Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Gerald Albright has a generous invitation for fans of his hit 2014 album: If you thought that mix of deep funk and simmering sensuality was a Slam Dunk, wait’ll you get a load of G. It’s that album’s high octane sequel, which draws even deeper connections to that in-your-face horn-section-magic, of classic bands like Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power.

Early in his career, the versatile saxophonist was often told by his labels to “be funky, but not too funky” – but after 30 years at the top of his game as one of contemporary urban jazz’s core artists and sonic innovators, the eight-time Grammy nominee is letting loose like never before. What we get from G is nothing less than Genuine Gerald, with powerful support from his co-producer Chris “Big Dog” Davis and legendary special guests Michael McDonald and Doug E. Fresh.

When Albright titled his 2006 album New Beginnings, he was referring to the move he and his family made to Colorado after a lifetime in Southern California. Ten years later, he’s in a similar mode, blazing into the next phase of his storied career with the release of his first album ever as an indie artist, after decades on major and major affiliated labels. Like a lot of his peers in the genre, he realized that the business models of those big companies don’t fit into the current economic structures of urban jazz. Inspired by a loyal fan base of thousands throughout the world, he knew it was time to leverage his hard won success, step out in faith, and create a company that could not only release his music but also serve as a legacy for his family. Choosing the name Bright Music Records, just as in calling the album G, was not only a play on his name but also reflective of his great optimism in embarking on an endeavor that uniquely defines who he is.

G gets right down to business, celebrating his fresh start by titling the thick and feisty, brass fired and groove intensive opening jam “Taking Control.” He creates all the horn sections himself, texturing alto, tenor and baritone around the lead melody, while handling the thick bottom via bass guitar. With Davis (one of urban jazz’s top hit makers, who has worked with everyone from Najee to Maysa, Phil Perry, and Kim Waters) creating an array of keyboard sounds, Albright infuses many of the other tracks with a mix of horns and other instruments. His passionate, high flying soul-jazz fusion spin through Bill Withers’ classic “Lovely Day” features McDonald on lead vocals and G himself mixing alto, C flutes and bass flutes while holding down the spirited rhythms on bass. Likewise, the exotic, briskly paced old school horn-fired jam “We Came To Play (La Calle)” features G on alto, tenor, bass, a bass solo and C flutes. On the tight, edgy “G and Doug E.,” a whimsical self-portrait with Fresh fashioning a tribute to Albright in rhyme, G also plays the organ. The soaring, emotional power ballad “I Miss You” features the saxophonist on alto, tenor and bari, in addition to C flutes, alto flutes and bass flute and bass guitar. It also features his daughter Selina – a solo artist in her own right – on background vocals.

Other highlights on G include “Frankie B,” a simmering, horn-drenched light funk ode to his dear friend Frankie Beverly and one of Albright’s favorite bands, Maze; the mystical soul ballad “Boom Boom” and buoyant, free-wheeling horn explosion “Funkism,” both of which showcase G’s every deepening skills as a jazz improviser; a sly, seductive cover of Avant’s 2003 R&B vocal hit “Read Your Mind”; and the sensual, ambient “Closure”, a simply arranged ballad that wraps the set in a romantic mood.

Albright says that the big, multi-faceted sound of the album, particularly his use of multiple flutes, is a throwback to the way he came up in music. “I’ve been implementing them over the past few projects, using flute seasonings strategically with certain songs, and it was exciting to take those sounds to the next level,” he adds. “I come from that orchestral big band sound that defined my high school years playing in the 70s, and had great teachers who believed that musicians should never take shortcuts. In those jazz band days, I doubled on other instruments besides sax, and coming from that world, it’s always been hard to neglect those instincts. I like having a lot of sonic options.  I use everything as a facility to bring my music to another level. When I think of those EWF and TOP horns, they were so ‘in your face, present and clear’. That’s what I was striving for on G.”

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Albright was already an accomplished saxophonist by the time he enrolled at the University of Redlands, but he switched to bass after he saw Louis Johnson in concert. A few months after graduating from college, he joined jazz pianist/R&B singer Patrice Rushen, who was in the process of forming her own band. Later, when the bass player left in the middle of a tour, Albright replaced him and finished the tour on bass guitar. Playing both sax and bass, he became the consummate session and touring musician in the 80s, working with everyone from Anita Baker, Ray Parker, Jr., Atlantic Starr, The Temptations and Maurice White to Les McCann, Teena Marie, the Winans and Whitney Houston.

He launched his solo career in the infancy of what became the smooth jazz format, with Just Between Us in 1987 and has been a core part of the genre with chart-topping albums, countless radio hits and as a member of many all star tours, including Guitars & Saxes and Groovin’ For Grover. In the late 90s, he fronted a big band for and toured with pop star Phil Collins and did a dual recording with vocal great Will Downing called Pleasures of the Night. Between his last two Grammy-nominated solo albums Pushing The Envelope (2010) and Slam Dunk (2014), he enjoyed hit collaborations with two huge hits – 24/7 with guitarist Norman Brown and Summer Horns by Dave Koz and Friends (including Mindi Abair and Richard Elliot), which were also Grammy-nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Albums. He toured with Brown and Summer Horns, and most recently has been on the road with South Africa gospel/jazz singer and guitarist Jonathan Butler. Albright’s other albums whose titles perfectly reflect their flow include Smooth (1994), Groovology (2002), Kickin’ It Up (2004) and Sax for Stax (2008).

Because Albright’s musical muse has taken him to so many fascinating locales along the contemporary R&B/urban jazz spectrum, he’s joyfully defied easy categorizations. Roland S. Martin, Host/Managing Editor, NewsOneNow, TV One, at last has found a way to explain all the things that make G who he is. “For two decades,” he says, “jazz artists like Gerald have been placed in the suffocating box known as ‘smooth jazz.’ But in my years as an Albright fan, I much prefer to call him a funky, ice cold jazz impresario who can make your head bob while cruising down the freeway with the sunroof open or make you do the scrunchy stank face of a George Clinton/Parliament Funkadelic.”

“Top to bottom,” Albright says, “I wanted my new album G to take the listener on a musical journey with different textures, rhythms, chord progressions and moods. I want people to know where I’ve been and where I’m going, and to let them hear that I’m in a really good place in my life.”



