Friday, June 30, 2017



The Elements originally released in 1973 on Milestone arrived during a time of discovery for Joe Henderson, a time to set aside the post-bop instrumentation and repertoire he was identified with and branch out into other realms. What transpired is in a league all its own. Present in the four-part improvisation that makes up the album, "Fire", "Air", "Water" and "Earth" are elements of spiritual jazz-fusion and beyond - celestial, cosmic, and trance-inducing in nature. Alice Coltrane’s contributions on harp and piano set the tone as she weaves sublime chordal textures through the layers of improvisation.  Assisting Henderson and Coltrane were a group of sympathetic explorers-- violin original Michael White, bass giant Charlie Haden, and the multifaceted percussionist Kenneth Nash. Latin American, Indian, and Native American strains enter the mix as Henderson applies the heat and mercurial invention of his more conventional work to these open-ended settings. While the music is enhanced with overdubbing in spots, the true magic of The Elements emanates from the musicians' collective genius at listening and responding to each other – a gift of extreme magnitude.  


Harlem Bush Music – Uhuru remains extremely relevant. Though the album came at a time when Black Consciousness and Black Pride were coming to the forefront of American culture, current times are such that its message of struggle, love and hope transcends racial categories. That is both a great testament to the power of this music, as well as to the dawning fact in this country that we're all in this together," said All About Jazz.  Joined by the inimitable Andy Bey on vocals, Juini Booth and Ron Carter on bass, Harold White on drums, and Nat Bettis on percussion, Bartz turns in a set of politically relevant, hard-grooving, funky, searching and essential soul-jazz. The centerpiece of the album is the righteously grooving, original seven-minute version of “Celestial Blues” featuring the incredible vocals of John Coltrane’s  favorite vocalist, Andy Bey. 


A fantastic program of live recordings – all captured at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago – as part of their 50th Anniversary tribute to the AACM! Roscoe Mitchell works here in a very unusual format – with four different trios, each heard separately – then grouped together in different ways on larger recordings that feature all members in varied formation! The trios feature James Fei on reeds and electronics with William Winant on percussion and vibes; Hugh Ragin on trumpet withTyshawn Sorey on trombone, piano, and percussion; Craig Taborn on piano, organ, and electronics with Kikanju Baku on drums and percussion; and Jribu Shahid on bass and percussion with Tani Tabball on drums and percussion. Mitchell plays a range of reeds and percussion – and some of the percussion used is from the collection of various Art Ensemble Members, being exhibited by the museum. The performances are great – and not only is Mitchell still at the height of his improvisational powers, but he's also got the other musicians working in a spirit that really lives up to the tradition of the AACM!  ~ Dusty Groove



That's reedman Hadley Caliman on the front cover – looking mighty righteous, and really setting the vibe for the music on the collection – a far-reaching, deeply-soulful batch of tracks from the Mainstream Records label in the early 70s! Mainstream's maybe not as well-remembered as a spiritual jazz outlet as other imprints from the time – like Impulse or Strata East – but this set more than corrects that fact, by showing off some of the hippest, most unbridled cuts on the imprint – work that's different than some of the straighter jazz or more funk-based tracks the label also issued at the time. The presentation makes us give an even greater nod to producer and label owner Bob Shad than before – and you may well do the same, after hearing gems like "In The Back In The Corner In The Dark" by Harold Land, "Cigar Eddie" by Hadley Caliman, "Inner Peace" by Buddy Terry, "Iron Jaws" by Charles Williams, "Requiem For Dusty" by Frank Foster, "Mebakush" by Pete Yellin, "Senyah" by Roy Haynes, "BC" by Dave Hubbard, "Love Song" by Sonny Red, "Libra's Longing" by Lamont Johnson, and "Infinity" by Shelly Manne.  ~ Dusty Groove


