Tuesday, September 01, 2015



One of the most supremely soulful compilations we've heard in years – and easily the deepest in this series to date! From the start, Kent's Masterpieces Of Modern Soul collections have been all about bringing rare gems to fresh ears, and they've really outdone themselves here. A solid majority of the tunes have never been released before now, and even the tunes that were issued back in the day are pretty darn rare! Most of it was recorded in the 70s, when the more grandly arranged soul and R&B styles of the previous decade were being honed into a slightly stripped down, though still sophisticated modern soul sound. Fantastic stuff! Volume 4 takes a baby step or 2 into the 80s, without losing sight of the 70s-rooted groove – and the titles include "No Limit" by Darrow Fletcher, "It Takes Heart" by Greg Perry, "Baby You Got It All" by Street People, "Gotta Be Loved" by Herman Davis,"I'll Laugh Till I Cry" by Toussaint McCall, "Never Felt This Say Before" by The New Experience", "See Saw Affair" by Cesar, "I've Never Been In Love" by Alvin Robinson, "Don't Matter To Me" by Billy Cee & Freedom Express, "We Communicate" by Gail Anderson, "Midnight Affair" by George Soule, "Daddy Please Stay Home" by Obrey Wilson and more. 23 tracks in all! ~ Dusty Groove


Kenya's plenty warm in her own skin – coming on with this full, rich quality right from the very first note – the kind of indie soul power we haven't heard this well in a while! The album's very down-to-earth and unassuming – just wonderful vocals from the lady herself, well-penned songs, and this straightforward approach to the music that takes us back to classic mellow soul of decades back, but with a very fresh, contemporary vibe throughout. Kenya gets some great help on production and songwriting from equally excellent talents – including Khari Cabral Simmons, Daz I Kue, Brandon McKenzie, and Kendall Duffie of Kloud 9 – and titles include "Be Here", "Let Me", "Wednesday Girl", "My Heart", "Brown Soul", "Sleepless", "Take Me Away", "Makeusmile", "I Can't Help It (Sugaboom rmx)", and "Never Giving Up". ~ Dusty Groove


Totally great work from Sospetto – the group's third album, and their best so far! The approach here follows in Sospetto's previous mode of remaking older soundtrack styles – but the album's even more elaborate and involved, given that the group create four different mini film scores in the process – imagined soundtracks for "films" that include Intrappolati Nel Harem Di Satana, L'Exposition De Genevieve, Schwarzes Licht, and Devil's Cops In Angel County – each with a different variety of music! Keyboards figure heavily into the mix – used in the best early 70s Italian style – but there's also lots of nice guitar, earthier percussion, and a broad pastiche of cool effects – those kind of other-worldly elements that can really illuminate a classic soundtrack. Plus, there's also some wordless female vocal bits – which trip nicely through almost half the album, creating an especially moody vibe at times! Titles include "Sabba", "Law Viper", "Le Jardin", "Sans Peau", "Scaramanzia", "Deserto Emotivo", "Condanna A Morte", "Fattaccio", and "La Fille Dans La Milieu Du Lac". ~ Dusty Groove



On September 18th, we'll see the release of the “Invitation To Illumination – Live At Montreux 2011”. This is the first ever release of the audio from this unique concert featuring the guitar talents of Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin and includes most of the tracks from their classic 1973 album “Love Devotion Surrender”. “Invitation To Illumination – Live At Montreux 2011” also features the late Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival, playing harmonica on the final track. The evening was a showcase of supreme musical virtuosity and spirituality and typified the approach of these two great artists. “Invitation To Illumination – Live At Montreux 2011” captures an incredible night of live music and is certainly a performance not to be missed. Tracks include: Echoes of Angels / Introduction; Downstairs Blues; The Life Divine; Venus / Upper Egypt; Duende; Let Us Go Into The House of The Lord; Peace On Earth / Dear Lord; Black Satin; A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall; Smooth Criminal; Stairway to Heaven; Land of 1000 Dances; Lord's Prayer; Cindy Blackman Santana Drum Solo; Free America / The 8th of January; A Love Supreme; La Marseillaise; Montreux Boogie (inc. La Grange); Right Off; A Love Supreme; Guitar Interlude; Shake It Up And Go; Right Off; Vuleta Abajo; Vashkar; The Creator Has A Master Plan; Guitar Interludes; Naima; and  Lotus Land Op.47 No.1.        


Features Bill Laswell on electric bass & Kurt Elling on spoken word. Recorded over three days in the autumn of 2014 at Bill Laswell's Orange Studios in New Jersey, mixed by James Dellatacoma and mastered by Mike Fossenkemper, Machine Language is the last and possibly most ambitious work by American composer, orchestrator, arranger, saxophonist and all-round conceptualizer Bob Belden with his historical group Animation. Belden died on May 20th this year. In order to realize his vision, Bob Belden enlisted Bill Laswell on electric bass and renowned jazz singer Kurt Elling, who acts as narrator. As for the previous album by Animation, Transparent Heart, also released on RareNoiseRecords in 2012, the lineup also comprises Peter Clagett on electrified trumpet, Roberto Verastegui on keyboards and Matt Young on drums. 


A killer from trumpeter Joe Magnarelli – an artist we've already begun to appreciate a lot for his recent work on the Posi-tone label – but a player who really wins us over with this sweet little set! The record sparkles right from the start with contributions from key labelmates – the mighty Brian Charette on Hammond, Mike DiRubbo on alto, and the great Steve Davis on trombone – all players who leap into the fray with Magnarelli right from the start, and come up with these lines that are sophisticated, but always swinging too – stunningly soulful at all the best moments, with a nice sort of sparkle,b ut no too-commercial polish. Solos are great, and Magnarelli's writing is very nice on the album's original tracks – and titles include "Easy", "26 2", "Central Park West", "Paris", "Outlet Pass", "Clockwise", and "My Reverie". ~ Dusty Groove

Billy Cobham Spectrum 40 Headlines Inaugural Wobeon Jazz Fusion Festival in Austin TX

WOBEONFEST returns to Ironwood Hall in Downtown Austin, TX this September, marking the third year of the homegrown festival with a global reach. This year, the festival organizers have added a Jazz Fusion Festival to the 2-day gathering, which will feature a rare US performance by drum legend Billy Cobham (of Mahavishnu Orchestra fame) and guitar great Scott Henderson on Sunday, September 13th. 

Billy Cobham brings his Spectrum 40 quartet with jazz greats Dean Brown and Ric Fierabracci to the inaugural Jazz Fusion Festival. The Modern Drummer Hall of Fame inductee and his band celebrates the music of Cobham’s first album and performs in the spirit of the rich 1970s Fusion era.  Scott Henderson and his new trio with Travis Carlton and Alan Hertz will also be featured.  Henderson is best known for his innovative work with fusion band Tribal Tech, and for his role with Joe Zawinul and The Zawinul Syndicate.

