CD REVIEWS

Kíla
Tóg É Go Bog É
Green
Linnet

Granted, the new release by Kíla, an ambitious, Dublin-based septet, is a lot to digest. Although you're a bit fatigued by the time the closing hidden track rolls around, your endurance has been rewarded. They like to stretch out, mixing traditional with modern Gaelic styles, forming a kind of cross-cultural folk-dance music that owes as much to Afro-European rhythms as Irish jigs and reels. In addition to the expected bodhran, pipes, whistles and fiddles, their eclectic sonic stew is seasoned with the ethnic and world-based flavorings of the requinto, djembe, didgeridoo, congas, gourd, timbales, even some bamboo chimes. Kíla—fronted by ex-Dead Can Dance members Rónán Ó Snodaigh and Lance Hogan—somehow massage the divergent elements into a satisfying, smoothly flowing whole. Okay, so one song ("Jasmine") is New Age-y filler, but imaginative and experimental tuneage is more characteristic of Tóg É Go Bog É(meaning "take it easy"), like the whirling, flute-powered "Gwerzy," the plaintive, classically leaning "Dusty Wine Bottle," and a darkly introspective tale of innocence lost called "Tip Toe." Equally impressive is "Leanfaidh Mé," an intriguing chant sung in Gaelic by Ó Snodaigh that'll raise a few hairs on your neck. Although we English-speaking dudes are clueless about just what he finds so troubling, it doesn't really matter—it feels like it comes from his heart. (John Roos)

Diana Krall
When I Look in Your Eyes
Verve

Diana Krall is a jazz artist maturing right before our ears. Like Ella Fitzgerald, Natalie Cole and Billie Holiday before her, she has proved herself an excellent interpreter of other composers' works. Come to think of it, though, it's unfair to compare the young pianist/singer to these legends. For as she shows on When I Look in Your Eyes, she's busy developing her own style. While some of the arrangements echo the simplicity of the stripped-down piano/guitar/bass format of her past two releases, it's obvious that Krall is eager to move on to new possibilities. On "I'll String Along With You," the mesmerizing "Let's Fall in Love" and five other tracks, she has enlisted Johnny Mandel to add string arrangements. She brings in such stellar talents as drummer Jeff Hamilton and vibraphonist Larry Bunker to assist her and longtime guitarist Russell Malone when the need arises. Plus, she shows increasing confidence with her arrangement skills, and it definitely works to her advantage—after all, it takes guts to completely redo a song so closely linked to one singer, especially when that singer is Sinatra. What she has done with "I've Got You Under My Skin" is strip it down and then reassemble it as a sultry jazz ballad, complete with vibes, strings and Malone's tasteful guitar work, making it her own as well. This woman has guts—and talent, too. (John McElligott, Jr.)

 
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