Monday, March 31, 2014



And once again, Isaac Hayes wows us with the brilliance of his later work at Polydor – really subtle soul that's a wonderful extension of modes first begun at Stax! The sound is a bit smoother here, but it really fits Ike's maturing vocals wonderfully – and sets him up in these beautiful mellow grooves that stretch out and step out with a quality that few other singers can touch. A few cuts are upbeat, but the more laidback ones are actually the best this time around – showing that once again, Ike Hayes is the king of the mellow soul moment! Titles include "Ike's Rap VII", "This Time I'll Be Sweeter", "I Ain't Never", "Wherever You Are", "Love Has Been Good To Us", and "It's All In The Game". CD features bonus tracks – "I Ain't Never (12" disco)", "It's All In The Game (single)", "Love Has Been Good To Us (single)", and "I Ain't Never (single)". ~ Dusty Groove.


A trio of 90s albums from Grover Washington! All My Tomorrows is an overlooked gem from reedman Grover – recorded in his later years, but a set that's actually got more of an acoustic style overall – one that goes back to the roots farther than any of Grover's fusion records! Washington's a great straight player in this setting – filled with soul on tenor and soprano sax – and working with top-shelf small group players like Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Hank Jones on piano, Bobby Watson on alto, and Robin Eubanks on trombone. Guitarist Romero Lumbambo arranged one great Brazilian-tinged number – and other arrangements are by Grover, Larry Willis, Slide Hampton, and Freddy Cole – who sings on two tracks too. Titles include "E Preciso Perdoar", "Happenstance", "All My Tomorrows", "Nature Boy", "Flamingo", and "Estate". Soulful Strut is bouncy soul from Grover Washington – a set that returns to his earlier roots in a space between soulful fusion and R&B! The slinky Washington soprano sax gets plenty of space in this set – blown with those seductive notes that always made Grover one of the most distinctive players on the instrument – and the backings often have this gentle R&B groove that's even stronger on the few cuts here with vocals. Titles include "Soulful Strut", "Bordertown", "Village Groove", "I Can Count The Times", "Headman's Hunt", and "Can You Stop The Rain". Breath Of Heaven is a holiday record from Grover Washington – but one that's got a fair bit more to offer than just the usual Christmas tunes! The set mixes older favorites and lesser-known numbers – all done in that soulful fusion style that Washington brought to his records from other seasons of the years – set up here with the leader on alto, tenor, and soprano sax – amidst arrangements from vibist Joe Lock, and keyboardist Donald Robinson, and guitarist Hiram Bullock – all of whom play on the record. Lisa Fischer sings on one number, but most of the record is instrumental – and titles include "Breath Of Heaven", "The Magi's Song/A Child Is Born", "I Wonder As I Wonder", "Christmas Time Is Here", "The Love In His Infant Eyes", and "Christmas Day Chant". ~ Dusty Groove


Pretty electric sounds from the Chicago Underground Duo – a set that has Rob Mazurek adding in lots of electronics (even a Game Boy!) to his usual cornet lines, plus some other acoustic elements that work really well with the drums, mbira, and balaphone of Chad Taylor! The record shows an earlier spirit of the Chicago scene alive and well – that genre-crossing, generation-spanning love of so many different sounds and styles at once – a mode that first burst forth on the scene two decades back, often in the hands of John McEntire, who produced this album – and which still stands strong in the hands of its best purveyors like this. Titles include "Yaa Yaa Kole", "Blink Out", "Kabuki", "Dante", "House Of The Axe", "Borrow & Bury", and "Locus". ~ Dusty Groove


The unimpeachable authority, glorious sonic sheen and sheer passion of a first-class jazz big band can offer a listening experience unmatched on the American music scene. The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra has upheld the tradition of the expansive, ever swinging jazz ensemble for some three decades now; with The L.A. Treasures Project (Capri Records, released on April 15, 2014) the band not only reaffirms its reputation, but also honors two icons of West Coast jazz: guest vocalists Ernie Andrews and Barbara Morrison. With co-leaders John Clayton (arco bass, arranger, conductor), brother Jeff Clayton (woodwinds), and Jeff Hamilton (drums) at the helm, the CHJO takes on a meaty program of timeless standards, sturdy blues and appealing originals with featured turns by Andrews and Morrison on eight of the thirteen tracks. 

Romping through such classics as "Exactly Like You," "River's Invitation," "Fever" and "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," the CHJO displays the airtight precision and remarkable vitality that has exemplified the band since its debut in 1985. The inclusion of Andrews and Morrison - two West coast stalwarts still in vocal prime - ratchets up the excitement and intensity that much more. In its forthright demonstration of the pleasures of timeless swing, The L.A. Treasures Project is as representative an album as Capri Records - a bastion of contemporary mainstream jazz - could have hoped to release as it celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.

Recorded live at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro, California, on September 15, 2013, the album turns the spotlight on a world class ensemble and an array of its star soloists, including the saxophonists Rickey Woodard and Charles Owens, who do battle on the album's explosive finale, "Jazz Party"; the guitarist Graham Dechter who pours sweet licks over "I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues"; the trombonists George Bohanon, Ryan Porter, Maurice Spears and Ira Nepus who add virtuosic sass to "I Love Being Here with You"; and co-leader John Clayton who takes a stirring arco bass turn on "Goodbye Porkpie Hat." Jeff Hamilton, a percussion master and L.A. studio legend, can make a big band purr or roar with just a flick of his wrists; the fact that he takes no extended solos on the album is yet more proof of this celebrated player's commitment to genuine music making rather than flash.

The vocal features stand just as tall as the mighty big band excursions. Andrews takes it nice and easy on "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," "The Jug and I" "Beautiful Friendship" and "Time After Time" establishing once again how underrated this mellow toned stylist remains. Morrison, whose two and a half octave vocal range is put to good here, buffs "Exactly Like You," "River's Invitation," "Fever" and her own swinging "Got to Get Back to L.A." to a lovely shine. "At a few CHJO rehearsals earlier last year, Barbara and Ernie were asked to sing with the band," John Clayton remembers. "They threw their heads back and, without microphones, sang as if there were thousands listening. No one could have anticipated the stunning effect it would have on the musicians in the room. Jeff Hamilton, my brother Jeff and I agreed we need to document these artists - these treasures!"

The L.A. Treasures Project indeed allows a thriving musical outfit to present two vocal gems in a jewel box setting: a live performance brimming with all the electricity that makes jazz great. As John Clayton sums it all up, "It was an evening that will live with us forever."


According to that essential guide to contemporary American life, humblebrag means "subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor." While Michael Feinberg's new Humblebrag album Live at 800 East is rife with subtle interplay and half-hidden sources of inspiration, there's nothing self-effacing about the bassist/composer's music. Slated for May 6, 2014 release on BeHip, the album features a stellar cast of young musicians powered by veteran drum master Terreon Gulley.

