Friday, January 29, 2016

RareNoiseRecords Release THE BEAUTY OF DISASTER by German composer and producer J. Peter Schwalm

The well-known slogan "One picture is worth a thousand words", created by the advertising industry in the early nineteen-twenties and now a general cultural meme, could equally sensibly be applied to the field of music. Instrumental music, in particular music generated by electronic means, has, over the last several decades, become of central importance to popular culture: you only need to think about Brian Eno's "Music For Airports", which helped define the genre of "Ambient" music and create a permanent bond between music and everyday reality. Similarly, the compositions and music productions by J.Peter Schwalm are testament to the power of tones without words.

Since 1998 and for six years, Schwalm worked continually with Eno, releasing numerous joint works, including the album "Drawn From Life" and the soundtrack to the film "Fear X" by Nicholas Winding Refn, all the while giving celebrated joint performances in Europe and Japan.

Since 2006, Schwalm has been repeatedly invited by the Punktfestival in Kristiansand, where he performed as celebrated live-remixer. As one of the most respected exponents of this particular art form, he collaborated with several well known music ensembles, including the Ensemble Modern from Frankfurt.

In 2013, the London New Music Icebreaker Ensemble commissioned Schwalm to write a piece of music from material originally composed by Kraftwerk; the resulting composition, "Kraftwerk Uncovered - A Future Past", was successfully toured by both in Germany and Ireland.

The new album by J.Peter Schwalm, The Beauty Of Disaster, continues this tradition, by exemplifying the suggestive powers of instrumental music, while drawing inspiration from contemporary images: "I had been deeply impressed by satellite images of the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico while composing new pieces for this album. These surprising photos, which so reminded me of paintings, seemed to embody the very same deep duality between the dark melancholia they depicted and a continuous, meshed sense of hope, an embedded ray of light, as did the compositions I was working on." As such, these compositions of J.Peter Schwalm seek to balance the aesthetics of electronic with that of orchestral music. His swelling arrangements mark the difference between opulence (desired) and bombast (to be avoided at all costs), while his electronic sounds highlight his unique techniques, developed way beyond what is achievable by regular plug-ins. Many passages are completely devoid of beat, thus achieving a deep sense of contemplation in music.

"Some works are based on the principles of "Live Remix" which I developed during and since my repeated appearances at the Punkt Festival" explains Schwalm "while others are rooted in the technique of Multi-track composing I developed." Also, emotional depth is more important than technical detail:

"While, for example, Zirkeltrilogie, was created on the basis of a traditional notion of harmonic resolution, I am less concerned with concepts and more with the question "How can I best express my inner feelings, my inner tensions?"" continues Schwalm "If anything, I have focused my attention primarily on the philosophical notion of attraction towards the Limitless, towards Change, which has influenced so many writers and composers. I feel in fact most germane to a thought formulated by the psychologist Robert A. Johnson: "Death, which awaits us in romantic love, is not destruction of life, but the blossoming of the inner world".

The abandonment of speculative noisiness, which thoroughly characterizes Schwalm's nuanced, atmospheric music, is nonetheless also a conscious choice in opposition to the spirit of our times: "I find a number of my pieces to be already quite loud or at least tempestuous" says Schwalm "while others only reveal their emotional loudness after several listening sessions. All in all, I compose music with inquisitive posture, and I am not interested in generating adverse of positive reactions by means of quick, overwhelming noise."

J.Peter Schwalm, was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1970, where he conducted his studies in music and drumming. He founded his first electro-jazz music project 'Slop Shop' in 1993, positioning himself firmly between music genres. A number of maxi-single releases were followed by the ensemble's first album in 1998, 'Makrodelia', which eventually reached Brian Eno's hands, leading to an offer of collaboration. The two met and performed a few months later in the German Hall for Arts and Exhibitions, together with Kraut-rock legend Holger Czukay. Two albums and film scores later, the two went their separate ways. In the following years, Schwalm composed music for the Stuttgarter Ballett, for the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield, for London choreographer Hofech Schechter and the Series "Das Neue Werk" of German radio NDR. Since 2008, Schwalm has been regularly playing with Norwegian electric guitarist and sound-sculptor Eivind Aarset and with bassist Tim Harries. In 2013, Schwalm was commissioned to write and perform a piece by the Deutsches Jazzfestival in Frankfurt.

Schwalm counts jazz innovator Miles Davis as early significant influence, as well as film work by Stanley Kubrick: "In a certain way" he laughs gently "I am still inspired by Bitches Brew. The piece "Himmelfahrt" arose following similar principles: there is a rhythm, a theme, but rather than studio improvisations, a large number of live cuts which I injected into the piece."

Other pieces, such as "Zirkeltrilogie" or "Endknall" were rather more influenced by György Ligeti: "Since seeing Lux Aeterna at the age of 15, I became deeply fascinated by his compositions made of tonal surfaces." It was of course Ligeti's music which significantly contributed to the metaphysical depth of Stanley Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey.

The Beauty Of Disaster is J.Peter Schwalm's most personal work to date: Its partly microscopically developed, partly dynamically driven tonal landscapes absorb the listener into an unconventionally modern, yet timeless world; His use of abstract form serves purposes of beauty and elegance, rather than complication, as he invites the listener into a voyage of discovery of new perspectives rather than excite her with conundrums. Herein lies the meaning of the pictures of the Gulf of Mexico described at the beginning of this piece, when the discovery of a new perspective allows perception of the beauty of disaster.

TRACKS
1. The Anxt Code
2. Himmelfahrt
3. The Beauty of Disaster
4. Numbers Become Stories
5. Stille, Blitz und Donner
6. Zirkeltrilogie
7. Wunschklangregister
8. The End and the Beginning
9. Angstphantasie
10. Endknall


Free Jazz Icon ROSWELL RUDD Joins Pianist JAMIE SAFT and TREVOR DUNN and BALAZS PANDI on Stirring Release Strength And Power

In a remarkable example of uncanny group-think, pianist-keyboardist and RareNoise regular Jamie Saft (Metallic Taste of Blood, Slobber Pup, Plymouth, The New Standard, Red Hill) joins with longtime collaborators Trevor Dunn on bass and Balazs Pandi on drums and master trombonist Roswell Rudd on the astounding, purely improvised Strength and Power. Recorded live in Saft's home studio near Woodstock, New York, this intergenerational offering features the 44-year-old pianist, 47-year-old bassist, 32-year-old Hungarian drummer and 80-year-old avant-garde pioneer blending organically, telepathically on a set of conversational music running the gamut of dynamics and emotions.
                 
As Saft explains, "All the music was completely improvised in the studio. No predetermined compositions at all. No hand signals, no charts: nothing but trust, deepest intuition, and mutual respect."
                