Fantastic sounds from the Italian scene – work from the ultra-rich catalog of Irma Records, pulled from a time when the label was one of the hippest things going in the world of funky jazz! Back in the mid 90s, Irma switched from a house-focused imprint to step back into the world of the 60s and 70s – and was the first imprint to really show us how much untapped talent there was on the Italian scene of the time – the kind of music that would later gain global fame in the hands of Nicola Conte and Schema Records, but which here is much more stripped-down, and at a funky jazz core. As you can guess by the title, the set is heavy on Hammond – plus other sweet keys too – and titles include "Focus On Sight" and "Electric Boogaloo" by Modulo 5, "Bullit" and "Lo Bianco Theme" by Sam Paglia, "Summertime and "Need Your Funk" by Soul Jazz Unit, "Ass Enchilada" and "Move On Up" by Hammond Express, "The Amplifier" by Low Fidelity Jet Set Orchestra, "Lady" by Gazzara, "The Howel" by Capiozzo & Mecco, and "Another B" by Montefiori Cocktail. ~ Dusty Groove.


Great sounds from Francesco Gazzara – a keyboardist who's given us plenty of wonderful music over the years, and who here is very much back in the classic groove that first got him started! Yet despite the title, this isn't a set of warmed-over 90s acid jazz modes – and instead shows a matured Gazzara really working his best on a host of different keyboard modes – Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes, and even a bit of grand piano – set up in a core trio with bass and drums, and augmented by a bit of guitars and other instrumentation from the man himself! Three tracks feature female singers, and Gazzara himself speaks and vocalizes a bit – in this really great way that brings an additional layer of life to the music. Titles include "Jazzid Wonderland", "Heaven", "We Had A Ball", "Sanita", "Into The Night", "Portuguese Soul", "Galactic Cowboys", and "Sunday At Six"  ~ Dusty Groove.


A collection with a classic-looking cover, and some classic-styled instrumentals as well – even though most of this music is only about a decade old! The set brings together a sweet batch of guitar-driven numbers from the Irma Records catalog – an imprint that we can always trust to serve up the kind of lean, soulful sounds that hearken back to the best soul jazz modes of the 60s and 70s – and most of these tracks are small combo grooves that follow from the spirit of Prestige Records in the 60s, or maybe early CTI in the 70s – occasionally with some vocals, most mostly instrumental on just about every track. There's a few more contemporary elements in the rhythms from time to time, but the guitar solos are always nice and live – and titles include "Nel Nome Del Suono" by Jestofunk, "Sad Like A Pierrot" by Mr Wolf, "Scotty Groove" by Piero Masciarelli, "Red Baron" by Soul Jazz Unit, "Cool Affair" by Black & Brown, "Be Bop Dance" by Piero Masciarelli, "FT" by Capiozzo Mecco & Santimone, "Funka Fuzz" by Mysterious Traveller, and "N577548" by Adriano Maria. ~ Dusty Groove



A fantastic collection of work from Norman Connors – a musician who first started out playing drums in spiritual jazz groups at the start of the 70s, then moved on to take over the worlds of funk and soul! Connors' material of this time was essential at bringing a new sort of depth to soul music – taking some of the lessons learned in the farther reaches of the underground, and working them into a new tapestry of sophisticated expression – sounds that were able to fold together lots of styles and spirit, and help elevate their audience at the same time. This package might be the best we've ever seen to bring together Norman's work of the period – as it also includes some of the Aquarian Dream and Starship Orchestra recordings, as well as Connors tracks with singers who include Michael Henderson, Jean Carn, Gloria Jones, Prince Philip Mitchell, Phyliss Hyman, Eleanor Mills, James Robinson, Al Johnson, and Beau Williams. 34 tracks in all – and titles include "So Much Love", "Dindi", "Saturday Night Special", "We Both Need Each Other", "Captain Connors (12" version)", "Say You Love Me", "This Is Your Life", "Stella", "Handle Me Gently", "Your Love", "Invitation", "Be There In The Morning", "Take It To The Limit", "Mr C", "She's Gone", "You've Been On My Mind", "Melancholy Fire", "Romantic Journey", "Slewfoot", "Give The Drummer Some", "Valentine Love", "Once I've Been There", "Phoenix", "Once Again", "You Are My Starship", "Betcha By Golly Wow", "Kwasi", "Maiden Voyage", and "Disco Land.” ` Dusty Groove

The first-ever collection to focus on the work of this lost soulful genius – an artist whose name never made the history books, but who we can always trust when we see it on the label of a funky 45! This set brings together most of those great singles from the early 70s – a wicked run of sharp-edged, always-biting numbers that Chet Ivey recorded for the Sylvia label – run by old school tenor wailer Al Sears! Both Chet and Al had years of experience in music before these singles – but refocus their energy in a badass version of 70s funk – clearly inspired by the James Brown and blacksploitation styles of the time, but given a very special spin, thanks to Chet's personality and way of putting over a tune. The instrumentation is every bit as important here as Ivey's vocals – and titles include "Funky Chit Chat (parts 1 & 2)", "Recipe To Get Down (parts 1 & 2)", "Bad On Bad", "So Fine", "Movin", "When Love Comes Home", "Dose Of Soul", "Party People (parts 1 & 2)", "Get Down With The Geater (part 1)", "Been So Long", "He Say She Say", and "Don't Ever Change". ~ Dusty Groove


A great new spin on the sound of the Lo Greco brothers – a duo you may know from albums a decade back on Schema Records – stepping out here with an approach that's even more mature and soulful than before! Even before, the Lo Greco quintet and quartet albums were some of the straighter jazz sides on Schema – but here, the brothers have turned into a fantastic jazz duo – and work with really wonderful tenor sax from Germano Zenga – a player we don't know at all, but who really give the album a spiritual depth that we never would have expected years before! Gianni Lo Greco is great on drums, and Enzo Lo Greco serves up some beautiful basslines to get the music moving – and pianist Antonio Zambrini rounds out the sound with a mix of modal and lyrical styles. Titles include "First Light", "Stolen", "Visions", "Sunrise", "Bye Bye My Friend", "Bamboo",a nd "The Dancer". ~ Dusty Groove

Roots & A Revolution: Preservation Hall Jazz Band Turns A Page "So It Is" Album Of All Original Songs

Preservation Hall Jazz Band have announced the release of their new album, So It Is, the septet's second release featuring all-new original music, coming April 21 via Legacy Recordings. So It Is finds the classic PHJB sound invigorated by a number of fresh influences, not least among them the band's 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba.