A rapidly rising force on the New York scene who also leads The Elvin Jones Project, Feinberg rechristened his band Humblebrag for the new album because the eponymous track that closes the album marked a new phase of his musical development. He's deadly serious about the music, but isn't particularly interested in making any grand statement about the state of the art form. Recorded live in-studio in Atlanta, Georgia, Feinberg's follow up to 2011's critically hailed debut With Many Hands captures the searing energy and unbridled imagination of smart young musicians deep in conversation with each other. "Naming tunes and bands, people want to sound so cool and edgy and mysterious," Feinberg says. "But it's just one little voice in the world."

Humblebrag's voice is wide-ranging, perpetually curious and not averse to funk and fusion. Writing the title track, Feinberg was thinking about his experiences playing with Re-Animation, trumpeter Tim Hagans' riff on the early electric music of Miles Davis. Built on a hypnotic five-note motif, the piece features dramatic orchestration, and the roiling but dynamically sensitive trap work by Gully, best known for his work with Christian McBride's funk-inflected electro-acoustic band. "Rock has always been a big part of my life," Feinberg says, "and this is my contemporary version of that."

If there's any chest-pounding going on in Humblebrag it's over the superlative quality of Feinberg's collaborators. Aside from Gully, a well-traveled player who came up two jazz-generations earlier, the band features some of the brightest young players on the New York scene, including pianist Julian Shore, Haitian-American alto saxophonist Godwin Louis, and trumpeter Billy Buss (who recently released a very impressive debut album Scenes From A Dream featuring Feinberg and Godwin Louis). Jacob Deaton, an excellent Atlanta guitarist, contributes on one track.

"These guys are my friends and they make it a comfortable environment," Feinberg says. "Each one is a talented composer, and knows how to interpret my music. Billy and Godwin spent two years playing together every day at the Monk Institute, and on top of their virtuosic musicianship they're an amazing team. Along with Julian they're the next generation of guys coming up."

The album opens with the rousing, hip hop-tinged "Tutuola," a name that should sound familiar to anyone who's watched Law & Order: Special Victims. Noting that young players with a lot of down time often end up binging on Law & Order marathons, Feinberg wrote an episodic theme that slyly alludes to Ice T's earlier career. "I came up with the rhythmic part of it, and the melody was definitely influenced by listening to Busta Rhymes and getting into his flow," he says.

Feinberg evokes the hustle and flow of life on New York's streets with "Puncher's Chance," a piece that lightly wears its infatuation with Robert Glasper's experiments. And he gets down in the gutter with "Dukeface," a joyful post-bop blues set to a celebratory New Orleans groove that coaxes some evangelical fervor from Buss and Louis. The album's centerpiece is the waxing/waning three-part suite "But the Sound," which opens slow and woozy and grows increasingly intense as it modulates between keys before a spare, beatific solo by Shore signals calm acceptance. Before exiting with the title track, Feinberg offers the ravishing ballad "Untitled 2," a piece that touches on the radical simplicity of bassist/composer Ben Allison's music from the turn of the century. "It's a pretty piece, not a side of myself that usually comes out," Feinberg says. "Ben Allison was definitely a formative influence. I'm trying to take stuff I hear and present it in ways I haven't heard."

Born and raised in Atlanta, Feinberg earned his BM in Jazz Performance at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music, and graduated from New York University with a master's degree in 2011. While he's enmeshed with his contemporaries, he credits several authoritative veterans with playing a formative role in his development, including pianist Jean-Michel Pilc, guitarist John Scofield, drummer Billy Drummond, and particularly tenor saxophonist George Garzone. A generous mentor to several generations of improvisers, Garzone inculcated a sense of commitment in every note that Feinberg plays. "He really taught me a lot about confidence and having an attitude," Feinberg says. "He's a no-holds barred player, and he's so deep when it comes to rhythm and sound. We played duo in his apartment and it forced me to become a better player."

In many ways, Feinberg's musical concept hinges on his immersion in the music of Elvin Jones, the universally hailed rhythmic innovator whose post-Coltrane work as a bandleader is still too little known. When a friend in college hipped him to Earth Jones, a classic but long out-of-print quintet 1982 session on Palo Alto, it started him on a journey that led to The Elvin Jones Project, Feinberg's powerhouse 2012 album on Sunnyside with Garzone, drum legend Billy Hart, trumpeter Tim Hagans, and pianist Leo Genovese. "I knew Elvin's work with Coltrane and Larry Young's Unity, and Wayne Shorter's Blue Note albums, but not much beyond that," Feinberg recalls. "I started digging and digging, and became pretty obsessed with him. He was such an amazing musician and as celebrated as he is I don't think a lot of people recognize how progressive he was. And Elvin connects all of my favorite bassists: Gene Perla, Dave Holland, George Mraz, Jimmy Garrison. George Garzone really helped me put it all together."

When it comes to a group concept, he's also drawn inspiration from Pilc, the French-born pianist who has developed a volatile trio that plays his episodic originals and radically reconstructed standards. "I studied with Hal Crook, and he said that being in a band should be like a team full of captains. Jean-Michel's trio works that way, and that's how I want my group to work. We all have defined roles but it's in flux and they can change at any time."

Feinberg made a memorable debut as a leader with 2011's With Many Hands, a project that gathered some of his generation's most formidable players, including Humblebrag's Shore and Louis, tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger, and versatile drummer Daniel Platzman (who recently won a Grammy Award with the Las Vegas rock band Imagine Dragons). As a composer and bandleader, he continues to cast a wide net, drawing on his disparate array of experiences and deep pool of exceptional talent. Primarily identified as a jazz musician, Feinberg is often sought out by singer/songwriters and rock combos. His music, passionate, emotionally engaged and unafraid to sound raw or polished, effectively reflects the confluence of sounds and ideas running through New York these days, and that's no humblebrag.


Pour yourself a glass of wine.  Dim the lights.  Barry Manilow's Night Songs is the perfect sound track for your evening.  This new collection of songs is the most intimate album Manilow has ever made. "Just me singing and playing piano (and synthesized bass).  So pretend it's just me sitting in your living room, playing and singing for you," said the music icon. 

Night Songs features Barry singing some of the greatest standards of all time.  All the songs selected are Manilow's personal favorites and hail from the greatest composers of the 20th century and are not necessarily their best-known works. 

"I loved making this album. It reminded me of the days I used to play in piano bars. I loved those days. No Top 40 to worry about, no planes to catch, no hotel rooms to check into and out of, and none of those little bars of soap!" said Manilow.  "I hope everyone enjoys Night Songs and that it introduces you to some songs you may never have heard," he added.

