Friday, March 31, 2017

Critically Acclaimed Vocalist Somi Releases 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:

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


"We wanted to do a real good record together, but we didn't want to do the record that everyone expected us to do," blues legend Taj Mahal says of TajMo, his historic collaboration with fellow true believer Keb' Mo'.  "There wasn't a bunch of cryin' and ringin' hands, we just got together and it came together pretty naturally.  I think it's a pretty upbeat, celebratory record, and it couldn't have come at a better time."

Indeed, TajMo, set for release on May 5, 2017 via Concord Records, marks a once-in-a-lifetime convergence of the talents of two unique American artists who've already built significant individual legacies that have consistently expanded and extended American blues traditions into astonishing new territory.  The collaboration brings out the best in both artists, who merge their distinctive voices, personalities and guitar styles to create vibrant, immediate music that's firmly rooted in tradition yet ruled by a restless, spirited sense of adventure.

The iconoclastic pair's combustible creative chemistry powers such unforgettable new originals as "Don't Leave Me Here," "All Around The World," "That's Who I Am" and the anthemic "Soul." TajMo also features guest appearances by Sheila E., Lizz Wright and Bonnie Raitt, who lends her voice to a memorable cover of John Mayer's "Waiting On The World To Change"; in addition, Joe Walsh adds his trademark guitar work to “Shake Me In Your Arms” and an inspired reading of The Who's classic "Squeeze Box."

"I'm really proud of this record," says Keb', "and I really owe Taj for hanging in there with me.  I feel like this is kind of a legacy project, and we're both pulling from something way back in time.  Taj is a part of the same chain that I've always been pulling on.  He's like a guide through all that stuff, back through the Deep South and the church and the Caribbean and all the way back to Africa.  He has some real musical knowledge that goes back to the origins."

Taj Mahal first made his mark in the late 1960s with a series of visionary country-blues albums that helped to spark a widespread resurgence of interest in traditional acoustic blues.  In the decades since, he has remained a singular creative force, pursuing his free-spirited muse with a lengthy series of eclectic recording projects.  The two-time GRAMMY-winner's prestigious body of work encompasses more than 30 albums, which have explored a wide array of roots music from around the world while remaining firmly rooted in the blues.

Since arriving on the scene in the early 1990s, blues renaissance man and three-time GRAMMY-winner Keb' Mo' has earned a widespread reputation for his mastery of multiple blues styles, and his ability to combine traditional approaches with a contemporary attitude and a timeless storytelling sensibility.  He's released a series of acclaimed albums, as well as appearing in theatre and film projects, and collaborating with a wide array of musicians from various genres.  Like Taj Mahal, Keb' remains a vocal advocate for the preservation of the blues, and has been active in charities that support music education.

Although TajMo marks their first studio collaboration, the two artists have known each other for decades.  Taj has been a longstanding touchstone for Keb' ever since he saw him perform at a high-school student assembly, and Taj even played a role in Keb' winning his first record deal.  The two have occasionally shared stages over the years, but the new album was their first opportunity to create new music together.

"The making of this record spanned two and a half years, working in my home studio whenever we could get together between tours," says Keb'.  "And over that two and a half years, we got to know each other really well.  Making this record was a really, really big deal for me.  Taj is a stellar human being, just a brilliant man, and I learned a lot working with him.  It's an honor to have that kind of person in your life, and there was a lot of trust that developed between us."

"It was a lot of fun," adds Taj.  "We'd been thinking about collaborating for a little while, but once we actually got in there, I was really impressed. Keb's really good at keeping the ball up in the air.  He's a hell of a guitar player, and I'm just amazed at some of the stuff that he put out there."

With TajMo in the can and their first highly anticipated collective tour planned, Taj Mahal and Keb' Mo' are excited about the prospect of getting their new music out into the world.

"It's gonna be big fun," Taj predicts.  "I'm planning on being excited every night and every note.  Some people think that the blues is about being down all the time, but that's not what it is.  It's therapeutic, so you can get up off that down.  You could have 100 consecutive lifetimes, and still only crack the surface of all the music that's on this planet.  It's phenomenal, and it's all connected to the human experience, which is different for all of us but the same for everyone."



Sarah Partridge Expands Jazz Vocal Repertoire On "Brights Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian"

Vocalist Sarah Partridge introduced an impressive body of original compositions on her 2015 Origin Records release I'd Never Thought I'd Be Here, but for her new project, she wanted to celebrate a singer/songwriter outside of her own genre and beyond the Great American Songbook. On Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian, her 5th album and 2nd for Origin Records, Partridge reimagines 11 well- and lesser-known works from the legendary singer/songwriter's discography, and also co-wrote two with Ian. The new CD will be released April 21.

"To pay tribute to a folk artist like Janis was extremely interesting to me," says Partridge. "In her case, her very early songwriting seemed influenced by jazz, and I saw real possibilities for a reimagining of some of that work. We connected with each other last year through the Recording Academy and when I mentioned that I was thinking of doing an album of her songs, she lit up. She said she'd like to be helpful to me, and there it began. I don't think I've ever met a more generous artist."

Ian exploded on the pop music scene in 1967's Summer of Love as a precociously talented singer/songwriter confronting the dark side of American life. She was just 14 when, in 1965, she wrote and recorded "Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking)," her single about a young interracial couple ripped apart by prejudice. Championed by Leonard Bernstein two years later on his CBS-TV special Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, the single went gold and established Ian as one of the era's most promising young performers. She recorded several critically praised albums for Verve over the next few years but didn't break through again until 1975's chart-topping Between the Lines, featuring the Grammy-winning single "At Seventeen," a song she performed that year on the debut broadcast of Saturday Night Live (and which is included on Bright Lights & Promises).

As with her previous Origin outing, Partridge is joined on Bright Lights & Promises by her stellar working band of pianist Allen Farnham, bassist Bill Moring, and drummer Tim Horner. Trombonist Ben Williams, reed virtuoso Scott Robinson, and guitarist Paul Meyers are also back in the fold. Farnham, who produced the album, arranged 11 of the songs; two were arranged by Horner. Janis Ianherself provides vocals on the wry and briskly swinging opening track "A Quarter Past Heartache," which the women co-wrote.

