Friday, January 30, 2015

Newport Jazz Festival® Adds Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago to 2015 Lineup

Celebrating music made in Chicago and one of the world's premier backup singers, George Wein is pleased to announce the addition of Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago to the lineup of the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival® presented by Natixis Global Asset Management July 31 - August 2. "One of the joys of producing the Newport Jazz Festival since 1954 is the privilege of having been involved with just about every era and style of jazz. One notable example is the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Jack DeJohnette has put together some of his colleagues from this Chicago-born organization, and we're pleased that they will make a stop at this year's festival," said Wein.

With Made in Chicago, Jack DeJohnette celebrates a reunion with old friends. More than 50 years ago, Jack, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and saxophonist/flutist Henry Threadgill were all classmates at Wilson Junior College on Chicago's Southside. Shortly thereafter, Jack joined pianist/clarinetist Muhal Richard Abrams' Experimental Band and his two friends soon followed. When Abrams' co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in 1965, DeJohnette, Mitchell and Threadgill became involved from the outset, presenting concerts and contributing to each other's work under the AACM umbrella. Invited by the Chicago Jazz Festival to present a program of his own choosing, DeJohnette brought his old colleagues, plus bassist Larry Gray, together for a concert at Millennium Park in 2013. A live album was recorded at that concert and was released in January as the AACM begins its 50th anniversary year, making both a powerful contemporary statement and a reminder of the diverse and innovative music introduced by the organization. A frequent performer at the Newport Jazz Festival, Jack DeJohnette featuring Made in Chicago will make its festival debut on Saturday, August 1. For more information on Made in Chicago, visit

The 2015 edition of America's first annual jazz festival will feature Chris Botti, Cassandra Wilson, Jamie Cullum, Snarky Puppy, Maria Schneider, Arturo Sandoval, Kenny Garrett, Billy Childs, Arturo O'Farrill, Fred Hersch, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste, Kneebody, Hiromi, Michel Camilo, Jon Faddis, James Carter, Christian McBride, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern/Bill Evans Band, Ambrose Akinmusire, Tom Harrell, Pat Martino, Matana Roberts, John Hollenbeck and the much-anticipated return of Dr. John, who had to bow out last year due to illness.

Tickets are available now at and locally at the Newport Visitors Center, 23 America's Cup Avenue.

Natixis Global Asset Management (Better Thinking for Modern Markets®) is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival and sponsors programs that help enrich the lives of individuals and preserve the cultural experience for future generations through music. Additional support comes from Alex and Ani, LLC, which offers Eco-friendly, positive energy products that adorn the body, enlighten the mind, and empower the spirit, designed by Carolyn Rafaelian and made in America. Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ed Bradley Family Foundation, North Coast Brewing Co., NPR Music and WBGO Jazz 88.3FM. The Preferred Hotels of the Festival are Hotel Viking, Marriott Newport and The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina. Media supporters are DownBeat and JazzTimes magazines. The Newport Festivals Foundation was founded by George Wein in 2010 to build and continue the legacies of the famed Newport Jazz Festival® and Newport Folk Festival®. Under the auspices of the Foundation, the Newport Jazz Festival presents performers who respect and honor jazz music traditions, and at the same time reflect the changes in today's musical trends. Through the establishment of partnerships with local high schools and colleges/universities, the Foundation will present programs to educate young people about jazz music as presented at the annual festivals. For more information, please visit

Audio Fidelity To Release Jazz Legend Grover Washington, Jr.'s Double-Grammy Award Winning Album “Winelight” on 5.1 Hybrid SACD

Jazz aficionados and high end audio enthusiasts alike are excited about the forthcoming release of jazz legend Grover Washington, Jr.'s “Winelight” album on 5.1 Hybrid SACD from Audio Fidelity in association with ETrain Records. With “Winelight”, Grover Washington, Jr. produced a magical collection of jazz and soul with a touch of pop. He set the standard for the smooth jazz genre - the band is tight, the solos terrific and the arrangements understated and tasteful. The 1980 double-Grammy award winning album was Washington's most successful album and remains one of the smooth jazz masterpieces.

Top to bottom “Winelight” is superb, masterfully recorded and perhaps best-known for the hit “Just the Two of Us” sung by Bill Withers, but it is the five instrumental tracks that find Grover Washington, Jr. (on soprano, alto, and tenor) really stretching out. He was joined by percussionist (and producer) Ralph MacDonald and also the incomparable Steve Gadd (drums) and Eric Gale (guitar).

Grover Washington, Jr., had long been one of the leaders in what could be called rhythm & jazz, essentially R&B-influenced jazz. The music world lost a great musician when the late Grover Washington Jr. passed away in 1999. Fortunately, he left so many classic albums to cherish and “Winelight” is one of those time-honored works that must be included in any worthy music collection.

Let It Flow (For “Dr. J”)
In the Name of Love
Take Me There
Just the Two of Us
Make Me a Memory (Sad Samba)

Album and Surround Sound Remix Produced by Ralph MacDonald
Surround Sound Remix Engineered & Mixed by Elliot Scheiner
Stereo mix mastered for this release by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio

Newport Jazz Festival® Adds Ms. Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton to 2015 Lineup

Celebrating music made in Chicago and one of the world's premier backup singers, George Wein has announced the addition Ms. Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton to the lineup of the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival® presented by Natixis Global Asset Management July 31 - August 2. "One of the joys of producing the Newport Jazz Festival since 1954 is the privilege of having been involved with just about every era and style of jazz.  

