MALA RODRIGUEZ, DRAKE, THE GO-GO'S, DIANA KRALL
The baseball bat-wielding voice of Latin Hip Hop. The multiple Latin GRAMMY-winning, Barcelona-based artist has earned unanimous praise for her socially minded lyrics and her sexually unabashed on-stage persona. Always breaking barriers, Mala Rodriguez was the first (and only) female artist to win both Best Urban Album and Best Urban Song at the Latin GRAMMYS. Her extensive catalogue has garnered her a multitude of fans, including Barack Obama, who featured Mala in his Summer Spotify playlist. Mala Rodriguez has toured globally and has collaborated with a range of artists that include Romeo Santos, Nelly Furtado, Calle 13, Ibeyi, and Tego Calderon among others and her recent featuring this summer with Juan Megan (“Usted”), Beatriz Luengo (“Caprochosa”) and Ibeyi (“Me Voy”) have gone Platinum. Mala marked her return in 2018 with the feminist anthem “Gitanas.” Pitchfork said of the track: Her voice is bold and unflinching, when she boldly asks “Quien me protege?” (“Who protects me?”) you can almost feel the ground quake beneath her feet. Mala already knows the answer to her question. Without missing a beat, she cries out, “Yo!” (“Me!”), daring anyone to doubt her. NPR recently named one of her singles as one of the “200 Greatest Songs by 21st Century Women.” Her latest single, “Contigo” (feat. StyloG) has quickly received millions of views, and Billboard calls it “a sensual reggaeton-meets-dancehall jam for lovers.” MORE
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For some musicians, being in quarantine has provided an opportunity to take time to revisit some worthy sessions that might otherwise have gotten put off or overlooked. That seems to be the case with Diana Krall, who has announced a new album, “This Dream of You,” culled from scores of studio recordings she did with her celebrated longtime producer, Tommy LiPuma, before his death in 2017.
The album comes out Sept. 25, and was heralded Friday with the release of a preview track, “How Deep Is the Ocean,” written by Irving Berlin. Other songs on the collection range from Lerner & Loewe’s “Almost Like Being in Love” to the Bob Dylan-written title track, a more obscure choice from his 2009 album “Together Through Life.”
“This Dream of You” is being described as having been “produced in May 2020 by Ms. Krall.” But the sessions all date back to the work she was doing with LiPuma for the “Turn Up the Quiet” album that was released in 2017, her most recent solo album (not counting a collaboration with Tony Bennett for 2018’s “Love Is Here to Stay”). Her more hardcore fans were enthused enough about the minimalist but classic sound of that release that anything that loosely counts as a sequel is likely to be greeted with especially open arms.
Beyond emphasizing that the new collection is “a long playing record,” indicating that she hopes it will be consumed in old-fashioned full, Krall is describing the mood and running order of the album as having a cinematic-like arc, speaking of its bookends and saying, “If ‘But Beautiful’ is the overture, then ‘Singing In The Rain’ is the end title.”
She might have revisited this material even without the quarantine to focus her attention. When I talked with her in 2017 about “Turn Up the Quiet,” she indicated that there could be “probably two more” albums’ worth of material in the can, in various states of completion, from the voluminous sessions. “This is Part 1, I guess,” she said at the time. “Altogether we recorded maybe 40 songs together, and Tommy’s job was to cut it down to 11.”
The “Turn Up the Quiet” album marked a return to a more stripped-down, classic jazz combo sound, with only occasional flourishes of orchestration, and “This Dream of You” looks to continue in that vein. Krall recorded with three different small ensembles for that predecessor, and all three turn up again here, with some additional combinations. Her longtime backing trio of John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton and Anthony Wilson appears on two tracks, “Almost Like Being In Love” and “That’s All.” Krall performs with an even smaller combo — forming a trio with famed players Christian McBride and Russell Malone — on two more tracks, “Autumn in New York” and “There’s No You.” A more eclectic, Americana-affiliated lineup appears as she expands “Just You, Just Me,” “How Deep Is the Ocean” and the title song into quintet format: guitarist Marc Ribot, fiddler Stuart Duncan, bassist Tony Garnier and drummer Karriem Riggins.
There are some tracks that venture outside the band format, as well. She is accompanied on “I Wished On The Moon” only by her bass player, Clayton. On two other tracks, “More Than You Know” and “Don’t Smoke In Bed,” she turns in strictly vocal performances, and hands over the solo piano duties to Alan Broadbent, who is usually her orchestrator. Broadbent is not only here for his auxiliary pianist skills, though; he does pull strings duty on the opening number, “But Beautiful,” as well as “Autumn in New York.”