Raised in Boston and Birmingham, AL, Sarah Partridge grew up listening to her father's albums of Ella Fitzgerald, Dakota Staton, Irene Kral, and Sarah Vaughan. But she was drawn to acting and ended up majoring in theater at Northwestern University. After graduating in 1982,she worked around Chicago, and in 1983 landed her first feature role in Tom Cruise's breakout hit Risky Business. Relocating to L.A. in 1984, she worked steadily in film and television, carving out a niche doing voice-overs. Out with friends one night at the Improv, she accepted their dare to take a turn at karaoke and delivered a stunning rendition of "Summertime." The impromptu performance caught the ear of a booker, who promptly hired her to sing in a concert with the top tier of L.A. jazz musicians. It was a successful gig that rekindled a long-buried dream.

Partridge spent years honing her technique in L.A. and New York City, where she moved in 1994, and instantly bonded with legendary trumpeter Doc Cheatham, "the first musician I played with in New York." Attending one of his regular Sunday brunch performances at Sweet Basil, Partridge's husband convinced pianist Chuck Folds to let her sit in. Her version of "Every Day I Have the Blues" went over well and Cheatham told her "You can come anytime you want." "After that, I sat in regularly and we did some gigs together," Partridge recalls. "I learned so much from him, just seeing the obsessive dedication he had. He was a real inspiration."

Partridge released her widely-acclaimed debut I'll Be Easy to Find in 1998 ("She's a pleasure to hear in any emotional guise, whether one of regret or exaltation" -- Billboard) featuring jazz greats Frank Wess, Bucky Pizzarelli, and Gene Bertoncini. She has grown exponentially with each successive recording: Blame It on My Youth, 2004; You Are There, Songs for My Father, 2006; Perspective, 2010; and I Never Thought I'd Be Here, 2015.

With her rich, fine-textured sound and rhythmically acute phrasing, Sarah Partridge puts an irrepressible jazz stamp on everything she sings, and Bright Lights & Promises: Redefining Janis Ian presents a portrait of an artist fully in command of her craft.

Partridge and her band will be performing two CD release shows in May: 5/11 at New York's Bitter End (where Janis Ian performed nearly 50 years ago), and 5/20 at Trumpets in Montclair, NJ.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


With an assured maturity and vocal confidence far beyond her years, the young singer Jazzmeia Horn arrives with her debut recording A Social Call, an album that reveals a talent ready to take its place alongside the best headlining jazz vocalists of today. Scheduled for release on May 12, 2017 via Prestige, a division of Concord Music Group, its ten tracks—performed with an all-star acoustic jazz lineup—bristle with a bracing sense of clarity: clarity in Horn’s voice (itself a strong and remarkably supple instrument); clarity in the heady range of vocal legends who have shaped her (from Sarah Vaughan to Rachelle Ferrell); and clarity in the vital message of social uplift and the glowing optimism she conveys through her music.

Horn’s marriage of music and message suffuses the variety of selections on A Social Call: fresh takes of evergreen standards (“East of the Sun (West of the Moon)”, “I Remember You”), hard bop anthems (“Afro-Blue,” “Moanin’”), songs of spiritual intent (“Wade in the Water,” “Lift Every Voice and Song”), a couple of melodies associated with another singer of personal influence, Betty Carter (“Tight,” “Social Call”) and R&B nuggets popularized by the likes of Mary J. Blige and the Stylistics (“I’m Goin’ Down,” “People Make the World Go Round”). Some tunes are woven into medleys with Horn first sermonizing on issues of common concern, giving A Social Call the feel of an intimate, live performance.

With the benefit of Horn’s vocal prowess, A Social Call is an album that satisfyingly combines jazz of the classic, small-group variety—when singers had to step up and carry the same musical weight as any other band member—with more modern flavors of gospel and neo-soul. Horn’s palpable understanding of iconic singers of the 1950s and ’60s makes her the ideal candidate for the historic Prestige label, an imprint that helped introduce many jazz vocalists to the world. Even the name of Horn’s album is drawn from that same time period. “Of course Gigi Gryce’s ‘Social Call’ inspired the title,” says Horn.

“But when you think about it, the word ‘social’ has many definitions—you know, let’s go out or let’s stop and have a drink. What I was thinking about relates to society and a lot of things that are going on right now that are not about love or connection. These are not good times. This album is a few things: it’s a call to social responsibility, to know your role in your community. It’s about being inspired by things that happen in your life and being able to touch others. I want to put that light out there—which is why I called it A Social Call and why this album has to come out, now. This is exactly why I’m here.”

It comes as no surprise that a sincere sense of purpose was instilled in Horn from an early age. Born in Dallas in 1991, she grew up in a tightly knit, church-going family filled with musical talent. It was her grandmother, a jazz-loving pianist whose playing was limited to gospel music by her preacher husband, who gave Horn her name. “That was my father’s mother—Harriet Horn—and I guess she knew I was going to be a musical child.” Asked to name the first tune she can recall singing, Horn recalls without hesitation, “’This Little Light of Mine’! I was 3 years old and my granny was standing at the piano, looking at me, saying, ‘You better open your mouth and sing. You better sing loud. Ar-tic-u-late your words.’ I will never forget—she used to always say that. She passed away when I was 12.  But she taught me so much.”

Horn may have started singing as a toddler, but she had to wait until her early teenage years to encounter jazz.

“I went to Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas and took this jazz composition class with [longtime music instructor] Roger Boykin there. He would always come out and start scatting and talking about certain singing vocabulary, and in the beginning, I looked at him like he was crazy. I had never heard anything like that before—it was definitely a culture shock. Then he gave me this CD compilation of different singers and musicians.  It had Eddie Jefferson, Al Jarreau, George Benson, and others—and I have to admit it was very weird to me and I wasn’t attracted to it at first, not until I heard Sarah Vaughan. And then I fell in love! After that, I tried to mimic everything she did—her intonation, every little flair she did with her voice, everything. I learned how to scat by listening to her, and I really got into it after I listened to John Coltrane and Miles Davis, because they sounded like vocalists though they had a different type of vocabulary.

