Friday, June 22, 2018

New Releases: Kamasi Washington - Heaven And Earth; Ben Hauke - Only Old; Tom Webster – The Deep Blue Summer

Kamasi Washington - Heaven And Earth

The long-awaited follow up to Washington’s debut The Epic, Heaven & Earth is comprised of two halves, which find Washington confronting quotidian realities with cosmic themes. A further investigation of Washington’s world building ideas, the new album explores his reckoning with current global chaos and his vision for the future. Washington convened his band, The Next Step, as well as members of the long running collective The West Coast Get Down at Henson Studios in Los Angeles to record the 16 tracks on Heaven & Earth. The music was composed, written and arranged by Washington, with new arrangements of jazz and bebop legend Freddie Hubbard’s “Hubtones” and iconic kung fu film theme “Fists of Fury,” as well as one song by bandmate Ryan Porter. Thundercat, Terrace Martin, Ronald Bruner, Jr., Cameron Graves, Brandon Coleman, Miles Mosley, Patrice Quinn, Tony Austin and many more contribute to the album. Heaven & Earth, will be available on double deluxe CD. “The world that my mind lives in, lives in my mind.” This idea inspired me to make this album Heaven & Earth. The reality we experience is a mere creation of our consciousness, but our consciousness creates this reality based on those very same experiences. We are simultaneously the creators of our personal universe and creations of our personal universe. The Earth side of this album represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of. The Heaven side of this album represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me. Who I am and the choices I make lie somewhere in between.” Kamasi Washington.

Ben Hauke - Only Old

South London producer Ben Hauke takes a sonic excursion to South America via Lewisham for a new seven track release for Far Out Recordings. While littered with Afro-Latin percussion, and samples of obscure Brazilian, Cuban and Colombian records, Only Old stays true to Ben’s distinctly London identity, with a record that fluctuates between house, broken beat and instrumental hip-hop.Having collaborated with the likes of Nubya Garcia and Joe Armon Jones, Ben Hauke stands at the electronic end of London’s new jazz movement. Currently working on new releases with more of a focus on live instrumentation, Ben titled the release ‘Only Old’ as it leans more heavily on his foundational approach to music making: an idiosyncratic, almost brazen sampling style in productions bursting with personality. Always full of character and style, Hauke’s productions have seen him likened to Theo Parrish and Madlib, with an altogether physical approach to sound. Listen to the jazz-house summer stepper 'Get Up to Get Down' and pre-order Only Old on 12" vinyl + digital from Far Out Recordings | Bandcamp

Tom Webster – The Deep Blue Summer

Tom has enjoyed a successful career as a professional photographer and cameraman working worldwide with a wide-range of stars such as Kim Kardashian and Quentin Tarantino but decided to follow his passion for music by releasing his debut album Deep Blue Summer. "I was going through a rough patch, getting divorced and the death of a parent which hit me hard, so I was struggling to make sense of it all. I decided that the best course was to put my faith into music which allowed me to express my personal emotions. I felt that if I put everything I had into making the album it would help to untangle all the difficulties and challenges I was facing in my life. It was a spiritually uplifting experience recording the album," says Webster. Tom brought together an eclectic host of musicians featuring a saxophonist, harpist, gospel backing singers perfectly blended with jazz, traditional Scottish folk and complemented with Tom's powerful vocals to record the album on Scotland's west coast island of Mull, produced by Glaswegian producer, Angus Stirrat. The album of dreamy pop-folk songs captures the essence of a summer finding new love, lost love and the hope of finding love again.


Outside the Soiree: Erin McDougald's latest album exemplifies the concept of thinking - and singing - outside the box

Ever feel left out of the party? Vocalist Erin McDougald's fourth studio recording, Outside the Soiree, is a heartfelt ode to all the outsiders - those independent-minded souls who find themselves, by choice or by fate, living outside the halls of power: neglected by history, oppressed by the majority, lonely in love, bucking the trends, swimming upstream.

Outside the Soiree offers a thematic narrative explored through "McDougald's evocative artistry" (Chicago Music Guide), a voice that Jazz Improv Magazine has called a "rare instrument to be savoredŠ sweet and spicy, positively mercurial." The subject matter is poignantly and uniquely expressed from unexpected musical angles as Erin seamlessly amalgamates, modernizes and reinterprets obscure standards, her own original composition and genres "outside" the jazz idiom within a progressive jazz mentality.

She's joined by a stellar band featuring guitarist and pianist Rob Block, bassist Cliff Schmitt, drummer Rodney Green, percussionists Mark Sherman and Chembo Corniel, and saxophonist Dan Block. The band is given the imprimatur of a couple of born outsiders who've become insiders (and legends) through decades of singular artistry: saxophonist David Liebman and trumpeter Tom Harrell.

McDougald is well acquainted with the outsider's existence; she tends to be one herself. Known by her fans as "the Flapper Girl," the Chicago-based improvisational jazz singer is a progressive thinker with a throwback aesthetic. She embodies the sensuality and fierce emancipatory attitude of an audacious fashionista and political egalitarian in her personality and artistry. With a moniker evoking a '20s-era flapper she's not interested in glamorous nostalgia, but instead spotlights the formidable female icons that stemmed from an era of resistance that forever changed American culture and its musical heritage.
As McDougald regularly points out to audiences, flappers were suffragists, with libidos, rhythm, style and social cachet. As "the flapper girl of modern vocal jazz", Erin's artistry has become synonymous with marrying vintage foundations and contemporary concepts in her rhythmic, daring interpretations of era-spanning jazz, from American Swing through the Post-Bop catalogue. Her ability to borrow music from other genres and infuse a jazz treatment has garnered her fans of all ages, and collaborators with global renown.

Miss McDougald has appeared and or recorded with members of the elite jazz scene that include Nicholas Payton, Paul Wertico, Ira Sullivan, Carlos Henriquez, Ben Wolfe, Von Freeman, Howard Levy, Roy Hargrove and many others. Downbeat critic and Jazz Journalist Association President Howard Mandel declares, "McDougald is one of the finest and freest voices in jazz OR pop today." The late Verve Records producer/conductor/arranger Buddy Bregman emphatically stated of Erin in 2006, "There's an essence to her singing that is all her own... not a mimicked, watered-down version of someone else, but... a very deep, soulful connection to the songs she chooses. Her pitch and phrasing are superb, but there is something about her interior-very sweet... she has 'It'. My favorite singer to come along since Anita O'Day in her prime."

With performances in sold-out venues from Chicago to Paris, McDougald has headlined The Chicago Jazz Festival's Heritage Stage, and premier jazz venues such as The Jazz Showcase, The Allerton, Green Dolphin Street, The Green Mill, 54 Below, Smalls, Anthology, Savanna Jazz, The Mint, Dizzy's of San Diego, The Velvet Note, BluJazz, The Acorn Theater, Notes Jazz Club, and Le Bilboquet in Paris, among many others.

