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PREVIEW: Relief – An Important Jazz Album for a Great Cause

Album art for the Relief jazz album dropping November 12.

A unique jazz album is about to be released: Relief, a compilation of previously unreleased music, is an unusual joint product of many of the best-known jazz labels: Blue Note Records, Verve Label Group, Warner Music Group, Nonesuch Records, Mack Avenue Music Group, and Concord Music Group. It is a charitable work with an all-star cast; all proceeds will “support the non-profit Jazz Foundation of America’s (JFA) ongoing efforts to aid musicians affected by the international shutdown of venues and other performance opportunities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic”.

The range of artists and musical styles means that there is something here for almost every jazz taste. “Irma and Leo” (Esperanza Spalding and Leo Genovese) offer “Back to Who”, which has the feel of an upbeat, updated Manhattan Transfer song. “Brother Malcolm” is a lovely slow bluesy number by Christian McBride and his band. Cécile McLorin Salvant brings the spirit of Bessie Smith to “Easy Come Easy Go Blues”, while Kenny Garrett and his band honor Joe Henderson in “Joe Hen’s Waltz”.

The album cover art.

Jon Batiste provides a charming cover of “Sweet Lorraine”. Hiromi’s new version of her “Green Tea Farm” shows again how many different genres can be ingeniously combined in a single soft jazz ballad. Joshua Redman, with the help of Ron Miles, Scott Colley, and Brian Blade, delivers a free-jazz “Facts”. The album ends with two live recordings: Charles Lloyd & Kindred Spirits offering a discordant but powerful “Life Every Voice and Sing”, and Herbie Hancock, together with Wallace Roney, Jimmy Heath, Buster Williams, and Albert “Tootie” Heath, offering their tribute to Clark Jerry, “Gingerbread Boy”.

Relief drops November 12 as a 2-LP vinyl set, as a CD, and in digital formats.

Brian Bix