Bon Iver, Jimmy Webb and Mark Knopfler covers feature nestled among originals on Americana

Harmonica player Grégoire Maret and pianist Romain Collin combine with the jazz guitar great Bill Frisell on a very individual, poised, version of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver's 'Re: Stacks' from Americana (the album also features drummer Clarence …

Published: 29 Mar 2020. Updated: 19 months.

Harmonica player Grégoire Maret and pianist Romain Collin combine with the jazz guitar great Bill Frisell on a very individual, poised, version of Justin Vernon of Bon Iver's 'Re: Stacks' from Americana (the album also features drummer Clarence Penn) to be released on 24 April by Siggi Loch's ACT.

Last we heard of Maret was in 2019 again on the German label with whom he had recently signed, on that occasion in an unusual duo featuring the extraordinary Columbian harpist Edmar Castañeda. The Swiss virtuoso's unique ability to speak to you like a singer was very much then in evidence as it is here again now on this upcoming release.

Americana has compositions by all three players plus besides the Bon Iver piece covers including Jimmy Webb's 'Wichita Lineman' and Mark Knopfler's 'Brothers in Arms,' the overarching theme taking its inspirations in ''the varied roots of American music and culture.''

The treatment of 'Re: Stacks' certainly represents a beautiful sense of organic unravelling – and all the time in the world.

Romain Collin, above left, Bill Frisell and Grégoire Maret. Photo: Neutrø/ACT.

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Kandace Springs, The Women Who Raised Me, Blue Note

In a few brief years Kandace Springs has become the female singer to turn to for her fresh way with classic jazz material and this surpasses all that has gone before. There is the quality and the sheer quantity. Opening with 'Devil May Care' …

Published: 28 Mar 2020. Updated: 19 months.

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In a few brief years Kandace Springs has become the female singer to turn to for her fresh way with classic jazz material and this surpasses all that has gone before.

There is the quality and the sheer quantity. Opening with 'Devil May Care' featuring Christian McBride there is a frisson, a lifeforce and that continues through in the personality she brings throughout to her loosely constructed tribute to female singers from Ella Fitzgerald to Sade to Billie Holiday.

Guests include a heroine of hers, Norah Jones, on a well caught treatment of 'Angel Eyes' although you don't turn at least yet to Springs for a distillation of darkness, yet it's lightning in a bottle because whatever the song she will find a way to make it work even if against the odds.

David Sanborn is on 'I Put a Spell on You' begun by Kandace on piano leaning in to the 'Moonlight Sonata' and using it as a counter melody against the Screamin' Jay Hawkins melody before Sanborn comes in with a superb crash and burns the place down. While Kandace is not like Nina Simone as a singer at all, there is much less of a shout and a violence in her sound, but there is a lot of range and a lot of passion that speaks to the listener as if it is their song.

'Pearls' is beautiful, a world away from the designer lounge sound Sade cultivated. Among the guests it's encouraging that flautist Elena Pinderhughes gets some new profile here and yet 'Ex-Factor' isn't such a stop the traffic track, but she adds an extra dimension to 'Killing Me Softly' a big highlight too for the vocal treatment. Pinderhughes I think needs more of a Bobbi Humphrey-type production in the future to make her big statement when someone gives her a big deal if that in the end comes. Trumpeter Avishai Cohen makes some telling contributions, you won't have heard him on any record the way he comes over here. It is staggering how much content there is on the album with multiple points of entry. Chris Potter is used well on the samba 'Gentle Rain' and keeping 'Strange Fruit' to last for impact was a good idea, the most serious song after all that Kandace navigates fairly well in its chilling indictment of raw racism. With her slight country lilt and the sheer joy she summons up from within her she has become one of the new greats on this evidence. Best jazz-vocals record since Liquid Spirit. Stephen Graham