"In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face to face with our musical counterparts," says bandleader/composer/bassist Ben Jaffe. "There's been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one - we're family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it's part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany."

Producer David Sitek, a founder of art rock innovators TV on the Radio who has helmed projects by Kelis, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Santigold among others, offered both a keen modern perspective and a profound respect for the band's storied history. Upon arriving in New Orleans to meet with the band, Sitek recalls he and Jaffe accidentally stumbling into one of the city's famed second-line parades. "I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediate," he says. "I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous."

The music on So It Is, penned largely by Jaffe and 84 year-old saxophonist Charlie Gabriel in collaboration with the entire PHJB, stirs together that variety of influences like classic New Orleans cuisine. Longtime members Jaffe, Gabriel, Clint Maedgen and Ronell Johnson have been joined over the past 18 months by Walter Harris, Branden Lewis and Kyle Roussel, and the new blood has hastened the journey into new musical territory. Inspired by that journey and reinvigorated by the post-Katrina rebuilding of their beloved home city, PHJB are redefining what New Orleans music means in 2017 by tapping into a sonic continuum that stretches back to the city's Afro-Cuban roots, through its common ancestry with the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti and the Fire Music of Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane, and forward to cutting-edge artists with whom the PHJB have shared festival stages from Coachella to Newport, including legends like Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and the Grateful Dead and modern giants like My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire and the Black Keys.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band:

BEN JAFFE – Bass (upright), Tuba, Percussion
CHARLIE GABRIEL – Saxophone (tenor), Clarinet
CLINT MAEDGEN – Saxophone (tenor), Percussion
WALTER HARRIS – Drums, Percussion
KYLE ROUSSEL – Piano, Wurlitzer, Organ

So It Is Tracklist:

1. So It Is
2. Santiago
3. Innocence
4. La Malanga
5. Convergence
6. One Hundred Fires
7. Mad

Preservation Hall Jazz Band Tour Dates:

4/13 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern
4/14 – Indio, CA – Coachella Music Festival
4/17 – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theatre
4/18 – Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater
4/21 – Indio, CA – Coachella Music Festival
4/23 - Asbury Park, NJ - Paramount Theatre
4/25 - New York, NY - Highline Ballroom
5/7 - New Orleans, LA - New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
6/9 - Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo
6/30-7/2 - Rothbury, MI - Electric Forest
8/5 - Kaslo, BC - Kaslo Jazz Festival

Pre-order So It Is here: https://phjb.lnk.to/SoItIs

Listen to the track "Santiago" here:


Town Hall and (Le) Poisson Rouge are proud to present the Jazz Epistles, featuring Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela live in New York City for the first time on South African Freedom Day, April 27th. Half a century after recording South Africa's landmark jazz album, Jazz Epistle, Verse 1, these original bebop legends reunite for a rare performance at Town Hall at 123 W 43rd Street. 

The Jazz Epistles album is the “Holy Grail” recording in South African jazz history, yet the world was not aware of its pivotal importance, until now. 

In 1959, South Africa’s top musicians­­­ —Hugh Masekela on trumpet, Abdullah Ibrahim on piano, Jonas Gwangwa on trombone, Kippie Moeketsi on alto saxophone, Johnny Gertze on bass, and Makaya Ntshoko on drums — created “the first all-black modern South African jazz recording.” (Gwen Ansell, author of Soweto Blues). It was revolutionary for the time period, yet its modern sounds and controversial nature made it a commercial flop — only 500 LPs were originally printed. The apartheid government, which viewed jazz as an inherent threat to authority, forced its brilliant musicians into exile. Thus, the Jazz Epistles disbanded and the music was buried and almost lost. For decades, due to the hostile circumstances of the time period, very little of this rich cultural history has been documented. 

Remarkably, Ibrahim and Masekela achieved massive success on their own terms overseas in exile. Ibrahim settled in Europe and Masekela in the States. They became symbols of the Pan-African movement, each writing popular anti-apartheid freedom songs and creating formidable discographies. 

Now, half a century later, these two giants reunite for the first time in concert. They not only revisit a critical chapter from their youth, but also pay tribute to one of the most important jazz sessions to occur on South African soil.

This unique performance will be captured by WBGO for Jazz Night in America, carried on NPR stations nationwide, and The Checkout hosted by Simon Rentner. 

This concert is produced by The Town Hall and (Le) Poisson Rouge, in partnership with WBGO, South African Tourism, and South African Airways. 

Tickets for this event are from $37 to $127 (VIP, includes reception with the artists) and are available for sale via The Town Hall or (Le) Poisson Rouge box offices.


Abdullah Ibrahim – piano
Hugh Masekela – flugelhorn, trumpet, vocals
Noah Jackson – bass, cello
Will Terrill – drums
Cleave Guyton Jr. – alto saxophone, flute, clarinet, piccolo
Lance Bryant– tenor saxophone
Andrae Murchison – trombone, trumpet
Marshall McDonald – baritone saxophone

Formidable Lineup for O.R.k.'s RareNoiseRecords Debut SOUL OF AN OCTOPUS

Following on the heels of 2015's captivating Inflamed Rides, the members of the powerful collective O.R.k. - lead singer Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari, Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin, Marta Sui Tubi guitarist Carmelo Pipitone and King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto - were primed to deliver an even more potent statement for their sophomore offering. Coming off of a triumphant tour of Europe and South America, they were charged to take things up a notch. And so it was with Soul of an Octopus, their second recording and RareNoise debut. This one finds the four kindred spirits dealing in even deeper waters. "After Inflamed Rideswe did around 30 shows in Europe, Argentina, Chile and Mexico this year," says Fornasari. "That definitely helped us to reign in our sound and get to a more focused mutual vision. So all the pieces from the new album represent an honest and effective picture of who we are as O.R.k. right now. That said, people who have listened to the new stuff - included our booking agents - think this is at least four times more powerful and intense than Inflamed Rides."