Outside the Soiree is a sublime symposium of venerable soloists and emerging talents that expose a raw synergy and emotive message. Erin's keen idea to turn Charles Deforest's obscure, melancholy 1950's ballad "Don't Wait Up for Me" into a liberating, rhythmic 5/4 proclamation also crystalizes the style and strengths of featured soloists David Liebman on soprano saxophone and Tom Harrell on trumpet (with impeccable embellishment by drummer Rodney Green). Likewise, the sophisticated and changing time signatures on Erin's "Midnight Sun" shed light upon vibraphonist Mark Sherman's musical eloquence where again Liebman shines in a flurry of pithy soprano sound.

Brothers Rob and Dan Block create an ethereal, sorrowful beauty on the group's Chorinho-styled adaptation of the Broadway musical song "Unusual Way;" Tomoko Block (Rob's wife) teamed up with Rob to arrange this gem, showcasing Rob's quietly weeping guitar solo and Dan's haunting clarinet playing. Percussionist Wilson "Chembo" Corniel is strongly showcased along with bassist Cliff Schmitt on Erin's original composition and title track "Outside the Soiree" in a connected, reflexive and moving journey through Erin's poetic lyricism and mournful melody. Hard-swinging is Erin with her band on songs like "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" and "Don't Be on the Outside;" exceptional elements of avant-garde singing and playing are showcased on the CD's final cut, "The Parting Glass," a deftly reimagined traditional Irish funeral hymn in a minor key, performed with thundering gravity. The addictively nuanced Cha-Cha rendition of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" gloriously highlights the band with undulating musicality and fervor.


J. Peter Schwalm's How We Fall Released On RareNoise

For years J. Peter Schwalm's compositions and productions have been impressive proof of the power of sound without words. More consistent than ever, on his new album How We Fall, he creates sound sculptures that transcend common categories. Their structures can take on rough or gently curved forms, unfold associative or contemplative effects, and may even make the listener shiver. Schwalm's feel for nuances, tension arcs and individual sounds is based on talent and many years of experience.

From 1998 J. Peter Schwalm worked continuously with Brian Eno for six years, together they released the album Drawn From Life, wrote the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Rfn's feature film Fear X, gave celebrated concerts in Europe and Japan. Since 2006 Schwalm has been a regular guest at the Punktfestival in Kristiansand, Norway, where he distinguished himself and elsewhere as one of the few experienced live remixers, among others for members of the widely acclaimed Ensemble Modern. In spring 2016 Schwarm's last album The Beauty Of Disaster was released. Artistically, it revolved around a duality that shapes the visual arts and music as well as life itself: a certain melancholy that is always inherent in hope. The American PROG magazine praised: "Schwalm's pieces are nuanced and orchestrally textured, with meticulously sculpted, cinematic sound design..." and summed up: "Precise, skillful production work originates a crystal clear sound that intensifies the emotional charms and atmospheric aura of the peculiar, eclectic musicianship."

"When I started going back into the studio in January 2017, the direction of the new production was still completely unclear to me," recalls J. Peter Schwalm. The musician, born in Frankfurt am Main in 1970, had already distinguished himself through profound compositions and generally stood for rather dark facets of orchestral electronic music. In autumn 2016, an existential experience was added, leaving deep traces. A diagnosed brain tumor was to be surgically removed, which proved impossible during the operation. Schwalm nevertheless set to work under this impression, partly weakened by the inevitably following chemotherapy. Over the course of the year, pieces were created that reflect feelings such as restlessness, fear, despair and anger, but artistically process these emotions into abstract sounds. With that high degree of willingness to style and design that characterised Schwalm's earlier productions.

The artistic, surprising changes in sound and tuning Strofort undergoes as a lead piece by How We Fall set an example for the following 45 minutes. As suggestive as a soundtrack that doesn't need images, the composition of carefully arranged surfaces and imaginary scraps of language blowing across from another dimension, over rhythmic phrases and beats to a complex condensation in which supposed organ motifs are interwoven. In the course of the album there are pieces like Stormbruch, which think the concept of the slowly increasing Drones further. Or Strofort and Clingon, where the pulse plays an important role. "Compared to the previous record, this time I worked more with rhythmic details, including odd and opposite meters," states Schwalm.

The restart after the break due to illness was not easy for J. Peter Schwalm at the beginning. "In the first few weeks after the operation, I listened through my archive to get distracted and inspired," he describes his new start. "Then I started designing miniatures on the piano, developing harmonies that I sent into my equipment. I came to the dramatic realization that I had to rediscover parts of my equipment because I couldn't remember all the functions." Popular or widespread plug-ins are not part of his repertoire, instead he uses analog and digital outboard effects to achieve his characteristic sound. He also developed the technique of multi track composing, which he taught in theory and practice at the Punktfestival as well as at seminars in London, Tallinn and at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Over time, Schwalm transformed and abstracted his original ideas, varied and expanded the range of timbres until instruments he had initially used were no longer recognizable.

"During the process I realized that there are parallels between my personal experiences and emotions and the current social and political situation in the world," Schwalm recalls. This thought brought him to titles for some pieces, which sometimes associate a deceptive proximity to English terms. "In fact, however, they are partly names of real villages and stud farms," says Schwalm, who even has family ties to the region. "The locations are near a zone selected by the American military command during the Cold War of the 1980s as a drop zone for nuclear bombs to prevent possible attacking Russian military forces from occupying Germany." The strategists of the American armed forces called this environment a Fulda Gap. 

Since his collaboration with Brian Eno, which included a joint performance with Krautrock legend Holger Czukay, J. Peter Schwalm has composed for the Stuttgart Ballet, the Lyceum Theatre Sheffield, London choreographer Hofech Shechter and the series Das Neue Werk des NDR. Since 2008 Schwalm has been playing with the style-shaping electric guitarist and sound developer Eivind Aarset from Oslo, who has long been just as much a reference point for him as London bassist Tim Harries. In 2013 Schwalm was invited to perform a specially developed project with these two long-term partners and other musicians at the 44th German Jazz Festival in Frankfurt. In the same year he was commissioned by the London ensemble Icebreaker to develop a new piece from works by the electronic pioneers Kraftwerk. With Kraftwerk Uncovered - A Future Past Icebreaker and Schwalm toured successfully through England and Ireland. In 2016, after the release of The Beauty Of Disaster, Schwalm produced the band Chat Noir. He realized a live installation at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and presented an excerpt from his personal Bach adaptations at the Alte Oper Frankfurt. He is currently working on a radio play for Hessischer Rundfunk, for which he is writing music and texts as well as directing.

For J. Peter Schwalm, How We Fall is a kind of snapshot that was taken in a relatively short time compared to earlier works. "The music represents a closed universe that reflects the moment and the circumstances in which it was created," he explains. All pieces are profoundly personal, and moreover figure as an intensive expression of a sound artist who no longer has to make any compromises. The music undoubtedly sounds dark, but never depressed, almost always gives a hint of light at least. With substantial and timeless quality, the album stands out from quickly consumable, trendy concepts. Instead of tickling key stimuli, How We Fall rewards repeated hearing with the revelation of ever new details.