Mellow fusion, jazzy soul, and lots of warm 70s pop currents – all coming together in a great third installment of this wonderful series! The collection goes way past the familiar "yachtpop" material you might expect from the title – less top 40 AOR than the kind of more obscure album cuts that folks on the scene have really been digging up in recent years – often music issued on bigger labels, but which never fully got its due at the time – even though endless studio genius went into the creation of the tracks! Titles include "I Love You" by Weldon Irvine, "Is It You" by Lee Ritenour, "Don't Let Me Fall" by Bob Welch, "Inside You" by Cornelius Bumpus, "Quand Tu Te Laisse Aller" by Dwight Druick, "I Believe In Miracles" by Mark Capanni, "Do The Bossa Nova" by Vapour Trails, "Silky" by David Gates, "Whachersign (ext version)" by Pratt & McClain, "Special Delivery" by Billy Mernit, "Where Did You Come From" by Larry Carlton, and "Cool Breeze" by Jeremy Spencer Band.  ~ Dusty Groove


A mighty meeting of two modern alto giants – a set cut under the leadership of Lee Konitz, but which also features some great work from Art Pepper too! Both Pepper and Konitz were two of the most distinctive players to emerge in the 50s – both in the generation after Charlie Parker first set the horn on fire with his bebop creations – but both very individual, distinct players who took the music in fresh new directions. That distinctness really comes through here – as both Lee and Art blow together wonderfully, crossing lines and taking off on solos with a gentle swing that comes from the support of Michael Lang on piano, Bob Magnsusson on bass, and John Dentz on drums. Most tracks are very alto-heavy – in a great way – and the session was originally only ever issued in Japan, as part of the Atlas Records "West Coast Today" series. Titles include "Minor Blues In F", "Whims Of Chambers", "The Shadow Of Your Smile", and "This Can't Be Love". CD features two bonus alternate takes, too!  ~ Dusty Groove

Summer of '96 (Lonnee Stevens and Antman Wonder) Recalls Jazz and Classic Soul Influences of Golden Era of Hip-Hop

1996 was a watershed year for hip-hop. Considered by some to mark the end of the music's Golden Age, '96 saw the release of numerous albums that would go on to be considered landmarks in the genre: Nas' It Was Written, The Fugees' The Score, A Tribe Called Quest's Beats, Rhymes and Life, OutKast's ATLiens, and The Roots' Illadelph Halflife. Jay Z made his now classic debut with Reasonable Doubt, while 2Pac took his final bow with All Eyez on Me prior to his death that September. That summer marked the culmination of hip-hop's maturity, a period when groundbreaking artists deftly melded rap, jazz and classic soul into a singular sound that would remain influential for decades to come.

The summer of 1996 was also a turning point for singer/rapper/producer Lonnee Stevens and composer/producer Antman Wonder. Not only did the remarkable music of the time point them in the direction of their future careers, but it was the moment when both men took their first steps in the transition from avid fans to creators. Joining forces for the first time as Summer of '96, Stevens and Antman draw inspiration from the individuality and innovation of that foundational year to discover new pathways into the juncture of hip-hop, jazz and R&B on their debut album, Splendid Things Gone Awry, available July 21 via Unsociable Music/RED.

"1996 was the coming of age for music for my generation," says Stevens, citing particularly hip-hop's unparalleled flowering but also an impressive year for inventive rock music: Sublime's self-titled debut, DJ Shadow's Endtroducing..., Beck's Odelay, and countless others. "Everything sounded so new, just as we were coming of age as creative people."

Although the fusion of jazz and hip-hop reached a pinnacle in the mid-'90s, the two musics had been intertwined since hip-hop's beginnings. The always forward-looking Herbie Hancock was one of the earliest pioneers, pointing the way to the future with his 1983 smash hit "Rockit." As Antman puts it, "One begat the other. Jazz influenced hip-hop majorly, especially in the Golden Era. Hip-hop introduced me to Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and [producer] David Axelrod through the music that was sampled when I was growing up by people like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Just Blaze."

Hancock's former boss, Miles Davis, was of course at the forefront as well, collaborating with producer Easy Mo Bee for his final album, Doo-Bop. Hip-hop producers sampled jazz grooves and melodies from the beginning, including Gang Starr's "Words I Manifest," which sampled Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia," and UK-based Us3's ubiquitous 1993 hit "Cantaloop," built on the infectious hook from Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island." Central to the Summer of '96 idea are the efforts of the Native Tongues collective, a loose-knit group of hip-hop pioneers that included A Tribe Called Quest, the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul (who released their direction-changing fourth album, Stakes Is High, that year).