Night Songs is produced by Manilow and is being released by STILETTO Entertainment and distributed by INgrooves in association with Universal Music Group as part of a multi-product partnership.  Night Songs is available at

Track Listing:
1. I Fall In Love Too Easily
2. Alone Together
3. Blame It On My Youth
4. I Get Along Without You Very Well
5. You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me
6. It Amazes Me
7. But Not For Me
8. It's A New World
9. While We're Young
10. You Don t Know What Love Is
11. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate The Positive
12. My One And Only Love
13. I've Never Been In Love Before
14. I Walk A Little Faster
15. Here's That Rainy Day
16. Some Other Time



Sharp improvisations with a decidedly sonic sensibility – music that bridges between free jazz and much more textural moments! The group features Ken Vandermark on reeds – sometimes blowing with forward-moving lines that are plenty bold – sometimes stepping back to merge with the more electronic passages of the group, handled by Christof Kurzmann. Drummer Tim Daisy is on hand to propel things forward at all the right moments – and the songs here are dedicated to a diverse array of inspirations – from Betty Davis to Helen Frankenthaler to Sleater Kinney! Titles include "Sans Serif" and "Capital Black". (Includes bonus download!) ~ Dusty Groove


The Spandettes are a fiercely energetic disco band hailing from Toronto, Canada. Drawing inspiration from jazz-funk, soul and rock-steady, their original music combines a classic 70's disco approach with a fresh and contemporary edge. The band's leading ladies, Alex Tait (co-producer of the album), Maggie Hopkins and Lizzy Clarke lead this dynamic 10-piece outfit through musical terrain that balances sugary sweet vocal stylings, air-tight horn passages and hard hitting grooves from their stellar rhythm section. Their debut album Spandex Effect is a celebration of empowerment and liberation. The songwriting team within the band always seeks to push the envelope of whatever subject they are exploring, combining tongue-in-cheek playfulness with deeply raw emotion. "A lot of what we write dances that line between romantic and totally sarcastic and dry." The first single from the album, "Sweet & Saccharine", was released in summer 2013 and generated a buzz in the global dance music community. It was played by Gilles Peterson of BBC Radio 6, KCRW in L.A, and spent 8 weeks on J-Wave Radio Tokyo's influential Tokio Top 100 chart. In a musical landscape where trends come and go like the wind, the timeless sound of The Spandettes truly stands out among the rest. "Our greatest influence as a band is undoubtedly the Pointer Sisters. We adore how they jump from genre to genre so effortlessly, which is something we love to do. We call ourselves a disco band for simplicity, but we also play jazz, soul, RnB, and funk. Basically, if you can dance to it, we play it." The spirit of their music celebrates individuality, and everyone is invited to join their party - "sequins for all people equal"


Dope gems, indeed – as the album's filled with fierce funky tracks that take us back to the 70s heyday of CTI Records and blacksploitation soundtracks! Yet the sound here isn't just fake retro funk, either – it's really well-crafted, jazz-heavy work that's filled with sweet vibes, keyboards, and massively heavy drums – all at a level that feels like some lost Johnny Lytle soundtrack for a black action film, or maybe an undiscovered Bobby Hutcherson gem from mid 70s Blue Note, or even an unreleased second album from Stark Reality! These guys are totally great on every single track – no too-modern production or any programs to ruin the spontaneous energy of the groove – and titles include a great remake of "Theme From 3 Days Of The Condor", plus "It's Your Love", "Quasar", "Like A Thief In The Night", "Solstice", "I Work The Whole City", and "Footsteps In The Dark". ~ Dusty Groove


The evolution of an imaginative young artist is fascinating to behold, especially those refusing to play it safe after achieving success and notoriety. Jackiem Joyner, an award-winning chart-topping saxophonist, is stretching the limits of what urban contemporary jazz grooves can be while moving towards a more organic live sound on his fifth album, “Evolve,” which will be released April 29. He wrote and produced the highly-rhythmic 11-song CD we sent you featuring collaborations with multiple Grammy-nominated saxophonist Gerald Albright and internationally renowned keyboardist Keiko Matsui. 

Joyner has always had knack for crafting catchy R&B-pop melodies and his deft touch with honeyed harmonies remains. What changed are the inventive rhythms and textured sonic-scapes he’s constructed under his gentle yet impassioned horn play. The futuristic aural backdrop stands in stark contrast to the visceral sound of his sax. 

First cut from “Evolve” going to radio is “Generation Next,” a musical declaration from Joyner that the next generation of jazz artists is here to stay. You can view a live performance clip of the single to get a taste of how Joyner mixes and matches jazz, R&B and instrumental pop with searing rock guitar.

Joyner debuted in 2007 when he was named Debut Artist of the Year for his first offering, “Babysoul.” His sophomore set, “Lil’ Man Soul,” spawned a pair of No. 1 Billboard singles, including “I’m Waiting For You,” which won Song of the Year honors at the 2009 Smooth Jazz Awards. The momentum continued even before he reached the age of 30 when two singles from his self-titled third album shot up to No. 2 and No. 3 on Billboard. Switching gears, Joyner embraced his church roots in 2012 with the gospel jazz record, “Church Boy.” 


Jazz & Milk is back with a brand new compilation series featuring previously unreleased tracks by international label artists, friends & family!

Everyone familiar with Jazz & Milk probably knows about the importance of musical diversity to the label's spirit. However, once you listen closer you will definitely hear the connecting force, a rhythmic and soulful foundation of these 15 tracks. The sum of the album's musical influences lead back to Africa and its long lasting impact on numerous modern music genres throughout the world. A good many times such musical footprints are shining through on this record ranging from Jazz, Funk, Afrobeat, Cumbia, Ethio-Jazz to Hip Hop, deep House and Bass music. While each style is unique, they have a strong rhythmic element in common.

Footprints starts off with the energetic raw sound of Todd Simon & The Angel City All Star Brass Band. Amusingly, the song has been inspired by a culinary experiment, a 50/50 blend of Ethiopian coffee beans from the Sidama region and Colombian beans not too far from Cali. Aiming at translating the experiment's success into a completely different sphere, that of music, Simon combined the traditional sounds of both regions. The track not only features musical prodigy Quantic on the guacharaca (colombian version of the guiro) but also a 'who is who' of LA's music scene. Jazz & Milk label-founder and "Footprints" compiler Dusty delivers a heavy Afro-Funk vibe by remixing the Bad Jazz Troupe, a live project he formed together with his musical soulmate Jerker Kluge. Label artist Sam Irl from Vienna takes us on a journey of raw emotions. On "Time" he fed his MPC with filthy vinyl samples, jazzy rhodes chords, deep basslines and smooth synth-arpeggios - all glued together on top of a driving House beat. The legendary Munich-based formation Karl Hector & The Malcouns (Now-Again) is also contributing to the album's special flavor. "Who's Foolin' Who?" was written by JJ Whitefield (producer and guitarist for the Poets of Rhythm and the Whitefield Brothers) and obviously reflects his affinity for sounds from across the African diaspora. Jerker Kluge and his Deep Jazz Project, more local talent from Munich, is performing a fantastic cover version of Andy Bey's classic "Celestial Blues" with Julia Fehenberger on vocals.

Footprints has to offer much more and includes further contributions by Jazz & Milk artists & friends such as Romanowski featuring P.E.A.C.E. (Freestyle Fellowship), Mr Chop (UK), Ray Lugo (NYC), Lay-Far (Russia), GTA Hoffmann, Lipanti-Rodrigez or the 45prince.