From the state that gave us presidential primaries, summer camps, the US’s largest arcade and ice fishing, now can lay claim to delivering the amazingly funkadelic band, Harsh Armadillo. Harsh Armadillo is a seven-piece blue Gatorade fueled band, that has no affiliation with the state of Texas and has never encountered a wild armadillo. They digitally drop their third release and first EP, BITE, on June 15.

Harsh Armadillo was founded in a moldy basement in 2013, and so far have released two full length albums, ‘Thayer It Is’ (2014), and ‘Blame Bad Habits’ (2017). The DIY band has learned a lot from their past releases and were excited to come back again to record BITE. Harsh Armadillo consists of six guys and a girl: Daniel Tauriello on drums, Thomas Forbes on bass guitar and vocals, Aiden Earley on guitar, Dimitry Harris on keyboard, Maxim Harris on saxophone and vocals, Camden Riley on guitar and vocals, and Andrea Belaidi on lead lady vocals.

For the band, BITE is exciting and prolific. They challenged each other and pushed themselves sonically into new spaces and sounds. Full of creativity and a drive to push forward, the band has set out to create a several-part EP series, with BITE as the first edition in the series. The EP title has taken on many meanings as Andrea Belaidi, vocalist, explains, “At first, we thought of the word itself; quick, punchy and powerful. We feel a lot of momentum and passion from these new tunes,” says Andrea, “This body of music is ‘bite sized’ with only 4 songs”. Dan Tauriello, drummer, further explains, “It’s the aural version of one of those wood handled Q-tips you can’t help but stuff way too far into your ear. It’s complicated yet digestible. It fits poorly into our catalog of work, pays no heedance to our future, and little respect to the past.”

Harsh Armadillo is a collaborative band, and after five years of playing together they understand their sonic direction and have poured it into the new release. BITEwas recorded at IronWax Studio in Massachusetts with Alan Evans, of Soulive, as the engineer and producer, and mastered by Brad Smalling at Evergroove Studio in Denver. Harsh Armadillo connected with Alan on the first note. Max comments, “Working in Alan’s studio was like getting catapulted through a black hole and emerging with no pants or conception of time…we would disappear into the tracking process early in the morning and emerge, confused and disoriented, into the darkness each night to try and find a hotel and our sanity.  I think it is important to note that all of the band members were present in the same room for nearly the entirety of the sessions – even during vocal tracking and solos.  Having the whole group’s input and body odor present lent a tangible stank to the tunes.”

The stanky and extremely funky tracks on BITE include, “Animal,” “Live Action,” “Two Wishes and a Truth” and first single “Gravy.” All the songs are signature Harsh Armadillo, pulling in funk with 70s era horns, grooving bass, rhythmic guitar, and jazzy keyboards. The trade-off between female and male vocals sets the high bar even higher, with Andrea’s soulful voice carrying the tracks to another place. AXS reviewed the lead single, “Gravy”, and said “The song grabs the attention immediately with a groove that is sure to get you moving. It’s not just the melody and the rhythm that will get you moving, you also can’t help but bounce when you hear just how upbeat the song is.”

The members of Harsh Armadillo are pretty thrilled with what they’ve created with BITE. The tracks come together nicely to create just a bite of what’s to come next. For now, they will be gracing the summer stages through the Northeast bringing what fans love the most about their music — excitement and the love of funk. Check out here for their full touring schedule.

Tour Dates:

28  June     ~~ Hampton,NH
6  July        ~~ Dover,NH
7  July        ~~ The Forks,ME
14  July      ~~ Pleasantville Festival
27  July      ~~ Pawtucket,RI
28 July       ~~ Band Camp Festival
2  August   ~~ Newport,RI
11 August  ~~ Wild Woods Festival

New Releases: Dave Sereny – Talk To Me; U-Nam – Is That So?; Kenee Maree – World Over

Dave Sereny – Talk To Me

Perhaps imagining winter in sunnier climes than his native Toronto, multiple Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards nominee Dave Sereny takes his seductive, melodic electric guitar to several exotic locales, including Bob Marley’s Jamaica, on his latest album TALK TO ME. Yet those buoyant excursions are just the open door to a high energy, freewheeling romp through many different Smooth Jazz related styles, including horn-fired, beat happy dance music, dreamy vocal pop, caffienated jazz/funk and exotic, atmospheric world beat. On hand to lend his always welcome sax intensity is saxman and fellow Torontonian, Warren Hill. ~

U-Nam – Is That So?

As cool as a mint julep and just as fresh, “Is That So?” from Billboard chart-topping artist and multi-platinum producer U-Nam is the perfect accompaniment to those long hot summer days to come.  It follows closely on the heels of his stunning “The Essential Collection” that in 2017, with nine (yes nine) Top 30 US Billboard hits amongst the fifteen standout tracks, occupied top spot on the album listings for six straight weeks and ranked #11 on the end of year chart. Written, produced, arranged and mixed by U-Nam, “Is That So?” is the first single from his latest project “A Change of Art” that is slated for release later this year and is just the sort of infectious cut that U-Nam, with his instantly recognizable guitar sound and undoubtedly at the top of his creative game, seems able to effortlessly deliver. In fact, right from the tight groove laid down by Denis Bennarosh on percussion and Michael White on drums, through the flashes of flute from long time collaborator Shannon Kennedy and on to the brassy veneer applied by Kennedy on sax and Christian Martinez on trumpet, U-Nam’s production touches are, not surprisingly, all over it.  Add in top notch Fender Rhodes from the always-splendid Bill Steinway and what we have is a track at the very heart of the best in smooth jazz.

Kenee Maree – World Over

Having engaged audiences from Montreal to Tokyo, Atlanta-based Smooth Jazz guitarist, songwriter, arranger and producer Kenee Maree offers a unique perspective on the need for global harmony on his spiritually infused EP, World Over. With only three songs, he gets us grooving and swaying immediately – but also inspires us to think of issues vital to the emotional and physical survival of humanity. While the atmospheric, flute-inflected instrumental “Mallorca” is a breezy showcase for Maree’s cool, soulful strumming, “World Over” uses percussive textures, Latin piano, rap and uplifting gospel choruses to convey the essence that we’re all in this together. The guitarist emphasizes that point on the passionate soul and blues tinged vocal ballad “We Are One.” ~

New Releases: Byron Lee - The Gift : Psychobass 2; Emilio Santiago; Leron Young – Compilations

Byron Lee - The Gift : Psychobass 2

For legendary bassist Byron Miller, “Psychobass” is more than a clever branding idea reflective of his lifelong passion for his instrument. It’s his full-on “a.k.a.” identity. His rhythmically eclectic, jump off your chair grooving new album THE GIFT: PSYCHOBASS 2 picks up where his 2015 long awaited return to action PSYCHOBASS left off. He keeps the deeply personal autobiography hopping with a sensual George Duke cover, some island fun and a mix of high octane and chill, Duke-inspired originals with appropriate funk and groove related titles. On hand to celebrate the bassist’s many gifts are Kirk Whalum, Paul Jackson, Jr., Walter Beasley, Munyungo Jackson and others.~        

Emilio Santiago

Far Out Recordings proudly presents the 1975 self-titled debut album from Brazilian vocalist and bossa nova luminary Emilio Santiago. Nicknamed ‘the Nat King Cole of Brazil’, Santiago was a master bossa balladeer and a top-class crooner. But he is celebrated equally for his Brazilian funk, soul and boogie classics. One of his best know is album opener ‘Bananeira’, a party-starting version of the song originally written by João Donato and Gilberto Gil. ‘Brother’ is a smooth-grooving killer with great horn arrangements and a huge backing choir, while ‘La Mulata’ is a soulful swinging salsa stepper. The album showcases the full range of Emilio’s talents, while paying homage to some of Brazil’s greatest composers, including Jorge Ben, Marcos and Sergio Valle and Ivan Lins among others. Stone cold Brazilian classic!

