Thursday, January 4, 2024

The Music That Made 2023 Special (Pt 2) – Let's Hear it for the Ladies

 My original plan was not to isolate the recordings made by women into a separate post but these albums are so good that I could not resist. 

Jo Lawry – "Acrobats" (Whirlwind Recordings) –  What a real treat is this most delightful of Trio albums.  Here, Ms. Lawry's voice is supported, pushed, prodded, cushioned by the excellent playing of bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Allison Miller.  The title track, composed by fellow Australian Gian Slater, perfectly describes not only the lives of musicians in the 21st Century but also the exploratory nature of this program.  The majority of the program is made of "standards" but there is absolutely nothing standard about this album.  This listener found himself exclusively listening to the album over the course of a full week.  Never too late to take the leap into this album!!

For more information, go to Check out and/ or purchase the album by going to

Here's the Trio "Taking a Chance on Love":

Nicole Zuraitis – "How Love Begins" (OutsideIn Music) –  The genesis of singer, songwriter, and pianist Zuratis's fifth album as a leader was a meeting with bassist Christian McBride in 2018 who heard her playing in a New York City piano bar and said "we should do something together".  The results of the duo working out the details amidst the Pandemic slowdown are a pure delight. Ms. Zuraitis's vocal work is the most assured of her career and co-Producer McBride makes sure we also hear what a fine pianist she is.  With her husband Dan Pugach on drums, the sound is filled out by guitarist Gilad Hekselman, Maya Kronfeld on keys, and Mr. McBride's bass pushing the proceedings forward, this program is quite strong and quite listenable.

Listen to "Let Me Love You":

Magos Herrera – "Aire" (Sunnyside Records) – 2023 was the year this listener truly discovered the brilliant and adventurous Mexican-born vocalist Magos Herrera.  I had heard of her before but this year, a deeper dive was called for.  What a supple, emotional, and often stunning voice –– when she inhabits the song, you may not understand the words but, pay attention, you'll get the message.  Surrounded by her "working" trio of guitarist Vinicius Gomes, bassist Sam Minaie, and drummer Alex Kautz plus a slew of guests (including an "orchestra" conducted by Eric and Colin Jacobsen), this music sounds alive, full of possibility, aware of the sufferings of the heart but open to hope.  The 12-song program includes classic songs, originals, brilliant arrangements, and that marvelous voice.

For more information, go to To hear more and to purchase the album, go to  

Here's the title track:

Edward Simon, Featuring Magos Herrera – "Femeninas" (ArtistShare) – Right around the same date "Aire" was issued came the new ArtistShare project from pianist Edward Simon.  Subtitled "Songs of Latin American Women", the program is that and more. Ms. Herrera joins Simon, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Adam Cruz, and percussionist Luis Quintero (plus guest Romero Lubambo playing guitar on several tracks) performing a 11-song program of works associated with Joyce Moreno (Brazil), Elizabeth (Chile), Chabuca Granda (Perú), Violetta Parra (Chile), Marta Valdés (Cuba), Rosa Passos (Brazil), and Georgina Hassan (Argentina).  The excellent arrangements, the splendid musicianship, and the wonderful vocals makes this a "project for the ages".  

For more information, go to

Watch Mr. Simon and Ms. Herrera perform two pieces from the "Femeninas" project:

Gretchen Parlato & Lionel Loueke – "Lean In" (Edition Records) – This is an intimate collection of songs from two fine musicians who have known each other several decades. Basically a duo album (there are several guest contributors) but the focus of the music is on the interplay of the voice and guitar. Both leaders brought music to the sessions yet the program feels and sounds organic.  Mr. Loueke's guitar work is superlative throughout as are Ms. Parlato's vocals –– it's amazing how rhythmical this music is, how percussive the guitar work can be, and how sweet the results are.  Let's hope this is just the first Editions Recording of this splendid duo.

For more information, go to

Listen to the delightfully sweet "Nonvignon":

Pt. 3 will include the rest of the list but, for now, there's much to explore here.

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