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Enoch Smith Jr. - 'The Quest: Live at APC'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Being a church musician involves a certain kind of versatility which lends itself to a certain kind of cadence. This is particularly true in the black church. It's a tradition steeped in soul and fortitude in the face of segregation; it's a sound that lends itself to unabashed shouts; it's a chordal structure that lets everyone in the sanctuary find a place, if the Holy Spirit blesses the congregation with the gift of song (I know the sound well but my childhood home church only had the gifts in fits and starts, I know and recognize the pattern but let's just say my childhood had some really superb Bible teaching, but the choir left things to be desired). While pianist Enoch Smith Jr.'s latest album is a live recording from a Presbyterian Church, every drop of what he plays, and The Quest: Live at APC is an album mainly of original compositions, sounds right at home in the red book (that's The New National Baptist Hymnal to the uninitiated).

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Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle - 'Kings & Queens'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

How does one easily express a larger idea? It's been three years since keyboardist Eddie Moore and his group the Outer Circle released The Freedom of Expression, and now the building of new, impressionable material for the next one had to commence. Glimmers showed up in live performances over three years and now is the time for this collection of songs circulated around the sprawling but regal song triptych that is "Kings and Queens" have proven that it may have taken some doing to get here but their ever-present soulfulness in their play always makes it sound easy.

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Norah Jones - 'Day Breaks'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Norah Jones can do whatever she wants as an artist, it seems. Since she broke on the scene in 2002 (though she still spent years putting in dues before that, shouts to Wax Poetic, shouts to Peter Malick), Jones' varied musical interests have sprawled out impressively to create a body of work that includes jazz, folk, country, indie pop, rock, and the indefinable but certainly pleasant. She has amassed a litany of collaborators. She's shown astute awareness of her image in popular culture (her appearances in Seth MacFarlane's Ted and David Wain's They Came Together are clever, her starting foray in Wong Kar-wai's My Blueberry Nights was kind of soporific but still worth checking out at least once). In essence, Norah Jones has for her artistic career been adept at expressing her creative urges in a public sphere and has always been satisfying as a musician. For her to take so many turns while still sounding so definitively her is an accomplishment. For her to return to the kind of sound that brought her to our collective attention in her new Blue Note album, Day Breaks, isn't merely a return to form but yet another instance of Norah Jones doing whatever she wants as an artist and still, as usual, succeeding.

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Darcy James Argue's Secret Society - 'Real Enemies'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

If there's one thing I find reassurance in within the midst of a depressing world, it's the nerdery of Darcy James Argue. The man can go in hard about coffee, about bagels, about politics, about the music industry, about every nut and bolt necessary to compose his music. On his latest release with his big band, Secret Society, out now on New Amsterdam Records called Real Enemies, Argue applies his nerdery to conspiracy theories.

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Corey King - 'Lashes'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

Corey King and Jamire Williams make a great pair. The dopeness of Williams' 2012 release, Conflict of a Man (the album's "Black Super Hero Theme Song" has been the theme song to "The Line-Up" for years), through his backwards namesake band, ERIMAJ, is accomplished not only because of Williams' constantly keyed in rumbling on the drums but also because of King's soulful arrangements. What these two make together, especially with guitarist Matthew Stevens, is always a marvel, and it's even moreso on King's adventurous new album, Lashes, out now on Ropeadope.