Leron Young – Compilations

It’s testament to veteran electric guitarist, Leron Young’s artful, perfectly in the pocket composing skills, that the ultra-melodic, deep grooving original urban-flavored tunes on his album COMPILATIONS actually surpass the joys of his clever twists on familiar R&B and jazz classics. While his crackling licks are always front and center, Young enhances them with colorful synth harmonics and engaging vocal textures. In addition to being an accomplished guitarist, Leron is an electrical engineer, music teacher, member of the Bowie State Community Jazz Orchestra and author of a new book that makes the connection between engineering, music and human growth and development. ~

"My Shining Hour," New CD by S.F. Bay Area Vocalist Jennifer Lee

Jennifer Lee My Shining Hour With her first two albums, Oakland-based vocalist Jennifer Lee established herself as a gifted interpreter of the American and Brazilian Songbooks, producing a critically hailed body of work. On her new CD, My Shining Hour, Lee emerges as a composer who, in the nine years since her last release, has developed a striking repertoire exploring the human condition with humor, compassion, and imagination.

"I always wrote a little bit," says Lee, "but I certainly never thought of myself as a songwriter. Then a shift happened and all this music started channeling in. It's like some crazy, overactive muse attached itself to me."

Due for August 10 release on guitarist Peter Sprague's SBE Records, My Shining Hour features Lee in the company of her band, the Ever-Expanding Universe, along with special guests including trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Bob Magnusson, Grammy Award-winning violinist Mads Tolling, and percussion maestro John Santos.

Sprague, known for his extensive work with Chick Corea, Charles McPherson, and Hubert Laws, produced the album, which was recorded at his studio in Encinitas. He also produced Lee's first two discs -- Jaywalkin' (2003), named "finest debut of the year, big label or small" by Dan McClenaghan of All About Jazz, and Quiet Joy (2009), a mix of originals, standards, and Brazilian songs described as "a JOY from start to finish" by the late drummer and Grammy-nominated producer Bud Spangler.

"Peter is an extraordinary musician and a deeply soulful player," Lee says. "Working with him over the years, watching how he'll reharmonize or phrase a line, I've learned so much. It's definitely influenced my writing."

Lee wrote 11 of the 13 songs on My Shining Hour; all 13 were co-arranged by Lee and Sprague. The Harold Arlen-composed title track (and album opener), which contains an original vocalese written by Lee, is dedicated to her stepfather. "Song of Happy," the other non-original on the album, is an ebullient Latin number by guitarist Abel Zarate, best known as a co-writer of the Malo hit "Suavecito."

Jennifer Lee Carey Williams "Song of Happy" and "Perfect Rendezvous" are duets pairing Lee's light and bright sound with the warm, resonant baritone of Carey Williams (pictured at right with Lee), Jennifer's life partner and musical collaborator who played with Zarate in the 1970s rock/funk/fusion band The Force. "Carey and I had been performing 'Song of Happy' live since 2011, and I fell in love with the song. It's just so fun and uplifting," Lee says. "When I brought it to Peter, he created a super-dynamic arrangement for it, which inspired me to write that intricate tapestry of background vocals. The recording is a gift we get to give to Abel."

Other album highlights are the soulful ballads "Speak Your Love" and "Home," and the playful, gospel-like "Crammin' Crepes with Cathi at the Cock-a-Doodle Café," a tribute to the late jazz singer/songwriter and Jennifer's close friend Cathi Walkup: "She was a very clever lyricist who encouraged my songwriting endeavors before I ever thought of myself as a songwriter."

Jennifer Lee Born in 1964 in Redwood City, just south of San Francisco, and raised in nearby Menlo Park, Jennifer Lee ended up at Menlo-Atherton High School as a pianist to take advantage of the school's respected jazz program. She continued her jazz piano studies at Foothill College, often accompanying vocalists, all the while nursing her secret desire to sing. She didn't take the plunge until an early, unwanted glimpse at mortality radically changed her priorities in the late 1980s, when she dropped out of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to tend to her stricken father.

"My dad got really sick and I came back from school to take care of him," Lee says. "He died the next year. He was only 51. That really brought things into focus for me. I realized that none of us knows how long we have here on planet earth, so I'd better do what I want to do now." After her father's passing, she returned to the Foothill College music department, but instead of backing other singers she took over the microphone herself.

Subsequently studying with esteemed Bay Area jazz singer Kitty Margolis, Lee gradually worked up the courage to start performing in public and honed her jazz technique on a succession of regular gigs around the Bay Area. She made her first appearance on CD in 2001 on Quintessential, an album featuring three tracks each by five Bay Area singers, including Jenna Mammina and Cathi Walkup.

"It took me so long to come to singing -- to finally admit to myself that this is really what I want to do," says Lee. "Then it took another decade-plus for the songwriter in me to emerge. I'm the epitome of the late bloomer."

Jennifer Lee brings her Ever-Expanding Universe band to Dizzy's in San Diego, 8/11, and the Sound Room, Oakland, 9/23, for a pair of concerts showcasing My Shining Hour. 

Sarah Reich releases debut Tap Jazz Album "New Change"

Sarah Reich (Performer, Choreographer, Instructor, Composer) has emerged as one of the new leaders in the Art Form of Tap Dance. She was named one of the “25 To Watch” in the 2017 Dance Magazine article. Sarah has been sought after to perform, choreograph, and teach in over 40 countries.  "I want to continue to bringtap into mass media with great respect and quality," she says, focusing on "reprogramming the minds of the general public on their perception of tap dance." (DanceMagazine 2017)

Sarah has become one of the art form's pop culture ambassadors, thanks to her appearances in videos with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox. Her videos withthem (A Star Wars–themed tribute, "The Tap Awakens," & “Thriller”, a Michael Jackson cover featuring Wayne Brady) have garnered over 1 million views onYouTube, all receiving rave reviews. She has toured the world with Postmodern Jukebox playing prestigious venues such as Radio City Music Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Sydney Opera House.