The Munich-based label, and its associated clubnight, have been a city fixture for the past eight years and represent an integral component of German club culture. Just like on "Footprints" Jazz & Milk keeps pushing musical boundaries, seeking new territories and a distinctive sound that blends sophisticated old- and contemporary electronic music.

- The Footprints EP has already won support from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Mr. Scruff, Lefto, Jeremy Sole, Opolopo, Jay Scarlett, Mad Mats, Rob Luis, Makossa, Simbad, Soulist, Monk One, Dom Servini, Simon Harrison.


Enter the AfroPhysicist - trumpeter/composer Theo Croker. Coming straight out of Leesburg, Florida by way of Shanghai, China, this bold young soul-jazz newcomer, grandson of New Orleans trumpet legend Doc Cheatham is fortified by tradition with no lack of contemporary electricity to propel him into the future.

Croker's new album - AfroPhysicist - comes out on May 20, 2014 on Dee Dee Bridgewater's DDB Records via Sony Masterworks' imprint OKeh Records. This is Croker's third album and the inaugural release on Bridgewater's label. His music literally shape-shifts without pause through 12 captivating selections.

AfroPhysicist includes three vocals sung by Bridgewater, each from different eras and genres, and all re-imagined in bold strokes: "Moody's Mood For Love"  (the classic James Moody instrumental vocalized by Eddie Jefferson in the `50s, then by George Benson with Patti Austin in the `80s); "Save Your Love For Me," (made famous by Nancy Wilson with the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in 1962); and "I Can't Help It," originally introduced by Michael Jackson on 1979's Off the Wall, and flipped here into a sizzling, chattering Afro-Cuban whirlwind.  

Though Croker recorded two previous albums as a leader - The Fundamentals in 2007 and In the Tradition in 2009 - the time he spent in Shanghai prepared him to become the daring artist that Bridgewater was excited to unleash on her DDB label. "What was hot in New York didn't matter," says Croker. "We were far enough removed that nobody was judging us."

When Croker met Bridgewater, it was October of 2009 during the Shanghai Jazz Festival, where he was playing in the big band that backed her. The two hit it off at an after-party jam and met for lunch during her next visit. When Bridgewater inquired about the music the trumpeter was working on, Croker handed over his iPod and told her to listen for herself. By Summer 2010, they were in discussions about recording an album. "The first thing Dee Dee said was, 'We are not doing a jazz record,'" Croker says laughing. "It was perfect. I already knew who I was and I had no inhibitions."

AfroPhysicist  features Croker's core group: keyboardist Sullivan Fortner, wind and reed man Irwin Hall, drummer Karriem Riggins, acoustic/electric bassist Michael Bowie and guitarist David Gilmore, with other horns and specialists. One standout guest is vibraphonist Stefon Harris who brings his unfiltered spell casting to a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Visions." "In another life, maybe I was a singer," Croker muses. "I gave up on that dream a long time ago but felt I could really convey the meaning of Stevie's deeply relevant lyric through my horn. His Innervisions album (1973) was a huge influence for me, flow wise."

Croker also persuaded friend and trumpet veteran Roy Hargrove to guest on a song of his own composition, "Roy Allan" (which Hargrove dedicated to his father). Hargrove originally recorded the tune instrumentally for his 1995 classic album Family, but sang his accompanying lyric only occasionally in concert...until now. Croker also pays tribute to South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela by recording the meditative Serengeti slink of "Bo Masekela," composed by the great Caiphus Semenya in 1965 in honor of Masekela and his then-wife, Miriam Makeba. A souring relationship inspired Croker's own "It's Not You, It's Me (But You Didn't Help)," featuring synchronistic interplay between Croker and Hall on alto flute.

The genre-fusing "Light Skinned Beauty" has elements of rock, hip hop/R&B and a fast swing. "Think about the lines of race being blurred... When you first meet someone, it's hard to tell them who you are in 4-5 minutes. This song is a statement like that," explains Croker. "So if you see a cutie at the bar and you throw out these three genres - with the same harmony and vibe all the way through but with stuff changing over the surface - hopefully one line will stick!"c.

Before moving to Shanghai, the then 16-year-old Croker lived in Jacksonville, Florida, attending the Douglas Anderson School of Arts and becoming an artist in residence at the Ritz Theatre with its big band. Upon graduation, he attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, drawn by Dr. Donald Byrd and a faculty of jazz legends including Gary Bartz. Croker won the Presser Music Foundation Award in 2006 and used the money to fund a debut album of original compositions.

"I've always tried to find my own way," Croker states. "I went to Oberlin College instead of Juilliard. Then I went to China. Once there, I opened up - not only to survive but to investigate what was going on. I joined a way-out fusion group led by Alec Haavik, but I also joined a salsa band. Musicians in China don't have stereotypes. To live well, you played everything." Now, following several years of hustling as a freelance musician and live music promoter in Shanghai, Croker is back in New York preparing to take it to the next level. "Dee Dee said it was time for me to come home."

"My older brother is the one who imparted the nickname AfroPhysicist upon me," Croker concludes. "Last spring, I dropped it on Dee Dee and she dug it. She introduced me to an audience that way. They liked it, so it stuck. Maybe it will create a buzz. Look at what artists like Kanye West and Erykah Badu do, changing their genre titles and names to fit different artistic directions. Truthfully, I am a lil' wild! So the title fits - a crazy person in the basement snatching all these things together."

Upcoming Theo Croker Performances:
April 4-5, 11-12 / JZ Club / Shanghai, China
* May 27 & 28 / Jazz Standard (Release Show) / New York, NY

* Theo Croker AfroPhysicist Featuring: Dee Dee Bridgewater and DVRK FUNK
Theo Croker, trumpet / Irwin Hall, alto saxophone and alto flute / Sullivan Fortner, piano and keyboards / Seth Johnson, electric and acoustic guitars / Eric Wheeler, electric and acoustic bass / Kassa Overall, drums / Jerome Jennings, percussion / and Special Guest: Dee Dee Bridgewater

Performances with Dee Dee Bridgewater:
April 30 / International Jazz Day @ The Monk Institute / Osaka, Japan
May 2-4 / Blue Note Tokyo / Tokyo, Japan
May 8 / St. Lucia Jazz Festival / St. Lucia, British Virgin Islands
May 30 / Exit 0 Jazz Festival  / Cape May, NJ
June 7 / Longwood Gardens Wine and Jazz / Kennet Square, PA
June 9 / Kaye Playhouse  / New York, NY
June 12 / Alfa Jazz Festivals / Lviv, Ukraine
June 14 / Zagreb Youth Center / Zagreb, Croatia
August 1 / Newport Jazz Festival / Newport, RI
August 4 / Jazz in Laurino Festival / Laurino, Italy
August 6 / Marciac Jazz Festival / Marciac, France
August 8 / Grand Casino / Basel, Switzerland
August 10 / Casino Seven / Amneville, France
August 11 / Teatro All'Aperto Le Ferriere / Follonica, Italy
August 13 / Piazza Angioina / L'Aquila, Italy
August 14 / Tabarka Jazz Festival / Tabarka, Tunisia
August 16 / Jazz En Baie / Mont St. Michel, France
August 18 / Jazz Au Phare / St. Clement-Des-Baleines, France
November 9 / Dolby Theater, The Monk Institute / Los Angeles, CA

Theo Croker · AfroPhysicist / DDB Records via Sony Music Masterworks/OKeh ·  Release Date: May 20, 2014 


A vivid self-portrait in mosaic form, Kavita Shah's Visions (available May 27 on Greg Osby's Inner Circle Music) heralds the arrival of a strikingly original, globally minded new voice. The gifted vocalist/composer brings together a rich variety of musical, cultural, and personal influences into a formidable debut album that combines a jazz quintet with Indian tablas and the West African kora.

