Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New Music Releases: Indra Rios Moore, Bob Marley and The Wailers, Jimi Tenor / Tony Allen

Indra Rios Moore – Carry My Heart

A beautifully soulful album from Indra Rios Moore – a singer who was living in Brooklyn a few years ago, but only found herself in the spotlight after moving overseas, and working with a great little combo in Denmark! This album's Indra's second, and features an even tighter, more sophisticated approach than the first – with Rios-Moore singing alongside partner Benjamin Traerup on saxes, in a combo that's mostly laidback and spare – but which has just the right sort of groove to fit each different track – as the music not only includes originals by Indra, but also songs by Curtis Mayfield, Steely Dan, Duke Ellington, and the Isley Brothers. Indra's got this voice that's instantly expressive, and quite transformative on some of the tunes – and titles include "Carry My Heart", "Any Major Dude Will Tell You", "Don't Say Goodnight", "Be Mine", "Come Sunday", "What You Won't Do For Love", "Keep On Pushing", and "Give It Your Best". ~ Dusty Groove

Bob Marley and The Wailers - Roots, Rock, Remixed

Six Degrees Records is distributing the new, deluxe version of this excellent Bob Marley remix project. Originally released in 2007, the new, expanded digital version is packed with previously unreleased bonus tracks. There have been a few Marley remix records over the years but this one is our personal favorite, due to the diversity and quality of the remixers like: DJ Spooky, Jimpster, Fort Knox Five, Yes King, Bombay Dub Orchestra, Afrodisiac Soundsystem, Patchworks, DJ Dolores, King Kooba & more. For vinyl heads- there's even some super-limited edition wax, divided into two packages: "The Club Plates" & "The Dub Plates
Jimi Tenor / Tony Allen - Moogin At The Cafe

A mighty nice meeting of giants – Scandinavian funk and jazz wizard Jimi Tenor, and the legendary Afro Funk drummer Tony Allen – coming together here in a set of duos that are way more than the sum of their parts! Tony plays live drums, and Jimi adds in lots of keyboards and electronics, plus saxophone as well – and the result is a nicely offbeat take on funky territory – maybe a bit like some of the work that Tony Allen was first doing when he reemerged on the French scene in the late 90s, with almost some of the skittish grooves you'd expect to hear from Can during their classic years. One tune gets a bit soulful, but the rest are real rhythmic workouts – and titles include "Asiko", "New World", "Paris", "Selfish Gene", and "Afro Disco Beat". ~ Dusty Groove

Diane Marino “SOUL SERENADE” - The Gloria Lynne Project

“Soul Serenade” is the title of Diane Marino’s newest CD project. Although not exactly a “tribute” album, it is more of a celebration of the music made popular by the great vocalist, Gloria Lynne. As it turns out, Diane Marino has been singing some of the material she has been known for ever since she first began to sing professionally.
“I Wish You Love” is one of the first ballads she ever sang on a gig. “I’m Glad There Is You” is a track I recorded for her CD “On The Street Where You Live”.

While performing on a recent gig with drummer Vince Ector, Diane sang “I’m Glad There Is You”, and he reminded her that it was one of Gloria’s signature songs.
She then began to research more of Gloria’s work and was instantly mesmerized by her voice, style and emotion. Additionally, her choice of material was instantly appealing to her. Diane Marino tends to look for songs that are “beyond the norm” of the Great American Songbook repertoire. The songs Gloria Lynne recorded during her career stand alone in their originality and uniqueness.

As with her previous CD’s, Diane Marino always learns a tune and then works with it at the piano, making it an extension of what she’s hearing and feeling from the lyric and melody.
Diane asked her dear friend Brad Cole to take her concepts and write the arrangements and orchestrations as well as to play piano and keyboards on this project. Brad Cole knew exactly what Diane wanted to do with each of these songs, and in the end Diane Marino has delivered a fresh approach to the music made famous by Gloria Lynne.

San Francisco Jazz Singer NOA LEVY to Release Her Debut EP TAKE TWO

With a beautiful, rounded voice and a magnetic stage presence, NOA LEVY is a unique and charismatic female vocalist and performer who sings across genres – Jazz, Rock, Cabaret, Musicals, and Pop. She has set a worldwide digital release date of August 17, 2018, for her recently recorded debut TAKE TWO EP, a thoughtful collection of Jazz arrangements featuring NOA LEVY in a duo format with three different instrumentalists. That same day, Noa will headline her own RISING STAR SHOWCASE at the California Jazz Conservatory, featuring songs from the TAKE TWO EP as well as other material.

Drawing on influences from her favorite musicians and artists including Peter Gabriel, Brad Mehldau, and Carmen McRae, NOA LEVY has developed her own signature arrangements of classic and unique tunes to paint a picture that anyone listening can relate to. Her favorite thing about jazz is the possibility to collaborate with fellow musicians about universal themes and day to day life, and her arrangements on the TAKE TWO EP are the fruit of some of these collaborations. She is also developing her own original songwriting, and will perform a handful of shows to support the release of the TAKE TWO EP throughout the summer and fall of 2018.

NOA LEVY is currently studying and honing her craft at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, CA, while also working on her repertoire and performing with local musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally born in Jerusalem, she grew up for most of her life in Israel. She has performed with Israel’s National Chamber Orchestra, was invited to tour and record an album with Israel’s leading composer and pianist, Yoni Rechter, and was co-lead singer for the popular ABBA tribute band, Waterloo. She also arranged and directed her own cabaret show, Cheetah. Since moving to San Francisco in 2016, NOA LEVY has immersed herself in the world of jazz. In 2017, Jazz in the Neighborhood twice recognized her as an Emerging Artist, providing her the opportunity to perform and study with the eminent Bay Area jazz singer Clairdee and the prolific Brazilian jazz singer and composer Sandy Cressman. She was also invited to collaborate on the Jazz Voices of Poetry project which debuted new material early in 2018.

Her passion for performance was apparent at just four years old when her grandparents found her dancing on stage at a large music festival. While listening to Queen’s Greatest Hits on a cassette tape given by her father, she discovered her singing voice at age 12 – she was blown away by the amazing musicality and vocal talents of Freddie Mercury and she’s been singing ever since. In middle school, she joined a renowned local theater group and starred in lead roles as the group toured Israel.

At 18, for her mandatory military service, NOA LEVY auditioned for and was inducted into the IDF’s prestigious Navy Ensemble where she performed throughout Israel and also toured across the United States. Following her IDF service, she pursued her passion and developed her talent for musical theater at the London School of Musical Theatre in London, England, earning a diploma. Afterwards, she concentrated on music studies at Rimon School of Music in Israel.