In addition to her vast international travels and countless television appearances, Sarah has had the honor to perform at some of the most prestigious venues backhome in Los Angeles such as The Hollywood Bowl, the Greek Theater with Mexican Pop-Star, Cristian Castro and the Kodak/ Dolby Theater with the great Herbie Hancock.

Sarah is developing new, and exciting works with her company Tap Music Project, with her debut Tap Jazz Album titled “New Change”. This album is originally produced, composed from percussive tap rhythms, and performed by a great selection of musicians to create a unique sound. She hopes this is just the beginning: "I want to be the first tap dancer to win a Grammy Award!"

Verve Jazz Ensemble Showcases Jubilant Group Sound on Its 5th Album, "Connect the Dots"

Verve Jazz Ensemble Connect the Dots Always highly polished, the Verve Jazz Ensemble's timeless straight-ahead jazz reaches for exuberance as well on LightGroove Media's July 20 release Connect the Dots. The fifth album by the VJE, a modular New York-based ensemble led by drummer Josh Feldstein, features upbeat performances of band originals, standards, and lesser-known works by classic jazz composers -- each characterized by the musicians' palpable delight in playing together.

Connect the Dots also finds the VJE expanded to seven pieces, with alto saxophonist/flutist Alexa Tarantino and trombonist Willie Applewhite making their VJE debuts alongside the existing quintet of trumpeter/flugelhornist Tatum Greenblatt, tenor saxophonist Jon Blanck, pianist Steve Einerson, bassist Elias Bailey, and Feldstein.

The exuberance is amplified by the tunes themselves: catchy melodies, imbued with deceptively rich harmonies and finger-snapping grooves. This, according to Feldstein, is part of the band's reason for being. "Beyond the joy of playing the music, one of our goals is to make the music more widely accessible," he says. "Brighter and with melodic and rhythmic structures people can immediately connect to, whether the listener is new to jazz or an aficionado."

To that end, Connect the Dots includes new arrangements of some of jazz's most beloved standards -- Lee Morgan's "Ceora," Cole Porter's "Love for Sale," Harold Arlen's "My Shining Hour" -- alongside intoxicating originals like Feldstein and Greenblatt's lush bebop title track and Blanck's subtly funky "Autumn Left."

However, the album also features "underserved" tunes by jazz royalty of the likes of Benny Golson ("Little Karin"), Stan Kenton ("Intermission Riff"), and Gerry Mulligan ("Disk Jockey Jump"). Here too, says Feldstein, is one of VJE's missions: "To find music that is fresh, with melodies we love, and blow the dust off it. There's so much amazing music that people haven't heard."

The full septet appears on four of the album's 13 tracks. The remainder feature three different quintet configurations, as well as trio settings for Einerson, Bailey, and Feldstein. The drummer, along with Greenblatt and Blanck, contributed the arrangements for these configurations as well as providing the original tunes.

The Verve Jazz Ensemble is the brainchild of Josh Feldstein, born and raised in New York City. He began studying drums at 11; a year later, his drum teacher told him that Josh's drumming style reminded him of Gene Krupa. Josh immediately immersed himself in the recordings of the legendary "Sing, Sing, Sing" soloist. That was it: At a time when most of his friends were listening to pop artists like Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson, Josh "withdrew into jazz."

Through junior high and his years in Queens at Bayside High School, Josh continued his drumming. He attended Queens College where he got his undergraduate degree in English. Later, while living with his wife in DC, and after they moved to Connecticut, Josh continued sitting in at local clubs.

A turning point came in 2005 when Josh saw a recent West Conn jazz grad named Jon Blanck perform. Impressed with Jon's playing and musicianship, he introduced himself to the young saxophonist, and soon struck up a great friendship and musical connection. Together with bassist Chris DeAngelis, they formed a trio that became the core of the Verve Jazz Ensemble -- a name Josh chose to express his love of the music and the recording legacy put out by the storied jazz label.

Verve Jazz Ensemble The band's lineup steadily evolved from their 2013 debut, It's About Time, a quintet outing that included the VJE debuts of New York's Tatum Greenblatt on trumpet and Matt Oestreicher on piano. East End Sojourn followed in 2014, with Elias Bailey taking over from DeAngelis on bass and Oestreicher alternating with Steve Einerson. The latter became the sole pianist on 2016's Perimeter (a breakthrough for the VJE, featuring five original compositions along with their usual well-chosen tunes). Their fourth album, Swing-A-Nova (2017), a trio feature with three tracks adding Greenblatt on trumpet, reached #6 on the JazzWeek radio charts. Now, with Connect the Dots, Alexa Tarantino's alto saxophone and flute and Willie Applewhite's trombone fill out the VJE's exhilarating classic jazz sound.

Guitarist Pete McCann Fluses Jazz-Rock On "Pay for It on the Other Side"

Pete McCann Pay for It on the Other Side Pete McCann's trademark infusion of postbop jazz with roots-rock grit and energy reaches a new peak with the guitarist-composer's July 20 release of Pay for It on the Other Side (McCannic Music). McCann's sixth album, and his third with the quintet of alto saxophonist John O'Gallagher, pianist/keyboardist Henry Hey, bassist Matt Clohesy, and drummer Mark Ferber, packs a hefty punch that emphasizes the confrontational aspect implied by its name.

"It sounds like an aggressive album title," McCann acknowledges, noting that on one level, the title refers simply to the toll he pays every morning when he crosses the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey into New York. He adds, though, that if there's a confrontation at work in the music, it's one that takes place in the afterlife. "I'm fascinated by the spiritual implications of karma," he says. "How we treat people and the environment and the consequences of that."

Far from ethereal, mystical meditations, however, McCann's ten new compositions are earthy and direct. Tunes like the title track, "Mud Flap," and "Conventional Wisdom" land with a crunch, loaded with driving rhythms and intense, instantly memorable hooks. Even more tranquil tunes like "Yonder" and "Indemnity," and jazzier, more overtly complex pieces like the angular swinger "Is April Okay?" and the bluesy, noir-ish "Floor Three," are delivered with an immediacy and command that grabs the listener's attention from the moment they begin.

The music also carries a strong sense of synergy that McCann attributes to the chemistry at work within the band. "These musicians have the ability to read and play anything I put in front of them, yet also bring their own creativity to the project," he says. "They have the ability to flesh out what I'm thinking even before I say it."

Pete McCann   
He wrote the music on Pay for It on the Other Side with the band members specifically in mind. "I definitely heard John O'Gallagher's alto voice on all this music," he says. "Henry has so many ideas for sounds and different instruments. His playing is so unique, walking a fine line between terrific jazz piano, funky clavinet, accordion, organ. He's like a one-man band. And I love the way Mark and Matt work together. They have an amazing sense of time and feel."

Pete McCann was born in 1966 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and raised there in a bustling farm household. Radio and turntable played sounds of country, rock 'n' roll, and heavy metal, and thus the pathway to a life in music came into view. Pete's love affair with the guitar began at age eight, when his mother persuaded the local music store to take him at an early age for lessons.

