Esteemed jazz vocalist and six-time Grammy nominee Nnenna Freelon offers up her first studio album in five years, "Homefree", a soulful swinging disc that she calls her "home brew." The collection is comprised largely of contemporary interpretations of classic American Songbook tunes, along with a new original and spirited arrangements of two anthems. "Most of the songs are part of our repertoire," Nnenna says. "We've tested them on the road, getting insight on what works and what doesn't...the music was deeper in our bones. These are all songs that were loved and ready to record."
Troy 'Trombone Shorty' Andrews' new CD, "Backatown", is the work of a rare artist who can draw both the unqualified respect of jazz legends and mesmerize international rock stars and audiences alike. With an unprecedented mix of jazz, funk, soul, and hip-hop, Andrews is the kind of player who comes along maybe once in a generation. Surrounding him is Orleans Avenue, the same band he brought to the Iowa City Jazz Festival last summer. The album title comes from the locals' term for the area of New Orleans that includes the Treme neighborhood in the city's 6th Ward, where Shorty was born and raised. The cultural backdrop of the area is at the very root of his music, on top of which he's built his own sound.
Another New Orleans mainstay, drummer Stanton Moore, brings his funky, Crescent City second-line swing to his fifth release as leader, "Groove Alchemy", featuring keyboardist Robert Walter and guitarist Will Bernard.
Other new releases -- the legacy of Stan Kenton in good hands with Mike Vax and the Kenton Alumni Band on a new live disc, "Have Band Will Travel"; and the band Playdate reunites three childhood friends, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Noah Baerman and guitarist Amanda Monaco, for their self-titled debut release.