Beady Belle, Truth Wide Open, Jazzland ****

So what among the tumble of releases is sophisticated in a soulful vein & worth the effort? It's not at all ''breaking news'' that Norwegian singer Beady Belle (Beate S. Lech) has a powerful voice because that's an old tale. What's more …

Published: 15 Oct 2021. Updated: 7 months.

So what among the tumble of releases is sophisticated in a soulful vein & worth the effort? It's not at all ''breaking news'' that Norwegian singer Beady Belle (Beate S. Lech) has a powerful voice because that's an old tale. What's more pertinent here is that 'Truth Wide Open' makes sense. Blessed with a very strong melody and lyrics beginning with an electronic clamour that are in no way trite (a difficult feat in itself) actually seriousness is part of the message it's soul like Natalie Williams habitually delivers and with the same sense of soaring, definitive declarative persuasion that crackles with intent and leaves enough shades of grey to make you think about what Beady is singing rather than letting it inanely wash all over you in another domain. The lyrics put the confessional protagonist's cards on the table there's nothing left to hide under the surface/nothing can hurt us as if in the wake of some seismic event and a rising tension as Beady goes high up into the stratosphere of her range and envelops the elegant sound space created all around. The keyboards backdrop have a satisfying softness, there isn't too much layering in other words, and the keyboards purr along in the groove comping quietly insistently. Beady Belle's own accompanying quasi-gospellised backing vocals are folded in ingeniously by the singer who also plays keyboards in the blend and does programming with additional programming added by Bjarne Gustavsen and keyboards from David Wallumrød. In three words: Effortless mastery throughout. Out today

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Charged Particles with Tod Dickow, Live at the Baked Potato Play the Music of Michael Brecker, Summit ****

Album of the week chosen for 18-24 October. A rare case of a tribute band win. You are in safe hands from the very first beat of this live recording made at the Los Angeles jazz club the Baked Potato two-and-a-half-years ago. But what a challenge. …

Published: 15 Oct 2021. Updated: 6 months.

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Album of the week chosen for 18-24 October. A rare case of a tribute band win. You are in safe hands from the very first beat of this live recording made at the Los Angeles jazz club the Baked Potato two-and-a-half-years ago. But what a challenge. Because few saxophonists since John Coltrane are held in as high esteem as Michael Brecker (1949-2007) still. Perhaps only Chris Potter can be properly named as following in the footsteps of Brecker in terms of impact and approximately the same style (although that comparison is not as easily made since The Sirens when Potter's sound entered a new phase). West Coast sax player Tod Dickow is clearly up to the task. As you wheel through the tracks you know there is no bias anywhere to allow direction to teeter off towards the kerb or hit the central reservation.

The material includes versions of 'Peep' and 'The Mean Time'. Dickow is with bustling drummer Jon Krosnick, pianist Murray Low, and agile bassist Aaron Germain. I'd have liked even more from Tales of the Hudson in addition to 'Slings and Arrows' and 'African Skies'.

Listening I'm trying to collect up and recall my feelings hearing the ur-source Brecker himself over the years, first of all with his brother Randy in the Brecker Brothers at an outdoors festival gig Jazz on a Summer's Day held in the grounds of Alexandra Palace in the 1990s; with Herbie Hancock in The New Standard band at the Royal Festival Hall again that decade; and in Don Grolnick's octet at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall with his brother Randy also part of the great pianist's group; in the group of the incredible percussionist Don Alias again at the QEH; with Brecker's cerebral large ensemble playing rocket science charts at London's Barbican; the quartet with Joey Calderazzo on piano in Glasgow; and most movingly playing solo at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival less than four years before Brecker died. All were very different occasions but the power and glory of Brecker's genius shone out each time. Dickow does the incredible inspirational sound of Brecker justice because there is a spirit and energy to what he and his bandmates provide and great musicianship to boot without which even the best intentions would be rendered folly. As a live recording the album feels ''live'' and whether you are a Brecker worshipper or not you will get something tangible from spending quality, considerable, time here. SG