As a junior high and high school student, he attended Shell Lake Jazz Camp, 80 miles from Eau Claire, for six summers in a row. Master classes in jazz improvisation with teacher Mike Irish and weekly guitar lessons with Russ Moss provided further inspiration. At University of North Texas, he studied with Jack Peterson; during his junior year, he attended a summer program at the Banff Centre in Alberta, studying with Kevin Eubanks.

Arriving in New York shortly after his 1989 graduation, McCann gigged with the East Down Septet, performed with Erwin Vann's Worlds project, and subbed for Ben Monder in the Maria Schneider Orchestra. He has also worked with Lee Konitz, Brian Blade, and Dave Liebman, as well as the Mahavishnu Project (in which he was endorsed by John McLaughlin himself), Patti Austin, Grace Kelly, and Curtis Stigers.

McCann is also a member of the quartet Spin Cycle, co-led by drummer Scott Neumann, whose ties with the guitarist date back to college days, and saxophonist Tom Christensen. That group debuted in 2016 with Spin Cycle; their 2018 follow-up is Assorted Colors.

McCann made his first recording, Parable (1998), in a quintet setting featuring bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Matt Wilson. Two more albums with varying lineups followed before McCann's current quintet coalesced for 2009's Extra Mile and 2015's Range.

Pete McCann and his quintet will perform a CD release concert at the 55 Bar, NYC, on Thursday 7/12 (10pm start, two sets). 

Alan Hall's Ratatet Addresses Current Turmoil in American Society with "Heroes, Saints and Clowns"

Alan Hall Ratatet San Francisco Bay Area drummer, composer, and bandleader Alan Hall turned to music when he found himself in the midst of what he describes as "some of the greatest turmoil our country has ever experienced." In order to cope, he penned the sonic vignettes heard on his new CD Heroes, Saints and Clowns,set for June 22 release on Ridgeway Records. Performed by his genre-bending sextet Ratatet, which was formed in 2014 and made its recording debut in 2016 with the critically acclaimed album Arctic, the seven musical portraits reflect people who inspired, empowered, or infuriated him during today's unsettling times.

"It's just impossible to escape what's going on these days," says Hall, a native of San Jose and one of the West Coast's premier drummers and music educators. "This music is informed by what I see in the news, the violence, the police, the politics. At the same time, we have to keep our chins up. I'm also looking at personal heroes, people who help me stay positive."

Heroes, Saints and Clowns brings together an impressive set of improvisers, including Paul Hanson on tenor sax and bassoon (acoustic and with effects); Jeff Denson on double bass and five-string fretless electric bass; trombonist John Gove; Dillon Vado on vibraphone and percussion; and Greg Sankovich on piano, organ, and keyboards. They're joined on several tracks by Oregon's Paul McCandless on English horn and oboe, and cellist Joseph Hebert.

 Alan Hall Ratatet
L. to r.: Dillon Vado, Jeff Denson, Paul Hanson, Alan Hall, John Gove, Greg Sankovich.

Together they use an electro-acoustic sonic palette to interpret a program of improvised and through-composed music ranging from the satirical to the sublime, from the serene to the disruptive. Hall, who blurs boundaries between composition and improvisation, uses his ensemble as a brush to paint musical portraits ranging from chamber jazz and tone poems to pieces with the moodiness of Mingus, the zaniness of Zappa, and the serialism of Stravinsky.

That Hall's compositions lend themselves to being described in terms usually applied to the visual arts is not surprising given that he is a master of both the drum brush and the paint brush. Initially inspired by an exhibition of Alexander Calder sculptures he saw at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Hall has become an accomplished visual artist who creates work under the name A. Miguel Hall. He uses individual and mixed media as well as digital abstract photography (the cover to Heroes, Saints and Clowns is one of his works). Hall honors the American abstract painter Agnes Martin with the through-composed piece named for her that closes the new album.

"It seems that, at any given time, one art form or the other -- visual or musical -- will demand expression, and the other must wait," says Hall. "I can't seem to be fully engaged with both simultaneously, which suggests they're both drawing on the same source, whatever that may be. This is very interesting to me, but my goal is to have both fully activated at the same time."

Alan Hall Born (1958) and raised in San Jose, California, Alan Hall stood out early on as a precociously talented drummer. His band director at John Muir Middle School, Tony Nigro, started hiring Hall for gigs before he started high school.

Part of a brilliant wave at Berklee College of Music in the late 1970s, Hall ended up teaching at the school from 1986 to 1993. A significant influence on Hall's development as a musician was his two-year course of study (1983-1985) with drummer Alan Dawson, himself a longtime member of the Berklee faculty. While Dawson had left Berklee before Hall matriculated there, the younger drummer received tremendous guidance from Dawson not only in the area of jazz drumming but in the school of life as well.

"One thing about Alan was his devotion to the seriousness of the craft," Hall shared in a 2016 interview with former student and fellow Bay Area drummer Niels Myrner. "His project was refining his craft to the highest level. That standard of excellence had a very strong impression on me."

Moving back to California, he settled in the East Bay and started playing with Dave Eshelman's Jazz Garden Big Band, which quickly established him as a first-call accompanist. Collaborating with veteran touring masters like Art Lande, Paul McCandless, and Rebecca Paris and younger stars such as Geoffrey Keezer and Ed Simon, Hall has provided the rhythmic foundation for more than a dozen leading ensembles over the past 25 years. A dedicated educator, he continues to teach at Cal State University East Bay, the Monterey Jazz Festival's Summer Jazz Camp, the California Jazz Conservatory, and Jazz Camp West, as well as seeing private students.

Hall is thinking bigger and smaller with Ratatet, breaking out smaller lineups for particular pieces and adding new instrumentalists for others. He recently submitted a piece to NPR's Tiny Desk contest which featured an octet with an acoustic guitarist and cellist added to the lineup. "There is so much more to explore with this group!" he says.

The Ratatet Octet -- the same band featured on Hall's Tiny Desk video -- will be performing a CD release show at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley, on Saturday 7/7, 8:00 pm. A selection of paintings and photography by Hall will be exhibited and for sale during the concert. The Ratatet Sextet (with Sheldon Brown subbing for John Gove) is scheduled to play the San Jose Jazz Festival, Sunday 8/12 at 4pm, on the Gordon Biersch Stage.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

New Releases: Alex Lefaivre Quartet - Yul; Black Art Jazz Collective – Armor Of Pride; Pierre Douge - Soundscapes

Alex Lefaivre Quartet - Yul

Drawing his inspiration from Montreal’s distinct urban energy, bass player Alex Lefaivre presents a series of modern jazz originals written for some of his home town’s most original musicians, notably Erik Hove on alto saxophone, Nicolas Ferron on guitar as well as Mark Nelson on drums. The lyrical, song-like melodies develop over interesting forms that leave a lot of room for the group to interact and showcase their conversational improvisations. Taking its name from Montreal’s airport code, YUL takes the listener on a cinematic trip through the city, where dreamy, hazy summer vibes are intertwined with a gritty, metropolitan edge. A highlight of this set is a surprising cover of John Carpenter’s theme to his cult-classic 1978 horror movie, Halloween. – Colette Schryburt aka Coco Jazz, CKVL 100.1FM

