Friday, April 24, 2015

Federico Britos Presents Hot Club of The Americas

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Federico Britos, a musician so versatile and charismatic that he’ll get called for a dance, an operetta, a cocktail party or simply to have a drink in his endearing company; to chat in some Miami café. It’s that the legendary Uruguayan violinist speaks like he plays, and plays with the same ease and freedom as when he’s fascinating us one of his many anecdotes from his long and varied musical career........ I met Federico in that problematic and feverish Habana of the 60’s, where apart from his work with the Opera and Ballet orchestras led by Felix Guerrero, he organized a trio with his compatriot bassist Federico Garcia Vigil, who in that particular group played the guitar and sang in Portuguese. On bass they had an American mulato, enigmatic and painteresque, named Mario Lagarde who had arrived in Cuba around the same time as Chicago saxophonist Eddie Torriente. People called the trio “Los Federicos”, and in an era of confusion and absolute disinformation, where our country did not have access to recordings of any kind, it was through this band that Cuban musicians, who only knew of the Bossa Nova through references, heard for the first time the marvelous composistions of Bonfá, Jobim, Vinicius de Moraes, João Gilberto and Roberto Menescal. It can be said that in some way, “Los Federicos” played a significant role in the unconditional love that some of my contemporaries have felt for brazilian music since then.


As Bebo Valdés would have had said: “De allá pa’cá mucho ha llovido” (heretofore there’s been much rain) and from those days to now, that popular Montevidean musician has been performing chamber music, commercial sessions and international tours with the great Cachao, even playing in Jazz clubs, symphonic concerts and recordings with Charlie Haden amongst other artists of the most diverce musical styles. But above all of these activities, Federico the Uruguayan (as we’ve always affectionately called him) felt a particular devotion to Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli and The Hot Club of France. This CD is an original form of tribute to the music of that era and it’s most significant composers. I say “an original form of tribute,” due to the fact that the art of the sounds isn’t just notes, but how those notes are played, and obviously, in this project, this extremely well known music, frequently revisited throughout the world, is treated in a very particular and unique way. Duke Ellington, on many occasions, spoke of how a good arrangement is like a re-composition, and this is precisely the case concerning Hugo Sánchez and Jaui Schneider, as their arrangements, coupled with the exquisite interpretation of the participating musicians, gives the impression that Grappelli was Cuban, Reinhardt Brazilian, and that the Hot Club of France could very well have been based in Miami’s own Coconut Grove. Bravo Federico!


TONY ADAMO & THE NEW YORK JAZZ CREW DELIVER COOL HIPNESS ON THEIR LATEST RELEASE

True hipness is a most elusive substance, consistently pursued, often pretended and rarely captured. But make no mistake, Tony Adamo is HIP (capital letters demanded) in full evidence on his new Urbanzone Records album Tony Adamo & The New York Crew. Now we’re not talking about some snap-brim fedora, hipster chic, cool attitude take on hipness – but the real deal. We’re talking about Miles, Monk and Sonny trading fours after hours at the Five Spot, with Frank and Dino knocking back Jack on the rocks while Kerouac, Ferlinghetti, Lord Buckley and Lenny Bruce riff on the world’s absurdity – that kind of hip.

On this knockout album, Tony and his Crew deliver what is essentially eleven short films, each one painting a stunningly visual portrait of a fascinating world and some of its most captivating and compelling denizens. Driven on a soundtrack of explosively spirited and utterly delightful music, the spectacularly imaginative screenplay is depicted through a prism that Tony calls Vocal/HipSpokenWord.

Rooted in a style that goes back to Fats Waller through the beat poets, Jean Shepard’s work with Mingus on The Clown, then maturing with the seminal hip-hop roots of Gil-Scott Heron and The Last Poets, and ripened by Chuck D with Public Enemy, Tony has mastered that entire vernacular to portray his vividly expressive landscapes.

In most cases the musicians on vocal albums are relegated to creating the contexts for the vocalist to shine, but Tony Adamo & The New York Crew is an ensemble in the truest sense of the jazz tradition. While their participation is fully dedicated to Tony’s vision, the only way that vision could be realized would be for each of them to own the music and make it theirs – which they do at every moment throughout this extraordinary recording.

Much of the group from Tony’s previous album – the heavily acclaimed Miles of Blu – are present for this one: Michael Wolff on piano, Richie Goods on bass, Tim Ouimette on trumpet, Mike Clark on drums and Bill Summers on percussion – augmented by the alto sax giant Donald Harrison. Renowned Return to Forever alumni Lenny White (who also engineered the mixing) brings his drum mastery to one track and Jean C. Santalis adds his guitar wizardry to another.

Ouimette, who spent many years with the immortal Ray Charles, provided the marvelous arrangements; and Clark, whose eminent career has blossomed from his original membership in Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, produced the album – the second time he has done so for Tony. All of the lyrics are by Adamo and he and Clark co-composed all ten originals, joined by Ouimette on seven, Wolff on two and Harrison on one.

While Adamo’s vocals do not dominate the time frame – allowing plenty of room for the ensemble to explore and express – they are the heart and soul of this album. Occasionally singing, but mostly verbalizing in his mellifluously potent and impeccably rhythmic baritone, Tony jabs and feints like Muhammad Ali, masters time like Elvin Jones, phrases with the emphatic gospel fervor of Gene Ammons and preaches Truth like John Lee Hooker amplified by the vehement fire of Chuck D – all blended into the singular form of expression that is uniquely Tony Adamo.

The musicianship throughout is outstanding on every level – fiery, energetic, impassioned, enthusiastic, inventive and absolutely flawless in execution. The rhythm section is rooted by the deeply resonant and deliciously funky bass of Goods, buoyed by the splendid rhythmic vitality of Clark and driven by the boldly inspired virtuosity of Wolff, who also turns in some sensational solos. Ouimette’s fluidly articulate and dynamic trumpet blends perfectly with Harrison’s virile and soulful alto, blowing mightily on Tim’s arrangements and both delivering consistently brilliant solos.

The anthology of stories told on this album includes portraits of characters from the legendary to the obscure, and delves into broader concepts ranging from soulful food to Buddhism to Tony’s native New York City – which is actually a featured player throughout this entire movie.

The album opens with a portrait of the under-recognized trumpeter Eddie Gale, whose sixties cult classic Ghetto Music took Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective into the roots of the hip-hop movement. An audacious blend of rollicking horns, rip-roaring vocal, scorching alto and percussive piano culminate in an incandescent Lenny White solo over ostinato piano.

Other portraits include General T, a soulfully poignant rumination on the legendary Village Vanguard and a unique gentleman who hung heavy there; a playful sketch of the immortal Pablo Picasso as an avant-garde trumpeter on Picasso At Midnite colored by Ouimette’s coloration and Clark’s sizzle; and a blistering drawing of a mysterious figure embellished by articulately simmering harmon-muted trumpet on Wisdom of Oz.

Giants of jazz get their turn as well. Eddie Harris is remembered on Listen Here Listen Up, a deliciously funky and sanctified extension of Eddie’s classic original, with a deeply grooved Harrison solo and with Tony and Wolff distinctively giving Les McCann his props as well. Art Blakey and his notorious Jazz Messengers get their due on Messengers Burnin, a nicely syncopated sizzler in pure Blakey mode cooking in Bu’s signature uncomplicated 4/4 drive that swings like a mutha. A short nod to Bird and Diz on To Bop or Not to Be is a succinct and delectable instrumental trio of alto, muted trumpet and drums.

