Jazz 100
Keep on Singin'
The Best Jazz Ever Released Digitally


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Carmen Sings Monk
Carmen McRae
1990 [Novus]


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A heartfelt memorial project dedicated to close friend Thelonious Monk. A pianist of note in her own right, Carmen McRae handles the complex vocal arrangements with true style. Tenor Charlie Rouse is the other standout performer and Jon Hendricks takes up the challenge of writing words for the more intricate compositions contained within.





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Here's to Life
Shirley Horn
1992 [Verve]


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A string-laden album from jazz singer Shirley Horn, with arrangements by Johnny Mandel scoring him a Grammy in the process. It is mostly sugary sweet down-tempo ballads, with the occasional mid-tempo foray to liven things up. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis chimes in on a couple of tracks, with a Charles Ables/Steve Williams rhythm section.





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Blue Light 'til Dawn
Cassandra Wilson
1993 [Blue Note]


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Recording the Blue Note label, Cassandra Wilson sings a pleasing mix of jazz and pop. Well-credentialled jazz players like Don Byron on clarinet and Olu Dara on cornet add the jazz feel, with Wilson maintaining a solidly commercial focus. The version of Robert Johnson's bluesy 'Come On In My Kitchen' is absolutely outstanding.





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Café Blue
Patricia Barber
1994 [Premonition]


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This early effort from pianist/vocalist Patricia Barber shows an artist gaining in confidence and style. One of her great strengths is her ability to move through a range of emotional contexts, from melancholy to playful and beyond. Guitarist John McLean, who played on three of the early albums, provides outstanding instrumental support.





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New Moon Daughter
Cassandra Wilson
1995 [Blue Note]


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Critics who claim Wilson abandoned jazz with this record simply don't know what they are talking about. The set kicks of with a postmodern version of Billie Holiday's disturbing 'Strange Fruit', moving on to chart an eclectic course through tracks by the likes of Son House, Neil Young, Johnny Mercer and the Monkees… and it sounds terrific.





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Careless Love
Madeleine Peyroux
2004 [Rounder]


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The enigmatic Madeleine Peyroux waited eight years to follow up her superb Dreamland album because she "took a breather". Careless Love was worth the wait, however, with producer Larry Klein showing that he knows how to make a jazz singer sound popularly modern. The Billie Holiday influence is plainly obvious, but not overbearing.





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Paavo
Paavo
2007 [Apart]


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A quirky album from Swedish group Paavo and their frontwoman Sofia Jernberg. Make no mistake, however, this is truly a group effort from a very talented, if unusual septet. The record took out jazz record of the year in Swedish newspapers Dagens Nyheter and Svenska Dagbladet, while Jernberg won a Royal Musical Academy jazz award.





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The Dreamer
José James
2008 [Brownswood]


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Executive producer and Brownswood label founder Gilles Peterson obviously has a good eye for fresh new jazz talent. José James is a soulful, often delicate vocalist who infuses New York street smarts into his music. A bit of studio wizardry is used to multi-track James' voice, and it works to perfection, with all the emphasis in the right places.





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Be Good
Gregory Porter
2012 [Motéma]


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Gregory Porter's vocal talents are undeniable as he shows them off in style on his second album. Porter pens nine of the 12 tracks, all demonstrating that he is simultaneously soulful, reflective and romantic. Porter doesn't often go up-tempo, but when he does it is a joy to behold. Recommended for all lovers of modern jazz vocals.





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No Deal
Mélanie de Biasio
2013 [PIAS]


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This fabulous album from Belgian vocalist/flutist Mélanie de Biasio sounds a bit like a soundtrack to a film noir movie. Pianist Pascal Mohy is scary at times, as if danger lurks around every corner. De Biaso can lament with the best of them, but watch out for her bite, because she can snarl like a rabid dog too. Fine singer, great album.


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