Friday, July 30, 2021

Munich quartet Web Web announces new spiritual jazz album 'WEB MAX'

Munich quartet Web Web announced WEB MAX, a new spiritual jazz album out August 27th via Compost Records. The full length is sometimes floating, sometimes soulful, always intense, and a wonderful homage to early 70s jazz. Web Web mastermind Roberto Di Gioia is accompanied for the first time by Max Herre as a composer, musician, and producer. The announcement comes with the first single “Akinuba / The Heart (ft. Yusef Lateef).”

In the winter of 2014, German rapper/producer Max Herre and Italian-German pianist Roberto Di Gioia played a tremendous show together. The two had been guest musicians at a few gigs for Gregory Porter, who in turn kindly accepted their invitation to perform at Herre's "MTV Unplugged" session (produced by Herre alongside Di Gioia and Samon Kawamura as production team KAHEDI). Porter's approach to the jazz quartet inspired Max to reflect how a rap artist could work in a more freely-flowing musical environment. Di Gioia's inspiration was a bit more straightforward: in the 80s, Di Gioia had played with jazz legends like

Woody Shaw, Johnny Griffin, and James Moody, but he’d largely left the jazz stages of his early years behind — just one random jam session with Porter's musicians during soundcheck relit his passion immensely. A short time later, Herre called Di Gioia saying “Let's get a spiritual jazz session going.”

Now, six years later, the album WEB MAX is the amazing result from the spur of that moment. It is a wonderful homage to the cosmic open-mindedness of early 70s jazz, to the transcendent sublimity of spiritual sound. WEB MAX is the fourth album in four years by the highly acclaimed Web Web quartet, consisting of keyboardist/pianist Roberto Di Gioia, saxophonist Tony Lakatos, bassist Christian von Kaphengst, and drummer Peter Gall, all of them longtime performers of the highest virtuosity, signed to Michael Reinboth's Compost Records. 

The only words on the album belong to Yusef Lateef, the great saxophonist and flutist who passed away in 2013. On “Akinuba / The Heart,” in the form of a poem Lateef talks about "The Heart” along a repetitive bass line. "I was particularly impressed by his musical lyrics. And how close his music melts with the topics he is talking about," says Herre. The poem ends with the words "the heart is born pure.”

Herre's voice, on the other hand, can only be heard as an occasional whispering falsetto in cosmic spheres. His electronic "rustle“ (as he calls it) and the groovy, minimalist thrusts of his Wurlitzer may seem modest at first amid the other virtuoso instrumentalists.

However, it is precisely this simplicity that proves to be an integral piece. "Simplicity is sometimes the most sophisticated effort," explains Di Gioia. “And he has something special there that I don't have. Max plays like an indie guitarist who just hits that one note that makes people freak out.“ And Herre replies with a laugh: “I am a rhythm pianist. I actually just play a few repeating chords at a time, almost like a hip-hop sample.“ 

Herre's love for jazz goes back to his teenage years in Stuttgart, way back before his hip-hop career. And that too began around 1990, when jazz became a go-to for hip-hop groups like A Tribe Called Quest or Gang Starr. This influence carries from Herre‘s former group Freundeskreis, to his solo albums produced with Di Gioia, and finally all the way to WEB MAX. 

 

The Fontanas - Love Be The Weapon

Rooted in soul and soaked in funky Latin & Brazilian influences The Fontanas have found the sweet spot between tight funk grooves and swinging Latin rhythms taking influence from the likes of The Dap Kings and Banda Black Rio, The Fontanas have built their solid live reputation through a series of knockout European tours and festival performances.

Featuring the inimitable Kay Elizabeth on vocals and harnessed by producer Sam Sutton, the band have come together to produce a sound which packs in Brazilian percussion with killer brass section via a crack squad of friends and musicians who play alongside the likes of Incognito, Mr Scruff and Alice Russell.2020 saw the EP release which included their scorching modern day version of Brazilian classic ‘Capoeira Mata Um’ that received airplay from Cerys Matthews on BBC6 Music amongst others.

With time on their hands last year, the band set to work on completing their much anticipated 2nd album which lands on 3rd September 2021 and includes a selection of singles and guest remixes to support the release.

Opening single ‘Love Be The Weapon’ welcomes producer Jon Moon (Amy Whinehouse) into the Fontanas familia to deliver a super charged traditional funk anthem, with a Daptone studio feel and at home amongst the best heavyweight modern funk pioneers.

Barry Altschul 3dom Factor | "Long Tall Sunshine"

Three, as those of us who grew up on Schoolhouse Rock will remember, truly is a magic number. It’s enshrined in the name of The 3dom Factor, the astounding trio led by legendary drummer/improviser Barry Altschul for the last decade or so. That sobriquet reflects the vital importance of all three voices in the band: not only Altschul’s powerful, ever-inquisitive drumming, but the tirelessly venturesome saxophone playing of Jon Irabagon and the acrobatic muscularity of bass great Joe Fonda.

So naturally, the release of the 3dom Factor’s third album, Live in Kraków, in 2017 felt like a natural conclusion of sorts for the project. It summed up a neat trilogy that began with the band’s self-titled 2012 debut, which concentrated on Altschul’s original tunes; followed by the 2015 follow-up, Tales of the Unforeseen, a second studio date that was almost wholly improvised save for a pair of intriguing covers; and finally, Live in Kraków, a dazzling showcase of the trio’s onstage inventiveness.

Fortunately for lovers of exploratory jazz at its finest, Altschul decided against letting that trilogy stand alone. After four years of recorded silence, The 3dom Factor makes its welcome return with Long Tall Sunshine, an exhilarating concert performance captured somewhere in Europe during the trio’s spring 2019 tour. (Unfortunately the band’s record-keeping isn’t quite as skillful as its interplay, leaving the specifics as something of a mystery.) Due out July 30, 2021 via Not Two, Long Tall Sunshine finds The 3dom Factor at the top of its form, navigating five of Altschul’s expansive compositions with a staggering display of in-the-moment inspiration and tightrope-walking audacity.

“This album is kind of a bonus,” Altschul says. “The third album felt like a nice way to end the series, but I read several reviews that said they hoped this wasn't the last release. The audience wanted more.” As did Altschul’s triomates, who strongly encouraged him to release this particular concert after hearing the dauntless imagination of the performance.

“More” is precisely what Long Tall Sunshine has to offer. Four of the five tracks will be familiar to longtime fans of the drummer, having made up the repertoire not only of the previous 3dom Factor outings but of Altschul’s early-80s trio with Ray Anderson and Mark Helias and his FAB Trio with Fonda and the late violinist Billy Bang. The exception is the title track, a previously unrecorded composition dedicated to a former paramour who Altschul describes as “long and tall, with this sunny disposition.”

Anchored by Fonda’s pulsating bassline, the tune’s sinuous theme is an alluring mix of the sleek and the sunny, an ideal launching point for Irabagon’s inexhaustible array of melodic variations. Altschul prods the saxophonist onward with an invigorating barrage of combustible percussion, laying back only to make room for Fonda’s eloquent bass solo, which the drummer parries with conversational expertise, reflecting the pair’s long history together.

The remaining four pieces all appeared on The 3dom Factor, with three of them reprised on Live in Kraków. The multiple versions of each make for enlightening comparison, shining a spotlight on the trio’s unceasing creativity and gift for completely reinventing each tune from one performance to the next. It’s also reflective of Altschul’s philosophy of improvised music. 

“I don't really believe that anything is really new,” he emphasizes. “I'm a believer in ‘fresh.’ I listen to Miles Davis when he said that Louis Armstrong played everything that could be played. So it's just a matter of being fresh. So using the same compositions just provides a springboard to let us get into some fresh improvisational spaces.

 “Plus,” he adds, a wry smile creeping into his voice, “I'm lazy.”

It’s difficult to put much stock into that claim given the longevity of Altschul’s career, which now stretches out over more than five decades and includes collaborations with many of the music’s most towering figures, including Chick Corea, Paul Bley, Lee Konitz, Anthony Braxton, Sam Rivers and Andrew Hill. Another deciding factor in releasing Long Tall Sunshine (though the breathtaking quality of the music is reason enough) was Altschul’s encroaching 80th birthday, which will arrive in January 2023. With the pandemic taking live performance out of the equation at a moment when the drummer was contemplating the winding down of his touring schedule, it felt all the more important to remind the world of the continuing vitality of this major voice in free music.