The first release party for her TAKE TWO EP will be held on August 17, 2018, at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley (formerly known as the Jazzschool). A privately-owned non-profit music school founded in 1997, the school won accreditation as a conservatory in early 2014, and is the only American school with a year-round jazz music program.

Tenor Saxophonist Ivo Perelman Collaborates With Bass Clarinetists Rudi Mahall & Jason Stein On Kindred Spirits & Spiritual Prayers

Over the course of nearly 100 recordings under his own name, tenor saxophone savant Ivo Perelman had previously recorded only once in the company of another reed player -- in 2005, in a quartet that paired him with Louis Sclavis on bass clarinet. Now, in his latest exploration of sonic colors and instrumental pairings, Perelman has tripled that output with the release of two quietly spectacular albums, Kindred Spirits and Spiritual Prayers (August 24 via Leo Records). However, instead of a quartet format, Perelman and each of his bass-clarinet partners work as a duo, which magnifies and enhances the relationship of these closely related but still disparate horns.

The idea to record a series of albums with bass clarinetists took shape in the summer of 2017. At that time, the restlessly creative Perelman had begun work on what will become a series of more than 20 albums featuring improvisers from the violin family (including viola and cello); nonetheless, he was already looking ahead to a next challenge. He had a specific criterion in mind for selecting bass clarinet collaborators. In addition to embracing Perelman’s modus operandi of total spontaneity -- improvisation without any written music, tempo cues, or predetermined structure -- they would have to be bass clarinet “purists,” in Perelman’s description: artists who work on that instrument exclusively, as opposed to the overwhelming majority of reedists who use it as a second (or more likely third) option in their improvising.

He ended up with a short list, finding only two such improvisers known for their single-minded devotion to the bass clarinet: Rudi Mahall, based in Germany, and Jason Stein, a mainstay on Chicago’s seemingly inexhaustible new-music scene. But these two sessions sufficed to whet Perelman’s appetite for working with other woodwind artists in the future. “This means so much in my development as an artist,” Perelman says, “considering that I’ve built my career so far by playing mainly with piano, bass, drums, and strings. Playing with another reed instrument opens up so many possibilities.”

Much of this has to do with the common bonds between tenor sax and bass clarinet. Both are single-reed aerophones, in the same key (B-flat), that traverse a similar timbral range. They share similarities in articulation, fingering, and embouchure, and also in the way these techniques can be combined to produce the altissimo notes, above the written notation, that Perelman has especially mastered. But the success of this project also depends on the unique connections forged by Perelman with Mahall (on Kindred Spirits) and Stein (on Spiritual Prayers) -- each of whom met Perelman less than 24 hours before they stepped into the studio.

In the case of Mahall -- famed for his work with Globe Unity Orchestra, as well as a long association with new-music pianist Aki Takase -- Perelman discovered a fraternal bond between outsiders. Mahall grew up in Nuremberg, Germany, and Perelman hails from São Paolo, Brazil; says the saxophonist, “We are both foreigners. We both grew up outside American jazz.” So even though each of them would eventually discover, embrace, and then transcend the “jazz tradition,” neither of them heard very much of that tradition in their formative years. For Perelman, this proved revelatory, particularly when working with another reedist who, like himself, trained extensively in classical music (Mahall on soprano clarinet, Perelman on guitar and cello).

Five days after the whirlwind session yielding the double-disc Kindred Spirits with Mahall, Perelman went back to the studio with Stein to record the single-disc Spiritual Prayers, and again forged an unexpected connection. While neither of them observes his religion in any formal sense, both are Jews with familial roots in Russia and Eastern Europe; this coincidence did not go unnoticed by either of them.

“Playing with Jason felt like reverentially, respectfully praying with another rabbi,” Perelman says. “Not that I’ve done that before -- my last synagogue experience was my bar mitzvah! -- but I have this clear memory of me and my father, the rabbi and the minyan, and the seriousness of that moment came back to me when I was playing.” For his part, Stein says, “There are things about Ivo that reminded me of my grandfather” -- small gestures, his way of going about his business -- “and that just cultivated a sense of ease and familiarity. It’s hard to point to a connection in terms of direct musical experience. But we both have this shared Jewish heritage, coming from a Russian-Polish lineage, and that feeds into the music.”

Although each album comprises freely improvised duets for the same instrumentation, they really have only that in common, owing to the striking differences between the bass clarinetists. Mahall, steeped in not only classical music but also the European avant-garde, imparts an old-world elegance to Kindred Spirits, even in guttural passages and moments of furious abandon. Stein embodies a grittier new-world boldness, and a rawboned swagger particular to Chicago jazz in all its manifestations, from the early trade players through the adventurers who formed the AACM in the 60s and the avant-garde renaissance of the 21st century. Together, they constitute a new chapter in Ivo Perelman’s musical biography, one in which the intimacy between similar instruments yields some of the most affecting music in his extensive catalog -- even if it rigorously resists categorization.

Born in 1961, Ivo Perelman played several instruments before finally adopting the tenor saxophone. Entering the Berklee College of Music in 1981, he focused on the mainstream masters of the tenor sax, as opposed to such pioneering avant-gardists as Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann, and John Coltrane – all of whom would later be cited as precedents for his own work. Perelman left Berklee in 1983 and moved to Los Angeles, where he discovered his penchant for post-structure improvisation. “I would go berserk, just playing my own thing,” he explains now. Emboldened by this approach, he began to research the free-jazz saxophonists who had come before him, and in the early 90s he moved to the more inviting artistic milieu of New York.

Since 2010, he has immersed himself in a “creative frenzy” that shows no sign of diminution; he has recorded more than 30 albums in just the last three years. His impassioned, expressionist approach to the tenor sax continues to captivate (and often mystify) critics and fans, as do his specific performances, vivacious and hyperkinetic, with a variety of like-minded improvisers. Critics have called him “one of the great saxophone virtuosi” and “one of the world’s most prominent avant-garde jazzmen,” and the composer-conductor-scholar Gunther Schuller praised him as “a unique genius” working within “an entire new school of jazz.”

Perelman also maintains a separate career as a visual artist, producing a steady stream of abstract drawings and paintings that have attracted admirers worldwide. He now splits his time between New York, his home for more than 25 years, and São Paulo, Brazil.

JACK SELS / MINOR WORKS: A legend of Belgian Jazz and a highly influential figure on the post-war Belgian jazz scene

One of the legends of Belgian Jazz and a highly influential figure on the post-war Belgian jazz scene, Sels died in 1970 at the mere age of 48, and he remains the country’s most mythical jazz musician, almost fifty years after his death. Throughout his career, he would play with jazz legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Lester Young, Lou Bennett and Lucky Thompson, but he remained virtually unknown outside Belgium due to his reluctance to leave Antwerp.

