ROY AYERS, ADRIAN YOUNGE & ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD, Roy Ayers: Jazz Is Dead 002 (Jazz Is Dead): ★★★1/2
A ’70s-influenced collaboration between frequently sampled jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers and the Midnight Hour’s Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, seeded by their composition “Hey Lover” for Younge and Muhammad’s recently issued “Jazz Is Dead 001” and reprised here. Satiny background vocals support the spacey explorations of Ayers and invaluable drummer Greg Paul (and, on the grooving “Sunflowers” and Mellotron-spackled “Shadows of the East,” veteran Tribe trombonist Phil Ranelin and saxophonist Wendell Harrison). Highlights include “Synchronize Vibration” and “African Sounds,” a spoken invocation of cosmic consciousness against an increasingly frenzied polyrhythmic instrumental: “We have the choice/ To use our colors and sounds/ To rebound against the hate.” royayers.bandcamp.com, jazzisdead.co

RADNOR & LEE, Golden State (Flower Moon): ★★★
Actor/musician Josh Radnor and veteran pop artist Ben Lee’s reunion is rougher around the edges than their 2017 eponymous debut, and consequently more appealing. Not that they ever sounded overly arranged, but the amiable rapport expressed in their slightly raggedly harmonies evokes the low-key warmth of living room jams. There’s comfort in that, and in melodic standouts such as “Good Enough,” “Ohio” and “Welcome to Our House” (“It’s getting dark, dark outside/ And we’ve been cursed to live in interesting times”). radnorandlee.com

MICHAEL OLATUJA, Lagos Pepper Soup (Whirlwind): ★★★★
The Nigerian-raised bassist taps into West African rhythms for an engaging jazz fusion album brightened by guest appearances by violinist Regina Carter and vocalists Angelique Kidjo, Laura Mvula, Dianne Reeves and Becca Stevens. Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke’s searing leads cut through the funky title track and “Mivakpola,” a time-shifting exchange between Loueke, drummer Terreon Gully, pianist Aaron Parks and Olatuja. A liberating sense of traveling infuses standout tracks “The Hero’s Journey,” the Mvula-sung groover “Brighter Day,” and the aptly titled closer, “Grace.” michaelolatujamusic.com


JEHNNY BETH, To Love Is to Live (20L07 Music): ★★★★
The erstwhile frontwoman of UK post-punk quartet Savages (and, more recently, John & Jehn with longtime partner Johnny Hostile) is no less bold throughout her deeply thought, erotically charged solo album. One of its strengths is its intensity, which is fortified and relieved by the set’s rhythmic variety; sequencing is an underappreciated art finessed beautifully here. The jackhammer assault of “How Could You” is gentled by the melodic piano ballad “French Countryside”; “We Will Sin Together” segues seductively into the elegantly somber “A Place Above,” spoken by actor Cillian Murphy (“Wars come and money flows/ Everybody loses”) — poetry balancing violence. Jehnnybeth.com