Because of the presence of drummer Mastelotto, it would be easy to draw comparisons to King Crimson for this project. (The opener "Too Numb" in particular has a kind of Discipline vibe in its interlocking ostinatos that create a hypnotic latticework pattern against Fornasari's menacing vocals).

One can also hear traces of such artistically inclined groups as Pink Floyd in ambitious tunes like "Scarlet Water," "Just Another Bad Day" and the extraordinary "Capture or Reveal."But O.R.k. draws on a myriad of other influences throughout Soul of an Octopus thatencompass prog-rock, jazz-rock and and are influenced by opera, as can be heard in Fornasari's dramatic and wide-ranging vocals on tunes like the intense closer "Till the Sunrise Comes" and the epic "Dirty Rain." Says the native of Bologna, Italy, "I got a degree as opera singer, but when it comes to my music I try to forget what I've been taught. When I find myself working on new material I prefer to improvise and sing without thinking what to do or where to head to, at least that's what I do in first place."

On the extreme opposite end of the dynamic scale from the operative sweep that he delivers throughout Soul of an Octopus, Fornasari takes a more intimate, close-mic approach at the outset of the poetic "Heaven Proof House," recalling the enigmatic whisper vocals of the late Leonard Cohen. "Since I think at myself as a composer and producer first and then as vocalist, I get my brain to rethink the whole structure and listen to my vocals as a producer would do," he explains. "I tend to give my vocals the same importance I'd give to any of the other instruments composing the whole structure."

Innovative Italian guitarist Pipitone is prominently featured on "Collapsing Hopes," which opens with some gutbucket acoustic blues guitar and gradually builds to a slamming wah-wah fueled six-string onslaught. Says Fornasari of his O.R.k. bandmate, "Carmelo has received multiple awards from music Italian critics because of the way he plays acoustic guitar. He makes his strings bark and scream like the most ferocious electric piece of guitar and a second later he makes you cry with the most intense clean arpeggio. The very first time I've seen him playing with his other band Marta Sui Tubi - they're quite famous in Italy - I thought, 'Hey! I want to make some noise with this crazy horse!' And here we are."

Fornasari further describes the process that he and his O.R.k. bandmates took on this RareNoise release: "We usually start the process from guitar or bass riffs, I assemble a rough structure and send it over to the other guys. This collaborative back-and-forth process across the miles is very effective in our case. Nonetheless, it usually takes weeks or even months before a piece gets to its final shape. We don't follow any pre-defined plan though. One of the most intriguing elements in music is the most unpredictable too - once you release new stuff you never know how people will react and interpret your sound and words."

While Fornasari has also been involved in other projects for RareNoise Records (he was on Owls' 2011 release, The Night Stays, Berserk's self-titled 2013 debut and Obake's 2015 release Mutations), he considers O.R.k. to be the focus of his artistic endeavors right now. "I love Berserk! and Owls but I see them as collaborative side projects while O.R.k. is actually my main band. It's the one which best represents my vision in music and the one I'm dedicating most of my of time and energy to."

Fornasari clearly poured his heart and soul and all of his energy in this band. If you can't catch O.R.k. in action live, check out their imposing sophomore release, Soul of an Octopus, which stands as one of the more intensely compelling recordings on the RareNoise roster. www.orkband.com

1. Too Numb
2. Collapsing Hopes
3. Searching For The Code
4. Dirty Rain
5. Scarlet Water
6. Heaven Proof House
7. Just Another Bad Day
8. Capture Or Reveal
9. Till The Sunrise Comes

Jazz-Soul Ensemble E-Life 7 Feat Michael Pennick and Many Special Guests to Release Debut Album Miked Up

Three 2 Go Music introduces E-Life 7 Featuring Michael Pennick (EL7) and their debut album Miked Up. EL7 unites some of Western NY’s finest musicians on this release, including Michael Pennick on bass, Rodney Spears & Charlie Crymes Jr. on keyboards, guitarist Ron Walker, and drummer and percussionist Tim Webb. Special appearances by Ken Whitman (tenor sax), Walter Kemp III, Van Taylor (keyboards), Joey Diggs and Dee Osbourne (vocals) round out this stellar new 12-track album that spans Jazz, Soul, and R&B, all with a sound that remains unique to EL7. Miked Up will be released worldwide both physically and digitally by Three 2 Go Music on March 24, 2017.

EL7 is the brainchild of Ron Walker and Mike Pennick, both long time members of Buffalo Music Hall of Fame R&B recording artists The Exoutics. While contemplating their musical future longtime friends Ron and Mike decided it was time to explore their Jazz alter egos and discover what lies beneath the tender ballads and funky R&B grooves they had been writing for years. EL7 acknowledges the musical and spiritual influence of past and present members of The Exoutics, and after a brief discussion, it was agreed that their next project would highlight the talent of bassist Mike Pennick. Eventually, this led to the formation of EL7.

With extraordinary creativity and collaboration, the group conceived of and recorded Miked Up. Rodney’s unique keyboard accents are a perfect complement to the keyboard foundations played by Charlie. Tim’s intricate drum touch reinforces the rhythmic, melodic bass lines and spicy guitar licks. When blended together, what a unique sound! The project took several interesting twists and turns along the way, and each member shared creative ideas and opinions to help shape this outstanding release.

The resulting album captures the flavor and passion of each musician, and audiences will enjoy and appreciate this special blend of Jazz and R&B. Miked Up covers the gamut of emotions, from the rhythm shifting jazz funk of “Chaos,” to the fun-filled, upbeat, and playful “Sunday Night.” The remake of Stevie Wonder’s “That Girl” and the intimate revelations of “Inner Beauty” and “Before the Storm” make this CD a pleasure to listen to, sure to appeal to the most demanding pallet. Enjoy Life, 7 days a week.

Established in 1996, Three 2 Go Music is dedicated to developing promising music talent in Western NY. As a partner of Three 2 Go Music Alliance and with over 100 years of combined music business experience, Buffalo Music Hall of Fame members Van Taylor, Michael Pennick, and Ron Walker are quietly positioning Three 2 Go Music for success. “We believe Western NY has great talent, and we want that talent to shine.”

