Monday, September 28, 2020

New Music Releases: Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah, Mr President, Walter Bishop Jr

Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah - Axiom – Live At The Blue Note

A fantastic chapter in the continuing evolution of trumpeter Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah – a set recorded at the Blue Note in New York, just days before the city had to shut down in 2020 – and a record that maybe carries with it some of the urgency of that moment! Scott's studio records in recent years have really blown us away – but it's maybe even more amazing here to hear him working with the group in this frenzy of colors, tones, and rhythms! In addition to conventional trumpet, Christian blows a reverse flugelhorn, which has an amazing sound – and his group features really intense work on drums from Cory Fonville, whose efforts on the kit seem to set everyone else on fire – a lineup taht features Lawrence Fields on piano and Rhodes, Kris Funn on bass, Weedie Braimah on percussion, and Elena Pinderhughes on flute. The music is tremendous – full of power, life, and message – on titles that include "Diaspora", "The Last Chieftain", "X Adjuah", "Huntress", "Incarnation", "Songs She Never Heard", "Guinnevere", and "Sunrise In Beijing". ~ Dusty Groove

Mr President - One Night

Maybe the best work so far from Mr President – one of our favorite projects from the tireless French producer Bruno "Patchworks" Hovart! The set begins with a groove that would be right at home on some late 70s funky jazz playlist – kind of Roy Ayers or Kudu Records – then moves through a range of great cuts that really hold onto a vintage vibe, but with all the best sorts of underground modes that Bruno always brings to his work! Vocals shift from track to track – and include contributions from Hawa, Cindy Pooch, Celia Kameni, and Sabba MG – but the whole thing has a wonderfully unified vibe – warm, soulful, jazzy, and very very groovy. Titles include "Teasing Me So Bad", "Tears Keep On Falling", "Gabriel", "The Time Is Now", "Plenty Loads Of Loving", and "One Night". ~ Dusty Groove

Walter Bishop Jr. - Coral Keys (Remastered Edition)

The first release on Black Jazz was by pianist and label producer Gene Russell; for the label's second release, Russell chose another piano man of impeccable taste, Walter Bishop, Jr. But while much of Russell's record consisted of songs composed by others, Bishop's record features all originals, most notably 'Soul Turn Around,' a groover that later turned up on Freddie Hubbard's 1969 LP A Soul Experiment. Bishop had helmed several releases before this one, including dates with John Coltrane bassist Jimmy Garrison and Miles Davis drummer Jimmy Cobb among others, so it's not surprising he assembled a heavy hitting line-up for Coral Keys, including Woody Shaw on trumpet, Reggie Jackson on bass, Idris Muhammad on drums, and Harold Vick on flute, tenor, and soprano sax. Think Herbie Hancock's '60s Blue Note recordings gently polished with a soul jazz sheen; this is some tasty stuff that's been hard to find for way too long. Remastered by Mike Milchner at Sonic Vision, this long-awaited release includes notes by Pat Thomas, author of Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, which place both the Black Jazz label and this album in a broader musical and societal context. Produced for reissue by Real Gone Music's own Gordon Anderson and decorated jazz archivist Zev Feldman.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

Maria Schneider - Data Lords

Data Lords is a new double-album by Grammy Award-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. Inspired by conflicting relationships between the digital and natural worlds, the recording features Schneider’s acclaimed orchestra of 18 world-class musicians.

“No one can deny the great impact that the data-hungry digital world has had on our lives. As big data companies clamor for our attention, I know that I’m not alone in struggling to find space – to keep connected with my inner world, the natural world, and just the simpler things in life,” says Schneider. “Just as I feel myself ping ponging between a digital world and the real world, the same dichotomy is showing up in my music. In order to truly represent my creative output from the last few years, it felt natural to make a two-album release reflecting these two polar extremes.”

The music on the first CD has at its core, electric guitar (played by Ben Monder). The title track “Data Lords” was the first to be written and was commissioned by the Library of Congress Da Capo Fund, with support from the Reva and David Logan Foundation. Four more titles – “A World Lost,” “Don’t Be Evil,” “CQ CQ, Is Anybody There?” and “Sputnik” – complete the first volume, all of which evoke different aspects of our world under the control of the data lords.

“A World Lost” longs for a simpler time when we were all more connected to the earth and each other. Its mournful sound comes through the dark tones of Ben Monder (guitar) and Rich Perry (tenor). “Don’t Be Evil” was commissioned directly through ArtistShare by David & Ginger Komar and was premiered at the Newport Jazz Festival on August 6th, 2017. This piece musically mocks Google for their absurd inspirational motto, where from the beginning, they set their ethical standards at rock bottom. Powerful solos are delivered by Jay Anderson (bass), Ben Monder (guitar), Ryan Keberle (trombone), and Frank Kimbrough (piano).

“CQ CQ, Is Anybody There?” looks back at ham radio and Morse code (the first electronic binary language) used to communicate around the world. Schneider points out that ham radio, unlike the internet, includes accountability, a code of ethics and no commercialism. All of Schneider’s rhythms in this piece spell out Morse code messages like power, greed, SOS and CQ (is anybody there). Donny McCaslin’s tenor rises out of a world of Morse/ham chatter as a human voice looking for connection, but what he encounters is artificial intelligence in the form of Greg Gisbert’s electrified trumpet.

“Sputnik” evokes the feeling of outer space and our thousands of satellites orbiting the earth now launched by corporations in a new kind of space race. In “Sputnik” Schneider imagines a massive digital exoskeleton orbiting the earth. Its short theme rises up in variation, evoking everything from the quiet cosmos to something almost Wagnerian in power, and throughout Scott Robinson’s baritone evokes his vision of space. “Data Lords” looks at the moment of singularity where artificial intelligence becomes more intelligent than humans. This intense and powerful piece follows Stephen Hawking’s dark prediction of AI choosing to turn on us and destroy us. Soloists are Mike Rodriguez (electrified trumpet) and Dave Pietro (alto).

Schneider writes, “I can’t imagine I’m alone in often feeling desperate to get away from every device bombarding me with endless chatter, endless things – endless demands. Shutting it all down and encountering space and silence, I easily find myself again drawn to nature, people, silence, books, poetry, art, the earth and sky. From those encounters came all of the inspirations below.

“Sanzenin” is inspired by magical and meditative temple gardens, hundreds of years old, north of Kyoto, Japan. In this piece, Gary Versace (accordion) wanders through these playful gardens. “Stone Song” makes musical use of ceramicist Jack Troy’s whimsical ishi no sasayaki (secret voice in the stone) pottery to imagine the world of a little stone waiting to be bumped, kicked or rolled, only to wait years or centuries to be moved again. Utilizing the most space of any piece probably ever written by Schneider, “Stone Song” showcases the brilliant art of listening in this great orchestra. Steve Wilson is featured on soprano with masterful collaboration by Gary Versace (accordion), Frank Kimbrough (piano), Jay Anderson (bass), and Johnathan Blake (drums). “Look Up” show off the facility and brilliance of Marshall Gilkes on trombone in the form of a piece that harmonically feels as if it’s rising. It reminds us to turn our gaze to the sky, the world and each other. “Braided Together” featuring Dave Pietro (alto), is filled with space, and simplicity and is based on poetry by Ted Kooser. “Bluebird” was co-commissioned by The Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, The Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, and The Center for Performing Arts at Penn State University for its premiere in April 2016. It is named after one of Schneider’s favorite birds, and the piece soars through many keys and moods and features distinctly contrasting solos by Steve Wilson (alto) and Gary Versace (accordion). “The Sun Waited for Me,” is chorale-like and features Donny McCaslin on tenor, with its lyrical melody played by Marshall Gilkes on trombone. Based on another Kooser poem, the piece reminds us that each day there is an expansive world awaiting our attention if we stop and invite it into our lives.

