Janel Leppin, ENSEMBLE VOLCANIC ASH (Cunieform, $16.98) – Cellist and composer Janel Leppin has assembled a DC-area crew of superb instrumentalists for her first solo project: Anthony Pirog, guitar, Sarah Hughes, alto saxophone, Brian Settles, tenor saxophone, Kim Sator, harp, Luke Stewart, bass, and Larry Ferguson, drums. Great melodies, grooves, dynamics and textures are the hallmark Janelle’s work, and that of Ensemble Volcanic Ash.
Tom Paxton, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, ALL NEW (Community Music, 2 CDs, $23.98) – Folk singers Tom Paxton and Cathy Fink collaborated in weekly songwriting sessions during the pandemic, then went into the studio with Marcie Marxer to record them. The subjects and genres are multiple: “from female outlaws to country love songs, Celtic, bluegrass, and songs for community singing.”
Beyoncé, RENAISSANCE (Sony, $15.98) – Beyoncé released her single, “Break My Soul,” a few weeks ago, and the world awaits her new album…
Lizzo, SPECIAL (Atlantic, $15.98) – Lizzo’s new album featuring “About Damn Time.”
Nate Wooley & Columbia Icefield, ANCIENT SONGS OF BURLAP HEROES (Pyroclastic, $16.98) – Trumpeter and composer Nate Wooley assembled a quartet, Columbia Icefield (Mary Halvorson, electric guitar; Susan Alcorn, pedal steel guitar; Ryan Sawyer, drums), for his 2019 album of the same name. The ensemble returns with a new suite of songs, with Mat Maneri, viola, and Trevor Dunn, bass, joining on one track each.
Allison Miller & Carmen Staaf, NEARNESS (Sunnyside, $16.98) – Drummer Allison Miller leads her own group, Boom Tic Boom, as well as being a member of the all-women super group, Artemis. She’s also done duet projects with violinist Jenny Scheinman, and, for the second time, pianist Carmen Staaf. After 2018’s Science Fair, Nearness is a result of a two-day session, after months of socially-distanced musical dialogue. The album is mostly originals, with two standards: “The Nearness of You” and “Ask Me Now.”