 Festival Founder Jakes Srinivasan speaks on the event’s new extension: “We are always looking at breaking new ground with the kind of music we curate.  If you see the many, many shows and artists we’ve promoted and presented over the last 3 years, you’ll see that you can’t necessarily put these bands in neat boxes.” He elaborates, “All music is world music, as they say, and there’s a huge pool of great artists – even right here in our own backyard that are incredibly exciting to watch and hear, but for whatever reason don’t get the same share of voice or airplay as we think they deserve.  World Music falls in that category, so does Jazz Fusion.” Jazz fusion is a progressive amalgamation of Rock and Jazz that blossomed in the ’70s and ’80s, and continues to have a tremendous global, yet simultaneously niche, following. Fans of legendary artists like Chick Corea, Miles Davis, and Weather Report continue to harbor their passion for jazz fusion even today. Of late, bands like Grammy®-winning Snarky Puppy are bringing new fans to this exciting genre. In 2014, Wobeon introduced Dallas-based jazz fusion band Funky Knuckles to festival fans and received great feedback. Producing separately-programed days with single-day ticketing for each of the two genres allows both audience bases to get a full sampling of music closest to their interest. Local jazz guitarist Glenn Rexach, rising fusion stars Curious Android, and local group Collin Shook Quintet round out the lineup.

Wobeon has featured renowned artists from all corners of the world, from Angola to Morocco to Brooklyn, and from right here in Austin.  Afropop queen Angelique Kidjo, Bermuda reggae sensation Collie Buddz, Electro-cumbia party starters Bomba Estereo, and big beat bhangra juggernauts Red Baraat have all performed at the gathering, along with local favorites like Atash, Bramaya, and Maracatu Texas.

This festival is made possible in part by the generosity and support of organizations such as KUTX Radio Austin, the City of Austin Cultural Affairs Division of the Economic Development Department, Texas Folklife, Ironwood Hall and others.

SFJAZZ Announces New SFJAZZ Collective Member: Trumpeter Sean Jones Joins All-Star Octet

SFJAZZ announces a new lineup of its award-winning all-star octet, the SFJAZZ Collective -- trumpeter Sean Jones is replacing long-time member and trumpeter Avishai Cohen. The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star award-winning jazz ensemble comprising eight of the finest performers and composers at work in jazz today. Launched in 2004 by SFJAZZ, the Collective has become one of the most exciting and acclaimed groups on the jazz scene. The SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco is the group's home base.

The current lineup now features founding member and alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, tenor saxophonist David Sánchez, trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Obed Calvaire.

Jones joins the SFJAZZ Collective as the group prepares for its 2015 Fall Tour. The tour and a Spring Tour in 2016 are devoted to each member's arrangements of the music of Michael Jackson and new original compositions.

For the remarkable composer, trumpeter, educator, and activist Jones, the pursuit of jazz is a most serious endeavor. Deeply influenced by his immersion in Gospel music in the church as a youth, Jones had an epiphany at the age of 19 while he was a student at Youngstown State University. The awakening was his first hearing of the magnificent John Coltrane's masterpiece, A Love Supreme. After receiving his Master's Degree from Rutgers University, Jones performed a six-month stint with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Wynton Marsalis offered him a permanent position as lead trumpeter and Jones remained there until 2010, also participating in two recordings. During those years, Jones started touring and performing regularly with his own ensembles and began his longtime relationship with Mack Avenue Records, for whom he released his seventh recording last year.

Education is also a major element in the trumpeter's ongoing activities. Shortly after joining the JLCO, he began teaching at Duquesne University in his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, where he served as Associate Professor of Jazz; Jones also served as Professor of Trumpet at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music for some time. In addition, master classes and clinics are a regular part of his activities, providing more than a dozen annually around the world. He also serves as Artistic Director of both the Pittsburgh and Cleveland Jazz Orchestras. In 2014, Jones joined Berklee College of Music as Chair of the Brass Department and maintains the position as he tours year-round.

After exploring the work of Ornette Coleman (2004), John Coltrane (2005), Herbie Hancock (2006), Thelonious Monk (2007), Wayne Shorter (2008), McCoy Tyner (2009), Horace Silver (2010), Stevie Wonder (2011-2012), and Joe Henderson (2014), the SFJAZZ Collective now turns its sights on the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson. The arrangements of Michael Jackson's songs and the SFJAZZ Collective's original compositions will be recorded during their residency at the SFJAZZ Center from October 22-25 and released in March 2015.

In addition to its outstanding line-up, the SFJAZZ Collective has been praised for its innovative approach to repertoire. Each year, the ensemble performs a new list of compositions by a modern jazz master and new pieces by the Collective members (commissioned by SFJAZZ). Through this pioneering approach, simultaneously honoring jazz's recent history while championing the music's up-to-the-minute directions, the Collective embodies SFJAZZ's commitment to jazz as a living, ever-relevant art form.

To cultivate its distinctive sound, the SFJAZZ Collective each year convenes at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco for a multi-week residency. Throughout this extended rehearsal period--a rarity in today's jazz--the octet workshops the season's new repertoire and interacts with the Bay Area community through SFJAZZ's education programs for youth and adults. The Collective then takes to road.

SFJAZZ Collective 2015 Fall Tour Dates
October 9 / University of Colorado / Boulder, CO
October 10 / University of Wyoming / Laramie, WY
October 17 / Brubeck Festival / Stockton, CA
October 19 / Capital Theater / Salt Lake City, UT
October 20 / Musical Instrument Museum / Phoenix, AZ
October 22-25 / SFJAZZ Center / San Francisco, CA

SFJAZZ Collective 2016 Spring Tour Dates
March 30-April 2 / Jazz Bistro / St. Louis, MO
April 6 / The Clifton Center / Louisville, KY
April 7 / Purdue Convocations / West Lafayette, IN
April 8 / Carmel Center for the Performing Arts / Carmel, IN
April 9 / University of Dubuque / Dubuque, IA
April 13 / AT&T Performing Arts Center / Dallas, TX
April 16 / Cullen Theater, DaCamera of Houston / Houston, TX
April 19-21 / Jazz Standard / New York, NY
April 22 / Manchester Craftsman's Guild/MCG Jazz / Pittsburgh, PA
April 23 / Massey Hall / Toronto, ONT
April 24 / Berklee Performance Center / Boston, MA
April 27 / Music Center at Strathmore / Bethesda, MD
June 17 / Detroit Symphony Orchestra / Detroit, IL

Founded in 1983, SFJAZZ presents the greatest names in jazz, Latin and other global music and nurtures the art of improvisation through its year-round concert, commissioning and education programs. The West Coast's biggest jazz presenter serves about 200,000 fans and students every year from our SFJAZZ Annual Season, San Francisco Jazz Festival, SFJAZZ Summer Sessions, and SFJAZZ Collective. The extensive SFJAZZ Education programs include Family Matinees, Koret Discover Jazz Classes, Jazz in the Middle, and SFJAZZ High School All Stars.


Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam is gearing up for a busy fall with the September 18th release of their next single featuring their unique take on Jimi Hendrix’s Fire. The song showcases Guest Vocalist Kat Robichaud from NBC’s The Voice, who lends her rock n’ roll and glam roots to the song and the related video.  This cover of Fire is unlike any other.  It’s a sexy, smoldering version that captures the full emotion of the Hendrix classic.

On October 16th PGS will release their new full length album that includes the singles New York City Groove and Fire as well as two tracks recorded “live” at the world famous Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City.  All of the songs on the album (except for Fire) were composed by Robert and reflect the band’s distinctive trademark sound and feel.

The band’s most recent single, released on July 10th, is Robert’s catchy, snazzy New York City Groove, also featuring Kat Robichaud on vocals.  The song is “a love letter to my NYC home,” says Robert, leader/bassist/composer for PGS.  In the month since its release, the Groove video has been viewed over 85,000 times on YouTube, and the instrumental version of the song is moving up the charts on jazz radio.

The Groove video (http://smarturl.it/NYCGroove) contains Kat and others doing their own “Groove move”, which in turn has spawned a “Groove Movement” of people dancing their own “move” to the song.  PGS is inviting everyone to join the “Groove Movement” by creating their own individual “Groove Move” video and uploading the video to any of their social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) using the hashtag #GrooveMovement.

On September 9th PGS will be performing at The Cutting Room in NYC.  This comes on the heels of their highly regarded performance on August 5th at The Iridium in NYC.

The band has decided to donate 10% of the sales from New York City Groove to three New York City based art and culture non-profit organizations that benefit underprivileged and inner-city children.  “I thought it was appropriate for us to align the success of New York City Groove with our support for several NYC-based arts non-profits that provide great programs and services for children in need,” said Robert, adding: “It’s our way of ‘playing it forward’.”

Pianist Mose Allison in His Final Live Recording: Mose Allison American Legend, Live in California

Mose Allison is an icon. He is said to have been British rock's most influential jazz musician (Time Out London). He inspired Pete Townshend, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Waits. His own songs have been covered by Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, Van Morrison, John Mayall, The Who, The Clash, Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds, to name a few. He was honored as a NEA Jazz Master in 2013, which is the United States' highest honor in jazz as well as being honored by the National Endowment for the Arts. He has made more than 40 recordings and was nominated for Grammys® in 1983, 1988 and 2001.

On Mose Allison American Legend, Live in California, Allison teamed up with a veteran trio of longtime drummer Pete Magadini and bassist Bill Douglass. With this team of great musicians, Allison was able to recreate the intimate sessions that he had been renowned for throughout his entire career. Live in California captures the true atmosphere of what made Allison such an influential musician and performer. Even at 79, Allison is able to a give an inspired and enthralling performance that matches the energy of the audience at 19 Broadway. Magadini states, "You will hear that the audience in the room is totally into Mose and the trio. This phenomenon would almost always happen when we performed in clubs but the music never left the room. Now it has and it's been captured and perserved in this live recording."

Allison and his trio performs some of his most cherished works including "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy," "Your Mind is on Vacation," "I Don't Want Much," "Ever Since the World Ended," and "City Home." In all, there are 12 original classic Mose Allison songs as well as some of Allison's favorite standards including songs by Percy Mayfield, Duke Ellington, Big Joe Williams and John D. Loudermilk. All were played and recorded in the intimacy of a very soulful nightclub in front of an equally impassioned audience.

Mose toured jazz festivals and the most renowned stages throughout his life. For the most part Allison never recorded much while playing "live" in clubs. Many of his best performances stayed in those rooms and devoted audiences were left with preserving their experience to memory. This recording now brings the live aspect of Allison to the forefront and encapsulates his career and love of performing. Although Allison has since retired, this recording is a snapshot in history and is a rare gem for his fans and all blues-jazz lovers.

Mose Allison was born in 1927 in Tippo, part of the famous Mississippi Delta that has produced some of the best blues artists. His art has combined these deep blues roots with sophisticated jazz and inspired lyrics. This unique sound rooted in various styles has made Allison a versatile and inspiring performer and when he arrived in New York in 1956 he was able to play piano for significant artists including Al Cohn, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Sims and more.

Pianist Yelena Eckemoff Reaches New Heights Working with Norwegian Dream Team of Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen, and Tore Brunborg on Everblue

When pianist Yelena Eckemoff released Cold Sun (L & H Production, 2010) - a trio date with drumming legend Peter Erskine and Danish bass whiz Mads Vinding - the jazz world was introduced to a startlingly fresh voice destined for great things.  Over the course of the six albums that followed, Eckemoff lived up to that promise, delivering organically crafted music reflective of her classical background, fascination with the natural world, poetic soul, communicative spirit, and overall open-mindedness.  Now, Eckemoff is poised to make even more waves with the spellbinding Everblue, her third in-studio encounter with Norwegian bass icon Arild Andersen and her first musical meeting with two other Norwegians of note - drummer Jon Christensen and saxophonist Tore Brunborg. 

Those familiar with the background of Eckemoff's musical partners will likely be aware of their shared history, as Andersen and Christensen were both key players in Jan Garbarek's groundbreaking musical odysseys in the early '70s and all three men were involved in the band called Masqualero.  But none of that has to do with Eckemoff's motives for joining forces with this Norwegian dream team.  Instead, she simply notes that she chose to work with these musicians because they "would be the best match to interpret the ideas for the Everblue project." 

The musical affinity that exists between Eckemoff and Andersen is already abundantly clear, having been demonstrated on two beautifully rendered trio outings-Glass Song (L & H Production, 2013), with Peter Erskine on drums, and Lions (L & H Production, 2015), with Billy Hart on drums. On Everblue, their rapport is deepened and broadened, as both players seem to resonate sympathetically throughout.  While Eckemoff has worked with a number of fine bassists in the past, including Vinding and George Mraz, her relationship with Andersen helps to take her work to another level; it's a relationship that, she notes, plays out like "an interactive conversation." 

In summing up her reasoning for choosing to bring Christensen and Brunborg into her musical orbit on Everblue, Eckemoff cites both players' elemental qualities:  she likens Christensen to "an ocean" and she views Brunborg as "the voice of nature: animals, birds, winds, and ghosts."  When merged with her own "wondering and contemplative spirit" and Andersen's deeply resonating bass work-"a bridge between all of us," according to the architect herself-the results are mesmerizing.

With Everblue, Eckemoff doesn't simply present a set of tunes: she presents an overarching musical concept that guides this voyage.  "Part of our human consciousness constantly searches and yearns for the divine, unspeakably beautiful, eternal," she notes.  "In my world, I call this place Everblue."  It's a concept and a world that's plainly laid out in her poetry and music, as everything is drawn around beaches and oceans.   And it's a concept within that concept-the search for beauty-that informs this journey of faith and discovery.