The Maria Schneider Orchestra spent four days in the studio making Data Lords. Engineered by Brian Montgomery, who also recorded Schneider’s Grammy Award-winning 2015 release The Thompson Fields, Data Lords features the extraordinary artistry of Schneider’s orchestra that was first recorded in 1992. The band includes reedists Steve Wilson, Dave Pietro, Rich Perry, Donny McCaslin and Scott Robinson; trumpeters Tony Kadleck, Greg Gisbert, Nadje Nordhuis and Mike Rodriguez; trombonists Keith O’Quinn, Ryan Keberle, Marshall Gilkes and George Flynn; accordionist Gary Versace, guitarist Ben Monder, pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Johnathan Blake.

Data Lords is being made, funded and documented through ArtistShare, the world’s first crowd-funding internet platform, which Schneider first used in 2003. This is her fifth ArtistShare album. Since the making of her last album, The Thompson Fields, Schneider has worked with David Bowie on a collaboration titled “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime),” and in 2019 was named an NEA Jazz Master, the nation’s highest honor in jazz. In 2020, her album, Concert in the Garden, was put in the National Recording Registry, and Schneider was also elected into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In recent years, Schneider has been increasingly outspoken about Google and big data companies, writing articles and white papers, appearing on Copyright Office roundtables and testifying before Congress. “Musicians have been the canary in the coal mine,” Schneider says. “We were the first to be used and traded for data.”


Joe Farnsworth – Time To Swing w/Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Barron & Peter Washington

Showtime. The crack of a stick, signaling the downbeat and instigating that magical moment when years of practice, weeks of preparation and hours of gathering and waiting all transform into the alchemy of music. It’s that elusive feeling that Joe Farnsworth set out to capture on his latest release, Time To Swing. Led by one of the premiere straight-ahead drummers of his generation, the resulting music is an hour of joyful freedom, heartfelt emotion and electrifying communion. But it only results from the perfect combination of personalities, voices, tunes and feeling.

In the case of Time To Swing, due out September 18 via Smoke Sessions Records, the clock started ticking when Farnsworth invited jazz giant Wynton Marsalis to join him, legendary pianist Kenny Barron, and in-demand bassist Peter Washington for a once-in-a-lifetime recording. Farnsworth’s confidence stems not only from his growing recognition as one of the premiere straight-ahead drummers of his generation, but from wide-ranging experiences with some of the greatest artists working today.

You could dial the hands of time back to 1985, as the drummer was preparing to enter his senior year of high school and had his life changed by the release of Marsalis’ seminal Black Codes (From the Underground). “Suddenly you’ve got a whole new style of playing,” Farnsworth recalls. “I was young, but it felt like something new and modern was happening.”

Nearly two decades later, after building an impressive resume with legends such as Benny Golson, George Coleman, Curtis Fuller, Horace Silver, Cecil Payne, Harold Mabern, as well as Diana Krall, Farnsworth received the call from Marsalis that would result in the acclaimed Blue Note album Live at the House of Tribes, a date that the New York Times hailed as “fully alive and afire with ideas.”

The collaboration was the result of the kind of unconventional thinking that has made Marsalis the icon that he’s become in the jazz world. As Farnsworth recalls, “Wynton had been trying to scope me out a bit. The way he told it, a lot of guys were saying that I couldn't play, that I was nothing – and he heard that so many times that he realized I must be playing well because it sounded like jealousy!”

The two continued to pursue separate paths from there, reconnecting from time to time under Marsalis’s auspices at the helm of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Most recently, Farnsworth joined the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a late-2018 tribute to Thelonious Monk, followed by the drummer being enlisted for the trumpeter’s stellar quintet to record the soundtrack for Edward Norton’s film Motherless Brooklyn. The time (to swing) was finally right, Farnsworth decided, to invite Marsalis to participate in a project of his own.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment since Live at the House of Tribes,” Farnsworth says. “I was a little hesitant to ask him because he’s so busy, but when you’re coming from the truth, you have nothing to worry about. And, he immediately said yes.”

Marsalis joins the band for the first four of the ten tracks on Time To Swing, vividly displaying the emotive virtuosity, bold tone and impeccable sense of swing that are his trademarks. “The way Wynton plays the trumpet is the way I want to play the ride cymbal,” Farnsworth marvels. “It’s pure joy. Playing time with him just hits to the core of me. His phrasing, his rhythm; that feeling’s never gone away. It actually got stronger over the last 20 years because I feel more confident and he’s only gotten better.”

The album opens with Farnsworth’s original composition “The Good Shepherd.” The title is in a sense a nod to Marsalis, but also to the many elders who have shared their experiences and wisdom with Farnsworth over the years. In the lead-up to the album’s release a few of those mentors have been lost, including Jimmy Cobb, Harold

Mabern and Larry Willis. “The story of the Good Shepherd is from the Bible, which is dear to my heart,” Farnsworth explains. “It’s about a guy that is lost and gets saved, and I’ve experienced that in my life. And I’ve been helped by all these great people who were leading us young guys. Wynton personifies that to me, a leader that chooses to help other people.”

Marsalis’ brisk “Hesitation” was originally recorded on the trumpeter’s self-titled debut in 1982, and here gives his muted horn a fleet, agile workout, propelled by Washington’s nimble bass and Farnsworth’s propulsive beat, which are rapturous well before Barron makes his belated entrance with a barrage of sharp-elbowed jabs. The pianist’s lush chords set the tone for a gorgeous rendition of “Darn That Dream,” the nocturnal atmosphere airily suggested by Farnsworth’s brushwork, delicately floating beneath Marsalis’ heart-wrenching lyricism. The mood turns raucous with the tent revival vibe of the spiritual “Down By the Riverside.”

Farnsworth bridges the quartet and trio sections of the set with a magnificent solo piece “One for Jimmy Cobb,” dedicated to the legendary drummer of Kind of Blue and beyond, who passed away in May. “As rock solid as Jimmy Cobb was playing time, he was exactly the same as a human being,” praises Farnsworth, who relished the time he got to spend in the great drummer’s presence. “He was extraordinary on and off the bandstand, and I always felt like a kid when I was around him.”

The ensuing trio section of Time to Swing is a 5-song masterpiece in its own right. Farnsworth is renowned for his work in the classic piano trios of Cedar Walton, Hank Jones, McCoy Tyner, and Harold Mabern among others. Now the great pianist Kenny Barron can be added to that roster. “As a leader, I like to work with the best musicians and simply put them in the best position to do their thing,” Farnsworth explains. “I want them to be able to be as free as possible, because that allows me to be as free as possible. When you work with someone like Kenny Barron, all you really want to do is put them in the best light possible.”

The first of these five pieces is, in fact, a Barron composition, the bracing “Lemuria” reprised from the pianist’s 1991 album Lemuria-Seascape. It features Farnsworth’s most ferocious playing on the date, more than matched by Barron’s powerhouse attack. The drummer heard Barron toying with Billy Strayhorn’s classic “Prelude to a Kiss” with a Bossa twist while warming up at the date, and quickly added the offbeat arrangement to the repertoire.

