Friday, June 29, 2012


With Special Memorial Performance On Sunday, July 8th: Dynamic Ensemble To Grace Stage After Aretha Franklin's Headlining Performance

Every year over 400,000 people from around the world descend upon New Orleans for the only music festival that offers not only scorching music performances and a party filled atmosphere, but also a full Empowerment Experience and four days of family friendly fun: the ESSENCE Music Festival. This year, in its 18th year of existence and bigger, better and with a more complete programming line up than ever, the 2012 ESSENCE Musical Festival will celebrate its 18th anniversary this July 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th in historic New Orleans, LA, with the most lauded names in entertainment and the nation's most influential speakers, artists, authors, educators and leaders.

This year the ESSENCE Music Festival will conclude their world class musical programming on Sunday, July 8th, with a special, once in a lifetime ensemble comprised of Chaka Khan and the R&B Divas. Immediately following the legendary Aretha Franklin's headlining performance, Chaka will return for a sixty-minute encore performance with the R&B Divas, comprised of Faith Evans, Nicci Gilbert, Monifah Carter, Syleenah Johnson and Keke Wyatt. Together these powerful voices will pay tribute to the R&B artists who passed away over this past year.

This closing ensemble is the final addition to talent which already includes a stellar line-up featuring the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, Grammy-Award winning singer D'Angelo, as well as R&B heartthrob Trey Songz, Charlie Wilson, Mary Mary, Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, The Pointer Sisters, Ledisi and more. The official host each night will be Nephew Tommy, comedian and co-host of the long running Steve Harvey Morning Show.

Kicking off on the inaugural day of Thursday, July 5th, the Festival, long known as a family friendly Festival, will celebrate a full day youth empowerment experience at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, culminating with the first ever youth empowerment concert on the New & Next stage that night at the Louisiana Superdome. Hosted by Wild Wayne and actress Rocsi Diaz, the New & Next stage will feature a roster of rising young stars including the newly added Roshon Fegan in addition to Kaitlyn Nichol, Coco Jones, recording artist and hip-hop royalty Diggy Simmons, R&B pop group The OMG Girlz and New Orleans' marching band The Roots of Music. These bright young stars are the first-ever generation of performers to represent the New & Next Stage and will be sure to dazzle on July 5th. Sponsored by Verizon, Wal-Mart and community partner Capital One, tickets for the New and Next Stage are available at

Forever anchored in Empowerment and not just entertainment, the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience brings together the leaders, innovators, activists, experts, artists, performers and thinkers who are defining the social and political discussions that matter most to attendees all under one roof at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The "Power of Our Voice" is the theme of this year's 18th annual Essence Music Festival and through this forum Essence will celebrate the power of Family, Community and Spirit within a unique gathering that is free and open to the public. Inspirational speaker and New Thought spiritual teacher, Iyanla Vanzant, has been newly added to the line up which already includes Steve Harvey, Vanessa Williams, Reverend Al Sharpton, Soledad O'Brien, Alice Randall and Tamar Braxton, amongst many others.

Sponsored by Coca-Cola, My Black Is Beautiful, McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Verizon, Capital One and the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation, the Youth Empowerment Experience will invite youth groups from the New Orleans area to participate in this year's two programs: the Saving our Sons mentoring initiative spearheaded by Mayor of New Orleans Mitch Landrieu and the Girl Up NOLA initiative led by First Lady Cheryl Landrieu. Saving Our Sons is a call to action for the community to invest in the lives of young men to prevent violence and stop the murder epidemic and high crime rate in New Orleans as well as every city across the nation. The program recruits and trains mentors to help over 100 young males and their needs through partnerships with community organizations.

Now in its 18th year, the ultimate destination for entertainment and inspiration hosted over 422,000 attendees last year. What began in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Essence magazine has now grown into one of the country's "Top 10 Leading Brand Events" by Advertising Age. The Essence Music Festival is the nation's largest annual gathering of African-American music and culture. Throughout its history, the Festival has featured an array of performers including Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, Al Green, Beyonce, Chaka Khan, Destiny's Child, Earth, Wind & Fire, Gladys Knight, LL Cool J, Jamie Foxx, John Legend, The Isley Brothers, Lionel Richie, Luther Vandross, Maxwell, The O'Jays, Prince, Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Toni Braxton, Patti LaBelle and Yolanda Adams, among others.



The Second Line Jazzband from Gothenburg, Sweden have been playing together for 24 years and there are still four of the group's six original members in the band. Nevertheless, it is considered that the band belongs to a younger generation of jazz musicians when most of the members are born in the 70s. Over the years the band has had time to perform in much of Europe, at jazz festivals and clubs as well as TV and radio. With their 13th album - Get Out Of Here – they have chosen a mixed repertoire with great care of old jazz classics mixed with music associated with Bob Dylan, Harry Bellafonte, Lil' Bob and the Lollipops, and their own material. In addition, the band invited some guest musicians who add extra spice to some songs. The pianist Matti Ollikainen, who plays with artists such as Peps Person, Håkan Hellström, Daniel Lemma, Hästpojken and others. Stefan Sandberg is a blues and roots guitarist who has played with virtually "all", from Peps Person to Carl-Einar Häckner, and finally also contributing soul singer Daniel Lemma who got his big break with the movie Jalla Jalla and the radio hit "If I Used to Love You ". With this album in their back Second Line Jazzband is preparing tours in 2012 in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Holland and Switzerland


A great meeting between legendary bassist Chuck Israels and Danish pianist Thomas Clausen – brought together in a trio that also features some excellent guitar from Steve Brown! The mix of guitar, bass, and drums is really sparkling – and illuminates Clausen's piano in a way we don't always hear on other records – and certainly also provides a nice link to the more melodic tones of Israels' bass as well! Titles include "Ventilation", "All The Pretty Horses", "Ack Varmland", "Two Birds With One Stone", and "Sweet Pumpkin". ~ Dusty Groove


Great trio sounds from tenorist Stephen Riley – working here in a loose setting that features the bass of Neal Caine and drums of Billy Hart! The title of the set is certainly apt, as Hart's spacious approach to the drums really structures the music here – often leaving some wide open spaces for Riley to step in and blow with a sweet raspy sort of tone – a style that's got a nice edge on the harder numbers, and a really compelling sort of warmth on the gentler ones! The track selection really keeps things interesting too – and titles include "Black Narcissus", "Mr Sandman", "Just You Just Me", "Isotope", "Lonnie's Lament", "When It's Sleepy Time Down South", and "Ba Lue Bolivar Ba Lues Are". ~ Dusty Groove


Galaher Assembles All-Star Lineup Featuring Brian Lynch, Donald Harrison, Craig Handy, and Pat Bianchi to Support His Latest Album

As a follow up to 2009's Courageous Hearts, his ingenious melding of Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, New Orleans second line and straight ahead swing rhythms, drummer-composer-bandleader Towner Galaher follows a different muse on the aptly-named Uptown!, his paean to Hammond B-3 organ groups that played at places like Small's Paradise in Harlem during the '50s and '60s. "It runs between all the usual suspects like Jimmy Smith, Jack McDuff and Lonnie Smith, but there's also an element of Larry Young in there too," says Galaher. "With an organ record people right off the bat think guitar, but this album has a different twist because it's organ plus three horns."

Joining Galaher on his third outing as a leader is the impressive frontline of GRAMMY® winning trumpeter Brian Lynch, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison (Lynch's former band mate in both Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and Eddie Palmieri's band) and tenor saxophonist extraordinaire Craig Handy. Handling the organ is Pat Bianchi, a B-3 burner who has played with such guitar greats as Pat Martino, Ed Cherry and Corey Christiansen and is a key member of drummer Ralph Peterson's Unity Project, his Larry Young tribute band.

