Macy Gray turns out dance-worthy jazz

Macy Gray performs at The Jazz Foundation of

Macy Gray performs at The Jazz Foundation of America Celebrates A Great Night In Harlem at The Apollo Theater in New York. (May 17, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Macy Gray is in the midst of her own personal renaissance.

She spent last year working on an eclectic set of covers ranging from Arcade Fire to Kanye West on her "Covered" album and then tackled Stevie Wonder's "Talking Book" album. Gray kicked off 2013 with another surprise, sitting in as a guest vocalist with the David Murray Big Band at Iridium.

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Watch out, jazz world, here she comes, and she's bringing her pop conventions with her. During the rousing, gospel-tinged "Joyful Noise," Gray instructed the crowd -- packed in tight at Iridium, like most jazz clubs -- that she wanted them to get up and dance. Many looked around in doubt, but after she added, "Don't make me mad, now," they got up in unison.

Gray already had proven that she could more than cut it in this setting. The reworking of her "Relating to a Psychopath" by Murray and his 16-piece band enhanced the song's jazzier elements. Their new collaboration, "Be My Monster Love," which will be the title track of Murray's upcoming album in March, is a horn-driven hoot, spanning funk, jazz, big band and disco, as Gray's vocals playfully bounce against masterful sax solos.

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