Keith Jarrett Trio - Standards in Norway (ECM): Pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock, and drummer Jack DeJohnette constitute the "Standards Trio." This, their 12th album, documents a performance given in Oslo in 1989, in which they improvise on such classics as "All of You," "Just in Time," "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," and "How About You?" In this concert, these three brilliant musicians deliver performances of sparkling originality and be-bop intensity, while never losing sight of the beauty of the melodies.
- Frank Scheck
Ethel Ennis - (Hildner Productions): Baltimore's most famous jazz stylist hasn't recorded for about 14 years, and it's been too long a time. She is unhurried, controlled, and warm in her treatment of new and old songs. Her voice has the tender confidence that makes you stop and pay attention to the styling you'd ignore in other singers. Stef Scaggiari and Marc Copeland provide beautiful piano accompaniment, Drew Gress plays bass, and Paul Hildner, who produced the record, is on drums. Cozy listening.
- Jeff Danziger
Bobby McFerrin - Paper Music (Sony Classical): Bobby McFerrin has established himself as one of the greatest vocalists of our time. He can't be defined by one format of music, and no longer is he merely a jazz musician. Here, in his latest effort with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, McFerrin wears two hats, conductor and vocalist. McFerrin is a marvelous conductor: The range of emotions and his translation of the music is astounding. It is there he should have stopped, however. On five tracks, McFerrin decided to take a melody line and join in with vocals. The result falls flat, sounding more like he is humming his favorite tune in the shower, than playing an additional instrument.
- Ian Zander