Galaher drives them through a varied program that opens with Frank Foster's swinging waltz-time vehicle "Simone" and closes with the leader's modernist burner "Say What?," which includes torrid solos by each of the horn players and has Bianchi pushing the harmonic envelope into Larry Young territory. Galaher reveals some graceful brushwork and a mean shuffle groove on Wayne Shorter's "Tell It Like It Is" (from the Jazz Messengers' 1961 album The Freedom Rider), which has Harrison quoting from "It Ain't Necessarily So" during his solo, Lynch playing with a mute on his solo and Handy nearly walking the bar on his robust tenor solo. They turn in faithful interpretations of Shorter's pensive ballad "House of Jade" and McCoy Tyner's "Blues on the Corner" (from 1965's The Real McCoy) on which Galaher cleverly interpolates a segment of the melodic theme to "Resolution" from John Coltrane's iconic A Love Supreme.

Galaher and his all-star crew show some old school swagger on his post-boppish title track and on Mike Clark's earthy Texas shuffle, "Shuffleocity," which has Bianchi digging deep into his Jimmy Smith-Jack McDuff bag. The leader also showcases his compositional chops on his 6/4 Latin-tinged "Café Con Samba," his urgently swinging "East 104th Street Waltz," the dark groover "Phantom City" and the extremely syncopated funk of "Jimmy and Johnny," named for his youthful band mates from Portland, Oregon, the Sanders brothers. "Jimmy was really an A-1 organist and kind of a local legend," recalls Galaher. "My first taste of playing with a B-3 was with him."

One listen to Uptown! and it's easy to see why drum master Lenny White calls Galaher "a triple threat - great drummer, great composer, great bandleader," or why modern jazz-funk innovator Mike Clark praises Towner for his "unquenchable desire to know all there is about music...and to play the kind of jazz that is informed by the masters of the past while pointing to the future." Surrounded by such seasoned vets and stellar soloists as Lynch, Harrison, Handy and Bianchi, Galaher makes his most striking statement to date on this potent outing.

Born in Portland, Oregon in 1955, Galaher picked up drums at age nine and was dedicated at an early age. "I went to an alternative high school so I got to practice drums like five or six hours a day all through high school, which was a good thing for me," he recalls. "And I went straight from high school into the club scene and I continued playing there for the next 11 years, playing the whole gamut of gigs. I was in a nine-piece rhythm and blues band with horns that did original music along with all the old Motown stuff and more modern Earth Wind & Fire, Tower of Power stuff."

His Portland drumming mentor was Mel Brown, who played jazz in between tours with his two main gigs, The Temptations and The Supremes. Galaher's long career in education began in 1980 at Brown's Drum Shop, and has since developed into over 30 years of teaching at community centers, giving private lessons from music stores and his home studio, and more than 14 years in New York City Public Schools. Now a New York resident, Galaher has garnered much respect as an educator who is committed to mentoring and passing the baton to younger generations. It was in a local school that jazz drumming great Art Blakey helped encourage Galaher to move to New York City. "Art was at a high school in town giving a concert and lecture. And he was saying something about, 'You should get all the experience you can and then come to New York, where all the action is.' And that was kind of an affirmation of where I was headed anyhow."

Towner finally made the move to the Big Apple in the Fall of 1986 and signed up for a 10-week certified program at the Drummer's Collective, where he met and began studying with Headhunters drummer Mike Clark. "I made a really great connection with him right off the bat and that really fortified the trajectory of my musical direction in jazz." He subsequently studied Afro-Cuban drumming with Frankie Malabe, Brazilian drumming with Duduka da Foncesa and New Orleans drumming with Ricky Sebastian. Galaher organically blended all of those diverse rhythmic elements on his 2007 debut as a leader, Panorama, and followed up with an equally impressive display on 2009's Courageous Hearts. Now he makes an incremental leap to a new level with Uptown!.

"Being a composer is a big part of what I am, although it was very unintentional," says Galaher. "I worked relentlessly at honing my drumming skills but I never really made any conscious effort or decision toward developing into a composer. When I got into Queens College and started taking arranging and composition courses with Roland Hanna and Michael Mossman, that's what set everything in motion. It completely changed my life and opened up another dimension of creativity. I was writing material and doing all the arrangements myself as well. So I came up with the songs for the first album, and then I just kept going."

"I have continued to grow and develop each decade," he continues. "I'm proud that even within the last 20 years or so I've improved dramatically over where I was. Now I'm building up a catalog with this third release and I've already written material for the next one."

Meanwhile, check what Galaher and his kindred crew are putting down on Uptown!

Towner Galaher's Upcoming Performances:
July 14 / Londel's Supper Club / Manhattan, NY
July 15 / Somethin' Jazz Club / New York, NY
August 4 / Harlem's 'L' Lounge / New York, NY
August 13 / SGI-USA Buddhist Culture Center / New York, NY
August 18 / Londel's Supper Club / Manhattan, NY
August 25 / Smalls Jazz Club / Greenwich Village, NY
September 15 / Harlem's 'L' Lounge / New York, NY
September 29 / Londel's Supper Club / Manhattan, NY

Thursday, June 28, 2012


After more than 2 years from Volume 11 finally releases the new volume of the most important italian collection of Chill Out music : Chill Out Cafe Volume 12 selected by the Irma stuff. This too is a double CD format and Super Jewell Box Plus, collects the best of Irma's gender, including songs from albums recently released and unreleased tracks or released in digital format only. Some songs are by artists 'historical' label as Ohm Guru, DJ Rodriguez, Zeb, Master Garofalo and Don Carlos, and others are previews of new albums such as Black Mighty Wax with Sarah Jane Morris and the new song of United Peace Voice, some remixes like : Be Noir 'Give me your love' by Alex Natale or 'Aaron Tesser - I want you to stay' by Nossa Alma Canta … and many new artists like Agostino Maria Ticino, Melchior Sultana, Sugarpie And The Candymen, Fast Lane, Locomotif, The Blue Hammock, Mauro Falardo and some confirmations as From P60, Asuka Sakai, John Type, Nu Braz and others for a total of 33 tracks.
CD 1
1. John Type - Sunflower Lola (Interanima Laser Soul Remix)
2. Sugarpie And The Candymen - Lemon Tree
3. Sabo & Zeb - Nosso Coracao (Chris X-Bass Lisi Remix)
4. Low Fidelity Jet Set Orchestra - Ride The Sun
5. Black Mighty Wax - Shake Your Heart (Feat. Sarah Jane Morris)
6. Fast Lane - Inevitable
7. Nu Braz - Segunda Feira
8. Agostino Maria Ticino - If I Had Said To You
9. United Peace Voices - Make A Better Day
10. Dj Rodriguez - Killer Sound
11. Be Noir - Give Me Your Love (Alex Natale & Fluid Deluxe Lux Love Remix)
12. From P60 - Every Morning
13. Elmio - I Lost It When You Spoke (Love Acoustic)
14. Kalweit And The Spokes - Around Ther Edges
15. Maestro Garofalo - Blackbird
16. Melchior Sultana - Il Bahar
17. Faze Liquide - Soft
18. Belladonna - Natural World

1. Maestro Garofalo - Sun Groove
2. Lux Departure - The Ghost Feeling
3. Locomotif - Forget
4. Karin Maria Andersson - You Will Follow
5. Sakai Asuka - Fashion
6. From P60 - Hurts
7. Aaron Tesser & The New Jazz Affair - I Want You To Stay (Nossa Alma Canta Rework)
8. The Blue Hammock - Estou Feliz
9. Mauro Falardo - Lime’s Culture
10. From P60 - Move On
11. Irwin - Peace
12. Jeannie - Hot Cold Water
13. Agostino Maria Ticino - An Easy Way To Spend A Day
14. Ohm Guru - Movie Guru
15. Don Carlos - Acid Moon


Papik is the project created by Nerio Poggi, Rome based musician, composer, producer and arranger who’s been getting a lot of positive response from the international Nu-Jazz /Jazz Lounge scene lately. His first album from 2009, Rhythm Of Life, included the song ‘Staying For Good’, sung by Alan Scaffardi, which became and still is a hit of the genre. His collaboration with various artists, among which Mario Biondi in his albums Handful of Soul and I Love You More, brought him to produce in 2011 also the albums by Ely Bruna Remember The Time and Fred Buccini Unusual Nat. Both are themed cover projects and obtained a great market feedback.

