Wednesday, June 10, 2015



Vocalist Solitaire Miles has always loved singing swing tunes. Her grandmother, a singer with a big band in the late 1930s, exposed her to the music as a child. Susie Blue and the Lonesome Fellas may be regarded as a surprise by some of Solitaire Miles’ swing fans, but it is a logical step in her evolution.      For her first Western Swing recording, Solitaire used most of the musicians from her regular swing band. “They all did a great job of adapting to this music. Neal Alger, who wrote most of the arrangements, is one of my favorite guitarists in Chicago.  He is a dynamic musician who can play many different styles, working with Patricia Barber during the past 20 years, as has our fine bassist Larry Kohut.  And drummer Phil Gratteau is also a great accompanist for singers.” Three other musicians are new members to Solitaire’s recording group,  pianist Tom Hope adds a perfect 1950s Country feel to the music, sometimes recalling Floyd Cramer.  Slide guitarist TC Furlong, who in 1983 had a major Nashville hit in “The Curly Shuffle” with his Western Swing group “Jump ‘N The Saddle Band,”  blended in  well with the Jazz musicians.  Also, the versatile fiddler Stuart Rosenberg who is known for performing Folk, Argentinian music, Klezmer and Swing, adds an authentic flavor to the group. As for Solitaire Miles, her voice perfectly fits the light-hearted and fun Western Swing songs. “20 years ago Von Freeman suggested that I try singing Country music, now it makes perfect sense.  I have always been a huge fan of Kay Starr who sang not only Jazz during her career but also Western Swing, Country and Pop.”   Throughout this project Solitaire and her musicians are not content to merely recreate the past but are creative within the style, adding to the music's legacy.  While Solitaire can name a long list of influences like Kay Starr or Mary Ford, she does not sound exactly like any of the singers who preceded her, nor do her sidemen sacrifice their own individuality while doing justice to the material.  Instead, they all fully understand the music and are able to add their own voices to the songs while being themselves. ~ Scott Yanow


Up north in Finland, in the land of the hottest Saunas, longest winters and saddest tangos, you can also find one of the coolest and most distinguished saxophonist and composers on the jazz-scene today. Timo Lassy, acclaimed as a "rising star" in US jazz bible Downbeat, hits us with 'Love Bullet', his fifth album and his most accomplished studio work to date. "The entire album is definitely more personal than all my previous work", he says of this sophisticated collection of ten instrumental originals. "It tells a story of the past few colourful years in my life." Having worked with an international all-star cast ranging from the Italian style-master Nicola Conte to US jazz vocalist José James and extending his talents into the art of film-music by composing for the soundtrack of the movie 'Moomins on the Riviera', Lassy created this mysteriously soulful music with his working band in mind, an ensemble that was dubbed "one of Europe's sharpest bands" by the Sunday Times. Their sonic base is in the 1950s/60s hard bop, Soul Jazz and Latin Jazz tradition, but the masterful execution and the progressive vision of all of the players puts the music firmly in the 21st century. Like the films of fellow Finn Aki Kaurismäki, it exudes an energy and a feeling at once markedly timeless, traditional and tirelessly forward-looking. "Quality swinging jazz with a difference!", as Gilles Peterson calls it. ~ Amazon


Led by composer and conductor Ben Cottrell, Beats & Pieces Big Band follow up their critically acclaimed 2012 debut album 'Big Ideas' with the eagerly awaited 'All In'. The music is an expression of the band's members and their varied musical backgrounds and activities, all brought together in Cottrell's inspired writing. They see themselves as a band that happens to be big, rather than your average 'big band'. His compositions reflect the diversity of music that people of their generation have grown up surrounded by, and as such are influenced as much by Michael Jackson, Björk or Radiohead as they are Duke Ellington, Gil Evans or Loose Tubes. Beats & Pieces have performed in Ireland, Germany, France and Norway; received airplay on BBC Radio 2, Radio 3 and 6 Music; and received awards for Best UK Newcomer at the 2013 Jazz FM Awards and Ensemble of the Year at the 2014 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Now 'All In' is set to take their music to an even wider audience. 'All In' was recorded over four days in January 2014 at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in Wiltshire. It was tracked almost entirely live with few overdubs and with the whole band in the same large room, ensuring everyone was in visual contact with everybody else at all times to create as much of an on-stage feel as possible within the studio environment. The resulting visceral energy brings the recording vividly to life. All but one of 'All In's seven tracks were composed and arranged by Ben Cottrell, the exception being a version of David Bowie's Let's Dance, reapproached and rearranged by Ben in his unique voice. He finds hidden subtleties and possibilities in Bowie's classic pop hit. 'All In' is set to be one of the year's standout albums. ~ Amazon

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