Warren Wolf (Mack Avenue Records)
When it comes to jazz, Baltimore has a deep-rooted history, with Chick Webb, Cab Calloway, and Billie Holiday all calling it home. Today, the tradition is still going strong with the help of talented artists like the young Warren Wolf. The rising vibraphonist grew up here, honing his craft at Peabody Preparatory and the Baltimore School for the Arts before moving on to the big leagues at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Having since returned home, he now releases his accomplished third album, full of sizzling soul, dazzling ballads, and full-on funky grooves. Across 11 songs, Wolf not only keeps Baltimore jazz alive, he moves into the future with gusto and skill.
Big Hoax (self-released)
If you’re looking for a summer band, this four-year-old four-piece has a brand new record that will serve as the perfect warm weather music. Luke Alexander’s earthy vocals lead his bandmates’ instruments—upright bass, cello, trumpet, pedal steel guitar, piano, to name a few—through a range of songs: outright folk, upbeat stomps, sunny bossa nova, a lovers’ waltz. At times, they bring to mind the rich anthemic harmonies of a young Mumford & Sons; at others, they evoke the worldly darkness of an early-album Dave Matthews. But all the while, Big Hoax remains uniquely themselves, experimenting with form and genre, creating a robust medley of Americana sound.