On this new Music Inside the lead vocals are again by Parma based Alan Scaffardi, official image of the band, together with Nerio himself and Ely Bruna. Other featured vocalists are: Wendy D. Lewis, US singer very popular in Italy, due to collaborations with Jestofunk, Mario Biondi, Ivana Spagna and Irene Grandi; Dagmar Segbers, German jazz singer, Clizia Aloisi and Paco Di Maso. The firt single from the album will be Puzzle Of Life, sung by Ely Bruna, already picked by Japanese fashion brand Gallardagallante as music theme for their 2012 campaign.

Japan is in fact a territory where Papik is extremely popular and will perform on 6th May at the legendary Tokyo Blue Note. The other musicians involved in the tour and the album project are: Alfredo Bochicchio on guitar, Pierpaolo Ranieri on bass, Fabio Tullio on sax, Massimo Guerra on trumpet, Marco Rovinelli on drums. Papik is quite well known in the UK too! English singer Jason Donovan, with a Top Ten career behind him, thank to hits like ‘Too man broken hearts’ or ‘Especially for You’ in duet with Kylie Minogue, has chosen a song penned by Nerio Poggi and Ely Bruna, ‘Sign of Your Love’, as main tune on his come-back album by the same title, out on Universal worldwide in March 2012. That song is also featured on this new Papik album, sung by Alan Scaffardi. Among the rest of the tracks on the album also three covers ‘Family Affair’ (Mary J Blige), ‘Black & Gold’ (Sam Sparro) and ‘Raccontami di te’ (Bruno Martino).

1. On The Move
2. Family Affair (feat. Wendy D.Lewis)
3. Sign Of Your Love
4. This Happiness
5. Somewhere (feat. Dagmar Segbers)
6. Open Eyes
7. Raccontami Di Te (feat. Paco Di Maso)
8. Rebirth (feat. Ely Bruna)
9. The Puzzle Of Life (feat. Ely Bruna)
10. Is This Love
11. Black & Gold
12. Bossa 60 (feat. Clizia Aloisi)
13. You Must Have Come From Heaven


Strut team up with New York’s Knitting Factory for the exclusive worldwide release of Live In Detroit, 1986, the first new Fela Kuti material to be issued since his final studio album, Underground System, in 1992. Recorded live at the Fox Theater in Detroit in November 1986, the concert marked a triumphant return to the USA for Nigeria’s Afrobeat master, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
He had tried to leave his home country to tour the States two years earlier before being arrested and imprisoned on dubious charges of “currency trafficking”. An Amnesty International campaign helped secure his release in April 1986 and, just two months’ later, he appeared on stage as part of Amnesty’s ‘Conspiracy Of Hope’ American tour. The evening's audio recorder, Bob Teagan, claimed the '86 Fox Theater show to be Fela's best performance, "It was like seeing Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, and James Brown all rolled into one.
Fela captured the revolution of Marley, the love of Marvin Gaye, he sung with a rare and exquisite charcoal voice like Sinatra but he would scream himself out and go hoarse by the end of the three hour marathon show. All the while he danced like Michael Jackson or a ballerina, and captivated the crowd with the showmanship of James Brown."
The Detroit concert was part of Fela’s debut US tour with his Egypt 80 band and the recording finds them on strident form, showcasing all-new material in free-flowing extended workouts: ‘Just Like That’ recalls Fela’s memories of the Nigerian Civil War; ‘Confusion Break Bones’ (an update of his earlier track, ‘Confusion’), compares the present African situation to a permanent traffic jam at a town centre crossroads; ‘Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense’ swipes at the oyinbos (white men) forcing sham versions of democracy on Africa and allowing "democratic" rulers to line their own pockets at the expense of the people while foreign-owned multi-nationals are allowed to freely strip the continent of its natural resources; ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ reflects on Fela’s recent court case and imprisonment in Nigeria and, more widely, on the issues around Apartheid.
The messages here resonate as powerfully as anything from Fela’s career. The tracks featured in the concert would appear on studio albums: ‘Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense’ during the same year, produced with Compass Point studios mainstay Wally Badarou, then ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ and ‘O.D.O.O. (Overtake Don Overtake Overtake)’ in 1989. Often overlooked in favour of the punchier sound of Fela’s recordings with Africa 70, these later recordings are deeply soulful affairs, at times melancholy, marked by lengthy, complex and freeform arrangements. ~ Strut Records


“I wanted to go back to a highlife feeling with this album,” explains Ebo Taylor. “The songs are very personal and it is an important part of my music to keep alive many traditional Fante songs, war chants and children’s rhymes.”

Appia Kwa Bridge, released this April, is a strident return from the Ghanaian highlife guitar legend. Featuring six new compositions, his sound is more dense and tightly locked than ever with Berlin-based musicians Afrobeat Academy, a rock solid unit since regular touring worldwide following his Love And Death album in 2010, including a string of dates for WOMAD. Jochen Stroh works his analogue magic once more from his base at Berlin’s Lovelite Studios.

The album covers a variety of themes dear to Taylor. The title track references a small bridge in Ebo’s hometown of Saltpond on the Cape Coast: “it is a tiny bridge but a place known in the town where people meet, where lovers get together.” The firing, rousing ‘Ayesama’, first demo-ed during the ‘Love And Death’ sessions, is a Fante war cry, a taunt – “what’s your mother’s name?”; ‘Nsu Na Kwan’, based on a Fante proverb, asks “Which is older – the river or the old road” with the sub-text to respect your elders and the brilliant ‘Abonsam’ carries the message that Abonsam (The Devil) is responsible for evil in the world and that we should follow the Christian message.
Elsewhere, the album features a new version of highlife anthem, ‘Yaa Amponsah’, first recorded during the ‘20s by Jacob Sam’s Sam’s Trio before becoming a popular standard in Ghana, and a cover of an original track from Taylor’s time with Apagya Show Band during the ’70s, ‘Serwa Brakatu’, re-titled here as ‘Kruman Dey’. The closer, the acoustic ‘Barrima’, is a poignant tribute to Taylor’s first wife and one true love who sadly passed away during Summer 2011. “Ebo wrote the song following her passing and recorded this in one take during our last day in the studio,” reflects bandleader Ben Abarbanel-Wolff. “He was very emotional.”

The album features a number of special guests within the credits including incomparable drummer Tony Allen, original Africa 70 guitarist Oghene Kologbo and conga maestro Addo Nettey a.k.a. Pax Nicholas. Representing the younger players, keyboard genius Kwame Yeboah, son of Ghanaian legend S.K. Yeboah, makes full use of Lovelite’s famed collection of Farfisa and Wurlitzer organs.