Visionary Pianist Gerald Clayton Merges Streams of Life into a Greater Body of Work with Tributary Tales

On his new record Tributary Tales, set to release April 21 on Motéma Music, pianist and composer Gerald Clayton traces paths of myriad streams -- personal, experiential, intangible -- that flow into one another, creating a musical narrative greater than the sum of his individual compositions.

"I feel like the various encounters in my life are in their own way tributaries -- like every trip is somehow an opportunity to discover a new type of bend in the river," Clayton says. "The various places, people, foods and cultures I've been able to experience in my travels, all the musicians I gathered for this project and all the songs I've written -- there's a feeling of connectedness between them, even though they're all their own separate entities."

Clayton imbues Tributary Tales with a range of influences, including dialects and vocabulary handed down from his father, bassist and composer John Clayton and uncle, saxophonist Jeff Clayton, to contemporary expressions he heard growing up as a child of the '80s and early '90s. In Clayton's unique vision, those diverse inspirations are impossible to unravel, melding together into a sound that resonates with modern styles as boldly as it evokes classic and timeless sounds.

"The process is really natural," Clayton says. "When I'm in the experience of creating something, I try to open my ears and to be as selfless and open as possible. I grew up listening to and loving hip-hop, R&B, soul and rock. To me, they all flow from a single source. The cultural relevance of jazz and hip-hop is all the same; we're talking about black music -- about black expression -- so it doesn't feel right to build any dams across those streams.

An alternate definition of tributary, he adds, is that of "a person or state that pays tribute to another" -- another apt metaphor in the tradition-oriented world of jazz. "Much of what we do has to do with what's gone before us," he says. "We're constantly paying tribute to the elders, the masters, and being cognizant of all of the musicians who've lived and died in service of the music."

To record Tributary Tales, Clayton assembled a group of artists both new and familiar, each of whom brings additional, unique influences and experiences to the music. Saxophonists Logan Richardson, Ben Wendel and Dayna Stephens, bassist Joe Sanders, drummer Justin Brown and percussionists Henry Cole and Gabriel Lugo join guest vocalist Sachal Vasandani and poets Carl Hancock Rux and Aja Monet to bring life to Clayton's range of alluring compositions.

"I've really enjoyed exploring the natural connection between instrumental music and spoken word. I find there to be great potential for one to give unexpected meaning to the other."
Gathering this cast of individual artists together to create a unified musical voice is another way Clayton sees the reflection of the tributary concept in his creative life. Pulling back to take an even broader view, he sees a beautiful parallel for communion and togetherness at a time that's been marred by divisiveness and strife.

"Even though we're all separate streams, we all come from the same ocean," he says. "If we all just take a step back we can see that all human experience is essentially the same -- the suffering, the will to transcend that suffering, our joys, our sorrows -- they're all connected. I'd love for the music on this record to remind people of our interconnectedness."

The hectic, angular edge of "Unforeseen," then, might suggest the frantic pace of Clayton's adopted home of New York -- especially as experienced by a west coast kid more acclimated to riding waves than subway cars. "Soul Stomp," as its names suggests, is a celebratory, raucous bounce, a glimpse of ecstatic happiness with the funky punch of R&B and the sanctified tinge of gospel. "A Light" burns with modern hip-hop sensibility and simmering groove, while "Patience Patients" draws in the listener with its slowly uncoiling melodic line.

The acclaimed Vasandani weaves his wordless vocals around the melodic lines of Richardson and Wendel on "Squinted," while Monet and Hancock Rux both reflect on the elusive idea of love on "Lovers Reverie" and explore the path from the deeply personal to the transcendent on "Dimensions: Interwoven." The album is punctuated by a series of brief, improvised interludes, the open-ended titles of which ("Search For," "Reach For," etc.) turn the track list itself into a poetic rumination.

While different songs may spark certain memories or recall images to his mind, Clayton says it's not as simple as a single experience inspiring a single piece of music. Just like our personalities are subtly shaped by the gradual accumulations of circumstance and events, so is his compositional voice invisibly molded by the places he's been, the people he's met -- even the meals he's eaten.

"I can point to those moments in life when the experience feels otherworldly, almost like a taste of transcendence. A bowl of pasta in Italy, falling in love, making a connection with a new friend from another part of the world, surfing -- the feeling of tapping into the energy of the ocean and dancing with it -- those are all really special moments and, in their own way, artistic beauty. As is making music, connecting with the musicians I play with. All those experiences connect to one another and feel similarly spiritual."

The tributaries of Clayton's fascination with language and his multi-faceted gifts as a musician merge gracefully in his poetic liner notes for Tributary Tales.
Gerald Clayton · Tributary Tales
Motéma Music · Release Date: April 21, 2017

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Announces Release Of New Album "Louie, Louie, Louie" Available June 16 On Savoy Jazz

Grammy nominated, multi-platinum selling Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the incomparable kings of swing, are readying the release of an all new album, "Louie, Louie, Louie"—an electrifying celebration of jazz legends Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan and Louis Prima.  On their eleventh album and third for iconic label Savoy Jazz, the band is sharper than ever as they pay homage to their jazz heroes. Produced by founder and lead singer Scotty Morris and pianist and arranger Joshua Levy, the album reveals the evolution of swing, jazz and popular music through the songs and personalities of these three giants of American culture.  Popmatters premiered their version of Louis Armstrong's "Dinah" recently:

"Louie, Louie, Louie" will be available digitally, on CD and vinyl LP on June 16th.  A U.S. tour will kick off in June, 2017.

Says Morris: "We really want people to know about these great men that have so deeply influenced us as, and perhaps help spark a new creative interest in them and their music."

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy consists of their original line-up which includes Scotty Morris (lead vocals and guitar), Kurt Sodergren (drums), Dirk Shumaker (double bass and vocals), Andy Rowley (baritone saxophone and vocals), Glen "The Kid" Marhevka (trumpet), Karl Hunter (saxophones and clarinet) and Joshua Levy (piano and arranger).