The key to this highly interactive session, says Rudd, was not chops but rather the participants' highly attuned listening skills. "The really important thing, especially with collective improvisation, is that you're playing off of each other. So the music comes as a result of listening to each other and your response to the other players. I really found myself delving deeply on this occasion because the other musicians were
not only putting it out there but they were also responding in depth. When you're lucky enough to be in the company of very proficient musicians who not only can play but also can listen deeply, this is what I think I love more than anything else in the performance of music."
                
The revered trombonist, who came up playing Dixieland or trad jazz music while attending Yale University in the mid 1950s and later made his mark in the free jazz world through collaborations with Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, John Tchicai and longtime collaborator Steve Lacy, is a formidable presence on this RareNoise recording. Whether it's his lyrical playing on the spacious ballad "Luminescent," his unrestrained blowing on a surging "The Bedroom," his conversational plunger work on "Cobalt Is a Divine" and the title track or his early New Orleans tailgate-styled testifying on "Struttin' for Jah Jah," Rudd's trombone resounds with history, humor and humanity. Dunn provides thick grooves and potent contrapuntal lines throughout (particularly when he is paired in a duet with Rudd on "Dunn's Falls") while Pandi propels the proceedings with kinetic backbeats and swinging momentum. Saft, performing on his 1966 Steinway Model L piano at his home studio, adds spiky comping, cascading call-and-response lines and some exploration inside the piano. "This piano has a unique sound," he says. "It's darker than most modern pianos. Sometimes I will use paper and pen if they are handy as tools to modify the acoustic piano, but mostly it's just real time manipulation of the inside of the piano with these two hands."

"The piano is a strange and opulent instrument," adds Saft. "It is a physical object which requires adherence to the basic laws of physics. The greatest pianists understand how to harness the power of gravity and understand the internal mechanisms of the instrument and how they relate to the laws of gravity. I always work to use gravity to my advantage as an instrumentalist. With proper understanding of the way the piano and the human body interact, one can constantly push the instrument into new areas while retaining a deep and rich tone. Whether I'm seated at the piano or working inside the piano, I'm still always dealing with laws of physics. The idea is to let gravity do all the work for you. This gives a deep and crisp tone and maximum technical flexibility."
                
Saft explains that this collaboration with Rudd was partly born out of proximity. "Roswell and I live five miles or so from each other in Kerhonkson, New York. Roswell and Verna Gillis, his brilliant partner, have recorded a number of times at my studio Potterville International Sound. This is how we initially met. It was clear very quickly that we needed to make music together."
                
Rudd says that the Strength And Power session is a continuation of "the pursuit of mystery" that he has tirelessly been on throughout his entire career, from his days as a collegiate Dixielander to the present. "This river that runs through all of my performing and recording from the earliest times, it's essentially what we did over at Jamie's that day. It's a special recording and I look forward to getting back together with the musicians, Balazs, Trevor and Jamie, and doing more, taking it out and playing for audiences somewhere. I'd love to play it for a bunch of people with thirsty ears."

Adds Saft, who has also racked up numerous credits on various John Zorn projects over the years, "It's a great privilege to make music with a true legend of improvised music such as Roswell. His compositions are deep and vast, his sound is unmistakably brilliant, and most of all he's a truly beautiful human being. The last point is crucial here: when one improvises with such a beautiful person all is possible. Roswell constantly strives to impart his love of sounds to humanity. His positivity and shining vibe make this clear, obvious, and essential."

TRACKS
1. Strength & Power
2. Cobalt is a Divine
3. The Bedroom
4. Luminescent
5. Dunn's Falls
6. Struttin' For Jah Jah



NEW RELEASES: THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRAX: STAX/VOLT 45RPM RARITIES 1964-1968; DOUG CARM – MY SPIRIT; SCOTT HAMILTON / KARIN KROG – THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TRAX: STAX/VOLT 45RPM RARITIES 1964-1968

Stax Records turned out plenty of hits in the 60s – but the Memphis label was also a non-stop powerhouse of recording, and cut countless sides that were every bit as great as their hits, but never fully got their due! This collection brings together a huge amount of those gems – 24 rare Stax singles, none of which have ever been reissued – which makes this package a treasure trove of under-discovered Memphis soul, even if you've got some other Stax/Volt sets in your collection! A number of these tracks are early numbers by artists who'd break bigger on Stax later in the 60s – and others are by singers you might not know at all, but who were key to helping the label form its sound at the time – as their top-shelf team of writers and studio talents made these obscure singles every bit as great as their work for bigger artists. Titles include "I Need Somebody" by Johnny Daye, "Separation" by Carla Thomas, "Under My Nose" by Eddie Floyd, "Here I Am" by Lynda Lyndell, "Bashful Guitar" by Johnny Jenkins, "I Gotta Have My Baby's Love" by Sir Mack Rice, "Sweet Thing" by Gorgeous George, "The Big Dipper" by Sir Issac & The Do Dads, "Uh Oh I'm In Love Again" by Eddie Jefferson, "Beach Bash" by The Mar-Kays, "You Belong To Her" by Barbara & The Browns, "Strange Things" by Johnny Taylor, and "This Kind Of Woman" by Ivory Joe Hunter. ~ Dusty Groove

DOUG CARM – MY SPIRIT

Damn impressive work from Hammond giant Doug Carn – a record that really recalls the brilliance of his famous records from the 70s – thanks to a righteous sound and a strongly spiritual vibe! The set features Doug on Hammond and Deszon Claiborne on drums – plus twin tenors from Howard Wiley and Teodross Avery, who soar out strongly on all numbers – criss-crossing their sound with a fullness that makes the group sound a lot larger than a quartet – and blowing these strongly soulful solos that match Carn's for nonstop energy and imagination. The record's way more than we expected – and is a lot more unbridled than some of the other titles on the Doodlin label – and although we haven't heard Doug on record in years, we can tell that his genius hasn't dimmed a bit. Titles include "My Spirit", "Fatherhood", "Chant", "Mr Kenyatta", "Eternal Triangle", and "Western Sunrise". ~ Dusty Groove

SCOTT HAMILTON / KARIN KROG – THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE

One of the most swinging albums we've heard from vocalist Karin Krog in years – thanks to tight backing from a combo that also includes the great Scott Hamilton on tenor! The album's got the classic, easygoing flow of most of Scott's best work – a simple, no-nonsense style that's steeped in tradition, but carried off with a crisp, contemporary vibe – at that level that makes Hamilton one of the stronger tenorists in a line that goes back to Ben Wester and Lester Young. His approach really warms things up, and makes things a bit different than some of Krog's records with more experimental reed players, or without much backing at all – and the feel here is almost like Karin's classic 70s album with Dexter Gordon. Rhythm is from Jan Lundgren on piano – whose presence also really shapes the record – and Hans Backenroth on bass and Kristian Leth on drums. Titles include "Will You Still Be Mine", "How Am I To Know", "We Will Be Together Again", "Shake It But Don't Break It", "The Best Things In Life Are Free", and "I Must Have That Man". ~ Dusty Groove