Ebo Taylor’s Appia Kwa Bridge is released on Strut as a 1CD, 2LP and digitally . ~ Strut Records



Is it just us, or are we on the brink of a full-on Acid House revival? Richard Sen's This Ain't Chicago, an exploration of the early days of UK House, feels like it's hitting at just the right time. The two-disc collection comes out June 25th (July 10th in the US) and we have release parties scheduled in New York City and London. In the meantime, click on over to Soundcloud to check out a rare edit of a classic track from the collection by the one and only Tom Moulton, which we'll be releasing for the first time on vinyl on a special limited 12" on July 23rd. The single will also include May's "Love Me Baby" and a new Richard Sen edit of K.C.C.'s "Future III." ~ Strut Records


We couldn't be happier to have a new collection of incredible music on the way from the expert selectors in Sofrito. And with a release date in late July, International Soundclash will come at a perfect time to add some extra heat to the summer. Hugo Mendez and Frankie Francis have dug incredibly deep to bring you a one-of-a-kind selection of music from Trinidad, Colombia, Dominica, Congo, Cameroun and beyond. Exclusives include the deep Pacifico sound of Grupo Canalon’s "La Zorra y El Perol" - a new project from Nidia Góngora, singer with Quantic's Combo Barbaro - a previously unreleased track by UK/Kenyan sensations Owiny Sigoma Band, and a Tropical Treats edit of Haiti’s dynamite Les Difficiles de Petion-Ville. We also have a really special piece of packaging, courtesy of visual maestro Lewis Heriz, who interprets Sofrito's fresh perspective on the world with a specially designed cut-out globe on a pull-out poster to accompany the CD and Double LP. Sofrito International Soundclash will be available July 24th. ~ Strut Records


Canada’s hardest working super-group, The Souljazz Orchestra, are back! Since our last project together, 2010's Rising Sun, the band has been refining its sound on the road, and it shows on Solidarity which boasts a muscular, plugged-in sound that positively commands dancing. The album showcases a diverse set of influences, buoyed by the many featured vocalists, all of whom are connected to the group through the Canadian music scene, yet hail from a variety of backgrounds, from Senegal to Brazil to Jamaica and beyond. Recorded on vintage gear, the music packs a punch which is often lacking on contemporary recordings. Solidarity comes out September 18th, but we'll make sure to share some new music before that. The band will be touring internationally around the release, so look for them soon near you! ~ Strut Records


Strut present a brand new retrospective of one of the Caribbean’s most towering musical figures, Mighty Sparrow, covering 1962 to 1974. During a career of over 40 years, Sparrow has been an unmatchable figure in the world of calypso and a constant backdrop to Caribbean life, recording over 300 albums and winning eleven Calypso Monarch and eight Road March titles at the annual Trinidad Carnival during one of the most competitive times in its history.

Scoring his first hit, ‘Jean And Dinah’, aged 20, Sparrow’s style drew on influences from US street harmony quartets to crooners like Nat King Cole, jazz greats – Ella, Sinatra – and the early calypso generation including Lord Melody and Lord Kitchener.

By the late ‘50s and in his early 20s, he was already an influential figure, encouraging Trinidad’s people to pay taxes with Carnival hit ‘P.A.Y.E.’ and highlighting cruelty to animals on ‘Russian Satellite’. This new collection hones in on Sparrow’s most creative years as he effortlessly surfed musical styles from calypso party jams to hard-hitting boogaloo and soul.

He had become a confident political commentator, tackling subjects as varied as domestic economic hardship (‘Ah Diggin’ Horrors’), slavery (‘The Slave’) and the Cuban missile crisis (‘Kennedy And Kruschev’). Other tracks serve as a vital reference point for today’s music. On ‘Picong Duel’, we hear Sparrow and fellow calypso legend, Lord Melody, trade insults, a direct forerunner to later mic battles in hip hop culture. Elsewhere, Sparrow just plain rocks the party (‘Calypso Boogaloo’, ‘Jook For Jook’) and turns in the odd choice cover – we feature here his lilting version of Otis Redding’s ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ with Byron Lee.

The album also documents Sparrow’s fearsome live reputation with two firing tracks from a late ‘60s gig at the Barbados Hilton and excerpts from a ‘70s concert in Brooklyn featuring Sparrow’s dynamite backing band, The Troubadours, at the peak of their game. This is a long overdue retrospective placing Sparrow in his rightful position as a true Caribbean great, a cultural and social icon on a par with Fela Kuti in Nigeria or Miriam Makeba in South Africa. As journalist Ric Hernandez wrote in 1967, “It’s all there with Sparrow – wit, wisdom and an earthy irreverence for the established order. He sings life as he sees it, as one long boisterous contact sport.” ~ Strut Records


Album features duet with actress Sally Kellerman on "La Vie En Rose."

This week, Toucan Cove Entertainment/Universal Music released the newest collection from iconic singer-songwriter Bertie Higgins. The 21-track album, Year Of The Dragon, includes both original songs as well as Bertie’s take on old favorites. Year Of The Dragon is Bertie’s 11th CD, and the track list is very personal to him. While the cover songs are some that he admires and has performed over the years as homage to the singers and songwriters, one features an extraordinary special guest.

Actress and singer Sally Kellerman duets with Bertie on “La Vie En Rose,” the first single from Year Of The Dragon. Says Bertie, “Sally has that fantastic, sensuous quality in her voice that lends itself well to this 1940's classic and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to sing with her. “

On another unique and intimate addition, Bertie recalls, “"Casablanca" which was recorded in Beijing and is a re-make of the original song that he wrote and recorded back in the 1980's. It features a wonderful twelve year old new Chinese singing sensation, Jiang Zi Long, in a duet with Bertie and was recorded with traditional Chinese instruments.

Bertie has also been a filmmaker for several years, and a few of the songs on Year Of The Dragon soundtrack his film work. "La Vie En Rose" is from a forthcoming feature produced by Bertie and directed by his son, Julian. "A Black Forest Christmas" (working title) takes place on Christmas Eve at a World War Two POW camp in Germany and is a unique re-telling of the nativity. "Save the Bales" is from a current internationally-distributed film, "The Colombian Connection," based on a true story about smugglers in the mid-1970s. “Oh, Come to Me" is the love theme from "The Marco Polo Bridge,” a love story set against the backdrop of the Japanese invasion of Peking, China in the summer of 1937 which drew China reluctantly into the Second World War. The majority of the principal photography will be in Beijing.

Bertie Higgins is best known and loved for classic hits "Key Largo", “Casablanca” and “Just Another Day In Paradise.” He has been performing world wide for over 25 years, much to the joy of his massive fan base, the "Boneheads." Bertie has appeared on dozens of radio and TV shows both domestically and internationally, including several VH1 specials, the national MDA Telethon, the CBS Early Morning Show and in front of millions with Michael Bolton on two CCTV’s 2012 New Year’s Specials from China. He has been currently touring the Pacific Rim countries, where he is a multi-platinum artist, and is preparing for a North American tour that will begin late summer.

Track List:
California Promises
Casablanca (with Jiang Zi Long)
Green River
If You Could Read My Mind
La Vie En Rose (with Sally Kellerman, from the film “A Black Forest Christmas”)
Money for Nothing
My Heart Will Go On
Oh, Come to Me
Save the Bales (from the film “The Colombian Connection”)
Save the Last Dance for Me
Scarborough Fair
Since I Fell For You
The Old Man and the Sea
Time in a Bottle
Water on the Moon
When I Fall in Love
When Will I See You Again

Streaming Track: La Vie En Rose

Video: La Vie En Rose


"Groove, noise, melodies, compelling improvising, and atmosphere; Matt Silberman's music has all the elements in place for a rich listening experience." - Mark Dresser

An Indiana Jones-like explorer dashing through an Egyptian tomb. A Midwestern hip-hop phantom. An elderly Eastern European woman speaking in tongues in a synagogue. Troops marching on the battlefield of daily life. A poet and writer creating waking dreams.

These are some of the Questionable Creatures whose stories Matthew Silberman tells on his debut album as a leader, available on September 11 on DeSoto Sound Factory (his personal imprint). The Brooklyn-based saxophonist/composer spins evocative yarns about these colorful characters as well as his own experiences moving from the seemingly infinite ocean vistas of Santa Monica, California to the claustrophobic cityscapes of New York.

The album's unique, eclectic sound can be traced to Silberman's wide-ranging influences, as well as his penchant for constructing elaborate narratives through his compositions. But its most direct source is the unusual make-up of Silberman's quintet, which features two guitarists along with the leader's tenor and a bass-drum rhythm section. Dueling axemen are a common sight on arena rock stages, not so much in jazz clubs.

"The classic jazz quintet is two horns, piano bass and drums," Silberman says. "But I was thinking of using one guitarist as another horn player and the other as a keyboard player. One is dealing a more with textures, chords and comping, the other more with playing lines and melodies."