More abstract themes are explored on You Gotta B Fly, a straightforward mid-tempo jaunt with Tony singing from the Eddie Jefferson angle before launching into his rap, Santalis plucking some gutty twang in his short solo, and all stoked by Summers’ sparkling percussion. Summers’ congas also put the burn under Mama’s Meat Pies, a straight-up swinger with rollicking piano, a vibrantly woody bass solo, burning alto and an alto/muted trumpet duet that touches on some of that Ornette/Don Cherry special brand of swing.

Harrison’s deeply soulful alto speaks in Hank Crawford’s dialect as he introduces Tony’s talking blues over an emphatically deliberate funky bass walk on Buddhist Blues, preaching high philosophy in lowdown fashion. And the leading player in this cinematic feast is vividly portrayed in incandescent style on City Swings, a paean to the incomparable New York City with sinuous unison lines, scalding trumpet, blazing alto and shimmering piano bridging Tony’s portrayal, depicted with the inherent passion only a knowledgeable lover could bring.

Tony Adamo & The New York Crew is not only a breath of fresh or in today’s musical world, it’s an entirely new atmosphere that will refresh and uplift the head, the heart and the soul.


“I would hope that my Vocal/HipSpokenWord story telling reaches across a wide music spectrum to hip old and new generations alike to my new genre of music. My music producer, Mike Clark gathered some of the greatest musicians in New York to bring my music and lyrics alive. Tony Adamo & The New York Crew CD is a labor of love.”


NEW RELEASES: CURTIS FULLER - BLUES ETTE (RECORD STORE DAY RELEASE; MORGAN HERITAGE - STRICTLY ROOTS; SHANAY - TIME;

CURTIS FULLER - BLUES ETTE (RECORD STORE DAY RELEASE)

A seminal session from Curtis Fuller – one of a handful he cut for Savoy, recorded during that late 50s/early 60s period when he seemed poised to become one of the biggest trombonists in jazz! (Whatever happened? How did he cut so many records as a leader so fast, then slide back into being a sideman for most of the rest of his career?) The set's cut in that laidback blowing session mode of the Savoy hardbop years – with tremendous work from Benny Golson on tenor, plus Tommy Flanagan on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Al Harewood on drums – all working through easily-handled tunes that include "Minor Vamp", "Love Your Spell Is Everywhere", "Five Spot After Dark", and "Twelve Inch". Think soul jazz with a slight touch of mysticism!  ~ Dusty Groove

MORGAN HERITAGE - STRICTLY ROOTS

Morgan Heritage has released Strictly Roots, the band’s 10th studio album. It features a wide variety of guest performers including the platinum selling pop/dancehall phenomenon, Shaggy; American reggae and R&B vocalist, J Boog; third generation ambassadors from the Morgan and Marley families, Jemere Morgan and Jo Mersa Marley; reggae sensation, Chronixx; rock, world and reggae band, Rebelution; and Bumble Bee from the American Grammy-nominated pop reggae band, SOJA. Undoubtedly one of contemporary reggae’s most powerful forces on the global stage, the sensational roots reggae quintet Morgan Heritage is comprised of siblings Peetah Morgan(vocals), Una Morgan (keyboard/vocals), Gramps Morgan (keyboard/vocals), Lukes Morgan(rhythm guitar) and Mr. Mojo Morgan (percussion/vocals). Guided by sheer acumen and a passionate desire to make their already rich musical legacy even more impactful, the group, after much deliberation and contemplation, triumphantly delivers their latest album exclusively on their very own label CTBC (Cool To Be Conscious) Music Group.


SHANAY - TIME

‘Time’ is the title track from Shanay’s forthcoming debut EP which is scheduled for release later this year. A compelling marriage of contemporary and classical themes ‘Time’ is the perfect introduction to Shanay’s unique, experimental sound. Low-fi synths, hypnotic filtered drums and a dramatic string arrangement provide the perfect backdrop to SHANAY’s hauntingly soulful vocals and emotive songwriting. Drawing on Neo Soul and Alternative R&B influences, Shanay’s forthcoming EP is sensual, emotional and meaningful. If Sade made love to Frank Ocean this is what it would sound like. Spring weather and more daylight, saxophonist ShaShaty’s (www.ShaShatyMusic.com) newly released set of vibrant pop/R&B instrumentals is an apropos soundtrack to a “Brighter Day.” All eleven tunes on the album are originals with the horn man writing or co-authoring more than half and all but one penned by producer-guitarist-vocalist Steve Oliver. The disc continues to blossom at radio, has garnered glowing reviews and landed ShaShaty a front cover feature in the May issue of Saxophone Today magazine.  


Jazz Singer Eugenie Jones Prepares to Release "Come Out Swingin'"

Eugenie Jones's widely praised 2013 debut,Black Lace Blue Tears, introduced a late-blooming but fiercely original jazz vocalist and songwriter to the jazz world. Among other honors, the disc was named Earshot Jazz's Northwestern Recording of the Year. The Seattle-area singer's response to her warm critical reception was to start writing again and prove that her success was no fluke. On her impressive follow-up, Come Out Swingin', Jones displays the rhythmic authority, emotional insight, and melodic invention of an artist who can hold her own in any company. Her Open Mic Records will release the new album on May 12.

"This CD was a deliberate attempt to continue to grow and progress," states Jones. "I set that desire for improvement as a bull's-eye to shoot for and kept that focus through each step of this project."

Jones did keep her core Black Lace band together for this high-energy date: consummately supportive pianist/arranger Bill Anschell, veteran bassist Clipper Anderson, and versatile guitarist Michael Powers. They are joined by Seattle hornman Jay Thomas; drummer D'Vonne Lewis, a rising force on the local scene; and distinguished percussionist Ernesto Pediangco. As on her previous disc, Eugenie penned most of the selections and had a hand in nearly all the arrangements.

Jones announces her rhythmic agenda with the first track, "Swing Me," a self-possessed celebration of unbridled desire. Her brief, exciting version of the standard "All of Me" almost serves as a thematic preamble to her slinky "A Way About You," a song that could easily be mistaken for a sophisticated piece of Bacharach/David. With a tinge of sweet sass, Jones's "24/7" brings contemporary sexuality into the discussion while her "I Could Get Lost in Your Eyes" is a beautifully crafted ballad. She closes the album with a searing version of James Brown's 1966 chart-topping R&B hit "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," leaving listeners to wonder just what else she's got up her sleeve.

"Black Lace was a look into my personality, and begins a story," she says. "Come Out Swingin' continues that story. And of course the more you tell a story, the deeper you go. That's what's happening here in terms of lyrics and songs."

Surprisingly, Jones had never planned for a career in singing. Growing up in Morgantown, West Virginia, Eugenie (pronounced "u-gee-nee") sang with the Baptist church choir directed by her father, but at home she left the singing to her mother, the late Tommie Parker (to whose memoryCome Out Swingin' is dedicated).

Eugenie went on to earn degrees in business and marketing, working as a business owner, consultant, and marketing specialist. When her mother took ill, she invited her to move west to spend her final years living with Jones and her two sons in Bremerton, Washington. It wasn't until her mother's death seven years ago that Eugenie decided to take up singing herself. "I missed hearing her voice around the house," says Jones. "I think that was what drove me to pursue it."