The cover portrait of Long Tall Sunshine, by Altschul’s friend and NYC neighbor Nora Howard, captures its subject’s energy as well as his forward-looking attitude. “Nora's a very dear friend, and when she showed me this painting I said, ‘It looks like it's not finished.’ And she said, ‘Well’ neither are you!’ That worked for me.”

A renowned drummer whose tastes and abilities run the gamut from hard bop to free jazz and beyond, Barry Altschul gained fame in the late 1960s alongside such pioneering artists as Paul Bley and Chick Corea. In 1969 he joined Corea, bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist Anthony Braxton to form the group Circle, and went on to work extensively with Braxton throughout the 1970s. He also recorded with such greats as Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill, Dave Liebman and Julius Hemphill. Never one to stick to one style of playing, Altschul‘s groundbreaking work in the avant-garde was paralleled by his straight ahead work with the likes of Lee Konitz and Art Pepper. After spending much of the ‘80s and ‘90s in Europe, he returned to greater prominence in the early 2000s, forming the FAB Trio with Joe Fonda and Billy Bang, working with peers like Roswell Rudd and Steve Swell, collaborating with a new generation of forward-looking musicians including Jon Irabagon, both in the saxophonist’s explosive trio and The 3Dom Factor.

Cheb i Sabbah Posthumous Release Featuring Peter Murphy & Azam Ali

The late Cheb i Sabbah was one of the most important and influential artists on the Global Fusion scene. His six classic albums for Six Degrees Records combined the traditional music of South East Asia, North Africa and the Middle East with what he termed "DJ Science." Before his untimely death in 2013, he completed a final record and "Keep Coming Back" is the first single from that project. The song was co-written by and features the vocals of legendary Bauhaus vocalist Peter Murphy, as well as vocals from Azam Ali, herself a hugely popular artist who has amassed a fervent following for her solo work, as well as her work with the group Niyaz. The three-song EP is out August 6, 2021, a day before Cheb i Sabbah’s 74th birthday and features an Azam Ali remix and an Opium Sabbah remix. Pre-order/pre-save here: https://ffm.to/keepcomingback. 

The record was 95% finished by Cheb i Sabbah himself before he passed away and was completed by Gaurav Raina from the Midival Punditz under the supervision of Chebi's family. Opium Sabbah, Chebi’s son explains his involvement in the project, “This song is, and always will be, very close to my heart as it is the last musical project my father and I worked on together. It is also a testimonial of brotherhood between Peter and my father, a coming together of two greats that was mektoub. On my Chebi Habibi remix I tried to include musical genres I grew up on and was introduced to by my father; World Music, Punk Rock and of course Hip-Hop. A message to all 'to keep coming back' - back to the memories, music, and legacy of Cheb i Sabbah.” Cheb i’s daughter, Eva Cherokee El Beze, who does a spoken recitation on Opium Sabbah's remix adds, “Keep Coming Back resonated deeply with my father after Peter (Murphy) shared a personal story of how the song idea came to him. It was an image and sentiment that could be related to reincarnation, survival, being able to return home and always being given a second chance. In the piece I wrote for the Chebi Habibi Remix I wanted to encompass all of the fragments that embodied our dad through the many, varied stages of his life. My wish is that my father's belief, music heals, continues for multiple generations and they too, keep coming back. For the sound, the healing, the joy. Inshallah.” 

Recalling the time they spent together co-writing the track, Peter Murphy remembers “A spiritual brotherly time together. Chebi was the one most alive and vital. The meaning of the song is crystal clear in listening to the lyrics…it’s so essential to all religions especially the middle spoken section...It’s all right there.” 

Azam Ali also reflects, “I can still hear Chebi’s voice in my head the day he called me from India, excited about the idea of Peter & I singing together on a track. This was his final artistic dream, to hear his friends & fellow artists come together & create something that without Chebi would have never existed. This was who he was, the human being & artist who found his bliss in bringing people together both on the dance floor as well as in life. He was nothing less than an alchemist." 

Cheb i Sabbah’s wife, Suzanne Thomas concludes, “Serge was so very pleased, moved, and excited about this song- for him, working and becoming friends with Peter was akin to twins finding one another after lifetimes apart. A shot to his heart of pure love and esteem from cupid's quiver. Aum mande padme Aum.” 

Susana Baca | "Palabras Urgentes"

Palabras Urgentes, forthcoming on Real World Records, marks the 50th year of Susana Baca’s extraordinary musical career.  With an illustrious life spanning music, teaching and politics from multiple GRAMMY Awards to becoming Peru’s first black cabinet minister and holding the post of Minister of Culture, Palabras Urgentes is the nexus of all Susana’s experiences and, at the age of 76, is the album she always wanted to create. 

Translated as Urgent Truths, the album was recorded as a form of protest, to spark debate and intended to take on today’s difficult times. It is the combination of the music’s beauty and the urgency of the lyrics that makes Palabras Urgentes so compelling. 

On July 30, Susana releases the lead single from the album titled “La Herida Oscura,” a homage to Micaela Bastidas, the guerrilla leader and one of the most courageous women of Peru’s independence. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Peru’s independence and “La Herida Oscura” pays tribute to Bastidas as a central figure in its accomplishment. Susana’s great friend Chabuca Granda, was inspired by the leader and wrote this song in tribute to Micaela, entrusting it to Susana to sing. 

Susana passionately adds, “I sing La Herida Oscura almost as if it were a secret, with the same intensity and love towards our history, I sing this song and will continue to sing it…every bit of rhythm can be found here, no words are missing.” 

Recorded in Cañete, a small town located 150 kilometers from Peru’s Capital, Lima, Palabras Urgentes is a collection of 10 songs, each song its own individual chapter of an all-encompassing narrative, taking the listener on a journey through a unique musical reflection on the traditions of Peru. Susana touches on subjects surrounding feminism, liberty and education, and reflects on personal stories taking the listener on a journey that invokes romance, sorrow, strength and hope. 

The album is given added life by the presence and support of GRAMMY award winning multi-instrumentalist and bandleader of the emblematic New York band Snarky Puppy, Michael League. The producer has challenged Susana and the musicians approach to making music and bought a new perspective to creating the album, his productions bring a universal and contemporary sound to the album. Susana Baca became aware of Michael League when she discovered a group of young students from the University of North Texas, College of Music who were singing, playing, and taking inspiration from her work and assembling a repertoire of songs. One of them was League, who in 2015 came down to Lima Peru with his band Snarky Puppy.

Susana explains, “During the visit he invited me to participate on the album Family Dinner II [2016]. Contributing to the album, and singing with him, made us more than just close friends, we became family. Quite soon after, I invited Michael to produce one of my albums and he accepted, and so in 2018, he, Jeff Coffin (saxophonist) and Fab Dupont (audio engineer) came to Lima. They stayed at my house for 10 days and during this time, and accompanied by other musicians, we undertook a wonderful journey. Palabras Urgentes simply came to be. It came to be thanks to its rebelliousness and the eclectic nature of its sounds.” 

Palabras Urgentes’ message is strong and it uses the most powerful weapon to fight injustice: knowledge. 

Susana Baca reflects, “With my own spirit and the hearts and talent of all those who have contributed, we offer this album as a renewal of our traditional music. I hope those listening to this album feel both a love for life and a love for living truthfully.” 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Aretha Franklin | "ARETHA" (4CD set)

A really fantastic career-spanning collection of work from Aretha Franklin – the first we've ever seen to start with her earliest years, then follow the greatness of her voice and spirit as it blossomed strongly over the decades! Sure, most folks know Franklin's classic work on Atlantic – but this package features earlier sides for Chess and Columbia, later work from Arista – and a whole host of rare and unreleased material – plus special tracks from side projects that worked together to form a crucial part of Aretha's legacy over the years! This 4CD package is beautiful – a book-style cover, with loads of vintage and rare photos, essays on Aretha by David Nathan and Rochelle Riley, and track-by track notes on the 81 tracks included in the lavish set. 