Released 31st August on 2CD, vinyl and digital formats, ‘Minor Works’ is a collection of rare, previously unreleased studio and live recordings paying homage to the life and jazz of the enigmatic musician. Often overlooked by a wider audience, partly due to a limited discography, his contribution to the development of the modern jazz scene in Belgium cannot be underestimated, and neither can his influence on his fellow musicians, to whom he was the embodiment of jazz. As vibraphone player Fats Sadi once said: “I loved Jack. He had never studied music and didn’t have the least bit of technique. But if Jack played, the gates of heaven opened. Jack was more jazz than jazz itself.”
2CD, vinyl and digital release includes 12 previously unreleased studio tracks and 8 unreleased live tracks from highly influential post-war Belgian jazz saxophonist.

Born 29th January 1922, Sels was the only child in a wealthy family. His father Joseph, whom he referred to as ‘The Boss’, held a high position at the maritime company, John P. Best. He was predestined to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a businessman himself, until the early death of both his parents changed everything.
As a young adolescent, he inherited the family fortune which he spent in no time on everything in life that’s good: girls, champagne and jazz records. By now an avid jazz fan, Jack accumulated a notorious collection of original 78 rpm jazz records which ran up into the thousands. A family legend goes that one day he bought all the tickets of Antwerp’s famous cinema Rex, and handed them all out to passers-by on the street. “He was a millionaire, but he gave everything away,” explains Jack’s son-in-law and close friend Willy Van Wiele. “He hung out with people of a lower social class and adapted to them, instead of to the rich.” Jack’s good life however, ended with a bang when a World War II bombing destroyed the family house, including his precious record collection and everything else he had.
But this setback was not going to stop Jack from indulging even further in his love for music, and he began to study piano, and then taught himself the tenor saxophone while spending as much time as possible listening to his jazz idols, among them the tenor saxophonist Lester Young, trumpeters Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker.
The arrival of Dizzy Gillespie’s big band at Antwerp in 1948 made a lasting impression on Sels as well as the legendary Birth of the Cool sessions by Miles Davis’s nonet, which were crucial for his further development, and he decided to start his own big bands including the All Stars Bop Orchestra, including a young Toots Thielemans, and the Jack Sels Chamber Music Orchestra.
In 1951, he travelled to Germany to perform for the American troops, and after his return to Antwerp he played in basement pubs, dance halls and jazz clubs and would later compose the soundtrack for the film ‘Meeuwen Sterven in de Haven’ (Seagulls Die in the Harbour) by Roland Verhavert.
In 1959, he supported Nat King Cole and had the opportunity to perform with his idol Lester Young in Brussels. Later, a career working on radio programmes for the NIR, then later BRT, was short lived due to the musical restraints held upon him.

His first and only studio album came in 1961 and featured American musicians Lou Bennett and Oliver Jackson and young Belgian guitarist, Philip Catherine. However, on release, the sleeve failed to mention the famous artists involved in the recording and the album didn’t bring the long awaited breakthrough Sels craved, who had already given up on his jazz career by the time it was finally released.

By 1966, Sels’s working opportunities in jazz had become so slim that he was forced to start working at the Antwerp harbour, where he helped to unload boats. During this period, he rarely performed in public anymore. Besides the irregular local gig, he occasionally appeared in schools and cultural centres, illustrating lectures about jazz history by jazz critic Juul Anthonissen. Instead he devoted his time to writing music, which he did on a small harmonium.

It was while making music, sitting at his harmonium, that Sels suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on 21 March 1970. Once one of Belgium’s foremost modern jazz musicians, he died in poverty, largely forgotten and after a turbulent life.

1.      Spanish Lady
2.      Ginger
3.      Nick's Kick *
4.      Dorian 0437 *
5.      La Campimania *
6.      African Dance
7.      Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise *
8.      Blues For A Blonde
9.      Blue Triptichon *
10.   Rain On The Grand'Place
11.   Night In Tunisia *
12.   Minor Works
13.   Tchak-Tchak *
14.   Invitation *
15.   Minor 5
16.   The Preacher *
17.   Dong *
18.   Gemini *
19.   It Might As Well Be Spring *
Previously unreleased *

1.      Night In Tunisia (Live)
2.      Taking A Chance On Love (Live)
3.      Zonky (Live)
4.      Blue Monk (Live)
5.      Swingin' The Blues (Live)
6.      Walkin' (Live)
7.      Unknown Title (Live)
8.      Broadway (Live)
All tracks previously unreleased

Pianist HELEN SUNG presents SUNG WITH WORDS - A Collaboration with Dana Gioia

Winning a 2014 Chamber Music America/Doris Duke Foundation "New Jazz Works" grant (given each year to support the compositional efforts of U.S. based jazz artists) enabled pianist/composer Helen Sung to fulfill a long-time dream: to create Sung With Words, a collaborative project with the celebrated American poet Dana Gioia. Utilizing jazz and poetry as powerful catalysts to create new music, Sung With Words is Sung's first recording to feature all original music, consisting of vocal works where Gioia's poems serve as lyrics, as well as instrumental compositions inspired by words (for example, her Lament for Kalief Browder). She enlists longtime musical colleagues to help bring the music to life: multi-reedist John Ellis, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Kendrick Scott and percussionist Samuel Torres. Vocalists Jean Baylor, Carolyn Leonhart, Christie Dashiell, and Charenee Wade interpret the words of Gioia, whose poems have been described as "resonant with music".

Jazz writer David Adler perceptively states in his liner notes: "The affinity between jazz and poetry stretches back to Langston Hughes and others writing in the "Jazz Age" of the '20s, forward to the Beat Generation and up to today. Poets played a central role in the '60s avant-garde and free jazz, not to mention the current intertwined exchange between jazz and hip-hop. In recent years, Andrew Rathbun has composed works inspired by Margaret Atwood; Luciana Souza by Neruda and Elizabeth Bishop; John Hollenbeck by Kenneth Patchen - the list goes on." 

Now, Sung and Gioia enter the fray, and with aplomb! Sung first met Gioia at a White House State Dinner and discovered he was a fan and champion of jazz (during his term he spearheaded the revival of the National Endowment's Jazz Masters Award into the robust program it is today, and his younger brother is noted jazz author Ted Gioia). Poetry hadn't been an area of focus for the pianist/composer so she was intrigued to meet a 'live' poet. "Dana has a fascinating story, both personally and professionally, and one of his many gifts is his ability to make poetry accessible and even enjoyable for the layperson, similar to how Wynton Marsalis does with jazz," Sung says. Elaborating further, "After high school required poetry, I stayed away, remembering how I disliked feeling unsure of a poem's meaning, worrying that I was the only one who didn't 'get it'."

