Acclaimed “downtown” jazz vocalist Bleckmann has covered everything from Vegas standards to Charles Ives, but his decision to dissect the music of Kate Bush is truly a match made in alternative heaven. Poised with pitch-perfect collaborators Skúli Sverrisson on bass, percussionist John Hollenbeck, pianist Henry Hey, and violinist Caleb Burhans, Bleckmann captures both the thematic and theatrical sides of Bush’s works, while extending them into further corners sonically and conceptually. With Bush bassists John Giblin and Eberhard Weber in mind, Sverrisson (on electric and acoustic bass guitars) anchors angular takes on “Suspended in Gaffa” and “Army Dreamers,” swings hard on “Saxophone Song,” and builds to a percolating pulse on “Running Up That Hill” and “Love and Anger.”
Brian Bromberg: It Is What It Is [Mack Avenue-Artistry Music]
Never one to shun the smooth jazz specter, it seems only fitting that Brian Bromberg jumpstarts the sagging idiom with his vibrant latest effort. Punctuated by a 5- piece horn section and all-star guest list throughout, the 13-track disc gets down to business with the hard-swinging big band title track opener. From there come feel-good covers of “Love Shack” and “Sanford and Son Theme,” fretless poise on “Heaven,” and Marcus-nodding thumb on “Elephants on Skates” and “Mr. Miller.” For full sonic contrast, dig the resonant solo tenor bass ballad “Mirror” and the disc-closing “Slap Happy,” with Brian in shredder mode on overdriven piccolo bass.