Cole Porter Fellow and Pianist Sullivan Fortner Makes Major Label Debut with Aria

After gaining international acclaim for his piano playing in ensembles led by Roy Hargrove, Etienne Charles, Christian Scott, and Stefon Harris, 28-year-old New Orleans native Sullivan Fortner announces his emergence as a solo recording artist with Aria, a remarkable debut for impulse! Records. Produced by Jean-Philippe Allard and Brian Bacchus, Aria showcases Fortner's mastery at both rendering well-chosen standards and composing memorable melodies.

On Aria, Fortner leads a splendid ensemble, comprised of drummer Joe Dyson, Jr., bassist Aidan Carroll, and tenor and soprano saxophonist Tivon Pennicott. Together they forge a warm, bracing sound that suggests an accord that has developed over several years. "I didn't want it to sound like a leader's record. I wanted it sound like a band's record," Sullivan explains.

The album begins with the title-track - a percussive original - on which Sullivan initially tickles a repetitive dance-like rhythm that hints at the music of modern classical composer Steve Reich and Latin jazz, thanks to the buoying rhythm section. After Pennicott's soaring soprano solo, Fortner quickly displays his formidable skills as an improviser with passages that are as sophisticated harmonically as they are rhythmically. Interestingly enough, "Aria" is part of a six-movement suite, "Expansions: Suite in 'B' for Jazz Quintet," which was commissioned by New York City's Jazz Gallery.

Fortner, in fact, uses three other compositions from "Expansions" on the album - the capricious "Parade," which is distinguished by a jaunty melody and a tugging rhythmic undertow, betraying his fondness for Thelonious Monk; the prancing "Passepied," a tune inspired by Fortner's exploration in Baroque classical music, particularly Johann Sebastian Bach's French dance suites; and the spry "Finale," which bounces to a lithe rhythm that implies the second-line drumming of Fortner's Crescent City hometown.

The other original on Aria is "Ballade," a gentle sauntering ballad, written in dedicated to the pianist's mother, Cynthia Fortner, which affords listeners to gleam Sullivan's crisp, impeccable touch and cogent, modest melodic sense in addition to Pennicott's billowing tenor saxophone asides.

As for the covers, Fortner offers a glimpse into his intriguing influences. His love for Monk rears it's head again on his take on
"I Mean You," on which the intricate rhythms and melodies are wonderfully articulated by Dyson and Carroll, which gives Fortner ample support to demonstrate inventive improvisations.

Fortner reflects on his childhood with a gleeful reading of Fred Rogers's "You Are Special," a song that the composer sang regularly on his acclaimed PBS children's TV show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.  "As a little kid, I grew up watching that show and being in awe with the music, especially the piano player," Fortner recalls. The pianist got the idea to give the song a modern jazz makeover after saxophonist John Ellis brought it in at the Lafayette Summer Music Jazz Workshop at the Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, California.

Fortner's take of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's classic, "All The Things You Are," is a subtle tribute to the late pianist Cedar Walton. The fanciful modern arrangement with its tricky interplay and Latin feel is reminiscent of the one Walton performed with pianist Barry Harris, with whom Fortner studied, at the Lincoln Center in June 2013 - just months before Walton passed away.  Similarly, Fortner's amorous interpretation of Duke Pearson's 1966 ballad, "You Know I Care" pays tribute to trumpeter Roy Hargrove with whom Fortner has performed with as a sideman.

When Fortner was pondering the auspicious occasion of making his debut on the legendary imprint - impulse! Records - it lead to him delivering a flickering solo piano reading of J. Fred Coots and Sam M Lewis' 1934 ballad, "For All We Know." "I was thinking that I might not get a chance to record for impulse! again, so let me make the best of it," Fortner explains with a robust laugh.

But based upon Fortner's consummate musicianship as a pianist, improviser, composer and arrangement, its doubtful that Aria will be just a one-off. Instead, it promises to be a winning marriage between a venerable label and a gifted pianist who can surely extend its jazz legacy into the 21st century.

Sullivan Fortner is a 28-year-old New Orleans-based jazz pianist, composer and arranger who's already demonstrated prodigious talents. He began playing the piano at age seven and subsequently won the Cable Cox's "Amazing Kid" award at age 11. Two years later, he enrolled at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, where he became Valedictorian of his high school graduating class. He continued his formal music studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he earned a Bachelor's degree in jazz performance, and at the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a Master's degree in jazz performance. Fortner complemented that experience by studying under such jazz piano masters as Peter Martin, Fred Hersch, Jason Moran, and Phil Markowitz, and playing in bands led by Stefon Harris, Etienne Charles, Roy Hargrove, and Christian Scott.  Fortner is also the recipient of the 2015 American Pianists Association's prestigious 2015 Cole Porter Fellow Award.

Saxophonist John Wojciechowski's "Focus" due out September 18

Tenor, alto, and soprano saxophonist John Wojciechowski has been a mainstay of Chicago's world-class jazz scene since his arrival from Detroit in 2002, forging close alliances with first-call musicians such as pianist Ryan Cohan, bassist Dennis Carroll, and drummer Dana Hall. Those players happen to be the members of his tightly-knit working quartet, who appear on his outstanding new CD Focus. Origin Records will release the disc,Wojciechowski's first for the label, on September 18.

Boasting seven strong original compositions, each one reflecting a different aspect of the saxophonist's style and personality, Focus is one of those supremely enjoyable albums that treats the mainstream not as a comfort zone but a central place from which to push stylistic boundaries and assert original ideas.

Repertoire ranges from the earthy intensity of "Summon the Elders," a spell-casting modal piece reminiscent of John Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, to the bottom-up inventions of the title cut to the dancing 3/4 patterns of "Twirl," on which Wojciechowski (woy-cha-KOW-ski) shows off his lyrical tenor saxophone sound.

"After the tenor became my 'voice,'" he told CD annotator Neil Tesser, "I think I started to run away from the alto [his first instrument]. So I really wanted to get back to it on this recording." His alto work is featured on the two standards, Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" and Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way": "I like to play alto on those songs; I've been playing them forever."

The two covers on Focus reveal the leader's compositional gift as well. He remakes "Evidence" with the clave-informed Latin arrangement and reharmonizing touches he showed off at the 1996 Thelonious Monk Competition (he placed third behind Jon Gordon and Jimmy Greene). And showing off his love of Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson, he treats "In Your Own Sweet Way" to a coiled, melodically expansive alto trio reading.
"Divided Man," whose two separate sections reflect Wojciechowski's dual existence as a music teacher (at St. Charles North High School, in the historic river city of St. Charles, Illinois) and urban jazz musician, displays the deep-seated unity of this band.
"Elegy," a beautiful piece written for his father, who died two years ago, captures both the gentleness of the man and the hard times he underwent dealing with illness. "I don't usually do programmatic pieces," says Wojciechowski, "but this was really a composition that wrote itself. It's based in my reflection that life is short and I still had a lot to say as an artist. And it brought up a lot of memories about my father."

