Debbie Gifford/John Trzcinski
One Day at a Time
After years of training and performing, Debbie Gifford burst onto the local jazz scene in 2000. Her career took off with 2005's So Many Songs About Love, which launched her on a round of international gigs. On her new album, One Day at a Time, she's joined by pianist John Trzcinski, who co-wrote most of the tracks and co-produced with Gifford. Opening with the spirited "Let It Go," the CD showcases Gifford's classy, velvety vocals and Trzcinski's supple piano skills, which are showcased on three instrumentals. Gifford delivers a bravura performance on "If," which calls on her pop and musical-theater background to create a dramatic arc from the pensive opening to the dramatic conclusion. — Anastasia Pantsios
Gifford and Trzcinski perform at 4 p.m. Sunday, October 25, at Jazz 28 (2800 Clinton Ave., 216.621.2828, jazz28.com). Tickets: $10.
"First off, I think it's time to represent," raps Canton-based Blackwell on the opening track of his new album. And represent he does, peppering the CD with old-school, De La Soul-inspired riffs ("Drop Dat Zero") and compelling narratives ("Tha Curb"). With vibrant production from Vherbal, Santino and Krytacize, Chocolate Audio has a great vibe. A clever lyricist, Blackwell doesn't go for gangsta attitude but doesn't come off too soft. The R&B ballad "Morning After" is littered with too many romantic clichés and "Shorty Wanna Ryde" does the predictable Auto-Tune thing, but those are the only missteps. — Jeff Niesel
Blackwell performs with Grand Buffet and Vice Verses at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 28, at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124, beachlandballroom.com). Tickets: $7.