Jones attended open mics and workshops and gradually honed her skills, gained confidence, and landed several regular gigs."As a fledgling performer the most important thing to do is perform," she says. At her Amici Bistro gig in Mulkiteo, an affluent community on the shore of Puget Sound, "the owner was very kind and encouraging. I got to interact with an audience and really develop my repertoire."

Since making her professional debut as a jazz singer a mere four years ago, Jones has drawn a devoted following to her unique musical artistry at venues throughout the Seattle area and as far south as Portland. She's made two appearances at Twins Jazz in Washington, DC and has been invited back for a third. Come Out Swingin' is but the latest expression of Eugenie Jones's remarkable drive, poise, and above all unstoppable talent -- a combination that is serving her, and the jazz audience, very well indeed.

Eugenie Jones CD Release Shows:

5/17 Capitol Cider, Seattle
5/30 B Sharp Coffee, Tacoma
6/11 North West Cellars, Kirkland
6/19 The Royal Room, Seattle
6/20 Collective Visions Gallery, Bremerton 
7/4 Heathman Hotel, Portland
7/24-25 Jazz in the Valley Festival, Ellensburg
8/13 Twins Jazz Lounge, Washington, DC

Jazz crooner Steven Davis releases “What Happened To Romance,” his first big band album

Bolstering the belief that romance is always en vogue, crooner Steven Davis plies his big voice backed by a big band on the swinging set “What Happened To Romance,” a charming meditation on love marrying timeless traits from another era to today’s passionate demand for originality. The 14-track disc comprised of a dozen original songs penned by Davis and The 88s’ Josh Charles and Alissa Moreno – the duo that produced the outing – will be released June 23 by the vocalist’s First Second Records and serviced to jazz radio for airplay.      

The Nashville-based Davis trekked to New York City to record “What Happened To Romance” with The After Midnight Orchestra featuring original members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands. Fully ensconced in the retro spirit, Davis belts out amorous overtures and enchanting dreams with debonair elegance amidst cascading melodies and groovy rhythms punctuated by the lush horns arranged and conducted by Andy Farber. Completing the collection are faithful interpretations of Johnny Mercer’s swooning “Day In, Day Out” and Irving Berlin’s rousing “All By Myself.”

The album’s playful escapade “Perfectly Perfect” is the sublime soundtrack to a television commercial for Centralway Numbrs, a mobile banking application in Germany. “We are using the template of the Great American Songbook writers to create new music that hopefully will stand the test of time. I love this music because it allows us to tell these stories and I like the nuances of this style. There is a certain sense of altruism that appeals to me,” said Davis, who will introduce his throwback sound to new audiences by playing unexpected places for a big band jazz singer such as a June 19 gig at the popular singer-songwriters’ haunt Molly Malone’s Irish Pub in Los Angeles. “Maybe I’m old fashioned when it comes to romance, but it will always be there even though the world has changed so much and is so different now. What happened to romance? It’s the same question we keep asking ourselves. The answer is different for each one of us.” 

The charismatic Davis was invited to perform at the prestigious I Create Music ASCAP Expo in Los Angeles on May 1 and at the Durango Songwriters Film/TV Expo on May 15 in Ventura, California.

The songs contained on “What Happened To Romance” are:
“Love Comes Right On Time”
“You’re Gonna Fall In Love With Me”
“What Happened To Romance”
“This Time”
“Perfectly Perfect”
“I Found Love”
“Let’s Keep It A Secret”
“Day In, Day Out”
“If You Were Mine”
“Close Your Eyes”
“If I Could Give You More”
“All By Myself”
“Sometime Soon”
“Young Love”


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dee Dee's Feathers Featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Homage To The People And Culture Of New Orleans In Recognition And Honor Of The 10th Anniversary Of Hurricane Katrina

Dee Dee's Feathers, a journey through the history of New Orleans as told through song and the collaboration of Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), is set for release August 11th, 2015, via OKeh/Sony Music/DDB Records.  Recorded at New Orleans' Esplanade Studios, a studio in a reconverted historical church in the heart of the city that was badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the release of Dee Dee's Feathers will be accompanied by tour dates worldwide including stops at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, the Barbican in London and New York City's famed Apollo Theatre on Halloween.  

"It was at the groundbreaking ceremony of the future site of the Jazz Market where I had the idea of a collaborative recording," said Bridgewater.  "I thought that Irvin Mayfield, NOJO, and I needed a musical 'calling card' so to speak, a product that epitomized the joys of our accumulative collaborations. When I shared the idea with Irvin, the seed was planted. After several emails, Irvin's song suggestions, song keys picked out over the phone, we found ourselves at Esplanade Studio exactly one month later. Under Irvin Mayfield's skillful leadership, band members had done the arrangements, and over the course of three days we recorded, filmed, bonded, and laughed our way through the most extraordinary recording experience I've had. The music turned out so good, with my dear friend Dr. John blessing us on a day's notice, Bill Summers' magical percussive layers, and a host of well-known NOLA characters.   I knew Irvin and his band mates had bathed me, immersed me, baptized me in the waters of the Mississippi, and exposed me to the roots of New Orleans.  For me this album is a celebration of life itself."

Added Mayfield, "This album is a testament to the continued relevance of New Orleans not only as a thriving city but also as a muse for communicating truth, love and beauty. Dee Dee Bridgewater leads us through a new artistic moment while answering a mandate created over a century ago by Jazz geniuses like Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong.  She proves through her art that New Orleans is not just a city but more importantly an idea that can make your heart and soul feel better."

Although steeped in history, Dee Dee's Feathers is at the same time a modern exploration of the music and culture that makes New Orleans a city and place unlike any other.   Traditional songs such as "Big Chief" (featuring guest artist Dr. John), "Saint James Infirmary" and "What A Wonderful World" – all songs indicative to and steeped in the culture of the Big Easy – co-mingle with new compositions such as "Congo Square" and "C'est Ici Que Je T'aime," transporting the listener on a sensory voyage through the city, whether dancing in a Second Line or frequenting a storied bordello in the heart of the city's French Quarter.       

The launch of the album and tour will also be tied-into the opening of NOJO's New Orleans Jazz Market later in 2015.  The first solely-dedicated space for Jazz and Education in New Orleans, Bridgewater will serve on the Board of Directors for the facility and has made a commitment to furthering music and education in the city in tandem with the facility.  

Also being released in tandem with Dee Dee's Feathers is Mayfield's new book, New Orleans Jazz Playhouse, a 304-page coffee table book that includes seven CDs of live music recorded at his Bourbon Street Jazz club, Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse. The book reflects on Irvin's unique experiences as a New Orleans native, a Jazz musician, and the many influences in his life including countless musicians, artists, photographers, chefs, teachers, and other mentors. Unifying and grounding the various stories, poems, and essays are two central concepts that permeate the book: jazz & love. Illustrating Mayfield's  well-crafted words is a collection of some of the most culturally significant photography and artwork by master craftspeople such as John Scott, Gordon Parks, George Rodrigue, Herman Leonard, Greg Miles, and Erika Goldring, and the book features an introduction by biographer  Walter Isaacson, a foreword by novelist Ernest Gaines, and an afterword by trumpeter and jazz-master Wynton Marsalis.