“When I first started scatting I thought that there was a certain language that you had to maintain. I didn’t know you could have your own style but after a while, I found my little niche in it and it just became me, it became a part of me and I never looked back from that.”

Horn found further inspiration in a variety of singers she likes to call “mentors, the ones that have come and gone and the ones that are still here, especially Rachelle Ferrell. She’s definitely somebody that is mentoring me and she doesn’t even know it. There was a season in my life when every morning and every night before bed I was only listening to one thing—a song she wrote called ‘I Forgive You’ and it’s one of the most beautiful tunes on God’s green earth. It was like a hymnal to me, a song and a message I feel everybody in the universe should know.”

Soon Horn was learning from the music by singers she discovered along the way, like Bobby McFerrin (“most of his performances allow people to be involved musically, not just listening”), Abbey Lincoln (“the lesson I learned from her is always take care of your musicians and they’ll take care of you”), and of course Betty Carter. “I really love her spirit and the energy she gave to people through music, and how she was a teacher to many great musicians, some that I’ve studied with and so in a sense, I feel she’s also mentored me.”

In 2009, Horn moved to New York City, trading the closeness and support of family and friends in Dallas for the rich cultural life and musical legacy of New York City, attending The New School’s jazz and contemporary music program. An intense four years of training, performing and being on the scene followed, when she met many of the musicians who appear on A Social Call. “Victor Gould and I have been playing together a long time—he and I met when I first moved to New York. His sister told me about him. I had another pianist I was singing with and the idea with Victor was to get out of my comfort zone, but that didn’t work because I got so comfortable that I fell more in love with his playing.”

Saxophonist Stacy Dillard was another musician Horn met, “around 2011 when we both started playing at [jazz club] Smalls—what amazed me was that I had no sense of my own ability back then, what I could do, but Stacy was one of the first to respect me not as a singer, but a musician, the musician that I am, and help me see that. Way back then I said to him, ‘Stacy, when I record my album can you please play on it?’ He was like, ‘No doubt. That’s not even a question.’”

Horn’s talent grew and began to garner attention. In 2013, she entered and won a Newark-based contest fittingly named for her initial inspiration—the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition. Then in 2015, at a gala concert at the Dolby Center in Los Angeles, she won what is arguably the most coveted award a young jazz musician can claim today—one that would lead to her recording A Social Call—winner of the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition.

“I was excited but I was overwhelmed at the same time; there was a lot going on in my personal life—I had just become a mother—so I didn’t really have a chance to really notice exactly what was going on until a couple of months later. I remember as soon as I got the award, and finished meeting Mr. Herbie Hancock and some of the judges—Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater—I had to go backstage to feed my baby. That was really the top priority for me. It was crazy time for me.”

A Social Call arrives after more than a year of planning, recording, and post-production, with Horn guiding the process along with Concord producer Chris Dunn. First over the phone and then in the studio, she chose the material and the musicians. “It doesn’t get much better than Ben [Williams] on bass—I’m so glad he was able to do this in the last minute. [Drummer] Jerome Jennings and I, we teach at Jazz at Lincoln Center together; he has different programs he’ll do there and invite me to sing on them. [Trumpeter] Josh Evans I also know from Smalls; he plays with Stacy a lot, and [trombonist] Frank [Lacy] had to be part of this—I know he’s also from Texas, and he has a daughter who’s my age so it’s kind of like talking to a father. He’s really cool, a really genuine guy.”

Horn is particularly proud of “I’m Going Down” and “People Make the World Go Round” because “the energy from the horn section made both of those songs so much fun. It seemed more like a family reunion than a studio recording, to be honest. We had a great time. When there’s no attitude and everyone is willing to put down what it takes, everything just comes off and the message in the music is even more effective.”

There are a number of other musical moments that stand out for Horn, most of which had to do with a surprising ease of execution. “I think from the start of the album, on A Social Call, you can hear how much fun we had in the studio playing together—if you listen to Stacy and me. We did ‘Tight’ in just one take—I was thinking we were going to have to play that one a couple of times. And the chemistry that Jerome and I had in the studio on “The Medley”—we only had to do two takes of that which is hard to believe because it’s the longest track on the album. It came out exactly the way I wanted it to the second time. That was beautiful.”

If there is one track on A Social Call that best captures Horn’s expressive range and her signature sound—the song that is most her, exposed and unadorned—it is arguably her rubato rendition of Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks.” And if there’s one tune that best serves her sense of mission with the music, for Horn it is “The Medley.”

“That’s why it’s called that—it’s just a medley of different things to think about. I think of it more as a meditation because the intro opens up and I mimic sounds of ancient Egypt, then different parts of West Africa, then certain Native American sounds. Then there’s a little bit of Sarah Vaughan operatic vocalizing that goes into ‘Afro Blue’ and into a poem that I wrote called ‘Eye See You’ and finally ‘Wade in the Water.’ So you have a beginning and a middle when you have some tension, and it tells a story with resolution at the end.”

Great story-telling and inspired message-giving, fluid vocals and scat-singing and spirited group performances—A Social Call features all one would hope to hear from a veteran vocalist of longstanding reputation. As such, the album serves as a clarion call, proudly announcing the arrival of a young, confident musical talent with a long history ahead of her, blessed with a name that carries its own destiny.

“My name is Jazzmeia Horn and that is not a mistake,” says Horn. “God does not make mistakes.

-By Ashley Kahn


Chick Corea first laid eyes on New York’s Greenwich Village in 1959, fresh from high school, with a head full of music that only he could have imagined. With this new release The Musician, recorded in the epicenter of Chick’s original NYC haunts and more than 50 years later, Corea finally brings all that music together at once.

The new live 3-CD and Blu-ray set captures Corea’s 70th birthday celebration at the famed Blue Note Jazz Club in 2011, where he assembled a staggering lineup of musical friends and fellow-travelers – among them Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, John McLaughlin and Stanley Clarke – for a month-long residency featuring 10 different bands, including triumphal sets by his own Chick Corea Elektric Band and Return to Forever. All of it is captured brilliantly in the first feature-length documentary on Corea’s life, music and genius musical partners. The film takes you inside the heads and “hangs” of some of the greatest artists of our time – backstage and personal – and the CDs capture almost four hours of live recordings of every band.

