On his eighth album as a leader, guitarist and composer Rez Abbasi turns to qawwali, the devotional Sufi music of his native Pakistan, for inspiration. Not that you'll hear anything here that seems to refer specifically to that music – instead, Abbasi's goal was "to capture some of the power, passion, and joy of qawwali with an instrumental jazz group, without direct imitation." The result is certainly powerful and arguably passionate, but often feels more determined than joyful.
For to Next followed Steve Hillage's last effort by a few years, and during the interim the evolving synth/new wave scene seems to have captured his imagination. For all intents and purposes a collaboration with keyboardist Miquette Giraudy, the album features relatively light and bouncy synthesizers augmented by Hillage's sometimes spacy guitar solos and sleepy vocals…
Nina Simone Sings the Blues, issued in 1967, was her RCA label debut, and was a brave departure from the material she had been recording for Phillips. Indeed, her final album for that label, High Priestess of Soul, featured the singer, pianist, and songwriter fronting a virtual orchestra. Here, Simone is backed by a pair of guitarists (Eric Gale and Rudy Stevenson), bassist (Bob Bushnell), drummer (Bernard "Pretty" Purdie), organist (Ernie Hayes), and harmonica player who doubled on saxophone (Buddy Lucas). Simone handled the piano chores. The song selection is key here. Because for all intents and purposes this is perhaps the rawest record Simone ever cut. It opens with the sultry, nocturnal, slow-burning original "Do I Move You," which doesn't beg the question but demands an answer: "Do I move you?/Are you willin'?/Do I groove you?/Is it thrillin'?/Do I soothe you?/Tell the truth now?/Do I move you?/Are you loose now?/The answer better be yeah…It pleases me…." As the guitarists slip and slide around her husky vocal, a harmonica wails in the space between, and Simone's piano is the authority, hard and purposely slow.
John Pizzarelli lays it all out in the title of his 2015 album: this tribute to Paul McCartney is designed for play in the smoky late-night hours, when everything turns sweet and mellow. Furthermore, this is a tribute to McCartney, not the Beatles. There isn't a Fab song to be found here, as Pizzarelli focuses entirely on Paul's solo work (for these intents and purposes, this includes Wings records), concentrating on the '70s but also sliding McCartney's Great American Songbook wannabe "My Valentine" into the mix.