Patricia Brennan, MORE TOUCH (Pyroclastic, $17.98) – The vibraphone and marimba player and composer Patricia Brennan, originally from Veracruz, Mexico—is versed in both traditional marimba styles as well as symphonic percussion. She is now one of the young generation transforming jazz vibes. She uses subtle electronics to broaden the musical palette of her instruments, and, on More Touch, combines them with bass (Kim Cass), drums (Marcus Gilmore) and percussion (Mauricio Herrera). One of the most original jazz recordings of the year.
Ahmad Jamal, EMERALD CITY NIGHTS: LIVE AT THE PENTHOUSE 1963 – 1964 (Jazz Detective, 2 CDs, $25.98)
Ahmad Jamal, EMERALD CITY NIGHTS: LIVE AT THE PENTHOUSE 1965 – 1966 (Jazz Detective, 2 CDs, $25.98) – Still going strong in a seven-decade career, Ahmad Jamal supervised and sequenced these two albums featuring over five-and-a-half hours of never-before-released music. They feature performances from one of Mr. Jamal’s favorite venues, the Penthouse Jazz Club in Seattle. The dates from 1963 – ‘64 feature trios with Jamil Nasser and Richard Evans on bass, and Chuck Lampkin on drums. The dates from 1965 – ‘66 features Jamil Nasser, and Vernel Fournier and Chuck Lampkin on drums.
The extensive booklets include interviews with Ahmad Jamal, Jon Batiste, Kenny Barron, Aaron Diehl and Marshall Chess; unpublished photos from Chuck Stewart and Don Bronstein; and essays by jazz writer Eugene Holley Jr. and producer Zev Feldman.
Nelson Freire, MEMORIES: The Unreleased Recordings 1970 – 2019 (Decca, 2 CDs, $20.98) – Pianist Nelson Freire (1944 – 2021) died last November. His producer at Decca, Dominic Fyfe, assembled this collection in tribute. There are concertos by Bartók, Brahms, Beethoven and Strauss. There are seven solo pieces as well—the set starts with an arrangement of the “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from Glück’s Orfeo ed Euridice (“Freire’s go-to encore”) and closes with Brahms’s Intermezzo in A Major.
SCHUBERT: PIANO SONATAS D. 537, 568 & 664 (Harmonia Mundi, $19.98) – Paul Lewis is a master Schubert interpreter, and he now turns to “comparatively youthful works, for an artist who died at 31.” From the New York Times review: “Lewis renders everything with his now-familiar immaculate tone and elegant phrasing…it takes considerable skill to make music this emotionally charged sound so natural and unaffected.”
HILDEGARD VON BINGEN: SACRED CHANTS (Signum, $18.99) – British soprano Grace Davidson sings solo renditions of the powerful chants of Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179)—abbess, composer, writer, herbalist, mystic.
BBC Music Magazine wrote: “Grace Davidson, singing alone, unfolds a tapestry of sounds filled with exceptional purity, mellifluous continuity and a focused sense of form. The vocal techniques of breath control…the command of stunning and dizzying meanders of melody…and the subtle colouring of modal changes…are very impressive. An exceptional recording.”
Chineke! Orchestra, COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (Decca, 2 CDs, $20.98) – The Chineke! Orchestra spotlight composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875 – 1912), featuring his Violin Concerto, Ballade in A Minor, and his African Suite. “As Europe’s first majority-Black and ethnically diverse orchestra, the Chineke! Orchestra performs a mixture of standard orchestral repertoire along with the works of Black and ethnically diverse composers both past and present.”