The deluxe hardcover edition, including the film on Blu-ray, in addition to the 3 CDs, an essay by Robin D. G. Kelley and exclusive photos, will be available from Concord Jazz on April 21, 2017, as well as a 3-CD edition. A 3-LP edition on 180-gram vinyl is planned for June 2.

Return to Forever Unplugged, with Clarke (bass), Lenny White (drums) and Frank Gambale (guitar), opens the set like a thundercrack. Lyrical explorations in a trio with Gary Peacock (bass) and Brian Blade (drums) follow, cutting a path for even more fireworks from fan-favorite Five Peace Band, co-led with McLaughlin (guitar), featuring Kenny Garrett (sax), John Patitucci (bass) and Blade. A duet with McFerrin (vocals) is pure improvisational magic from two masters of the form. Corea and his most frequent collaborator, Gary Burton (vibraphone) add the Harlem String Quartet for a virtuosic chamber jazz set.

From Miles, with Wallace Roney (trumpet), Gary Bartz (sax), Eddie Gomez (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums) is a Davis tribute like no other: vibrant and swinging with the spirit of Miles himself. Flamenco Heart is a classic late-night Madrid party, featuring Concha Buika (vocals), Jorge Pardo (sax and flute), Carles Benavent (bass), Niño Josele (guitar), and Jeff Ballard (drums). Piano duets with Hancock and Marcus Roberts are brilliantly alive with emotion and virtuosity. The Elektric Band – Dave Weckl (drums), Patitucci, Eric Marienthal (sax) and Gambale – closes the album with a jolt of musical energy. Nobody who saw these shows will ever forget it.

The CDs capture the music with Corea’s characteristic thrilling live sound, and the documentary goes even further: with total access to Chick’s creative process, the film features live footage, but also rehearsals, backstage hangs and candid interviews with the musicians. Everything that goes into making music at this level – the hours of practice, rehearsals, gear moving in and out – is in full view.

The Musician is one of the great portraits of a true genius in his prime, at work. In every musical setting, Corea’s long history of creative adventurism made for the ultimate present-tense music. The title of the set followed naturally.

“That’s what the story’s about. It’s about musicians, being musicians,” Corea says. “When people ask me, ‘What did you learn from Miles?’ – that’s the salient thing that I took from my experience. Miles just let his musicians be themselves. He let them be musicians.”

The Musician is a look at Corea’s ongoing creative journey, one that never rests for long. His constant innovation as a composer, piano player and bandleader have earned him just about every award available to jazz musicians, including his status as a Downbeat Magazine Hall of Famer and NEA Jazz Master. He sits at #4 on the list of artists with the most Grammy nominations of all time. From straight-ahead to avant-garde, bebop to jazz-rock fusion, children’s songs to chamber works – all of which are embraced on The Musician – Corea has touched an astonishing number of musical bases in his career.

“One question I’m asked all the time is what setting do I like best – trios or full bands – or which musician do I like best to work with? Do I like to play the piano more than the Rhodes? The answer to any of those questions is the same, really – it’s all so less in importance to the act of creating, and the act of collaborating with another musician.”

The Musician shows Corea welcoming his 70th year with friends and thousands of fans. Now, five years later, he shows no sign of slowing down. He continues to look forward to more tours, more gigs, and more sessions. Looking back on the month-long celebration that is now remembered on The Musician, Corea calls it motivation “to keep on experimenting and researching and putting new bands together and playing music. It’s that simple.”



Great work from Guadeloupean percussionist Roger Raspail – a set that offers up an unusual blend of jazz and island modes, but in a way that's very rich and organic – without any sort of self-conscious attitude about its presentation! Raspail's worked for years on the Paris scene – and has always been part of that city's rich post-colonial criss-crossing of modes – especially the side of the French jazz scene that has always been very open to non-Anglo rhythms, and allowed very open interplay of different ideas! That approach is definitely in place here – on sounds that maybe offer up more of Raspail's roots than some of his early records – but in a way that also shows his warm absorption of continental modes too. Guests include Vincent Segal, Alain Jean-Marie, Anthony Joseph, and Dao – and titles include "Kalypso Ka", "Rara", "Manza Rene", "Nuite Douce", "Bossa De La Plage", "Papa Yaya", "Ballade A Ilet Perou", and "Anty Kaz La". ~ Dusty Groove.


Fantastic free jazz improvisations on bass – performed here in a live setting by the mighty William Parker alongside Stefano Scodanibbio – in a wonderful array of tones, shapes, and structures! The music has that really special quality that's made Parker one of the most soulful improvisers from the loft jazz years onward – and much of the music has an inherently rhythmic quality, while still allowing for very free performances, both plucked and bowed – over the course of the album's very extended presentation, in five different sections of duets. ~ Dusty Groove


Pure genius from Kaidi Thatham – an artist who continues to grow wonderfully as the years go on – to a point where we no longer know if we should call him a club producer or a jazz musician! This album's a demonstration of equal parts of that genius – almost as if Ramsey Lewis had stayed young, and found a way to move his 70s electric style into the 21st Century London scene – as Tatham plays fantastic solos on Fender Rhodes and other keyboards, over rhythms of his own creation that are filled with just the right sort of cosmic touches and spiritual energy. Tracks include "Seasoned Clouds", "Treacle Manifestations", "Chui Nui", and "Shims".~ Dusty Groove



Funky DL's full on funky homage to A Tribe Called Quest's uber classic Midnight Maurauders – no samples, no breaks or loops pulled from the classic album or the samples therein – this is a freshly done, inspired set of beats, keys, programming and live instrumentation that covers the album track-for-track! It sounds like an ambitious undertaking – and it is – but what's so surprisingly cool about it is how laidback and breezy it plays. The Tribe album is laced with some of the group's best written rhymes, and production steeped in diverse jazz funk samples from giants like Cal Tjader, Roy Ayers, The JBs and Lou Donaldson – that's an astounding pedigree to replicate! Rather than aim as high as that, Funky DL wisely hones in the moody essence at the core, and succeeds pretty handily with a mostly instrumental effort with wordless backing vocals used to sublime effect. Same track list as the Tribe classic: "Midnight Maurauders", "Awaerd Tour", "We Can Get Down", "Electric Relaxation", "Clap Your Hands", "God Lives Through", "Lyrics To Go" and the rest. Dusty Groove.


