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New Jazz releases from New York artists

A look at a few of the releases that feature local musicians reaching out to the world and history for inspiration.

Vocalist DeRocker records a CD of timeless standards.
Melinda DeRocker Music

Spring is near, and these recent releases encourage hope for warmer days. Melinda DeRocker and Ulysses Owens, Jr. release CD's that will touch the heart and pump up the blood.

Melinda DeRocker, I'll Be Seeing You (DeRocker Music) Many things have happened in music since those 20th century American standards came to life during the 1930's - 1950's. Yet, the sweetness and sentimental core of the songs remains timeless. So, keeping that in mind, I'll Be Seeing You will remind you of a fabled time in this country, no matter what decade- or in some cases, century- you were born.

DeRocker selected songs that were favorites of her parents when they dated and eventually married. Her father was in the military during World War II, and these songs were a bit of the glue that kept the young couple close even while he served overseas for two years.

I'll Be Seeing You is a perfect soundtrack for that love story, and if you peel away 21st century cynicism for a spell, it may serve as a lovely backdrop for your own story.

Standout Tracks: I've Got a Crush on You, The Nearness of You, The Way You Look Tonight, I'll Be Seeing You.

Ulysses Owens, Jr. Onward and Upward (D Clef Music) Onward and Upward has big sound and a stellar cast of musicians, including Anat Cohen on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Christian Sands on piano, and Gilad Hekselman on guitar. Owens, however, is the fulcrum of this CD, securing the rhythms for all the sounds to revolve and rest. Bop, contemporary jazz, and R&B move together easily, resulting in a fine second release from this sought after drummer/percussionist and composer.

Standout Tracks: SST, The Gift of Forgiveness, For Nelson, and Samba Jam, in which Cohen's clarinet brings a charm and whimsical flight of fancy to the track.

I'll Be Seeing You and Onward and Upward are both available on iTunes.

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