In conversation with Gioia, however, Sung found her footing: "I admitted my general feelings about poetry, and he said, 'Don't worry too much about literal meaning. Read the poem out loud, listen to how the words fall rhythmically, how they flow, how the consonants and vowels sound, and meaning will come - usually sideways.' It was a revelation! I also discovered when I would imagine lines of poetry as a melodic phrase or rhythmic pattern, it would illuminate the words and the poem would come alive with meaning. I soon thought, why not make this into a song? This led to the desire to create a full-length album of songs, and I couldn't think of a more exciting and inspiring collaborator than Dana when I applied for the Chamber Music America 'New Jazz Works' grant."

Sung With Words also reflects Sung's fascination with the direct connection vocalists have with the listener. Unlike instrumentalists who deal purely with sound, vocalists are armed with lyrics that can be readily understood by the listener - they can be storytellers in a very tangible way. "It has been a great learning experience dealing with words - building sonic worlds around Dana's poems that express what those words mean to me," says Sung. "In my research for writing the music for Sung With Words I found inspiration in music where words, rhythm and sound are interwoven in ways that move me - music of artists such as Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, A Tribe Called Quest, Me'shell Ndegeocello, Esperanza Spaulding, Terri Lyne Carrington, etc. I have a great respect for the art of song-writing and wanted to answer the challenge: to present Dana's words in my own musical language - as an honest distillation of what I hear, and how I hear."
Helen Sung is a pianist of great breadth and excellence, able to enrapture an audience as a soloist; one of the few pianists in the world who can perform in a duo setting with the legendary Ron Carter; lead a trio with such fire and absolute brilliance that it will transport you back to the heyday of Bradley's in the 80s/90s; or, dive into a larger formats ranging from Quartet to Big Band (as evidenced by her contribution on Jazz at Lincoln Center's 2017 Blue Engine release Handful of Keys). Steeped in the blues and post-bop, with an affinity for Monk, but also able to expertly deal with James P. Johnson and Jelly Roll Morton, Sung has worked with a "Who's Who" in jazz, including the late Clark Terry, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis, Terri Lyne Carrington, the Mingus Big Band and MacArthur Fellow Regina Carter. A graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Sung knows the tradition and uses this bedrock to build upon and expand her artistic vision. Her recorded output reveals a composer and bandleader, second to none: Push (2003), Helenistique (2006), Sungbird (2007), Going Express (2010), (re)Conception (2011), and Anthem For a New Day (2014). Sung With Words is a thrilling next step in the pianist's glorious and inspiring evolution, and Sung fittingly declares, "It's been a great adventure and I look forward to sharing this music with the world!"
Upcoming Tour Dates:

Aug 15 - Smalls Jazz Club (NYC)
Aug 16-19 - Jazz Standard (NYC)
Aug 23 - Bayside Summer Nights Jazz Series (San Diego)
Aug 28-Sept 1 - Birdland Jazz Club (NYC)
Sept 14 - CD Release at the Blue Whale (Los Angeles, CA)
Sept 15 - Christianity, Community, Churches, and Challenges, (Irvine, CA)
Sept 18-22 - Birdland Jazz Club (NYC)
Sept 28 - Met Museum of Art (NYC)
Sept 30* - CD Release concert (LIU Post, Long Island)
Oct 5-7 - w/Oregon Coast Jazz Party (Newport, OR)
Oct 8 -  Chapel Performance Space (Seattle, WA)
Oct 9 - Edmonds Woodway High School (Seattle, WA)
Oct 10 - Monk Centennial Celebrationg (San Francisco, CA)
Oct 12-22 - Ronnie Scott's (UK)
Oct 24-25 - Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola (NYC)
Oct 25 - WBGO/Yamaha Concert Series 2018 (NYC)
Nov 7-10 - (exact dates TBC) Sydney International Women's Jazz Festival
Nov 16 - NJPAC (Newark, NJ)
Nov 17 - Kennedy Center (Wash., DC)
Nov 18 - McCarter Theater (Princeton, NJ)
Dec 1 - CD Release at North Coast Brewing's Sequoia Room 
(Fort Bragg, CA)
Dec 2 - Healdsburg Jazz (Healdsburg, CA)
Dec 4 or 5 - CD Release at Dazzle Jazz (Denver, CO)
Dec 6 - CD Release at Kuumbwa Jazz Center (Santa Cruz, CA)
Jan 19 - CD Release at Vermont Jazz Center (Brattleboro, VT)
Jan 26 - CD Release at 2019 Trinity Jazz Festival (Houston, TX)   

In a New Six Album Solo Recording, Guitarist Miles Okazaki Plays the Complete Thelonious Monk Songbook

The year 2017 marked the centennial of Thelonious Monk's birth, full of commemorations and remembrances of the master composer. After performing in a tribute concert that year, guitarist Miles Okazaki decided to embark on a deep dive into Monk's music, documenting his progress as a recording project. 

Over the course of the next year, he exhaustively researched every composition in the repertoire and translated each one onto the guitar, staying as faithful as possible to the original material while improvising arrangements with a focus on rhythm. With 70 compositions spanning six full-length albums, this is the first time that the complete Thelonious Monk songbook has been recorded on a single solo instrument.

Miles Okazaki is a NYC based guitarist originally from Port Townsend, a small seaside town in Washington State. His approach to the guitar is described by The New York Times as "utterly contemporary, free from the expectations of what it means to play a guitar in a group setting - not just in jazz, but any kind." His sideman experience over the last two decades covers a broad spectrum of approaches (Kenny Barron, John Zorn, Stanley Turrentine, Dan Weiss, Matt Mitchell, Jonathan Finlayson, Jane Monheit, Amir ElSaffar, Darcy James Argue, and many others). 

He was seen most prominently with Steve Coleman and Five Elements from 2009-2017. As a leader  Okazaki is known primarily as a composer, having written four volumes of original compositions over the last 12 years. His most recent album Trickster was released on Pi Recordings last year to wide acclaim, receiving editor's picks in DownBeat Magazine and JazzTimes, called "a true concept album" by The Wall Street Journal and "a mature work for the ages" by PopMatters. This album of Thelonious Monk compositions is his first recording of standard repertoire. 


