The Concord Records debut of Dallas singer-songwriter Ashleigh Smith, 27, has been highly anticipated ever since she won the 2014 Sarah Vaughan International Vocals Competition. 'Sunkissed' tops all expectations. It's that good.
From his 1970 self-titled solo debut to last year's "Say Say Say" remix, the four discs of 'Pure McCartney' (Concord Music Group) are testament to 1) Paul's staying power (his most famous band started in 1959); 2) his unerring melodic, harmonic and rhythmic perfection that time has yet to dim; 3) his vocal warmth like hearing an old friend who makes you smile; 4) and his willingness to apply his brand of rock'n'roll flair to just about any genre and still be Paul.
Trumpet man Marquis Hill, 29, includes spoken-word passages, hiphop, sweet soul and funkalicious jazz in what he calls his Blacktet. Going on four years now, they're tighter than a mosquito's tweeter. This, then, he likes to say, is 'The Way We Play' on his Concord Music Group debut.
In 2007, pianist Chick Corea and banjoist Bela Fleck teamed up for 'The Enchantment,' which they promptly supported by touring together. Personal chemistry being what it was between these two grand masters, they continued to tour intermittently ever since. When Corea approached Fleck to produce a live album, he readily agreed. This meant culling through eight years of tapes, which Fleck did on an Oregon beach. When he had his favorites, he went over them with Corea. The result is 'Two,' a double-disc of concert moments that show the pair incessantly tag teaming through a variety of their own classics plus well-chosen covers. It's a dizzying elongated listen with more notes than the brain can possibly fathom.
For the first time, 50% of the awards were given to artists on majors, and the other half to those signed either to an indie label, boutique label or a label of their own. For artists like Macklemore and his producer-cum-engineer-cum-friend Ryan Lewis and Vampire Weekend, the Grammys yielded a nominal "ton" in winnings.