“Monk’s Dream” is one of the towering pianist’s prickliest compositions and is rendered here with a playful yet pointed buoyancy. Washington’s enveloping, radiant tone illuminates Duke Ellington’s beautiful “The Star-Crossed Lovers,” and the session ends with the carefree celebration of “Time Was,” with Farnsworth’s jaunty uplift sure to leave listeners smiling.

With Time To Swing, Farnsworth does exactly that – not only bringing the invigorating feel that he invariably does to any piece of music, but also providing the time for some of modern jazz’s absolute best to work out, driven by the rush of his remarkable rhythms. As renowned drummer Billy Hart comments in his liner notes, “This whole record is happy,” and audiences will want to make their own time to revel in it.


John Beasley | "MONK’estra Plays John Beasley"

The music of Thelonious Monk has provided a rich fount of inspiration for generations of jazz musicians, its daunting wit and impish intricacies offering endless fodder for exploration and interpretation. Over the course of two albums, bandleader, composer, and arranger John Beasley has reimagined Monk’s iconic compositions through the vehicle of his inventive, versatile MONK’estra –- a big band able to deftly navigate the legend’s angular eccentricities with a staggering variety of perspectives from boisterous swing to raucous funk to Afro-Cuban explosiveness.

The results speak for themselves: both MONK’estra, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 garnered a pair of GRAMMY® Award nominations apiece alongside widespread critical acclaim. Keeping in line with its namesake’s unpredictable nature, the MONK’estra veers off in new directions on its stunning third album, MONK’estra Plays John Beasley, due out August 21, 2020 via Mack Avenue Records. As the title implies, this time out the band shifts focus to its fearless leader’s own estimable compositions and piano playing, alongside a quartet of Monk classics and a tune apiece by Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker.

MONK’estra Plays John Beasley brings the keyboardist full circle in more ways than one. While the two preceding albums focused more on Beasley’s arranging talent, he’s featured playing the piano on every track. Additionally, besides casting the lens of his brilliant ensemble on his own music for the first time, the album also reunites Beasley with several now-formidable artists with whom he performed with in his formative years nearly three decades ago.

Reconfiguring the MONK’estra into a number of smaller combinations, Beasley brings together such peers and mentors as bassist John Patitucci and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, his bandmates in the early 90s quartet Audio Mind and Patitucci’s bands; organ great Joey DeFrancesco, whose footsteps he followed into the Miles Davis band in 1989; and legendary flutist Hubert Laws, who hired a 20-year old Beasley and Patitucci to play Carnegie Hall.

Despite the diversified repertoire and lineups, MONK’estra Plays John Beasley is very much a MONK’estra album. The name of the band, Beasley explains, is less about the name on its sheet music than about the spirit it embodies.

“The band takes its mission from Monk’s boldness, courage and experimentation,” he says. “Monk was always willing to let go, let whatever happens happen and make music out of that, while maintaining his unique sense of groove.”

As he’s demonstrated throughout his framing of Monk’s tunes as well as his work for film and television, Beasley has a unique gift for portraiture in music. Each of his compositions on the album offers a snapshot of one of his personal or musical influences, beginning with the opening track, “Steve-O.” Featuring the full 16-piece MONK’estra, the dizzying and playful piece is a glimpse into the eclectic imagination of saxophonist Steve Tavaglione, the fourth member of Audio Mind.

The tender “Song for Dub” was penned for Beasley’s uncle, a World War II veteran who struggled (with ultimate success) with alcoholism after his return from the battlefield. This ballad rendition showcases the MONK’estra at its most lush and beautiful.

The band slims down to a septet for a pair of tributes to legendary musicians who’ve passed on: “Sam Rivers,” a jauntily angular piece inspired by the great saxophonist’s Blue Note albums; and “Masekela,” honoring the iconic South African trumpeter and activist who Beasley got to know through their collaborations at International Jazz Day performances in recent years. Patitucci and Colaiuta form the core of the rhythm section for this lineup, as they do on the quintet piece “Implication,” a Beasley original that bridges the influence of Monk with North African traditions.

Patitucci, Colaiuta and Beasley go it alone with the trio piece “Be.YOU.tiful,” which the pianist wrote inspired by a conversation Beasley had with Patitucci regarding the legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Beasley describes working together again with his old friends as slipping into comfortable old habits, energized by the evolution of intervening years and collaborations.

The MONK’estra returns to its main inspiration for four tracks: “Monk’s Mood” is rendered with a thoroughly contemporary feel, its familiar melody refreshed by the distinctive sound of Grégoire Maret’s virtuosic harmonica; Maret also enlivens the Horace Silver-inspired hard bop of Beasley’s “Five Spot,” a quintet piece rounded out by MONK’estra mainstays Bob Sheppard, Benjamin Shepherd and Terreon Gully.

Joey DeFrancesco’s unmistakable organ sound graces Monk’s “Rhythm-a-Ning,” while Hubert Laws’ flute is the perfect fit for Beasley’s seductive, soulful arrangement of “Locomotive.” The inclusion of “Off Minor,” transformed with a Roots-inspired hip-hop vibe, was inspired by Beasley’s mentor Freddie Hubbard, who often included the tune in his own sets.

Finally, Beasley gives the MONK’estra treatment to pieces by two of Monk’s companions in the jazz pantheon: Bird’s “Donna Lee” percolates with an Afro-Cuban groove and a nod to Jaco Pastorius’ version of the tune, while Duke Ellington’s “Come Sunday” ends the album on a spiritual note, with classical baritone Jubilant Sykes intoning Ellington’s plea for peace and guidance in a stirring performance responding to the country’s sadly still-relevant racial divisiveness. “We are living through times when misinformation and blatant hate are given platforms,” Beasley says “And, Covid-19 created an even more hyper anxiety-fueled world, so it’s important to create music that can provide a respite and also be humanizing.”

MONK’estra Plays John Beasley is the latest reinvention in a career full of them. Beasley worked with iconic trumpeters Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis while still in his 20s and has gone on to play with such greats as Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Steely Dan, Chaka Khan and Christian McBride. He serves as Music Director for the Herbie Hancock institute’s globe-spanning International Jazz Day concerts while touring the world with the

MONK’estra. In addition, he has worked extensively in film and television, primarily on the soundtracks of noted composer Thomas Newman, including the James Bond hits Spectre and Skyfall. Along the way, Beasley has garnered five GRAMMY® Award nominations and an Emmy® Award.


Noa Levy & Shimpei Ogawa - "You, Me & Cole

Music is an international language, and jazz is America’s greatest cultural contribution to the conversation. Nothing exemplifies that more than YOU, ME & COLE, the debut CD by vocalist NOA LEVY and bass player SHIMPEI OGAWA. Levy is an Israeli, who is currently living in San Francisco, and Ogawa is from Japan and currently living in New York City. YOU, ME & COLE is a duo album featuring Levy’s sultry voice replete with intimate shadings and Ogawa’s endlessly inventive bass playing. 

The arrangements subtly reflect their native cultures and their wide exposure to an entire world of musical genres. Levy and Ogawa met and began performing together in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they were both recent expats on a new scene. Levy and Ogawa began playing together for a jazz history class at the California Jazz Conservatory. They were on the same musical wavelength and enjoyed the give-and-take that the duo format afforded them, so they started performing in clubs around the Bay Area. Cole Porter was one of their favorites.