In addition to the rare tracks, there's some other great surprises here – and titles include "Until You Come Back To Me (work tape)", "Chain Of Fools (alt version)", "Rock Steady (alternate mix)", "Call Me (alt version)", "How I Got Over (live single edit)", "Chain Of Fools (alt)", "My Kind Of Town (Detroit Is) (demo)", "Try A Little Tenderness (demo)", "Oh Baby (demo)", "Til It's Over (demo)", "Angel (work tape)", "Somewhere (alt version)", "Mr DJ", "Ooo Baby Baby (with Smokey Robinson)", "Share Your Love With Me (live)", "Spanish Harlem (alt mix)", "Bridge Over Troubled Water (long version)", "Young Gifted & Black (alt long version)", "It's Not Unusual/See Saw (with Tom Jones)", "You're All I Need To Get By (work tape)", "Don't Play That Song (live)", "Spirit In The Dark (live reprise with Ray Charles)", "Oh Happy Day (with Mavis Staples)", "Someday We'll All Be Free", "A Rose Is Still A Rose", "Master Of Eyes", "A Change Is Gonna Come (mono)", "One Step Ahead", "Never Grow Old", "Today I Sing The Blues", "You Light Up My Life (unissued)", "Think", "I Knew You Were Waiting (with George Michael)", "Respect", and her version of "Natural Woman" from the 2015 Kennedy Honors ceremony.  ~ Dusty Groove

Prince | "Welcome 2 America"

A really fantastic album from Prince – recorded in 2010, and unreleased at the time – but clearly one of the greatest things he gave us in the final decade of his life! This isn't uncooked demo material, or under-thought studio tracks – and instead, the whole thing is a fully-formed record with a message that really comes through in the title – more political Prince than usual, with an eye for our nation that rivals Sign O The Times! It may be that back when Prince recorded the set, the time wasn't right for the message – but these tracks definitely hit home now – and are often delivered in this sinister slow funk mode that really fits the lyrics – almost as if Prince were trying to give the world his version of a righteous 70s album on Curtom Records. Titles include "Running Game", "Born 2 Die", "Welcome 2 America", "Check The Record", "Hot Summer", "Stand Up & B Strong", "Same Page Different Book", and "One Day We Will All B Free". ~ Dusty Groove

Flugelhornist Gabriel Mark Hasselbach tongues contemporary jazz grooves on new album

He’s spent more weeks on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart than any other Canadian recording artist and with his 15th album, “Tongue & Groove,” trumpeter, flugelhornist, and flautist Gabriel Mark Hasselbach looks to land his eleventh Billboard hit. The Mesa/Bluemoon Recordings release is preceded by “Chill@Will,” the current radio single that Hasselbach wrote and produced with urban-jazz keyboardist Bob Baldwin.     

The release of “Tongue & Groove” coincides with the 30th anniversary of Hasselbach’s debut disc, “Solar Winds,” which launched an award-winning catalogue consisting of contemporary and straight-ahead jazz recordings.

‘Tongue & Groove’ is definitely my most in-depth and exciting album to date. I love improvised jazzy music in a framework, that is lyrical and succinct, not overly extrapolated or excessive. I come from a Chet Baker/Blue Mitchell frame of reference, laid over contemporary grooves and original concepts. I always aim for strong and concise content in whatever I play. It is all just jazz to me, the essence which should be a rich yet highly listenable sound for the head, heart and feet,” said the Vancouver-based Hasselbach, a Juno Award winner (Canada’s GRAMMY equivalent).

Hasselbach wrote and recorded “Tongue & Groove” last year while in quarantine, an experience reflected in the first two cuts: “Presence of Mind” and Chill@Will. 

“The first two tunes had a bit of a theme. We can - and had to – keep the mind present and calm during the pandemic. When Bob Baldwin and I started working on ‘Chill@Will,’ we built it from the vibe up, and the music just fell into place. It started out as a sketch from Bob, which I did a little work on to move it forward. The tune sat around for a while but kept scratching at the door because it was so catchy. I took up the cause again and pressed the ever-busy Mr. Baldwin into service so we could help it see the light of day. Many of my top charting tracks, as well as some of Bob's, are collaborations between us,” said Hasselbach.

“Tongue & Groove” also features collaborations with other noteworthy musicians such as two-time GRAMMY winner Paul Brown and Billboard chart-topper Chris Standring on guitar. Another guitarist showcased on the disc is Grant Geissman, who played and recorded with contemporary jazz legend Chuck Mangione. Geissman guests on Hasselbach’s vibrant revision of the classic “Feels So Good.”  

“I wanted to honor Chuck Mangione and thus be known as ‘the flugelhornist of today’ as was Chuck back in the day. Mesa/Bluemoon label head George Nauful knows Grant Geissman, the guitarist on the original. When George hooked us up, it seemed like kismet. Grant even played the exact 1968 Gibson guitar he used on that session with Mangione, and I play the same model and vintage flugelhorn, too, coincidentally,” said Hasselbach, who also spotlights saxophonist and co-songwriter Daniel Seguin, guitarist Brian Hughes and pianist/organist Miles Black on “Tongue & Groove.”  

As for the album title, Hasselbach said, “The title is at minimum a double entendre. In woodworking, tongue and groove refers to interlocking, smooth and seamless assembly or construction, and trumpeters tongue their notes, and in my case, also nail the groove.”

Hasselbach wrote or co-wrote eight funky jazz grooves for “Tongue & Groove” and produced or co-produced the tracks. Generously clocking in at over an hour and containing two remixes, “Chill@Will (Raincoast Mix)” and “Feels So Good (Extended Mix),” “Tongue & Groove” is a soul-powered R&B and instrumental pop session piloted by Hasselbach’s flugelhorn, flute, alto flute and trumpet. His animated horns astutely maneuver through percussive rhythms, textured beats and lush harmonies, blowing expressive communications, impassioned poetics and playful banter.         

Hasselbach was born in Denver but migrated to Canada after high school and holds dual citizenship. His 2011 “Told Ya So” was named Album of the Year and won him the Artist of the Year honors at the Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards. A best of-type compilation, 2019’s “Radio Gold,” broke Spotify streaming records. Hasselbach produced pop-jazz singer Michael Bublé’s “Dream” album and played on three of the global superstar’s albums. Earning gold and platinum records, among the other artists he has recorded with are GRAMMY winner Jeff Lorber, Darren Rahn, Greg Manning, Marc Antoine, Bob Mintzer, Tom Schuman, Rob Tardik, Brian Bromberg, and the late Chuck Loeb and John Denver. For more information, please visit http://gabrieljazz.com.

Albums by Oscar Peterson, The Count Basie Orchestra and Rolf Kühn are reissued


Record collectors continue to rejoice as Germany’s first jazz label, MPS Records, reissues albums on vinyl and CD by many of the biggest artists in the genre. On Friday, albums by Oscar Peterson and his trio, The Count Basie Orchestra, and Rolf Kühn resurface via Edel Germany in partnership with Bob Frank Entertainment.

Reissued on standard black vinyl and CD earlier this month, Peterson’s “Motions & Emotions” was released Friday as a limited edition numbered blue vinyl LP. Always a swinger who exhibited extraordinary speed and dexterity, the Canadian jazzpianist interpreted a popular songbook on this 1969 release, interpreting material by John Lennon & Paul
McCartney, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Henry Mancini, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Jimmy Webb, among others. The ten-track album captures Peterson with his astute quartet lavishly illumined by an orchestra.  

Peterson tipped off MPS about the vocal group from Chicago called The Singers Unlimited, a studio foursome led by Gene Puerling known for crafting elaborate layers of vocal tracks in their recordings. The pianist’s trio – Peterson, George Mraz on bass and Louis Hayes on drums - teamed with The Singers Unlimited for 1971’s “In Tune,” the first release spawned during a decade-long recording relationship between the sophisticated singers and MPS. Arriving Friday on vinyl and CD, the collection showcases Peterson’s nimble piano and the group’s vocal harmonies venturing through a varied set list that boasts a swinging strut down “Sesame Street,” a couple of Brazilian numbers (Jobim’s “Children’s Game” and Luiz Bonfá’s “The Gentle Rain), and classics culled from the Great American Songbook, including “It Never Entered My Mind,” “The Shadow of Your Smile” and “Once Upon A Summertime.”  

Count Basie’s 17-piece orchestra fills 1970’s “High Voltage” with swinging, big band renditions of standards the outfit had never recorded previously in its 30-year history. Recruiting Cuban composer/arranger Chico O’Farrill to arrange, The Count Basie Orchestra rifles through a dozen popular selections such as “The Lady Is A Tramp,” “Bewitched,” “Get Me To The Church On Time,” “On The Sunny Side of the Street” and “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was.”    

In honor of Kühn’s 90th birthday two years ago, the clarinetist is the subject of a nine-LP boxset entitled “The Best Is Yet To Come,” which is comprised of seven newly remastered vinyl albums from his catalogue along with a pair of live recordings of the Rolf + Joachim Kühn Quartet from 1966’s Berlin Jazz Days and 1967’s Newport Jazz
Festival that had never before been released. A rare-bred German who managed to find success living and playing jazz in America, Kühn was an exceptional artist with a unique sound and distinctive style, a quintessential jazz man who evolved throughout his career from big band swing to more adventurous and improvisational jazz. 