A run of fresh funky titles from a variety of different acts – presented here with little in the way of notes or dates, but with a nicely unified vibe overall! Many of these groups mix live funk instrumentation with a fair bit of programmed and sampled passages – a bit like that first wave of funk revival groups from two decades back, but also served up with a lean, clean sound that also takes the sonic spectrum from late 60s to early 80s funk. Most tunes are instrumentals, but many include some sampled vocal bit – and titles include "Don't Deny It" by Green Street, "Funky Roids" by Krystian Shek, "Get Down" by Crackerjack, "The Party" by Mister T, "Bubblers" by Q Funktion, "Summer Joyride" by Singularis, and "The Props" by Sixfingerz. Dusty Groove


It's been a few years since we last heard from Clutchy Hopkins – and in that time, he definitely seems to have deepened his groove – coming up with a range of sonic textures and styles that nicely expand from the spare breaks and funk of his previous work! Maybe it's the collaboration with Fat Albert Einstein, or maybe it's just the passage of years – but whatever the case, the album's got a nicely deep vibe – spare currents of global elements and spiritual jazz, used to give a more organic instrumental sound to the whole thing – in ways that never sound gimmicky or forced. There's a few guests on the record, providing live tenor, flute, cello, and guitar – and titles include "Mojave Dervish", "Stutter Steps", "Nyack", "Juju Beans", "Lock Pop", "Pre Vintage", "Cholla Ballad", and "The Wash". Dusty Groove



Five masters of Brazilian jazz bridge years and styles to form The Reunion Project.  On Veranda they offer a modern spin on their jazz and Brazilian music influences. The bonds forged during our formative years can be some of the strongest and most enduring throughout the rest of our lives, no matter where our paths might take us. Saxophonist Felipe Salles, guitarist Chico Pinheiro, pianist Tiago Costa and drummer Edu Ribeiro came of age in São Paulo listening to a unique blend of jazz and Brazilian music that shaped each of them as they've embarked on notable but diverging careers in music. 20 years on, all four come together for the first time and, joined by young lion bassist Bruno Migotto, form The Reunion Project. The quintet's debut, Varanda, reflects the eclectic roots and youthful camaraderie of its members, deepened and honed by the maturity gleaned from two-plus decades of study and experience. On Varanda these five Brazilian virtuosos explore the far-reaching crossroads of modern jazz and Brazilian music through nine original compositions and the aptly-chosen standard "Yesterdays," which, in Costa's tropically lush arrangement, puts the group's unique spin on a familiar tune while expressing the warm nostalgia of the group's reunion.


One of the rawest records we've ever heard from saxophonist Teodross Avery – a set that's very stripped-down, and only just features his tenor alongside drums from Marvin Bugalu Smith! The open setting has Avery really stretching out, in ways we've never heard before – maybe starting with the sort of freedoms that Sonny Rollins first explored at the end of the 50s, but then moving into even more spiritual territory overall – at a level that has us really reevaluating our understanding of his music! The approach is maybe more that of a late 70s David Murray session than we'd ever expect from Teodross – completely stunning throughout. Titles include "The Mystery", "Coltrane Van Halen", "Opponent Contemplation", "Volatility", and "Life Or Death" – and the CD concludes with shorter spoken passages, in which Avery discusses the music.  ~ Dusty Groove

A hip harpist for the 21st Century – one of the few players on the instrument who've been able to carry on the soulful legacy of Dorothy Ashby in the 60s – while still also giving the instrument a new sort of placement in jazz! Brandee Younger's working here with production help from one of Robert Glasper's producers – and the album's got a well-rounded soulful sound – with some nice fusion touches and some other larger elements too – almost as if Dorothy Ashby had made it to the studio with Larry Mizell in the 70s! Other players include Anne Drummond on flute, Mark Whitfield on guitar, Dezron Douglas on bass, and Chelsea Baratz on tenor – and titles include remakes of the Ashby classics "Soul Vibrations", "Wax & Wane", and "Afro Harping" – plus the originals "Black Gold", "Ruby Echo", and "Ebony Haze". ~ Dusty Groove

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bassist Charnett Moffett releases "Music From Our Soul" featuring Pharoah Sanders, Stanley Jordan, Cyrus Chestnut, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Victor Lewis and Mike Clark

2017 marks 30 years since bassist extraordinaire Charnett Moffett burst onto the scene with his Blue Note debut, Net Man. Barely 20 years old but already drawing attention for his virtuosic but soulful contributions to seminal recordings by Wynton Marsalis and Stanley Jordan, Moffett immediately staked out his position as one of the leading voices of his generation, uniquely adept at juggling tradition and innovation, explosive freedom and deep-pocket swing, with a fleet but muscular sound that remains instantly identifiable.

Due out May 19 from Motéma Music, Moffett's Music From Our Soul is at once a summation and a celebration. The album brings together a staggering all-star line-up of collaborators from throughout the bassist's life in music, in a variety of contexts and combinations that range from an Ellington classic to original compositions spanning free-jazz combustion, Coltrane-inspired spiritual seeking to blistering funk workouts, vigorous swing and powerhouse rock fusion. Legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, ground-breaking guitarist Stanley Jordan, journeyman lead pianist Cyrus Chestnut, and iconic drummers Jeff "Tain" Watts, Mike Clark and Victor Lewis all share profound history with Moffett, but more importantly they also share a boundless passion for spontaneous creation that rushes forth from every note on this album.

"We have no choice but to continue to move forward," Moffett says. "You have your history, but time only goes one way. It never goes back. That's something that's beyond our control, so we have to be in the moment of where we are."