Levy and Ogawa are true jazz musicians. They have absorbed a variety of musical styles, which, in their expert hands, they have turned into highly engaging and accessible interpretations that give them the space to play with phrasing and harmony. They have mined Brazilian and Middle Eastern music, as well as the blues and even Bach, for inspiration. On YOU, ME & COLE, Noa Levy and Shimpei Ogawa have created a fresh, individualistic expression of these Cole Porter songs that have been around for decades.




Paul Kelly / Paul Grabovski - 'Please Leave Your Light On'

Paul Grabowsky and Paul Kelly share a love of the classic collaborations between Frank Sinatra and Nelson Riddle (particularly In the Wee Small Hours), and Tony Bennett & Bill Evans (with whoseplaying Grabowsky’s has been favorably compared).

“All of the songs were already part of Paul’s extensive catalogue,” says Grabowsky of the project. “I transcribed them, and adapted them for the piano/voice combination. In addition, I threw in a ballad by Cole Porter called ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye,’ which Paul delivers in an

intimate, and shine a light on lyrical moments from the Kelly oeuvre. Paul is a generous collaborator, always listening closely to what I am doing, and giving me the freedom to bring my own interpretation to the songs. I think people will hear, and hopefully enjoy, the deep communication that we are bringing to the performances.”

“As Paul mentioned, all the songs except one were written by me over many years,” adds Kelly. “The most recent one, ‘True to You,’ opens the album with a little nod to the Gershwin brothers and it’s the only song that hasn’t appeared in another form on a previous record. We chose the other songs with a mind to their suitability for direct address, close, concentrated performance and room for silence to draw the listener in.”

Drawing the listener in is exactly what these carefully crafted, intimate performances do. NME premiered a track, “If I Could Start Today Again,” here.

Please Leave Your Light On came about after Paul Grabowsky was asked to curate a series of concerts in which he worked in duo settings with various singers. Having known Paul Kelly since 1995, Grabowsky asked him to collaborate, and from the outset the music clicked. Deciding to record what they had performed at their concert, they did so over three days in late 2019.

The 11 Kelly songs they recorded were already part of his extensive catalogue. Transcribed and adapted by Grabowsky for the piano/voice combination, the album has a classic firesidefeel. They chose the songs with a mind to their suitability for direct address, close, concentrated performance and room for silence to draw the listener in.

“Paul is driven by a similar impulse to my own, namely an ongoing fascination with music in its many forms. This deep curiosity has in recent years seen him explore different genres, introduce his love of poetry to his wide and receptive fan base, and record with me,” adds Grabowski. “The reason I love working with Paul is that he always surprises me. He’s endlessly fertile, turning my songs inside out and upside down (to quote Diana Ross) and finding things in them I didn’t know were there. And that makes me sing them differently. Singing with Paul is like walking a tightrope. It’s as if we are acrobats together. We have to pay serious attention to one another to pull the songs off. I like that.”

In February Kelly released the single “Sleep, Australia, Sleep,” an indictment of Australian politicians and their supporters who turn a blind eye to climate change as Australia quite literally burns. It’s a timely message to all the world’s leaders that “ostrich management” (i.e. burying your head in the sand) doesn’t make problems go away, and in fact makes them worse. (And it could also apply to the current coronavirus pandemic.)A double-sided single debuted worldwide in May, “Hummin’ With Myself”/“Every Day My Mother's Voice” (live w/Jess Hitchcock).

Songs from the South: Greatest Hits 1985-2019, released in November, featured a new song, a fun duet with Kasey Chambers, “When We’re Both Old & Mad.” The collection quickly topped the Pop Charts in Australia (his third album in a row to debut at #1). It’s basically a 43-song case for having Kelly’s music a part of the soundtrack to your life.

A collection of Kelly’s favorite poems, Love Is Stronger Than Death, is available via Penguin Books Australia. Kelly is also featured on Courtney Barnett’s latest album, MTV Unplugged,which includes the two performing singer-songwriter/activist Archie Roach’s “Charcoal Road.” (Paul co-produced Roach’s first album, back in 1990). It should also be noted Archie has a great autobiography out now.


Alister Spence – Whirlpool

On Whirlpool, his first solo piano recording in over 30 years, Australian jazz pianist and composer Alister Spence creates an aurally engaging, deeply emotional, and utterly original world of sound. Like the rapidly rotating mass of water for which it is named, the two-disc, completely improvised album draws listeners into a powerful, irresistible musical sphere.

The breadth Spence elicits from his single instrument is striking, informed by decades of work as a jazz and avant-garde pianist and improviser, as well as years of experience as a composer for orchestra, film, and theater. The 23 discrete improvised pieces on Whirlpool (July 24, 2020, Alister Spence Music) make use of the entire piano, inside and out. Employing an orchestral palette of timbres and a highly developed repertoire of piano techniques, Spence embarks on a breathtaking exploratory journey.

Whirlpool was recorded and mixed by Tim Whitten in the fall of 2019 at Studio 301 in Sydney, and mastered by Doug Henderson at micro-moose-berlin in Berlin. With no preparation aside from practicing particular techniques, Spence sat down at the piano. “In the session,” he says, “I tried to create surprises for myself – starting somewhere without a clear idea of what that would sound like and, as a result, creating puzzles or mazes which I try to follow or not to follow.” These sonic trajectories, informed by Spence’s fearless creativity and executed with his clear, sensitive pianistic touch, invite listeners to experience the piano in new ways.

The seven-minute opening track, “(re)new,” begins with dark, dreamy bass octaves which break off into thoughtful, winding note patterns. The piece builds in intensity and dissonance, evolving into frenetic, vibrating pillars of sound before receding back into peacefulness. The searching, sprightly “(back)water” and the haunting “(un)seen” follow, along with “(dis)similarity” which takes full advantage of Spence’s prepared piano skills, teeming with twangy, resonant tapping, plucking, and strumming sounds. On tracks like “(inter)relate” and “(some)where,” Spence shows his deep sense for rhythm, with dancelike cadences and ringing, bell-like cascades of notes.

While Spence is firmly ensconced in a modern sensibility, his music is almost Romantic in its strong sense of lyricism, emotion, and nature. “(en)folded” begins with a sound like a distant horn, or a storm gathering in the distance. Other voices join the drone, evoking the ethereal, mysterious patter of the natural world. On “(over)taken,” which opens the second disc, we hear notes rolling into each other in swift clusters, like nimble creatures running on rolling hills. The thick, dense “(under)standing” is, at 8:17, the recording’s longest track. With its virtuosic movement of constantly shifting tremolo chords evolving into arpeggiated harmonies and finally resolving to a slow, simple, single line, the piece is a triumphant tour de force of harmony, timbre, and rhythm. The album closes with “(fore)see,” which begins with gentle, barely discernible buzzing and jingling. Other sounds join a building interplay before the mass dissolves into an echoey quiet, a silence that implies a continuation of sound, resonating long after the track is through.

Like the swirling, spiny tropical plants and the roiling water pictured on the inside and outside of the album’s cover, Spence’s Whirlpool is at once peaceful and urgent, overflowing with life, beauty, and glorious, unexpected, surprising music.

