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Catching up with some recent jazz releases.

Music Reviews: Jazz Albums from Antoinette Montague, Jessy J, and Vincent Herring

Antoinette Montague – World Peace in the Key of Jazzmontague

World Peace in the Key of Jazz is a June release from talented vocalist Antoinette Montague. Fronting a winning sextet, Montague runs through a dozen of her own arrangements of songs presented as “a note of encouragement to us all to lovingly, stand up for peace, love, humanity, freedom and joy to this world.” The repertoire is drawn from a wide mixture of traditions: folk, blues, gospel, and even a bit of hip-hop as well as a show tune.

Montague is an impressive vocalist who knows what to do with her carefully chosen material. She begins by setting the tone of the album with a funky twist on “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round,” an indication that she’s taking these songs to a new level. A samba treatment of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and an Afro arrangement of Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer” including a mid-song visit to “We Shall Overcome,” follow.

Other tracks include a fine treatment of “Hard Times,” Lady Day’s “God Bless the Child,” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma. The album concludes with a bossa nova arrangement of her prescription for peace and love, “What the World Needs Now.”

Jessy J – My One and Only One

Smooth jazz with a Latin flair—that’s the groove saxophonist Jessy J is aiming for, and if her May release My One and Only One is any indication, her aim is true. It is a 10-tune set that Jessy Jhighlights material not normally found on a jazz album. There is a gorgeous version of “Lovesong,” a tune associated with The Cure and more recently Adele, and an exotic arrangement of “You’re Makin’ Me High.” On the other hand, most of the set is constructed around Jessy J originals, including the album’s feature track, “The Tango Boy,” its title song, and “Siempre,” which has Jessy J on the flute and delivering a fine bilingual vocal. And when a song calls for it, Jessy J can jam with the best of them. Listen to her work her magic on “Cuba” and “Paraiso Magico.”

My One and Only One is one fine piece of work filled with a lot of good listening.

Vincent Herring – Night and Day

Night and Day is alto saxophonist Vincent Herring’s second outing for Smoke Sessions, and like most albums in the series, it is a winner. Playing a mix of jazz classics and original compositions, Herring and his quartet deliver the kind of performance you expect from seasoned musicians. They sparkle on Donald Byrd’s “Fly, Little Bird Fly.” They play with the harmonies in the album’s title song to get what Herring calls in the liner note, “a different kind of life and direction.” When you’re dealing with an old warhorse like “Night and Day,” something different is not only welcome, it is a necessity.Herring

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt joins the ensemble on six of the 10 tracks: the opening number, an oddly titled “Grind Hog’s Day,” and a couple of the Herring originals, “The Adventures of Hyun Joo Lee” and the album’s concluding track “Smoking Paul’s Stash.” The first, Herring explains, is “built off Coltrane’s “Countdown,” and the second lives up to its title.

Vincent Herring may not be the first name you think of when you think about sax men, but it should be a name that gets up pretty high on the list.

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