Visions interweaves Shah's multicultural background (she's a native New Yorker of Indian descent fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and French) with her wide-ranging musical tastes (reared on 90s hip-hop, Afro-Cuban music, and bossa nova, she studied jazz voice and classical piano) and her fascination with ethnomusicology (which she studied at Harvard). The album was co-produced by the renowned Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke, a kindred spirit who shares the singer's cohesive view of a multi-hued musical experience.

"My experience of diaspora has not exactly been linear, but more like a kaleidoscope. So musically, I wanted to bring together different elements that I love, and combine them in a way that may be surprising to others but makes sense to me," Shah says. "We have one sound," adds Loueke. "You listen to the album from the beginning to the end, and even if the textures are different, it has a unity."

Shah's own cultural heritage pointed to some unexpected directions. Her paternal grandfather moved from Mumbai to New York in the 1940s, a full generation before immigration from South Asia became common. After witnessing the birth of the United Nations, he returned to India as the first publisher to bring American books to the country, and Shah's father later retraced his path to New York to attend college. Shah's mother was one of 13 children, born to a father who insisted on educating his daughters rather than simply marrying them off; music, seen as a distraction, was forbidden.

"I didn't grow up in a traditional household," Shah recalls. "My parents wanted to expose me to music, an opportunity they didn't have growing up, but not just to Hindi film songs or Indian classical music. They immigrated to New York in the 1970s, so there was a lot of pop in the house: The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra." Both sides of that early musical diversity are represented on Visions: Shah sings Joni Mitchell's "Little Green" and Stevie Wonder's "Visions," while one of her first collaborators on the project was tabla player Stephen Cellucci. The two met while working on tabla virtuoso Samir Chatterjee's project "Rabi Thakur."

Fourteen musicians from around the world ultimately contributed to breathing life into Shah's Visions, including keyboardist Stephen Newcomb, guitarist Michael Valeanu, bassist Linda Oh, drummer Guilhem Flouzat, percussionist Rogério Boccato, and a string quartet conducted by Miho Hazama. The album follows an engaging narrative sweep, tracing the cycle of a day or, from a more melancholy angle, stages of grief (Shah's father died when she was 18). But through Shah's restless searching, it possesses a geographic as well as emotional sweep, made cohesive by her singular, prodigiously confident vision.

"I haven't been so excited about a project like this in a long time," states Loueke. "Kavita is a real, true musician. She's a great singer, but the way she writes music, she's not really thinking just about the voice. It sounds like she could be a horn player, a saxophone player."

Shah spent her childhood with the radio dial parked on HOT 97, New York's leading hip-hop station, which is echoed in her tabla-driven cover of British rapper M.I.A's hit "Paper Planes." Perhaps her most formative musical experience came at the age of 10 when she joined the Young People's Chorus of New York City, an award-winning youth chorus with whom she regularly performed in more than 15 languages in venues like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

It was in the YPC where Shah was first exposed to jazz, and it stuck. "We sang everything from standards to opera to pop to folk music to contemporary pieces by major composers like Meredith Monk," Shah recalls. "For me, that all these types of music could co-exist was quite normal, and in a way, I've been trying to replicate that experience ever since."

Shah majored in Latin American Studies at Harvard, living abroad in Peru and then Brazil, where she conducted research on Afro-Brazilian music in a Bahian favela. That period is reflected in her rhythmically intoxicating duo with Lionel Loueke on Edil Pacheco/P. C. Pinheiro's "Oju Oba" as well as in her own composition "Moray" (winner of ASCAP's Young Jazz Composers Award), named for an Incan archeological site and inspired by Pablo Neruda's epic poem "Las Alturas de Macchu Picchu."

After college, Shah found herself working day jobs at nonprofits like Human Rights Watch until she received advice from an unexpected, brassy guardian angel: legendary vocalist Sheila Jordan. "I was on my way to work when the subway doors opened," Shah recalls, "and there was Sheila Jordan in front of me. At that time, I didn't have a mentor in jazz and I was a little lost. In 15 minutes on the train, Sheila basically gave me all of her mantras for life - she took me in and really encouraged me."

With Jordan's support, Shah went on to receive her Masters in Jazz Voice from Manhattan School of Music while studying privately with Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge, Steve Wilson, and Jim McNeely. Wilson's supple reed playing is featured on three tracks on Visions, while McNeely proved instrumental in nurturing Shah's innovative arrangements. While at MSM, Shah was named by DownBeat as Best Graduate Jazz Vocalist, and she has since become an active member of New York's thriving jazz community, performing regularly at such venues as Cornelia Street Café, Bar Next Door, 55 Bar, Shapeshifter Lab, Kitano, and Minton's Playhouse.

The final piece of the Visions puzzle fell into place from passion rather than experience. Shah's love for the music of master Malian musicians like Ali Farka Touré and Toumani Diabaté inspired her to call kora player Yacouba Sissoko, who eagerly responded to the challenge of her musical mélange.

"It is so against who I am to pick just one style of music," Shah says. "Being a global citizen in the 21st century means having a somewhat disjointed life - scattered memories, connections, and experiences that can be enriching but also isolating. Visions is my small universe of all the parts that make me whole."

Shah had never met Lionel Loueke when she called on him to co-produce the album, but she recognized a fellow traveler in his own globetrotting sonic collage."Lionel went above and beyond as a co-producer. He and I share the same vision for how we approach music, so I think there was an automatic trust, respect, and appreciation there. He has a really beautiful spirit and we formed a special relationship; he's been incredibly generous and supportive of my music." 