Track Listing:
1.One Fine Thing
2.What A Wonderful World
3.Big Chief
4.St. James Infirmary
5.Dee Dee's Feathers
6.New Orleans
7.Treme Song/Do Whatcha Wanna
8.Come Sunday
9.Congo Square
10.C'est Ici Que Je T'Aime
11.Do You Know What It Means
12.Whoopin' Blues 


Jazz at Lincoln Center's 2015 Annual Gala: "The World of Duke Ellington" Concert Featuring the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and special guests Tony Bennett, Baqir Abbas, Melissa Aldana, Jonathan Batiste, Shirley Caesar, Dick Hyman, Adriane Lenox, Christian McBride

Jazz at Lincoln Center's 2015 Gala, entitled "The World of Duke Ellington," will celebrate the indomitable spirit of swing and legacy of Duke Ellington, the most influential figure in American music. This special one-night benefit concert will take place on April 29, 2015 – on the 116th anniversary of Ellington's birth – at 7pm at Frederick P. Rose Hall, the "House of Swing," located at Broadway at 60th Street, New York, New York.

Hosted by Michael Keaton, the gala concert will feature the finest names in jazz and dance conveying the genius of Duke Ellington whose music explored all themes:  love songs, siren songs, dance, civil rights, spirituals, blue mood, avant-garde, Afro-Latin and more.   

Directed by Robert Pullen and drawn from a script written by historian Geoffrey Ward, "The World of Duke Ellington" will feature the critically-acclaimed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and special guests Tony Bennett, Baqir Abbas, Melissa Aldana, Jonathan Batiste, Shirley Caesar, Dick Hyman, Adriane Lenox, and Christian McBride.

Proceeds from "The World of Duke Ellington" will help to enable the thousands of performances and the diverse education programs and resources produced by Jazz at Lincoln Center each year. Through its concerts, free webcasts, direct musical instruction, and distribution of scores, Jazz at Lincoln Center reaches more than one million people globally, of all ages. The organization employs more than 1660 artists per year on its bandstands and classrooms.

On this special evening, the Ed Bradley Award for Leadership in Jazz will be presented to Jazz at Lincoln Center Board Chairman Robert J. Appel. The Award, named in honor of CBS News correspondent and original Jazz at Lincoln Center board member Ed Bradley, celebrates the integrity, wisdom and pioneering spirit of outstanding leaders and is Jazz at Lincoln Center's most distinguished award. Mr. Appel's commitment to the arts and to Jazz at Lincoln Center is unprecedented. His recent gift to this organization was the largest single private philanthropic contribution to date in support of Jazz at Lincoln Center.  

Jazz at Lincoln Center will also bestow the 2nd Annual Ashley Schiff Ramos Community Development in Jazz Award to Wendy Oxenhorn, Vice Chairman and Executive Director of the Jazz Foundation of America. Through this award, Jazz at Lincoln Center recognizes an extraordinary individual who uses jazz to enlist and engage people for the purpose of bringing communities together. Ms. Oxenhorn's work at the Jazz Foundation of America serves as an inspiration to keep jazz alive and to support the unique individuals in the jazz community.

 


NEW RELEASES: NINA SIMONE - A SINGLE WOMAN (EXPANDED EDITION; THE BEN COX BAND - THIS WATING GAME; ENRICO PIERANUNZI / FEDERICO CASAGRANDE - DOUBLE CIRCLE

NINA SIMONE - A SINGLE WOMAN (EXPANDED EDITION)

'A Single Woman' is an album from 1993 by singer, pianist, and songwriter Nina Simone. It was her last album. In 1993, 'A Single Woman' was placed 3th in the Top Jazz Albums. Nina Simone returned with an autobiography and outstanding album highlighting her still impressive singing and interpretative skills in an intriguing context, surrounded by strings and guitars. While she has always been a great protest and political singer, Simone is also a superb romantic stylist. Songs like 'A Single Woman', 'Lonesome Cities', 'If I Should Lose You' and 'The More I See You' are included. 'A Single Woman' was never released on vinyl; therefore Music On Vinyl has the distinct pleasure to present this great Nina Simone record on wax. 7 bonus tracks are included. Also available by Nina Simone on 180 gm vinyl: To Love Somebody / Sings the Blues / Silk & Soul / Pastel Blues / Here Comes the Sun / Emergency Ward / Black Gold / And Piano. ~ Amazon

THE BEN COX BAND - THIS WATING GAME

Introducing the spectacular debut from Ben Cox, the UK's most exciting new jazz vocalist. April 2015 marks the release of This Waiting Game, the stunning debut from rising star Ben Cox: composer, instrumentalist and the most exciting UK jazz vocalist to grace the scene for many years. Still only 21 and yet to graduate from London's Guildhall School of music, Cox and his co-writer, up and coming pianist Jamie Safiruddin, have created a remarkably accomplished album that revitalise the vocal jazz tradition. Together they are part of new generation of young jazz musicians who are building on the legacy of their heroes, while leading a new wave of innovation. Sarifuddin's talent as a gifted composer and arranger, combined with Cox's exceptional songwriting prowess and unique timbre, bring a fresh, distinctive sound to the genre that no one else can replicate. While performing on London's live circuit, Cox attracted the attention of UK jazz vocal legend Ian Shaw, who recognised his huge potential, establishing a role as a mentor and producing his album, enhancing what was already a great new talent. The result is This Waiting Game, an exceptional album with an inclusive vibe, destined to by enjoyed by both the avid jazz fan and those who simply love to be entertained by great music. Guest slots from renowned jazz talent such as Kirk McElhinny, Claire Martin and Emily Dankworth also serve to augment what is already an enchanting and charismatic body of work. Cox's mesmerising tone and captivating delivery have won him a whole host of high profile fans, including a glowing endorsement from jazz superstar Jamie Cullum. Introducing This Waiting Game as “fresh new vocal jazz music” on his hugely popular BBC Radio 2 show, Cullum states: “The title track 'This Waiting Game' sounds really good, Ben has got a very precise voice, it recalls a little bit of Kurt Elling to me, certainly in the writing style of the music and I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the album." ~ Amazon
  

ENRICO PIERANUNZI / FEDERICO CASAGRANDE - DOUBLE CIRCLE

A piano and an acoustic guitar. 'Double Circle' is the album that brought Enrico Pieranunzi and Federico Casagrande together in a recording studio for the first time: two musicians from different generations and with different backgrounds, but united by their love for jazz. This love has led Pieranunzi to become a reputable piano master over time and Casagrande to live far from home, since he left the province of Treviso (Italy) and moved all the way to Paris to learn the ropes in the jazz clubs of the French capital and returned more mature and ready to tell his musical tale. Two different paths crossed in a recording studio in Udine and gave rise to a charming record including airy, quiet tunes that alternate with small, more quick-paced movements. Pieranunzi and Casagrande wrote all of the tracks here, except for 'Beija Flor' by Noel Silva, Augusto Tomás Jr and Nelson Cavaquinho. ~ Amazon


NEW RELEASES: BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET - A LOVE SUPREME; ETTA JONES - DON'T GO TO STRANGERS; GIOVANNI GUIDI TRIO - THIS IS THE DAY

BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET - A LOVE SUPREME

Branford Marsalis Quartet performs Coltrane's A Love Supreme Live in Amsterdam. A special re-issue celebrating the 50th anniversary of the legendary Coltrane album.This historic Marsalis Music DVD, including a full performance plus bonus interviews and audio-only disc, will be re-released on April 13th 2015 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of the original John Coltrane ‘A Love Supreme’ album from 1965. The DVD contains rare video material including a conversation with Alice Coltrane and Branford Marsalis.
Branford Marsalis and his quartet have been captured in a complete performance of John Coltrane’s 1965 masterpiece ‘A Love Supreme’. This legendary suite was performed at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis during a European tour in March 2003. Marsalis’ acclaimed quartet - with pianist Joey Calderazzo, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts - was all about the music as well, as they delivered a performance both musically and visually riveting. As a bonus to the live performance, all four members of the quartet, together with Branford’s fellow saxophonists Michael Brecker, Ned Goold, David Sánchez and Miguel Zenón, discuss the inspiration and the challenges presented by Coltrane’s composition. In addition, Alice Coltrane, John Coltrane’s widow and the pianist in his last band, is seen in a 30-minute conversation with Branford. What has resulted – a scintillating live performance, plus informed musical commentary and a rare visit with Alice Coltrane – makes A Love Supreme Live in Amsterdam a must-have for all fans of Coltrane’s and Marsalis’ music.~ Amazon

ETTA JONES - DON'T GO TO STRANGERS

The career of Etta Jones has been sadly neglected over the years, despite her recording a significant number of excellent albums. It maybe that some records buyers confuse her with Etta James, but right from the off with her debut album Don't Go To Strangers, Etta Jones is her own woman. Don't Go To Strangers was a major hit, helped by a million selling single in the title track, which also hit the Top 40 of the pop charts and Top 5 R&B. Both chart placings were then almost unheard of achievements for a jazz record. The album would also become a steady seller and was honored with induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. ~ Amazon


GIOVANNI GUIDI TRIO - THIS IS THE DAY

The Giovanni Guidi Trio plays jazz of uncommon originality and reflective depth. On their second ECM album, they continue the work begun on the recording 'City of Broken Dreams', with pensive, abstract ballads which shimmer with inner tension. Each of the players - Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi, US bassist Thomas Morgan, and Portuguese drummer João Lobo - has a strong sense for the dialectics of sound and silence. The repertoire is mostly from Guidi's pen, but also includes the standard 'I'm Through with Love', Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farrés' 'Quizás, quizás, quizás' (familiar to jazz listeners through, above all, Nat King Cole's version), and 'Baiiia' by João Lobo. Born in Foligno, Italy, in 1985, Giovanni Guidi began studying piano at 12, and was encouraged in his musical directions by Enrico Rava at summer master classes in Siena. Rava's admiration for the pianist eventually led to him becoming a member of the trumpeter's quintet. In addition to the trio and his ongoing work with Rava, Guidi has fronted a number of other projects including a quintet with Gianlucca Petrella, Michael Blake, Morgan and Gerald Cleaver, and the 10-piece Unknown Rebel Band which includes João Lobo as one of two drummers. He made his first album under his own name for Japanese label Venus; this was followed by discs for Cam Jazz before he joined ECM, beginning with 'City of Broken Dreams', released in 2013.Personnel: Giovanni Guidi (piano), Thomas Morgan (double bass), João Lobo (drums). ~ Amazon


NEW RELEASES: MASSIMO MORGANTI / BAREND MIDDEHOF / NICO MENCI - THE CAUSE OF THE SEQUENCE; BILL PAYNE / EVA LINDAL / CAROL LIEBOWITZ; STEVE SLAGLE & BILL O’CONNELL – THE POWER OF TWO

MASSIMO MORGANTI / BAREND MIDDEHOF / NICO MENCI - THE CAUSE OF THE SEQUENCE

A very cool combo – one that features the trombone of Massimo Morganti, tenor of Barend Middlehof, and piano of Nico Menci – all working together without any other instrumentation at all! The style means that the piano handles as much of the rhythm as it does the melody – making for these warm grooves that are really wonderful – as lyrical as they are soulful, and with a strength that really drives both of the horn players forward too – so much so you don't miss the bass and drums at all! At most points, the style is very swinging – hardly the kind of airy experiment you might guess from the format – and both Middelhoff and Morganti win us over right away with the strength of their phrasing together, and the range of their solos when they break out. A wonderfully fresh record, and a delight all the way through – with titles that include "Unison Party", "Big Belly Blues", "Ballad For Anna", "Musiplano", "The Cause Of The Sequence", and a nice cover of Henry Mancini's "Nothing To Lose". ~ Dusty Groove 

BILL PAYNE / EVA LINDAL / CAROL LIEBOWITZ  

Bill Payne, Eva Lindal and Carol Liebowitz take this most classic group of instruments – piano, violin, and clarinet – and turn it on its head, unleashing music that is 100% improvised.  With nothing preconceived, they each listen intently and spontaneously respond to each other creating music with a deeply felt mix of lyricism and intensity.  Though far apart geographically (Bill in Las Vegas, Eva in Stockholm, and Carol in New York), their very first sounds as a trio clearly signaled that theirs was an unusually close connection. Tracklisting: Ever Since, It Happened This Way, Unspoken, B/E, If Then, Glissade, Preludes, Holus Nolus, What We Are Saying, Blue Flame, and ‘Til Always.

STEVE SLAGLE & BILL O’CONNELL – THE POWER OF TWO


Alto Saxophone and flutist Steve Slagle’s career on the New York City world stage has spanned the Grammy winning large orchestra of Mingus, Haden and Lovano to contemporary quartets with Steve Kuhn, Dave Stryker and many more. Never before has he paired it down to a duo until now with The Power of Two. The collaboration with pianist Bill O’Connell was a natural one after the many Latin-Jazz recording Steve has done recently with Bill, who is the quiet giant on piano of his generation. Alone together they create some of their best, most unique work to date.  At first starting the idea of this date with his tribute to the late great virtuoso pianist Kenny Drew Jr., Steve wrote ‘KD JR” on this day of his friends passing – they collectively go further to create the sound of musical spirits past, present, and future (for the latter, check out the title song ‘The Power of Two!).  On this recording, Steve Slagle and Bill O’Connell have the freedom to shine in the most basic settings.  There is no lack of the rhythm of drums on Steve’s “Good News” nor do you need a bass on the beautiful ballad “I’ll Wait and Pray”.  On Miles Davis’ rarely heard “Circle” the mood is as clear as the composition is impressionist. So after the final “Whistling Spirits” (a theme for the new twilight zone!) “The Power of Two” leaves you with the impression that the sum is even greater than the parts.  Go ahead and listen to a journey far and wide from two great musicians. What sounds effortless is a level of musicianship that only a few achieve after decades of work in their profession: hearing the music, listening to each other and inspiring each other to create and play music that never quite existed like this before – and capturing it in a recording. ~ Jack Zulack, Executive Producer, Panorama Records


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

NEW RELEASES: IVAN LINS – AMERICA BRASIL; LAUREN WHITE & THE QUINN JOHNSON TRIO - EXPERIMENT; SIMONE SOU / GUILHERME KASTRUP / BENJAMIN TAUBKIN - SOUNDS OF LIFE

IVAN LINS – AMERICA BRASIL

One of the strongest, most positive albums that Ivan Lins has recorded in years – a set that almost has the feel of some of his biggest albums from the 80s, a time when Lins was riding high on a big wave of international acclaim! The production is a bit more top-shelf than other recent efforts, but that's a great thing – as it really helps to bring out the strengths in Lins' songwriting – which hasn't dimmed at all over the years. There's plenty of catchy tunes on the set – the kind of classic work from Lins that you can totally dig, even without knowing the language – and titles include "Cantor Da Noite", "Cantoria", "Luxo Do Lixo", "America Brasil", "Agua Doce", and "Do Oiapoque Ao Chui". ~ Dusty Groove

LAUREN WHITE & THE QUINN JOHNSON TRIO - EXPERIMENT

Lauren White is a popular Los Angeles vocalist, who has performed extensively in venues throughout the city such as the Catalina Jazz Club, Upstairs at Vitello’s, ‘Feinstein’s At The Cinegrill” at the legendary Hollywood Roosevelt.  “Experiment” is the second collaboration for Lauren with Quinn Johnson producing.  Their previous CD, “Meant To Be”, is highly regarded for it’s adventurous and exquisite arrangements and received considerable airplay.  Quinn Johnson is the longtime musical director for Steve Tyrell and frequently appears in The Clare Fischer Band, which recently won a Latin Grammy for best album.  Acclaimed musician, Trey Henry on bass, and Ray Brinker on drums, complete the trio. Tracks include: Like Someone In Love, Rock Me To Sleep, Better Than Anything, Gentle Rain, Winter Moon, Show Me, You Are There, and others.