The idea was partially inspired by Silberman's love of more forward-looking rock music, bands like Blonde Redhead, Sonic Youth, and Radiohead, who wield their guitars in the service of texture and atmosphere as much as crunching power chords and fluid melodies. The concept became a band after he'd met guitarists Ryan Ferreira and Greg Ruggiero.

"Neither of them are caught up in trying to match what all our peers are doing on the guitar," he says. "They both have a really strong voice and clear vision; they know what they're going for and keep working to achieve that. Greg has a beautiful sound, really melodic and singing. Ryan has an open and expansive quality to the way he plays. He creates so much around you without overwhelming the tonal palette. They both communicate their own individuality within the context of the music, which I really appreciate and respect. Getting to play different concepts with the two of them is amazing, beyond what I could have even imagined."

Both bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Tommy Crane were classmates of Silberman at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, so they share a mutual history that shows in their empathetic interactions. "They're two of my favorite musicians to play with," Silberman says, "so combining them with the two guitar players was a dream band for me."

The quintet initially assembled in 2007, then reconvened after a long hiatus for a string of shows and rehearsals in 2011. At that point, Silberman recalls, "the music and our understanding of each other seemed to grow exponentially with every gig. The music became a living, breathing entity, and I was really excited to get into the studio."

It was important to Silberman to achieve this sort of cohesive group identity. The saxophonist had no interest in rushing out an album with his name on the cover or in tossing together an all-star band for the occasion. "I wanted a unique sound as a group, a band that really knew each other. A lot of people will get sidemen that are amazing players but haven't necessarily played together, and sometimes the results can be a little bit tepid or uninspired compared to recordings of people who have really developed some chemistry."

The chemistry between Silberman and his band mates is evident throughout Questionable Creatures. Ferreira's howling, distorted textures and Ruggiero's distant chiming combine with a bass line inspired by early Wu-Tang Clan and a Charlie Parker-esque melody to unearth the "Ghost of the Prairie"; the dancing rhythms and transcendent melodies of "Mrs. Heimoff" recreate Silberman's childhood impressions of an old woman's semi-schizophrenic aura, chanting in Hebrew, speaking to herself in Yiddish, and seeming to speak in tongues while davening at the end of the row in his childhood synagogue.

The strangely intoxicating "Dream Machine" was inspired by the iconoclastic poet, writer and artist Brion Gysin, a frequent collaborator with the legendary novelist William S. Burroughs. Gysin's "Dreamachine" was a device that projected flickering light patterns onto closed eyelids in the hopes of altering consciousness. He also pioneered the cut-up technique, wherein phrases were dissected and recombined to create new combinations and unexpected meanings. Silberman used that technique with four short melodies to create his piece.

The album's closing piece, "The Pharaoh's Tomb," is its most intense, and in Silberman's view reminiscent of an imaginary Spielberg action epic, chasing an adventurer or tomb raider through a booby trap-laden pyramid in search of ancient treasure. Action of another sort is captured in "The Battle at Dawn," where faint guitar drones fade like mist to reveal an introspective march rhythm, representing the inner battle between pursuing dreams and day-to-day drudgery.

"Breathe" looks back at Silberman's native California, pulsing with the rhythm of the ocean and seeming to depict a drive on L.A.'s Pacific Coast Highway. "Growing up so close to the beach, being right by the water, right on the edge of everything, there's almost a physical feeling that it applies to your body. It's the feeling you get looking out at the water as it spans all the way out to the horizon as opposed to buildings. I think that manifests itself in my music through a cross between the openness and infinity of Santa Monica versus the intensity and energy of New York."

Silberman was raised around music. His mother was an opera singer, while his father was a huge music fan who constantly played classic Motown around the house. Silberman began taking piano lessons at the age of six, then picked up the clarinet in the fourth grade. A few years later he switched to the saxophone and his fate was sealed. "As soon as I picked up the saxophone I just couldn't put it down. That was pretty much when I realized I wanted to play music for the rest of my life."

After graduating from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Silberman took a year off to spend time with his family and to further hone his craft, but New York was always the goal. By the time he left L.A. he'd taken on two regular weekly gigs, frequented jam sessions regularly, and shared the stage with the great drummer Billy Higgins, as well as Nancy Wilson, the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, and Patrice Rushen.

Since arriving in New York, Silberman has played along a host of greats, including Roy Hargrove, as well as peers like Becca Stevens, Logan Richardson, Tyshawn Sorey, Nir Felder and Alan Hampton. While studying at the New School, he played in a live hip-hop band, and later played in rock bands (including one he describes as "Irish punk mixed with '80s synth-pop"), and a country-rock outfit, absorbing as many influences as he could.

"I think it was really good exposure to be in situations where you run into totally different skillsets than you do playing jazz," he says. "Being in such a tough, unforgiving environment as New York, I needed to figure out who I wanted to be as a musician."


Italian multi instrumentalist and composer Gabriele Poso has completed his awaited second solo full-length Roots Of Soul, released on INFRACom! The album boasts the participation of international guest artists such as Osunlade, with whom Gabriele has been collaborating and friends for 12 years now, Nailah Porter and Tanya Michelle.

Roots Of Soul is a melting pot of Gabriele’s musical influences ranging from the passionate percussions of Africa with its warmth and vitality, to animated and infectious Latin beats, and jazz melodies that turn into a rhythmic language aiming straight for your soul. From feel-good, uplifting opening track “Sunshine”, to the hypnotic Latin-tinged jazz-dance cover of “You Don’t Love Me” up to the mellow, soul-infused “A Night With You”, Gabriele takes you on a musical journey that perfectly blends melodies and rhythm, weaving them together into a varied but cohesive selection of sounds.

Roots of Soul was recorded by bringing together all these elements and textures while at the same time maintaining the energy and synergies that only a live performance can give. Horns, guitars, piano, drums and percussion become one, leaving the voice with the task of transporting the listener to an inner world, in which to explore the roots of the soul.

Roots Of Soul is entirely composed and arranged by Poso, except for the covers of the latin jazz standard “Tin Tin Deo”, “Afro Blue” and the reggae classic “You Don´t Love Me (No, No, No,)”.

Gabriele Poso was born in Sardinia, in the heart of the Mediterranean sea, on the 22nd of October 1978, but he grew up in Lecce, in Southern Italy. Ever since he was a child Gabriele established a deep relationship with music, developing a particular attraction for his father’s best jazz, soul, and afro-latin records. As time went by, Gabriele studied a great variety of musical instruments, in particular the guitar, with which he created some of his best early compositions before discovering the charming world of percussion, that definitively captured his soul, becoming his primary passion.

In 1998 he began studying afro-cuban rhythms under the guidance of the most important representative of afro-cuban culture and percussion in Italy; Roberto “Mamey” Evangelista, at “Timba” Institute in Rome. Afterwards, Gabriele took an in-depth musical immersion at the “Escuela National De Arte of Havana Cuba” and in the “Universitad Interamericana De Puerto Rico” of S.Juan, Puerto Rico.

Following these important musical studies, Gabriele began playing in Europe and in the world together with famous artist such as Osunlade (live band) (Yoruba Records) and Nicola Conte (Blue Note), just to name a few. In 2008 he released his first solo album titled From The Genuine World produced by American label Yoruba Records and distributed worldwide. Gabriele continues to play throughout Europe and the world, at events such as the Mod Club Theatre Toronto for The Canada Day Celebration, the MTV World Festival in Istanbul, the One Day Off Festival in Belgium, and nights in clubs like the Jazz Cafe, Neighbarhood, Cargo London, Paris Club Djoon.