Flash forward to today, when those artists' innovations paved the way for a new generation of jazz/hip-hop fusion. Artists like Flying Lotus, Thundercat and Kamasi Washington are redefining the marriage of the two musics (among other influences) while leading rappers like Kendrick Lamar are finding new ways to draw upon jazz approaches.

Enter Summer of '96, who don't so much channel the music of their namesake year as they continue in its spirit of reinvention and individuality. Splendid Things Gone Awry is a rarity in the streaming age, a true album with a central mood and an experimental spirit. The duo built the album via a long-distance collaboration between California native Stevens' Atlanta digs and Antman's Philly base. The music is entirely original, using live instrumentation and no samples, with compositions created and played by Antman and restructured and adde onto by Stevens.

"Today everything is synthesized," Stevens says, "but back then everything was sampled, and it was sampled from soul and jazz records. When we got together we decided we wanted to make a record that sounds classic but using all original stuff."

The album's moodiness stems from a recent break-up that Stevens had gone through, leading him to a darker but richer sound. The album's title captures the feeling -- things have gone wrong, but those things were beautiful to begin with, and retain that sense even in their ruined state.

A harpsichord melody initiates the cinematic feel of opener "Stacey Dash," which uses the Clueless star and Fox News commentator as an icon for a certain type of woman that Stevens defines as "almost perfect until you get to know them, and then they have such bad attitudes." Typical of the duo's instinct-trusting method, the track eschews drums for a more free-floating, amorphous atmosphere.

The blissful "Mahogany Blue" is a tribute to the azure-colored guitar of Detroit singer-songwriter Mayaeni and features vocal contributions from soul singer Teedra Moses. The swirling "All That Jazz" is the first of several instrumental interludes showcasing Antman's frantic, eclectic jazz style. "When I first heard Antman, he was already heavy in his calling as a hip-hop producer, but really he was playing jazz, especially with the way he was improvising," Stevens says. "I don't know that he saw it as jazz at the time, but he could play his ass off." Further examples arrive via the '70s funk-soul vibe of "Phyllis Hyman" and the sweeping Stevie-cinema of the Songs in the Key of Life-reminiscent "Wondersong."

"Good Man," with its "you don't know what you lost" message, was one of a few tracks begun by Stevens, who laid a more structured foundation as opposed to Antman's more improvisational approach. The confessional "At All" is a pure Stevens production, while "You In My Mind" was composed and titled by Antman with the female R&B trio KING in mind. Featuring a guest verse by Detroit rapper Royce da 5'9", "Not a Rich Man" is a classic debate between commerce and integrity, while the title track, featuring a sax solo by Bill Kahler, closes the album with a last-call jazz club feel.

The hallucinatory "Black Zombies" is a lament for the increasing prevalence of "lean," the sweet but codeine-heavy cough syrup-based drink. "The last generation was more drug dealers," Antman says, "and this generation is more drug addicts. We're not so much throwing shots or judging; it's just an observation. We all have our vices, but that's becoming part of our culture now and that's dangerous." Case in point: the three Ws of "Whiskey, Weed, Women," a particularly self-explanatory track.

Perhaps the simplest way to explain this record is this: If Phyllis Hyman and the great Thelonious Monk had a love child, and that child grew up with Kendrick Lamar as the babysitter, you'd probably get this album.

About Antman Wonder
Philadelphia-based composer/producer Antman Wonder built a reputation on classic-sounding but sample-free productions, drawing on the influence of eclectic innovators like Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Isaac Hayes. He's worked with one of his major influences, Gang Starr co-founder DJ Premier, as well as well-known artists including Tyga, Pusha T, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$. Antman also recently contributed to Meek Mill's new single "Slay," featuring A$AP Ferg.

About Lonnee Stevens
Lonnee Stevens is a Grammy® Award-winner and six-time nominee who has worked with Alicia Keys, Trombone Shorty, Lauryn Hill, Talib Kweli, India.Arie and his godfather, Motown legend Smokey Robinson (some of his credits come under another alias). Stevens (born Alonzo Stevenson) is the son of William "Mickey" Stevenson, songwriter/producer and original head of A&R for Motown, and singer Melanie Burke, and is the grandson of R&B legend Solomon Burke.