Jules Leyhe | "Your First Rodeo"

This ain’t your granddaddy’s blues. Heck, it ain’t even your daddy’s blues. Guitarist Jules Leyhe is on an entirely different trip. His forthcoming “Your First Rodeo” is a whimsical mashup of blues, hip hop, funk, fusion, jazz, rock and Latin music dropping September 17 on Monkey Finger Records. Producing the set with Protist, the Oakland, Calif.-based slide guitar slinger wrote the bucking bronco of an album that obstinately refuses to be categorized.   

An audacious collection evading lasso, “Your First Rodeo” brilliantly juxtaposes futuristic elements with downhome “comfort” sounds. Leyhe paired inventive sonicscapes with soulful blues guitarplay. Conceived and constructed using vivid fantasy, the guitarman wondered what it would sound like to pair diametrically opposed artists – or, in this case, use signature elements of the imagined artists’ unique style – on one recording. Picture Cardi B sitting in with the Buena Vista Social Club. Or Jimi Hendrix playing in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Or Duane Allan jamming with jazz pianist Gil Evans.  

“I wanted to create music based off of collaborations that I’ve pictured of many of my favorite artists who never actually worked together. The clearest example is picturing Jimi Hendrix playing with the psychedelic Beatles era, a wild pairing that never actually happened but sure is fun to imagine and try to create with my own flavor. My bandmates’ fantastic playing and imaginations helped me reach for this sort of potential for pairing abstract, disparate musical ideas and getting away with it, or at least creating something unique to us. This album encapsulates so many musical idioms with a gritty, urban, fun feel of an old-soul Oakland band,” said Leyhe who was empowered by his Family Jules Band – keyboardist Ian McArdle, saxophonist Nancy Wright, bassist Murph Murphy and drummer Isaac Schwartz.

Enabling Leyhe’s fantastical vision is a powerful protagonist in horn player Shane Cox, who deftly uses layers of trumpet, trombone and sousaphone to illuminate the intricately textured tracks with color, might and majesty. The horns leap off the page, providing melodic framework for Leyhe’s shrieking slide guitar, embellishing dexterous fretwork and spiking rampaging guitar assaults.  

Preceding the album release, “Start Your Engines,” an intense two-plus minute gauzy guitar workout, will be released as a single early next month and can be heard at https://soundcloud.com/julesleyhe/start-your-engines-1. The cut is a snapshot of the eclectic fabric of “Your First Rodeo” that is devoid of a singular narrative or storyline. It’s a collection created solely for entertainment and leaves the interpretation of the music up to the listener.

Leyhe played two sold-out shows at The Sound Room in Oakland with his band over the July 4th holiday weekend, their first live concerts post-quarantine. Less than a week before the stay-at-home order was issued in the Bay Area last year, he was on the Paramount Theatre stage in Oakland shredding alongside legendary blues guitarists Buddy Guy and Jimmie Vaughan. The Berklee College of Music graduate who studied blues and slide guitar has also performed with Huey Lewis, Fantastic Negrito, Chris Cain and Taj Mahal, the latter of whom he recently interviewed for a feature in the August issue of Guitar Player. The magazine featured Leyhe in a 2018 story and accompanying instructional video about how to play like Allman, writing that the young bluesman is “a wicked slide player” who has “old-soul sensibilities, go-for-bust attitude, and deep understanding of the nuances of Duane Allman’s style.”

Leyhe, who will perform the National Anthem next month solo prior to an Oakland A’s vs. San Francisco Giants game and will lead his band in a tribute to Mahal at the prestigious SFJAZZ next May, has a message for those who are new to his work.     

“Since this is your first rodeo, hopefully you’ll find the new album to be a spirited musical adventure through wildly animated tunes. With no lyrics and only instruments and textural/environmental sounds, we hope that the listener can hop on board our sonic journey and come up with a personal meaning for each song. It’s supposed to be a lot of fun - like a Marvel Comics movie and like the album cover, which is filled with tongue-in-cheek, music nerd-type humor and entertainment.”

Guitarist-Composer Ken Ramm signs with Bob Frank Entertainment for catalog reissues and a new album

While Euphoria’s eclectic records may be somewhat underground and better known in the art-rock-pop world, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with Emmy nominated guitarist-composer Ken Ramm’s music, thanks to Euphoria’s tracks being licensed for use in high-profile television and film projects in addition to serving as the soundtrack for Apple campaigns and keynote speeches by Steve Jobs. Mainstream music fans have the chance to discover and delve into the Euphoria catalog now that four of Ramm’s albums have been reissued by Bob Frank Entertainment leading to the release of a new album, “5 Times A Charm,” this Fall.

The Euphoria projects recently reissued are “Dragon” (1981) and “Ramm” (1984). Albums “e4 Instrumental” and “e4 Vocal” (both 2013) will be reissued later this year followed by the new recording.

Throughout his lengthy and diverse career path, Ramm has been crafting imaginative sonicscapes drawn from broad palates of electronic, trip hop, jazz, fusion, Americana, progressive rock and pop. Releasing a catalog of adventurous albums as Euphoria, the audacious alchemist found inventive ways to set his predominantly twelve-string acoustic guitar among lavish aural tapestries, use gauzy electric slide guitar to texturize experimental audio files, and dispense improvised melodies amidst danceable grooves.

“We are thrilled to be working with Ken Ramm (Euphoria) on his new music as well as his catalog. For the first time ever, it will be marketed together, and we hope to bring his beautiful compositions to a wider audience,” said Bob Frank, CEO and founder of Bob Frank Entertainment.

“It is a great privilege to be working with an experienced music man such as Bob Frank and his Bob Frank Distribution team,” said Ramm, a global artist based in Toronto and New York who often records in London. “Their alliance with SONY and The Orchard makes for a powerful combination. To have a historical perspective of my music, aligned with the upcoming new material from my music project, ‘5 Times A Charm,’ gives the music buying and listening public a chance to experience my growth as an artist both past and present.”

Ramm’s first offering “Dragon” was mixed by GRAMMY winner Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel). He has collaborated with Rush’s Geddy Lee and Neil Peart, and vocalists Tracy Bonham and Tina Dico (Zero 7) are featured singing on Euphoria albums.

Filmmakers and television music supervisors have been enamored with Euphoria’s striking and visually compelling material, which run the gamut from high-energy club bangers to moody atmospherics. Euphoria tracks have been heard on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Malcolm in the Middle,” “The Expendables 3,” “Roswell” and “Oprah.” Academy Award-winning director Michael Mann used Euphoria cuts “Devil May Care” and “Blue” for the HBO series “Luck,” which starred Dustin Hoffman. Apple and Nissan are among the companies who have featured Euphoria’s music in commercials while Steve Jobs used the single “Sweet Rain” as the soundtrack for the 2002 MacWorld launch in addition to selecting the song “Delirium” as the backdrop for a keynotes address.

Ramm performed live at dublab’s 20th anniversary in 2019 and frequently serves as a guest host on the Los Angeles-based radio outlet’s shows, including “In His Own Words,” “Patrick Gleeson” and “Songs For Film And Television,” which can be found archived on the dublab website.

For more information about Ramm and Euphoria, please visit https://euphoria.to.

Trineice Robinson with Don Braden, Cyrus Chestnut, Kenny Davis, Vince Ector on "All or Nothing"

With the August 6, 2021 release of All Or Nothing, vocalist Trineice Robinson crosses off a major item on her bucket list, finally releasing her debut album at the age of 40. Belated though her emergence into the spotlight may be, Robinson does so with the confidence and dazzling range of a performer who’s invested a lifetime in her craft.

It also must be one of the last unfulfilled dreams on that bucket list: she’s already enjoyed a career as a renowned educator and researcher, developing her pioneering Soul Ingredients® teaching methodology to remedy the lack of Black music traditions represented in the field of voice pedagogy; and she’s raised two children, both of whom sing along with her on All Or Nothing.

“My focus on academia ended up superseding my ability to really nourish myself as an artist,” Robinson says. “With Soul Ingredients®, I teach concepts like ‘sing your soul’ and ‘music your story.’ Now it’s my turn to do that.”

Robinson finds herself in stellar company for her debut. She’s joined throughout the album by an all-star group featuring saxophonist Don Braden, who also contributed many of the arrangements; pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Kenny Davis and drummer Vince Ector, along with guest appearances by pianist Phil Orr, guitarist Joe “Stretch” Vinson, percussionist Kahlil Kwame Bell and the horn section of Ian Kaufman, John Meko and Nils Mossblad.