SIMONE SOU / GUILHERME KASTRUP / BENJAMIN TAUBKIN - SOUNDS OF LIFE

A trio project from the group Soukas – usually just the duo of drummers Simone Sou and Guilherme Kastrup, but joined this time around by the great keyboardist Benjamin Taubkin! Most tracks are heavy on rhythms and melodic percussion from Simone and Guilherme – sometimes quite rootsy, sometimes with a surprising degree of warmth – a quality that gets especially extended by Taubkin's work on acoustic piano, which he uses alongside keyboards and just a bit of flute. Titles include "Choro Bororo", "O Tocador", "Mozambik Bembe", and "Pifaiada".  ~ Dusty Groove



NEW RELEASES: SEU JORGE - MUSICAS PARA CHURRASCO II; THE JUSTIN ROTHBERG GROUP – OLD BUSINESS; AMANAZ – AFRICA

SEU JORGE - MUSICAS PARA CHURRASCO II

A real killer from Seu Jorge – one of his best records in years, and maybe even better than the first volume in this series! The set's got a strongly funky vibe right from the start – a groove that's almost got the totally perfect feel of Incognito or Brand New Heavies – but which is even better, given the amazingly rich, deep style of singing that Jorge brings to the record! Jorge has a voice that grabs us even when the instrumentation is spare, or he's singing a ballad – but he's also really at his best on upbeat, soulful material like this – almost a throwback to the years of 70s samba soul, but with a slightly more contemporary vibe too. Wonderful all the way through – the kind of record that should be making Seu Jorge a huge international star – with titles that include "Papo Reto", "Ela E Bipolar", "Na Verdade Nao Ta", "Faixa De Contorno", and "Babydoll".  ~ Dusty Groove

THE JUSTIN ROTHBERG GROUP – OLD BUSINESS

Old Business is an album of original jazz fusion music written by guitarist Justin Rothberg.  This is a group of excellent musicians and old friends that have a special bond you can only create by time.   The music on this album was not only made to be interesting and creative but also listenable to anyone. According to Rothberg, the album utilized influence from a variety of styles and he says he wrote music the band could put their own feeling into.  Musicians include, Rotheberg on guitar; Todd Groves (saxophones, flute & melodica); Matsu (drums); Gil Smushkowitz (bass); and Andy O’Niel (drums & percussion). Tracks include: No Time For The Beach, Bye, Dollar Bill, Turkey Spam, and others.

AMANAZ – AFRICA

Wonderfully fuzzy work from Amanaz – one of the trippiest, headiest groups of the Zamrock scene of the 70s! The guitars here are very full and present – not at a hit you over the head jamming label, but with this rich sonic element that has lots of bassy undercurrents – at a level that makes the album a head-nodding gem all the way through – poised perfectly between some of the more psyche styles of the African scene of the time, and some of the more thoughtful singer-songwriter material. The group have a quality that's surprisingly deep – very soulful, and with a subtle power that comes through strongly – thanks to a mostly-English batch of lyrics (although a few tunes here are in their native Bemba.) No cuts are all-out funky, but all have this great slow-funk sort of charm – and titles include "I Am Very Far", "Sunday Morning", "Khala My Friend", "Green Apple", "Africa", "Making The Scene", "Easy Street", "Big Enough" and "Kale". 2CD package features a full bonus "reverb mix" of the album – even trippier! ~ Dusty Groove





NEW RELEASES: DJAVAN – OBRA COMPLETA DE 1976 A 2000 (21-CD SET; RODRIGO LAMA - SAGA; JIMMY RILEY – LIVE IT TO KNOW IT

DJAVAN – OBRA COMPLETA DE 1976 A 2000 (21-CD SET)

An incredible run of music from Djavan – one of Brazil's best singer/songwriters of the past few decades – represented here by a massive box set of 20 different albums! The package brings together all of Djavan's wonderful records – each with original artwork – truly some of the most influential MPB of its time, and some of the few Brazilian albums to really make a big impact on the international scene – some real classics, mixed with overlooked gems that didn't get as much circulation – standing together as a really rich body of music! The box features almost 1000 minutes of music, 2 discs of rare material, a 200 page book that has rare photos and lyrics – and remastering for all the records! Albums include A Voz O Violao A Musica De Djavan, Djavan, Alumbramento, Seduzir, Luz, Lilas, Meu Lado, Nao E Azul Mas E Mar, Oceano, Coisa De Acender, Novena, Malasia, Bicho Solto O XIII, Djavan Ao Vivo, Milagreiro, Vaidade, Matizes, Aria, Raridas, and Espanhol E Ingles.  ~ Dusty Groove

RODRIGO LAMA - SAGA

A great debut from Rodrigo Lima – a double-length set that has the guitarist working in modes that range from Brazilian roots to samba jazz, with lots of stops in between! Lima plays acoustic throughout, and with a deftness that rivals some of his Brazilian predecessors – and that includes some of the best bossa and choro talents as well – and the range of settings in the album is varied, but extremely unified too – thanks to a coherent sense of production and presentation that really holds our interest throughout. Rodrigo invited a surprising range of legends to work with him on the album – including Hubert Laws on flute, Hugo Fattoroso on keyboards, Raul De Souza on trombone, Anat Cohen on tenor and clarinet, Mike Mainieri on vibes, and the great Hermeto Pascoal on piano – and songs range from shorter melodies to these lovely long introspections. Titles include "Porta Aflora", "Vida Nova", "Pilotos", "Opa", "Anima 2", "Cancao Praieira", "A Velha Sozinha", and "Nosso Borogodo Coio".  ~Dusty Groove

JIMMY RILEY – LIVE IT TO KNOW IT: SELF PRODUCTIONS, PROTEST SONGS & DUB PLATES 1975 TO 1985

Rare work from Jimmy Riley – a 70s singer who never fully got his due, but who rubbed shoulders with all the best on the Kingston scene, and made some mighty great music in the process! Jimmy's the father of Taurus Riley – the contemporary vocalist – but may well be a more expressive talent in his own right, as you'll hear in these powerful tracks from the late 70s, which include a number of great protest and political numbers, set to slow-stepping, head-nodding rhythms. A few cuts here are offered up in both original takes and versions, and most are pretty darn obscure, but pulled together with the always-great Pressure Sounds level of care and class. Titles include "Gunman Of JA", "From The Ghetto", "Westcoast", "Five Thanks & Praise", "Tell The Youths The Truth", "Majority Rule", "Bridge The Gap", "Poor Immigrant", and "Everyone Needs Money". ~ Dusty Groove

 

DEFINITIVE LITTLE RICHARD 3-CD BOX SET, SPANNING SPECIALTY AND VEE-JAY YEARS, COMING FROM SPECIALTY RECORDS

In the early ’50s, Little Richard Penniman combined the spirit of church music, the barroom-hewn raunch of blues and the swing of New Orleans jazz and turned it into something altogether new — rock ’n’ roll.  When the Macon, Ga. native signed to Art Rupe’s Specialty Records in Los Angeles, he was in turn dispatched to New Orleans to record at Cosimo’s legendary studio. Over the course of several sessions, the Little Richard sound began to develop around hits like “Tutti Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “Long Tall Sally” and “Lucille,” to name a few.