Pianist, improviser, and composer Alister Spence has established a reputation as a pre-eminent creative force in jazz and improvised music in his native Australia and beyond. With a performing and composing career spanning more than 25 years, he has performed with and composed for some of the world’s most respected artists in contemporary music, improvisation, film, and theater. Recordings by his longstanding trio with Lloyd Swanton and Toby Hall are regularly named in best of the year jazz roundups. Their 2015 live release was nominated for an Australian Jazz Bell Award and Art Music Award Excellence in Jazz. Spence also performs with the improvising group Sensaround and has creative collaborative relationships with internationally recognized improvisers, including acclaimed Japanese pianist and composer Satoko Fujii. He is a founding member of Kira Kira with Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, which first performed at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival in 2017. Spence has also performed with the Satoko Fujii Orchestras, and teamed up with her Orchestra Kobe to record Imagine Meeting You Here, Spence’s five-part composition for improvising orchestra released in 2019. Other projects include an improvised duo recording with Scottish saxophonist Raymond MacDonald (the 2018 Sound Hotel) and

US pianist Myra Melford (the 2014 Everything Here Is Possible). The latter release won the APRA/AMCOS Art Music Award for Excellence in Jazz.

From 1990-2005, Spence was co-leader and composer for the internationally acclaimed group Clarion Fracture Zone. He is a founding member of Wanderlust and a longstanding member of The Australian Art Orchestra. His colleagues over the years have included Michiyo Yagi, Mark Helias, Andy Sheppard, Barre Phillips, Joe Williamson, Jim O’Rourke, Karraikudi Mani, Bernie McGann, Sandy Evans, Chris Abrahams, Don Burrows, Dale Barlow, Peter O’Mara, Phillip Slater, Paul Capsis, Archie Roach, and Ed Kuepper. Spence has toured extensively in Europe, Asia, and Canada, and has performed radio broadcasts for ABC (Australia), BBC (UK), and WDR (Germany). His playing is featured on more than forty recordings, many of which have either won or been nominated for Australian Record Industry (ARIA) Awards. As a composer, he has been commissioned to write for the Australian Art Orchestra and the Claire Edwardes/Amy Dixon Duo. He has composed soundtracks for several films, and his work for Ivan Sen’s “Beneath Clouds” was nominated for Best Score at the Film Critics Awards and the Australian Film Industry Awards. He has provided sound design for theatrical productions including “Angela’s Kitchen,” “Winterreise, A Winter’s Journey,” and “I Love Todd Sampson.” Spence holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from University of NSW, where he is Lecturer in Music.


Falkner Evans - "Marbles"

There’s a victorious sense of “winner takes all” implied in the phrase “all the marbles.” That may not be what pianist and composer Falkner Evans had in mind when he christened his captivating new album Marbles, but the notion fits nonetheless. With this intriguing and spirited set, Evans has managed to assemble an all-star band that still works together with the camaraderie and chemistry of a road-tested unit; his writing for the three-horn frontline balances the flexibility of a small group with the harmonic richness of a big band; his brilliant original compositions offer the surprises of the new paired with the familiarity that comes from such indelible melodies.

Marbles carries forward the compositional evolution that Evans last displayed on his 2011 release The Point of the Moon. Where the pianist’s first three releases featured his trio, The Point of the Moon widened his scope to include trumpet and saxophone. Marbles expands the palette even further; returning are drummer Matt Wilson (a constant throughout Evans’ discography), bassist Belden Bullock (who joined the trio on 2007’s Arc) and trumpeter Ron Horton, whose experience writing arrangements for Andrew Hill helped color the music for Evans’ band. New to the ensemble are saxophonists Michael Blake and Ted Nash, with vibraphonist Steve Nelson as a special guest on three tunes.

“I wanted to bring together the best musicians that I could think of, but I wanted them to sound like a band,” Evans stresses. “All of these guys are so in-demand that working around their schedules was a challenge, but I didn’t want this to sound like we were all just thrown together. I wanted the music to feel like it was second nature.”

It’s a testament to Evans’ gifts as a composer and bandleader that he was able to achieve that goal. Just take a listen to the album’s closing piece, a brief rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be,” which is the album’s sole non-original composition. More a snapshot than a full-fledged performance of the piece, the joyful number puts the band’s playfulness on full display, while a quick quip form Nelson, a Wilson rimshot, and a gale of collective laughter show off how quickly the band jibed, despite blending members who have been friends for decades with those meeting for the first time in the studio.

“I love these guys a lot,” Evans says. “We’ve all become really good friends. I’m so pleased that everybody was able to do this. It was an experience.”

The listening experience is equally warm and generous, well making up for the nine-year wait between releases. In the interim Evans has kept busy with a variety of projects, more often than not working in solo or duo situations in the clubs near his Greenwich Village home. But in his mind’s ear he kept hearing something larger, richer, more complex.

“I was just hearing all of these harmonies,” he says. “It’s interesting: as great as it can be, two horns sounds like two horns. With three horns you can do so much more with the orchestration. That was the basic inspiration for this album.”

The unique blend of the intimate and the orchestral provided by the instrumentation seems a natural outgrowth of Evans’ singular voice on the piano. Throughout Marbles, the bandleader displays an elegant yet dynamic touch, rich with evocative, alluring harmonies that entice listeners with sonic mysteries to explore. Each of Evans’ solos speaks eloquently in the distinctive language of his deftly tailored compositions, unfolding with the grace and economy of a compelling storyteller.

Navigating the simmering rhythms of the title track, Blake uncoils a tense, probing solo that builds with a pressure-cooker intensity without ever quite boiling over. That sensation is carried forward into Evans’ taut turn, which spins dazzling filigree from minimal material with the craftsmanship of a master weaver, all the while parrying Wilson’s rollicking jabs and barbs, held aloft with a juggler’s gravity-defying skills.

The album opens with the alluring sway of “Pina,” dedicated to the esteemed German choreographer Pina Bausch and inspired by filmmaker Wim Wenders’ remarkable 3D documentary of the same name. Evans’ composition is something of an imaginary offering to the late dancer, in whose intricate footsteps the pianist, Bullock and Nash (on flute) seem to nimbly follow on their solos.

From simple, mild beginnings to increasing urbanity and complexity, the gentle but firm swing of “Civilization” echoes the arc of societal evolution. The introspective “Sing Alone” is ushered in by a dazzling, crystalline solo introduction by the leader, while the shifting tempos of “Global News” reflects the hectic unpredictability of the news cycle. Nelson comes to fore on the sun-dappled “Hidden Gem,” his vibes rippling like concentric waves on still water.

The turbulent angularity of “This From That” occupies a middle ground between Mingus and Monk, contrasted with the gleeful spirit of “Mbegu.” Something about the piece reminded its composer of Henry Mancini’s classic “Baby Elephant Walk,” which suggested its title – the name of a pachyderm that Evans and his wife sponsor. “Dear West Village” is a love letter to Evans’ neighborhood of more than two decades and its still-thriving straightahead scene, a place where the tune itself would fit right in.

Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Falkner Evans is a New York-based jazz pianist with an eclectic musical background. A third cousin to iconic author William Faulkner, Evans grew up on classic 60s rock and R&B before getting hooked on jazz in high school, then garnered his first professional experience playing with famed western swing band Asleep At The Wheel for four years. He moved to New York City in 1985 and quickly became involved in the busy scene, recruiting Cecil McBee and Matt Wilson for his leader debut, Level Playing Field. Two more trio dates followed before Evans expanded his horizons in 2011 for the quintet outing The Point of the Moon.


Friday, September 11, 2020

RAN BLAKE & CHRISTINE CORREA: When Soft Rains Fall

Brooklyn-based Red Piano Records is proud to announce the release of When Soft Rains Fall from pianist Ran Blake and vocalist Christine Correa. This recording is the latest yield from Blake and Correa’s remarkable 40-year friendship and singular musical collaboration.