Lisa Fischer has made some stellar colleagues and friends over the years. While on tour with the Rolling Stones, Sting, Nine Inch Nails or Chris Botti, with whom she performed at the festival in 2010, her name is not on the marquee; but she says she "loves every minute" of watching her bandmates shine out front. At Newport on Saturday, August 1, she will make her festival debut as a leader, putting her own spin on some of the songs that she loves and has sung with her well-known employers. It's no wonder that she was selected to join many other leading session and backup singers, including Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Judith Hill and Táta Vega, in Morgan Neville's Oscar-winning 2013 documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom. Fischer also has toured and recorded with Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Beyoncé, Dionne Warwick, Dolly Parton, Bobby McFerrin, Alicia Keyes, Lou Reed, Aretha Franklin, John Scofield, George Benson and Laurie Anderson as well as with her long-time employer and mentor, the late Luther Vandross. Although she had not led her own band before Grand Baton, Lisa is remembered and respected for her 1991 Grammy-winning song, How Can I Ease the Pain, from her album "So Intense." 

For more information on Lisa Fischer, visit

The 2015 edition of America's first annual jazz festival will feature Chris Botti, Cassandra Wilson, Jamie Cullum, Snarky Puppy, Maria Schneider, Arturo Sandoval, Kenny Garrett, Billy Childs, Arturo O'Farrill, Fred Hersch, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste, Kneebody, Hiromi, Michel Camilo, Jon Faddis, James Carter, Christian McBride, Bill Frisell, Mike Stern/Bill Evans Band, Ambrose Akinmusire, Tom Harrell, Pat Martino, Matana Roberts, John Hollenbeck and the much-anticipated return of Dr. John, who had to bow out last year due to illness.

Thursday, January 29, 2015



Paris-born, New York City based pianist Jean-Michel Pilc explores this concept in depth on his new solo release, What Is This Thing Called? Under the most optimal conditions, Pilc recorded what amounts to unique themes and variations based on the much-revered Cole Porter chestnut, What Is This Thing Called Love? Instead of creating a tedious exercise in rehashing similar idea after similar idea, the recording presents a tremendous portrait of the vast musical language Pilc has developed over his three decades as a professional jazz musician.  Pilc has established himself as a respected composer, bandleader and sideman, as well as a formidable pianist, highly praised by his peers, and considered a major influence by many of his younger colleagues. His technique and taste have been heralded for many years. Pilc s gifts are strikingly apparent when they are heard in a solo performance. Listeners are lucky to have two previous examples of his solo work available, Follow Me (Dreyfus, 2004) and Essential (Motéma, 2011).  Pilc proposed a new solo release to Sunnyside, and contacted his friend and fellow pianist Dan Tepfer, who had recently released a solo recital that was recorded at Yamaha Artist Services in New York City. Pilc - already a Yamaha artist himself - reached out to Tepfer, who then helped to secure time for Pilc at the studio and the use of a wonderful Yamaha CFX piano for three days, and was in charge of recording and mastering the album. The studio provided a setting removed from distraction, as Pilc was able to come in when he wanted and record on his own. Initially, he recorded all sorts of pieces under no pressure. It was an ideal environment for an improviser. ~ Amazon


The H2 Big Band's latest recording is an exciting collection of originals and old and new standards, arranged by Dave Hanson and performed by an all-star Los Angeles studio band. Fronted by the Denver-based trumpeter Al Hood and pianist Dave Hanson, their featured guest on several numbers is the dynamic vocalist René Marie, along with her compositions, 'I Like You,' 'Autobiography,' and 'Black Lace Freudian Slip. ' This follow-up to the highly acclaimed 'You're It!' is another engaging musical encounter not to be missed! ~ Amazon


Along with label mates Mike Moreno and Adam Rogers, guitarist Lage Lund is one of the most distinctive guitarists on the current scene. His previous three Criss Cross dates have established his credentials as an up and coming talent of great promise. For his latest effort, he brings back to the fold his close associates Ben Street on bass and Bill Stewart on drums, both heard on Lund's previous sets, Foolhardy (CRC 1360) and Unlikely Stories (CRC 1321). The difference this time is that he forgoes the piano accompaniment for a bare bones trio approach that is quite refreshing and a further step forward. The mix includes a few originals and a nicely chosen selection of standards, including the iconic Bobby Hutcherson piece Isn't This My Sound Around Me. ~ Amazon



Another example of Herbie Mann's quest for new playing environments leading him to follow another trend, in this case the disco music coming out of Germany in the mid-to-late seventies. Co-producer and arranger Sylvester Levay had been behind the dance-floor success of Silver Convention, including their big hit, "Fly, Robin, Fly," and was involved with the German electronic and techno genres. On Bird in a Silver Cage, he surrounds Mann with a string ensemble from the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, provides an insistent disco beat, tacks on some inane background vocals and lets the flute master fly over top. This works fine on the title track and on "Birdwalk," a classic of the Mann repertoire of this era, but "Aria" is awful, and "The Piper" is a piece of generic disco in search of John Travolta and the spinning mirror ball. ~ Jim Newsom


Horace Ward Martin Tavares Silva, born September 2, 1928, was an American jazz pianist and composer. Influenced by a wide range of musical styles, notably gospel, African music, and Latin American, Silver also ventured into the soul jazz genre.Silver's big break came in 1950 backing saxophonist Stan Getz at The Sundown Club in Hartford, Connecticut. It was with Getz that Silver made his recording debut, for the 1950 Stan Getz Quartet album. Silver moved to New York City in 1951, where he worked at the jazz club Birdland on Monday nights, when different musicians would come together and informally jam. During that year he met the executives of the Blue Note label while working as a sideman. He eventually signed with them, remaining there until 1980. In New York, he co-founded the Jazz Messengers, a cooperatively-run group with Art Blakey. In 1952 and 1953 Silver recorded three sessions with his own trio, featuring Blakey on drums and Gene Ramey, Curly Russell and Percy Heath on bass. Silver was also a member of the Miles Davis All Stars, recording the Walkin' album in 1954. The album Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers was recorded on November 13, 1954 and issued in 1955. It was regarded as a milestone in the development of hard bop. It featured the mid-tempo blues "Doodlin'" and Silver's first hit "The Preacher". From 1956 onwards, Silver recorded exclusively for Blue Note, eventually becoming close to label boss Alfred Lion, who allowed him greater input on aspects of album production than was usual at the time. During his years with Blue Note, Silver helped to create the rhythmically forceful branch of jazz known as "hard bop", which combined elements of rhythm-and-blues and gospel music with jazz. This 6 CD compilation features all of Horace Silver's recorded output between the years of 1952 and 1962, the first, and many would say most productive and challenging, decade of this masterful composer, performer and musician's career. ~ Amazon