Track Listing:

1)    Dinah
2)    Oh, Marie
3)    Is You, Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby
4)    Jack, You're Dead
5)    Whistle Stop
6)    Choo Choo Ch'Boogie
7)    Basin Street Blues
8)    Jump, Jive an' Wail
9)    Knock Me A Kiss
10)  Stuttin' With Some Barbecue
11)  Five Months, Two Weeks, Two Days
12)  Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens
13)  When The Saints Go Marching In

Critically Acclaimed Vocalist Somi to Release Petite Afrique, Inspired by the Fate of African Immigrants in Harlem

Pulsing with Harlem's rhythms and sonic ambiance, Somi's Petite Afrique is an homage to her New York City upper Manhattan neighborhood, and one of the Meccas of the African diaspora.  In the village of Harlem, along west 116th Street from Malcolm X Boulevard to Frederick Douglass Boulevard, African immigrants build American lives. Populated predominantly by a Francophone, West African and Muslim community, this is a strip of Harlem that locals call "Little Africa" or "Petite Afrique:" a thriving corridor of hair shops and shea butters, bistros and self-taught tailors.  Many of these working class residents -- immigrants-cum-citizens -- are now taxi drivers zipping other New Yorkers through the city they've called home since the 1980s.

Petite Afrique, Somi's sophomore effort for OKeh/Sony Music Masterworks, is a daring, relevant, refashioning of what "jazz" and "African music" mean. The album is a timely song cycle about the dignity of immigrants in the United States. Equally anthropologist and writer, Somi's songs both celebrate Harlem's black experience and lament gentrification's slow erasure of the vibrant African immigrant population from the historic neighborhood.

On her new album, Somi and her core bandmates -- guitarist Liberty Ellman, drummer Nate Smith, pianist Toru Dodo, and bassist Michael Olatuja -- perform with new emotional openness, sharp political insight, and infectious groove throughout. A powerful horn ensemble featuring tenor saxophonist Marcus Strickland, alto man Jaleel Shaw, and acclaimed trumpeter Etienne Charles also appear on several tracks.

Charles also serves as associate producer on Petite Afrique, arranging the horn and string sections. Producer Keith Witty calibrates and binds all these musicians together into a finely textured, genre-bending sonic collage. Having also co-produced her last studio album, Witty and Somi continue to establish the standard for artfully interweaving modern jazz and African pop sensibilities. Somi's commitment to storytelling is clear as she intersperses poetry and "backseat field audio" drawn mostly from several interviews she conducted with African taxi drivers who have lived in the neighborhood for over four decades.

The album opens with "Alien," Somi's provocative improvisation on Sting's "Englishman in New York." Here, she flips Sting's playful critique of Britishness in America into a brooding blues about Africans alienated from American life. "This album is, in many ways, a love letter to my parents and the generous community of immigrants that raised me," Somi explains. "Once Harlem started to change, I realized just how much the African community there made the anonymity of New York City feel more like home."

Somi's room-making blend of politics and voice is apparent on stunning, anthemic tracks like "Black Enough" and "The Gentry." On both recordings, Charles' assertive horn arrangements are emphatic exclamation marks to Somi's fiery lyrics. "Black Enough" is a layered exploration of blackness and the identity politics that has, at times, pulled black people in the United States apart. Somi was inspired to write the song while reading Yaa Gyasi's novel Homegoing. "It was the first time I'd seen an African literary voice explicitly acknowledge the sameness of African and African-American histories," says Somi. "It felt like a much needed 'owning' of trauma and oppression. The Black Lives Matter movement was already in the public consciousness, but I wanted to write something that reminded us that we fail ourselves individually when we fail to acknowledge our shared struggles."

A real-life legal battle between new Harlem residents and a 60-year-old drum circle tradition in Marcus Garvey Park inspired "The Gentry," which features Aloe Blacc's earthy guest vocal. Here, Somi uses deft lyrical play to talk explicitly about how gentrification is erasing black culture from the Harlem scene. With the horn section underwriting Somi's searing call and response -- "I want it black / I want it back" -- one might recall Abbey Lincoln's ardent performance in Max Roach's "Freedom Now Suite." It's also not hard to hear the references to the musical groups that Fela Kuti and James Brown once fronted, masters of Nigerian and American political dance music, respectively.

The musicianship on Petite Afrique continues to be overwhelming in its beauty and feel. Listen to Ellman's ability to make his guitar sound like a kora on "Like Dakar." As Somi compares Harlem to Dakar and Abidjan with lithe vocal phrasing, Ellman's lines blend with the horn section's dulcet phrases to propel the track.

Even on Somi's songs about love like "They're Like Ghosts," the down-tempo groove instigates movement and commits to the narrative at hand. "It's a song about the longing for and romanticization of people or things we once loved. The lover, in this case, is really a metaphor for the lands that still haunt us as immigrants and the forgetfulness of why we left that comes with time," Somi shares.

"Holy Room," an R&B-vibed praise song for love's spiritual force, layers a lover's desire with the muezzin's call to prayer as Somi sings "Allahu Akbar," letting her dynamic vocals ride the sensual groove. "It is meant to be an explicit response to the rampant and deeply disturbing Islamophobia that pervades Western society currently. The choice to sing the phrase "Allahu Akbar" is my attempt to remedy perceptions of terror that are unfairly associated with the millions of peaceful, God-fearing Muslims in the world. After all, when the phrase is translated from Arabic to English it simply means, 'God is great.' What better way to counter and defuse hateful messages than with a love song?" Ultimately this song reveals the artist's deep sense of humanity and the power of
Petite Afrique; Somi is at the height of her vocal powers and writing prowess.

The political messages of this album are timelier than she could have ever imagined when she began writing it early last year. This music is singular, gorgeous, urgent and profound. 

Born in Illinois, the daughter of immigrants from Uganda and Rwanda, Somi's American experience has always been infused with the African diaspora's richest political and artistic traditions. And now Petite Afrique combines the two facets of her life magically. A longtime Harlem resident, Somi is also a true Africanist: she spent part of her youth in Africa with her parents and now, with her band, tours the continent extensively. Famously, Somi's dazzling 2014 album, The Lagos Music Salon, which debuted at the top of US Jazz charts, was born from an 18-month "sabbatical" in Lagos, Nigeria.