Roots Of Soul Tracklisting:
1. Sunshine feat. Tanya Michelle (4:37)
2. You Don´t Love Me feat. Osunlade (3:08)
3. Freedom (3:59)
4. Dona Flor (5:21)
5. Into My Heart Feat. Nailah Porter (4:34)
6. Roots Of Soul (5:42)
7. With Me Come Fly feat. Dionisia Cassiano (4:29)
8. Ocean Park (3:43)
9. Tin Tin Deo (5:45)
10. A Night With You Feat Nailah Porter (3:43)
11. Spirit Conversation (3:28)
12. Afro Blue (4:17)
13. Sinphony From The Universe (4:41)

Social Media and Web:
• Website:
• Facebook
• Soundcloud:
• Twitter:!/gabrieleposo


Wednesday, June 27, 2012


On August 28, the acclaimed West African jazz guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke will release Heritage, his dynamic third Blue Note album, which was co-produced by label mate Robert Glasper. Heritage finds Loueke—who was hailed by The New York Times as “a gentle virtuoso”—exploring a more electric sound with a new trio featuring Derrick Hodge on electric bass and Mark Guiliana on drums. The album presents seven new compositions by Loueke, two by Glasper, and one co-written by the two. Glasper also contributes piano and keyboards to six tracks, while singer Gretchen Parlato provides background vocals on two tracks.

A veteran of bands led by Terence Blanchard and Herbie Hancock, Loueke is bringing jazz into vibrant contact with the sounds of West Africa, in particular his native Benin. The title Heritage is a direct reference to his personal odyssey. "I have two heritages," Loueke says. "One is from my ancestors from Africa, and that goes through my music, my body, my soul, every aspect of what I do. But also I have the heritage from the Occident, from the West, from Europe and the U.S. I speak English, I speak French, and I have that heritage too. I called this album Heritage because I've been blessed by all different parts of the world, and most of the songs reflect that."

"Robert is a true genius," says Loueke of his producer and friend, "and I knew that he'd be the right person. I like a musician who surprises me all the time. We're good friends and we're both open, and that's when the magic happens." Loueke has performed as a special guest with the Robert Glasper Trio, and was in fact an original member of the Robert Glasper Experiment when it first formed.

The track listing for Heritage is as follows:
1. Ifê (Lionel Loueke)
2. Ouidah (Loueke)
3. Tribal Dance (Robert Glasper)
4. Hope (Loueke/Glasper)
5. Freedom Dance (Loueke)
6. Chardon (Loueke)
7. Farafina (Loueke)
8. African Ship (Loueke)
9. Goree (Loueke)
10. Bayyinah (Glasper)

~ Blue Note


New Studio Album "Born To Sing: No Plan B" Out October 2

Van Morrison returns to Blue Note Records for a new studio album Born To Sing: No Plan B to be released on October 2. Morrison previously released the Grammy-nominated What’s Wrong With This Picture? on Blue Note in 2003.

Van says: "With most record companies being so corporate I am happy to be working with Don Was and the team at Blue Note. To have such a creative music person as the head of my recording label assures me that all the effort taken to write and record this new album will be rewarded with a music-based focus and marketing approach. I look forward to many recording projects with Don and Blue Note."

Don Was adds: “Over a career that spans decades, Van Morrison has developed a body of work that is unparalleled in its consistent excellence. He is one of the greatest singer/songwriter/musicians of all time. We are incredibly honored that he has chosen to record for the Blue Note label and look forward to many fruitful years together.”

A six-time Grammy winner and member of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, Morrison is one of the most influential artists of the modern age. His poetically impressionistic lyrics and unique fusion of rock n’ roll with soul, jazz and folk have deep emotional resonance and universal appeal. His transcendent masterpieces Astral Weeks and Moondance are typically ranked among the best albums of all-time, while his more recent recordings Magic Time and Keep It Simple enjoyed Top 10 debuts.

Born To Sing: No Plan B was produced by Van and recorded in his native Belfast.

1. Open The Door (To Your Heart)
2. Going Down To Monte Carlo
3. Born To Sing
4. End Of The Rainbow
5. Close Enough For Jazz
6. Mystic Of The East
7. Retreat And View
8. If In Money We Trust
9. Pagan Heart
10. Educating Archie

More information on Van Morrison’s new Blue Note album will be announced soon.

~ Blue Note


Musical sensation Tony DeSare has joined Yamaha’s exceptional piano artist roster, which includes Elton John, Jamie Cullum and Chick Corea. Dubbed the next Male Vocalist
“Rising Star” in the 2009 Downbeat Critics Poll, DeSare has won widespread popular acclaim for his concert performances throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.

DeSare’s retro-contemporary sound has drawn frequent comparisons to the legendary pop-jazz stylist Frank Sinatra. In fact, renowned songwriter and Motown producer Lamont Dozier (The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Isley Brothers), recently placed DeSare in the same pantheon of retro–cool Sinatra successors that includes Harry Connick Jr. and Yamaha Artist Michael Buble. At a recent meeting with DeSare, Dozier predicted, “You’re next!”

Born to a musical family in Glens Falls, NY, DeSare began singing and performing professionally at the age of 17, opening for visiting headliners and building a large regional following. Equally at home in contemporary and standard genres, he went on to study at Ithaca College where he formed the Tony DeSare Trio, securing a first place win in the “IC Showcase,” a college-sponsored national battle of the bands.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved pianos, and some of the very first pianos I encountered were Yamahas,” recalls DeSare. Now, his instrument of choice is a Yamaha Disklavier DCFX performance-reproducing piano. “Yamaha offers the ideal blend of the acoustic piano craftsmanship and technology,” says DeSare. “It’s artistically inspirational, since these are two forces in music that don’t often coalesce. Yamaha has found a way to make them play nicely together.” Beyond the instrument’s “responsive action,” DeSare has also been impressed by the resonant CFX tone, “which helps cut through an orchestra.”

Playing over an orchestra has become a higher priority of late, as the artist has added numerous, high-profile symphony appearances to his schedule, in addition to gigs at jazz festivals and posh, legendary nightclubs. But it’s DeSare’s affection for old-school, classic standards and the golden era of the brat pack, that also led him to an ongoing touring relationship on the casino circuit with the legendary comic Don Rickles.

“I’m a fan of that era and Don is unquestionably one of the best,” notes DeSare, marveling at the 85-year-old’s stamina and undiminished ability to keep a large audience in stitches for a full, 80-minute set. “He’s still the greatest.”

For Rickles, the admiration is mutual. “Tony DeSare is, without question, one of the today's most outstanding artists and performers,” says Rickles. “His superb piano artistry is a bonus!”

DeSare will release his fourth CD later this year, a musical mélange of sophisticated, inventive originals and contemporary classic cover songs. Beyond traditional piano playing, and employing the Disklavier’s record and playback function to record the CD, DeSare is experimenting with non-traditional modes of drawing sound from the instrument via the strumming of strings, the manipulation of hammers and tapping the body of the piano.

“Tony has a refreshing and unique way of blending modern sounds with swinging classics,” says Bonnie Barrett, Yamaha Artist Services Director. “He has an exceptional ability to write fresh, original work that also blends seamlessly with the Great American Songbook. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with him.”

DeSare caught his first break in New York City when he was cast as the star of the long running Off‐Broadway musical smash, Our Sinatra, in 1999. Three years later, he performed at the legendary Apollo Theater where he first met jazz guitar icon, Bucky Pizzarelli, who has since continued to perform with his band, touring the nation and headlining at major performance venues ranging from leading jazz rooms like Birdland and the Blue Note to posh nightclubs like the Café Carlyle and Feinstein’s at the Regency, as well as several appearances at Carnegie Hall and major concert halls like Jazz at New York’s Lincoln Center. On tap for the fall is an engagement at the new nightclub located at the site of New York’s’ legendary Studio 54 dance club, 54 Below.

DeSare’s versatility and creativity in songwriting have also earned him distinguished recognition for his original compositions. “Let’s Just Stay In,” was featured in the 20th Century Fox film The Tooth Fairy, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ashley Judd, Billy Crystal and Julie Andrews. Tony also composed and performed the title theme to My Date With Drew, an independent documentary feature film starring Drew Barrymore. The song has been featured on “The Tonight Show” and “The Today Show,” among many other media outlets.