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

NEW RELEASES: SOULPERSONA - MOMENTUM; MEECO - SOUVENIRS OF LOVE; BRIAN MCKNIGHT - BETTER

SOULPERSONA - MOMENTUM

#1 in The UK Soul Chart (Dec 2015 to Jan 2016) Produced, Composed, Arranged & Mixed by Soulpersona ""Soulpersona's Momentum is a journey to musical nostalgia. You'll assert to friends you listened to its soulful grooves from the record player and discussed the credits on the liner notes while rolling a J on its jacket cover. The vibe is a retreat to rare grooves, harmonies, and live instruments that recall the glory days of good soul music. Press play and embrace the sound of Chic, Roy Ayers, Change and so many others" - Bamalovesoul Blog 01. I Am SoulP 02. Ride In Time feat. Princess Freesia & carl Hudson 03. Don't You Think feat. Pete Simpson 04. Momentum feat. Princess Freesia 05. Let It Go feat. Deborah Bond 06. No Games feat. Dennis Bettis & Marlon McClain 07. Your Love Is Mine feat. Pete Simpson 08. Live & Learn feat. Tahirah Asha Memory 09. Our Kind feat. Pete Simpson 10. Quantum Interlude feat. Carl Hudson 11. Totem feat. Princess Freesia 12. Unjustified feat. Darien 13. Open Sesame feat. Princess Freesia 14. A Song In My Heart feat. Pete Simpson 15. My Friend feat. Pete Simpson & The Digisoul Band. ~ Amazon

MEECO - SOUVENIRS OF LOVE

The fourth album by the pianist, composer and producer Meeco, the alias of Michael Maier 'Souvenirs of Love' moves effortlessly between jazz improvisations, elegant modern soul, hip hop and pop. Featuring an eclectic mix of star guest, including John Scofield, Wallace Roney, Lionel Loueke, Talib Kweli, Hubert Laws, Yahzarah and others. The list of the musicians participating in 'Souvenirs of Love' reads like an overlapping list of who-is-who in jazz and soul, with legends meeting young stars and hopeful prospects. These include the bassist Buster Williams, Richard Bona and the young Dezron Douglas from the Cyrus Chestnut Trio, drummers Victor Lewis and Marcus Baylor, member of the Yellowjackets for many years, trumpet players Eddie Henderson and Wallace Roney, saxophonists Vincent Herring, Kirk Whalum and Grammy winner Casey Benjamin, guitarists John Scofield and Lionel Loueke, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, flutist Hubert Laws and pianist/organist Shedrick Mitchell. Also featured is the soul singer Yahzarah, backing singer for Erykah Badu for many years and a distinguished soloist, as well as Jean Baylor equally at home in soul and jazz (singer in the band Zhané), plus the talented newcomer Aaron Marcellus. Conscious-rapper Talib Kweli can be heard on the piece "Times Have Changed", as well as DJ Stylewarz, one of the most well known and influential hip hop DJs in Germany. ~ Amazon


BRIAN MCKNIGHT - BETTER

McKnight, who has 16 Grammy Award nominations under his belt, is sticking to his R&B roots on his new record. 'I'm taking it back to basics' he explains. 'Creating music like we did 20 years ago - completely organic, all real instruments. The truth is, I'm in love and love makes us better, it makes us come alive, and I wanted to convey that through this album in a very relatable, authentic way.' This feeling can certainly be heard on new single 'Uh Oh Feeling' The singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist has been no stranger to collaboration in his 20 years in the music industry, having worked with everyone from Christina Aguilera to Quincy Jones to Justin Timberlake as well as a unique performance with Drake at last year's ESPY Awards. Better continues this trend, as McKnight worked with Hawaiian vocalist Kimié Miner and rapper Glasses Moses. The album also includes Brian's long time guitarists Chris Loftlin and Tyrone Chase, who he has worked with for over 10 years. Having sold 25 million albums worldwide, icon of R&B Brian McKnight will release his 16th album Better on January 29th 2016. ~ Amazon


NEW RELEASES: GREG DEAN - UNCONDITIONAL LOVE; PEGGI BLU - BLU BLOWIN'; ED MOTTA - PERPETUAL GATEWAYS

GREG DEAN - UNCONDITIONAL LOVE

A classy, sophisticated soul album from South African producer/songwriter Greg Dean, working with some outstanding US vocalists, among them rising soul jazz star Jarrod Lawson - Jazz FM's Soul Artist of the Year - New Jersey's Eric Roberson and in-demand Atlanta vocalist Chantae Cann, who has recently collaborated with Snarky Puppy. Stand-out tracks include the catchy duet "Unconditional Love" with a classic feel and Chantae Cann and Jarrod Lawson trading sweet and powerful vocals, and Eric Roberson's "Grass Ain't Greener", as well as the stunning ballad "That Would Be All" sung by noted New York singer-songwriter Gordon Chambers, and "Colours", another exquisitely soulful cut featuring Lawson. Among the impressive newer names are Broadway actor-singer Mykal Kilgore, who has recently appeared in "Motown The Musical", with a vocal tour de force on "Denial". Now living in New York, Greg has produced and written for many major artists in South Africa and has released albums for Universal under the GB Collective identity. He is currently completing the writing of a stage musical, in collaboration with his brother Shaun and the Nelson Mandela Foundation, about the life of Nelson Mandela. ~ Amazon

PEGGI BLU - BLU BLOWIN'

Peggi Blu has a colourful life in the music business, recording her debut album for MCA in 1987 and then Blu Blowin for Capitol in 1987. Expansion first worked with Peggi on Livin on Love in 2002 and is delighted with the opportunity to step back to Blu Blown and release it for the first time on CD. Peggi's role in more recent years has been under the spotlight of TV's American Idol where she is fondly known as the Vocal Coach from Hell to the many wannabe future soul stars. Peggi Blu has the credentials as an outstanding vocalist, Blu Blowin being a defining moment in her career as a solo recording artist. She has also recorded with an array of artists from Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen to Barbara Streisand, Quincy Jones, Archie Shepp, The Weather Girls, Cool Million and Kylie Minogue. Her voice, personality and songs are all explosive. Blu Blowin has remained popular with soul fans since its original release, popular songs including the singles Tender Moments, All the Way With You (duet with Bert Robinson), and album cuts Over And Over produced by Nick Martinelli, and Once Had Your Love composed by The Isley Brothers. ~ Amazon