Robinson’s path has crossed these musicians at a variety of junctures throughout her career as an educator and performer. Some of them are colleagues from Princeton University, where she is a member of the Jazz faculty; others have been connections made through her travels as a scholar and researcher; others are longtime collaborators on the local music scene where Robinson has plied her trade while focused on her teaching. And of course there are her children, Laura-Simone Martin and Lindsay Martin Jr., who lend a sweetness and charm to Robinson’s gospel-inspired original, “Let It Shine.”

“I tried to engage people that are a part of my journey,” she explains. “Whether it's my family or my colleagues, these are all people that I felt understood my vision and could help me be better at me being me. I got people that helped me shine.”

The music on All Or Nothing, a blend of standards, jazz classics, R&B/soul favorites and original songs, reflects Robinson’s diverse tastes and interests. In fact, it was her restless desire to explore beyond the narrow confines of a single defined genre that led her down the circuitous path to All Or Nothing.  

“One of the subconscious reasons that I didn't push forward in my own artistry was the recognition that I fit in so many categories,” she says. “The industry makes you choose: if you're going to be a jazz singer you have to sound a certain way; if you're going to be a gospel singer or an R&B singer or a classical singer, you have to sound a certain way. What happens if I'm all of those? My mission was to find answers for myself as I tried to understand who I was as a performer.”

Her entire career in academia was a result of not being able to find those answers when vocal pedagogy was decidedly focused on the European classical tradition. She eventually remedied that with Soul Ingredients®, which encourages vocalists to find their own personal blend of influences and autobiography in their approach to singing. “The ingredients I talk about are the components that people use for self-expression,” Robinson explains. “When you understand how ingredients are used in a dish, you can create whatever dish you want.”

Robinson’s own passion for music began in Oakland, California, where she came from generations of clergy. Though she began singing in church, she resisted following in those footsteps, instead starting college as an engineering major. The urge to sing wasn’t quelled for long, however, and she eventually earned her master’s in jazz studies at Indiana University-Bloomington, where she studied with Dr. David Baker, and her doctorate in music education at Teachers College Columbia University.

The wholeheartedness with which she attacks every aspect of her career is reflected in the title of All Or Nothing, taken from the standard that opens the album. Braden’s forceful, abbreviated arrangement underlines the fervency of Robinson’s attitude as she takes on this next challenge. The singer’s take on Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints,” with lyrics by former student Nandita Rao, focuses on the crucial idea of legacy. “I'm always talking about legacy,” Robinsons says. “What are you leaving behind? Do you realize you have the power and the responsibility to make a difference?”

Robinson’s love of classic soul shines through on her silken rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” The subtle addition of “hoodies” to the lyric updates the song’s lament to the current day. “We're still singing the same songs and telling the same stories,” Robinson says tersely regarding the racial struggles that remain relevant a half century after the original song’s release. Some respite from that pain is provided by Duke Ellington’s revered “Come Sunday,” an intimate duet by Robinson and Chestnut that, she says, “definitely brings out my church influences… The concept behind it is that no matter what's going on, on Sunday things are going to make sense, even for a couple of hours.”

Robinson’s “mini-song,” “If This Is Love,” leads into “The Very Thought of You,” on which she and Braden alternate burnishing the melody. Both that and especially “Save Your Love For Me” were chosen in homage to Robinson’s favorite singer, the great Nancy Wilson, who passed away as she was working on the album. Another hero, Carmen McRae, is echoed on the Thelonious Monk tune “You Know Who (I Mean You).” She showcases her transfixing way with a ballad on the McCoy Tyner/Sammy Cahn collaboration “You Taught My Heart To Sing,” and a tropical soul feel on Natalie Cole’s sunny “La Costa.” The album ends with the brassy gospel of “Let It Shine,” save for a brief, heartwarming coda from 10-year old Lindsay Martin Jr.

Jazz, gospel, R&B, classical – Robinson combines ingredients from all of this music into the rich, expressive stew that makes All Or Nothing a bountiful feast for the listener. Combine all of that with her vivid emotional delivery and the unapologetic way she makes every lyric so deeply personal makes this a stunning debut well worth waiting for.

Trineice Robinson

Dr. Trineice Robinson-Martin has dedicated her career to performing and developing resources for teaching jazz, gospel/Christian, R&B, rock, country, and pop singing styles in an applied/private voice lesson setting. In addition to releasing her debut album, All Or Nothing, she maintains a busy schedule as a singer in a variety of styles while holding a faculty position at Princeton University as the jazz voice instructor, lecturer, and director of the Jazz Vocal Collective Ensemble. She serves on the National Faculty in the academic division of Gospel Music Workshop of America, serves as the Executive Director of the African American Jazz Caucus, Inc., serves as a Board of Director for the Jazz Education Network, serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Singing, and is a member of the distinguished American Academy of Teachers of Singing. Dr. Trineice created Soul Ingredients®, a teaching methodology for developing a singer’s musical style/interpretation in African American folk based music styles (i.e. jazz, gospel, R&B, blues, etc.). This methodology shows students how to take their personal experiences, musical influences and models, and execute the different components in a manner that is personal to the singer/performer’s own personal expression.

 

Kat Eaton | "Talk To Me"

Kat Eaton is a Welsh-born, Sheffield-raised, London-dwelling soul/r&b artist, who over the last few years has been steadily making a name for herself both in the UK and overseas. Known for her powerhouse vocals, Kat is also adept at songwriting, tackling delicate and topical issue such as mental health, modern love or drunk dialing an ex.

Originally discovered through the radio show “BBC Introducing”, Kat‘s first singles “Giving It Up” and “The Joker” earned her strong support from BBC Radio 2, Robert Elms and Gaby Roslin on BBC Radio London, as well as BBC Introducing in Sheffield. “The Joker” was also play-listed at renowned Dutch station NPO 2.

Having already toured the UK/EU supporting various artists (Jools Holland, Marc Broussard, The Teskey Brothers, Mama’s Gun), selling out multiple headlines shows in London, co-writing with the likes of Ruby Turner, Caro Emerald and Andy Platts (Mama’s Gun / Young Gun Silver Fox) and breaking through to new territories via the national radio airwaves of Holland and Belgium, Kat has established herself as one of the hardest working and talented performers in her field.

Kat met long time collaborator & now partner Nick Atkinson at just 15 in Sheffield, a city that had a profound impact on Kat & Nick’s musical identity, with its rich lineage of working class musicians influencing the pair massively. Although Kat is very much the face of the project, behind the scenes Nick contributes with co-writing & production credits, making the music very much a collaborative effort between them both.

The result of their labor will be on full display on July 2nd, when Kat releases her debut album Talk To Me. While some debut albums show artists still finding their feet and sonic direction, Kat is unashamedly bold & confident in her abilities as a vocalist and songwriter, effortlessly merging soul and classic r&b throughout a mature and well-rounded 10 tracks that will no doubt solidify Kat’s place as an artist already at the top of their game and now ready to share the fruits of years of hard work to the world.

Steven Bernstein Releases "Planet B" - From 'Tinctures In Time (Community Music, Vol. 1)

Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra has released "Planet B," the latest single and opening track from the band's forthcoming album 'Tinctures In Time (Community Music, Vol. 1)' due September 3 on Royal Potato Family. The song is accompanied by a video created by Kit Fitzgerald. 

"'Planet B' is one of the first original compositions I wrote for MTO after almost 20 years of arranging the American songbook for the band. The piece uses elements that I've been exploring for years: Ellington, Machito, Sun Ra and Gil Evans, a simple 'folk' melody, all over a true MTO-style groove," explains Bernstein. "When it came time to make my first music video, I reached out to Kit Fitzgerald, a pioneer in the video world who has collaborated with artists from many disciplines including drummer Max Roach, choreographer Donald Byrd and poet Anne Waldman. I asked her to make something beautiful, something she would make for herself. I wanted her to create her own narrative, different from anything I could imagine. And she did."

