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Album of the Year: Jason Moran - All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller | reviews, news & interviews

Album of the Year: Jason Moran - All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller

Album of the Year: Jason Moran - All Rise: A Joyful Elegy for Fats Waller

A brilliant recasting of the Harlem stride master's music

Joyousness and melodic beauty: the music of Fats Waller

Pianist Jason Moran's Grammy-nominated tribute to the legendary pianist, singer and composer, Fats Waller, effortlessly captures the joyousness and melodic beauty of the Harlem stride master's music. Joining Moran is vocalist Meshell Ndegeocello, and from the über-slow jam of “Ain't Nobody's Business” to the utterly seductive grooves of “The Joint Is Jumpin” and “Honeysuckle Rose”, the kind of galvanic presence that she brings to the project takes the material to entirely new emotional places. There are coruscating instrumentals, too, including a barnstorming solo spot for Moran on “Handful Of Keys”. Featuring guest sax player Steve Lehman, “Jitterbug Waltz”, on the other hand, is transformed into a sumptuous reverie in common time.

Other outstanding jazz releases in 2014 include Christine Tobin's captivating Leonard Cohen songbook, A Thousand Kisses Deep, an album that shimmers with beauty and insight. Gretchen Parlato's Live in NYC is daring, rhythmically inventive and as dramatic as the best instrumental jazz. The mercurial interplay, surging counterpoint and textural shifts of Black Top's debut # One combines boundary-pushing improv with brilliant musicianship, while subtle arrangements, exquisitely beautiful songs and a voice of remarkable expressive depth mark out Ana, the second album from the London-based Swedish vocalist, Emilia Mårtensson.

There have been innumerable homages to Joni Mitchell's oeuvre – from a magisterial "Woodstock" to a memorable "Be Cool", Tierney Sutton's After Blue is one of the finest. With its catchy hooks and transfixing solos, Phronesis's fifth album, Life to Everything, captures the trio's sound to perfection.

Ploughing her own artistic furrow for 25-plus years, for its ambition and powerful storytelling Bloody Rain is Sarah-Jane Morris’s masterpiece. Featuring the Montpellier Cello Quartet, Claire Martin's Time and Place is similarly one of the standout chapters in this illustrious singer's career. Finally, if intimate chamber jazz is your thing, head straight for The Bannau Trio's Points of View.

The kind of galvanic presence that Ndegeocello brings to the project takes the material to entirely new emotional places

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

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