 John WojciechowskiJohn Wojciechowski, 41, was born in Mount Clemens, Michigan, 24 miles northwest of Detroit. His father was a sheet metal worker by day and a jazz organist by night in the manner of such B-3 favorites as Don Patterson, Jimmy McGriff, and Richard "Groove" Holmes.

Young John started playing music at age 8, and, recognizing his son's aptitude, his father asked him what instrument he wanted to play. "I chose the saxophone," he says, "because I was drawn to its sound" -- particularly that of alto great Sonny Stitt, who made such a stellar contribution to countless organ groups of that era.

The elder Wojciechowski went to extra lengths to find his son a good teacher and came up with a winner in Gerry Gravelle. "He knew all the vocabulary," says Wojciechowski, who by the time he was in middle school was playing alto saxophone, plus clarinet and flute, and was conversant with the Great American Songbook.

He earned his music education degree (at Western Michigan University) at the urging of his jazz elders, and after a brief stint in New York moved back to Detroit, where he took up teaching, performed locally, and worked on his tenor saxophone playing.

"Wojo," as he is known, made the move to Chicago in 2002 and before long found himself in such impressive settings as the Chicago Jazz Orchestra. In 2004 he began teaching at St. Charles, and in 2009 he made his recording debut with Lexicon, featuring Dana Hall and Dennis Carroll as well as guitarist Dave Miller and pianist Ron Perrillo. Wojciechowski has also performed in pianist/arranger Laurence Hobgood's first post-Kurt Elling band and with such notable young artists as pianist Jacob Sacks, bassist Jeff Campbell, and trombonist Joel Adams.

Whether leading his own group or furthering his already distinguished career as a sideman, John Wojciechowski brings to bear a consummate understanding of where past meets present, where Detroit meets Chicago, where learning meets teaching, and where dedication meets execution.

The John Wojciechowski Quartet with Ryan Cohan, Dennis Carroll, and Dana Hall will be performing the following CD release shows for Focus: Sat. 9/26 Hyde Park Jazz Festival, Chicago (6pm, Wagner Midway Stage); Wed. 10/28 St. Charles North High School, St. Charles, IL (7:30pm); Fri. 10/30 Green Mill, Chicago (9pm); Sat. 10/31 Green Mill (8pm).



Skytown Records presents Groove Ltd. feat. U-Nam & Shannon Kennedy on their debut album "First Class". On the heels of the success of their first single, "It's Only Love", which earned a place on USA Today/Mediabase and was #11 on Allen Kepler's Top 20 Smooth Jazz Countdown as well as being a favorite of his for several months, Groove LTD. is gearing up for the release of their debut album, First Class. Produced and written by Billboard Chart Topping Artist and Multi-Platinum Producer, U-Nam, First Class is an energetic album that will have listeners playing it on repeat. Teaming up with up and coming saxtress Shannon Kennedy, the duo has created a stellar project that weaves through the Smooth Jazz, R&B, and Neo-Soul genres. The project includes an impressive line up of special guests including #1 Billboard Chart Topping Smooth Jazz star and keyboards, Jonathan Fritzen, the legendary, soulful vocalist Maysa Leak, Grammy Award winning percussionist Paulinho DaCosta, drummer Michael White (of Maze, George Benson), bassit Dwayne "Smitty" Smith (Boney James), Neo-Soul singer Myron Davis, steel drums master Andy Narell, as well as many more. The new single is called “Uprising” and is going headed for radio adds.


Chicago meets Muscle Shoals – a monumental moment in late 60s soul that's never fully been given its due before! The set brings together work from the late 60s period in which Chicago's Chess Records issued a slew of incredible singles recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals – deep soul gems that have all the grit and power of the usual Chess Records material, but which have a different vibe – given the production by Rick Hall, and backing by the genius studio musicians at Muscle Shoals! Some of the names are ones you'd recognize from Chicago Chess recordings, and others are artists the label discovered in the south – and had Fame handle for them – which makes for a very nice mix of material. In true Ace/Kent style, there's also some unreleased tracks on the set – and the package features a total of 24 tracks that include "It's All Wrong But It's Alright" by Laura Lee, "Good To Me" and "Let's Do It Over" by Irma Thomas, "The Sidewinder" by Charles Chalmers, "Security" and "Don't Lose Your Good Thing" by Etta James, "You're Living A Lie" by Mitty Collier, "Come Back Baby" and "Reaching Out" by Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces, "Party Time" by Lee Webber, "Lean On Me" and "So Much Love" by Maurice & Mac, "Two In The Morning" by Charles Chalmers, and "Too Soon To Know" by Mitty Collier. ~ Dusty Groove


A beautiful box of work from bassist William Parker – and a set that actually features three very different projects, all brought together in a single set! First up is a CD that features a long piece commissioned by The Kitchen – "For Fannie Lou Hamer" – with music by Parker in an ensemble that includes JD Parran on reeds, Ravi Best on trumpet, Masahiko Kono on trombone, and a bit of vocals from Leena Conquest. That same CD features shorter pieces grouped under the title Vermeer – dedicated to the painter, and featuring some beautiful, soulful work from Parker on bass, Darryl Foster on soprano sax, Eri Yamamoto on piano, and Leena Conquest on voice. CD two features Red Giraffe With Dreadlocks – a lot better than it sounds from the title, and spiritual sounds from an ensemble that mixes core jazz elements with some wider global musical ideas – featuring Parker on bass, Hamid Drake on drums, Rob Brown on alto, Bill Cole on double reed instruments, Klaas Heckman on flute, Molla Sylla on mbira and ngoni, and Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay on electronic shruti box. Both Sylla and Bandyopadhyay vocalize a bit – and titles include "The Giraffe Cances", "Where Do You Send The Poem", "Tour Of The Flying Poem", and "Souls Have Fallen Like Rain". Last is Ceremonies For Those Who Are Still – which features a core trio with Parker on bass and flutes, Charles Gayle on piano and saxes, and Mike Reed on drums – augmented by the NFM Orchestra, who shade in the jazz performances with some subtle colors and tones – quite an unusual match between these talents. The CD also features a long improvisation – "Escapade For Sonny" – running over 25 minutes, and just featuring the core trio of Parker, Gayle, and Reed. Packaged in a very nice box, with a booklet of notes! ~ Dusty Groove

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Laurie Antonioli's "Varuna," A Duo Session with Pianist Richie Beirach, to Be Released by Origin Records

Since returning to her native Bay Area in 2006 from a period of living and working in Europe, vocalist Laurie Antonioli has concentrated her creative energies on her American Dreams band, which backed her on last year’s breakthrough Origin Records release "Songs of Shadow, Songs of Light." For her new Origin CD, "Varuna," Antonioli returns to an important chapter in her musical life by recording intimate sessions with her collaborator of more than 25 years, the esteemed pianist Richie Beirach. The CD, Antonioli’s 6th as a leader, will be released September 18.