'Tinctures In Time (Community Music, Vol. 1)' is the first edition in Steven Bernstein's four volume 'Community Music' series. Every four months, beginning this September and stretching through September 2022, a new album will be released. Each showcases a different facet of the acclaimed arranger and trumpeter who over a 40 year career has worked alongside everyone from Levon Helm to Lou Reed, Aretha Franklin to Sam Rivers, Robert Altman to Radiohead. In addition to 'Tinctures In Time,' which marks the first occasion Bernstein has written original music for his long-standing nonet, the Millennial Territory Orchestra, the series includes 'Good Time Music (Community Music, Vol. 2)' with singer Catherine Russell that celebrates a handful of high-stepping, feel-good songs from the history of modern recorded music, out January 7, 2022; 'Manifesto of Henry-isms (Community Music, Vol. 3)' comprised by re-imaginings of Bernstein's inspired arrangements for the brilliant New Orleans pianist Henry Butler & The Hot 9 with guests John Medeski and Arturo O'Farrill, follows May 6, 2022; and 'Popular Culture (Community Music, Vol. 4),' a set of Bernstein-ian takes on The Grateful Dead, Charles Mingus, The Beatles and others, concludes the series on September 2, 2022.

Aptly titled 'Community Music,' Steven Bernstein's community is the essence of these recordings, made over four days in 2020 and featuring an ensemble of musicians who have been both integral to the New York City creative music scene and co-collaborators with Bernstein for the last 30 years. The acclaimed arranger and trumpeter has known pianist Arturo O'Farrill for well over 30 years and drummer Ben Perowsky for nearly 40; he's been playing music with saxophonist Peter Apfelbaum since they were twelve years old. And he's known everyone else in the Millennial Territory Orchestra for at least 25 years, starting when Bernstein moved from Berkeley to New York City in 1979 and soon found himself in the thick of the golden age of the downtown jazz scene, becoming a member of John Lurie & The Lounge Lizards. The initial spark for 'Community Music' concept can be traced back to his co-leader in The Hot 9, legendary New Orleans pianist Henry Butler, passing in 2018 and then Bernstein's mother the following year. Understandably, Bernstein began to consider his own mortality—and his musical legacy. Soon thereafter he won a Shifting Foundation grant (previous recipients include Bill Frisell, Craig Taborn and John Zorn) to document as many of his unrecorded and sometimes even unperformed arrangements as possible.

"I thought, 'While I'm still on the planet, I need to start documenting my arrangements,'" says Bernstein. "Levon Helm's not here, and Henry Butler's not here, and Hal Willner's not here, and Roswell Rudd's not here, and Lou Reed's not here. So I'm carrying forward all the stuff I learned from them, but through the way I look at it. Hal used to say, as our favorite musicians were passing, 'It's up to us now, we need to make the music with the same intent as our heroes. We have to be our own heroes now.'"


Marc Johnson | "Overpass"

With Overpass, recorded in Brazil in 2018, Marc Johnson makes a decisive and intriguing contribution to ECM’s solo bass recordings. It is an album that takes note of that tradition - Johnson has said that Dave Holland’s Emerald Tears was among the solo recordings that fired his imagination almost half a century ago - and builds upon it in a personal and imaginative way. 

The Nebraska-born bassist first came to broader attention in the late 1970s as a member of Bill Evans’s last trio where the tune “Nardis” became effectively a workshop for nightly discoveries about the bass’s potential as a lead voice. The Miles Davis tune, long associated with Evans, is revisited here. As Johnson points out, “‘Nardis’ is where solo bass explorations all started for me and this performance distills much of the conception and vocabulary I am using throughout this album.” Alex North’s “Love Theme from Spartacus”, another tune that Evans liked to play, is featured, too, in an interpretation and arrangement that honours the form of the composition. 

Johnson also tackles Eddie Harris’s “Freedom Jazz Dance”, whose dancing pulses have long inspired improvisers, and presents five of his own pieces. Among them is “Samurai Fly”, a recasting of “Samurai Hee-Haw”, the Eastern-tinged Western tune that Marc previously recorded for ECM with his Bass Desires band – the highly influential quartet featuring the twinned guitars of Bill Frisell and John Scofield and Peter Erskine’s drums- and with the John Abercrombie Trio. This version – one of the two tracks that deploys discreet overdubbing - is heavier than its predecessors, perhaps more Sumo than Samurai, Johnson wryly suggests, but still nimble and effective, and with a strong hint of bluegrass bass fiddle in its undercurrents. 

Marc Johnson’s music has long been open to influence from multiple sources, and “Whorled Whirled World”, for instance, with its tessellated patterning and spinning, dancing energy alludes both to a kind of earthy, global music blueprint and the mesmeric qualities of minimalistic repetition. Pulsation and drive have strong roles throughout. 

Of “And Strike Each Tuneful String” Johnson says,” In the early 80s I made a conscious choice to try to bring something primal to my sound and conception of playing. I discovered a field recording made in the late 60s of musicians from Burundi. One or two tracks in particular from that recording caught my attention. The music was played on an instrument called an Inanga which is a hollowed out log strung with ox tendons for strings. The strings were plucked in various patterns and the earthy sound and repetitiveness was quite hypnotic. With a nod towards that reference, this piece is an improvisation and short reprise of ‘Prayer Beads’ which appeared on the second Bass Desires album.” 

If Overpass addresses musical and personal history, it is also an improviser’s in-the-moment response to events. Marc Johnson’s journeys around the globe have sometimes led to meetings with remarkable instruments: in São Paulo he came across a prizewinning bass made by luthier Paulo Gomes that subsequently became his instrument of choice each time he was in the region. The sound of the bass itself with its full-bodied resonance has also been a determining factor for the nature of the music played. On “Yin and Yang” the improvisation takes off from harmonics produced by strumming all four strings of this bass. “The continuity was created by allowing the strings to decay until the next attack. I first recorded a long series of attacks and decays, and then improvised a melody and some bowed effects. This piece is the result.” 

Overpass, recorded in January and February 2018 at Nacena Studios, in São Paulo, was produced by Marc Johnson and Eliane Elias. 


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Albums by Ella Fitzgerald, Freddie Hubbard, George Duke, Oscar Peterson Trio, Baden Powell, Bill Evans and Joe Henderson

The treasure trove of MPS Records album reissues that began last month from Germany’s first jazz label continued last Friday with vinyl and CD releases of albums by such luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Freddie Hubbard, George Duke, Oscar Peterson Trio and Baden Powell while albums by Bill Evans and Joe Henderson dropped as limited-edition colored vinyl LPs. The records arrived via Edel Germany in partnership with Bob Frank Entertainment. 

Reissued in June as limited-edition color vinyl LPs exclusively through Vinyl Me, Please, Fitzgerald’s “Sunshine Of Your Love” and Hubbard’s “The Hub of Hubbard” are now available on traditional black vinyl and CD.      

Known as the Queen of Jazz, Fitzgerald challenged herself by electing to sing an album of rock and pop classics by such artists as Eric Clapton, the Beatles, and Burt Bacharach along with a few standards. Half of “Sunshine Of Your Love” (1969) was recorded live using a big band while the other half features Fitzgerald’s longtime accompanists, the Tommy Flanagan Trio.

While on a European tour in 1969 with his world-class quintet, Hubbard trekked to the German Black Forest to record “The Hub of Hubbard” for MPS. The trumpeter had already forged a unique sound that mixed hard bop, soul and fusion. Hubbard and the band, which features saxophonist Eddie Daniels, pianist Roland Hanna and a taut rhythm section formed by


bassist Richard Davis and drummer Louis Hayes, stretch out on the four-song set that includes a 13-minute exploration of the standard “Without A Song.”

A pair of jazz-fusion albums by Duke, “Feel” and “I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry,” were reissued on vinyl and CD. When “Feel” was released in 1975, it came at a transitional time when Duke was establishing himself as a solo artist after being a noted sideman. Mixing fusion and rock, the keyboardist exhibits experimental use of synthesizers to create orchestral textures on the disc that includes appearances from frequent collaborator Frank Zappa and a Brazilian jazz expedition


alongside iconic vocalist Flora Purim and percussionist Airto Moreira.

 On “I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry” (1976), Duke diversifies his blend of fusion further while singing frequently throughout the record. He packs a punch on metal/hard rock tracks mashed up with funk, soul and blues. With the rhythm section anchored by longtime collaborator Ndugu Chancler on drums, among the guitarists who shred on the record are Lee Ritenour and George Johnson (Brothers Johnson). Purim and Moreira reappear to provide Brazilian nuances.   

Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson leads an astute trio completed by bassist Georg Mraz and drummer Ray Price on a set list that includes some of Peterson’s original compositions along with pages from the Great American Songbook on 1970’s “Walking The Line.” The vinyl and CD reissues capture the threesome reimagining timeless tunes by Cole Porter, Michel Legrand, Sammy Cahn, Richard Rodgers and Johnny Mercer.     