On June 2, 2015, Specialty Records — now a unit of Concord Music Group — will release Directly From My Heart: The Best of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years, an all-new three-CD box set containing 64 songs that chronicle Richard’s Specialty and Vee-Jay years — 1956 to 1965. The collection contains Richard’s classics as well as B-sides and rarities. Also included is a 30-plus page illustrated booklet featuring a handful of rare photos plus new liner notes by singer/songwriter/music historian Billy Vera.

Many artists begin their career on small labels and work their way up to the majors. Conversely, Richard began his recording career at RCA Victor, brought to the label’s attention by an Atlanta DJ. There he released four singles, no hits among them. Next he signed to Don Robey’s Houston-based Duke/Peacock Records, initially as part of the Tempo Toppers band and later as a solo. The solo sides remained unreleased until Richard struck gold at his next destination, Specialty Records. 

It was at New Orleans’ legendary J&M Music Shop that Richard chanced upon Specialty’s New Orleans A&R rep, Bumps Blackwell, who brought him to the attention of Rupe in Los Angeles. On September 14, 1955, Richard, Blackwell, and New Orleans’ R&B “A team” of session players (Lee Allen and Red Tyler, saxophones; Huey Smith, piano; Justin Adams, guitar; Frank Fields, bass and Earl Palmer, drums) went into Cosimo Matassa’s studio on Rampart Street. Sadly, despite the roomful of talent, the session was, as Vera describes “an exercise in commonplace.”

An unexpected bout of magic would shortly ensue. As Vera writes, “During a lunch break at the Dew Drop Inn, Richard hopped up on the piano and began shouting out a ribald tune he always performed, usually in drag, for those college boys, ‘Tutti Frutti, Good Bootie.’  Blackwell’s eyes lit up, for the first time hearing something special in the entertainer. Spotting local songwriter Dorothy LaBostrie across the room at another table, he asked if she could clean up the naughty lyric for public consumption. She did so back at Cosimo’s and, ‘Wop bop-a-loom-bop alop bam boom,’ a hit and a career were born.”

Over the next two years, Little Richard went on to place fourteen songs in the Rhythm & Blues top ten.  These include his iconic performances of “Lucille,” “Jenny Jenny,” “Keep a Knockin’” and “Good Golly Miss Molly.”  The astonishing fact is, all these classics were recorded within a mere 18-month period.

Richard continued with Specialty until 1964, when he was brought to the attention of Chicagoans Vivian Carter and Jim Bracken — whose first initials formed the name of Vee-Jay Records. Having freshly lost both the Beatles and the Four Seasons, and having lost control of the company in a move to the West Coast, the label was on its final legs. It didn’t help that in the studio Richard used his road band, the Upsetters, who were not quite studio quality at a time the Wrecking Crew was setting the standard. On top of that, the Beatles had broken big, and a fellow flamboyant Georgia native named James Brown had broken onto the R&B scene with a brand new bag. With a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar, Richard recorded a Don Covay tune (Covay had once been employed by Richard as his chauffer and opening act), “I Don’t Know What You’ve Got But It’s Got Me,” which reached #12 on the R&B chart. The song was done in James Brown’s style and briefly brought Richard back. However, music had changed, and the R&B sounds of the day were now emanating from Stax and Motown.

Little Richard continued to make records for South Los Angeles’ Modern Records, CBS R&B subsidiary OKeh, Brunswick, and briefly, Specialty again (in 1971), before signing to Reprise, where his “Freedom Blues” cracked the Top 50 pop and Top 30 R&B. His peak recording years behind him, Richard remained on the scene into the ’80s and early ’90s as a colorful personality.

Vera elaborates: “Changing his look, wearing an outlandish wig, outrageous outfits and letting his large personality come out, he became a sought after guest on talk shows, like Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett and Mike Douglas, taking over every conversation and talking over even the hosts. Couch potato America loved it and high paying concerts followed.”

In recent years, the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee and Hollywood Walk of Fame star recipient has stayed closer to the homefront. But the three-CD set Directly From My Heart: The Best of the Specialty & Vee-Jay Years is a reminder of the time, place and circumstance that helped define rock ’n’ roll.




NEW RELEASES: STEVE JOHNS - FAMILY; CAROL SABOYA / ANTONIO ADOLFO / HENDRICK MEURKENS – COPA VILLAGE; ATOMIC – LUCIDITY

STEVE JOHNS - FAMILY

After three decades as a key contributor to groups led by some of jazz's greatest luminaries, Steve Johns has at last made his first recording as a leader.  In an era when it seems that every aspiring young jazz player whether ready or not, feels the need to come out with his or her own recording, for someone of Steve's abilities and experience to wait so long is almost unheard of.  Steve John's recording debut as a leader is an auspicious one and well worth the wait.  And while he'll undoubtedly continue to enhance the work of others, we hope he'll step into the spotlight more often to showcase hos own unique talents as player and composer.  "Steve Johns is a master drummer and bandleader.  His bass playing son Daryl Johns and saxophonist wife Debbie are amazing.  Steller debut and Steve proves, drummers are musicians, and pretty good producers too.  Great musical family." ~ Lenny White.  Includes: Sleepwalk, So You Say, Shadowboxing, Bogie and Bacall, Came to Believe, Mixing, DXJ, Shjell Game, and Chunk. Dave Styker and Bob DeVos appear on the CD as well.


CAROL SABOYA / ANTONIO ADOLFO / HENDRICK MEURKENS – COPA VILLAGE


In the late 50 and early 60s, Rio de Janeiro’s famous Copacabana sector was as important a musical breeding ground as New York’s 52nd Street during the Bebop era.  Here Brazil’s finest and most innovative musicians gathered to share ideas, explore new concepts and eventually create a sensational new genre known as Bossa Nova.  Fans of them music could travel from club to club every night to feast upon this exciting new music.  During these same years, jazz fans in New York’s Greenwich village could partake nightly in the new developments in jazz in the plentiful clubs on that scene.  The similarities between these two legendary musical meccas provide the concept behind AAM Music’s Copa Village – a brilliant collaboration by vocalist Carol Saboya, composer, arranger, and pianist Antonio Adolfo and composer, harmonica master, and vibraphonist Hendrik Muerkens. The reunion of the three artists with other great Brazilian musicians demonstrates clearly the organic and timeless blend of Jazz and Bossa Nova continuing in it sumptuous evolution with some new harmonic and rhythmic concepts.  Includes: The Girl From Ipanema, Copa Village, Show De Boia, O Boto, Come Se Fosse, Agua De Beber, Pois, Pretty World, Two Kites, Nosso Mundo, and Visao.