Prince is universally regarded as one of the most prolific and creative musicians in the world. While fans know that Prince was inspired in part by his father, the late jazz musician and composer John L. Nelson, few have heard the elder Nelson’s music—until now. In honor of his 101st birthday, June 29th, Sharon Nelson, Prince’s oldest sister, is releasing a single of his original instrumental composition “Heart of Mine,” recorded by an all-star jazz collective dubbed The John L. Nelson Project. The classic jazz tune, which features a warm horn melody over a bossa nova groove, is available on all digital platforms, including iTunes and Amazon. The track is featured on the upcoming full-length release of Nelson compositions titled Don't Play With Love, due October 27, 2017.

Surprisingly, this marks the first studio recording of any music written solely by John L. Nelson, who died in August 2001 at age 85. Conceived and produced by his oldest daughter, Sharon Nelson, and recorded in January 2017, the project also marks the first studio recordings made at the world-renowned Paisley Park complex in Chanhassen, Minn., since the untimely passing of Prince on April 21, 2016.

During his lifetime, Prince acknowledged his father’s influence on his life as a musician, and admiration for his musical vision. “Our personalities are a lot alike, but his music is like nothing I’ve ever heard before,” Prince told Ebony in 1986. “It’s more complex. A lot of beautiful melodies are hidden beneath the complexity.” Prince also shared credit with his father for several songs, including tracks from Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, Parade, and the Batman soundtrack.

Sharon Nelson has wanted her father’s music recorded ever since she found a stash of his original handwritten charts back in 1978. “Our dad was a loving, caring, hardworking father and a prolific jazz musician most notably known as the father of the musical genius, our brother Prince,” says Sharon. “Our dad wrote and composed many songs, but they were never recorded until now. He was Prince’s musical inspiration, and this project is very special because it was recorded in Paisley Park.”

The recording features top-notch jazz veterans and notable contemporary players, whose stellar execution will inspire renewed appreciation for the bebop genre and shed new light on the creative originality of Nelson, who performed in the ‘40s and ‘50s under the stage name of Prince Rogers. The John L. Nelson Project band features veteran drummer Louis Hayes, pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Dezron Douglas, saxophonist Vincent Herring, and trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. In a promo video for the new project, pianist Germanson notes that Nelson, who wrote and performed primarily on piano, created a sound of his own: “The music is very unique, it kind of moves in unexpected directions. I’ve never played anything quite like it. This music is the truth, it’s honest, and it’s real.”

L. Londell McMillan, the prominent entertainment attorney represented Prince as his manager for more than a decade, notes, “For years, I’ve known and had a profound respect for Sharon Nelson. Her work producing the John L. Nelson Project is extraordinary and now part of music history. Prince was inspired by his father’s musical talents and his eldest sister has produced some amazing musicians to now release a great body of work written by Mr. Nelson and recorded at Paisley Park. This is a blessing!”

Co-executive producer Charles E. Spicer Jr. calls the project “historic” and “monumental,” and adds that he was proud to contribute to the recording. “The John L. Nelson Project defines the prolific talents of a musician who never got his big break, and showcases the songwriting talents that were always a major influence and a catalyst to his son Prince’s musical genius,” says Spicer. “Now, Sharon L. Nelson, John’s oldest daughter, has orchestrated and produced her father’s music for all to hear, by way of the spiritual guidance of her dad and as well as her brother Prince. This jazz album is the epitome of African-American classical music, and I believe it will spark a new resurgence and appreciation for the genre worldwide.”

“Heart of Mine” is the first taste of the unsung talents of John L. Rogers, who made a distinctive contribution to America’s only indigenous musical art form, jazz—a form that still sounds fresh and inventive thanks to skilled players. Rogers’ music also creates a bridge to understanding the musical wellspring that informed the legacy of Prince.