Lady in Satin was Billie Holiday’s penultimate recording, released in 1959, the year of her passing. Although the repertoire is derived from the Great American Songbook, Lady in Satin is unlike any of Holiday’s previous recordings as she specifically chose to be accompanied by the lush orchestral arrangements of Ray Ellis, and personally hand picked each song based on its lyrics.

On When Soft Rains Fall, Blake and Correa pay tribute to the great Billie Holiday, 60-some years after the release of her Lady in Satin recording through an intimate recording of the songs from that classic album. In contrast to the grand orchestral arrangements of the original album, Correa and Blake interpret the music in a duo setting probing deep into the songs and exploring Lady Day’s emotional palette of hushed innuendos, loss, lamentation and unrequited love.

Billie Holiday holds a special place in the hearts and souls of these artists; a place where her music, her sound and her aesthetic resonates deeply. On When Soft Rains Fall Correa captures the raw emotion, drama and the intimacy that is associated with Holiday, quite present in the way she bends and slurs her notes, her rhythmic phrasing and the liberty she takes in her interpretations. In addition to the twelve songs from the Holiday album, Correa and Blake include, “The Day Lady Died,” a Blake composition that has the great Frank O’Hara poem superimposed over it as well as a solo piano version of “Big Stuff” (from Holiday’s Decca period) and a vocal solo version of Herbie Nichols’ “Lady Sings the Blues” (Verve). Together they capture an intensity in their interpretation of, “I’m a Fool to Want You,” and “You’ve Changed,” and lightness and frivolity in, “The End of a Love Affair,” and I’ll Be Around”.

Blake and Correa are a united force in presenting this material. There exists between these two incomparable artists an uncanny, imaginative rapport, a sense of inevitability in their interpretations, which emboldens and challenges their audiences’ sonic imaginations.

With When Soft Rains Fall, their seventh recording, Blake and Correa reach new heights in terms of artistry, vision and expressiveness. Kudos goes to Red Piano Records for documenting this important, and historical partnership.

In a career that now spans five decades, pianist Ran Blake has created a unique niche in improvised music as an artist and educator. With a characteristic mix of spontaneous solos, modern classical tonalities, the great American blues and gospel traditions and themes from classic Film Noir, Blake’s singular sound has earned him a dedicated following around the world. In the tradition of two of his idols, Ellington and Monk, Blake has incorporated and synthesized several otherwise divergent styles and influences into a single innovative and cohesive style of his own, ranking him among the geniuses of the genre. Ran Blake is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” grant. He was the founder and long-time chairperson of the Third Stream Department (currently called Contemporary Improvisation Department) at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA.

Christine Correa, originally from Bombay, India, has been involved in a variety of improvisational contexts and is currently on the faculty of The Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program at Columbia University in New York City.

She has been widely recognized as a leading interpreter of the works of a range of modern American and European poets as set to music by some of today’s most innovative jazz composers, such as Frank Carlberg, Nicholas Urie, Sam Sadigursky and Steve Grover, among others. Correa has also recorded and/or performed with artists such as Steve Lacy and John LaPorta and appeared at numerous festivals, concert halls and clubs in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America and India. Correa is a long-time resident of Brooklyn, NY.


Lamont Dozier Jr. - “Why Can’t We Be Lovers”/ ”I’m Gonna Take My Time”

When it comes to enduring musical legacies, it’s always inspiring when the melodic, grooving evergreen apples drop so close to the tree. The son and namesake of legendary singer, songwriter and record producer Lamont Dozier – one third of the famed Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting and production team – Lamont Dozier, Jr. grew up a child of Motown, steeped in and influenced by gospel, jazz and old-school R&B and immersing in the magic and creative mentorship of the likes of Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross.

More than simply living up to the promise of his unique lineage, he has forged a unique path towards his musical destiny. Since his first live performance at the age of 15, the Detroit born and raised, Las Vegas based Lamont has developed an extraordinary, multi-faceted career as a bandleader, club headliner and creative force behind the scenes, clocking studio time and sharing stages with everyone from The Temptations and Aretha Franklin to contemporary urban jazz greats Dave Koz, Rick Braun, Gregg Karukas and Greg Manning, and working on show productions featuring Jennifer Hudson and Jay Leno.

Over the past handful of years, he contributed backing vocals to three hit albums by Koz (including Summer Horns II: From A to Z) and dynamic leads on keyboardist David Garfield’s arrangement of “What You Won’t Do for Love” (from the 2018 collection Jammin’ Outside the Box). These projects and others paved the way for Lamont’s emergence now as a recording artist in his own right. With an eye towards releasing his debut EP Introducing Lamont Dozier, Jr. later in 2020, he is dropping his first two highly anticipated singles which showcase the full range of his artistry as a singer, songwriter and producer.

Lamont celebrates his dad’s formidable legacy (and that of his uncle, Grammy winning engineer Reggie Dozier) with his sensual, passionate old school soul twist on “Why Can’t We Be Lovers,” a cult classic and UK R&B hit by Holland-Dozier (Lamont Sr. with Brian Holland) whose original version was released by the trio’s independent label Invictus Records in 1972. The track features a handful of top pop, soul and jazz musicians that Lamont Jr. has worked with since moving to L.A. in the mid-2000s, including Alex Al (bass), Kevin Flournoy (keyboards/producer), Darrell Crooks (guitar) Donald Barrett (drums) and Munyungo Jackson (percussion).

For his initial rollout, Lamont is pairing “Why Can’t We Be Lovers” with his original song, “I’m Gonna Take My Time,” a hip, dreamy and heartfelt contemporary R&B ballad about a guy who’s rushing home to his loved one “at the speed of sound,” promising to get there as soon as possible so he can slow back down and love her up. The track features Al (bass), Flournoy (keys), Jackson (percussion), Crooks (guitar) and Eric Valentine (drums), with backing vocals by Kevin Dorsey (who created the vocal arrangements) and Monet Owens, and additional ad libs by Anja Nissen, winner of Season 3 of “The Voice” Australia.

The two tracks Lamont plans to release later as part of the EP are the brass-fired, mid-tempo funked-up original love song “I’ll Be Here Waiting” and a lush re-imagining of Todd Rundgren’s1972 classic “Hello It’s Me,” whose sensual vibe harkens back to The Isley Brothers’ memorable version.

“Even with me getting started as an artist later in my career, it made sense to honor and pay tribute to the incredible bodies of work and musical trails that my dad and uncle blazed for me and so many others,” Lamont says. “Sharing the original song is my way of keeping the legacy of great soul music going, because I’ve always felt to be a true artist you have to bring great new music to the people. This dual single release pays homage to the music that predicated me while allowing me to get in the spirit of where soul and R&B are today.

“I come from a real gutsy soul man tradition, and both tracks were done purely old school, with no samples and all live with just a few overdubs,” he adds. “One very positive element of waiting until this point in my life to develop my solo artistry is that in this new era of streaming, independent artists have more creative control of their careers than they did back in my dad’s heyday and during the era when major labels ran everything. I’m confident that when music comes from the heart, it finds an audience – which in my case will be old soul heads and younger folks who appreciate authenticity in modern music.”

Lamont grew up singing in church choirs under the tutelage of his mother, musician, choir director and former Motown alumna Elizabeth Ann Dozier. He began developing his performance chops as part of the Detroit Council of the Arts program for young people, which put him under the tutelage of both popular jazz vocalists and professional local dancers. Beyond singing for local audiences, he made his initial splash singing a cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland penned Four Tops hit “Standing the Shadows of Love” as a contest finalist on the syndicated radio show “Saturday Night Music Machine.” Launching his career in Detroit leading the soul-jazz band Déjà-Vu for three years and playing lead roles in musicals like “The Wiz,” Lamont developed his multitude of talents living in Atlanta in the 90s before finding a true home in the bustling music scene of Los Angeles.