Encore is a companion volume to Résumé, the widely-praised solo album issued in 2011. Eberhard Weber returns once more to the many live recordings of his tenure with the Jan Garbarek Group, isolating his bass solos and reworking them into new pieces with the addition of his own keyboard parts. I became what you might call a composer of New Music, says Weber, with the proviso that I make use of old things. This season s special guest is veteran Dutch flugelhorn player Ack van Rooyen. Van Rooyen, who played on Weber s ECM leader date, The Colours of Chloë more than 40 years ago now adds his own subtle colors to Weber s contemporary sound-montages. The bass solos were recorded between 1990 and 2007, in thirteen European cities, from Edinburgh to Seville, and the music was mixed and edited at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in November 2014. ~ Amazon



Some of best work in years from resurgent soul legend Bettye Lavette – with a wise, gritty edge touched by classic southern soul and rawer, though still quite elegant bluesy influences – and giving a diverse range of material her distinct personal stamp! As wonderful as Bettye's voice is, she's also done a pretty wonderful job in her post millenium years of showing what a strong interpreter of a wide range of songwriters she is. On Worthy, she covers Dylan, Jagger/Richards, Lennon/McCartney and others, and makes each tune her own. She's working again with producer Joe Henry, who helmed the equally excellent I've Got My Own Hell To Raise nearly a decade earlier, and the titles include "Unbelievable", "When I Was A Young Girl", "Bless Us All" "Stop", "Undamned", "Just Between You And Me And The Wall, You're A Fool", "Where A Life Goes", "Step Away", "Wait", "Worthy" and more.  ~ Dusty Groove


Spacious sounds from reedman Mats Gustafsson and drummer Paal Nilssen Love – a record that still has the bursts of intensity you'd expect from Paal, but which also leaves more room for the creative sonic textures that we love so much from Mats! Gustafsson and Nilssen-Love can sometimes come on in this bombastic way – but here, they space things out a bit more – and go for this style that's often quite fast, almost frenetic – yet never totally full-on too, especially with the drums – which often sound like a single drum instead of the whole kit at once – which balances out the saxophone sounds perfectly! Titles include "I Love It", "Come Lie Closer", "Face Make", "Shake Off", and "When You Snore" – and the package also features a bonus 45 "And The Way It Moves Your Splatter (parts 1 & 2)". ~ Dusty Groove


Curtis Fuller was one of the premier trombonists in 1960s and `70s global hard-bop. Before that, however, he was an import from Detroit--a promising musician rising in the New York scene. Recorded in 1957, THE OPENER was Fuller's debut, wherein he was backed by a mix of big names (Paul Chambers from Miles Davis's band, drummer Art Taylor) and fellow up-and-comers like soul pianist Bobby Timmons and saxophonist Hank Mobley. Fuller's fiery, brassy trombone mixes well with the tasty, soft-centered tenor of Hank Mobley and the brisk, earthy swing of Timmons, Chambers, and Taylor. ~ CD Universe

Contemporary jazz saxophonist ShaShaty set to release his sixth album entitled “Brighter Day”

It’s a new dawn for veteran contemporary jazz saxophonist ShaShaty, who will release his sixth album entitled “Brighter Day,” on March 3 on the newly formed A.H.I. Records. His first collection comprised entirely of original songs in more than a decade, the set showcases the artist who had a hand in writing seven of the disc’s eleven songs that were produced by guitarist-vocalist Steve Oliver, writer or co-writer of ten songs for the record. 

The energizing excursion “Dream Ride” bodes to illuminate radio playlists ahead of the album’s street date when the single is serviced to stations for airplay early next month. The video for the single will premiere at Universal CityWalk in Universal City, California where ShaShaty has been a featured performer over the past decade. 

Instead of limiting himself to a singular sax voice, ShaShaty’s dynamic multihued approach places him front and center on the melody-rich jazz, pop and R&B outing playing tenor, alto and soprano sax. Fellow sax player Will Donato bolsters the horn section parts on “Dream Ride” and Spyro Gyra drummer Bonny B dispenses deft beats on four cuts. Taiwanese vocalist Usay Chu makes her U.S. recording debut by gracing a pair of tunes – “Song Of Hope” and “A Million Miles” – with her ethereal wordless vocalizations. Making “Brighter Day” a standout session is the chemistry between ShaShaty and Oliver. 

The hornman’s impassioned and emotive play flourishes in the company of the guitarist who has a masterful command of buoyant harmony. Tracks have a robustly full sound from which potent hooks connect and enveloping melodies leave a lasting impression. The power-packed pop gems that comprise “Brighter Day” also have depth and provide a varied listening experience that audaciously ventures into funky trip hop territory (“Let’s Go!”), explores an off-kilter staccato rhythm (“Late On 91”), mines an Indian motif (“Mumbai”), serves a sublime sax and guitar call-and-response chorus (“August”), romances on amorous overtures (“My Heart Yours” and “I’m Always Near”), takes off on a whimsical flight of fancy (“Brighter Days”) and closes with a blissful meditation (“Float Away”). 

