The debut album from jazz piano prodigy Joey Alexander, 2015's My Favorite Things showcases the 11-year-old's stunning keyboard virtuosity. Joining Alexander here is a mix of older and younger associates, including journeyman bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. Also backing Alexander on various tracks are bassist Russell Hall, drummer Sammy Miller, and up-and-coming firebrand trumpeter Alphonso Horne. Working with Grammy-winning producer Jason Olaine, who previously helmed albums by such jazz luminaries as Roy Hargrove, Chris Potter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and others, Alexander delivers a handful of jazz standards and songs culled from the American Popular Songbook in adroit, acoustic, swinging fashion.
The Ritchie Family is the name of an American vocal group which was based in Philadelphia. They achieved many hits from the mid 1970s to the early 1980s. The group was created by Jacques Morali (also from the Village Company) and got their name from record producer Ritchie Rome.
At first or second listen, this sounds unnervingly like a solo album that Ray Davies might have made circa the early 1970s. There's that same witty melodicism, and a similar resigned yet bemused air to Suggs' vocal delivery. It manages, though, not to sound like an inferior rewrite of Kinks cliches, and upon closer inspection, reveals Suggs to be more his own man than might initially be suspected. Suggs favors far more abstract lyrics, for one thing, imbued with rather creepy images of vultures, skeletons, and dreamy disorientation. In addition, the music is more speckled with Americana than what Davies and the Kinks played, as heard on the enchanting minor-keyed mandolin strums and desert guide slide that anchor "The Rambler Vs. the Vulture/Devils Dance," managing to strike a mood between Appalachia and Tex-Mex balladry. Like few other ambitious musicians, singer-songwriter-identified and otherwise, working in indie rock circa 2000, Suggs knows how to use understatement instead of trying too hard or opting for an in-your-face approach.