has now taken a step back to reflect on some of the greatest compositions he wrote for the Isley Brothers from 1973-1983 in his most recent solo album, For the Love of You. This project is comprised of some of the group’s biggest hits, such as “I Once Had Your Love,” “Go For What You Know,” and the title track “For the Love of You,” a smooth and romantic rendition of the original mid-tempo track. The album also contains covers of R&B and pop classics including Sam Cooke’s “Nothing Can Change This Love,” Marvin Gaye’s “God Is Love,” Van Morrison’s “Have I Told You Lately,” Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful,” and Diane Warren’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
Two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated R&B singer Kehlani has released her long-awaited sophomore album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. The former America’s Got Talent star’s debut album, SweetSexySavage, was inspired by TLC’s CrazySexyCool, providing fun, rhythmic, and exuberant sounds Kehlani’s best known for putting out. Kehlani’s new album is much more pared down, expressing slow and sensual narratives, as much indebted to SZA as it is SWV. For this project, Kehlani collaborated with a multitude of guest artists, from the likes of Tory Lanez, Jhené Aiko, Lucky Daye, James Blake, and Masego, all of which do an exceptional job helping to convey her R&B eclecticism—as well as contributions from producers Boi-1da, Andrew “Pop” Wansel, G. Ry, and many more.
Title: Grae Artist: Moses Sumney Label: Jagjaguwar Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: May 15, 2020
Singer-songwriter and producer Moses Sumney has dropped his second studio album, Grae, a generous double album released in two parts covering 20 tracks. Back in 2017, Sumney’s previous groundbreaking, genre-less album Aromanticism was well-received, but saw the musician widely labelled as an R&B artist – much to his dismay. He recently said in an interview: “People always look to define you to understand you, but my identity is this kind of patchwork. It’s not something that can be – or that I want to be – defined.” And now with his second project, Sumney places a great emphasis on this message and his artistic vision.
Title: It Is What It Is Artist: Thundercat Label: Brainfeeder Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release Date: April 3, 2020
Electric bassist and singer/songwriter Thundercat, aka Stephen Lee Bruner, has released his fourth studio album, It Is What It Is. Executively produced by Bruner and Flying Lotus, the project features collaborations from artists such as Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, Ty Dolla $ign, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole, and comedian/rapper Zack Fox. The new album is the follow-up to Thundercat’s ambitious Drunk (2017), which cemented his genre-defying reputation and provided an evolutional framework for It Is What It Is, which continues the versatile artist’s experimentation with sound and compositional technique.
Title: No Beginning No End 2 Artist: José James Label: Rainbow Blonde Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: March 6, 2020
José James’ No Beginning No End 2, a sequel to his 2013 Blue Note debut album, resurrects the eclecticism audiences first fell in love with. Back then, the singer-songwriter was transitioning from Verve Records to Blue Note, and the new release finds James shifting to his own Rainbow Blonde label. ”There’s this beautiful cycle that’s happening again,” James explains. “This essence of it is what I wanted to get back — the idea of courage, freedom, real quality music that’s made without boundaries but still had a cohesive quality. That’s what I did on the first (No Beginning No End), and this one feels the same way.” With No Beginning No End 2, James pays homage to a multitude of musicians who inspired him.