I’ve been sitting on these sessions until the time was right,” says the vocalist of "Varuna," which was recorded in Leipzig, Germany (Beirach’s home base) nearly 10 years ago and completed in Berkeley in 2012. “We do some of Richie’s brand-new original material, with my lyrics, as well as several standards completely reimagined. The 'Resolution Suite' features three pieces improvised by Richie and me with bassist Pepe Berns. The poem on ‘Revelation’ happened in the moment, and ‘Exaltation’ was inspired by Coltrane’s ‘sheets of sound.’”

Laurie is the real deal,” says Beirach, “with a rich, elegant alto voice, great intonation and phrasing, and most of all, that unteachable, unexplainable element of humanity in every note she sings. Piano and voice is very intimate, with no place to hide but incredibly free and capable of magic moments. I love working with Laurie because it’s truly like breathing from the same source of air. Especially on this CD, we are as one mind, one will, and one musical entity.”

Antonioli and Beirach’s first recorded encounter, in 1992, was a startlingly inventive date released by Nabel Records in 2005 as "The Duo Session." With Antonioli holding down a professorship at Austria’s KUG University between 2002 and 2006 and Beirach teaching in Leipzig, they performed regularly in top clubs and concert halls around Europe. The prolific Beirach gave Antonioli his latest original tunes so she could write lyrics to them, an activity that has formed the backbone of their creative partnership. “Writing lyrics to Richie’s music feels like an extension of our conversations,” says the vocalist. “And knowing what he had in mind often informs the storyline.” "Varuna" features three of these songs: the hauntingly cinematic “Inside My Dreams”; the sensuous ballad “My Love”; and the gently flowing title track, which establishes a shimmering feel that pervades the entire album.

Varuna, the Vedic god who lives in celestial waters, is also the name of the recently discovered dwarf planet near Pluto. The album’s themes of time and space are echoed throughout—longing for home in “Over the Rainbow,” the night wind in “Summer Night,” the unseen presence of a loved one in “You’re an Angel Now” (Laurie’s lyrics to John Patitucci’s music).

Early on in her career, Laurie Antonioli was a protégée of Joe Henderson, Mark Murphy, and Pony Poindexter, who recruited the 22-year-old singer for an extensive European tour that turned into an eight-month sojourn in 1980.

Following the release of her 1985 recording debut Soul Eyes, a duo album with George Cables, Antonioli was one of the Bay Area’s most visible singers, booked at leading venues and festivals with her own band, performing regularly with Bobby McFerrin, and sitting in with luminaries like Tete Montoliu, Jon Hendricks, and Cedar Walton at Keystone Korner.

Laurie’s second album, 2004’s "Foreign Affair," is a bracing blend of post-bop jazz and Balkan music created with players from Serbia, Albania, Germany, and the U.S. Her fourth, "American Dreams" (2010), was inspired by feelings that arose during her years abroad and features a number of her collaborations with Austrian pianist Fritz Pauer.

Her brilliant 2014 Joni Mitchell tribute, "Songs of Shadow, Songs of Light," appeared on numerous best-album-of-the-year lists and received particularly cherished accolades from Ms. Mitchell herself, who invited Antonioli to perform at SFJAZZ’s May 2015 gala celebration in Mitchell’s honor (alongside Kris Kristofferson, Kurt Elling, and Patti Austin, among others).

For the last nine years Antonioli has served as the Chair of the Vocal Program at Berkeley’s California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the Jazzschool). She created a unique eight-semester curriculum for the Vocal Department’s degree program as well as overseeing hundreds of artists in workshops and concerts she organizes. “I enjoy the opportunity to pass on what I’ve learned and implement a program that is both organic and academically sound. That said, artistry is elusive and not necessarily something that can be taught, which is a very provocative challenge. I’m motivated to contribute what I can to preserve this delicate, complex, and soulful art form.”

Laurie Antonioli and her American Dreams band will be appearing 9/6 at JoniFest in Greenville, SC; 10/10 at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley; and 11/20 at the Unitarian Church in Berkeley, before entering Fantasy Studios 12/14 to record their next album. Antonioli and Beirach are planning a European tour, with dates to be announced, in April 2016.

Tony Bennett and Jazz Pianist Bill Charlap Team Up for The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern

RPM/Columbia Records is proud to announce the release of The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern, a new album from American musical legend Tony Bennett and acclaimed jazz pianist Bill Charlap, arriving Friday, September 25, 2015. The album is available for pre-order beginning today at Amazon.com at http://smarturl.it/silverlining_amazon and iTunes at http://smarturl.it/silverlining_itunes.

Following the enormous success of his #1, Grammy-Award winning album with Lady Gaga, Cheek To Cheek, this new release continues the classic series of Tony Bennett album releases celebrating the essentials of the Great American Songbook. The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern is an appreciation of the genius of Jerome David Kern (1885-1945), one of the 20th century's most important American composers of musical theater and popular music.

Tony Bennett is the only artist to successfully bridge the worlds of pop music and jazz on an international scale for over 60 years. The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern become parts of a timeless legacy of recordings that Bennett has done throughout his career that have embraced both genres, in particular the revered piano jazz albums that he recorded with the late Bill Evans in 1975 and 1977. Tony has become synonymous with the pop/jazz connection and in recent years has been a mentor to contemporary artists such as Lady Gaga and the late Amy Winehouse in encouraging them to embrace jazz music. With his 90th birthday less than a year away, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern defines what makes Tony Bennett unique in the pantheon of great singers and is a testament to the legacy that he continues to create as a recording artist and influence in the music industry.

Over the course of his career, Kern composed more than 700 songs, creating musical elements used in more than 100 stage works, collaborating with the greatest lyricists and librettists of the era including P.G. Wodehouse, Oscar Hammerstein II, Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer, Ira Gershwin, E.Y. Harburg and many others on a seemingly limitless repertoire of classic songs including "Ol' Man River," "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "The Way You Look Tonight," "Long Ago and Far Away" and many more.

New York native Jerome Kern was a major force on Broadway and in Hollywood musicals in a career that spanned more than four decades. He expanded on earlier musical theater traditions, from vaudeville to operetta, to embrace new dance rhythms, syncopation and jazz progressions and helped invent the modern musical template. While many of his Broadway musicals and Hollywood musical films were contemporary smash hits, Kern is perhaps best remembered today through revivals of "Show Boat," one of his signature achievements.

In his liner notes for The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern, music historian Will Friedwald describes Kern as "...the key link between the great music of historical and contemporary classics, a direct connection between Brahms and Charlie Parker....a key architect of a uniquely American art form that would eventually take shape as musical theater....one of the founding fathers of a term that Tony Bennett later coined himself, 'the Great American Songbook.'" Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for The Wall Street Journal, worked with Tony Bennett on Tony's "The Good Life" memoir, and is author of eight books including the award-winning "A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers," "Sinatra! The Song Is You," "Stardust Melodies," and "Jazz Singing."