After joining the reformed R&B group LTD and contributing six songs for an album project, he began sitting in and then headlining at the suburban L.A. R&B/jazz hotspot Café Cordiale, where he vibed for years with some of the area’s top session musicians and contemporary jazz artists. In addition to headlining the top jazz clubs Catalina Bar & Grill and Vibrato, Lamont later scored a two-year gig at the Beverly Hills Hotel with a band featuring bassists Leslie King, alternating drummers Donnell Spencer and Eric Valentine and guest musicians and future Billboard charting smooth jazz stars, guitarist Adam Hawley and keyboardist Greg Manning.

In addition to working with Stan Sargeant, appearing as a featured vocalist on the track “More” from the bassist’s 2014 album Connection, Lamont has also performed with the “WE CARE TRIBE,” a local group of singers and musicians that raises funds and calls to attention the crisis of homelessness in the Los Angeles area.

“I may be a fresh face to some, a familiar voice to others, but my main goal is to keep real music alive and thriving,” Lamont says. “Because of how and where I grew up, I have a unique orientation on what makes an artist

– and I want to be one on the level of those like my dad whom I’ve admired my whole life. I want to keep that legacy going, and I am unapologetically a soul guy. I’m having a lot of fun because releasing songs nobody’s heard before is like birthing a baby, bringing special gifts to life that I hope can touch and bring joy and healing to people everywhere.”


Gloria Loring - The Best of Me

There is something beautiful about artists whose insight into the human condition allows them to create works that, even beyond their original intention, emotionally and intuitively meet the moment and help us through the tough times. Long one of the entertainment industry’s ultimate hyphenates - singer, songwriter, actress, stage performer, author, healthcare advocate and keynote speaker – Gloria Loring works this magic with just a few inspiring lines from “Rise,” her rousing anthem on her highly anticipated new EP The Best of Me, set for release September 18.

Though she and her producer Ted Perlman originally penned the song for the BraveHeart Women organization, Gloria speaks encouragement and optimism to our unique place in history, where fear, anxiety, despair and division are all too often at the door. With a gospel choir backing her, she sings, “Hand in hand/We will make a stand/For what we know is true/We can rise/We will rise/Together we’ll rise/Coming together in collaboration/Rising up is a celebration/Rise, yes we’ll rise…”

“Rise” is just one of the impactful tracks Loring shares on The Best of Me, her first-ever EP in a recording career that began on MGM Records in the late 60s and most notably includes “Friends and Lovers,” her duet with the late Carl Anderson that was a #2 Billboard pop hit and #1 Adult Contemporary hit in 1985. The collection also includes never before released versions of songs by legendary songwriters Desmond Child (“Best of Me”), Burt Bacharach (who collaborated with Tonio K on “Love is Still the Answer”) and Bruce Hornsby (“Swansong”).

Though she didn’t pen them herself, Gloria chose to record the other three songs because they reflect different biographical and aspirational aspects of her life while also offering universal messages of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation. The high energy pop tune “Best of Me” features a chorus we can all connect with as we aspire to be better people: “Every step I take/Every mistake I make/It’s showing me who I am tonight/For all of the doors that close/Another one opens wide/Here comes the best of me for the rest of my life…”

Loring brings a deep sense of heartfelt soul to the lush ballad “Love is Still the Answer,” with much needed truth ringing from every lyrical line, along with a challenge: “Love never changes or betrays a friend/From the start, love was part/Of some fantastic plan/Some brotherhood of man/And now it’s down to us/We either shine the light/Or darkness rules.” The eloquent closing ballad “Swansong” from Hornsby’s 1998 album Spirit Trail is reflective song Gloria has long loved and which she can envision being sung at her memorial one day. “To me,” she says, “it’s a song about getting to the end of your life and having no axes to grind and realizing everything has been for the best.”

While involved in numerous other spiritual, creative and charitable endeavors over the years, Gloria had been in the studio with Perlman on and off recording various tracks. With so many lifechanging world events happening in 2020, she felt it was the perfect time to “dig in the vaults,” so to speak, and release these poignant songs to offer a loving musical embrace. “I feel these songs are right for this time, when everyone is going through difficult times, trying to stay in touch with the best of ourselves and trying hard every day not to get discouraged,” she says. “During a time of great fractiousness, they speak to a good-heartedness. No matter how trying the circumstance,

we have the opportunity to stop and change our reactive approach and bring the best of ourselves to the moment.”

Perhaps best known to the masses as the singer on “Friends and Lovers,” her role as Liz Chandler on “Days of the Live” in the 80s, the co-composer of the classic theme songs to “Diff’rentStrokes” and “The Facts of Life” (which she also sang) and the mother of pop/soul singer Robin Thicke, Gloria has also been a tireless spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the author of five books benefitting people with diabetes. Her son Brennan, now 44, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age four in 1979. When Loring joined the cast of “Days of Our Lives,” she had the idea to create and self-publish the “Days of our Lives Celebrity Cookbook” to raise money for diabetes research. The two cookbooks she wrote, along with her recording “Shot in the Dark” raised more than $1 million for JDRF.

While recording a handful of albums over the years, including two in the 80s for Atlantic Records and the standards collection By Request in 2000, Gloria has also performed everything from classic rock and standards to Broadway and pop in clubs, performing arts centers, casinos and fairs. Among her popular musical presentations were a tribute to the Streisand Songbook with The Palm Beach Pops Symphony and a musical show riffing off her success as a TV theme song writer called “TV Tunes.” In addition, she has sung on the Emmy Awards, American Music Awards, Golden Globes and Academy Awards. A certified yoga instructor and articulate champion of biomedical research, Gloria’s keynotes have inspired businesses, health care organizations, spiritual communities and women’s groups. In 2012, HCI, Inc. published her spiritual biography “Coincidence is God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous: Reflections on Daytime Dramas and Divine Intervention.”


Wendy Moten - I’ve Got You Covered

Wendy Moten may have launched her career as a pop/R&B artist and taken cool detours into jazz throughout her fascinating career, but her heart clearly belongs to Nashville. Living and immersing in Music City for the past 23 years, the multi-talented vocalist has toured with Faith Hill & Tim McGraw (2005-2018) and Martina McBride (2014-2016) – and since 2016, has been on the road with the legendary Vince Gill (the man she calls “Emperor of Nashville”) when he hasn’t been touring with the Eagles. Their dynamic working relationship, and the 21-time Grammy winner’s long-held appreciation for Wendy’s versatility, culminates now in I’ve Got You Covered, an extraordinary passion project she’s had in her sights for years.

Produced by Gill and featuring the elite among Nashville’s most legendary hit making session musicians, the nine-track collection is the singer’s long-awaited moment in the country music spotlight. Effortlessly and intuitively inhabiting classic but lately little heard songs hand-picked by Gill, Wendy finds her groove – and her spiritual musical home – celebrating the gloried history of traditional country music by singing what she calls “real stories and real songs.”

