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Disc reviews: Cecile McLorin Salvant; London, Meader, Pramuk and Ross

Jazz

Cecile McLorin Salvant

For One To Love

[Mack Avenue]

3.5 stars

There’s no argument about the best jazz singers these days. They’re loved – sometimes deeply but, in any case, differently from the ways in which their instrumental brethren are usually perceived.

Cecile McLorin Salvant, at 25, is, by common assent, the best new thing to come along in jazz song in the past few years. Listen to this, her second disc, and you’ll understand why she has blown people away.

She has the confident sense of jazz show business of a 30-year veteran and the exuberant, infectious young show-off that she sometimes is (listen to her version of Blanche Calloway’s “Growlin’ Dan”.) Anyone who told her that was “too theatrical” for jazz singing would probably be met with her replying “thank you.”

And like all the best jazz singers, her choices of what to sing are joyously idiosyncratic.

You say you haven’t heard Burt Bacharach’s shamelessly retro “Wives and Lovers” for a while? Well here it is, armored by three feet of irony, on her follow-up- to “WomanLove.”. You say, you never heard a jazz singer do Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Stepsister’s Lament” (from their “Cinderella”)? Well, after listening to this disc, you will.

When she appeared in Bruce Eaton’s incomparable Hunt Real Estate “Art of Jazz” series at the Albright-Knox Gallery, the Thelonious Monk international jazz competition winner made a huge impression in the same way she has, since the beginning, been making on fellow jazz musicians.

“I only sing for those I love,” she tells us on the back cover of this disc.

That it seems, includes us.

Lucky us.

– Jeff Simon

Jazz

London, Meader, Pramuk and Ross

The Royal Bopsters Project

[Motema]

Three stars

Just hold the phone – here, yes, is a 21st century disc in which you’ll hear performances by two-thirds of the greatest jazz vocal group in the long distinguished 20th century history of jazz – namely Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross. All right, maybe the nonagenarian Hendricks and octogenarian Ross don’t sing together. But then, back when LHR was an ongoing miracle of jazz, their specialties – Ross’ much-sung lyrics to Dexter Gordon’s “Twisted,” Hendricks’ versions of Monk’s “In Walked Bud” and Miles Davis’ “Four” – were often sung by each individually inside the group.

This disc is spectacular beyond that, though. Would you believe Hendricks, Ross, Sheila Jordan, Bob Dorough, and the great Mark Murphy on the same disc?

For all that, it’s a bit of a disappointment (anything less than musical paradise would be). Ross, for instance, has long been a fraction of her former “Twisted” self and the basic fact is that his record belongs to a new jazz vocal quartet whose co-producer Darmon Meader was a founder of New York Voices. That, despite the stupendous guest stars, is the area this disc settles in most comfortably and that’s a long way from Lambert, Hendricks and Ross who defined one way of being hip for all time.

True hipness is a thing of eternal coolness. Museum hipness is something different altogether.

A great place to visit is this disc but you don’t really want to live here.

– Jeff Simon

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