Continuing her streak of outstanding releases, guitarist extraordinaire Mary Halvorson once again shows her determination to build upon her unique style as a composer and bandleader. She's taken her septet from 2013's superb Illusionary Sea and added an eighth member, pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, and the resulting music is typical Halvorson: harmonically complex, emotionally compelling, and full of interesting moments worth savoring.
After a number of years paying her dues as a backup singer and recording for a number of indie labels with mixed success, Marilyn Scott finally brings her crisp, romantic vocal stylings to Warner Bros. on Take Me With You, a stylish potpourri of pop, soul, jazz and Brazilian influences tailor made to fit the definition of the finest in Adult Contemporary music. While Scott's powerful yet subtle and smoky voice ties all the loose threads together, the collection's strengths lie in its frolicsome diversity. Scott changes moods depending on the producer du jour. George Duke elicits cool, straightforward pop, while longtime cohorts Russell Ferrante and Jimmy Haslip forge her range from standard to hip-hop influenced jazz. Ironically, the most exciting track, a percolating Brazilian treatment of Stevie Wonder's "Bird of Beauty," is also the least commercial from a corporate marketing standpoint. Without the radio typical sheen, producer Dori Caymmi allows Scott to romp through a loping playground where even elegant Kevyn Lettau-like Portuguese is within the realm. Perhaps the reason it's taken Scott so long to break through on a higher level is the type of stunning diversity typified here. It's been worth the wait.