Three decades on from his recording debut as a leader, and over four decades since his first professional performance at age 8 in The Moffett Family Band, Moffett can look back on a richly storied career. It began at a remarkably young age in the family band led by his father, drummer Charles Moffett; was forged in his formative years in the thriving Bay Area fusion scene; developed along parallel tracks in the classically-oriented classrooms of Juilliard and the hothouse Greenwich Village club scene in early-80s New York City; and continued to evolve through experiences with iconic artists like Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Sharrock and Ornette Coleman, (Charnett is on his Pulitzer prize winning Sound Museum), along with like-minded peers including Wynton Marsalis and others from the Marsalis family, Kenny Garrett and longtime compatriot Jordan.

Incredibly, all of that rich and diverse history can be heard on the eclectic yet cohesive Music From Our Soul. The human soul, after all, continually grows and evolves over the course of a lifetime, enriched and enlightened by every encounter and experience. So if an artist truly plays from the soul, as Moffett has throughout his career, their music can't help but expand and deepen in similar ways.

"It's important to always express what you feel quite honestly and convey that in your music regardless of the style or sound that you're trying to create," Moffett says. "I naturally have the feeling to want to change, like a lot of artists. It took a lot of time and patience and care and consideration and thought from many different perspectives, but I feel like we were able to achieve a sound that is really true, that represents the history of my career, being influenced by different ways of expressing myself as a jazz artist."

Regardless of the emotional core of the pieces on Music From Our Soul, an exuberant joy shines through every piece, reflecting the electrifying chemistry of these musicians and the deep connections shared between them. Not least of those is the combination of Moffett and Jordan - a partnership that stretches back more than three decades and that bears echoes of the landmark tandem of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, not just in their dual innovations but in the acrobatic way their agile lines dodge and weave around each other (it's notable in this context that Moffett started out playing trumpet, and in many ways still thinks like a horn player). Jordan's astounding versatility becomes even more jaw-dropping on three cuts where he plays guitar and piano simultaneously.

"Charnett and I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area music scene in the 1970s," Jordan recalls. "Back in those days the scene was all about creativity. Mixing jazz with rock was cool, but selling out was not an option. Charnett has stayed true to his roots and today he has become a leading force in the creative music movement. It's my pleasure and honor to support his vision and his mission."

Sanders was a close friend of Moffett's father's who later hired the bassist for many of his own projects; Mike Clark was influential as a member of fusion pioneers The Headhunters with whom Moffett has crossed paths a number of times over the years. Chestnut, Lewis and Watts can trace collaborations with the bassist in terms of decades, not years - Watts all the way back to Wynton Marsalis' GRAMMY® winning milestone Black Codes (From the Underground). "Everyone on this album is a phenomenal, sensational artist," Moffett says. "It was an amazing opportunity and a fantastic experience to share their creative input."

Of course, the pivotal moments and transformations in life are not always positive ones. Many of Moffett's mentors - including the great Ornette Coleman - have passed on in recent years. An even more personal tragedy struck earlier this year when Moffett lost his wife of 30 years, actress and spoken word artist Angela Moffett.

"The only thing I can do now is put my energy into something that's positive, with a lot of life and love in it," Moffett says. "That is definitely the art form of improvisational creative jazz music. It definitely lets you know that life is always expanding and things are always evolving."

Stanley Jordan appears courtesy of Mack Avenue Records and
Cyrus Chestnut appears courtesy of HighNote Records.

Upcoming Charnett Moffett Shows
March 31 - Tavern On The Lake - Hightstown, NJ
April 21 - Exit Zero Jazz Festival - Convention Hall Stage - Cape May, NJ
(Album Release Celebration w/ Brian Jackson, Jeff "Tain" Watts)
April 22 - Exit Zero Jazz Festival - Iron Pier Craft House - Cape May, NJ (solo)
June 14 - Blues Alley - Washington DC
July 27 - Scullers - Boston MA

Charnett Moffett · Music From Our Souls
Label: Motéma Music · Release Date: May 19, 2017

Soil & “Pimp” Sessions continues their Death Jazz attack on “Black Track”

The meteoric Japanese band will release their tenth album in the U.S. on April 14.

The block party begins with “Introduction” during which the band’s rapid-fire horns warm up a vintage jazz-funk groove while Soil & “Pimp” Sessions’ agitator and spirit Shacho sets the stage for what’s to come. Shortly after Midorin’s drums kick in on “By Your Side,” guest rapper Bambu spits smitten rhymes about a club-crawling, nocturnal adventure with a woman, a joint seduced by a smooth and sultry chorus sung by Nia Andrews, another guest artist. The scalding “BLACK MILK” takes the record on a distinctive hard bop swing as pianist Josei occupies center stage amidst the furious-paced jazz number that affords ample room for the entire band to show off their astute chops – from Motoharu’s soprano sax and Tabu Zombie’s trumpet to Akita Goldman’s upright bass. Japanese vocalist Nagaoka Ryosuke guests on “Connected,” a playful, horn-powered amalgam of pop, jazz and rock sprightliness. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions dims the lights to reimagine Herbie Hancock’s classic “Cantaloupe Island,” which they slow down and venture into the dark-hued abyss of an atmospheric jazz exploration. The festivities crank back up fiesta style on the showstopper “Papaya Pai Pai,” part Cab Calloway big band bash, part Latin samba and part cartoonish anime. Precision horns chisel the crazy-legged “88 9th Avenue” that takes sinewy twists and unexpected turns through melodic lanes. Vocalist Xavier Boyer of French indie pop band Tahiti 80 adds international flavor by guesting on the acid jazz-electronic voyage “In2 My Soul.” “One For Carmen” adds a touch of class to the collection, bobbing and weaving along a sweet and tender melody that hovers gracefully atop Midorin’s feverish pounding. “SOILOGIC” is trademark Soil & “Pimp” Sessions, a raucous ride that slashes and burns at a merciless, take-no-prisoners straight-ahead jazz tempo. Although a sassy soprano sax plays the role of protagonist on “Simoom,” it is a hyperkinetic, horn-ignited jazz-funk dancefloor filler. The contemplative “Mellow Black” is backdropped by probing piano, cascading drums and elastic basslines that plumb murky depths. “SEKAI” closes the date with a full-throttle, whirlwind, smash-and-grab chase that recalls mod punk rock.