“I haven’t recorded an original project in quite some time. My previous two projects consisted of classics from the past few decades. Those interpretations were part of a period of growth and self- discovery for me musically, especially when reimagining so many beloved works. I found myself in a new, fresh space and realized it was time to reach deep inside to see what would emerge creatively. Steve Oliver and his amazing production work provided the skilled hand to help me realize ‘Brighter Day.’ I’d love for this instrumental pop project to be the vehicle that opens new horizons for many new listeners - even from other genres and cultures - that may not have necessarily been contemporary jazz followers before, but now call themselves fans,” said ShaShaty, who will perform material from “Brighter Day” on Valentine’s Day at Rideau Vineyard in Solvang, California. 

A Miami, Florida native who is a long-time Los Angeles resident, ShaShaty has vast stage experience performing on concert dates and festival bills with the likes of Carlos Santana, The Mavericks, The Bee Gees, Gloria Estefan, Michael McDonald, Peter Cetera, George Benson, Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum, Brian Culbertson and Boney James. In addition to garnering radio spins throughout the U.S., ShaShaty has played on national television on “Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda” and on a PBS special alongside GRAMMY® winner Al Jarreau. ShaShaty, who released his self-titled debut album in 1993, serves as host of “Vineyard Jazz,” a wine and music lifestyle program being developed by A.H.I. Records for syndication.

“Brighter Day” contains the following songs:
“Dream Ride”
“Let’s Go!”
“Song Of Hope”
“Late On 91”
“My Heart Yours”
“A Million Miles”
“I’m Always Near”
“Brighter Days”
“Float Away”

Wednesday, January 28, 2015



Alto saxophonist Jim Snidero brings the sum total of his experiences to the fore on Main Street, including those as a leader as well as a sideman with Frank Wess, The Mingus Big Band, Jack McDuff, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. Here he draws upon a quarter-century of touring experiences for a trip through some of the American experience via a cycle of new compositions and two covers. With bassist Linda Oh, drummer Rudy Royston and Cuban pianist Fabian Almazan, Main Street offers fresh original material, imaginative arrangements, inspired soloing, and cohesive yet spontaneous group interaction. ~ Amazon


Legendary fusion bassist Bunny Brunel has done it again with his newest release Invent Your Future. Featuring Jazz Fusion notables Patric Moraz to Virgil Donati to Patrice Rushen, and many more, Brunel wows us with his virtuoso bass playing, imaginative arrangements, and exciting compositions by both him and Chick Corea. This masterful creator also shares his own spotlight by featuring a song by Jaco Pastorius, as well as other thoughtful yet famous song collaborators. Invent Your Future promises lucky listeners a fantastical, radical ride; and an unbelievable listening experience! Patrice Rushen: Piano, Keyboards, Patrick Moraz: Keyboards, Austin Peralta & Dayramir Gonzales: Piano, Nick Smith & Haakon Graf: Electric Piano, Sandeep Chowta: Keyboards, Bernie Torelli: Rhythm Guitar & Special Created Loops, Tony MacAlpine, Julia Kosterova & Frank Gambale: Guitar, Wahwah Watson: Rhythm Guitars, Kaylene Peoples: Flute, Al Vizzutti: Flugelhorn, Doug Webb: Sax, Alex Perdigon: Trombone, Joel Chausse: Trumpet, Christian Moraga: Percussion, Clayton Cameron, Virgil Donati, Jimmy Branly, Tom Bretchlein, Chad Wackerman & John Wackerman: Drums. ~ Amazon


The New York City based saxophonist Michael Blake has built his reputation by producing albums that "make the familiar sound fresh" (Jim Macnie, Downbeat). That statement couldn't apply better than to Blake's new release, Tiddy Boom, his nod to the magnificent tenor saxophone innovators Coleman Hawkins and Lester Young. Recorded in January 2014, the session sounds like a classic recording date from the 1950s or 1960s.Tiddy Boom reunites Blake with two of his former Jazz Composers Collective colleagues, bassist Ben Allison and pianist Frank Kimbrough, who, along drummer Rudy Royston, provide effortless support for Blake s tenor sax to flow in any direction he chooses on his program of all original compositions. As Blake puts it, "I wrote these tunes with my friends in mind. They are swinging and melodic pieces that revere the type of spirit inherent to jazz that drew me into the music. But what I think gives Tiddy Boom that classic jazz sound is a combination of several things: First and foremost is the passion we all share for this music and the respect we have for the musicians that created it. On top of that is the trust we have in each other, a camaraderie that comes from being on the road together and years of hacking it out in NYC. In that regard we continue to walk in the footprints of the giants. ~ Amazon



American jazz alto saxophonist, flautist and bass clarinetist, Eric Dolphy was also fluent in clarinet, piccolo and baritone saxophone. Born in 1928, he was one of a select few multi instrumentalists to gain huge popularity among jazz enthusiasts in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Although Dolphy's work is sometimes classified as free jazz, his compositions and solos were often rooted in conventional, if highly abstracted, tonal bebop harmony and melodic lines that suggest the influences of modern classical composers Béla Bartók and Igor Stravinsky. After playing in the bands of Chico Hamilton and Charles Mingus and performing on classic albums by Ornette Coleman, Freddie Hubbard and a range of other jazz greats, Dolphy recorded and released his first record as leader in 1960, the much praised Outward Bound, for New Jazz, the first of 12 such records, all of which are collected in their entirety on this 6 CD set. Across a relatively short career, that was tragically ended in 1964 when Eric Dolphy passed away following complications from diabetes, this master musician was a pioneer and is still of course remembered fondly among Jazz fans as one of the finest brass players the genre has produced, and as a versatile and imaginative performer and composer of huge and continuing influence. ~ Amazon

The Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet features Rez Abbasi: steel string,baritone and fretless guitars; Bill Ware: vibraphone; Stephan Crump: acoustic bass and Eric McPherson: drums .Rez Abbasi's career develops in solid steps as does his touring schedule in the US and Europe. DownBeat devoted a 'Letter by the Editor' and excellent reviews to his previous albums. The concept of this new production is simply brilliant as he presents great well known titles in a yet unheard way. The Rez Abbasi Acoustic Quartet re-imagines Jazz-Rock classics from Return To Forever, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, Mahavishnu, Larry Coryell, Pat Martino, Bill Cobham,Tony Williams. Audiences can hear many of these electrified tunes from the 70's played in a modern acoustic setting for the first time. ~ Amazon


Break Stuff is what happens after formal elements have been addressed. Vijay Iyer calls the break a span of time in which to act. Its the basis for breakdowns, breakbeats, and break dancing... it can be the moment when everything comes to life. A number of the pieces here are breakdowns of other Iyer constructions. Some are from a suite premiered at New Yorks Museum of Modern Art, some derive from Open City, a collaboration with novelist Teju Cole and large ensemble. The trio energetically recasts everything it touches. Hood is a tribute to Detroit techno pioneer Robert Hood. On Work, Vijay pays homage to his number one hero, Thelonious Monk. Countdown reconsiders the classic Coltrane tune inside a rhythmic framework inspired by West African music. Mystery Woman is driven by compound pulses which owe a debt to South Indian drumming. Fast moving and quick-witted, the group has developed a strong musical identity of its own, with an emphasis on what Iyer calls co-constructing, exploring all the dynamics of playing together. Yet the three players also get abundant solo space and, in a reflective moment at the albums center, Iyer plays a moving version of Billy Strayhorns Blood Count alone. Break Stuff, recorded in June 2014 at New Yorks Avatar Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher, is the third ECM release from Vijay Iyer. It follows the chamber music recording Mutations and the film-and-music project RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi. Vijay Iyer will tour extensively throughout 2015 both with the Trio and in other configurations. ~Amazon



HighNote welcomes Russell Malone, one of the most gifted guitar players to emerge in recent years, to its roster. Malone seems comfortable in a variety of settings, performing with such diverse artists as Diana Krall, Freddie Cole, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Barron, Roy Hargrove, Cyrus Chestnut and Patti Austin. Malone was also a featured performer in Robert Altman's 1996 film "Kansas City." From his first recordings in 1992 to his HighNote debut Russell Malone has proven himself to be the consummate musician capable of both swinging hard and caressing a ballad like few guitarists today can. ~ Amazon


For the first time, world famous drummer-bandleader Manu Katché (Sting, Peter Gabriel, Jan Garbarek) presents his strongly groove and melody-based compositions on a live album, recorded at the legendary Paris 'New Morning' jazz club. Both as a live and studio musician Manu Katché is regarded one of the greatest drummers of our time. He has worked with pop greats such as Peter Gabriel, Sting and Dire Straights as well as great improvisers such as Jan Garbarek, Jeff Beck and Pino Palladino. Manu Katchè s work as a composer and bandleader is an integral part of his career. He has released seven internationally acclaimed and hugely successful albums as a leader. Manu Katché live At New Morning is the first live recording of Katché s own music ever featuring his long running quartet with Jim Watson (organ
and piano), Luca Aquino (trumpet) and Tore Brunborg (saxophone). ~ Amazon


So long, Eric! For this tribute to Eric Dolphy, Alexander von Schlippenbach and Aki Takase have put together an ensemble with some of the best interpreters of Dolphys music. In addition to pianists Aki Takase and Alexander von Schlippenbach, Han Bennink and Karl Berger, two of Dolphys former collaborators, can be heard on drums and vibraphone. The band is completed by one of the most exciting front lines on the European jazz scene: Rudi Mahall, Nils Wogram, Axel Dörner, Henrik Walsdorff and Tobias Delius. Bold arrangements and visionary playing bring out the exploding expressivity of Dolphys compositions and prove that even 50 years after Dolphys death they sound fresh and relevant. ~ Amazon



The Last Southern Gentlemen is a landmark recording for Delfeayo Marsalis, pairing father Ellis Marsalis, Jr. with son on a collaborative album for the first time. Marsalis' finest outing to date, the superb recording quality and meticulous production showcase his brilliant, classically trained tone as it swings effortlessly through standards and original compositions. The music is relaxed, thoughtful and provocative, acknowledging the love and respect of all people shared by Louis Armstrong and most early jazz entertainers. This sense of humanity and humility is at the center of the Southern lifestyle that birthed the original American music. Built on the intimacy of American ballads and the trombone's expressive mimicry of the human voice, The Last Southern Gentlemen is a firm acknowledgement of the existence and importance of these sweet, gentle sounds. ~ Amazon


With Made In Chicago, an exhilarating live album, Jack DeJohnette celebrates a reunion with old friends. In 1962, DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill were all classmates at Wilson Junior College on Chicago s Southside, pooling energies and enthusiasms in jam sessions. Shortly thereafter Jack joined Muhal Richard Abrams Experimental Band, and Roscoe and Henry soon followed him. When Abrams cofounded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in 1965, DeJohnette, Mitchell and Threadgill were all deeply involved from the outset, presenting concerts and contributing to each other s work under the AACM umbrella. Jack brought them together again for a very special concert at Chicago s Millennium Park in August 2013, completing the group with the addition of bassist/cellist Larry Gray. The concert recording featuring compositions by Roscoe, Henry, Muhal and Jack, plus group improvising - was mixed by Manfred Eicher and Jack DeJohnette at New York s Avatar Studio. Made In Chicago is issued as the AACM begins its 50th anniversary year. ~ Amazon


