Jazz Vocals

Concord Music Group

Curtis Stigers' Hooray for Love


Curtis Stigers released his eleventh album Hooray for Love on April 29, 2014, his eighth for Concord Records. The album includes classics from the Great American Songbook including such gems from the repertoire as George and Ira Gershwin’s “Love Is Here to Stay,” Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight,” and “If I Were a Bell,” from Guys and Dolls, as well as three songs written or co-written by Stigers, including the title track, “Hooray for Love,” “Give Your Heart to Me,” and “A Matter of Time.” Of his new album, Stigers comments, “On almost all of my Concord records, I’ve done a standard or two and lot of songs by modern songwriters.  This time around, I’ve flipped it and recorded mostly standards with a few modern songs.”
A seamless combination of old and new songs, a classic pop album recorded with jazz musicians and a jazz sensibility, Hooray for Love is a celebration of this universal human condition. “I set out for this album to be like an old Nat King Cole record from the '50s. I’ve had a lot of people ask me to do more standards, not critics or record companies, but friends. So, I had a running list of songs that I love and have always wanted to record. This time it really made sense.”
As with most of Stigers’ recordings, he is very comfortable juxtaposing standards with modern songs. In addition to the songs penned by Stigers, Hooray for Love also includes a Steve Earle song called “Valentine’s Day,” included because, as Stigers notes, “I like songs with stories that are told from a point of view of someone that is flawed, and this narrator is, although he ultimately redeems himself with some very romantic wordplay.  I think that, while it’s important to keep the Great American Songbook alive, it’s equally important to be open to adding to it.”
Recorded at Brooklyn Recording studio, Hooray for Love was produced by Stigers and John “Scrapper” Sneider and features musicians Matthew Fries (piano), Keith Hall (drums), Cliff Schmitt (bass), Matt Munisteri (guitar), and Sneider (trumpet).

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Concord Music Group

Dianne Reeves, Beautiful Life—Available Now


Four-time GRAMMY winner Dianne Reeves has released Beautiful Life, her eagerly anticipated first album in five years.  New to the Concord Records imprint, yet established as one of the classiest vocalists around, Reeves powerfully sustains her genre-defying tradition with elements of jazz, contemporary R&B, classic soul, modern pop, and vintage funk.  Through her two sublime originals, "Cold" and "Satiated (Been Waiting)," along with covers by Marvin Gaye, Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley, and Ani DiFranco, Reeves covers a lot of musical ground—and incorporates a lot of talent, too.

Beautiful Life features an A-list supporting crew, including production by Terri Lynne Carrington and musical appearances by Esperanza Spalding, Gregory Porter, Robert Glasper, and George Duke.  A soulful and sophisticated rendering with a sweet, sexy, and celebratory underlying tone, Beautiful Life is an inspiring affirmation not to be missed.

Chris Slawecki

Close To You


Search the Concord website for "Burt Bacharach" and the engine returns no results. But the brilliance of his collaborative songwriting with lyricist Hal David, especially in the 1960s and early '70s, shines throughout this catalog.

Lushly remade, "Walk on By" kicks off Isaac Hayes' solo breakout Hot Buttered Soul (Stax, 1987, and now available on vinyl, too). But it was (much) differently addressed by saxophonist Sonny Stitt on Soul Classics (Original Jazz Classics, 1991), was reinvented by the Wynton Kelly Trio on Full View (OJC, '96), and also turned up on Brothers-4 (Prestige, 2005), which marks the last time that soulmates Don Patterson and Stitt recorded together.

"Close to You" was addressed opulently by Hayes on Black Moses (Stax, '89) and tastily by Ella Fitzgerald on Ella A Nice (OJC, '90), but also appears on funky Prestige Legends of Acid Jazz compilations from Houston Person ('96) and Leon Spencer ('97), and was more smoothly rendered by Gerald Albright (Pushing the Envelope [Heads Up, 2010]).

Hayes also surveys "The Windows of the World" Live At The Sahara Tahoe (Stax, '89) and "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" appears on Quartets & Orchestra (Milestone, '89), which compiles the last two albums that pianist-composer Bobby Timmons recorded for Milestone.

Plus there's Dionne Warwick's retrospective My Friends & Me (Concord, 2006), where the primary voice of these and other Bacharach-David classics revisits them in the company of old friends and new, including Gladys Knight, Angie Stone and other vocal contemporaries.

Anne Farnsworth

Vaughan's Ellington


Singer Sarah Vaughan shares a vaunted position with Ella Fitzgerald as one of the two most influential and important jazz singers of all time. Concord released an updated version of her 1979 Pablo two-album undertaking, a definitive compilation of Duke Ellington music. Sophisticated Lady: The Duke Ellington Songbook, is an astounding achievement, a 2-disc offering of 27 tracks including six previously unreleased tracks.

This is the best jazz has to offer, with a stunning pedigree of first-rate musicians led by legendary producer Norman Granz. Granz founded the Pablo label in 1973, having sold off his four previous labels, including Verve, a decade earlier. He signed Vaughan in 1978, shocked that she had been without a recording contract for the past three years. She went on to release exemplary albums including a Brazilian-themed recording and a wonderful collaboration with guitarist Joe Pass. All of Granz's Pablo releases feature the crème de la crème of 20th century jazz, curated by a man who for 50 plus years was a leader in presenting the uppermost level of American musical talent.

Granz was first introduced to Vaughan's remarkable voice when she performed at one of his Jazz At The Philharmonic concerts in 1946 at Carnegie Hall. Ellington Songbook, originally released in 1980, shows Vaughan, some 35 years later, still at the height of her powers.

What can be said about Vaughan's voice that hasn't already been reported during her 40 years of stardom? Her remarkable gifts combined a three-octave range with an impeccable ear, formal musical training and a bop sensibility that led her, like Ella, Anita O'Day and Betty Carter, to instrumental-style improvisation, her musical influences coming from horn players rather than other singers.

An accomplished pianist, she first appeared in the Apollo Theater's famed talent contest as an accompanist for a singing girlfriend. She later returned to compete as a singer herself, performing "Body And Soul." She won, of course.

Ellington Songbook features famed arranger/bandleader Benny Carter and a full orchestra including a rhythm section of pianist Jimmy Rowles, Andy Simpkins on bass and drummer Grady Tate.

Recorded between 1979-80, they feature not only the most beloved of Ellington's compositions but also the ones that are the most difficult to sing. Originally written as instrumentals, the melodies have huge ranges with large leaps that challenge even the most accomplished vocalists. A must-have addition to any jazz lover's collection, this release is a tour de force, a fitting tribute not only to Ellington, one of our most important American composers, but for the original sophisticated lady herself.