MoonJune announces new release of the Catalan drummer extraordinaire XAVI REIJA "The Sound Of The Earth"


TONY LEVIN bass guitar, upright bas, stick
MARKUS REUTER touch guitar

The Sound Of The Earth  Notes by Dan Burke:

First heard on Xavi and Dusan’s inspired 2014 album, “Random Abstract” by XaDu, “Deep Ocean” starts things off with a fanfare of muscular guitar and cymbals crashing like waves on the rocky coast, carving out the beach and unearthing a primal groove with growling bass and jittering spectral figures. “The Sound of the Earth I” brings to mind David Sylvian’s post-Japan near ambient instrumental excursions where space and pause became as integral to the “composition as place” as his trusty Prophet 5. Once this world is created, and with a decidedly Beckian vibe (Jeff, that is), Dusan wrings from the neck of his guitar, some of the most emotive broken phrases and edited soulful voicings.

“From Darkness” finds Tony’s minimalist bass pulse in 5/8 with snare/kick serving as the groundwork for Dusan and Markus’ spiraling moebius strip guitar riffery. There is a slightly frenzied insistence to this track which serves as a great counterpoint to the more atmospheric work.

Leading off with playful skipping brushwork and a rich and supple Levin bass groove, then painted with Reuter’s ominous stained and weathered guitar tones, “The Sound of the Earth II” is a dark canvas of shifting clouds of color. Dusan’s skittery clipped chords and abbreviated lead lines bring necessary tension for the fluid guitar phrasings which seem to erupt and then run down the face of this 12 minute tone painting. “Serenity” is an inspired atmospheric piece which features an abstracted melodic lead buoyed by an insistent tamboura-like repeated wavering note. There is enough creativity and inspiration in this one track to feed a whole album’s worth of music.

Beginning with a deep space Curtis Mayfield vibe, “The Sound of the Earth III” unfolds slowly with a practiced teasing restraint that allows the music to bloom naturally. “Lovely Place” finds the notes of Dusan’s guitar projected, like light, into a prism and coming back as a myriad of shimmering colors. Reuter’s stellar fluid guitar solo has a heroic and almost “Hotel California” build and break before returning to Dusan’s delicate finger work.

At nearly 17 minutes long, “The Sound of the Earth IV” would feel right at home on side 3 of a double Kosmiche Musik LP from 1969. This is heady stuff with lots of room for some really spirited interplay. Markus inspires this kind of creativity with his willingness to step way outside of the comfort zone. The musicians feel as though they’ve played together for years. In “Take a Walk” Dusan knits a lean triplet argeggiated guitar riff into a tight braid to give structure while a swaggering monster groove builds and builds, all the while tugging mercilessly at the yarn of his guitar until it temporarily unravels into a series of more tentative notes and slightly bent chords.

You can feel the room in this recording and, by that, I mean you can sense both the physical space and the emotional space between these four gifted players. There is a level of trust and comfort here that puts the listener at ease and ready to take the ride. Band leader and Catalan drummer, Xavi Reija and Serbian-born guitarist Dusan Jevtovic have worked together on numerous projects these past few years and have become an intuitive musical unit. Born in Boston, Tony Levin, with his impeccable pedigree from Herbie Mann and Chuck Mangione to Peter Gabriel and King Crimson as well as his own 10- year ongoing project Stick Men, along with fellow Stick Men, Crimson ProjeKCt and Centrozoon member German-born Markus Reuter, have likewise developed a common language communicating through music.

Such heartfelt and enthusiastic playing is in short supply these days. This is not music pigeon-holed for easy consumption, rather, it challenges and rewards more and more with each listening. So put down your phone, lower the lights and prepare to experience the gift of this inspired recording.

Pianist Jim Wilson's soul-stirring cinematic portraits are unveiled in “Remembrance”

Along life’s journey, we may be lucky enough to meet someone who inspires us, has a lasting impact and transforms how we love and live our life. Pianist Jim Wilson said goodbye to his inspirational figure last year when his aunt passed away at age 97. He wrote “The Girl From Eastland County” for Aunt Billie Jo for his forthcoming tenth album, “Remembrance: A Collection of Cinematic Portraits,” but the presence of the woman who embodied unconditional love is felt throughout the redolent session of poignant piano poetry that drops September 28 from Willow Bay Music. Remembering another dear confidante, Andrew Gold, Wilson offers a sprightly instrumental remake of the late singer-songwriter’s worldwide hit “Thank You For Being A Friend,” which was remixed for radio airplay by the track’s guitarist Chris Standring.
On “Remembrance,” Wilson pours his seemingly endless fount of sweeping melodies and grandiose harmonies to craft vivid sonicscapes rendered with heart and emotion. Inherently expressive and sentimental, his exquisite piano strikes resonant notes that penetrate deep to the core. The color and scope applied to Wilson’s canvases vary, sometimes favoring a full palate of lavish orchestrations such as on opener “Shadow Falls,” the title track, “Under A Highlands Moon” and “Denouement”; other times choosing dreamlike ambient hues (“Tangerine Moon” and “Diogenes Lantern”); or opting to leave his reverential pencil sketches sparsely adorned (“In The Stillness” and “Home is Where the Heart Is”). Whether the accompaniment be minimal and atmospheric or illumined by noteworthy musicians including keyboardist Brad Cole (Phil Collins), drummer Charlie Morgan (Elton John), Irish flutist Eric Rigler (“Titanic” soundtrack) and noted session players Troy Dexter (guitar) and Neil Stubenhaus (bass), Wilson’s aim is to connect and lead his listeners on an affecting path of discovery.

“I’ve always been told that my music has a visual quality to it, but I wanted to take it to a new level with this record, creating a collection of ‘cinematic portraits’ that take the listener on an emotional journey. ‘Remembrance’ has a reverent, contemplative feel that serves as centerpiece for the rest of the album. What matters most is that this music enriches the lives of those who hear it,” said Wilson, who concluded by addressing the role his aunt still plays in his life. “I strive to be more like her in every aspect of my life.”
Wilson grew up in Amarillo, Texas, but he is a longtime Los Angeles-area resident. Three of his albums hit the Billboard Top 20 - “Northern Seascape,” “Cape of Good Hope” and “A Place In My Heart” - and two of his concerts have been made into PBS specials, including “A Place In My Heart.” His work as an innovator pioneered and revolutionized MIDI adaptors for piano by allowing it to interact with computers and synthesizers. He taught Paul McCartney, Elton John, Jackson Browne, Burt Bacharach, Carole King and many others how to use the MIDI-piano. As a television composer, Wilson wrote music for the CBS series “Frank’s Place” and has performed on ABC and QVC. His previous albums include appearances by David Sanborn, Stephen Bishop, J.D. Souther, Chris Botti and Dan Fogelberg. In addition to solo performances, Wilson has long served as keyboardist and music director for Bishop, for whom he is presently touring and opening.               