Legendary alto saxophonist and Charles Mingus alum Charles McPherson teams up with Keith Oxman, Chip Stephens, Ken Walker and Todd Reid for his latest outing, The Journey. The recording features 3 originals by McPherson as well as two originals from Oxman and one from pianist Chip Stephens. The rest of the date has bop infused standards by Richard Rogers, Sammy Cahn and Charlie Parker. McPherson calls the date, "Fruitful and joyous" and the tunes "a great representation of the collective spirit and vitality of this group." ~ Amazon



One of our favorite soul singers on the LA scene of the 60s – served up here in a complete run of his legendary singles for the Minit label! Jimmy Holiday never fully got his due back in the day – partly because he was a successful songwriter who was often working behind the scenes – but he's a hell of a singer with a style that's rooted in the south, but given some hipper, more sophisticated touches on the west coast – with almost the same mix of the rough and the smooth you'd find in the best Minit label recordings by the young Bobby Womack! Jimmy's very much his own man, though – a standout talent that really gets his due here in a mindblowing batch of music. The b-sides are every bit as wonderful as the a-sides – and given Holiday's knowledge of a tune from the ground up, he really has a great way of putting over the lyrics. The package features two duets with female singer Clydie King – "Ready Willing & Able" and "We Got A Good Thing Goin" – plus 24 more tracks that include "I'm In Love With You", "Baby I Love You", "Turning Point", "The Beauty Of A Girl In Love", "Spread Your Love", "Everything Is Love", "Yesterday Died", "A Man Ain't Nothin Without A Woman", "I'm Gonna Move To The City", "In The Eyes Of My Girl", "Everybody Needs Help", "Baby Boy's In Love",a nd "I Wanna Help Hurry My Brothers Home".  ~ Dusty Groove


A sweet set of funky Latin with a great jazzy vibe – hardly the stiff sounds you might expect from the "machine", in the group's name – and instead a very loose, fluid set that almost takes us back to the 70s! Tenorist Bob Mintzer is a big part of the group – and we always love a tenor in a setting like this, as it emphasizes a deeper sound, and takes things away from the more familiar dominance of trumpet and trombone in Latin jazz. The group's got plenty of percussion from the leader, Eliel Lazo – and also features Hammond, guitar, trombone, flute, and more percussion too. Titles include "Late Night Zombie", "Deja Vu", "Tabueno", "A Ver Que Sale", "New Songo", and "Sunny Beach Rumba".  ~ Dusty Groove


The music of Souvenance, by turns graceful, hypnotic, and taut and starkly dramatic, was recorded in 2014 six years after oud-master Anouar Brahem s last ECM album, The Astounding Eyes of Rita. It took a long time to write this music, he acknowledges, noting that his emotional world had been usurped by the unfolding story of political upheaval sweeping first through Tunisia then through the neighboring countries. Extraordinary waves of change, accompanied by great hopes and fears. I don t claim a direct link between my compositions and the events taking place in Tunisia, says Anouar, but I have been deeply affected by them. New directions for the music find Fran ois Couturier returning to the Brahem group, frequently supported by subtle string orchestration. The strings have a glowing transparency and fragility in these pieces, often providing shimmering texture against which the contributions of the quartet members and, above all, Anouar Brahem s unique oud-playing stand out in bold relief. This double album was recorded at the Lugano studio in May 2014, and produced by Manfred Eicher. All music by Anouar Brahem. All arrangements for orchestra by Johannes Berauer, except Nouvelle vague by Tõnu Kõrvits. ~ Amazon


Pure greatness from the second chapter of Jackie Wilson on Brunswick Records – that great stretch when the singer had some mighty fresh backings from the best soul talents Chicago had to offer – which really helped him set loose with a whole new groove! Wilson's vocals have all the dynamic energy of his early soul years, but he also gets an added level of sophistication in the arrangements too – a vibe that's almost Chess/Cadet at its best, handled by arrangers Carl Davis, Willie Henderson, and Sonny Sanders. There's a few ballads that show a more mature, adult side of Wilson – mixed with some soaring, spacious numbers that are mighty nice too – and even the familiar tunes are nicely changed up by the work of the arrangers and the singer. Titles include "You Keep Me Hangin' On", "I Get The Sweetest Feeling", "You Brought About A Change In Me", "Growin Tall", and "Since You Showed Me How To Be Happy". CD features the bonus track "The Who Who Song".  ~ Dusty Groove


Jackie Wilson really takes off here – leading the set with his landmark title track, then moving into a range of tracks that really display his tremendous vocal talents! The setting is a formative one in early soul – not entirely free from pop, but directed by the singer into really rich territory of his own – a blend of R&B roots, more sophisticated soul styles, and some more mainstream orchestrations that helped put Jackie over with a very large audience at the time. There's never been another singer like Wilson – and this album really gets at the core of his early genius – with tracks that include "Lonely Teardrops", "The Joke Is Not On Me", "Each Time I Love You More", "Love Is All", "You Better Know It", "Hush-A-Bye", "We Have Love", and "Someone To Need Me". CD features the bonus track "You Don't Know What It Means".  ~Dusty Groove


One of Jackie Wilson's great little albums recorded on the Chicago scene – part of that key second chapter of his career, when he really started reinventing his sound with the groove of the Windy City! Wilson's working here with help from Chicago studio talents Rich Tufo, Carl Davis, Willie Henderson, and Eugene Record – and Jackie's voice is as sweet as ever, very well suited to the loping soul groove that Record and Davis were forging at Brunswick! Tracks include "The Girl Turned Me On", "Love is Funny That Way", "The Fountain", "You Got Me Walking", and "You Left The Fire Burning". Moves way past the cliches of earlier days, with many interesting applications of Jackie's unique vocals!  ~ Dusty Groove

