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.”
NGUYÊN LÊ, Songs of Freedom [ACT Music]
Vietnamese guitarist Lê turns in one of the standout sides of the year with his exotic, intoxicating interpretations of eleven classic pop songs, backed by the formidable core of bassist Linley Marthe, vibist Illya Amar, and drummer Stéphane Galland, plus a host of guest vocalists and percussionists. “Eleanor Rigby” immediately sets the stage with its haunting, intertwined Asiatic themes, funk feel, and jazz reharms.