Pianist Dave Burrell and vocalist Leena Conquest have both been associated with the jazz avant-garde, Burrell on the basis of some very influential records as a leader and a sideman since the 1960's, and Conquest for her wonderful singing on various projects by bassist William Parker. On this album they defy any easy pigeon holing or categorization, performing a set of Burrell's original compositions and lyrics. Collaborating with poet and lyricist Monika Larsson, Burrell develops a set of lyrics that explore love, loss and spirituality that are perfect for a singer of Conquest's range. They begin the album with "Teardrops for Jimmy" dedicated to the late bassist Jimmy Garrison, with the lyrics developing like a dream interpretation around Conquest's clear singing and Burrell's supple piano. They build in a hint of gospel music in "So Spiritual" and "Fade to Black" with the lyrics evoking love and wonder and the hope for true peace. Most of the album is played in a very straight-ahead manner, but Burrell drops in a few piano passages that make you turn your head, and Conquest adds come gleeful scatting at points to keep things from getting too serious. It's interesting to hear how truly multi-faceted these musicians can be. Conquest with her clear bell like articulation of the words and lyrics and Burrell's original arrangement of the music keep the music consistently interesting throughout. Plays His Songs Featuring Leena Conquest - amazon.com
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Unnatural Ways - We Aliens (Tzadik, 2016) ****
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