South Africa's Bala Brothers To Release Self-Titled CD/DVD On Warner Classics In March 2015

The Bala Brothers – Loyiso, Zwai and Phelo – are a household name in South Africa, thrilling audiences with their fusion of operatically-trained voices, rich harmonies and traditional South African melodies and rhythms. Overcoming apartheid, the trio rose out of poverty on the strength of their musical talent and broke the color barrier of the famous Drakensberg Boys' Choir, becoming its first black members. For their self-titled debut album on Warner Classics, the Brothers perform an inspiring live program of music ranging from The Lion King to Paul Simon (with special guests The Drakensberg Boys' Choir), in their hometown Johannesburg's Lyric Theatre. 

Bala Brothers will be released on CD and for download on March 3, 2015, with the DVD and Blu-Ray following on March 24. The program will be part of a national PBS special beginning on February 28.

Songs on the album include the anthemic 'Circle of Life' from Elton John's score for The Lion King, the Paul Simon hit 'Under African Skies,' from his seminal album Graceland, their own Xhosa-language love song 'Masibuyelane,' and the album's centerpiece: the anti-apartheid anthem '(Something Inside) So Strong,' a performance made all the more powerful by the presence of Winnie Mandela in the audience.

The Bala Brothers were born in the Kwa-Nobuhle township under the rule of apartheid. In 1988, eldest brother Zwai became the first black member to join the then-segregated Drakensberg Boys' Choir at the age of 12. Overcoming the resistance of many of the white children and their parents, he persevered, and later on the choir also welcomed his brothers, Loyiso and Phelo. Ultimately the three gained acceptance through their strength of character and singing talents, and their careers grew from there to the point where the Bala Brothers thrilled an audience of 55,000 when they headlined a spectacular concert tribute to Nelson Mandela in December 2013.

The Bala Brothers will tour the U.S. in May 2015.

1. CIRCLE OF LIFE (Elton John, Tim Rice)        
2. WEEPING (Dan Heymann)                                                  
3. GOING HOME (traditional, arr. Michael Whalen)
4. HE LIVES IN YOU (Lebohang Morake, Jay Rifkin, Mark Mancina)
6. MASIBUYELANE (Loyiso & Zwai Bala)           
7. NDIZE (Mavo Solomon, Zwai Bala)                              
9. THE CROSSING (Johnny Clegg)                    
10. GIRL WITHOUT A NAME (Loyiso Bala)     
11. AND SO IT GOES (Billy Joel)                       
12. PATA PATA (Jerry Ragovoy, Miriam Makeba)                       
13. MEGURU (traditional, arr. Michael Whalen)

DVD EXTRAS: YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE (R. Rodgers and O. Hammerstein II) and MARIA (L. Bernstein / S. Sondheim)   |   |

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Harold Mabern Assembles All Star Lineup for Afro Blue - Album Features Special Guests Gregory Porter, Norah Jones, Jane Monheit, Kurt Elling, Alexis Cole, Among Others

With Afro Blue, his second album for Smoke Sessions Records, Harold Mabern has taken a compelling new angle on his exceptionally creative musical vision. But for those who are truly familiar with this extraordinary pianist's talents, it is a project that is long overdue. While he may be best known for his powerful playing while soloing or driving so many of jazz' finest hornmen to spectacular heights of fire and thunder, Mabern has enjoyed a reputation among vocalists as one of the music's most sensitive and stimulating accompanists for more than 50 years - ever since his early days playing with the unparalleled Betty Carter.

On this album, Mabern has selected five of his favorite vocalists -- who also just happen to be some of the most popular and respected singers on today's scene -- and is featuring them as special guests in the company of his own outstanding ensemble. Gregory Porter, Norah Jones, Jane Monheit, Kurt Elling and Alexis Cole perform individually alongside Mabern's regular ensemble of Eric Alexander on tenor sax and the bass/drums tandem of John Webber and Joe Farnsworth; plus additional guests, trombonist Steve Turre and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt on four and six tracks respectively. Eminent guitarist Peter Bernstein is featured on one track as well.

"I love to play for singers," explains the pianist. "I feel honored and flattered that these wonderful vocalists would want to be part of my little project. I feel good when singers say they love the way you play. That's a very special compliment."

Despite the wide variety of personnel, the album is fully cohesive and artfully conceived, with Mabern's soulful, blues-rooted style of piano expression as its radiant nucleus. The repertoire of 14 pieces is a fascinating assemblage of standards, jazz classics, Mabern originals and a couple of unexpected contemporary hit songs - all performed in captivating fashion and constructed upon marvelous arrangements. Of the four Mabern originals, three are dedications to jazz immortals.

The album opens and closes with two of the homages - both instrumentals. "The Chief" (for John Coltrane) is for quintet, appropriately modal and fiery; and the trio piece "Bobby, Benny, Jymie, Lee, Bu" closes with a tribute to that edition of Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the funky hard bop flavor those five giants brought to their classic version of Bobby Timmons' "Moanin'". The trio is also featured on a sizzling rendition of John 'Moz' Farnsworth's "Mozzin'" fired up by his brother's drumming. The other instrumental, Steely Dan's biggest hit "Do It Again," is a feature for Bernstein's guitar wizardry. A third Mabern original, "Such Is Life," features Alexis Cole deftly handling Mabern's lyrics and infectious melody, with the three horns providing a backdrop somewhere between calypso and highlife.