ATOMIC – LUCIDITY

The title's a great one, as the album may well be the clearest musical vision we've heard from Atomic so far – a wonderful record that has the group at a level that's slightly more tuneful and straightforward, but all without losing any of their previous edge! There's still some key free moments here, but they're also mixed in with some tighter, more structured songs that really show off the jazz chops of the whole group – the quintet that includes Magnus Broo on trumpet, Frederik Ljungkvist on tenor and b flat clarinet, Havard Wiik on piano, Ingebriget Haker Flaten on bass, and Hans Hulboekmo on drums. Wiik and Ljungkvist wrote all of the songs on the album, separately – and between them, they've got a balanced musical vision that really shapes the entire record. Titles include "A New Junction", "Laterna Interfruit", "Start/Stop", "Major", "December", and "A MacGuffin's Tale". ~ Dusty Groove



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

AARON DIEHL Returns to Connect Generations of Jazz on SPACE TIME CONTINUUM

Widely acknowledged as a modern master in the aftermath of his acclaimed 2012 Mack Avenue debut, The Bespoke Man's Narrative, 29-year-old pianist/composer Aaron Diehl ups the ante with the 2015 release: Space Time Continuum. 

Diehl first documented his inclusive, across-the-timeline conception on the self-released late ʼ00s albums Live At Caramoor, a solo date on which he navigated the stride piano canon with deep assurance, and Live At the Players, on which he applied a broad lexicon of piano trio vocabulary to a program spanning classical music, bebop and the blues. On The Bespoke Man's Narrative, Diehl presented original music drawing on antecedent bandleader/composers like John Lewis and Duke Ellington for strategies that facilitated individualistic performances from his unit of A-list peers. 

On Space Time Continuum, an eight-piece program, Diehl assembles a pan-generational ensemble of masters. Joining his core trio of bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis, in different configurations, are the iconic tenor saxophonist-composer Benny Golson and the magisterial baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley, both 85 years young; the 39-year-old underground tenor saxophone giant Stephen Riley; and the rising star trumpeter Bruce Harris. 

It's important to use both contemporaries and elders as sources of inspiration," Diehl says. He is particularly pleased at "the opportunity to play and improvise with living legends" Golson and Temperley. Diehl met Golson in 2009, when Juilliard School of Music--Diehl's alma mater--commissioned the veteran to compose a work entitled "Above and Beyond" in celebration of the school's centennial. Two years later, they performed together at the Lincoln Theater in Columbus, Ohio, Diehl's hometown. 

"Mr. Golson has been inspirational beyond the legacy of music he's created," Diehl states. "Carpe diem while he and Joe Temperley are still around." 

The leader pairs off Golson and Harris on "Organic Consequence," a discursive, multi-sectional work for quintet, and "Space Time Continuum," Diehl's notes-and-tones response to a lyric by vocalist (and Mack Avenue artist) Cécile McLorin Salvant, with whom he works extensively as pianist and musical director.

"I gave Mr. Golson a solo section with a specific set of chord changes," Diehl says of the former piece. "In rehearsal, he wasn't fond of playing the progression and offered constructive criticism that led to our finding an alternative harmonic movement that suited his needs. He taught me the importance of leaning towards people's strengths, and it was beautiful to see Bruce fit in perfectly in playing directly alongside him." 

The magnificent singer Charenee Wade adds a third voice to the dialogue on the title track, challenging in its form and harmonic movement, on which Diehl "pieces together isolated sections with drum breaks." He continues: "I thought it would be fascinating to see how Charenee would interpret a tune by two artists with whom she's worked and is familiar." 

Temperley's feature, "The Steadfast Titan," is a Billy Strayhorn-esque ballad with a memorable melody that suits the baritone sax legend's tonal personality like a custom suit. "I wanted to capture his huge sound, and celebrate his longevity in music," Diehl says. "He's the kind of person I admire-doing one thing for so many years and having such belief in it. I hope to do that with the piano." 

Riley's smooth sound, subtlety and lightning-like ability to weave through harmony comes through on the brisk quartet track "Flux Capacitor," an older Diehl original (the reference is to the device that "made time travel possible" in the film Back To The Future, the sequel to which takes place in 2015), and on "Kat's Dance," a breathe-as-one Riley-Diehl duo treatment of a waltz composed by pianist Adam Birnbaum. "Adam's ideas are always melodic," Diehl says. "This piece presented nice pianistic challenges in presenting the melodic voice with certain fingers and providing harmonic support and bass movement in others." 

Indeed, for all the instrumental derring-do from Diehl's cohort on the performances on Space Time Continuum, the leader's virtuoso command of the piano is notable. (The instrument is a well-wrought Fazioli F-228 Grand.) Consider, if you will, the classical chops, impeccable touch and swinging conception that Diehl displays on the anthemic "Santa Maria," which he composed in 2012 on a commission from the Columbus Foundation to celebrate the bicentennial of his Ohio hometown. 

"This isn't necessarily a 'pianistic' album," Diehl says. "But hopefully a noticeable development from The Bespoke Man's Narrative is my investigation of more linear forms of playing (i.e., bebop and hard-bop) that can fluidly express the harmony." 

The fruits of Diehl's researches are apparent on two trio tracks. His warp-speed original "Broadway Boogie-Woogie," evocative of Bud Powell at his most demonic, is a tone parallel to Piet Mondrian's painting of that name in New York's Museum of Modern Art, where Diehl premiered the piece. And he uncorks a rollicking, deeply swinging treatment of the set-opening "Uranus," a memorable melody by Walter Davis, Jr., one of the greatest of Powell's acolytes, associated with various editions of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. 

Diehl discovered the latter tune from bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Lawrence Leathers, also colleagues of long-standing. They themselves learned "Uranus" from drummer Kenny Washington, who learned it when he played with Davis during the latter '70s, and became familiar with it on numerous gigs with pianist Johnny O'Neal, who played it during an '80s run with the Jazz Messengers. 

That opening salvo sets the tone for the trans-generational dialog that informs the entirety of Space Time Continuum. Diehl, who chooses words as carefully as notes, sums up his intentions: "I understand the jazz language as a continuum--threading together the evolution of jazz as a continual, interrelated stream of development to create a sound that's neither old or new, but simply a landscape where we could all communicate." 

Upcoming Performance Schedule for Aaron Diehl Trio

May 8 / Fisher Center at Bard College / Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
June 12 - 14 / Ginny's Supper Club / New York, NY
June 23 & 24 / Rochester Jazz Festival / Rochester, NY
July 17 / Umbria Jazz Festival / Perugia, Italy
July 25 / Schloss-Elmau (solo piano) / Krün, Germany
August 2 / Newport Jazz Festival / Newport, RI
August 10 / Jazz in Marciac / Marciac, France
August 21 / The Tabernacle / Martha's Vineyard, MA

Upcoming Performance Schedule with Cécile McLorin Salvant

April 17 / Frostburg State University / Frostburg, MD
April 18 / Jazz Club at Jefferson Center / Roanoke, VA
April 28 / City Opera House / Traverse City, MI
April 29 / Wharton Center for the Performing Arts / East Lansing, MI
May 1 / New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival / New Orleans, LA
May 2 / Sheldon Concert Hall / St. Louis, MO

Aaron Diehl  ·  Space Time Continuum
Mack Avenue Records  ·  Release Date: June 16, 2015



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