Emerging from the Tokyo club scene, Soil & “Pimp” Sessions made their recording debut in 2006 with “Pimp Master.” Renowned British DJ Gilles Peterson is credited with turning UK hipsters onto the band through his BBC Radio 1 program, leading to the collection of a BBC Worldwide Award (John Peel Play More Jazz Award) and a television appearance on BBC’s trendsetting “Later…with Jools Holland.” Popularity in the United Kingdom and Europe soared after a round of buzz-building performances at high-profile festivals including the Glastonbury Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Roskilde Festival and many others around the world. Soil & “Pimp” Sessions’ first American release came with 2008’s “Planet Pimp.” For additional information, please visit

“Black Track” contains the following songs:

“By Your Side” featuring Bambu & Nia Andrews
“Connected” featuring Nagaoka Ryosuke
“Cantaloupe Island”
“Papaya Pai Pai”
“88 9th Avenue”
“In2 My Soul” featuring Xavier Boyer
“One For Carmen”
“Mellow Black”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Julia Fordham releases acoustic jazz album “The Language of Love” to romance and seduce

According to singer-songwriter Julia Fordham, Ella Fitzgerald set the standard when it comes to tackling standards so she had to turn to other source material for her forthcoming collection, “The Language of Love,” which will receive its U.S. and European release on April 14 from Red River Entertainment with distribution via BFD/Sony RED.

“As the Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, has already covered every traditional jazz song to perfection, we tried to find a new angle and hopefully put a fresh twist on some of our favorite songs,” the British-born, Los Angeles-based artist said.

Along with producer-arranger Grant Mitchell, Fordham culled a set list of modern pop, rock and R&B classics and revamped them as if they were pages from the Great American Songbook. The misty-voiced singer seductively emotes nine signature hits from the likes of Blondie, Eurythmics, Sting, The Beatles and Stevie Wonder in intimate acoustic jazz settings. She also reconfigured her own debut hit, “Happy Ever After,” and introduces a pair of new tunes - “Like You Used To Do” and “The Morning After (The Night With You)” - that she penned for the occasion with Mitchell.

Throughout “The Language of Love,” Fordham regally plies her deep-hued vocals on tracks that swing (“Call Me” and “Alone Again (Naturally)”), seduce through sultry bossa nova grooves (“Who’s That Girl” and “At Seventeen”), traverse a multicultural world music grid (“Happy Ever After”) and pitter-patter gracefully to a Latin jazz rhythm embellished by a sterling nylon guitar serenade by Ramon Stagnaro (“Fragile”). “I’m Not In Love” becomes a stunning torch song while a stark depiction of “Eleanor Rigby” strikes a hauntingly dramatic tone in a voice, piano and upright bass incarnation. “Sir Duke” bops to a groovy jazz beat highlighted by Wonder’s original “Songs in the Key of Life” tour trumpeter, Harry Kim. The lone tune taken from the Great America Songbook era is “Moon River,” a timeless, heart-tugging beauty written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer. As for the new originals, “Like You Used To Do” is a steamy affair heated by soulful backing vocals from Judith Owen and Sista Jean McClain. A taut rhythm section comprised of David Piltch (upright bass), Herman Matthews (drums) and Ramon Yslas (percussion) construct a subtle Latin vibe on “The Morning After (The Night With You).”        

Two bonus tracks, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “Moon River” orchestrated with strings, will be available exclusively with the digital purchase of the album. Videos for “Call Me,” “Who’s That Girl,” “Eleanor Rigby” and “At Seventeen” were created and will soon be made available for viewing. Fordham will support “The Language of Love” with concert dates in London on July 28 & 29 at The Strand at PizzaExpress Live, October 18 in Los Angeles at Catalina Jazz Club and October 27 & 28 in New York City at Joe’s Pub.  

Fordham said she selected “The Language of Love” as the album title because “it seemed to conjure up a romantic image and the seductive feeling of the album.” The words are the opening lyrics of “Who’s That Girl” and are mentioned in the bridge section of “Call Me.”

Although she grew up writing and singing folk music in clubs since she was 14 in Portsmouth, England, Fordham discovered jazz shortly thereafter and has always incorporated nuances of jazz throughout her recording career that began with her eponymously-titled 1988 release. Her global hit “Love Moves” was featured in 1992’s “The Butcher’s Wife” starring Demi Moore. After relocating to Los Angeles two years later, three of Fordham’s albums were produced by four-time Grammy winner Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Madeleine Peyroux). Her 2005 live CD (“That’s Life”) and DVD (“That’s Live”) featured a stellar ensemble including Klein on bass and Academy Award-winning trumpeter/composer Mark Isham, and showcased Fordham dueting with multiple Grammy winner India.Aire. For additional information, please visit

“The Language of Love” contains the following songs:

“Call Me”
“Who’s That Girl”
“Happy Ever After”
“I’m Not In Love”
“Alone Again (Naturally)”
“Like You Used To Do”
“Eleanor Rigby”
“The Morning After (The Night With You)”
“At Seventeen”
“Sir Duke”
“Moon River”

Bonus Tracks – Digital Only
“You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”
“Moon River (with strings)”

Philly Icon BUNNY SIGLER Releases New Song "Till I See You Again"

Living legend, Philadelphia icon, and renowned R&B singer and songwriter Walter "Bunny" Sigler is excited to announce the latest addition to his ever-expanding discography – a single titled “Till I See You Again”. This song will be released on iTunes and all major digital outlets on March 24, via Sigler’s own Bunz Music & Records label. “Till I See You Again” is the first single from Sigler’s upcoming album ‘Young at Heart’, which is slated for a summer release. ‘Young at Heart’ features Bunny’s fresh take on the genre of jazz, mixing tunes from the classic standards songbook with several of Sigler’s own compositions and his familiar R&B sound. Each of these tunes, old and new, features Sigler’s signature vocal performances that are bursting with emotion.