ED MOTTA - PERPETUAL GATEWAYS

This studio album by the Brazilian superstar singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and bon vivant Ed Motta is produced by Kemau Kenyatta (Gregory Porter). His epic production features an all-star cast of West Coast musicians, including Patrice Rushen and Greg Phillinganes (keyboards), Hubert Laws (flute), Marvin 'Smitty' Smith (drums), Tony Dumas (bass) and Charles Owens (saxophone). 'Perpetual Gateways' mines the territory between Spiritual Jazz with a deep sense of soul and prog-rocking fusion and tells deeply poetic stories of life and love and the liberties we take with them. At the front and centre of it all is Ed Motta's unique voice and songwriting, leading us on a journey from groove gems through lost-love-ballads and on to energetic and effervescent jazz tunes. "The album title to me sounds a bit like Science Fiction", says Ed. "And that makes sense: I feel this is my best work to date and truly a dream come true. I would never have believed to be making such a record with such a cast of great musicians and to enjoy the process like I did. I just hope this energy and excitement and the humbling presence of these musicians comes across." ~ Amazon



Ken Peplowski, the king of swinging clarinet and tenor sax, looks beyond the mainstream on Enrapture

Ken Peplowski, an unquestioned master of contemporary mainstream jazz, has become synonymous with flawless virtuosity and teeming imagination on both the clarinet and tenor saxophone. Yet his talents as a shrewd bandleader and farsighted recording artist are heralded less often. On Enrapture, Peplowski - in league with band mates Ehud Asherie on piano, Matt Wilson on drums, and Martin Wind on bass - goes his own way as a leader, allowing his resourcefulness and taste, rather than stylistic restrictions, to be his guides.

Any recording that fruitfully makes use of the work of such disparate composers as John Lennon, Duke Ellington, Noel Coward, Herbie Nichols, Peter Erskine, Anthony Newley and Bernard Herrmann obviously isn't adhering to any hard-and-fast rules about swinging mainstream jazz. The album will be released February 16, 2016 on Capri Records.

Utilizing a working band comprised of players as equally broadminded and adept at elegantly weaving amongst jazz styles as he is, Peplowski places as much emphasis on varied repertoire as he does displays of musical ability. These four virtuosi, blending seamlessly as a unified and responsive ensemble, are also given plenty of room to display the skills that have shored up each of their individual reputations.

What continues to draw the ear, apart from the high caliber of the collective musicianship, is Peplowski's wide-ranging choice of surprising and effective material. "The Flaming Sword," a rarely recorded Ellington opus, provides a calypso-driven springboard for the leader's bounding clarinet, while the Harry Warren standard, "An Affair To Remember" offers up Peplowski's warm tenor draped in an easy swinging arrangement. The ballads "Cheer Up, Charlie," a neglected heart tugger from the Newley and Bricusse score for the 1971 film "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory," and "When October Goes" by Barry Manilow and Johnny Mandel allow Peplowski to demonstrate his magic on tenor saxophone. Coward's stately waltz "I'll Follow My Secret Heart," is transformed into a low keyed yet gripping clarinet showcase; John Lennon and Yoko Ono's plaintive "Oh My Love" receives a sparse and effecting treatment as a clarinet and bass duet.

"Enrapture," composed but never recorded by the bop era iconoclast Herbie Nichols, offers a sharp clarinet workout and fine turns by Asherie and Wilson; Peter Erskine's "Twelve" (an ingenious twelve- tone row based on Cole Porter's "Easy to Love"), presents an equally brisk and bright tenor statement amid captivating collective interplay. What may be the album's most eclectically left-of-center selection, "Vertigo Scene D'Amour," is drawn from Bernard Herrmann's haunting score for Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 opus, Vertigo. Peplowski's evocative clarinet captures all the mystery and doom-laden romanticism of that cinematic masterwork. Fats Waller's jaunty "Willow Tree," complete with suitably effervescent clarinet work, also features a nifty arco solo from Wind that contributes to the collective aplomb.

Enrapture is a vivid aural snapshot of a band ready and eager to be documented. "A year or so of sifting through material, a year or so of playing with these great musicians, and very little time in the studio; we really wanted to approximate what we do in the clubs," Peplowski says. "This is us, in as close to a live setting as one could ask for in a recording environment-every song in pretty much one take-we just like to capture the spontaneity and interplay of four people who enjoy making music together."

A native of Cleveland, Ken Peplowski has been playing professionally as a clarinetist and saxophonist since his teenage years. In addition to working with a diverse array of jazz luminaries and popular artists that includes Benny Goodman, Bill Charlap, Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torme, Howard Alden and George Shearing as well as Madonna, Woody Allen and Marianne Faithfull, Peplowski has recorded over fifty albums as a leader or co-leader and has participated on scores of recordings by other artists. According to noted critic Will Friedwald, "Peplowski sounds the way (Benny) Goodman might if he had kept evolving, kept on listening to new music, kept refining his sound, polishing his craft, and expanding his musical purview into the 21st century."

 

Drummer Herlin Riley Distills Lifetime of Experience with Swinging Body of New Orleans Music on debut release, New Direction

Since coming of age in the nurturing environment of a very musical family and a distinguished bloodline of drummers, New Orleans native Herlin Riley emerged from that most creative era of all things rhythmic in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, to enliven the ensembles of such influential and demanding improvisers as pianist Ahmad Jamal and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis through his commanding yet elegant rhythmic presence. His authoritative style of melodic percussion is deeply imbued in the fertile creative soil of the Crescent City, encompassing as it does the entire length and breadth of America’s ongoing musical journey.

Now the release of his debut recording for Mack Avenue Records, Riley’s New Direction is an engaging, wide-ranging recital that distills a lifetime of experience into a swinging body of new music that defines what a big tent the music of New Orleans has always represented stylistically and spiritually.

This joyous cultural amalgam of Afro-Cuban, jazz and blues speak not just to Riley’s command of all things swinging—from the formative days of Sidney Bechet and Louis Armstrong—but which evoke, what for want of a better term we might call “the pocket”—those deeply dancing grooves that have nurtured parallel streams of rhythm & blues and funk in the tradition of such great Crescent City drummers as Vernel Fournier, Earl Palmer, Ziggy Modeliste and Idris Muhammad.