Wilson’s “Remembrance” contains the following songs:
“Shadow Falls”
“The Girl From Eastland County”
“In the Stillness”
“Tangerine Moon”
“Home is Where the Heart Is”
“Diogenes Lantern”
“Under a Highlands Moon”
“Thank You For Being A Friend”

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Saxophonist Eli Degibri Reimagines Saxophonist Hank Mobley's Iconic Soul Station

About twenty years ago, when Eli Degibri was attending Berklee School of Music, his teacher commented on a solo he’d played during a casual session on Wayne Shorter’s “Yes Or No.” “He stopped the music,” Degibri told DownBeat magazine in 2011. “He said, ‘You play old in a new way.’ In this one phrase, he basically said my motto.”

Keep the playing-old-in-a-new-way mantra in mind as you listen to Soul Station (October 5 via Degibri Records), the 40-year-old tenor saxophonist’s eighth album. If the title evokes a sense of déjà vu, that’s because Degibri conceived the date as a tune-for-tune “remake” of an iconic 1960 album of that name for Blue Note Records led by tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley (1930-1986) with a hall-of-fame rhythm section of master practitioners of swing and blues-oriented expression — pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Blakey. Fifty-seven years later, Tel Aviv native and resident Degibri and his rhythm section of Israeli twenty-somethings capture the soulful earthiness of those proceedings, while imbuing the repertoire with their individualism and articulate it in their own manner.

On the album-opening “Remember,” for example, Degibri and company sustain the “perfect dancy-funky groove” of the original, but create a fresh pathway by using composer Irving Berlin’s original changes in lieu of what Degibri calls Mobley’s “perfect reharmonization.” On Mobley’s “This I Dig Of You,” long a jam session staple, he plays a transcription of Wynton Kelly’s original solo on soprano saxophone in unison with the gifted pianist Tom Oren. Degibri counter-states Mobley’s medium-up-swing interpretation of “If I Should Lose You” by playing it as a ballad, adding his own touch by reharmonizing the changes. He alters Mobley’s up-tempo rhythm changes line, “Split Feelings,” by blowing on soprano while also reharmonizing the bridge of the melody.

Degibri concludes the proceedings with his sole original, “Dear Hank.” “I tried to get into Hank’s head and imagine how he’d be composing if he was alive today,” he says. “It’s a true and pure tribute to my hero. Soul Station made a huge impact on me at a very early age. Every time I think about Hank, every time I imagine his sound, I feel happy and good—his sense of sound and melody is embedded in my music.”

Known colloquially to his generational peer group as “the middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone,” Mobley deployed authoritative chops to tell lyrical stories that danced around the rhythm, constructing long, complex, harmonically adventurous lines that he resolved with cat-like elegance. On the homage, Degibri packs a heavyweight wallop with impassioned, ascendant, muscular, ever-melodic declamations, rendered with what his long-time colleague Aaron Goldberg described as a “refined, creative jazz sensibility.”

Ron Carter got Degibri’s message early, and recommended him to Herbie Hancock, who hired him in 1999 for what would be a 30-month stint performing repertoire from Hancock’s GRAMMY® Award-winning Gershwin’s World album. He further refined his artistry as a member of drum master Al Foster’s group from 2002 until 2011, and as the leader of bands that included such internationally acclaimed musicians as Goldberg, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ben Street, Jeff Ballard, Kevin Hays, Gary Versace, Gregory Hutchinson, and Obed Calvaire, resulting in seven well-regarded recordings of primarily original music, including Cliff-Hanging.

After moving back to his homeland from New York in 2011, Degibri — who is the artistic director of the Red Sea Jazz Festival — began forming bands culled from Israel’s large pool of young hardcore jazz oriented musicians. He’s worked with the musicians on Soul Station — pianist Tom Oren, bassist Tamir Shmerling, and drummer Eviatar Slivnik—for the last three years.                                              

“All my guys knew all this music, because in Israel Soul Station is taught in school,” Degibri says, explaining why this quartet of Millennials renders the repertoire with the seasoned flair you might associate with masters who came of age during the aftermath of World War II. “The kids in Israel know their tradition. They don’t feel it’s not cool to play 4/4 rhythm changes or to play the blues. “I think it’s nice for my audience to hear where all the music came from. At the end of the day, I like to play standards. Making them sound good and fresh is important to me. Why is it acceptable to remake a classic Hollywood movie but such a faux pas to remake a classic jazz record?

“When I came to New York, I didn’t write. My only goal and dream was to be able to play and to speak the language, and the only way to that was by playing with great musicians and playing standards,” says Degibri. “I’m very proud of my compositions, but this album is also a way for me to free myself and say, ‘I’ve done that.’”

Eli Degibri · Soul Station
Degibri Records · Release Date: October 5, 2018

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Saxophonist Camille Thurman to release "Waiting For The Sunrise"

Acclaimed by Downbeat Magazine as a "rising star" singer with “soulful inflection and remarkable, Fitzgerald-esque scat prowess” and hailed by All About Jazz as a “first class saxophonist that blows the proverbial roof of the place”, Camille Thurman has been amazing audiences throughout the world with her impeccable sound, remarkable vocal virtuosity and captivating artistry. Many have praised her vocal abilities to the likeness of Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter. Her lush, rich & warm sound on the tenor saxophone has led others to compare her to tenor greats Joe Henderson and Dexter Gordon.

Following up her Chesky debut, Inside the Moment, which debuted #25 on the Billboard Jazz Albums Chart, Camille Thurman returns for her sophomore Chesky effort. Supported by Jazz veterans Cecil McBee (Bass), Jack Wilkins (Guitar), Steve Williams (Drums), and Jeremy Pelt (Trumpet), Camille showcases her remarkable talent and potential both vocally and on saxophone on this collection of Jazz standards entitled Waiting for the Sunrise.  Part of the Chesky Binaural + Series, all recorded with a single microphone, the band appears right before you with this spacious, lush and multi-dimensional recording. Now headphone users will hear the same three-dimensional sound and imaging as audiophiles have for the past 25 years with Chesky Recordings. Also these new Binaural+ Series albums capture even more spatial realism for the home audiophile market, bringing you one step closer to the actual event. You will hear some of the most natural and pure music ever recorded. Catch her CD release show on 8.30.18 at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola.


