Take Five: Jane Monheit, Angel Bat Dawid, Gretchen Parlato, Sana Nagano and Reut Regev
Jane Monheit, “On the Sunny Side of the Street / Get Happy”
Come What May, the elegant new album by Jane Monheit, acknowledges both a career milestone and some current conditions. On the one hand, it arrives on the 20th anniversary of her first chart-topping jazz release, Come Dream with Me. On the other hand, the album — Monheit’s first in five years — emerges in a moment of historic uncertainty.
“So much of Come What May is really a way for me to cope with the pandemic in my own personal way,” she says in a press statement. That impulse rings brightly through her medley of “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields, and “Get Happy,” by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler; the track premieres here at WBGO.
Monheit sings “Sunny Side” over a walking bass line by David Robaire, before pianist Michael Kanan and her husband, drummer Rick Montalbano, kick into a new tempo for “Get Happy.” There’s room for a 16-bar scat solo, before Monheit brings the tune home. And speaking of home: “People stuck at home need a little encouragement and cheer,” she says. “The album has some sad, heavy tunes and I knew we needed to balance those with some levity.”
Gretchen Parlato, “É Preciso Perdoar”
Has it really been a decade since Gretchen Parlato last released a solo studio album? Flor, which she made for Edition Records, marks a beautiful return as well as a new path forward.
The album formally introduces her working band, which features a pair of Brazilians, guitarist Marcel Camargo and percussionist Léo Costa, and Armenian cellist Artyom Manukyan. Parlato’s well-chronicled affinity for bossa nova is clear within the first few moments of the opening track, “É Preciso Perdoar,” made famous by João Gilberto. (Here he is performing it with the Stan Getz Quartet at Keystone Korner in 1976 — a lovely complement to Parlato’s fresh take.)
Flor is available now from Edition Records.
Angel Bat Dawid, “We Are Starzz (Live)”
Last fall, clarinetist, keyboardist and vocalist Angel Bat Dawid released LIVE, a digital album recorded with her band Tha Brotherhood during the 2019 edition of Jazzfest Berlin. A cathartic chronicle of an emotionally raw performance, driven by the band’s confrontation with racial prejudice, it met with instant acclaim. Now International Anthem has released LIVE on CD and as a double LP. The album’s incendiary energies are undeniable on a piece like “Black Family,” but its spiritual centerpiece is a 14-minute version of “We Are Starzz,” a free-jazz exhortation that Dawid first recorded on her album The Oracle. Tha Brotherhood lifts this performance into another realm, where Dawid hovers like an avenging angel. “This is what it feels like to be unified,” she declares at the close of the track, after leading an audience sing-along. “Y’all feel it? Feels damn good, don’t it?”
LIVE is available now on International Anthem.
Sana Nagano, “Loud Dinner Wanted”
Originally from Tokyo, violinist Sana Nagano has resided in the United States for 20 years, and now operates within the volatile stir of the Brooklyn noise and improv scenes. One of her main outlets is a band called Smashing Humans, whose self-titled debut will be released on 577 Records on March 19. Featuring Peter Apfelbaum on tenor saxophone, Keisuke Matsuno on electric guitar, Ken Filiano on bass and Joe Hertenstein on drums, it’s a riotous avant-garde feast that may remind some listeners of the old Knitting Factory, though Nagano has her sights pointed not in the past, but toward the future. Consider this video for a track called “Loud Dinner Wanted,” created by the Philadelphia-based sculptor and special-effects artist Dylan Pecora: among its enticements is a bizarro Santa Claus, an intrepid orange, and a dreamy waft of holiday lights.
Smashing Humans will be released on 577 Records on March 19; preorder here.
Reut Regev and Igal Foni, “The Beauty of Sadness”
A trombonist whose range of musical experience defies categorization of any kind, Reut Regev always sounds at home in the realm of open improvisation. On Never Enough, a spirited new album with her husband, drummer Igal Foni, she pushes that process of spontaneous invention front and center.
Regev and Foni, who both hail orginally from Israel, work here as a unit called Two Much. And as they note in a press statement, Never Enough was “recorded in intimate studio settings right before the pandemic, and then amended over the lockdown in our home studio.” It’s hard not to ascribe some timely intention to a piece like “The Beauty of Sadness,” which they attack with pugnacious fervor, as if to redefine both beauty and sadness through their real-time exchange.
Never Enough is available now from Relative Pitch Records.