Black Art Jazz Collective – Armor Of Pride

A set that's bursting with every bit as much of the fantastic energy you might expect from the lineup – a bold sextet that features Wayne Escoffery on tenor, Jeremy Pelt on trumpet, James Burton III on trombone, Xavier Davis on piano, Vicente Archer on piano, and Johnathan Blake on drums – all coming together here in a righteous message that's even stronger than the sum of its parts! All titles are originals, and have this progressive, soaring vibe – spiritual, but not in a mellow way – and instead very much up to date in terms of contemporary jazz expression, thanks to the individual strengths of the soloists – who feel completely unified throughout. Titles include "Armor Of Pride", "When Will We Learn", "Black Art", "Pretty", "The Spin Doctor", and "Awuraa Amma". ~ Dusty Groove

Pierre Douge - Soundscapes

Guitarist Pierre Dorge has been giving us amazing music for many years – but he sounds especially amazing here in the company of a really great group – the excellent Kirk Knuffke on cornet, plus Stephen Riley on tenor, Conrad Herwig on trombone, Jay Anderson on bass, and Adam Nussbaum on drums – all very dynamic players who seem to make Dorge sound even fresher than ever! There's an especially strong sense of phrasing on the record – no surprise, especially with Knuffke in the mix – and while Pierre can sometimes use his instrument in more abstract ways, that quality is really balanced by all the other members of the lineup. Anderson's bass is great – nicely pointed at the best moments, and a great contrast to Dorge's strings – and all tracks are originals, with titles that include "Lullaby For Sun Ra", "Mingus' Birthday Party", "Afrikaa Mbizo Dyani", "Sim Sim Ba", and "Alligator In Paradise".~ Dusty Groove

Grammy Award Winning Trumpeter Nabaté Isles Takes Listeners on Eclectic Excursions With New Album

Industry acclaimed, Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer Nabaté Isles is releasing his debut album, Eclectic Excursions, on Friday, July 20th 2018. Isles has performed, toured and/or recorded with almost every top musician in the industry, such as Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Christian McBride, Kenny Lattimore, Philip Bailey, Fantasia, Jeffrey Osborne, Jill Scott, Dianne Reeves and more. The album is produced by multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning songwriter/producer/keyboardist Sam Barsh, who has written/produced numerous recordings and commercially released songs, including hits for Kendrick Lamar, Joey BadA$$ and Macy Gray.

Isles kicks the summer vibe off with "Find Your Light" (feat. Alita Moses). As a summer bonus, listeners get the track "Laid Back," which features Elzhi, Canadian singer, JRDN.

On Thursday, July 12th at NuBlu 151 on Avenue C, New York, NY 10009 from 8:00 pm to 12:00 am, guests will enjoy mixes by D.J. Dan.C.E., with rising vocal talent Alita Moses opening for him. Throughout the night, Isles will perform music celebrating the release.
Nabate Isles is a Grammy-winning trumpeter/composer. He composed a solo double bass composition called 'Lessons', which was premiered by world-renowned double bassist James VanDemark at Louisiana State University. He instructed actor Rob Brown as trumpeter Delmond Lambreaux on the HBO series, Treme.

As a performer, Isles was part of both of Christian McBride Big Band's Grammy-winning albums, The Good Feeling (2012) and Bringin' It (2018) as well as the band's performance at the White House for the last concert under President Barack Obama's administration. He has composed five music scores for short films as well as contributing original music to Amos Poe's innovative film, 'Empire II.'

He recently completed a score for his first feature called, 'The Rhythm in Blue'. Isles is also an accomplished producer and host for SiriusXM NBA Radio & he hosts his own weekly television show called 'So Much to Talk About' on MNN (Manhattan cable). Also, a sports trivia expert, Nabaté excelled on TV gameshows, ESPN's 'Stumb The Schwab' and Crackle/NBC Sports' Sports Jeopardy. 

'Jazz Loves Bernstein' Commemorates Beloved Composer/Conductor Leonard Bernstein's Centennial With Star-Studded Two-Disc Collection Featuring Classic Jazz Interpretations Of The Maestro's Greatest Songs

In a dazzling musical career that spanned more than forty years, Leonard Bernstein distinguished himself as a conductor, pianist and educator, as well as a passionate musical communicator. But it was his work as a composer that made the most enduring impression upon the public. Bernstein's timeless compositions have become deeply ingrained in the American soundtrack, encompassing the Broadway stage, the pop scene and the jazz world.

Now, just in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth on August 25, some of his greatest works have been assembled for Jazz Loves Bernstein, available June 29 via Verve/UMe. The two-CD/digital collection spans the musical and emotional breadth of the Bernstein songbook, with interpretations of the maestro's classic tunes spanning more than half a century, performed by some of the era's finest jazz singers and musicians.
Starting today, Bobby's Scott rare 1959 recording of "Ya Got Me" is available for streaming and for immediate download with digital album pre-order. Pre-order Jazz Loves Bernstein now:

"Jazz and I are on excellent terms," said Bernstein, one of whose earliest jobs was transcribing the instrumental improvisations of such jazz greats as Coleman Hawkins and Earl "Fatha" Hines. Jazz remained a cornerstone of Bernstein's musical consciousness for the remainder of his career, and jazz performers would continue to record Bernstein compositions in the decades to come.

Many of those artists are represented on Jazz Loves Bernstein, which opens with Billie Holiday's rousing 1944 rendition of "Big Stuff," from Bernstein's early ballet Fancy Free, and closing with a haunting 1996 reading of "Some Other Time," from Bernstein's Broadway smash On the Town, performed here by Mark Whitfield and Diana Krall. In between is a sterling selection of performances that demonstrate the ongoing appeal of Bernstein's melodic gift.

For example, the West Side Story standard "Tonight" features a warm vocal interpretation by Billy Eckstine, while the West Side Story classics "Maria" and "I Feel Pretty" are sung memorably by Sarah Vaughan; the anthemic "Cool" gets a distinctive reading from jazz great Oliver Nelson, and the romantic "Somewhere" and "Something's Coming" receive poignant readings from the Oscar Peterson Trio. From Bernstein's early Broadway triumph On the Town comes "New York, New York," revisited by pianist Bobby Scott, and the pensive "Lonely Town," sung by master vocalist Mel Tormé. Jazz Loves Bernstein also features timeless performances by such jazz legends as Carmen McRae, Bill Charlap, Bill Evans, Maynard Ferguson and Bob James.

In his exhaustive liner notes for Jazz Loves Bernstein, producer Didier C. Deutsch writes, "Next to the great George Gershwin, no other American composer can claim to have worked in as many musical genres with the exception of Leonard Bernstein. A musical genius who enlightened our lives over a brief few decades, Bernstein seemed equally at ease in classical works, the theater, jazz, and, in at least one instance, the movies, always different, always compelling."