Powell began his nine-year association with MPS with 1966’s “Tristeza on Guitar,” and despite the title, it is far from a sad-themed outing. Deploying sambas and Afro-Brazilian rhythms, the Brazilian guitar master runs the gamut of emotion - from

intimacy and mystery to celebration and exuberance - on the reissued vinyl LP and CD.

Released as a limited-edition orange vinyl LP, Evan’s “Symbiosis” is an adventurous outing by the legendary jazz pianist who typically performed in trio settings. This 1974 album is a rare treat, pairing Evans with a philharmonic conducted by prolific composer-arranger Claus Ogerman. Whether on acoustic or electric piano, Evans’ lyrical play guides listeners through sprawling expanses ranging from big band grandiosity to minimalism, from exotic samba to jazz, and from lavish string arrangements to dramatic film music.         

Henderson’s “Mirror Mirror” garnered reissue as a limited green vinyl LP. The GRAMMY-winning tenor saxophone titan surrounds himself with greatness on this all-star 1980 recording that could have been attributed to a quartet since the musicians – pianist Chick Corea, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Billy Higgins - share the spotlight equitably.

Butcher Brown | "Encore"

Butcher Brown, celebrated for their explosive live performances opening for such acts as Kamasi Washington, Galactic, Turkuaz and Lettuce, announce the release of their aptly titled new EP, ENCORE, on Concord Jazz. 

The five tracks featured on ENCORE were recorded during the same time as their critically-acclaimed major label debut, #KingButch. The band says, "ENCORE is full of musical gems from the #KingButch sessions. With these songs, we go further into some of the directions that we tapped for the album."

 The release of the Richmond, Virginia-based quintet’s latest single comes hot on the heels of a stunning NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. 

Butcher Brown is five groove merchants delivering a heady home-brew of jams and jazz, rhymes and beats—a funky, musical mix that makes one question why great music needs to be labeled as this category or that. The hybrid moniker “jazz/hip-hop” only begins to cover it. Their balance of raw energy and smooth sophistication, edgy improvisation with a generous dose of Southern roots reveals how equal opportunity they are in employing a wide range of musical styles, and how authentically they’ve absorbed it all. 

Individually, they are: producer/keyboardist DJ Harrison; drummer Corey Fonville; bassist Andrew Randazzo; trumpeter/saxophonist/MC Marcus “Tennishu” Tenney; and guitarist Morgan Burrs.

Starting in 2013, Butcher Brown began to release a series of recordings on their own imprint, and other independent labels as well, helping to spread the word of the group’s groove-driven consistency. On September 18, 2020, Butcher Brown released their full album #KingButch, a major label debut on Concord Records, on the Concord Jazz imprint. Their eighth album was the culmination of twelve years of dedicated focus, and commitment.

 

Alyson Murray | "The AM Session"

The soulful, smooth and tender tune "Someone Like You" is from Alyson Murray's  EP, The AM Session. The Australian-born, New York-based quixotic vocalist is carving her own vulnerable space between R&B, soul, and jazz––brilliantly painting portraits of love and loss with honest lyricism and delicate, passionate vocals.

The single encapsulates the love that fuels Murray's creativity, especially in a time of physical separation. “Writing about love in a time of isolation felt healing," says Murray. "'Someone Like You' embodies the energy and warmth I wanted to express throughout the EP, which is why I decided to release it as the first single from ‘The AM Session.’ When I write music, I want to create a sense of timelessness, in its context and composition. 'Someone Like You' feels like an homage to a classic love song, from the trumpet lines to the harmonies. I write to feel good, and I hope that transpires."

In 2019, Murray started a virtual YouTube and Instagram series, #AMsession, featuring a collection of songwriting ideas and improvisations. This series ultimately served as inspiration for the eight-track collection which was co-produced by Gregory ‘Phace’ Fils-Aime.

The singer-songwriter's debut record, Breathe, was released in 2018 to much acclaim receiving international airplay in Australia, London, Canada, and the U.S. Murray was then invited to perform in celebration of the release at the prestigious Melbourne Recital Centre for International Women's Day in 2019. Whilst celebrating Breathe, Murray also curated an intimate and exciting performance: Sassy: a Tribute to Sarah Vaughan. The sold-out show, during the Melbourne Jazz Festival, took place at renowned venue, Paris Cat Jazz Club, and featured acclaimed saxophonist Marcus Strickland. Murray then took the performance abroad, performing Sassy at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, NY and at Diese Onze in Montreal. 

Australian-born and New York-based, singer-songwriter and producer Alyson Murray is a compelling and innovative performer who blends soul, R&B and jazz. After releasing her debut record Breathe in 2018, Murray toured the record across Melbourne, and performed abroad in NYC and Montreal, Canada. Murray began a virtual series entitled #AMsession on YouTube and Instagram in 2019, which features a collection of songwriting ideas and improvisations. The #AMSession series ultimately inspired her next project, The AM Session, an EP co-produced by Gregory ‘Phace’ Fils-Aime. 


Deniece Williams Free – The Columbia/Arc Recordings 1976 to 1988

An insanely big collection of work from the great Deniece Williams – eleven full albums, plus bonus tracks more – all to sum up a decade in which she was one of the strongest forces going in mainstream soul! Williams got her start as Deniece Chandler on the Chicago scene – where she had a vocal range that rivaled that of Minnie Riperton, which had her initially stepping out here in a mode that's a bit similar on the first album or two in the set – working with sophisticated soul production that really brings out the best in her sound! As things move on, she also showcases the way she can wrap that fantastic voice around a catchy groove and a playful hook – a quality that made Williams one of the surprising crossover soul stars as the 80s moved in, with a big run of hits that are all included here on albums that still represent a well-balanced blend of chart tracks and some deeper full length material. The set features the full albums Niecy, Songbird, When Love Comes Calling, My Melody, a second Niecy album, I'm So Proud, Let's Hear It For The Boy, Hot On The Trail, Water Under The Bridge, and Good As It Gets – plus an album of duets with Johnny Mathis, titled That's What Friends Are For. The final CD is filled with bonus tracks – single mixes, remixes, and more!  ~ Dusty Groove

Durand Jones & The Indications - Private Space

Fantastic work from Durand Jones & The Indications – a group who've really come a long way in the past few years – in ways that push Durand's vocals to places we wouldn't have guessed on previous records! This set's way more than just a funk band with a soul singer upfront – as the whole thing's a fully-formed soul record through and through – with these larger arrangements that really add a lot, and open up all these righteous 70s currents mixed with a few contemporary flourishes that really give the album a very distinct sound! The songwriting is even better than before, too – and the group seems to have found a voice for themselves that's unlike any of their contemporaries. The record features guest work from Brandee Younger on harp and Joel Ross on vibes – and titles include "Love Will Work It Out", "Witchoo", "Reach Out", "Sexy Thang", "More Than Ever", "Private Space", "Sea Of Love", "I Can See", and "Ride Or Die".  ~ Dusty Groove

New Music Releases: Les Jeux Sont Funk, Chazzy Green, Gil

Les Jeux Sont Funk- A Tribute To The J.B.'s

Les Jeux Sont Funk throws in everything but the kitchen sink in paying homage to some of their favorite funk artists in “A Tribute to the J.B.s.” During a writing retreat in Trento, Italy, the newly expanded group decided to fan the flames of their budding musical chemistry and jam in the styles of The Meters, Shuggie Otis, Roy Ayers, P-Funk, and more. One of the grooves formulated on bass and guitar was augmented by tight hitting drums and touches of Latin jazz horns and it seemed to fall amongst the same lineage as The J.B.s. As the band reflected, they compared the J.B.s to figurative sherpas that helped James Brown climb to the top. Les Jeux Sont Funk penned the crafty title “A Tribute to the J.B.s,” as they were quite literally a funk band rehearsing in the mountains looking to elevate their collective sound to new levels.