Expanding its creative investment further, Universal Music Group has signed iconic artist Rod Stewart to a long-term worldwide recording agreement, it was announced today by Lucian Grainge, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Stewart and his manager, Arnold Stiefel.

As part of this multi-album deal, the two-time Hall of Famer has teamed with Grammy award-winning producer, songwriter and Verve Music Group Chairman David Foster to record his first Christmas album. Stewart's warm, expressive and distinctively raspy voice is proving a perfect fit for the holiday classics. The album will also feature a handful of star-studded vocal duets and is scheduled for release this fall via Verve Music Group.
"I've known Rod and Arnold for many years and have been wanting to work with them for some time," stated Mr. Grainge. "Rod possesses one of pop music's most inventive and memorable voices; and we're delighted to be part of the next great chapter in his already storied career."

"UMG remains committed to artistic creativity and expanding opportunities for artists in the marketplace," continued Mr. Grainge. "And nowhere is this more evident than in our new partnership with an artist of Rod's caliber."

Rod Stewart commented, "I'm confident that by partnering with my fellow CBE, Lucian, and his cracking, top-notch company, we have the best team in the business. And the chance to work again with David Foster makes it that much sweeter."

"This is a match made in heaven," Arnold Stiefel declared. "Rod's writing spirit has been rekindled and Universal is the perfect keeper of the flame."

With his soulful and singular voice, narrative songwriting and passionate live performances, Rod Stewart has paved one of the most iconic and successful musical careers of all time. In July, he will reunite with Stevie Nicks to reprise their acclaimed Heart & Soul tour and in September he will return to his Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. All on the heels of his hotly anticipated first memoir and Christmas album, which are both, scheduled for U.S. release this fall.

During Stewart's iconic five decade-long career, he has sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, scored countless charting hits, 18 Grammy nominations and two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is a Grammy Living Legend and in 2007 was bestowed the prestigious CBE (Commander of The British Empire) title by the Queen of England.

For more information, visit


A very different side of the sound of Fania Records – tracks that draw heavily from the club and disco rhythms of the New York scene of the 70s, but serve up the music with a sweet little Latin twist! The set really illustrates the evolution of Latin Soul from the 60s – showing a generation of artists who were equally willing to draw from the styles of their African-American contemporaries on the scene, but in different ways than the Latin artists of a decade before! Most tracks still have a fair bit of Latin percussion in the mix (it's no secret that Latin rhythms were a big influence on 70s disco) – and the selection of cuts is really wonderful – way past the obvious, and in ways that are different than other collections of this nature, including the Nuyorica classics on Soul Jazz. Titles include "Waterbed" by LTG Exchange, "Dance Dance Dance" by Orquesta Novel, "To Be With You" by Jimmy Sabater, "Good Times" by Charanga 76, "Salsa" by Louie Ramirez, "Mambo Rock" by Seguida, "Afro Hustle" by Lou Perez, "Call Me" by Joe Bataan, "Es Un Demonio Ella" by Fausto Rey/Larry Harlow, "My Love Supreme" by Milton Hamilton Crystalized, "Wata Wasuri" by Tito Puente, and "Johnny's No Good" by WRLC. ~ Dusty Groove.



A sweet little set from LA's Endangered – a great quartet that boasts strong lead vocals from Maiya Sykes, and a nice groove that makes a bit more use of electric guitar than keyboards! The guitar phrasing is mighty nice – and gives the record an earnest quality that really sends the vocals home – yet also manages to avoid some of the too-acoustic or too-singer songwriter modes of the indie underground – a balancing act that's tricky, but really comes off well as the set rolls on – making for one of the freshest debuts we've heard in years! Titles include "Calling On You", "Broke Heart", "Dollars", "Mistakes", and "You Be Mine". ~ Dusty Groove


One of the loosest, freest recordings we've heard from Ken Vandermark in awhile – a great set of duets with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love, who's really got the right spirit here to match the sensitivity in Vandermark's reeds! Many tunes are in a sparer, gentler exploration of textures and tones – played beautifully by Ken on the fringes of music – using tenor, baritone sax, bass clarinet, and A clarinet – usually instruments that set the tone of the performances first, which Paal then follows beautifully with inventive work on the drum kit, and some additional percussion. The set's a great reminder that Vandermark can still stretch out beautifully like this – and titles include "Field 1", "Letter To A Stranger", "Field 3", "Crippled Donkey", "Strange Love", "Field 5", and "Bent Corners". ~ Dusty Groove


Beautiful sounds from reedman John Surman – played solo, but on a variety of different instruments – all in tones and textures that aptly demonstrate that Surman's style is as sonic as it is musical! The record does a great job of avoiding some of the colder elements that sometimes hold back Surman in such a setting – and really recreates that special warmth when he hit some of his moodier, more spacious modes in the 70s – spun out here on soprano, tenor, and baritone sax – plus alto, bass, and contrabass clarinets – as well as harmonica and synthesizer too! Most tracks are shortish, but very evocative – with titles that include "Glass Flower", "Whistman's Wood", "Saltash Bells", "Sailing Westwards", "The Crooked Inn", and "Dark Reflections". ~ Dusty Groove

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


"... an exceptionally articulate pianist... Vega's single most distinctive characteristic is his romantic lyricism." - JazzTimes

While pianist Donald Vega is beginning to draw attention in jazz circles as Mulgrew Miller's successor in the Ron Carter Trio, he makes a bold statement as a composer and bandleader on Spiritual Nature. Joined by the regal rhythm tandem of bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash, Vega explores the marriage of jazz, Latin and classical music on his auspicious Resonance Records debut. "It's a dream come true," says the 37-year-old pianist of the opportunity to record with McBride and Nash. "Spiritually, this is my dream trio." The core trio is augmented by guitarist Anthony Wilson, violinist and label mate Christian Howes, tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos and trombonist Bob McChesney on Vega's sophomore outing (following 2008's self-produced Tomorrows, which also featured drummer Nash).

Classically-trained in his native Nicaragua, Vega emigrated to Los Angeles at age 14 and began learning the language of jazz from mentor Billy Higgins at The World Stage and later with bassist John Clayton at the University of Southern California. Bassist Al McKibbon, a member of Dizzy Gillespie's band of the late 1940s, subsequently took the young pianist under his wing and schooled him on the bandstand on the finer points of bebop. Vega met drummer Nash while working in McKibbon's trio in Los Angeles. For Spiritual Nature, Vega imagined pairing Nash with bassist McBride, whom he had met in 2007 while attending The Juilliard School in New York. "The idea of having this tasty drummer with this killing bass player was so interesting," he says. "But for them to get together in one place, it's very rare because they're both so busy. And when we finally got together, the music just played itself, like magic."

Throughout Spiritual Nature, Vega shifts the configuration from trio to quartet to quintet, providing plenty of scintillating moments along the way. He kicks it off with the aggressively swinging, hard boppish "Scorpion," which showcases his voicings for trumpet and sax on the frontline and also features an outstanding drum solo from Nash. "I love writing harmonies," says Vega, "but most important to me is the melody. I always want it to be singable." Ron Carter's "First Trip," which originally appeared on Herbie Hancock's 1968 Blue Note classic, Speak Like a Child, is rendered here as a jaunty swinger underscored by Nash's brushwork, McBride's walking bass lines and featuring Wilson on guitar. "My attitude here was, 'OK, Herbie's version was so incredible, nobody's going to do it better than that. So let's just have some fun with it.'"

A delicate quartet rendition of Monty Alexander's lyrical "The River" features Howes on violin while the title track blends a straight eighth note jazz feel with a subtle bossa nova vibe. "You can hear the McCoy Tyner influence on my playing," says Vega, "and the tropical flavor from my country, Nicaragua. And when I hear it back, just the way it moves makes me think about the things that are unexplained - nature and the spiritual." A cover of Monty Alexander's funky boogaloo "Accompong" is highlighted by some rapid-fire exchanges between Vega's piano and Wilson's guitar while a trio interpretation of Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen's delicate waltz-time number "Future Child" opens with an extended introspective solo piano introduction from Vega. McBride's bold, walking bass lines fuel a swinging piano trio rendition of Makoto Ozone's "You Never Tell Me Anything" and on the atmospheric "Contemplation" he incorporates Fender Rhodes electric piano for a different color.