Founder of New Africa Live, a nonprofit championing her fellow African artists, Somi realized some years ago that she was explicitly segmenting her work for the communities she came from and the work that she did as an artist. "I realized," Somi details, "that I could still curate a sense of community in the same, and possibly larger, ways through my music." Now a TED Senior Fellow, her career a refined merger of singing and activism, Somi has entered a fascinating new phase herself: "New Africa Live was about making room for our voices that might otherwise go unheard. Hopefully, Petite Afrique starts larger conversations about immigration and xenophobia and Blackness."

Upcoming Somi Performances:

March 4 / The Painted Bride / Philadelphia, PA
March 11 / Murphy Auditorium / New Harmony, IN
March 12 / The Promontory / Chicago, IL
March 17 / The Howard Theater / Washington, DC
March 18 / Scullers Jazz Club / Boston, MA
March 29 / The Highline Ballroom / New York, NY
April 8 / Transition Jazz Fest / Utrecht, Holland
April 10 / Duc Des Lombards / Paris, France
April 11 / Pizza Express / London, England
April 13 / Sala Radio / Bucharest, Romania
April 14 / Porgy & Bess / Vienna, Austria
April 17 / Moods / Zurich, Switzerland
April 19 / Unterfahrt / Munich, Germany
April 20 / A-Trane / Berlin, Germany
April 22 / Elbphilharmonie / Hamburg, Germany

Somi ·  Petite Afrique
OKeh Records  ·  Release Date: March 31, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Saxophone Maestra FOSTINA DIXON Blends Contemporary Jazz, Gospel, Funk and R&B on HERE WE GO AGAIN

As a highly-regarded, in-demand composer, vocalist and jazz soloist who plays soprano, alto and baritone saxes, flute, and clarinet, Fostina Dixon has been honing her craft for decades as a guest soloist with Abbey Lincoln, Barry Harris, Earl May and the Big Apple Jazzwomen. Known for her elegant mesmerizing phrasing, she has also played with Prince, Gil Evans, Roy Ayers, Tom Browne, Charlie Persip, Melba Liston, Cab Calloway, Slide Hampton, Frank Foster, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, Bobby Vinton, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Marvin Gaye, with whom she toured with for four years. She was also a member of the Gerald Wilson, Jimmy Cleveland and Leslie Drayton big bands, and, most recently, joined trumpeter Arnold Hutt for a special celebration concert for former Vice President Joe Biden upon his return home to Delaware after leaving office.

Much like Mr. Biden, Ms. Dixon proudly represents the great state of Delaware. As a young woodwind instrumentalist she excelled with the Delaware All-State Band before going on to study with Frank Foster, Buddy Collect, Vic Morosco, Joe Viola, Andy McGhee, William Bowie, and the late Robert "Boysie" Lowery. Expanding on her studies as a protégé, she received a Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts and a Masters in Education from Wilmington University, which led to teaching tenures at various schools in Wilmington. She currently teaches Music Appreciation and Chorus at a local middle school and is Adviser Emeritus of the Wilmington Youth Jazz Band (WYJB).

As a professional musician, Fostina has performed extensively at clubs, colleges, libraries, churches, community art centers and theaters throughout the U.S. With her band "Winds of Change,” she has appeared at New York's Annual Afrikan Street Carnival, the Annual New York Women's Jazz Festival, the Annual Black Women's History Conference, the Kool Jazz Festival, Greenwich Village Jazz Festival, and the Annual Jackie Robinson Festival. She has also played New York's Jazzmobile concert series and has toured abroad, including Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

During her storied career, she has worked on and/or appeared on popular TV shows such as "NY Undercover Cop" series, WNYC's "Perspective in Jazz,” NBC's "Today in New York" (with Dr. Billy Taylor) and the special presentation, "Salute to Bobby Vinton.” She has also performed in the Musical Theatre Works production, "All Girl Band" and Playwrights Horizon production of "Jazz is a Lady.” Additionally, she has showcased at the Women's International Film Festival in New York City and "Sisterfire," a festival in celebration of women artists sponsored by the Flamboyant Ladies Theatre Company.

Last year, Dixon released Here We Go Again, an uplifting collection that elegantly blends contemporary jazz, gospel, funk, and R&B. It’s a thoroughly engaging journey that seamlessly transports the listener with spiritual-like soundscapes. On the title track, she adds a lead vocal set against exquisitely layered harmonies, while on “Prayer of Jabez,” a tribute to Marvin Gaye, she adeptly showcases her virtuosic flair juxtaposing melody and improvisation. Sonically, the 7-song compendium of Again is a musical tour du force with "Bless the Name of Jesus” and “Prayer of Jabez” presented in two parts, the full-length version paired with a subsequent reprise in the form of a vamp.

To support Here We Go Again, Fostina is playing select shows with her band, New Blend, which features Todd Kilgoe on drums, Vincent Adkins on bass, and Kevin Benjamin on keyboards.

“A true original." Dr. Antoinette Handy, Author of "Black Women in American Bands”

“She is a player of impeccable control and skills with… highly independent ideas.” American Women in Jazz

Tour Dates
3/09 - Wilmington, DE @ Ubon (5pm)
4/15 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe (8pm)
4/30 - Wilmington, DE @ Ubon (5pm)


“Prayer of Jabez” https://youtu.be/9Y7AEFxYLZc



A great 60s album from pianist Eddie Higgins – one of his few records for Atlantic, and a set that definitely lives up to the seductive power of the title and cover! Eddie's maybe a bit more creative and open here than on some of his other records – more in a Chess Records trio mode than especially his later, more lyrical sides – with great work on rhythm from Richard Evans on bass and Marshall Thompson on drums! The album really reflects Higgins' placement on the Chicago scene of the 60s – and he's got a surprisingly strong left-handed groove at times – on titles that include "Soulero", "Tango Africaine", "Mr Evans","Love Letters", and "Shelly's World". (SHM-CD pressing!)  ~ Dusty Groove


An interesting singer, with an approach that's definitely all her own – one that has Caroline Faber singing alongside just the guitar or Richard Bonnet and drums of Eric Dambrin – both players who can be abstract at some points, and nicely laid back at others! We like that second style the most – as the instrumentation creates this very spacious quality that let's Faber's vocals spread out and flower – almost with a post-jazz sort of mode that reminds us of 70s records on the ECM and Saravah label! One track does pick up a nice, but spare groove – a wickedly cool remake of Marlena Shaw's "Woman Of The Ghetto" – and other tracks include the originals "Psychotic", "J'En Sais Rien", and "Il Bat" – plus nice takes on "Feeling Good", "Cotidiano", and Serge Gainsbourg's "Black Trombone".  ~ Dusty Groove


