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New releases from Christopher Mark Jones, Ahmad Jamal and The Satin Hearts

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Christopher Mark Jones
Suburban Two-Step
(Self-released)

New full-length from the local guitar-picker and singer who has returned to music in recent years after some time off. Some low-key character pieces on suburban life and lasting love. Boogie-rocker "Roseland" is a highlight, offsetting the sometimes-soporific softness of much of the album.

CHRISTOPHER MARK JONES CD RELEASE. 7 p.m. Sat., April 14. Shadow Lounge, 5972 Baum Blvd., East Liberty. $10. 412-363-8277

—Andy Mulkerin

Ahmad Jamal
Blue Moon
(Jazz Village/Jazzbook Records)

The styling and conceptions of this legendary Homewood-born pianist must be an acquired taste. Certainly Jamal has the technique to play flowingly rapid notes and sturdy chords, yet piece after piece rambles all over the edges of tunes rather than illuminating them. In this 2011 studio session, Jamal’s superlative rhythm section includes Wynton Marsalis regulars Reginald Veal and Herlin Riley, perhaps justifying this resemblance to a late-night lounge act with percussionists getting a major share of the spotlight. Peering at the liner notes, you’ll recognize names of well-known songs which Jamal has pummeled into lumpy shadows of themselves. ("Laura" stays lost in the misty light, whereas Dizzy Gillespie’s "Woody’n You" is about as boppish as George Winston barefooting a Christmas carol.) And those liner notes must have been written in the dark. They say each theme "pays tribute to the vast open spaces of America." Such as "I Remember Italy" and "Gypsy"?

— Gordon Spencer

The Satin Hearts
Living on Overdrive
(Self-released)

Alternative rock with a bit of blues grit. Mary Eustice's vocal stylings are reminiscent of Deborah Harry, with a traditional rock ensemble supporting her by way of melodic bass lines, blazing percussion rhythms and distorted guitar. The band's technique is tight and clean, but that characteristic fails to make up for predictable progressions and safe lyrics. While the album sounds one-dimensional at times, its consistent rock 'n' roll vibe is pleasing.

— Nicole Chynoweth

Ahmad Jamal
Blue Moon
(Jazz Village/Jazzbook Records)

The styling and conceptions of this legendary Homewood-born pianist must be an acquired taste. Certainly Jamal has the technique to play flowingly rapid notes and sturdy chords, yet piece after piece rambles all over the edges of tunes rather than illuminating them. In this 2011 studio session, Jamal's superlative rhythm section includes Wynton Marsalis regulars Reginald Veal and Herlin Riley, perhaps justifying this resemblance to a late-night lounge act with percussionists getting a major share of the spotlight. Peering at the liner notes, you'll recognize names of well-known songs which Jamal has pummeled into lumpy shadows of themselves. ("Laura" stays lost in the misty light, whereas Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody'n You" is about as boppish as George Winston barefooting a Christmas carol.) And those liner notes must have been written in the dark. They say each theme "pays tribute to the vast open spaces of America."  Such as "I Remember Italy" and "Gypsy"?

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