"The idea of a Kern Songbook project was Tony's," writes Will Friedwald, "thereby placing Kern on the very short list of canonical composers (Rodgers & Hart, Harold Arlen, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and Cy Coleman) who have been the beneficiaries of an entire album by Bennett. It was also Bennett's idea to create the album in collaboration with the remarkable Bill Charlap....who can also take a great song we all know by heart and make us feel like we've never heard it before."

Playing alongside Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap on The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern are pianist Renee Rosnes (on the piano duet pieces), Peter Washington (bass) and Kenny Washington (drums). Unrelated, though sharing the same last name, Peter and Kenny have been performing with Bill Charlap for nearly two decades and pianist Renee Rosnes has been Charlap's life partner for close to 10 years.

With more than 700 Jerome Kern compositions to choose from, the set list for The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern is a distillation of essential highlights from a boundless catalog. With these interpretations of some of Jerome Kern's finest songs, Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap offer a definitive introduction to Kern's music while providing a deep understanding of the abiding and universal qualities of these songs.


Vocals: Tony Bennett
Pianos: Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes
Bass: Peter Washington
Drums: Kenny Washington

Arranged by Tony Bennett and Bill Charlap

Tracks in Alphabetical Order (14 total)
ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE (single piano)
I WON'T DANCE (trio)
LONG AGO AND FAR AWAY (piano duet)
MAKE BELIEVE (single piano)
THE SONG IS YOU (piano duet)

*Single piano is Bill Charlap
*Piano duet is Bill Charlap & Renee Rosnes

Tony Bennett is an artist who moves the hearts and touches the souls of audiences. He's not just the singer's singer but also an international treasure honored by the United Nations with its Citizen of the World award, which aptly describes the scope of his accomplishments.

The son of a grocer and Italian-born immigrant, Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born on August 3, 1926, in the Astoria section of Queens, New York. He attended the High School of Industrial Arts in Manhattan, where he nurtured his dual passions, singing and painting. His boyhood idols Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole were big influences on Bennett's easy, natural singing style. Tony sang while waiting tables as a teenager then performed with military bands throughout his overseas Army duty during World War II. After the war, the GI Bill enabled him to study vocal technique at the American Theatre Wing School.

With worldwide record sales in the millions, Tony has received eighteen Grammy Awards including the prestigious Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The MTV generation took to Tony Bennett during his appearance with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the 1993 MTV Video Awards. He appeared on MTV Unplugged and the recording of the same name earned him the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. "Tony Bennett has not just bridged the generation gap," observed The New York Times, "he has demolished it. He has connected with a younger crowd weaned on rock. And there have been no compromises."

His initial fame came via a string of Columbia singles in the early 1950s, including such chart-toppers as "Because of You," "Rags To Riches" and a cover of Hank Williams' "Cold, Cold Heart." He has placed two-dozen songs in the Top 40, including "I Wanna Be Around," "The Good Life," "Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)" and his signature hit, "I Left My Heart In San Francisco." One of only a few artists to have albums chart in the 1950s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and the new millennium, he's introduced multitudes of songs into the Great American Songbook that have become pop music standards. Upon the release of his boxed set collection, TONY BENNETT: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION, the New York Times commented, "we aren't likely to see a recording career like this again." Bennett made music history when he became the oldest artist at the age of 86 to achieve a #1 record on the Billboard charts with his DUETS II CD. He broke that record at the age of 88 when his collaborative album with Lady Gaga, CHEEK TO CHEEK, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Album charts. The album went on to win a Grammy Award and fostered a sold-out and critically acclaim world-wide concert tour. Tony Bennett is a Kennedy Center Honoree and an NEA Jazz Master, and a 18-time Grammy Winner. Tony has authored four books, his official biography, two books devoted to his artwork, and the latest New York Times Bestseller, Life Is A Gift.

Tony is a dedicated painter whose interest in art began as a child. He continues to paint daily, even while touring. He has exhibited work around the world, and three of his original paintings are part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Throughout his career, Tony Bennett has always put his heart and time into humanitarian concerns. He's raised millions for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. His original paintings each year grace the cover of the American Cancer Society's holiday greeting card. He received Martin Luther King Center's  "Salute to Greatness Award" for his efforts to fight discrimination, having marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in 1965. The United Nations presented him with their 2007 Humanitarian Award.

In honor of his great friend and staunchest supporter, Tony established the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts, which opened as a New York City public high school, offering an extensive arts curriculum, in September of 2001. In 2009, a permanent site for the school opened in Bennett's hometown of Astoria, Queens. With his wife Susan, they founded Exploring the Arts, which supports the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts and provides support to arts education in public schools.

One of the world's premier jazz pianists, Bill Charlap has performed with many leading artists of our time, ranging from Phil Woods and Tony Bennett to Gerry Mulligan and Wynton Marsalis. He is known for his interpretations of American popular songs and has recorded albums featuring the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers and Duke Ellington.

The Bill Charlap Trio was formed in 1997 with bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington, and is now recognized as one of the leading groups in jazz. The trio has received two Grammy Award nominations: for Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein, and for The Bill Charlap Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard, both on the Blue Note label. Mr. Charlap now records for the Impulse! record label, and his new trio recording, Notes From New York, will be released in March of 2016.  The Bill Charlap Trio tours all over the world, and their New York engagements include regular appearances at Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Village Vanguard.

This summer Bill Charlap celebrated his 11th year as Artistic Director of 92nd Street Y's Jazz in July summer festival. He has also produced concerts for Jazz at Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), the JVC Jazz Festival and the Hollywood Bowl.

Mr. Charlap has been newly appointed Director of Jazz Studies at William Paterson University, in Wayne, New Jersey. Founded in 1973, the program is one of the longest running and most respected jazz programs in the country, and Mr. Charlap will be the fifth director of the program, following distinguished musicians Thad Jones, Rufus Reid, James Williams and Mulgrew Miller.

Born in New York City, Mr. Charlap began playing the piano at age three. His father was Broadway composer Moose Charlap, whose credits include Peter Pan, and his mother is singer Sandy Stewart, who toured with Benny Goodman, appeared on the Ed Sullivan and Perry Como shows and earned a Grammy Award nomination for her recording of "My Coloring Book."

Mr. Charlap is married to renowned jazz pianist Renee Rosnes, The couple released their highly acclaimed two-piano album Double Portrait on Blue Note in 2010. Mr. Charlap's website is billcharlap.com

Photo Credit: Kelsey Bennett Music Legend Tony Bennett and Jazz Pianist Bill Charlap Record The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern

Legacy Recordings Acquires Catalog of Music Legend Van Morrison, Spanning More than 50 Years of Music Most Complete Van Morrison Archive Ever and Compilations, including Van's Solo Recordings from 1971-Present and Early Work with Seminal '60s Rock Band Them

Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, has acquired the rights to the most complete discography of contemporary music legend Van Morrison ever assembled under one label imprint.