“You see,” Riley explains, “New Direction  reflects a personal transition from being a musical associate with the likes of Ahmad and Wynton, to functioning in a leadership capacity, both as a bandleader and a composer. Like Art Blakey, I’m trying to maintain a certain exuberance by using all younger musicians, while helping them develop their own voices. So many great musicians and drummers have come out of New Orleans, and that really defines my personal legacy; I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. But I’ve been playing drums since I was three years old; so, while the title New Direction may suggest new bottles, this is surely some well-aged wine.

“As a boy growing up in New Orleans, way before you heard that big bass drum in the street parades, you could feel it coming from four or five blocks away, and it would literally beckon you to come on down to the street, check out this music, and participate in it. On ‘Connection To Congo Square’ I quote the ‘Reveille’ in my intro. It reflects the melodic nature of how I tune my tom toms and is also a symbolic call to arms, for all the cats from the different neighborhoods to gather ‘round, and participate in this celebration, this collective dialog.”
  
Well-traveled listeners might hear echoes of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo in the Afro-Cuban celebrations of “The Crossbar” and “Connection To Congo Square.” The down and dirty groove of “Harlem Shuffle” suggests a connection to Benny Golson’s venerable “Killer Joe,” while the title tune (in the person of guest guitarist Mark Whitfield) evokes echoes of George Benson and those classic hard bop and grooving CTI sessions of yesteryear.

So when Riley and his band reference iconic elements of the jazz tradition, listeners might very well smile contentedly in recognition of audible gems with which they are conversant. Nevertheless, throughout New Direction, Riley and company also essay a very personal, original rhythmic signature on visceral, dancing arrangements such as “The Big Banana,” “Herlin’s Hurdle” and “Hiccup Smooth.” As Riley explains it, “in everything I play, there’s some reference from my own personal experience, and while it may not be explicit, it’s all underneath there somewhere.”

In these powerful arrangements, you can discern Riley’s fascination with complex rhythm cycles, where each man’s instrument seemingly functions as a direct extension of the drummer, by layering contrasting metric accents one upon another with varying degrees of intensity, often as a prelude to some vigorous theme and variation by this most melodic of drummers: with wry references to “Tequila” by saxophonist Godwin Louis on “The Big Banana;” an expansive, asymmetrical solo by pianist Emmet Cohen on the hard swinging vamp and release structure of his composition “Herlin’s Hurdle;” and some dancing polymetric transitions and tantalizing dynamic shifts on “Hiccup Smooth.”

For all of the hard rhythmic driving intensity of New Direction, Riley is not one of those drummers who needs to blast away to captivate listeners and to remain engaged. There’s a consoling sweetness to the thematic variations of the slow groove on “A Spring Fantasy” and the manner in which Riley narrows the stylistic distance between hand percussion and the drum kit—just as he elicits those mysterious bent notes of the great congueros on his intro to the sultry changes of “Shake Off The Dust.”

And in closing out this recital with the funky call of “Tootie Ma” (“Shake dat thang”), Riley affirmatively casts his lot with that of his fellow tribal elders in the New Orleans tradition, such as trendsetting R&B icons the likes of Dr. John and the Meters, who maintain that while jazz is most definitely a collective adventure in freedom, improvisation and personal expression, it is also  good-time music—where from time to time, you can leave your mind on idle, and engage that part of the psyche that wants to dance.

“Still, when the music came to me, it was not with any particular intent. Everything on this record is something I’ve lived…it’s a product of my experience. It’s like cooking a big pot of gumbo; you may start out with some very humble ingredients, but by the time you’re finished, you have a meal fit for a king. I mean, the essence of jazz music to me is that it is free, but it has form. So our music is modern, and it’s progressive, but we’re trying to engage people as well. I do love to groove; that is a big part of who I am, and that is why as an expression of where I would like to take my music, New Direction feels very much like…like home.”

Herlin Riley • New Direction
Mack Avenue Records • Release Date: February 12, 2016


Electronic Music meets Brazilian music in Om’Dub from Marcelo Vig

Through his own interpretation of Dub, Marcelo creates a unique musical experience that fuses the DNA of Brazilian and Electronic music, with a vivid presence of both calf skin drums and digital drums, human voices and electronic music textures.  Indoing so he creates an entirely original combination of styles that distancethemselves from the ubiquitous 4-onthe-floorpatterns.

Produced between Rio de Janeiro and London, Portuguese titled tracks add charm to the artist’s 1st album and draw inspiration from people like SBTRKT and Laurent Garnier, all adding fuel to an irresistibly authentic project.

The tracks “Carimbstep” and “Phat Samba” are shining examples of how Brazilian music can add to those electronic rhythms that grow ever more global by the day. However in “Estadio”, which is a previously unpublished track by Fausto Fawcett (Brazilian poet), good old Rock’n’Roll crops up as a striking alternative to the synths and more organic instruments, and has the special feat of Vulgue Tostoi (band from the Grammy winner producer, and renowned producer/guitarist Jr. Tostoi).

The project that started late 2013 and gathered momentum with the arrival of Bernardo Pauleira as a Co-Producer, has many special guests and writing partners such as Mary Byker (Apollo 440 and Pop Will Eat Itself), Pedro Luís and Marco Andre(famous Brazilian singer songwriters who co-wrote “Carimbstep”), Marcos Suzano, Vulgue Tostoi, Lucas Vasconcellos, Humberto Barros, Jam da Silva, Gabriel Muzakamongst others that popped in and contributed with their talents, helping create a diverse, yet strong unified musical identity.

In his search to accomplish the sound that he had in mind, Marcelo Vig invited the London-based producer Glenn Skinner to mix the tracks which build an invisible, yet tangible thread between Rio and London.

Marcelo Vig is both a carioca* by birth and a Londoner by affinity. For the last 15 years he has lived between London and Rio, where he is now based. In the UK, Vig played drums with Patrick Wolf with whom he recorded two of his albums and toured extensively around the world. As a drummer has worked with name artists from both sides of the Atlantic: Eminem, Will Smith, Avril Lavigne, Stacie Orrico (TV sessions), Cass Fox, and has recorded with Bishi, Jason Donovan, Debbie Bonham and many others.

In Brazil he has recorded with Gilberto Gil, Lenine, Roberta Sá Pedro Luís, Zé Renato, Vulgue Tostoi amongst others and was a member of the band Tantra (Universal Music) in the 90’s. Vig also works/worked with: Lobão, Marcelo Bonfá (Legião Urbana), Léo Jaime, Pedro Luis, Alexia Bomtempo, Katia B, Julia Bosco, Vulgue Tostoi, Letuce, Marina Lima amongst other famous Brazilian artists both from the mainstream and the indie scene.

As a composerVig was awarded with Best Sound Track in Italy’s Massimo Troisi Film Festival in 2003, with the track “Magic Eyes” and has had one of his tracks included in “My Life as Liz” the American MTV series and often takes part in international actions for brands such as Bacardi, BMW etc...