About The John L. Nelson Project
The project was recorded at Paisley Park in January of 2017and was conceived and produced by Sharon Nelson, the eldest sibling of Prince. The single is available on all digital outlets and the album will be released worldwide on October 27, 2017. The musicians who came together to record the music of John L. Nelson represent a who’s who of jazz notables. These include:

Louis Hayes, drums: The original drummer for the late saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Hayes currently leads the Cannonball Legacy Band. The veteran musician has played sessions with Oscar Peterson, Grant Green, and Curtis Fuller; led or co-led groups with such jazz notables as Freddie Hubbard, Kenny Barron, Junior Cooke, Woody Shaw and Dexter Gordon; and played and recorded with such jazz greats as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, J.J. Johnson, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Wes Montgomery, Joe Henderson, Cedar Walton, and George Benson among many others. He has many recordings as a leader.

Rick Germanson, piano: Also a member of the Cannonball Legacy Band, Germanson has performed with Elvin Jones’s Jazz Machine, Regina Carter, Tom Harrell, Slide Hampton, Frank Morgan, Eric Alexander, Frank Lacy, Marlena Shaw, Donald Harrison, Brian Lynch, Jim Rotondi, Charles McPherson, Charles Davis, Craig Handy, Cecil Payne, and the George Gee Orchestra. He has also released three solo albums.

Dezron Douglas, bass: One of a new generation of talented young sidemen and session players in jazz, Douglas studied at the Jackie McLean Institute of African American Music at the Hartt School of Music, and in college co-founded the New Jazz Workshop of Hartford (Conn.). He is a member of Louis Hayes Jazz Communicators, Ravi Coltrane Quartet, Papo Vazquez Mighty Pirates, and The Cyrus Chestnut Trio, among other associations, and has recorded four albums as a leader.

Vincent Herring, soprano saxophone/flute: Since first touring with Lionel Hampton’s big band, Herring has worked with Nat Adderley, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, the Horace Silver Quintet, Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition, Larry Coryell, Cedar Walton, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, the Mingus Big Band, Nancy Wilson, the Roy Hargrove Big Band, Arthur Taylor, Billy Taylor, Carla Bley, and the Phil Woods Sax Machine. He has appeared as a guest soloist with Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center as well as with John Faddis and The Carnegie Hall Big Band, and also appears with Louis Hayes in the Cannonball Legacy Band.

Jeremy Pelt, trumpet: Respected traditional and contemporary player Pelt has worked with Bobby “Blue” Bland, Ravi Coltrane, Frank Foster, Winard Harper, Jimmy Heath, Vincent Herring, John Hicks, Charli Persip, Ralph Peterson, Lonnie Plaxico, Bobby Short, Cedar Walton, Frank Wess, Nancy Wilson and The Skatalites, to name a few. Pelt has numerous albums as a leader.

Steve Winwood to Release 'Greatest Hits Live' - His First Album in Nearly a Decade

Singer, songwriter, legendary vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist, mandolin player, producer, Grammy winner and BMI Icon Steve Winwood will release 'Winwood: Greatest Hits Live,' his first-ever live album as a solo artist on Friday, September 1 via Wincraft Records with distribution through Thirty Tigers. It will be available as a 2CD/4LP collection; the vinyl set includes one digital download card.

Listen to "Can't Find My Way Home" here:

The material on 'Winwood: Greatest Hits Live' is a collection of songs sourced from Winwood's personal archives of live performances. With a 23-song tracklist handpicked by Winwood, featuring his best loved songs, 'Greatest Hits Live' offers fans a definitive musical portrait of his five-decade career.

"I'm excited about the release because I have recorded every show for many years and so it evoked many memories of the performances and reactions from the fans over the years who have supported me," says Winwood. "I suppose it is sort of a tribute to the band members and crew I've been fortunate to have with me on the road. The songs were chosen for being the ones most recognized throughout my career which have left an impression and so I hope the record will be a souvenir that brings to mind happy memories of a good time experienced at one of my shows."

The expanded 2CD/4LP gatefold package features rare, previously unreleased material touching on all aspects of Winwood's extensive catalog, including contemporary arrangements of the music he created with the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, and on his classic solo recordings. The collection channels R&B, Jazz, Funk, Folk, Classic Rock, Pop, and Afro-Caribbean & Brazilian rhythms, highlighting Winwood's unique ability to fuse multiple genres into a singular, cohesive musical expression. The record not only demonstrates Steve's mastery of the Hammond B3 Organ, but also showcases his remarkable guitar skills.

