One listen to Lisa Gerrard's The Silver Tree (originally available only digitally, then as an Australia-only import, and finally, as a U.S. release) is enough to convince anybody – who isn't already convinced – that there's a very specific reason she has been courted by directors to compose soundtracks. There are 13 tracks here full of wispy ambient soundscapes, on top of which the former Dead Can Dance vocalist places her almost otherworldly gift of a voice. Sung nearly as prayers or meditative mantras, Gerrard employs monosyllabic glimpses of other languages – and occasionally English – to create her own tapestry of dreams. Some may be tempted to call this "new age" music, but it's so much more melancholy than much of what passes for that trash, and it's nearly sacred in its approach to articulation, creating the feeling in places ("Come Tenderness," "The Sea Whisperer," and "Abwoon," to name a few) that she is actually singing inside a cathedral. In other places, such as "Wandering Star" and "Serenity," her voice offers a drone approach that is as subtle – yet powerful – as her instrumentation.
This is Ann Hampton Callaway's seventh recording, Easy Living, is one of her very best. It's a program of well-known standards and fairly stock arrangements, but in the middle is her pristine, well-defined, flexible voice. She retains a lower-end range in her style that suggests only one singer: Sarah Vaughan. She's joined by several different rhythm sections and soloists, including pianists Benny Green (six cuts), Bill Charlap (five), and Kenny Barron (two); bassists Peter Washington or Neal Miner; drummers Clarence "Tootsie" Bean and Lewis Nash; percussionist Jim Saporito; saxophonists Andy Farber, Nelson Rangell, and Gerry Niewood; and on three selections, trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.