Gregory Porter is featured on two pieces, a vividly smoking take on the Mongo Santamaria/Oscar Brown Jr. title cut, with Mabern stoking in classic Afro-Cuban piano mode; and in a delightful easy groove on the fourth Mabern original "The Man from Hyde Park" - a dedication to Herbie Hancock. Norah Jones brings her highly personal style to Bloom & Mercer's "Fools Rush In," smoothly swinging over Blakey-ish horns; and in an enchanting, intimate duet with Mabern on Gordon Parks' lovely "Don't Misunderstand." Jane Monheit is buoyantly spirited on Oakland & Hammerstein's "I'll Take Romance," and mesmerizing on Wood & Mellin's gorgeous "My One and Only Love." Bird's bop icon "Billie's Bounce" is a rip-roaring sojourn in scat by the remarkable Kurt Elling, while the acclaimed vocalist aptly demonstrates his ballad mastery with a most poignant take on Robinson & Burdge's exquisite "Portrait of Jennie." A fortunate serendipity on the Anne Murray mega-hit, Randy Goodrum's "You Needed Me" - which was slated to be an instrumental feature for Alexander's robust tenor - caused Mabern to call an audible when he heard Elling sing the first few words as he was about to depart the studio. The deeply moving results show how magic can be born by chance.

Mabern is unequivocally enthusiastic about this new album: "Wow! I can't believe we pulled all of it off. Everybody involved did a ten-star job. Simply beautiful!"

Dazzling vocal artistry, impeccable musicianship, imaginative soloing, and that elusive substance of true synergy focused by the singular vision of a brilliant artist make Afro Blue a truly special experience. For Harold Mabern, whose enormous accomplishments as a leader are sometimes eclipsed by his reputation for helping so many Jazz heavyweights realize their own musical visions, Afro Blue is further testimony to his own legend.

Harold Mabern · Afro Blue
Smoke Sessions Records  ·  Release Date: April 14, 2015


After winning his ninth Grammy in 2014 and being honored by President Obama with the National Medal of Arts in 2013, “trumpet legend” (Wall Street Journal) Herb Alpert’s new album entitled ‘In The Mood’, sees Alpert playing a diverse array of standards and originals. Accompanying the album release is an extensive American tour and spring concerts in Tokyo, Japan, with his wife, Grammy® Award–winning singer Lani Hall.

Lani Hall rose to fame in 1966 as the lead singer of Sergio Mendes’ group, Brasil ’66. Brasil ’66 was signed to A&M Records by the co–founder of the label (and Lani’s future husband), Herb Alpert. Lani has the distinction of recording more than 22 albums in three different languages, four alongside her husband, and in 1983, she sang the title song for the James Bond film, Never Say Never Again. In 1986 Hall earned her first Grammy Award for Best Latin Pop Performance for her album, Es Facil Amar. Born in Chicago, Lani also started writing at a young age and Emotional Memoirs & Short Stories is her first book. The intensely personal narrative is an intimate collection of short stories that features fiction and non–fiction from Lani’s personal history.

“The festive sound of Herb Alpert’s trumpet is instantly recognizable and always welcome” wrote Stephen Holden in The New York Times about the Alperts sold out performances at the Café Carlyle. This return engagement at the Carlyle presents 12 concerts, five nights a week with two shows on Saturday nights from March 10 — 21st with Herb and Lani and their accomplished band of three musicians that have been together for 8 years . “We have such a good time playing at the Carlyle, Lani and I look forward to our return engagement and to perform our new songs in the program” says Herb Alpert.

When talking about his recent success, Alpert remains humble. “Making music is a natural thing for me to do,” he says. “I love melodies from standards and I try to present them in a different way that hasn’t been heard before.” ‘In The Mood’ is a pop jazz album which opens with Glen Miller’s classic, Chatanooga Choo Choo, and closes with ‘America The Beautiful,’ where Alpert employs percussion from all seven continents to “reflect the melting pot” of the United States.

“Few people can claim to be a Renaissance man in this complex age, but Herb Alpert might be one of them,” says The New York Times. And few can rival Alpert’s staggering resume: as a solo artist and as the leader of the Tijuana Brass, he has sold over 72 million records, and placed 28 albums in the Billboard 200, including five #1s. He has scored 14 platinum and 15 gold albums, and is the only artist ever to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 as both a vocalist and instrumentalist. At one point Alpert and the Tijuana Brass simultaneously had four albums in the Top 10.

Aside from his impressive career as a musician, he and his partner, Jerry Moss, founded A&M Records, which was the largest independent record company in the world, and in 2006 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. An acclaimed painter and sculptor with work in the permanent collection at MOCA in Los Angeles, with gallery shows and public art that has been shown around the US and Europe. Alpert is also a Tony Award–winning producer (‘Angels in America’), and a philanthropist who has donated over $130 million towards arts education through his Herb Alpert Foundation.

‘In The Mood’ Tour Dates:
March 10–14 — New York, NY @ Cafe Carlyle (2 shows on 14th)
March 17–21 — New York, NY @ Cafe Carlyle (2 shows on 21st)
March 25 — Englewood, NJ @ Bergen Performing Arts Center
March 26 — Morristown, NJ @ Mayo Performing Arts Center
March 27 — Wilmington, DE @ The Grand Opera House
March 28 — Rockville, MD @ The Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center
Match 29 — Lancaster, PA @ American Music Theater
April 17–20 — Tokyo, Japan @ Blue Note
May 7 — Solano Beach (San Diego), CA @ Belly Up Tavern
May 8 — Ventura, CA @ Ventura Music Festival Ventura High School Auditorium
May 9 — Carmel, CA @ Sunset Center
June 4–6 — Costa Mesa, CA @ Segerstrom Center for the Arts/ Pacific Symphony

Oct 2 — Rochester, MN @ Mayo Civic Presentation Hall


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