"I see myself as a cultural interlocutor. A singer can play an almost mystical role, connecting these different elements on stage with an audience through the human voice, through words. With the Visions project, it's amazing to see the Joni Mitchell fan who has never before seen a kora standing next to the hardcore jazz fan who would not expect to hear tablas on a Wayne Shorter tune. I hope that people find something familiar in the music that draws them in, but then discover something new that might change, even for a second, how they see the world."
Upcoming Kavita Shah Performances:
* April 8 / Jazz Museum of Harlem / New York, NY
April 18 / Philadelphia Museum of Art / Philadelphia, PA
** May 27 / Joe's Pub / New York, NY
June 13 / Sunside / Paris, France
July 6 / JazzSchool / Berkeley, CA
July 26 / Children's Museum of Manhattan / New York, NY

* International Jazz Conversation Series
** with special guest Lionel Loueke

Kavita Shah · Visions ·  Release Date: May 27, 2014 


Best known for his work in the celebrated cooperative trio Minsarah (which he founded with Florian Weber and Ziv Ravitz) and his seven-year tenure in the Lee Konitz New Quartet, bassist and composer Jeff Denson has also led a highly regarded quartet featuring Weber, Ralph Alessi, and Dan Weiss. Now Denson is preparing to showcase other aspects of his virtuosity and exquisite musicality with the April 15 release, by the San Diego-based pfMENTUM label, of two very different duo albums, I'll Fly Away and Two. The discs provide a fascinating window into Denson's vast range as an improviser.
A singular collaboration with the powerhouse San Diego pianist Joshua White, I'll Fly Away is an emotionally charged project devoted to hymns and spirituals. Two is a melodically rich free improv session with the remarkable Swiss clarinet virtuoso Claudio Puntin. In many ways the projects couldn't be more dissimilar, but they're united by Denson's insistence that the bass can play any musical role. "I don't want to be tied down to being a function player," he says. "I don't want to have to only play the role of the bass as a supportive root function instrument. I love doing that, but I don't want to always have to do that. Even in more straight-ahead situations I find ways to play melodies. I want to be able to play textures. In a duo setting, there's a great deal of freedom."

It's a context perfectly suited to his interactive sensibility. "When you play in duo you have 50 percent of the responsibility and you need to be 100 percent committed to what you're doing if the music is going to travel and work and move places," Denson says. "You're either connecting directly with them or not. Everything they play, you must notice. But there are so many options. Deciding not to go with them can be really exciting too."

The sacred music project with White grew out of several hymns that Denson performed at funerals for his father and his maternal grandmother who helped raise him, including the title track, performed in three divergent renditions, and the breathtaking solo arco version of "Amazing Grace." The session was recorded in one day and all but one track is a first take, "a really good demonstration of how we share and communicate and share musical aesthetics. We are both really adventurous and take a lot of risks. I just wanted to do what we do."

The collaboration with Puntin had a very different genesis. It began, Denson writes in his succinct notes for Two, "in Cologne, Germany in 2008, and ended two years later on a rainy day in Berlin: two musicians, from two continents, two years apart, on two different days, in two different cities, met and recorded this music without discussion or plan . . . . " Investigating a wide array of moods and textures, the music can be playful or threatening, innocent or carnal. "We didn't talk about anything beforehand," says Denson. "We turned the mics on and just played. The music is completely improvised; the chord changes that appear are all spontaneous."

Jeff Denson, 37, was born and raised in the Washington, DC area. He attended Berklee (where Minsarah was formed), earned his Master's in jazz studies at Florida State University, and relocated to Southern California to pursue his doctorate (at UC San Diego) in contemporary music performance with an emphasis in composition. Based since 2011 in the East Bay, he is a full professor at the California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the Jazzschool Institute) and has forged ties with some of the Bay Area's top players, including bassoonist Paul Hanson and guitarist Mimi Fox.

A prolific composer and arranger, Denson has written music for an array of jazz settings, from big band to trio, as well as for string ensembles, solo bass, and a chamber opera (which he plans to premiere in 2015). While New York City offered a bustling life as a freelancer, Denson has found musical fulfillment on the West Coast. "I can make my living playing everybody else's music being a supportive player, but I wasn't so interested in that," Denson says. "I'm most interested in doing something unique musically by pushing my own work. And I love teaching. So I can inspire people, and focus on what I want to do."

Joshua White and Jeff Denson Denson will be working with his trio featuring Joshua White (far left) and drummer Jon Arkin at the following West Coast CD release shows: 5/31 Red Poppy Art House, San Francisco; 6/2 SOhO Restaurant and Music Club, Santa Barbara; 6/3 Jazz at the CAP, Los Angeles; 6/4 The Loft at University of California San Diego, La Jolla; 6/7 Café Stritch, San Jose; 6/8 Duende, Oakland; and 7/25-26 Moody's Bistro, Bar & Beats, Truckee. He'll also be performing with the Joshua White Quintet 6/5 at the Del Mar (CA) Foundation.

Jeff Denson's Secret World European Tour 2014, featuring trumpeter Cuong Vu, pianist Alex Conde, and drummer Jon Arkin, is now being finalized for late October. The quartet will be appearing in Heilbronn, Cologne, Osnabrük, and Dortmund, Germany, among other cities. A European CD Release Tour for Denson's trio is being scheduled for January 2015.


Featured this week on The Jazz Network Worldwide: Pianist, Wayne Brown with his new CD entitled “Cloud 9” with The Virtual Jazz Band.

Wayne Brown’s new release “Cloud 9” has an inspirational story attached to the making of this album which involves long-time friend, flautist, Nigel Scott. 
Wayne formed the Virtual Jazz Band with a clear goal in mind. He wanted to bring together musicians and singers from diverse musical backgrounds that had a common love for Jazz.  There is an underlying message of hope, healing and friendship that is attached to this project. Wayne had decided to re-record the tune “Goodbye Stranger” (which was a hit back in the 80‘s) as an instrumental that features Nigel Scott on flute who had been injured in a tragic motorcycle accident back in 1999. They had reconnected after 13 years, finding that the music they shared together many years prior was used as a source in Nigel’s miraculous healing.

"We had a dream and through adversity, the power of music and friendship allows us to share this dream with the world. What better place to share this than The Jazz network Worldwide. Many thanks to Jaijai Jackson".

Wayne has collaborated with a wide and diverse array of artists as both a writer and producer including Billy Ocean, Ruby Turner, Earth Wind and Fire, Junior Giscombe, Stevie Winwood, Jonathan Butler, George Michael, Janet Kay, Lulu, Yazz and many more, and played with jazz greats such as Coleman Hawkins and Tal Farlow.

Wayne studied Jazz at the prestigious Leeds College of Music. After his time at the College he delved into the mainstream music world and went on to sell several million records as a writer and producer with his international top 5 hits “Heartache” and “Goodbye Stranger”.

The first album "The Jazz Club Volume 1" received international critical acclaim with great support from radio opening doors to performances throughout Europe and the USA.

Back in 2010 Wayne was appointed Artistic Director and Chairman of the jury for the Bucharest International Jazz competition which enabled him to meet a wealth of talented young musicians from around the globe.

“Wayne Brown brings a wonderful essence of cohesive grooves that make you rock in your chair coupled with a funky rhythmic interplay with a solid foundation that keeps you hooked.  “Goodbye Stranger” is a true testament that strong friendships can lift you higher than you can imagine, especially when music is shared and messages are embroidered throughout” says Jaijai Jackson of The Jazz Network Worldwide. 


Monday, March 24, 2014


Most of us recall A Charlie Brown Christmas — the classic animated special that originally aired on network television during the holiday season of 1965 — as the moment when pianist Vince Guaraldi first breathed life into the entire Peanuts gang with a series of compositions that have since become as iconic as the characters themselves.