Organist JOCELYN MICHELLE’s newest CD, LIVE AT VIVA CANTINA!, is a toe tapping, festive project of serious music that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Although she’s lived on the Big Island of Hawaii for several years, she decided to record this CD back in Los Angeles, her old stomping ground, where she and her husband, guitarist John Rack, lived and worked for many years. 

Viva Cantina is a Mexican restaurant and music performance venue with two stages in Burbank. It has the kind of party atmosphere that Jocelyn thought would be a good fit for a live performance with her band. Released on Tony Monaco’s Chicken Coup Records, Jocelyn arranged all the tunes and brought on board players based in Hawaii and Los Angeles. 

Besides being a top-notch organist, Jocelyn is also a skillful composer, and the CD includes four of her compositions, including “Englewood Cliffs,” “Oh No, Could I Be in Love,” “A Sister’s Love,” and “Sylvia’s Song.” Jocelyn also wrote the lyrics to “Oh No, Could I Be in Love,” sung on this disc by Laura Dickinson, whose lilting voice is often heard on  the Disney Channel programs. Dickinson also sings on Jobim’s “One Note Samba.”  LIVE AT VIVA CANTINA! is the kind of music you put on to get the party going.  It captures the energy, spontaneity, and fun of Jocelyn Michelle’s live performances.

Jazz Great Turned Pop DIVA HILARY KOLE releases new single “Without You”

Since launching her performing career as the youngest singer ever to grace the stage at NYC’s legendary Rainbow Room, Hilary Kole has conquered the hearts of jazz fans throughout the world with her intimate piano and vocal performances, themed shows with her jazz ensemble and special concert hall symphony performances. Capping nearly a decade of popular, critically acclaimed recordings showcasing her storytelling panache via fresh interpretations of pop and jazz standards, the multi-talented performer launches the next phase off her storied career with the infectious and emotionally compelling new pop single “Without You” – available NOW on iTunes, Google Music and other digital platforms.

Showcasing a more intimate side of her artistry than any previous release, Hilary co-wrote “Without You” with fellow multi-talented New York singing sensation Devin Bing, whom HuffPo has proclaimed as “a total original with the charisma of a ‘Golden Age’ entertainer.” Devin also produced the track and plays the haunting piano that introduces Hilary’s narrative of facing the crippling enduring realities of heartbreak and finding the renewed strength to move on in a healthy positive way. Driven by their similar backgrounds (she went to Manhattan School of Music, he to the University of Miami to study music) and a sharply intuitive musical chemistry, Hilary and Devin are currently working on several follow-up singles that they plan to release throughout the winter and spring 2018.

“I have never worked with a vocal producer like Devin before,” Hilary says. “On my earlier studio recordings, I would play off the band in a very similar way to what I did live. But doing pure pop as we are on ‘Without You’ was a totally different thing that took me to deeper places within myself. Devin set the bar really high and kept encouraging me to bring more power to the performance, saying ‘You can belt this.’”

Longtime Hilary fans know that in addition to being a brilliant song stylist and interpreter, she is an accomplished songwriter who has included in her shows original material among the Gershwin, Porter, Bernstein and Mercer pieces for the past five years. “Though I’ve made my living as a jazz singer,” she says, “I’ve sung a lot of pop songs, too. Most people don’t know that I studied composition in school and have been writing my own music for a long time. When you become known as an interpreter of standards, it’s a challenge to get people to see you in a different light.

“As much as I will always love singing those tunes, as I get older I am more excited than ever to break out of my comfort zone and explore all artistic colors. I’ve been fearless with other people’s music, and it’s taken me a long time to gain the confidence to share my own songs with the world. I felt like ‘Without You’ was the one that called out to me, and I asked myself, “what am I waiting for?”

In addition to headlining famed NYC venues as Town Hall, Birdland, The Blue Notes, Iridium, Jazz At Lincoln Center, The Jazz Standard and Carnegie Hall (with the New York Pops and with Michael Feinstein), Hilary debuted at the Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel as the co-writer and star of the critically acclaimed, Off-Broadway revues “Our Sinatra” and “Singing Astaire.” She made her concert hall debut at Lincoln Center as part of the "American Songbook Series”.

In June 2007, Hilary appeared at Carnegie Hall in a Tribute to Oscar Peterson, a performance reprised in January 2008 at the Canadian Memorial to Dr. Peterson at Roy Thompson Hall alongside Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Nancy Wilson. Globally, she has headlined at the Umbria Jazz Festival, The Montreal Jazz Festival, the Nairn Jazz Festival in Scotland, and the Cotton Club and Blue Note in Japan. In 2016, upon releasing The Judy Garland Project, she toured the U.S. and Asia, performing Garland’s iconic repertoire with a small ensemble group and orchestras. Hilary is currently writing a new show for orchestra based on the top female composers of the past half century, from Peggy Lee to Alanis Morissette and Heart.

Her previous discography includes the John Pizzarelli produced Haunted Heart (2009); You Are There (2010), featuring vocal piano duets with legendary jazz pianists Dave Brubeck, Michel Legrand, Benny Green, Cedar Walton, Hank Jones and others; and the deeply personal A Self-Portrait (2014), which included interpretations of contemporary pop classics from the rock era. 

KATE REID’s “THE HEART ALREADY KNOWS,” featuring duos with Fred Hersch, Romero Lubambo, Taylor Eigsti and more…

Vocalist KATE REID performs stunning duets with some of the finest pianists and guitarists on the scene today. Reid is a nuanced singer, attuned to the subtleties of a song’s lyrics and harmonic structure. The duo setting is perfect vehicle for Reid’s jazz explorations and sexy, smoky, alto voice.  PETER ELDRIDGE, the critically acclaimed vocalist, pianist, composer, and founding member of the internationally acclaimed vocal group New York Voices, produced the CD. THE HEART ALREADY KNOWS is an intimate project that comprises a mix of standards, modern jazz compositions, and pop tunes that take on new life in the hands of these A-list musicians. 

Reid is also a pianist and performs in duo, trio, and quartet settings at jazz venues in the Los Angeles and Miami areas.  Her previous CD, “The Love I’m In,” featured tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts and pianist Otmaro Ruiz. Her first project, “Sentimental Mood,” received extensive airplay on jazz radio stations around the world.

Reid is also a working studio/session singer who has lent her voice to several films, including Star Trek Into Darkness and Men In Black III. Her voice can also be heard on several network television series as well nationwide commercial spots.

