“Look Out Now!”
Some of the best of Rickie Lee Jones’ records, “Girl at Her Volcano” and “Pop Pop” came when she perfectly blended pop with jazz. And Joni Mitchell’s most interesting and challenging albums, “Hejira” and “Mingus” worked the same formula.
All you need is a small, tight, groove-heavy jazz combo and a great female voice.
The Gaddabouts — with drummer Steve Gadd and singer Edie Brickell — have that in spades.
Gadd has long worked both sides of the musical fence, touring behind Eric Clapton and Paul Simon (where he met Brickell) and Freddie Hubbard and Chick Corea.
On their sophomore album, a two-disc, 17-song set of originals, Gadd is joined by guitarist Andy Fairweather Low (another Clapton alum), and guests like organist Larry Goldings and vibraphonist Mike Mainieri. And Brickell, after more than a decade off raising her kids with Simon, is busting out to sing again.
Although not quite as nuanced a vocalist as Jones and Mitchell, Brickell carries this project with her sweetness and willingness to take on the comparisons. “The Horse’s Mouth,” with its spoken verse, seems a tribute to Jones.
And that song, with its beguiling playfulness, sets the tone for this set.
In the title track, a driving New Orleans march with horns, a woman warns a lover she’s about to be stolen by another man.
“He treats me nicer / He treats me kinder / He treats me better / He treats me sweeter,” she sings between shouted choruses.
The Blues Broads
Delta Groove Records
Add it all up and the four singers in the Blues Broads have been belting the blues, country, rock and gospel for more than 200 years.
Tracy Nelson goes all the way back to the 1960s with the band Mother Earth.
Dorothy Morrison sang lead on the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ 1967 hit “Oh, Happy Day,” still the biggest selling single in gospel music.
Angela Strehli not only performed during the early days of Antone’s in Austin, Texas, she booked artists for the club, including Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Otis Rush.
And Annie Sampson, played one of the leads in the original San Francisco production of “Hair” and founded the band Stoneground. She’s sung background for everyone from Taj Mahal to Jerry Garcia and Sammy Hagar.
With all the vocal might, and stylistic diversity, you’d think things would get a little messy on this CD/DVD combo. But, that’s not the case.
Mostly the vocalists give one another plenty of room, although when they do harmonize, it can be like a heavenly choir on gospel songs like “Jesus, I’ll Never Forget” and “Oh, Happy Day.”
These are mature voices, not the booming timber rattlers they once were. Still, that’s not a bad thing, wisdom over muscle has its own charm.
“Over With You”
Blue Corn Music
About 25 percent of what Steve Forbert does is pure genius. And that’s what’s so frustrating about him.
He has a weirdly wonderful voice, and his songwriting can leave you slack-jawed. And he crafted at least three of the best folk-rock albums of the late-1970s (his first three albums).
But in the 30 years since, there have been great songs, but no great albums. The exception was the much-deserved Grammy nomination for his “Any Old Time” in 2004. But those were Jimmie Rodgers’ songs.
For “Over With You,” Forbert strips things down, playing mostly acoustically with light drums, cello and sometimes no bass at all. The languid pace is welcome in places, but can be numbing.
When Forbert does cut loose — there’s a restrained Ben Harper guitar solo on “That’d Be Alright” — it’s too little, too late.
“Baby I know, you’re only 90 percent happy with me,” he sings in one song.
Nope, it’s still only 25 percent happy.