Jazz and world CDs: Higher Ground | Athena

Jazz and world CDs: Higher Ground | Athena

Various Higher Ground (Blue Note) £12.99

Three weeks after hurricane Katrina struck his native city, Wynton Marsalis mounted a remarkable fundraising concert in New York. This is it. Allen Toussaint and the Neville Brothers rub shoulders with Terence Blanchard and the Marsalis band, and non-natives such as Diana Krall and Marcus Roberts add vintage tunes by New Orleans composers like Jelly Roll Morton and Clarence Williams. Cassandra Wilson, Norah Jones and Bette Midler are here, too. Everyone seems to be sitting in with everyone else's band, adding to the inspired informality of the occasion. DG

Athena Snapshot (Embraceable) £7.99

Word-of-mouth rave reviews of Athena Andreadis have been circulating for two years, so it's disappointing to find her recording debut is a mere five-track 'snapshot'. It's a winning vignette of her talents, none the less, notably a voice that can do hair-raising acrobatics at the ethereal end of the scale. The songs slip between English and her native Greek, but the yearning for her homeland and its 'bruise-coloured sea' is never far away. Sparse, ingenious backings add jazzy shades to her folk purity and trembling love songs. She deserves mainstream exposure. NS

Contributor

Dave Gelly and Neil Spencer

The GuardianTramp

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