Singer Lizz Wright is back with another sterling effort. Grace finds the Georgia-born singer teaming with producer Joe Henry to weave together an effort with a decidedly bluesy, gospel Southern flavor. The 10-song set is highlighted by compositions by Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Allen Toussaint, Bob Dylan, K.D. Lang and Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish. The band of musicians here is first-rate, anchored by longtime keyboardist Kenny Banks, Sr., David Piltch on acoustic basss, Jay Bellerose on drums and percussion, Chris Bruce and Marvin Sewell on guitars among others. On a couple of tunes, Banks Sr. orchestrates an 8-member choir (that sounds much larger) and adds even more power to Wright’s already commanding vocal thrust. Once again, another amazing work from Lizz Wright.
Click to listen to a clip of “Barley”:
Tracks: Barley, Seems I’m Never Tired of Loving You, Singing in My Soul, Southern Nights, What Would I Do Without You, Grace, Stars Fell On Alabama, Every Grain of Sand, Wash Me Clean, All The Way Here.
Composer/saxophonist Michael Pedicin continues his consistent track record focusing on ballads, add this one to that collection. As It Should Be: Ballads 2 focuses almost entirely on the compositions of guitarists Johnnie Valentino, who also plays on and co-produced the recording. The tunes have a great touch of the familiar heard in popular ballad tunes, without becoming cliché. The effort only include two covers by John Coltrane and Paul Simon respectively. The performances of Pedicin and Valentino are excellent, as are the contributions of pianist Frank Strauss, bassist Mike Boone, drummer Justin Faulkner and percussionist Alex Acuña. Excellent recording and fantastic exploration of the gentler side of instrumental music in a contemporary context.
Click to listen to a clip of “As It Should Be”:
Tracks: As It Should Be, Storyteller, No Hard Feelings, Bridge Over Trouble Water, Crescent, Bellagio, By Itself, Facing the Night, From Afar, Last Words.