But a year earlier, Guaraldi had scored a Peanuts TV special of an entirely different kind. After the success of A Man Named Mays, a documentary of San Francisco Giants center fielder Willie Mays, TV producer/director Lee Mendelson set out to tell the story of another ball player who had soared to similar fame during that same era: the hapless but resilient sandlot underdog, Charlie Brown. The result was A Boy Named Charlie Brown, a 60-minute documentary about Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz.

A limited edition, collectible vinyl reissue of the original 1964 Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown soundtrack is set for release by Fantasy Records via the Concord Music Group on May 13, 2014. As adoring fans of both Guaraldi’s and Schulz’s work, Concord has proudly put significant effort into faithfully restoring all components of the LP with a special bonus: orange vinyl. The reissue comes complete with Schulz’s classic, quirky design, historic liner notes in a gatefold jacket, and reproductions of 8 x 10 lithographs of Peanuts characters.

A reissue of A Boy Named Charlie Brown will also be made available on CD. Enhanced with 24-bit remastering by engineer Joe Tarantino and brand new liner notes by Peanuts historian Derrick Bang, the release marks the 50th anniversary of the original Fantasy soundtrack to the television documentary with one of the most interesting backstories in entertainment history.

Due to the whims of network programmers at the time, A Boy Named Charlie Brown never aired. Even an alternate version edited down to 30 minutes wouldn’t sell. Nevertheless, Fantasy forged ahead with the 1964 release of the documentary soundtrack — originally titled Jazz Impressions of a Boy Named Charlie Brown, but later shortened in subsequent pressings — without the cross-promotional support of its television counterpart. Regardless of the project’s hamstrung origins, Guaraldi’s compositions, augmented by bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey, paint an evocative backdrop to Schulz’s cast of engaging and enduring characters.

“Consider the historical irony,” says Bang. “This must be one of the few times (the only time?) that a record label has released a soundtrack album for a film never granted public exposure.”

Among the nine tracks from the original Fantasy recording is the now-iconic “Linus and Lucy,” which eventually made its way to prime-time television a year later in the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, which aired on the CBS network in December 1965.

“It just blew me away,” says Mendelson of the first time he heard the song. “It was so right — so perfect — for Charlie Brown and the other characters … I have no idea why, but I knew that song would affect my entire life. There was no doubt in my mind that if we hadn’t had that Guaraldi score, we wouldn’t have had the franchise we later enjoyed.”

But “Linus and Lucy” is just a part of the larger palette that is A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Bang notes that “music historians familiar with early 20th century honky-tonk rags no doubt smiled the first time they heard ‘Oh, Good Grief,’ a familiar melody that had been used in other pop contexts prior to being ‘borrowed’ by Guaraldi …”

Elsewhere, the waltz-time “Baseball Theme” originally served as a backdrop to a sequence in the documentary devoted to Charlie Brown’s ill-fated efforts on the pitcher’s mound. “Jazz fans will appreciate this remastered edition’s special treat: an alternate take of ‘Baseball Theme,’ whose gentler tempo more closely approximates the version heard in the documentary,” says Bang. “Guaraldi’s keyboard chops are prominent in both versions, of course, but note how remastering engineer Joe Tarantino has brought up Budwig’s equally deft bass work.”

Unfortunately, we can only speculate how the album’s remaining tracks were employed in the film’s longer edit, which included numerous celebrity appearances. Bang suggests that “‘Pebble Beach,’ a joyful bossa nova piece with a piano bridge, no doubt augmented golf legend Arnold Palmer’s unused segment. The delightfully bouncy ‘Freda (with the Naturally Curly Hair)’ obviously would have accompanied one of that narcissistic little girl’s animated appearances.”

Is there a point on the creative landscape where disparate art forms like comic strips, animated cartoons and jazz can intersect? Ralph Gleason suggested in his liner notes to the original 1964 recording that Guaraldi had found such a place: “He took his inspiration from the creations of Charles Schulz and made music that reflects that inspiration, is empathetic with the image and is still solidly and unmistakably Vince Guaraldi.”

Gleason added: “Jazz is a music of individualism. As such, it is truly a music of people, not styles. Each person develops his own sound, his own voice, his own musical personality, which in some is expressed only in their own playing. With Vince, the personal sound, the personal voice and the individual musical personality is expressed not only in his playing but in his composing as well.”

“All the characters in Peanuts are artists confronted with the illogical, blind and mechanistic world. It was natural that Vince Guaraldi’s music should fit so well.”



David Hazeltine is known for his harmonic sophistication and elegant pianism, traits that were also hallmarks of Cedar Walton's playing. When Hazeltine initially set out make what would become his Smoke Sessions release, For All We Know, making a tribute record was the furthest thing from his mind and it should be pointed out that For All We Know is definitely not a tribute record. Yet, it's hard to ignore the importance of Cedar Walton's legacy to it. Hazeltine is one of the important heirs to Walton's piano tradition, so it is only natural that his gratitude and affection would be dominant themes on this recording. It is also a special record because it documents what is essentially the first collaboration between Hazeltine and tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake. It was a partnership that both enjoyed immensely and that worked particularly well with the rest of the quartet, bassist David "Happy" Williams and drummer Joe Farnsworth. The album opens with one of Hazeltine's inventive originals, "Et Cedra" which is also one that was overtly written with Walton in mind. In it's melodic twists and turns and it's subtle yet unexpected harmonies, it is quickly apparent why Hazeltine has such a strong following. Other highlights include Kurt Weill's "My Ship" and Hazeltine's obstreperous "Eddie Harris" which gives Blake an opportunity to pay some respects of his own, this time to the funky saxophone master. When For All We Know concludes with "A.D. Bossa," the realization sets in that although jazz has lost some of its greatest talents, there is another generation that is dedicated to keeping the art form vital and alive.


Claudine Francois is a beautiful pianist, and we love her work on other records – but she sounds especially great here in the company of bassist Hubert Dupont and drummer Hamid Drake – both players who bring a heck of a lot of texture to the session! Dupont's bass is wonderful – often more melodic than rhythm, at a level that's also echoed by Drake's always-creative work on the drum kit – providing these shifting shapes, like different platforms in sound – from which Francois' piano lines take off boldly. Titles include "Flying Eagle", "African Flower", "Nkosi Sikelel Africa", "Scot", "Tapiwa's Vision", and a nice take on Jim Pepper's classic "Witchi Tai To". ~ Dusty Groove


Hyungjin Choi, a New York based jazz pianist and vocalist, has been making her mark in the city of dreams since 2008.  After training as a classical pianist from her early age, Choi graduated from the prestigious Seoul Institute of the Arts in 2006 and moved to New York to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music where she earned a BFA degree in performing arts in 2010 with a jazz scholarship and the Noah Osnos scholarship. There, Choi received the finest jazz education from such jazz masters as Sam Yahel, Reggie & Workman, Charles Tolliver, Jimmy Owens, Charlie Persip and Kevin Hays, and also became involved in many projects including that of the great Billy Harper. She has recorded and performed actively in many venues across the United States both as a sideman and a band leader.  She has built her skills as both an artist and a performer and now she has released her debut album Tales Of A Dreamer. The album was recorded  at Acoustic Recording in Brooklyn on October 2, 2013.  Hyungjin’s band is comprised of ascendant trumpeter and composer Takuya Kuroda, alto player Uri Gurvich, award-winning saxophonist Yacine Boulares, drummer and percussionist Alex Wyatt, and bassist Pablo Menares.


