American keyboardist Kevin Stewart is a superb contemporary jazz instrumentalist and composer who can perform a range of styles - including jazz, blues, and R&B – with equal dexterity, and his new album, Never Look Back, is a good example of his remarkable facility.
Since making his debut as a leader with 2001's At Last, Marcus Strickland has established a reputation as a composer of remarkable depth and breadth. On Nihil Novi, his first Blue Note offering, Strickland showcases a new band – trumpeter Keyon Harrold, keyboardists Mitch Henry and Masayuki Hirano, bassist Kyle Miles, and drummer Charles Haynes. His new tunes offer an even greater array of styles, harmonic textures, and dynamics, and reveal his preoccupation with hip-hop beatmaking. (This isn't a jazz/hip-hop fusion record.) Nihil Novi was expertly and empathetically produced by Meshell Ndegeocello, who also guests on bass. Strickland also brings in some old friends and allies, including Robert Glasper, Chris Dave, Pino Palladino, and Chris Bruce.
With her latest, multivalent ECM New Series album, Meredith aimed to address ecology and climate change, she says: "Believing that music speaks more directly than words, I worked to make a piece with a fluid, perceptual field that could expand awareness of what we are in danger of losing. On Behalf of Nature is a meditation on our intimate connection to nature, its inner structures, the fragility of its ecology and our interdependence." Voices and instruments have equal weight: sometimes each is heard alone; sometimes they are blended to form a new, mysterious sound; sometimes they are combined to create intricate, layered, yet transparent sonic landscapes.