Bebop pianist Horace Silver first released “Peace” on his 1959 record for Blue Note, Blowin’ the Blues Away. The lyrics of the beloved standard go like this: “When you find peace of mind….Life’s true meaning comes to you and freedom is won….Peace is for everyone.” Two prodigious young singers—one already famous and the other on her way—released albums on Oct. 7 that include this tune, along with other standards and some thoughtful, well-crafted originals. The message of the tune holds relevance for all times, but perhaps especially so when social conflict fills the headlines.
Norah Jones added the tune to Day Breaks, her sixth solo CD for Blue Note, as a reprise to an earlier version; her very first recording for the label, a six-track EP called First Sessions in 2001 also contained Silver’s “Peace.” Fifteen years ago Jones heard the tune as a traditional, sweet-tempered ballad, but today she hears it as a sophisticated, introspective piece of commentary. The current album benefits from the firepower of some major players: saxophonist Wayne Shorter, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Brian Blade, for example. Jones will present the new CD at the Beacon on Nov. 29.
The self-produced CD Out of the Blue is singer Alyssa Allgood’s debut solo album and an homage to the many Blue Note artists who have inspired the recent college grad. In addition to her positive, laid-back version of “Peace,” Allgood interprets songs by Hank Mobley, John Coltane, Wayne Shorter, Sam Rivers, Joe Henderson, Lee Morgan, Bobby Timmons, and Joe Chambers, contributing original lyrics for instrumental compositions that have none. Allgood is an astonishingly mature singer for her years; her comfort with scatting and bebop phrasing, the generous world view in her words, and her skillful arrangements all speak to an emerging talent of considerable strength.
Nina Simone, a force in her own right, challenged the status quo more with her presence than with her words, vocal as she was about the injustice that she experienced during her life. In performance, however, she was so commanding, so electric with feeling, that words seem almost secondary to the will behind that distinctive voice, that defiant stare. In September Eagle Rock Entertainment launched a DVD/CD package of the Oscar-nominated documentary about Simone’s life and work, What Happened, Miss Simone? The film contains footage of Simone both on- and off-stage and reveals many of the disappointments and abuses that that singer/pianist endured in her mission to raise awareness of civil rights. The CD portion of the package includes some tracks that don’t appear in the film, among them Simone’s iconic “Ne Me Quitte Pas.”
Also on Oct. 7, Varese-Sarabande officially launched Sully: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture. Singer Tierney Sutton and her band joined director Clint Eastwood to write the soundtrack of Sully, the Warner Bros. film starring Tom Hanks that premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September. Sutton is at her best on these short tracks, which present a strong case for the use of vocalese to create mood and meaning in a visual medium. Sutton will perform selections from the album at Birdland Nov. 8-12.
Resonance Records often produces short videos to accompany its audio releases; for their recent release Shirley Horn: Live at the 4 Queens, however, the label deemed the subject of the video worthy of a longer treatment. Each minute of the half-hour documentary Shirley Horn: Reflecting and Reminiscing is packed with warm remembrances and the luscious sounds of the singer/pianist’s music. Horn’s mastery didn’t receive national attention until the 1990s, when she was in her 60s, so mainstream jazz listeners only had a few precious years in which to hear the singer live. Resonance Records’ CD and video provide some much-needed documentation on the life of this extraordinary jazz musician.
Another Oct. 7 milestone: ENNARecords, whose stated mission is “to offer music that shares our human experience, generating community and trust,” released its first CD, Tell A Star, on this date. The album features nine gorgeous, impressionistic tunes by singer/composer/poet Maryanne de Prophetis and her band, trumpeter Ron Horton, pianist Frank Kimbrough, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. The quartet will perform from the CD at Michiko on Nov. 12.
Poetry and jazz carouse on No Money In Art (Red Piano Records), by Frank Carlberg’s World Circus, with a street date of Nov. 10. Christine Correa rockets through the seven pieces on the disc like a singer seeing holy visions. A must-listen.
(Reprinted from the November 2016 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.)