Featured songs include "Gimme Some Lovin'", "Back In The High Life Again", "Can't Find My Way Home", "Arc Of A Diver", "Higher Love", "Roll With It", "While You See A Chance", "Dear Mr. Fantasy", and "The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys", among many others.

For more than five decades and over 50 million records sold since he burst into prominence at the age of 15 with the Spencer Davis Group, Steve Winwood has remained a primary figure in Rock 'n' Roll, a respected innovator who has helped to create some of the genre's most celebrated achievements. His skills as a composer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist have developed an impressive catalog of popular music.

Winwood, named one of the 'Greatest Singers Of All Time' by Rolling Stone Magazine, is a recipient of the Ivor Novello Outstanding Song Collection, the BMI Icon Award, the Musicians Union Classic Rock Award, the Nashville Symphony Harmony Award and has been nominated for 11 Grammys, winning two. Steve has received Honorary Doctorate degrees in Music from Berklee College of Music, Aston University in Birmingham, England; and from The University of Gloucestershire. In 2004, Traffic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the following year, he was honored for his "enduring influence on generations of music makers" by BMI. In 2002, he had the distinct honor of performing at The Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II

at Buckingham Palace, a concert marking her 50 years as queen; he also performed for President Obama at the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C. On June 5th 2014, he was inducted into the Walk of Fame in Nashville, TN.

Steve Winwood forges ahead undaunted, continuing to create and perform new and exciting material. He remains one of the most important and influential artists in all of popular music.
'Greatest Hits Live' - full tracklist:

1. I'm A Man
2. Them Changes
3. Fly
4. Can't Find My Way Home
5. Had To Cry Today
6. Low Spark of High Heeled Boys
7. Empty Pages
8. Back In The High Life Again
9. Higher Love
10. Dear Mr Fantasy
11. Gimme Some Lovin'

1. Rainmaker
2. Pearly Queen
3. Glad
4. Why Can't We Live Together
5. 40,000 Headmen
6. Walking In The Wind
7. Medicated Goo
8. John Barleycorn
9. While You See A Chance
10 Arc Of A Diver
11 Freedom Overspill
12 Roll With It


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Imagination feat Leee John are back with new album ‘Retropia’

Over the past three decades multi award winning British soul group Imagination released so many wonderful classic hits such as Body Talk, Just An illusion, Flashback, Music and Lights and Changes which helped secure Imagination s power and dominance over the charts in the 1980's with their genre defying music not only in the UK but across the world with sales in excess of over 30 million albums thus Imagination presented perfect Brit Jazz/Funk songs and establishing their position as essential 80's crossover soul-dance hit-makers and influencers for future generations of pop stars.

Even today the story of Imagination s music continues in the form of a long list of samples, remixes and adaptations by major contemporary stars. Destiny's Child (complete with Beyoncé) sampled Just An illusion on their 1998 self-titled debut album. Leee himself featured on DJ Dero's 2005 rendition of the song which was widely played in clubs. The same year saw Mariah Carey reused the track on her top ten single Get Your Number. Flashback was sampled by Boards of Canada, Music & Lights by Tiger & Woods. All Night Loving by 88 Keys featuring Kanye West.

This year sees the long-awaited new album from Imagination featuring Leee John - Retropia, which delivers a distinctive combination of soul, funk & jazz with a classic contemporary retro sound from that back in the day feel. Lee John creates a very special atmospheric sensitivity with mid-tempo grooves and that unmistakable Leee John vocal sound with those famous Imagination harmonies creating that familiar blend of melody which makes you remember each individual song, taking you on an adventure into the world of Retropia.

The album features co-writes from keyboard player of the UK R n B group Loose Ends, Steve Nichol on the songs Do it Right Now and the single Secrets which also has classic soul and jazz guitar from Jean-Paul “Bluey” Manuck of the jazz funk group Incognito.
An inspiring duet with Leee John of the Stevie wonder song Visions with keyboard and vocalist Mike Lindup from UK funk group Level 42. Leee John has produced, arranged written and co-written all the songs on the album except 3 classic cover songs , the Eddie Kendricks song Tell Her Love Has Felt The Need, the Junior Murvin song Police and Thieves, and a French collaboration with David Laloue and the Gibson Brothers on the famous AC/DC song Highway To Hell - with UK blues guitarist –Mark Vandergucht, with all the vocals given the Leee John/Imagination treatment.

