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Roy Hargrove Big Band

Emergence

Emarcy Records

Buy if you like: Count Basie, Cole Porter

Roy Hargrove has wanted to make a big band album since arriving in New York from Texas in the late '80s. In that time he established himself as one of the great modern-day jazz trumpet players with his straight-ahead quintet, his Afro-Cuban band Crisol and a funkified RH Factor that featured guest appearances by Erykah Badu, Common and D'Angelo. Here, in the tradition of Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Maynard Ferguson and Gerald Wilson, he leads a 19-piece band through inspired originals and stirring standards like "My Funny Valentine" and "September in the Rain." Vocalist Roberta Gambarini is featured on "La Puerta" and "Every Time We Say Goodbye," which includes one of the great lyrics of all time: "There's no love song finer / But how strange the change from major to minor / Every time we say goodbye." Go Cole Porter. And Roy Hargrove for chasing and catching his big band dream. — Bill Bentley

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Cavo

Bright Nights Dark Days

Reprise

Buy if you like: Daughtry, Sick Puppies

The rock world has no shortage of mainstream rock bands hoping to follow Nickelback and Daughtry to multi-platinum heights, usually by trying to sound as much like these bands as possible without drawing plagiarism lawsuits. St. Louis band Cavo joins the pack with this debut album, but also manages to stand apart from the masses. Cavo actually has a way with melody, which is not to say they don't rock. There's still plenty of edge in the group's driving tempos, thick bottom end and gritty guitar tones. But songs like "Crash," "Cry Wolf" and the group's current hit single, "Champagne," match the muscle with hooky, high-impact guitar riffs and soaring choruses that grab hold on first listen. This isn't exactly a groundbreaking approach to mainstream rock, but Cavo could still end up giving the Nickelbacks of the world a real run for their money. – Alan Sculley

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Hot Club of Cowtown

Wishful Thinking

Gold Strike

Buy if you like: Hot Club of France, Willie Nelson

Bob Wills meets Paris, Tom Waits gets a Texas country/folk treatment, and George and Ira Gershwin provide a beautiful closer for the latest from the Austin quartet. This violin, guitar, bass, drums acoustic outfit is deliberately retro, taking their name from the Hot Club of France, and they can crank up the jazz-tinged swing with the best of them, on Wills' "Can't Go on This Way," violinist Elana James' bouncy "Cabiria," or the revved-up instrumental "Heart of Romain," which finds James swapping licks with guitarist Whit Smith. But Hot Club of Cowtown does more than swing, serving up a slice of romantic café blues with "One Step Closer" and classic pop refreshment courtesy of the Gershwins' "Someone to Watch Over Me." Beautifully played and sung throughout, this is an album that should please old fans and recruit new ones. – L. Kent Wolgamott

  • Roy Hargrove Big Band, Cavo, Hot Club of Cowtown

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