In his latest, triple-pronged attack on artistic complacency, the hyper-expressive saxophonist Ivo Perelman employs the tactic of accretion: in duo, trio, and quartet formats, he displays not only his wide artistic range but also his exceptional capacity for subtle variety. Each of these albums can stand completely on its own; taken together, they offer a snapshot of this particular juncture in Perelman's artistic evolution. (All three were recorded between October 2013 and January 2014.) These albums also extend the rarely paralleled burst of creative activity that has seen Perelman - a productive musician and graphic artist, even in his "slow" periods - release nearly 20 albums in the last four years.

"I had an intense creative frenzy maybe 15 years ago," Perelman has recalled, referencing a two-year span in the mid-90s during which he released a dozen albums. "And now it's happening again, after spending a lot of time practicing some new ideas involving my mouthpiece, tonguing, sound production - the saxophone in general."


In contrast to that earlier period, Perelman now works almost exclusively with a small pool of collaborators - a testament to the challenge of finding simpatico collaborators for his daring approach to improvisation. To achieve variety for the listener, as well as novelty and inspiration for himself, the Brazilian-born saxophonist mixes and matches from within this pool of artists so that his recordings almost never feature the exact same personnel and instrumentation. Each album shuffles the deck: one features this bassist with that drummer; or both those artists with piano; or piano, bass, and a different drummer; or sax and drums only, or maybe with two bassists added. The faces remain familiar, but the group portrait changes with each new project.

That philosophy makes this latest set of releases especially intriguing, in that they show Perelman's willingness to "regroup," in a sense - to re-investigate some of the musical relationships that have proved particularly satisfying.  One album reunites him with the Matthew Shipp Trio, with whom he previously recorded in 2012; another re-creates the trio that last met on the album Cama Da Terra, in 1996. The third release allows him to solidify his partnership with violist Mat Maneri, a new star within the saxophonist's tiny galaxy. "Each of my projects holds a set of parameters that will never be repeated," Perelman says, explaining his relentless quest to elude creative stasis. But in certain cases - when there is "so much potential," in his words - he's more than willing to challenge his own rule.

That was certainly the case for Two Men Walking, the new album of Perelman-Maneri duets, which follows close on the heels of their first meeting in May 2013; that recording (which also featured pianist Shipp) produced an album of music used on the soundtrack of the Brazilian film A Violent Dose Of Anything. After that session, says Perelman, "I felt like, Wow! I've got to play with this guy again! I felt a kinship in our thinking. He's like an alter ego, almost telepathic. It's like each of us is playing both instruments." Perelman has a special fondness for the string family, having himself played cello (the viola's big brother) as a youth, before taking up the saxophone: "I find I can mutate, like a chameleon, in the presence of string instruments. . . . And I find tenor and viola in particular is a match made in heaven."


Neil Tesser in the liner notes writes, "Perelman and Maneri adore the highest (altissimo) register of their instruments, which further tightens their specific partnership - that, and the fact that each has studiously developed the ability to produce these difficult, dangerous, and easily maligned octaves." Indeed, one of the distinguishing features of this partnership is the ability of the tenor and viola to complement each other in this extreme range of their instruments - as if they in fact inhabited that sonic aerie by right, and descended into the "normal" registers of their instruments for variety, instead of the other way around. (Maneri learned to explore the outer reaches of timbre, as well as melody and structure, from his father and mentor, the iconoclastic saxophonist Joe Maneri; their 1996 album Three Men Walking inspired the title of the current project.)

In contrast to his recent alliance with Maneri, Perelman has had plenty of experience with the artists joining him on The Other Edge - most recently on its namesake, the 2013 album The Edge (also on Leo Records). The quartet heard on both discs comprises the members of Matthew Shipp's trio. Perelman has recorded more than a dozen albums with pianist Shipp, and has often performed with him in varying contexts; Shipp's bassist (Michael Bisio) and drummer (Whit Dickey) have each recorded separately with the saxophonist as well. The second production by this foursome results in a spectacularly eclectic collection, with wholly improvised works as likely to reference classic swing as Balinese gamelan, delicate rubato harmonics, or American Indian stomps.


Shipp again joins Perelman on Book Of Sound, their reunion in a trio setting with bassist William Parker, the acclaimed bassist and new-jazz activist with whom Perelman and Shipp each played early in their professional careers. "In creating the finished product," liner-notes writer Neil Tesser explains, "Perelman allowed himself only one of the plenary options available to a modern recording artist: he altered the order in which the tracks were recorded. . . . Book Of Sound presents what amounts to one large composition: a multi-movement, album-length piece, tectonically balanced between exuberance and introspection, light and dark." The titles of the various "movements," all of which reference ancient Latin aphorisms, further binds these disparate performances into a single work.

Born in 1961 in São Paulo, Brazil, Perelman was a classical guitar prodigy who orbited a series of other instruments before finally gravitating to the tenor saxophone. His initial influences, cool jazz saxophonists Stan Getz and Paul Desmond,  could hardly have presaged the galvanic, iconoclastic improvisations that have become Perelman's stock-in-trade. But those early influences helped shape the romantic warrior at the heart of his most heated musical adventures.

In 1981, Perelman entered Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he focused on the mainstream masters of the tenor sax, to the exclusion of such pioneering avant-gardists as Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann, and John Coltrane - all of whom would later be cited as precedents for Perelman's own work. He left Berklee in 1983 and moved as far from Boston as possible - to Los Angeles, where he studied with mainstream vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, at whose monthly jam sessions Perelman discovered his penchant for post-structure improvisation. "I would go berserk, just playing my own thing," he explains now. Emboldened by this approach, Perelman began to research the free-jazz saxists who had come before him. So Perelman undertook a survey of post-60s avant-gardists. In 1989 he recorded the first of more than 50 albums now under his own name, featuring a number of mainstream and Brazilian jazz musicians, and a program comprising traditional Brazilian folk melodies. But even then, he recalls "moments of real free playing, and I decided I liked it. I finally moved to New York and hung out with like-minded players, and I knew I had found my crowd."

In the last few years, Perelman has immersed himself in music from the 16th and 17th centuries, specifically music written for the natural trumpet - the instrument used before the invention of valves - which required players to create all the notes simply by varying the air pressure applied to the horn. Perelman now applies the techniques of natural-trumpet playing to the saxophone, in order to gain even more command of the squeaky-high altissimo range - this despite his already unsurpassed mastery of this register. He has gone so far as to commission the construction of saxophones without any keys at all, training himself to play full scales using air pressure alone, which is unprecedented in the history of reed-instrument praxis.


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