“Till I See You Again” is no exception, from the opening harmonies to the catchy chorus. The slow ballad gives Sigler a foundation on which he builds a sound with elements of classics and modern tunes alike. The classic instrumentation invites Sigler’s emotional and powerful voice to paint a truly heartfelt and sweet picture of a man longing for a “special friend” while the two are apart. Sigler notes he has dedicated the song to the late Marvin Morrow, who co-wrote the song with Bunny. Tasteful and restrained, “Till I See You Again” is a strong start to ‘Young at Heart,’ Sigler’s follow-up to 2015’s “Bundino”. Lloyd Remick, Bunny’s longtime attorney says:

“Bunny has done a gospel LP, a Christmas LP and two “love and funk” LPs. Now he presents a standards and jazz album to show his complete versatility - he’s a rare and skilled musician.”

Philadelphia R&B legend Bunny Sigler continues to share songs that prove his passion for music goes well beyond his beloved soul songs. Bunny’s songwriting for tracks like Instant Funk's "I Got My Mind Made Up", Patti Labelle's "Somebody Loves You Baby", The Whispers' "Bingo", Jackie Moore's "Sweet Charlie Babe" and The O'Jays "Sunshine" are what put him on the musical map. Not only is Bunny skilled with the pen, but he is also a world-renowned singer.

This Philadelphia native began his singing career in churches all over the metropolitan area with songs like "O Lord My God" and "The Lord's Prayer". The industry gave him the nickname “Mr. Emotion” after his heartfelt performances on stage. Creating numerous hits over the span of his career (many of which are still being sampled in today's generation), Bunny continues to write, produce and record new material. He is the co-writer of the song “The Ruler's Back” which was an opening song for Jay Z's album, "Blueprint". Even at over 70 years old, "there ain't no stopping us now" claims Sigler, as he gets continues to write, record, and release new music on a regular basis.

Saxophonist Jared Sims Celebrates Return to West Virginia From Boston With New Quintet Session "Change of Address"

Jared Sims Change of Address After two decades in New England, where multi-reed virtuoso Jared Sims made his mark as an instrumentalist, bandleader, educator, and all-around musical provocateur, Sims celebrates his return to West Virginia with Change of Address, his fifth album as a leader. On the new CD, which will be released April 14 by Ropeadope Records, Sims sticks to his favorite instrument -- the baritone sax -- in the company of an airtight, organ-dappled quintet.

Change of Address commemorates Sims's homecoming to his alma mater, West Virginia University in Morgantown, which has named him Director of its Jazz Studies Department 20 years after he earned his own jazz studies degree there.

The music on the album is notable for instilling the jazz-soul tradition with an up-to-the-minute sensibility and is deftly interpreted by the leader, joined by an intriguing collection of players for whom he wrote its tunes, Ellington-style. They include the wife-and-husband team of organist Nina Ott and bassist Chris Lopes (a longtime crony of guitarist Jeff Parker), and a pair of young Boston-area veterans in guitarist Steve Fell and drummer Jared Seabrook (older brother of guitar provocateur Brandon).

Among the highlights on Change of Address are "Ghost Guest 1979," which showcases a full range of textural effects from Fell and seamless interaction between bass and Hammond B-3; the sprightly, wide-open "Lights and Colors"; and "Forest Hills," inspired by the Boston neighborhood in which he lived.

Jared Sims Sims (b. 1974) started playing the baritone in the fifth grade in his hometown of Staunton, Virginia, but only became dedicated to this most colossal of saxes after bringing a tenor to a class at the New England Conservatory (NEC) and having his instructor chide him he would never be great on it because he would be following in the footsteps of too many legends.

Far from taking offense, Sims took his teacher's words to heart. "There are a lot of gold standards on tenor," he says. "I was trying to find a way to move past those influences. Playing the baritone felt really natural to me. I felt like I could do something personal and interesting with it." A compelling example of this is Sims's "Seeds of Shihab," a tribute to baritone great Sahib Shihab, which like the other tracks on Change of Address luxuriates in the brawny, bottom-rich sound of the instrument.

Sims attended his first jazz concert, by Michael Brecker, in tenth grade, and saw the World Saxophone Quartet perform the following year. His fascination with the saxophone went "over the top" after he spoke with members of the WSQ following the show.

At WVU, he had a strong saxophone teacher in David Hastings, who schooled him in traditional styles. At NEC, where he played clarinet in addition to baritone, alto, and tenor, he tried to catch up to all the kinds of music he hadn't been exposed to, including Third Stream, under the wing of distinguished faculty members Gunther Schuller, George Russell, and Ran Blake.

Sims went on to study for his doctorate in classical music performance at Boston University, where his lecture recital was on the modern Italian composer Luciano Berio and his solo Sequenza pieces. He also did research work on Igor Stravinsky, Charles Ives, and American popular music.

While in Boston, where he earned a reputation as a "saxophone colossus," Sims roomed for four years with standout baritone saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase, a cog in Either/Orchestra, who turned him onto Shihab. One of his mentors at NEC was Allan Chase, with whom he continues to play in a band, Blow-up!, dedicated to the music of bebop baritone legend Serge Chaloff (they recorded in March 2017). He also played in numerous Boston-based bands including the Afro-Latin group Mango Blue (in which he continues to perform); the organ funk outfit Akashic Record; Blueprint Project with guitarist Eric Hofbauer, and the jazz-rock quartet Miracle Orchestra. The list of artists he has collaborated is an eclectic one and ranges from the late Bob Brookmeyer, Han Bennink, Matt Wilson, Dave Liebman, and Anat Cohen to the Temptations, 10,000 Maniacs, and Oasis's Noel Gallagher.

Sims made his recording debut as a leader with the trio effort Acoustic Shadows (2009). He followed it with another three-man outing Convergence (2011), the collective quartet album The New Stablemates (2012), and Layers (2016), on which he overdubs himself playing saxophones, clarinets, and flute on tunes by Ellington, Monk, and Mingus.

Jared Sims will celebrate the release of Change of Address at the following engagements: 4/14 James Street Gastropub, Pittsburgh; 4/27 The Bitter End, NYC; 4/28 Third Life Studio, Boston (with same personnel as the CD). 


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