As a DJ Vig started off in a course in London at the S.A.E. school in 1998. Between ’99 and 2001 played in Brazil in the emerging electronic scene, having played in the Rock In Rio Festival in the dance tent. After moving to Europe in early 2001 Vig played in Lisbon and held a residency at the Guanabara Club, and also presented the radio show Caipirinha Appreciation Society.

Marcelo Vig also takes part in his own Collective Conecta in Rio and plays drums and DJs with Brazilian sax player Rodrigo Sha, in his Live PA. In 2015 Vig has started his own dance music event named Cool Lab to bring DJs producers and musicians together to create live collaborations to spice up the dance floor.


NEW RELEASES: NINA SIMONE – IN PARIS 1968; RODRIGO CAMPOS – CONVERSAS COM TISHORO; INDIGO JAM UNIT - LIGHTS

NINA SIMONE – IN PARIS 1968

A stunner of a set from the lengedary Nina Simone – a really special live recording done in Paris in the late 60s – at a time when Nina was working at the height of her powers, and had a young Weldon Irvine in her group as music director! Weldon plays piano, keyboards, and Hammond on the record – and gives the tunes these snakey, long grooves that are nicely different from some of Nina's studio material – and have the singer reaching out with these long takes on tunes that include "Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair", "Ain't Got No/I Got Life", "Mama Lou/Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", "To Love Somebody", "Susanne", and "Be My Husband". And the soulful backing group also features Tom Smith on guitar, Don Alias on drums, and Jumma (Santos?) on percussion!  ~ Dusty Groove

RODRIGO CAMPOS – CONVERSAS COM TISHORO

A completely beautiful set from contemporary Brazil – and a record that, like some of our favorite classics from that scene, has a mindblowing vibe and a sound that's completely beyond any sort of easy description! Rodrigo Campos has a way of weaving acoustic and electric elements together with a quality that's sometimes snakey, often exotic, and occasionally touched by warmer jazz phrasing – although the music is completely individual, and light years from jazz too. Campos sings with this raspy style that has an undercurrent of soul, and which gives his Portuguese lyrics an instant appeal, even if you can't understand the language – and there's a instantly captivating, completely compelling sound to the record that we'd put in a line between mid 70s Caetano Veloso, and later material from singers like Lenine or Arnaldo Antunes. Titles include "Wong Kar Wai", "Funatsu", "Takeshi E Asayo", "Chihiro", "Abraco De Ozu", "Velho Amarelo", "Toshiro Vinganca", and "Dona Da Bateria". (Limited, numbered pressing of 300 copies!) ~ Dusty Groove

INDIGO JAM UNIT - LIGHTS

Indigo Jam Unit are really on fire here – working in a monstrous blend of funky drums, acoustic piano, and some of the warmest, roundest basslines you'll ever hope to hear! Imagine a jazz trio with an ear for small combo funk, and you'll get part of the picture of these guys – but they've also got a depth that goes way beyond that simple reference, too – as they bring lyrical touches to their music, while still stepping out in a modal groove – and they use acoustic bass that would be right at home on the famous Low End Theory by Tribe Called Quest! All tunes are instrumental, and also include some added percussion too – and titles include "End Of Fall", "Memories", "Dawn", "Looper", "Nomad", "Commons & Sense", and "Descarga". (SHMCD pressing.)  ~ Dusty Groove

 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Guitarist Curtis Robinson's new CD Dancing In The Street: A Tribute to the Musician's and Music of Motown salutes the iconic Motown sound

Chicago born now Las Vegas based guitarist (The Doctor) Curtis Robinson's new CD Dancing In The Street A Tribute to the Musician's and Music of Motown salutes the iconic Motown sound with the new and well deserved perspective of the musicians particularly the group of musicians that was the musical foundation for many of the label's hits known as The Funk Brothers!

Largely a self taught musician who began playing professionally mostly on weekends at age 11 and has performed with the R&B vocal group and Chicago's own The Emotions, Johnny Hartman, Smokey Robinson, Jack McDuff, Kenny Burrell, Esther Phillips, Phil Perry, Ramsey Lewis and many more has richly prepared Curtis Robinson to under take such a daunting task!

"The inspiration for  Dancing in the Street is actually two fold says Robinson. One is the fact that none of these instrumentalist called  The Funk Brothers got any album credits until Marvin Gaye recorded  What's Goin On and the second is that the tunes I selected just swung so hard"! 

While the 10 tune set is loaded with musical highlights led by Martha and the Vandella's classic  Dancing In The Street  recorded here as very hip blues or the Stevie Winder classic Sir Duke that segue's to I Wish that's played at a break neck speed and also on display here is sensational drum work from long time now former  Ramsey Lewis drummer, Leon Joyce Jr.

Of course what would any Motown themed release be without What's Going On which stays committed to the original melody until midway through Curtis shift gears and takes it to new heights, and the spirit of Curtis' number one guitar influence Wes Montgomery is evoked!

"Most people don't know that The Funk Brothers were some of Detroit's talented jazz and blues players" Curtis comments, which makes this musical approach so appropriate and the passionate guitar playing of Curtis Robinson as meaningful and further displayed on the CD's remaining tracks.

Another musical highlight is the Curtis Robinson composition, final tune and the only none Motown tune on the CD, Wes and Pat no doubt inspired by  Wes Montgomery and another guitar influence Pat Martino. Featured here along with more soaring guitar lead are outstanding solo's from pianist Michael Logan and again drummer Leon Joyce Jr!

Curtis Robinson has assembled and outstanding group of musician including both bass players  Chuck Webb and Larry Grey who soundly hold's the bottom down as all Motown hits of the era had,has arranged and produced this unique set of Motown gems that's certain to stand the test of time, again!




NEW RELEASES: EDDIE HINTON – VERY EXTREMELY DANGEROUS; WILLIE JONES III - GROUNDWORK; RELAXIN', JAZZIN' AND CHILLIN' INSTRUMENTAL HITS 1957-1962

EDDIE HINTON – VERY EXTREMELY DANGEROUS

Eddie Hinton's name has been one to drop in recent years as the popularity of Southern Soul has grown and grown. He featured in the studio credits of countless hit records cut in Muscle Shoals, Alabama between 1967 and 1971, playing lead guitar in the rhythm section. He was on sessions for albums by Aretha Franklin (This Girl s In Love With You), Wilson Pickett (Right On), Solomon Burke, Joe Tex and many others including Percy Sledge, for whom Eddie wrote top 40 hit Cover Me, and when singing I ll Take You There, Mavis Staples calls Come on Eddie... , it's Mr Hinton doing the guitar-picking. Includes: You Got Me Singing; Concept World; I Got The Feeling; Shout Bamalama; Get Off In It; Brand New Man; Shoot The Moon; We Got It; Yeah Man; and I Want It All.