Kate Reid vocals
Paul Meyers guitar (1,7)
Larry Koonse guitar (2,4)
Fred Hersch piano (3,9,11)
Romero Lubambo guitar (5,10)
Taylor Eigsti piano (6,8)

1. Something to Live For (4:46)
2. Confessin’ (3:33)
3. No More  (3:17)
4. Two Grey Rooms  (4:15)
5. Endless Stars  (3:15)
6. Busy Being Blue  (7:02) 
7. Just a Lucky So and So  (4:46)
8. Secret o’ Life  (3:58)
9. If I Should Lose You  (3:58)
10. Minds of Their Own  (5:13)
11. Lazin’ Around  (3:38) 

Haitian-American Singer MALOU BEAUVOIR Releases SPIRITWALKER; melding Haitian Folk, Soul, Hip Hop and Jazz

On her new release, Spiritwalker, Haitian-American singer-songwriter Malou Beauvoir communes with and for the spiritual traditions of her island heritage. The album is at once a celebration of the Vaudou spirits that embody and enrich the culture of Haiti, as well as a conveyance of their message of peace and awakening to the world at large.

Beauvoir’s music is a rich blend of Haiti’s folk traditions and a compelling weave of contemporary influences, melding soulful melodies, hip hop grooves and jazz virtuosity. The songs – a blend of original compositions, traditional folk tunes and beloved popular Haitian songs – convey a powerful message of acceptance and community at a time of turmoil in Haiti and polarization around the globe.

“If you have a voice, it’s to be used to communicate for someone or for something,” Beauvoir says. “It’s great to just sing songs, but we (as a group) wanted to focus our art on bringing about change. I wanted these songs that we grew up with – their values, their principles, the ideas behind them –to become hip, to become accessible to the younger generation so that we can use our own identity to express our frustration, and motivate each of us, as individuals, to bring about change.”

Spiritwalker, set for release on November 2 on Panthera Music International, was recorded at Brooklyn’s Kamoken Studios with a multi-national band of gifted musicians. The core group of Haitian musicians included co-producers and instrumentalists Chico Boyer (an activist and community leader who also owns Kamoken Studios) and Cheff Loncher along with acclaimed singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Paul Beaubrun and percussionists Sirgo Decius and Jean Guy Rene. In addition, the band comprised artists from Cuba (pianist Axel Laugart), Japan (pianist Yayoi Ikawa, guitarist Hiroyuki Yamada) and the U.S. (guitarist Jon Gordon, bassist Calvin Jones, and Haitian-American drummer Gashford Guillaume).

Born in Chicago to Haitian parents, Beauvoir was raised in Long Island while spending summers either in Paris, where her parents met, or in their native Haiti. “My father, who desperately loved Haiti, would constantly regale us with stories,” Beauvoir recalls. “Then every summer you would go and find yourself on this beautiful island with a whole community of friends and family, and it was such a different life from New York that it really tempted you to stay.”

Stream Tracks:

Another compelling aspect of Beauvoir’s time in Haiti was the tutelage of her uncle Max Beauvoir, a biochemist and high-ranking Vaudou priest, who ushered her into the island’s profound spiritual traditions. She considers herself a natural Vaudou priestess or mambo, a word that implies an ongoing quest for knowledge in the Vaudou belief system. “We believe that when someone becomes a priest or priestess, it’s the beginning of their journey,” Beauvoir explains. “It’s your invitation by the spirits to learn, to delve and to continue the rest of your life acquiring that knowledge. It has opened the door for me for a lifetime of learning, to cross that threshold and become a chalice to receive – and to give.”

Beauvoir followed a circuitous path on her road to giving back through her music. After studying at the American University in Paris she earned a master’s degree from the University of Hartford and began a successful career in marketing. A rapid ascent up the corporate ladder proved to be far less satisfying spiritually than it was financially, and she decided to pursue a more fulfilling, less secure life in music.

Malou’s muse drew her into the jazz world, where she performed in Paris, Belgium and New York, released three albums and shared the stage or studio with such modern greats as Donny McCaslin, Terrell Stafford and Donald Vega.

The escalating turmoil in her beloved Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010 and the further havoc visited on the island by Hurricane Matthew led Beauvoir to connect more directly with the music of her cultural roots. Hearing the voices of the Vaudou spirits in her ear, she decided to convey a message of pride and empowerment to the people of Haiti, while communicating the importance of spiritual awakening and togetherness to an increasingly divided world.

“I was tired of seeing things that started out as spiritual beacons being used by politicians and profiteers to forward divisive political messages and greedy economic causes,” Beauvoir says. “I started with Vaudou, saying these are our roots, this is what gave courage to slaves to revolt against Napoleon’s army and win our freedom; why don’t we dig deep down into our culture, our beliefs, our spirituality, and find the courage now to revolt against what’s going on in our country and in the world. Vaudou is not a well-known religion, but I want people to judge it on what it is, not what it is portrayed to be.”

The material on Spiritwalker stems from a variety of sources. The opening call to arms, “Rasenbleman,” was written by Haitian actress and singer Toto Bissainte, who herself brought together folkloric traditions with the modern music of her day. “Papa Loko,” and “Kouzen” are both traditional songs, the former invoking the spirit of the first Vaudou priest, the latter paying homage to the spirit of the land and the hard work of agriculture. “Yoyo” is a folk song about a Haitian street boy, translated into English by Beauvoir and given a twist of simmering, sultry groove. “Gran Bwa,” inspired by James Germain’s arrangement on “Kreole Mandingue,” pays respect to the ancient and venerable tree god who watches over the forest.

“Nwayé,” titled for the Kreyol version of the French word “to drown,” was co-written by Beauvoir and Beaubrun meditates on the tragedies wrought by hurricanes over the course of Haiti’s history, but more importantly addresses the issue of discrimination against marginalized groups in our society, imploring us to see through the lies and see and accept people for what they truly are. The two also worked together on “Simbi Dlo,” which calls to the Snake Spirit of the river and features the piercing guitar work of Jon Gordon, known for his work with Suzanne Vega and Madonna. Beauvoir’s original “There’s a Man” dates back to the time of her own spiritual awakening, referring to a troubling vision that led to her changing her life for the better. The album ends with a reprise of “Papa Damballah,” a jazz take on the Haitian classic “Papa Damballah” originally recorded for her 2016 album Is This Love and featuring Andy Ezrin (piano), Ben Whitman (durms, percussion), David Finck (bass) and Bobby Mann (guitar).

“Spiritwalker has always been a term that I use to describe myself and all people who are in communication with the spiritual world,” Beauvoir concludes. “I believe that everything in our world has a soul, from the grass to the stones to the air, which all have different energies that find their place and create a balance in the world. Spiritwalker strives to walk in step with the spirits that surround us.”

Malou Beauvoir · Spiritwalker
Panthera Music International · Release Date: November 2, 2018


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