Fantastic work from one of the most compelling mainstream talents in recent years – an artist who can get wide fame and acclaim, yet keep on pushing the boundaries into fresh new cosmic territory! This album may well be Thundercat's masterpiece – not just a summation of all the ideas and areas he's explored in the past, but also kind of a re-filtering of other modes as well – including the more spiritual and jazz-based territory that he's moved towards, especially when working with others! Yet there's nothing here that's an easy copy of another style, or another's work – as the whole thing bristles with a personal newness that's wonderful – even when Thundercat is getting help from guests who include Kamasai Washington, Flying Lotus, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell, and Kendrick Lamarr – as well as some especially nice work from AOR legends Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. Titles include "I Am Crazy", "3AM", "Rabbot Ho", "Bus In These Streets", "Lava Lamp", "Jethro", "Show You The Way", "Drink Dat", "Jameel's Space Ride", and "Tokyo". ~ Dusty Groove




The drums are certainly unlimited here – and the album's a really unique one, in that it shows Max Roach in 2 different settings – one with a group, and one that's simply solo! One batch of tracks has Max in the company of a tight group of soul jazz players like Freddie Hubbard, Roland Alexander, James Spaulding, and Ronnie Matthews. The group is very tight, and they've got hard wailing sound similar to a Blue Note group, but with a bit more of a soul jazz feel. They play on two long tracks – "Nommo" and "In the Red". The rest of the tracks – "Drums Unlimited", "The Drum Also Waltzes", and "For Big Sid" – feature Max playing solo, which is a rare treat for a recording of this vintage. The tracks are great, with a very musical groove, and lively playing by Max that never gets too self indulgent. (SHM-CD pressing!)  ~ Dusty Groove


One of the few rare albums by that "other" Gene Harris – not the famous leader of the Three Sounds, or later Concord Records fame – but a lesser-known 50s cat who was classically trained, but can really serve up a soulful swing on the keys! This Gene really knows his way around the keyboard, with a deftness that often comes across right in the very first few notes of a tune – but never in a way that's show-offy at all – especially once the easygoing rhythm duo gets into a groove! Bass is by Mike Long, drums are by George Herman – and titles include "Our Love Is Here To Stay", "Let's Fall In Love", "Cheerful Little Earful", "The Girl Friend", "Out Of This World", and "Love Me Or Leave Me". (SHM-CD pressing!)  ~ Dusty Groove


Herb Alpert seems to have lost his shirt on the way to the photo shoot for the album – but it looks like he's still got his trumpet to keep him warm! Joking aside, the album's a great one from the later Herb – one of those sets that has him turning his strong talent for a trumpet solo in the direction of soulful fusion and R&B-inflected jazz – maybe taking a page from the book of Chuck Mangione or Maynard Ferguson in the process, but definitely giving things his own sort of spin! The arrangements are nicely tasteful – electric, but never clunkily so, especially for the time – and Alpert's trumpet really does a great job of warming things up. Titles include "Latin Lady", "Garden Party", "Paradise Cove", "Gently", "True Confessions", "The Midnight Tango", and "Sundown".  ~ Dusty Groove



Foundation is right, in more than one sense of the word! The Brentford Avenue stalwarts are showcased here on a nice double album compilation of classic and groundbreaking early ska and rocksteady tracks that would become the template for so much Jamaican music to follow. The team of Coxsone Dodd with Don Drummond, Lloyd Brevett, Tommy McCook, Jackie Mittoo, Roland Alphonso, Jerry Hinds, Dizzy Moore and Johnny Moore was unstoppable– and it's hard to imagine where the reggae sound would be without this seminal music! 32 tracks in all, including "Dick Tracy", "Alley Pang", "Christine Keeler", "Fidel Castro", "Beardsman Ska", "Third Man Ska", "Simmer Down", "Exodus", "King Solomon", 'Eastern Standard Time", "I Should Have Known Better", "Hot Cargo", "Black Sunday", "Ska La Parisienne", "Don D Lion", "Third Man Ska", "Nimrod", "Cleopatra", "Addis Ababa", "Silver Dollar", "Killer Diller", "Naked City" and "Ringo's Theme". ~ Dusty Groove


A set that's got a lot more going on than you might expect from the "headnod" title – as Karriem Riggens is at his most dynamic here – offering up way more than just the hip hop instrumentals promised by the album's cover sticker! There's definitely a hip hop aesthetic in place, but it's probably more apt to think of these tracks as instrumental funk productions – heavy on beats, but also laced with lots of other interesting elements too – sometimes a bit of keyboards, sometimes a fuzzy bassline, sometimes some vocal snippets – and a few spots even feature guest appearances by Geri Allen and James Poyser on piano, and Robert Hurst and Derrick Hodge on bass. Titles include "Pay-gio", "Suite Poetry", "Chop Chop", "Other Side Of The Track", "Trombone Love", "Crystal Stairs", "Detroit Funk", "Oddness", "Tandoor Heat", and "Bahia Dreamin".  ~ Dusty Groove


A big step forward for The Right Now – branching out from the retro soul of their past work into a bigger, brighter neo-classic sound – but still firmly rooted in soul! Now, as always, the band is an excellent showcase for the powerful voice of singer Stefanie Berecz – and she's never sounded better – confident and commanding on the heavier songs, vulnerable and intimate on the softer ones. Production and arrangements wise, Starlight skews more modern than past records, and with more varied instrumentation – spacier synth and keys on some tunes, delicate string and flute on the more grounded ones. Solid stuff! We're proud to have them on the Chicago scene, but we'd be happy to see them make a dent on the mainstream, too – Stef's got the pipes of a pop soul diva, without the bluster or ego – fronting a solid, talented, real working band. Nice! Includes "Love You Better", "Postcard", "Up All Night", "LOVE (Lets Me Know)", "If It Was You", "Too Late", "Starlight" and "Hooked".  ~ Dusty Groove


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