Merrill, Reeves, Brackeen Highlight Week's New Releases

Merrill sings Croatian songs on her new roots CD.

Vocalist Helen Merrill goes back to her Croatian roots, singer Dianne Reeves releases a live recording and pianist Joanne Brackeen goes solo to head this week's new releases.

Jelena Ana Milcetic a.k.a. Helen Merrill (Verve) teams Merrill, 69, with saxophonist Steve Lacy and drummer Terry Clark for a series of songs that alternate between Eastern European folk and jazz standards. "Imagining Krk" (RealAudio excerpt) pays tribute with an eerie and highly rhythmic sound to the island Merrill's parents came from, while "My Father" (RealAudio excerpt) has Merrill singing Judy Collins' 1960 hit.

Brackeen's Popsicle Illusion (Arkadia) is the 61-year-old jazz veteran's first solo piano recording in 10 years. The new album features four original compilations by Brackeen as well as a six-minute interview with her talking about the creation of the CD.

In the Moment — Live in Concert (Blue Note) shows off Dianne Reeves' talents at the Studio Instrument Rentals Sound Stage in Los Angeles with tunes such as Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue" and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Triste."

On the posthumous Mel Torme Sings Fred Astaire (Rhino), Torme sings "The Way You Look Tonight," "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" and others popularized by the great dancer. Verve reissues two Louis Armstrong recordings: I Love Jazz and the double CD package Satchmo Serenades/Satchmo Sings.

Higher Octave issues a compilation CD of Craig Chaquico's best jazz works. Panorama features a dozen songs the former Jefferson Starship guitarist recorded in the 1990s, including "Acoustic Highway" and "Lights Out San Francisco."

Other Releases This Week

  • Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, The Master Takes/The Making of the Great Summit (Blue Note) — Reissue of the 1961 recording Together for the First Time/The Great Reunion with Duke and Pops making a historic album. Includes recently discovered session outtakes.

  • George Benson, Giblet Gravy (Verve) — Re-release of guitarist's 1967 recording with bassist Ron Carter, pianist Herbie Hancock, drummer Billy Cobham and percussionist Johnny Pacheco.

  • Black Eagle Jazz Band, Hear Me Talkin' to Ya (Stomp Off)

  • Steve Cole, Between Us (Atlantic) — Follow-up to saxophonist's 1998 CD "Stay Awhile" crosses over heavily to R&B. Co-stars percussionist Luis Conte and guitarist Gerey Johnson.

  • Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra, Shout Me Out!(Lightyear)

  • Paquito D'Rivera, Music From Two Worlds (Orchard)

  • Jimmy Haslip, Red Heat (Rounder)

  • Gene Lake, Cycles (Passin' Thru) — Former drummer for Maxwell, Joe Zawinul and Meshell Ndegeocello releases debut album.

  • Pam Pameijer, Music of Louis Armstrong: Hot 5's & 7's, Vol. 1 (Stomp Off)

  • Tom Pletcher, I'm Glad (Stomp Off)

    Rafael, 15 Exitos (Sony International)

  • Bob Schulz, Remembering Clancy (Stomp Off)

  • Joris Teepe's For Adults Only (Postcards/Arkadia Jazz) — Dutch–born bassist plays live in the New York jazz club Smalls with pianist David Hazeltine, drummer Bruce Cox and saxophonists Don Braden and Chris Potter.

  • Various artists, The Story of Cuba (Hemisphere) — Compilation CD of Cuba's top performers including Los Van Van and composer Adalberto Alvarez.

  • Various artists, The Story of Bossa Nova (Hemisphere) — Collection of classic Bossa Nova hits in Portuguese. Track include "Garota de Ipanema" (The Girl from Ipanema) and "Samba de Verao" (Summer Samba).

    Willie and Lobo, Siete (EMD/Narada)



    Reissues

  • Teddy Charles, Salute to Hamp (Rhino)

  • Dizzy Gillespie, Algo Bueno: The Complete Bluebird/Musicraft Record

  • Jimmy Smith, Root Down (Verve)

  • Mel Torme, My Kind of Music (Verve)

  • Chucho Valdés, Invitacion (Sonodisc)



    Compilations

  • Louis Armstrong Great Louis Armstrong Vol. 1-3 (Platinum Disc Corp)

  • Billie Holiday, Anthology: 1944–1959 (Cleopatra)

  • Various artists, Jumps Sax (Platinum Disc Corp)

  • Various artists, Classic Sax (Platinum Disc Corp)

  • Various artists, Modern Sax (Platinum Disc Corp)

  • Various artists, Smooth Groove essential collection (Rhino)

  • Various artists, Made in Europe (Naxos)

  • Various artists, Violin Jazz: A Nostalgic Collection (Gallerie)

  • Various artists, Swinging Big Bands: The Myths (Golden Sounds)