Vega's arrangement of the classical piece "Etude Opus 8, #2" by Alexander Scriabin deftly incorporates a 6/8 Afro-Cuban feel in the bass line while showcasing brisk unisons on top in a 3/4 encounter between piano and violin. "In Nicaragua, I had classical training," he explains. "I studied Chopin, Bach, Brahms, all the classics. And I always wanted to mix jazz with classical and Latin. Since I knew all of those languages, why not expand on that? And this was a perfect piece to incorporate all of those elements."

A poignant solo rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Falando De Amore-Tema De Amor" showcases the pianist's exquisite touch on the keyboard. "My all-time heroes are Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan," says Vega. "Those are the masters I try to learn from, in terms of the touch and harmony." He explains that it was producer Klabin's idea to record three separate segments and then graft them together into one flowing piece. "When George brought in this piece, which I had never heard before, he said, 'Would you be open to doing something where you come in and record one voice, then we record a second voice and a third voice, and then put them all together?' I know Bill Evans did that on Conversations with Myself, and he was very masterful in his approach on that album. So I agreed. I'm very open and I'm always ready to learn. So George and I actually collaborated on that one."

Vega's gentle quartet number "Child's Play," which has Nash playing with his hands on the kit, carries special meaning for the new, first-time father. "I have a lot of brothers and sisters and they all just had babies too," he says. "We're all in different places - Los Angeles, Miami, New York - and in composing this tune I was imaging just having all the kids together playing. That's the image that came to mind and when the musicians were able to hear the story of where this tune came from, they knew what to play."

The album concludes with a loose, highly interactive trio rendition of Benny Golson's classic ballad "I Remember Clifford" that is underscored by Nash's signature brushwork and McBride's contrapuntal approach to the bass. "All the other tunes on the album were heavily arranged," says Vega, "so we wanted just one tune where we don't have to read, we don't have any arrangement, we just play. Benny Golson's writing is great and we all knew this tune, so the idea was, 'Let's just go in and play.' And you can hear that kind of looseness on this track."

Backed by such a formidable lineup, Vega makes a giant leap as a composer-arranger and bandleader in his own right on Spiritual Nature.

Spiritual Nature Track Listing (release date August 14):
Donald Vega - piano/Rhodes
Christian McBride - bass
Lewis Nash - drums
Anthony Wilson - guitar
Christian Howes - violin
Bob Sheppard - saxophone
Gilbert Castellanos - trumpet
Bob McChesney - trombone

1. Scorpion (D. Vega)
2. First Trip (Ron Carter)
3. River (M. Alexander)
4. Spiritual Nature (D. Vega)
5. Accompong (M. Alexander)
6. Future Child (N.H. Orsted Pederson)
7. You Never Tell Me Anything (M. Ozone)
8. Contemplation (D. Vega)
9. Etude Opus 8, #2 (Scriabin, adaptation by D. Vega)
10. Falando de Amor / Tema de Amor (arrangement by D. Vega & G. Klabin) (Theme from Film "Gabriela" by A.C. Jobim)
11. Child's Play (D. Vega)
12. I Remember Clifford (B. Golson)



Italian producer, musician and DJ Nicola Conte is well-respected for his penchant for combing the depths for quality Brazilian and jazz songs, and for the first three editions of his Viagem compilation series for London’s Far Out Recordings, he’s shared with the world a variety of fantastic delights seldom heard outside of Brazil. The theme is simple: the focus is on Brazilian goodness from the 1960s and 1970s. But simplicity can be deceptive, especially when you’re the tastemaker having to find the gems featured here. The simpler exercise lies in the pure listening enjoyment; Conte has once again put together choice cuts from the 1960s and 1970s, the tunes bursting with flair, class, sophistication, and unadulterated energy. These vintage numbers are like small trips back in time. You might not mind traveling there again and again after taking in this most exquisite musical experience, thanks to the golden touch of Mr. Conte and his stellar collection, or at least seventeen of them on Viagem 4. Bravo! ~

Nicola Conte Presents Viagem 4 Tracklist:
1. 7 De Ouros – So’ Balanço
2. Myrzo Barroso - Consolaçao
3. Quarteto 4 - O Morro Naó Tem Vez
4. Bossa Jazz 3 - Outra Vez
5. Luli - Ballero
6. Anilza Leoni - Balumba
7. Bwana Trio - Cute
8. Shirley e O Tuca Trio - Gosto Do Que e Bom
9. Betinho Do Vibraphone - Pandeiro Triste
10. As Compositoras - Ponto De Vista
11. Luiz Henrique & Os Copa 5 - Samba Novo
12. Quarteto De Saba - Pra Que Chorar
13. Marcos Moran - Batucada Surgiu
14. Quarteto De Bruno Solis - Upa Neguinho
15. Bossa Nova + 5 - Saudade Vem Correndo
16. Gilda Horta - Litoral
17. Rosana Tapajos - Te Quero Assim.

Viagem 4 is set for release on July 9.


On Tuesday, June 19, 2012, a new documentary about jazz vocalist and songwriter, Jacqui Naylor, was released nationwide through Ruby Star Records and eOne Distribution (RBY-DV-79367). Lucky Girl -A Portrait of Jacqui Naylor, is produced by ARTiDOCs, a Bay Area production company specializing in portrait style documentaries on artists. The documentary is shot with a Panasonic HVX200 in HD, using natural light.

After producing a music video for Naylor in 2008, ARTiDOCs co-founders Marcelina Cravat and Jules Kobelin approached the singer about creating a feature length portrait documentary of her life and creative process. Naylor agreed and the duo and their crew followed the artist and her band for two years on the road and into the studio, while they prepared new music for her eighth CD, also titled Lucky Girl, (Ruby Star Records RSR-007 2011)

The documentary follows Naylor on tour to several jazz clubs including Seattle's Jazz Alley, San Francisco's Rrazz Room, and the Istanbul Jazz Center in Turkey. Replete with performances, songwriting sessions, and behind- the-scene moments, the film transports the viewer through a series of musical montages and local flavors. Interviews with long-time band members and others close to Naylor offer an intimate look at the life of this respected jazz artist who is also a practicing Buddhist and long-time San Francisco resident.

"Jacqui's primary goal is to provide unity and community and this message is clearly delivered throughout the duration of Lucky Girl," says producer Kobelin. From the opening scene of chanting with fellow Buddhists in their home to the recording of a pledge drive song for NPR, the film shows how Naylor and pianist and husband, Art Khu, use their music to bring people and ideas together. The couple's original song "Dreamin' Prayin' Wishin' was recently picked up by Two Degrees for use in their marketing to end world hunger and "Rise Up" featured on the Obama-Biden Website.

Naylor is perhaps best known for her ability to mix genres from different generations through the arranging technique she calls "acoustic smashing." "Jacqui Naylor has brought new twists to the notion of melding jazz and pop tunes - without high-tech assistance," claims NPR's California Report. "Naylor has the chops and sensitivity to pull it off," chimes New York Magazine. The film includes examples with "My Funny Valentine" from Rodgers and Hart sung over the groove of ACDC's "Back In Black," "Black Coffee" from Webster and Burke atop Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick," and "Surry With The Fringe On Top" from Rodgers and Hammerstein over George Benson's "Breezin'."

Naylor has eight recordings of originals and covers on her Ruby Star Records label available in the United States, Europe and Asia and tours regularly in these regions at esteemed venues including Yoshi's San Francisco, Ronnie Scott's London, Birdland New York, Snug Harbor New Orleans, Women in Jazz Festival Germany, Reus Jazz Festival Spain, Monterey Jazz Festival, San Francisco Jazz Festival and the Blue Note Clubs in New York, Milan and Japan.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...