The Van Morrison musical acquisition spans more than 50 years of music, encompassing some 50 album, video and compilation titles from 1964 to the present. The new Legacy Van Morrison archive includes all of Morrison's solo works from 1971 to the present as well as the recordings made with the groundbreaking rock band Them from 1964 through 1966.

33 Van Morrison album titles will be made available as digital releases and through all streaming services beginning Friday, August 28.

That same day, Friday, August 28, Legacy Recordings will release the Essential Van Morrison, a 37-track career-spanning anthology, available digitally and as a 2CD physical album.

Later this year, Van Morrison's early recordings as the singer, frontman and principal songwriter for the seminal band Them will be available on Legacy Recordings.

In the upcoming months, Legacy will launch the label's ongoing Van Morrison library release project with new compilations, deluxe Legacy Editions of classic album titles and a digital rollout of the full Van Morrison catalog.

Most of the Van Morrison catalog has never been available for streaming and many titles have long been unavailable online through iTunes or other DSPs. Much of the catalog has been out-of-print in any format, with some titles being unavailable for as long as 15 years.

Forthcoming new Van Morrison releases on the Legacy label will include a new career-spanning single CD compilation and deluxe Legacy Editions of classic Van Morrison solo albums: Saint Dominic's Preview, It's Too Late to Stop Now, Hard Nose the Highway and Enlightenment.

A half century's worth of recordings, endlessly innovative and unique in the annals of rock and pop music, Van Morrison's discography incorporates elements of blues, jazz, folk, gospel, skiffle, pop, soul and R&B to create a sound and sensibility immediately identifiable as Van the Man's. One of the most fascinating and uncompromising artists of the rock and roll era, Van Morrison brought Northern Irish soul to the world as one of the most transcendent singers, writers and performers to ever grace a stage or recording studio.

"Van Morrison is one of the great singers, performers and musical artists in the history of recorded music," said Adam Block, President, Legacy Recordings. "He continues to touch the hearts and souls of millions with the emotional power and spiritual truths of his songs. Legacy Recordings is proud to partner with Van to help him protect and curate his astounding catalog and to be given the opportunity to bring his music to whole new generations of fans around the world."

Inspired at an early age by Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Lead Belly and Solomon Burke, the Belfast-born Morrison was just 18 when he joined the R&B combo Them in 1964. Known for spontaneous, energetic performances, Them represented the Northern Irish element of the 1960s British Invasion, breaking into the pantheon with the indelible "Gloria," presaging punk with an anthem subsequently covered by The Doors, Patti Smith and many others.

Van began his solo career with a Top 10 pop smash, the radio perennial "Brown Eyed Girl," but soon moved in compelling new directions. He boldly crossed numerous musical genres in the decades that followed, investigating country music (Pay The Devil, 2006), jazz (What's Wrong with This Picture?, 2003), New Orleans R&B (Into The Music, 1979), traditional Celtic folk (Irish Heartbeat, with The Chieftains, 1988) and straight-ahead rock (Days Like This, 1995), among many others.

Morrison's first recording for RCA Records, 2015's Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue featured collaborations with Steve Winwood, Mark Knopfler, Mavis Staples, Taj Mahal, Michael Buble and others on new versions of hidden gems from his multi-faceted discography.

Tracks from Van Morrison's discography have been consistently licensed for film and television with notable examples including"Into The Mystic" in the film Patch Adams, "Days Like This" in As Good As It Gets and Them's "Gloria" in The Outsiders.

Legacy Recording's new Van Morrison deal covers studio and live recordings released from 1971 to the present, as well as all his recordings with Them. Combined with Morrison's solo debut Blowin' Your Mind, which features "Brown Eyed Girl," Legacy's holdings encompass the largest Van Morrison musical archive ever assembled.

Van Morrison has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1993) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (2003) and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010.

Winner of a BRIT Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music (1994), Van Morrison holds six Grammy Awards (1996-2007) and an Ivor Novello Award for Lifetime Achievement (1995).

Morrison has been named one of Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time (2004, #42), 100 Greatest Singers of All Time (2008, #24) and 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time (2015, #22). Van the Man has two albums on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and four songs--including "Brown Eyed Girl" (#109) and "Gloria" (with Them) (#208)--on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

An internationally successful artist with chart-topping hits on both sides of the Atlantic, Van Morrison has six gold and three platinum/multiplatinum certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America.  In the UK alone, Van has charted with more than 20 Top 20 albums, including an astounding 13 titles placed in the Top 10.

On Friday, June 12, 2015, Van Morrison was awarded an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II during her annual Birthday Honours celebration. Newly-titled Sir George Ivan Morrison, the artist received the United Kingdom's highest individual honor for his "services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland."

"Throughout my career I have always preferred to let my music speak for me, and it is a huge honor to now have that body of work recognized in this way," said Van Morrison in a statement given in response to the news, reported the BBC.

On June 18, Morrison received the Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala in New York City.

Van Morrison will celebrate his 70th birthday on August 31, 2015 with "Van Morrison: Live on Cyprus Avenue," two concert performances serving as part of the closing event of the Belfast EastSide Arts Festival 2015.

Van Morrison Material included under Legacy Recordings Auspices

The Angry Young Them / Them (1965)
Them Again (1966)
Them featuring Van Morrison (compilation, 1972)
The Story of Them featuring Van Morrison (compilation, 1997)

Van Morrison
Available Digitally and Streaming on Friday, August 28

St. Dominic's Preview (1972)
Hard Nose the Highway (1973)
It's Too Late to Stop Now (Live) (1974)
Veedon Fleece (1974)
A Period of Transition (1977)
Wavelength (1978)
Into the Music (1979)
Common One (1980)
Beautiful Vision (1982)
Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983)
Live at the Grand Opera House, Belfast (Live) (1984)
A Sense of Wonder (1984)
No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1984)
Poetic Champions Compose (1987)
Irish Heartbeat (w/the Chieftains) (1988)
Avalon Sunset (1989)
Enlightenment (1990)
Hymns to the Silence (1991)
Too Long in Exile (1993)
A Night in San Francisco (Live) (1994)
Days Like This (1995)
How Long Has This Been Going On? (1995)
Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison (1996)
The Healing Game (1997)
The Philosopher's Stone (2CD outtakes compilation, 1998)
Back on Top (1999)
The Skiffle Sessions: Live in Belfast (Live) (2000)
Down the Road (2002)
What's Wrong with This Picture? (2003)
Magic Time (2005)
Pay the Devil (2006)
Keep it Simple (2008)
Astral Weeks "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" (Live) (2009)

All albums credited to Exile Productions, Ltd. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment.


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