Leonard Bernstein's boundless talent and ongoing influence are reflected throughout Jazz Loves Bernstein, which celebrates his work with the style and sensitivity it deserves.

Jazz Loves Bernstein Track Listing
Disc 1

Big Stuff – Billie Holiday
America/I Feel Pretty/One Hand, One Heart – Manny Albam & His Jazz Greats
New York, New York – Bobby Scott
Tonight – Billy Eckstine with Hal Mooney and His orchestra
A Quiet Girl – Bill Charlap Trio
Cool – Oliver Nelson and His orchestra
My Love – Bob James
Lucky To Be Me – Bill Evans
Maria – Eric Reed
It's Love – Bill Charlap Trio
Lonely Town – Mel Tormé
Something's Coming – Manny Albam & His Jazz Greats
Somewhere - Oscar Peterson Trio                                                    
I Feel Pretty - Sarah Vaughan
Disc 2

Ya Got Me – Bobby Scott
Something's Coming – Oscar Peterson Trio
It's Love – Carmen McRae
Jump – Bill Charlap Trio
I Can Cook Too – Bobby Scott
Maria – Sarah Vaughan
Jet Song – Oscar Peterson Trio
It Must Be So – Bobby Scott
Tonight – Manny Albam & His Jazz Greats
Lonely Town – Maynard Ferguson
I Feel Pretty – Oscar Peterson Trio
Ohio – Bill Charlap Trio
Some Other Time – Mark Whitfield with Diana Krall

Jill Barber's New Album Metaphora

Jill Barber released her third single "Bigger Than You," off of her upcoming album Metaphora. It premiered on Grok Nation and was paired with an in-depth interview discussing the power behind the track.

"Bigger Than You," is Barber's own #MeToo movement coming to surface after recovering from a toxic relationship. She states in her interview with Grok Nation, "Although I wrote this tune before the #MeToo movement began, there was already an undercurrent of empowerment and solidarity rising in my community of women. I feel like we had all been whispering some form of “me too” for years before that whisper became a roar."

Last month, Barber released "Mercy," the second single from her upcoming album. It premiered at Billboard, and was shot by Juno Award-winning director Christopher Mills, whose work includes videos for Modest Mouse, Leonard Cohen, and Broken Social Scene. "Mercy" follows the female empowerment anthem "Girl's Gotta Do," which bowed at #1 on CBC national radio and Apple Music Canada’s Singer-Songwriter Chart. PopMatters said, "If the women's movement of the 21st century — whether it's #MeToo or #TimesUp — needed a hashtag theme song to carry its message, this versatile vocalist who can handle jazz, pop, blues, folk and rock 'n' roll on any given night, delivers it with genre-fender-bender style."

A bold entrée into the world of contemporary pop music, Metaphora reveals a Jill Barber we’ve never heard before. Metaphora showcases her power and vulnerability as both an artist and a woman. Evolving over the course of many albums from folk to jazz, R&B and pop, Jill’s success is defined not by genre, but by her undeniable songwriting chops and distinctive voice. Metaphora is a continuation of Barber's musical story that confidently tackles everything from issues of empowerment, sexual politics, the complications of love, and depression.

Mutual friendships and living on the same street led Jill to sit down with Ryan Guldemond, the enigmatic lead singer of Mother Mother, for inspiration and creativity. Ryan's commitment to Jill and unwavering enthusiasm garnered co-writing credits on four of the nine songs on Metaphora, including the instantly catchy lead single, “Girl's Gotta Do," a hook-filled and very timely call to arms that aims to "challenge the patriarchal status quo, as we usher in a new era of equality," says Barber. "Writing with Ryan was a big departure for me, and very exciting. He's extremely creative and not afraid to push my creative boundaries," recalls Barber. "The sessions became part songwriting and part therapy because I was writing about things that felt pretty raw; politics, sexism, being a mother. I started to realize that this was going to be a very different kind of album for me. I had more that I needed to say and Ryan helped bring that out with his uncanny knack for melody and song structure."

Metaphora's opening track "The Woman" generates a sense of anticipation with its pounding bass drum, an urgent heartbeat for what is next to come from the fearless multi-Juno nominated performer. "It's a song about how a woman is required to be everything to everyone, but may still be a mystery to her own self," shares Barber. "She is part of nature, but also has a nature of her own, ever-changing and elusive." On "Bigger Than You," Barber explores a personal experience that she hopes may inspire others to take a stand against tactics like power plays, bullying and manipulation. "Hooked Your Heart,” “Clumsy Heart,” “Cage Without A Key," “Love Is,” and “Hold On” round out Metaphora.

On the advice of trusted friends, Jill reached out to producer Gus Van Go (Whitehorse, Arkells, Terra Lightfoot), who immediately took on the project and began to craft a complete vision for Metaphora. They recorded at Van Go's studio in Brooklyn, NY, with creative partner Werner F and multi-platinum Grammy nominated producers Chris Soper and Jesse Singer, collectively known as Likeminds, who perform all the drums, piano and analogue synths on the album. Additional tracks were recorded and produced by Gavin Brown and Maia Davies at Toronto's Noble Street Studios.

On Metaphora, Jill Barber bursts back onto the stage with a bold and daring offering of music, confidently executed with the style and grace of a woman who knows exactly what she's doing.

Jill Barber North American Tour Dates:

6/18 - Winnipeg, MB - Winnipeg Jazz Festival
6/28 - Montreal, QC - Le Gesu
8/4 - Kaslo Bay Park, BC - Kaslo International Jazz Festival 
9/22 - Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern
9/24  - New York, NY - Rockwood Music Hall
9/25 - New York, NY - Rockwood Music Hall
9/26 - Boston, MA - Regatta Bar
9/28 - Ottawa, ON - Ottawa National Arts Centre Theatre
9/29 - Knowlton, QC - Theatre Lac-Brome
10/9 - Fredericton, NB - Playhouse Theatre
10/11 - Charlottetown, PEI - Confederation Centre
10/12 - Truro, NS - Marigold Cultural Centre
10/13 - Halifax, NS - Rebecca Cohn Auditorium
10/16 -Toronto, ON - Roy Thompson Hall
10/18 - Gravenhust, ON - Peter's Players
10/19 - London, ON -  Aeolian Hall
10/20 - London, ON -  Aeolian Hall
10/24 - Saskatoon, SK - Broadway Theatre
10/25 - Regina, SK - The Exchange
10/26 - Calgary, AB - Bella Concert Hall
10/27 - Edmonton, AB - Triffo Theatre
11/1 - Vancouver, BC - Vogue Theatre
11/2 - Campbell River, BC - Tidemark Theatre
11/3 - Victoria, BC  - Capital Ballroom

Metaphora Tracklisting:
The Woman
Girl's Gotta Do
Hooked Your Heart
Bigger Than You
Clumsy Heart
Cage Without A Key
Love Is
Hold On


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