Chazzy Green - Let's Go Home

On his first album in five years, “The Funky Sax Man” Charles “Chazzy” Green reconnects with his longtime pal and collaborator Ray Parker Jr., among other top line urban jazz sidemen, to create the richly emotional, alternately punchy/funky and blissfully sensual collection Let's Go Home – whose title is a wink towards the reality of remote recording this past year while in lockdown. While renowned for wide-ranging skills on alto and tenor, the Detroit bred, Howard University educated musician – who has played and toured throughout his career with the likes of Howard Hewett, Montell Jordan, Macy Gray and Bobby Womack - showcases on a few infectious tracks his equally sparkling flute skills – a callback to Green’s early classical training which also included clarinet. ~ www.smoothjazz.com

Gil - Sometimes A Man

In an inspirational video clip Gil Johnson (known professionally as Gil) posted while he was making his down deep soulful, heartfelt and uber-romantic debut album Sometimes A Man, the Detroit based vocalist - reflecting on his recent retirement from the car business after 30 years to pursue his musical dreams – offered a sage piece of advice: “Don’t let age be the reason you didn’t give that one thing you’re passionate about at least an effort.” Gil blazes these personal trails with a set of sweet soaring ballads and easy grooving mid-tempo gems – plus a super funky piano driven, guitar soaring instrumental – produced by David Lee Spradley, renowned for his work with everyone from George Clinton and Stevie Wonder to Roy Ayers and Earl Klugh. ~ www.smoothjazz.com  

Focusyear Band 21 | "Bosque"

The Focusyear Band 21 is an international group of students with an exciting new project. These musicians include: Vocalist Tatjana Nova (from Dresden by way of Moscow); saxophonists Joshua Schofield (England) and Gianni Gagliardi (Spain); trumpeters, flugelhornists, and valve trombonists Yakiv Tsvietinskyi (Ukraine) and Sebastián Greschuk (Argentina); pianist Lorenzo Vitolo (Italy); bassist Ethan Cohn (New York, by way of Montreal); and drummer Áron Tálas (Hungary). Ensemble members were selected from a large number of applications. 

As heard in the music, the Focusyear Band 21 found its own sound, with an emphasis on improvisational risk-taking. After many intensive weeks with prominent instructors, the eight young musicians crafted a selection of original compositions created throughout the year. They are interactive, sonically aware and original, devoted to discovering – and advancing – the language of jazz.


Bassist Almog Sharvit's 'Get Up Or Cry'

Innovative composer and bassist Almog Sharvit releases his debut album as a leader, Get Up Or Cry, today via Unit Records. Together with his band members Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Brandon Seabrook (guitar & banjo), Micha Gilad (piano, keys, synths) and Lukas König (drums), Sharvit creates a startingly imaginative record. Get Up Or Cry signals the arrival of a fresh, significant New York artist. It’s an album that appeals to both jazz purists and neophytes, a crossover record that stuns any casual listener.

Sharvit, a 28-year-old conservatory-trained musician, born and raised in Israel and based in Brooklyn, creates surreal, maximalist compositions that combine both acoustic and electronic textures. In New York, he has established himself as a creative force; his jazz trio Kadawa has received accolades from the New York Times, Indie Current and Vancouver Sun, among others. Sharvit has also toured internationally with various acts across 12 countries, and performed at storied venues including Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Blue Note, Jerusalem Jazz Festival, and many more.

Get Up Or Cry reflects genre-pushing creativity, textural innovation, and a striking balance between form and freedom. The album blurs electronic music, psychedelic rock, bluegrass, 20th-century classical music, and of course, jazz, into dizzyingly beautiful, wholly unique songs. Sharvit composed, arranged, and produced every single track – the only additional writing credit belongs to one Vladimir Nabokov, whose poetry serves as the lyrics to the eponymous track “Get Up Or Cry.“

“I intended to create an album that you can turn to when you feel joy and sorrow at the same time,” says Sharvit. “I wanted to make an album that is beautiful in an odd way, a space where humor interacts with moving, complex, and crazy songs. They express how we all feel sometimes – overwhelmed with information, short on focus, caffeinated as hell, but at the same time having moments of joy, intimacy, sadness, and freedom.”

Get Up Or Cry was recorded in a single day at Wonderpark Studios in Brooklyn. In post-production, Sharvit applied experimental techniques usually found in pop and electronic music to the songs – the record features filter sweeps, heavy distortion and compression, and creative automation and panning that he gladly says “will knock the dust off your stereo.”


Curt Ramm Releases "Rogue Island"

Curt Ramm is excited to announce his newest album, Rogue Island, due out this July on Rocktorium Records. Born in the throes of 2020’s COVID-19 shutdowns, the new album is a beacon of positivity and uplifting vibes. This instrumental soundscape is set to be the perfect Summer soundtrack, and is available now everywhere you stream music. 

Curt Ramm is one of the preeminent horn players in rock and roll. As well as being an in-demand studio session player, Curt’s playing has kept him very busy over the years with electrifying live performances throughout the US, Europe and Japan. Some of his recording and performance credits include Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen Sessions Band, Nile Rodgers and CHIC, They Might Be Giants, Radiohead, The Levon Helm Band, Glen Hansard and Little Steven. 

Curt is certainly no stranger to jazz either. From his roots in Kansas City, playing lead trumpet with the Charlie Parker Memorial Foundation Jazz Orchestra, through the release of his album “Foundations” with fellow jazz luminaries Bill Cunliffe and Dan Moretti, jazz music is never far from Curt's heart or playing. 

Touring has for many years been a mainstay of Curt's musical career, but road work came to a screeching halt in the Spring of 2020. Curt recalls “the Damn-Panic was in full swing, so I had to face the fact that, for the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t be playing live shows, and definitely not touring.” 

Around that time, he was working with his long time friend and Rhode Island Music Hall of Famer, producer, musician, Ray Gennari ( Akae Beka (Midnite), Turbulence, Protoje, Roomful Of Blues, The Temptations, Lustre Kings Productions) to orchestrate and play instrumental versions of songs by Clatta Bumboo (aka Sheldon Townsend), a Jamaican born, and now RI based, reggae artist. “This collaboration was a joy and a success,” says Curt, “and with the pandemic at its peak, as a way to keep playing and have some fun, Ray and I started to create new songs, similar in style to what I had worked on with Sheldon's Project.” 

Unable to gather and perform with other musicians due to pandemic restrictions, Curt Ramm and Ray Gennari took a different and unusual approach to the recording process of Rogue Island. Tapping into Ray's recording experience with notable reggae artists they reimagined drum tracks from Aston Barrett, Jr. (The Wailers) and Brady Robinson (Pentateuch Movement) from earlier Rocktorium Records projects, and the heart of Rogue Island was born. 

Curt recalls “Ray would play bass, guitar, and some keyboard parts to set up the arrangement and vibe, and send the track to me to write horn melodies and background brass parts. We bounced the ideas back and forth, sometimes three or four times - changing the form, adding a bridge, and deciding on endings. Being unable to work together in the studio in person, we talked constantly on the phone until the song was feeling complete.” 

To round out the album, Curt and Ray decided to incorporate remotely recorded performances from friends on the record, and eventually, when Covid restrictions eased, to invite local musicians and friends to record in person to finish up Rogue Island. 

Reflecting back on the process, Curt comments, “Ray and I were both thankful to have a fun and creative escape from the pressures of the pandemic, and the few people we had shared our creations with really loved the positive and uplifting vibe of the songs.” 

From those sessions emerged Rogue Island, an eleven track LP, packed full of collaborations and standouts. Included on the new album are performances from Bill Holloman (Nile Rodgers, Danny Gatton) on saxophone, and Charlie Giordano (E Street Band) on piano and accordion. Noted reggae producer Andrew “Moon” Bain (Lustre Kings, Zion I Kings) contributed guitar to a song, and Andrew “Drew Keys” Stoch (Shaggy, Common Kings) played piano and organ on another. Curt's son, Gerard, even plays the sax solo on the album's opening song. Rogue Island was mixed by Ray Gennari and mastered by Robert Vosgien at Robert Vosgien Mastering.

Leading up to the album's release, Ramm unveiled four singles, all of which have received much praise. "Pontchartrain" mixes Curt’s swinging horns with classic reggae riffs to create an ode to the Big Easy and the resilience of the city. Topshelf Music hailed "Smugglers Cove" as a song to put wind in anyone’s sails, and the upbeat ska vibe of "Surfers End" makes it the feel good summer song we need right now!  Most recently Ramm released the music video for "Smuggler' Cove" which premiered on Reggaeville. 

The new record leans deep into its reggae influences but also showcases the diversity and versatility that has defined Curt's musical career, and his gift for melodies and horn arranging brings the album to a unique musical place. An album that takes the listener through a range of emotions and vibes ranging from the bouncing energy of “Smuggler's Cove” to the lazy New Orleans stroll of “Pontchartrain” to the slow burn of “Blue Wave.” The album closes with “From The Baseline” the track that started it all- Curt's instrumental version of Clatta Bumboo's vocal track “Baseline.” 

“We are so proud and excited to be releasing Curt Ramm's Rogue Island. To work with such an incredible musician was an honor and a joy, especially on such an amazing record,” comments Ray Gennari, album producer and owner of Rocktorium Records. Rogue Island is available now on all streaming platforms. Signed CDs and digital downloads are available now at Curtramm.com. 

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...