I learned long ago from my mother that if you can help it, don't work on your birthday. There are some who don't exactly hold that sentiment. Bassist Orlando le Flemming's birthday was yesterday, July 7, but he still put in work backing guitarist Nir Felder for his sets at l'Astral. Alongside drummer Jimmy Macbride, the three played two sets mostly of new material with a few selections from Felder's latest album, 2014's Golden Age.
Bilal brings it, but he always had. His Wednesday, July 6th set at Club Soda as part of the Montreal International Jazz Festival didn't have the Patti Labelle-esque rolling on the ground like his recent BET Awards tribute performance to Prince, but he didn't need to, because Bilal always brings it.
Taking the lead on harmonica is tricky. The instrument is prone to a chirpiness that doesn't typically sustain for a whole album. However in the right hands (and with the right lungs), it can be more than a special featured player. Grégorie Maret has often been that special featured player in assorted works, but here on his latest album on Sunnyside, Wanted, his second in front of things, it's clear he should lead more often.