She brings fresh relevance to tunes from the 60’s and 70’s by Ernest Tubb (“Driving Nails in My Coffin”), Jeannie Seely (“Don’t Touch Me”), Bobby Gentry (“Ode to Billie Joe”), George Jones (“Walk Through This World With Me”), Jeff & Sheri Easter (“Going Away Party”), Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner (“Each Season Changes You”), Tammy Wynette (“Til I Get It Right”) and Webb Pierce and Mel Tills (“I Ain’t Never”). Wendy and Gill also share a beautiful duet re-imagining of the Linda Ronstadt heartbreaker “Faithless Love.” The two had previously paired for “True Love” on the 2018 all-star compilation Muscle Shoals: Small Town, Big Sound.

When Wendy joined Gill’s band, the first person she told about her dream to record a country album was Paul Franklin, one of the most recorded pedal steel guitarists in history. Franklin casually mentioned it to Gill, piquing his interest and prompting Gill to invite Wendy over to his home for discussions that led to a commitment to produce the sessions that evolved into I’ve Got You Covered. In addition to Franklin, the project features stalwarts Willie Weeks (bass), Richard Bennett (guitar), Fred Eltringham (drums), Charlie Judge (strings), Jeff Taylor (accordion) and the horn section of saxphonists Mark Douthitand Doug Moffett, trombonist Barry Green and trumpeter Mike Hayes.

“Vince set dates to record the project a few months after we first talked about it,” Wendy says. “Though we discussed some material during that first meeting, he surprised me by choosing completely different songs for me and the band to do on the actual days of the session. I knew the band guys, having played on countless hits over the years, were up for that, and I was determined to not be the weakest link and rise to the challenge. Vince was glad I didn’t know the songs because this ensured they would sound spontaneous and fresh. He wanted me to jump right in.

“I read the lyrics, made notes, listened to each original version twice and then it was up to me to make each song my own,” On the plus side, doing them on the fly meant I wouldn’t over think them and try to be too perfect. It was my time to own this style, and Vince and this iconic band were relieved and happy h with my delievery. I thought, this is what Ella Fitzgerald must have felt like when she was in a room with the greatest musicians of her era. Just as they knew she could bring the goods, this band respected me. Listening back, I realized that every song Vince chose that day was the right one for me. It’s like we opened to what the universe brought and let it flow.”

In addition to touring with major artists, Wendy set the stage for her emergence as a bona fide country artist with numerous liveperformances in Music City over the past few years. She made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry in April 2019 and played threemore times there before a showcase at 3rd & Lindsley, one of Nashville’s premier live venues, for the release of I’ve Got You Covered in February 2020. During this time, she also headlined on the Opry stage at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. In 2018 and 2019, Wendy was a featured artist in the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum’s Musician’s Spotlight series. Last year, Gill invited her to become a the 11th member of the Grammy award winning western swing band The Time Jumpers – a institution launched by the town’s top studio musicians in 1998 - at theirweekly sold-out shows at 3rd & Lindsley in Nashville. In the fall, no less than James Taylor. Brian May and Steve Lukather (Toto) showed up on different nights because of the bands amazing reputation.

Known affectionately in various industry circles as “The Voice,” the multi-talented Memphis born performer launched her career with a self-titled 1992 EMI album that included the ballad “Come In Out Of The Rain,” which reached the Top 5 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and later hit the Top Ten on the UK singles chart. The singer opened for Michael Bolton on his North American stadium tours and became popular in Japan when she performed sold-out concerts at the famed Budokan, hosted by David Foster. After several more well received albums (including one produced by Foster), Wendy diversified and launched a new phase of her career recording guest duets with Michael McDonald (“No Love To Be Found”), Kirk Whalum(“All I Do”), Peabo Bryson (“My Gift Is You”), Larry Carlton (“I Still Believe”) and Julio Iglesias (“Just Walk Away”), the latter whom she toured with for over 15 years. Moten’s most recent album prior to I’ve Got You Covered was a contemporary jazz set titled Timeless: Wendy Moten Sings Richard Whiting.


Analog Players Society - TILTED

Analog Players Society has announced TILTED, the first title in a 2-part series. TILTED captures a single live acoustic jazz session at The Bridge Studio that was transformed into the cinematic, loop-based, instrumental, beat-driven fractal art that is Soundtrack to a Nonexistent Film. The albums stand side-by-side to the classic, sample-heavy production of Hip-Hop’s Golden Age. The live jazz recordings put you in the club with the musicians and the remixes put you on the street, deep in our new reality. 

The Analog Players Society is a collective effort founded by producer and engineer, Amon, in Brooklyn, NY. APS started originally out of his first studio, “The Hook”, which recently moved, expanded, and was reborn as The Bridge Studio, now a major player in the NYC studio scene. The APS collective features a rotating ensemble cast of some of the top players in New York City. Amon has been “cherry picking” these great musicians and producers for a few years now in this rich garden. APS’ various projects, which are eclectic by nature, carry serious strains of the Jazz, Dub, Funk, Afrobeat, and Soul variety within it. Analog Players Society’s 2012 debut album, Hurricane Season In Brooklyn impressively debuted in the top 15 of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart with press accolades pouring in from NPR’s Fresh Air, Wired, and All About Jazz to name a few.

Fast forward to April 2019, and the Analog Players Society is reborn during a live jazz session produced by Ben Rubin (aka Benny Cha Cha) and Amon Drum (aka Amon aka J. Amon) at The Bridge Studio, the hyped, new large-format recording studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn designed and owned by Amon. Ben gathered four of the best jazz musicians in New York City for the occasion: tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin (David Bowie’s last bandleader on Blackstar), pianist Orrin Evans (the Bad Plus), and the in-demand rhythm section of bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Eric McPherson.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Bahama Soul Club - Bohemia After Dawn

Bahama Soul Club’s 5th album “Bohemia After Dawn” draws deep inspiration from the multicultural verve of young worldly folk drawn to the Bohemian coasts of the most southwestern part of Europe, where hippie-esque hedonism, infinite musical diversity, and offbeat enchanted lifestyles fuel the scene.

From countless ideas and numerous demos over the past four years, the songs that shone the brightest were carefully handpicked and put together. 2018 saw the release of single “Never Roam No More” featuring the legendary John Lee Hooker, followed-up in 2019 by “Aint Nobody’s Business” with the spine-tingling vocals of Billie Holiday. Another real legend, Sister Wynona Carr is featured on “Tears Run Down”.

Increasingly during production band-leader Oliver Belz became aware of the amazing complexity of local artists, talented individuals to be found performing all day and night in the bars and near the beaches. It would take more than a couple of albums to bring these troubadours together. So there are exciting ideas for the future! For this album Bahama Soul Club presents just a few; an eclectic mix of artists that blessed the studio with some serious vibes. Josephine Nightingale appears on tropical-flavored “Mercy Me” and Taly Minkov-Louzeiro provides bluesy vocals for “Troubles All Be Gone”. The closing track on the album “Castelejo” is an homage to the late Vitor Hugo, featuring Rui Correia on accordion and vocals by Cutty Wren and Hedvig Larsson. These artists are from the local neighborhood, quite literally across the lane. What a blessing, what a discovery!

Last but not least … One of the most exciting voices in the Bahama Soul Club family so far… an ongoing love, Cuban artist Arema Arega is somewhat a permanent feature in BSC albums and here she shows her talents in juicy singles “Mango” and “Alma Sola”. As if this weren’t enough we’re more than proud to announce two cool remixes from the masters of the scene: mighty Club des Belugas and SMOOVE himself! Nuff said.

“Bohemia After Dawn”, matured for 4 sunny years doesn’t say “Hey, please like me”. It is just there, in its simple beauty, unobtrusive yet quietly confident. Every song shaped to the max, no compromises. Promise!


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