WILLIE JONES III - GROUNDWORK

Highly accomplished modern jazz drummer, Willie Jones III, leads an all-star group on Groundwork, his latest album. Jones, who 'never fails to assemble a strong crew' (NY Times) convenes living legends Buster Williams (bass) and Eddie Henderson (trumpet), jazz virtuoso Eric Reed (piano) and rising stars Warren Wolf (vibes) and Stacy Dillard (saxophones). Willie Jones III explores the soulful side of jazz, performing tunes by his former employer and great influence Cedar Walton, and debuting new arrangements of tunes by Eric Reed, Buster Williams and more. Groundwork key tracks include the title tune and 'Hindsight,' both by Cedar Walton. Eric Reed's 'New Boundary' is a tribute to modern jazz musician Dwayne Burno; the song title is an anagram of the late great bassist's name. Throughout his career, Willie Jones III has lent his supple rhythm and buoyant spirit to artists like Cedar Walton, Milt Jackson, Horace Silver, Sonny Rollins and Roy Hargrove. Today, he continues to become one of jazz music's most sought out bandleaders.

RELAXIN', JAZZIN' AND CHILLIN' INSTRUMENTAL HITS 1957-1962

30 smooth, relaxing and chilled jazz sounds from 1957-1962 featuring cream of the crop instrumentals from such luminaries as Dave Brubeck, Billy Vaughan, Ray Charles, Stan Getz and more! This collection is made up entirely from songs that made the US charts and some that also charted in the UK including hits like "Calcutta", "Take Five", "Alley Cat" and the unmistakeable "Fly Me To The Moon". The lush orchestrations and jazz rhythms make this set a great way to sit back and relax. The music herein should be classified as (and several can now be) the very roots of what would later become known as chill out music. Includes: Jay Dee's Boogie Woogie (Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra); Swingin' Shepherd Blues (Moe Koffman Quartette); Petite Fleur (Chris Barber' Jazz Band); Roulette (Russ Conway); Tea For Two Cha Cha Cha (Tommy Dorsey Orchestra); Summer Set (Monty Kelly And His Orchestra); Beautiful Obsession (Sir Chauncey & His Exciting Strings); La Montana (If She Should Come To You) (Frank DeVol);. Asia Minor (Kokomo); Calcutta (Lawrence Welk And His Orchestra); One Mint Julep (Ray Charles); African Waltz (Johnny Dankworth); Yellow Bird (Arthur Lyman Group); Take Five (Dave Brubeck); Image (Part 1) (Hank Levine); Unsquare Dance (Dave Brubeck); Maria (Roger Williams); Flying Circle (Frank Slay & His Orchestra); Afrikaan Beat (Bert Kaempfert); Drown In My Own Tears (Don Shirley); Midnight In Moscow (Kenny Ball & His Jazzman); Midnight (Johnny Gibson); Play The Thing (Marlowe Morris Quintet); Chapel By The Sea (Billy Vaughan And His Orchestra); Swingin' Gently (Earl Grant); Alley Cat (Bent Fabric); Desafinado (Stan Getz & Charlie Bird); A Taste Of Honey (Victor Feldman Quartet); Fly Me To The Moon - Bossa Nova (Joe Harnell & His Orchestra); and Cast Your Fate To The Wind (Vince Guaraldi Trio).


NEW RELEASES: BONNIE RAITT – DIG IN DEEP; THE THREE DEGREES – STRATEGY: OUR TRIBUTE TO PHILADELPHIA; SNOWBOY & THE LATIN SECTION - NEW YORK AFTERNOON

BONNIE RAITT – DIG IN DEEP

On February 26, 2016, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt will release 'Dig In Deep', her twentieth album, on Redwing Records, her own, independent label. The record follows Bonnie's hugely successful 2012 release 'Slipstream', which was one of the best-selling independent albums of 2012 and earned Bonnie a GRAMMY for Best Americana Album - her tenth career GRAMMY win. "The response to 'Slipstream' was such a refreshing and unexpected boost," says Raitt. "So going into this album, I had renewed energy." Includes: Unintended Consequence Of Love; I Need You Tonight; I Knew; All Alone With Something To Say; What You're Doin' To Me; Shakin' Shakin' Shakes; Undone; If You Need Somebody; Gypsy In Me; The Comin' Round Is Going Through; You've Changed My Mind; and The Ones We Couldn't Be. ~ Amazon

THE THREE DEGREES – STRATEGY: OUR TRIBUTE TO PHILADELPHIA

The Three Degrees need no introduction - simply put, they were the most successful female soul/disco outfit of the 1970s, scoring many hits for Philadelphia International Records including the enduring classics, 'When Will I See You Again,' 'Year Of Decision' and 'Take Good Care Of Yourself'; and later, 'Woman In Love' and 'My Simple Heart,' both UK Top 10 hits. Strategy (Our Tribute To Philadelphia) is The Three Degrees' first new studio album for a quarter century and features the trio's own very personal tribute to timeless anthems such as The O'Jays' 'Love Train,' The Trammps' 'Disco Inferno,' Billy Paul's classic with a standout gender switch to 'Me & Mr. Jones' and the exciting title track, popularized by Archie Bell & The Drells, along with a new recording of the group's own '70s hit, 'T.S.O.P.' The album was recorded in 2015 with a top-flight band and a proper orchestra at Down In Deep Studios in Atlanta, GA. Strategy will be supported by a major UK tour across March and April 2016, alongside a substantial promotional campaign involving press, radio and online coverage. ~ Amazon

SNOWBOY & THE LATIN SECTION - NEW YORK AFTERNOON


New album by Snowboy & The Latin Section celebrating the 30th Year since their first record. A glorious Afro-Cuban jazz extravaganza, which captures the block party feel of 1970s latin jazz and early salsa, this is going to be one of the most in demand jazz albums of 2015. It features vocals from both rising jazz vocal star Jen Kearney and Baltimore house music legend Marc Evans, the latter on New York Afternoon, the debut radio single which is already beginning to pick up support. The album also features saxophonist Pete Wareham from Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland. Already guaranteed a glowing review in the March issue of Mojo, and a two date residency at Ronnie Scott’s the week before release. ~ Amazon


DR. LONNIE SMITH RETURNS TO THE BLUE NOTE LABEL TO RELEASE "EVOLUTION"

Dr. Lonnie Smith is set to release "Evolution," his first album for Blue Note Records since 1970. The album, which comes out January 29, marks the return of the legendary Hammond B-3 organ master to the iconic jazz label where he first made a name for himself in the late 1960s, first as a sideman with saxophonist Lou Donaldson on albums including Alligator Bogaloo, and soon after as a leader with his own soul-jazz classics such as Think! and Turning Point. Evolution is available for pre-order now on CD or digital download. Fans who pre-order the download will immediately receive the single “Straight No Chaser,” which is also available today as a single on streaming services.

