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CDs Discoveries of the Month

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Now that the Grammys are over, here are some truly sensational albums. To feature as many as possible, I've kept my banter to a minimum...

She sings, she plays bass and she writes songs. Katie Thiroux is a triple threat who also has chosen terrific material for her first album. I love the way she deals with Wives and Lovers—accompanying herself alone on bass. Also here is Shiny Stockings, Don't Be on the Outside and There's a Small Hotel as well as a bunch of originals. She sings like a bassist, which is way cool. And as a bassist, her time as a singer is impeccable. Go here. And here's a track...

Wives And Lovers

Nicola Conte is an Italian DJ, producer and guitarist who has an incredible feel for American jazz-soul of the '70s. On this album, he brings together Italian and American artists like saxophonist Greg Osby and singers Jose James and Marvin Parks. It's a wild and crazy mix of musicians and singers, but it works. Easily one of the most exciting and inspiring albums I've heard in some time. Go here

Alto saxophonist and flutist Laura Dreyer sails through samba, bossa nova and jazz-soul numbers. A solid player who dazzles the ear, Dreyer has a beautiful tone and great taste in song choices. She even delivers a hip cover of the theme to Beauty & the Beast. Go here.

Linda Jones was 27 when she died in 1972. On this release are 21 of her little known but monumental soul tracks for three different labels, including her hit Hypnotized. Go here.

Chris Biesterfeldt is a rhythmic, swinging jazz guitarist who takes on swell tracks like Horace Silver Juicy Lucy and a bunch by Phineas Newborn, like Theme for Basie, Harlem Blues and Sugar Ray. Go here.

Singer-songwriter Allegra Levy delivers a savvy album of originals in the hip tradition of Blossom Dearie and Bob Dorough. A sophisticated, smart sound backed by a knockout band with cool arrangements. Go here.

The Orioles were one of the early “bird groups" out of Baltimore in the late 1940s. This is where doo-wop started, when vocal groups like this one began leveraging the Ink Spots, Mills Brothers and other harmony groups to create a new form of romantic soul. Here, the Orioles are live in Chicago in 1951 on an album with astonishing fidelity. Go here.

A friend sent along this one Laurie Antonioli recorded in 2010. Wow. The vocalist has a passionate, flexible jazz voice that curls around songs without wasting precious time selling them. Best of all, she's a gifted songwriter—her co-written Vienna Blues knocks me out—which makes this album most engaging. Go here.

Breezy jazz-samba that lets you hear what's going on. All of the songs are by warm-toned saxophonist Phil Chester. Go here.

In addition to being a gorgeous songwriter and singer, Sam Cooke owned a record label—SAR. Two gospel groups that recorded for SAR were the Valentinos and the Soul Stirrers. The Valentinos featured Bobby Womack and his brothers, and the rest is history. The Soul Stirrers gave Cooke his start, and Cooke returned the favor by recording them. All of the groups' SAR recordings are now on double-CD sets. Go here and here.

I love classical—selectively. In short, I dig classical most when it inspires me and keeps my head in order as I write. I know this sounds tremendously shallow to my classical-loving readers, but that's how it is. With that said, this is an absolutely moving album of Hayden's concertos by a superb pianist, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet. Click on the samples and see if you aren't instantly seduced. Go here.

Singer and harmonica player Junior Wells came up in the late 1940s and made his first recordings in the early 1950s. He played with all the blues great of the period and with rockers who embraced the from in the 1960s and '70s. This album was recorded in late 1969 and early 1970 with guitarist Buddy Guy and pianist Otis Span. Go here.

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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