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Lee Shaw TrioLive in Graz
(Artists Recording Collective)

For the majority of her 80-plus years, upstate pianist Lee Shaw has been quietly crafting her own brand of divinely exquisite jazz, in addition to serving as an inspiring teacher to Medeski, Martin & Wood’s John Medeski and others. A master of probing understatement, Shaw has a style that on ballads whispers wistfully of Bill Evans and Teddy Wilson (“Song Without Words”) and on complex, upbeat numbers (“Foots”) rings the chiming bells of her own mentor, the late Oscar Peterson. The beautifully recorded Live in Graz is a CD/DVD package that chronicles a 2007 date in the namesake Austrian city and features Shaw’s exceptional sidemen, Woodstock bassist Rich Syracuse and Shokan drummer Jeff “Siege” Siegel (the pair also frequently serves as rhythm section to the great Mose Allison).

Beyond the superb, swinging music, however, many of Live in Graz’s most revealing moments come via Shaw’s reflective spoken introductions to the tunes. She prefaces the contemplative “Rain Threads” with a richly evocative tale of composing the piece beside an open window in the misty aftermath of a rainstorm. The DVD is full of more such anecdotes in the form of an interview with Shaw and commentary by Siegel and Syracuse, and includes live concert footage and a slideshow of photos culled from the artist’s lengthy career.—Peter Aaron

Andy Friedman & the Other FailuresWeary Things
(City Salvage Records)

If having your still-beating heart ripped from your chest by the sad and lonely sounds of the urban American folk singer, it’s hard to imagine a more ideal destination than wherever Andy Friedman’s voice is burning and yearning from.

Weary Things opens in the haze of summer darkness with one of the great titles in the history of recorded music, “I Miss Being Broken, Lowdown and Alone,” and is followed by “Idaho,” a road ode so authentic you’ll feel the dust settle on your tongue.

Friedman is from Brooklyn, and there’s a palpable feeling of the decay of the city, whether the song is the raucous blues-based “Locked Out of the Building” or the otherworldly ambience of “Pilot Light.”

The album closes with “The Friedman Holler” recorded live in Chicago, which serves as something of a manifesto, as well as a teaser for what fun it must be to hear some of these tunes played in a live setting.

Weary Things is a special album, one that is worth more than just a purchase—it’s worth your absolute attention, with the potential reward being music that will find its way into your subconscious. —Crispin Kott

Sara MilonovichDaisycutter

Sara Milonovich’s debut album, Daisycutter, comes with a confidence not ordinarily found in a new performer. Part of that is due to the singer/multi-instrumentalist’s pedigree, which saw her pick up a violin at the age of four and never put it down.

Milonovich has a soothing vocal delivery, as well as a fiddle style evocative of Irish music, which is a natural given her three-year stint with the McKrells that took her through the Emerald Isle on tours. But there’s more bubbling under the surface than meets the eye, even on a collection comprised of more covers than original songs.

While the rest of the album is good, it’s perhaps Milonovich’s take on “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the Monkees that speaks to what the album is as a whole; a feel-good, all-inclusive vibe almost guaranteed to bring a smile to one’s face. —Crispin Kott

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