Much like her local contemporaries (including saxophonists Chris Greene and Shawn Maxwell), Chicago pianist, band leader and composer Jo Ann Daugherty uses instrumental jazz as a springboard to pay homage to (and in some cases to cover) artists from the worlds of soul, funk and even classical music.
One her new CD, Bring Joy, Daugherty twice covers songs by fellow pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, the South African composer and musician known as “Dollar Brand” before he converted to Islam in 1968. She opens Bring Joy with a spirited and funky take on Ibrahim’s “Water From an Ancient Well” and closes the album with a more subdued take on “The Wedding.”
Elsewhere on Bring Joy, there is a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “The Secret Life of Plants” (Ryan Bennett’s drumming on this track is especially impressive), three songs written by her bassist Lorin Cohen (all three tracks are smooth compositions, especially “Hope for Love”) and a take on Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance” that is stunning.
Bring Joy also features three original compositions by Daugherty: “Alive” rides a Bossa Nova groove; “Elsewhen” showcases Daugherty’s immense talent as a pianist; “BJ’s Tune” features some fine blues guitar courtesy of Felton Offard.
Final words? Bring Joy is nothing short of a joyous release for music fans!