Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

New Recordings from the R&B and Jazz Veins

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

New Recordings from the R&B and Jazz Veins

Article excerpt

CDs from Jade Alston, Blue Gene Tyranny, Jeremy Pelt and Alcest.

Jade Alston An R&B singer from Philadelphia, Ms. Alston has made a first mixtape -- "Single on a Saturday Night," for streaming or download at jadealston.com -- that alternates between wholly new songs with "she-mixes": her versions of songs by men, including Lil Wayne's "Bill Gates," Wiz Khalifa's "Up" -- redone with more passion and open space as "More Than Friends" -- and J. Cole's "In the Morning." Her persona is mostly familiar: romantic but self- reliant, self-empowered, girl's-girl trustworthy, with a counterpoint of self-torture. (There's the beginning of a narrative here about loneliness and looking for love in wrong places.) Her musical identity isn't fully formed yet, but she has a voice that sounds timely right now, especially on the title track and "Searching."

Blue Gene Tyranny I am sometimes not totally sure what the pianist Robert Sheff, aka Blue Gene Tyranny, is trying to do: art song or improvisation, hymns or long-tone sound immersion, tunes or suites or incidental music. But in this case the confusion is a good feeling. Mr. Sheff represents a lot of different American energies. He was born in Texas, composed work for magnetic tape and voice, played blues and experimental music in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the 1960s and '70s, toured with the jazz composers Carla Bley and Bill Dixon, lived aesthetically somewhere between rock 'n' roll and the academic avant-garde, and worked as an instructor at the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College in Oakland, California, where a lot of the American new-music powerhouses of the last half-century - - Steve Reich, Robert Ashley, Pauline Oliveros and the Kronos Quartet -- studied or taught. It has been eight years since an album of his new work, and about half of "Detours" is prime stuff, including two major solo-piano pieces: "13 Detours" and "George Fox Searches." He does not stint on beautiful things -- major arpeggios, soul-chord progressions, lines that flow and breathe -- and his keyboard touch is rounded and gorgeous, a feeling you remember. …

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