Stop what you're doing - Becca Stevens recently announced the fall release of her new album, Perfect Animal. Becca Stevens' Weightless is one of those rare albums that can bring you to tears. Stevens' voice is seemingly capable of anything she'd like it to do, and she has put together a band that more than does service to her songs. She works with both her original songs and great arrangements of unexpected songs (Weightless included tunes like Animal Collective's "All My Girls" and Seal's "Kiss From a Rose"), pulling up unexpected elements from the songs and making something magical. And that's the right word - her music is so good that you don't want to over-think it - it's magical. There aren't too many magical artists out there. Since releasing Weightless in 2011, Stevens has appeared on José James’ and Ambrose Akinmusire’s recent albums, and she is also part of Tillery, with Gretchen Parlato and Rebecca Martin.
I had a lot to get through in this week's show. I remembered to play some new music from Walter Smith III, I played through one of my favorite albums of the week (Mario Castro's Estrella De Mar), and played plenty of other new music for you. You know how it is around here.
The Line-Up for 29 August 2014
I had the chance to catch Maxwell with NextBop editor Anthony Dean-Harris a few weeks back. Good timing too, as after listening to a lot of Otis Redding the week before, I was on one of my periodical ‘they just don't make bands like they used to trips. It took Maxwell and his 7-piece backing crew about three songs to wipe those thoughts right out of my head. These dudes were fierce: navigating start-stop tempo shifts on a dime and subtly showing flashes of their individual sound without overshadowing the band.
Come roll call time at the end of the show, I was pleasantly surprised to recognize a couple names from Maxwell's backing band: bassist Derrick Hodge and organist Shedrick Mitchell, both of whom feature on Otis Brown III's excellent Blue Note debut The Thought of You.
Bassist/vocalist Maria Demus has an earthy sound that's an easy listen. The Lubbock, Texas, local is rooted more in an R&B vibe that works and is worth a listen. She's poised to release an EP of music this coming October, but in the meantime, check out her version of the jazz standard "Black Coffee" after the jump.