Blue Note president Don Was signed Smith and produced Evolution, which is a robust and spirited collection of seven tunes, including fresh takes on Dr. Lonnie’s favorite originals and standards as well as brand-new excursions that he had never recorded before. Joining Smith are special guests Robert Glasper on piano and Joe Lovano on saxophones, as well as a top-notch band of musicians including reedist John Ellis, trumpeters Maurice Brown and Keyon Harrold, guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, and the double drummer team of Joe Dyson and Johnathan Blake (appearing together on five of the seven numbers).
  
After releasing his debut album Finger Lickin’ Good for Columbia, Smith joined Lou Donaldson’s band and made his first Blue Note appearance on the saxophonist’s hit 1967 album Alligator Boogaloo. Two more Donaldson dates followed (Mr. Shing-A-Ling and Midnight Creeper) before Smith was offered his own Blue Note deal, making his label debut with Think! in 1968. Smith went on to record another four Blue Note albums over the next two years (Turning Point, Move Your Hand, Drives and Live at Club Mozambique) all of which are regarded as soul-jazz classics.

Smith helped celebrate Blue Note’s 75th anniversary in 2014 by appearing with Donaldson at the historic concert Blue Note at 75 at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Some of Smith’s early tracks for Blue Note are collected on the playlist Intro to Dr. Lonnie Smith including standout cuts like “Spinning Wheel,” which was famously sampled by A Tribe Called Quest for their songs “Can I Kick It?” and “Buggin’ Out.”

The track listing for Evolution is as follows:

Play It Back featuring Robert Glasper
Afrodesia featuring Joe Lovano
For Heaven’s Sake featuring Joe Lovano
Straight No Chaser
Talk About This
My Favorite Things
African Suite

DR. LONNIE SMITH – 2016 TOUR DATES
  
February 23-24: Ronnie Scott’s, London, UK
February 25-27: Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen, Denmark
February 28: LantarenVenster, Rotterdam, Netherlands
March 2: Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, Norway
March 3: Spor 5, Stavanger, Norway
March 4: USF Verftet, Bergen, Norway
March 5: Dokkhuset Scene, Trondheim, Norway
March 6: Fasching Club, Stockholm, Sweden
March 8-12: Marian’s Jazz Room, Bern, Switzerland
March 24-27: Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL
April 6: Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY
April 9: Annenberg Center, Philadelphia PA
May 8: Segerstrom Center, Costa Mesa, CA
June 28-July 3: Jazz Standard, New York, NY

~ Blue Note


BEN HARPER & THE INNOCENT CRIMINALS REUNITE ON NEW STAX RELEASE CALL IT WHAT IT IS

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals have reunited for Call It What It Is, their first record together in nine years, due out April 8th, 2016 on Stax Records. Call It What It Is is an incisive, bold, poetic statement that could only come from these long-time musical partners, one of popular music’s most essential, cohesive and dynamic ensembles.

The standout title track showcases Harper’s unmatched ability to blend the personal and political. Invoking the names of Trayvon Martin, Ezell Ford, and Michael Brown over an agitated blues riff, Harper cuts to the quick: “There's good cops / bad cops / white cops / black cops / call it what it is / Murder”. The genre-spanning collection contains many highlights including the sun-kissed groove of “Shine” and the album’s swaggering lead track “When Sex Was Dirty.”

It had been seven years since Ben Harper last played a show with the Innocent Criminals, so when the time came to reunite for a live tour in 2015, the band—percussionist Leon Mobley, bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Oliver Charles, keyboardist Jason Yates, and guitarist Michael Ward—quickly discovered that Harper had more in mind than simply revisiting the group's prodigious song catalog. In fact, Harper had been quietly amassing material for a new record and the first recording sessions were scheduled to begin even before the rehearsals for their triumphant four-night sold-out reunion run at the Fillmore in San Francisco last March.

Tracing their roots back to 1993, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals were at the heart of most of Harper’s projects until the band went on hiatus in 2008. The band toured internationally and released a string of groundbreaking albums, including Fight for Your Mind, The Will to Live, Burn to Shine and the GRAMMY-nominated Lifeline in 2007. The Innocent Criminals also backed Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama on the double-GRAMMY-winning There Will Be a Light in 2005.

“I thought we would be more energized and revitalized by thinking outside the box and starting with new material in the studio before we dug into the old stuff,” said Harper of the reunion album.  "It was meant to be a signpost that we're here to forge new ground musically and personally.”

Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals North American tour dates:
 4/2/16 - The Capitol Theatre - Port Chester, NY
 4/3/16 - 9:30 Club - Washington, DC
 4/4/16 - 9:30 Club - Washington, DC
 4/6/16 - College Street Music Hall - New Haven, CT
 4/7/16 - Beacon Theatre - New York, NY
 4/9/16 - House of Blues Boston - Boston, MA
 4/10/16 - The Fillmore - Philadelphia, PA
 4/12/16 – Métropolis - Montreal, Canada
 4/13/16 - Massey Hall - Toronto, Canada
 4/15/16 - Royal Oak Music Theatre - Royal Oak, MI
 4/16/16 - Riviera Theatre - Chicago, IL
 4/17/16 - House Of Blues - Cleveland, OH
 4/19/16 - Tivoli Theatre - Chattanooga, TN
 4/20/16 - Tennessee Theatre - Knoxville, TN
 4/22/16 - Ryman Auditorium - Nashville, TN
 4/23/16 - The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC
 6/23/16 - Marymoor Park - Seattle, WA
 6/24/16 - McMenamins Edgefield  - Troutdale, OR
 6/25/16 - Les Schwab Amphitheatre – Bend, OR
 6/30/16 - Revolution Concert House- Boise, ID
 8/16/16 - Mountain Winery - Saratoga CA
 8/17/16 - Fox Theater - Oakland, CA
 8/23/16 - Humphrey's by The Sea - San Diego, CA
 8/25/16 - Marquee Theatre - Phoenix, AZ

Additional US dates and a European Tour to be announced shortly.
  
Call It What It Is track list:

1. When Sex Was Dirty
2. Deeper And Deeper
3. Call It What It Is
4. How Dark Is Gone
5. Shine
6. All That Has Grown
7. Pink Balloon
8. Finding Our Way
9.  Bones
10. Dance Like Fire
11. Goodbye To You

 

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