Similarities? Well that would be too neat and not strictly accurate. Yes it is two-and-a-half years since the quartet of pianist Dejan Ilijic surfaced. Eyot’s Innate (Ninety and Nine Records **** RECOMMENDED) is even better. But ch-ch-ch-changes, wheresoever? Well: not to be found in the band line-up. However, Steve Albini is at the console and did the mix (nb no producer credited), the PJ Harvey/Pixies/Mogwai, you name it, engineer making the band sound subtly different and that bit more dusted down, a pristine slightly metallic quality to the heavy sonic clarity offset effectively by beautifully recorded piano, the album laid down so clearly in a Chicago studio recorded and mixed less than three months ago. Soaked in the dark Slavic blues Innate is more episodic than its more riff-fuelled predecessor and further extends the possibilities of a bass-guitar/piano/drums+ format that they are making their own in a near-prog jazz space, the addition of guitar once again the plus factor opening the sound out like Dan Messore in Michelson Morley manages and yet this is more heart on sleeve and emotional. There are no guests this time around and even so the album sounds populated more than before, there is an intact completeness and maturity to the band that is compelling. Drummer Milos Vojvodic keeps very good time (who needs drum machines or drummers who are machines anyway) and provides a confident foundation for the others to know where they are: the guitar lines from Sladjan Milenovic sometimes astutely decorative, weaving in and out to add colour or slicing through the air as Ilijic turns vamps into melodies or retreats into a little quiet pool of concentration, his progressions becoming as intimate as Debussy. Ultimately it is the understanding between Ilijic, his impressionism, and the engrossing drama-laden lines from the bass guitarist embedded in the sound that counts, the compositions once again written and arranged by the Macedonia-born leader who utilises Serbian folk music to ignite a natural flow from among the other raw materials. Released on 20 Feb. The opening track, first of seven, the darkly devastating ‘Veer’, is above.

Melissa James big sing version of ‘Live Again,’ raising funds and fighting stigma for SANE, is available via iTunes and Amazon. Intimate piano accompanies a powerful lead vocal. Wait for the polyphonic backing vocals rising up to circle and blend from through the pianist’s microphone towards the end of the highly organic Stripped Back version, top

The song, a co-write with Ross Lorraine, in the choral version, excerpts of which are above in the explanatory “making of” video the lyrics borrowed from in the headline, has a gospelly-blues jazz feel, the singer’s warm, expressive René Marie-calibre voice blessed with great diction, pitch and dynamic control set against gently insistent and supportive piano accompaniment and then the blended volunteer community spirit of the choir an additional ingredient as they all move, together, step by step, towards the decisive musical moment and click to connect. Melissa debuted in 2012 with her album Day Dawns

The greatest singer in jazz today, Gregory Porter, won at the Grammys for his latest album Take Me To The Alley in the best jazz vocals album category. Porter won in the same category two years ago for his album Liquid Spirit and this latest win underlines his incredible success since debuting with Water in 2010. The long list of all the winners in all genres is here.
Easy stand out track from Take Me To The Alley, produced by Kamau Kenyatta and Porter, which was issued by Blue Note records last spring, the weepie Consequence of Love, is heard above in a promotional video issued at the time of release.