Retropia was produced in London in L J Studios and mixed in Alhambra studios in Rochford, France, where Leee John recorded the critically acclaimed popular soul jazz album Feel My Soul in 2005-06, which just like the jazz album was mixed by Mr Magic Fingers Francois Gaucher. This album is dedicated to the many Imagination fans around the world as there are a few songs which Leee has performed on stage live but has never surprisingly placed on any albums before. Such as songs like the haunting Utopia, which feature the flutes and brass of UK musician Dave Mansell, piano and keyboards of John Watson who has been the musical conductor and arranger for The Leee John Jazz Quartet and the Imagination band he features on many of the titles on the album.

Other songs, like Make Your Mind Up, was co-written and arranged by Toby Baker. Fantasia was originally a white label obscure track, which became an underground classic. Other credits include Leee John’s long-time associate producer and writer-engineer Dee Vaz, who works and is responsible for many of Leee’s solo studio projects. On the ballad Hello Goodbye - from the Imagination band we have the guitar of John (Jimmy John) Myers who has worked with the famous Stock Aitken Waterman by the La Rochelle Music conservatory string section.


"DownBeat Magazine has been an integral part of the history of this music, and I am honored to receive this award from them. The journey - the practice of this music, of perfecting my art and carving my truth - remains endless, but it sure is nice to be recognized from time to time while I am at it, doing my thing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!"
- Gilad Hekselman

Gilad Hekselman is proud to be the winner of the 2017 DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll (full results in the August issue) in the Rising Star Guitar Category. Throughout his many years on the New York City/global jazz scene, the guitarist/composer/bandleader (and first-call sideman) has worked diligently and earnestly at his craft, and, through countless performances/tours and five brilliant albums as a leader, has delighted fans and critics alike. Hekselman is proud to share the 2017 Rising Star Guitar category with such inspiring artists such as Jeff Parker, David Gilmore, Lage Lund, Camila Meza, Mike Moreno, Yotam Silberstein and others. 

Gilad Hekselman's latest recording is Homes, an album that fills you with quiet enthusiasm. You listen to it - or rather experience it as a contemplative contrast to the artist's complex identity in a globalized world: identification with his origins, the variety of places he has lived and worked, his musical models and influences, his place among family and friends, and his place within the history of his art. This recording reflects Gilad's relationships with his many homes; physical, geographic, musical and spiritual. Featuring double-bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Marcus Gilmore.

Hekselman's upcoming record (release date to be announced), his 6th, combines two of his new projects: his new retro-futuristic project named ZuperOctave, featuring Aaron Parks on synths and piano, and Kush Abadey on drums. The other is his new trio with bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Jonathan Pinson, which is more of a continuation and development of the concept and sound of his previous trio. The recording continues Hekselman's passion for strong melodies, but branches out sonically into new territory with bass-less configurations, synths and some surprises!
Upcoming Tour Dates:
JUL 13 THU - gHex + Fred Hersch - Mezzrow - New York, NY
JUL 26 WED - Seminar Siena Jazz - Siena, Italy
AUG 5 SAT - gHex Solo guitar - Newport Jazz Festival!
AUG 10,11,12 - gHexFestival at Cornelia Street Cafe
AUG 30 & 31 WED - gHex Trio - Smalls - New York, NY
OCT 3 TUE - gHex Trio - Jazzlab - Hamburg, Germany
OCT 5 THU - gHex Trio - Jazz Meile - Jena, Germany
OCT 6 FRI - gHex Trio - Enjoy Jazz Festival - Mannheim, Germany
OCT 11 WED - gHex Trio - Jazzclub Tonne - Dresden, Germany
OCT 12 THU - gHex Trio - 41. Leipziger Jazztage - Leipzig, Germany
NOV 2 THU - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Guadalajara, Spain
NOV 3 FRI - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Madrid, Spain
NOV 4 SAT - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Jamboree - Barcelona, Spain
NOV 5 SUN - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Sunset - Girona, Spain
NOV 6 MON - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Jimmy Glass - Valencia, Spain
NOV 7 TUE - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Paradise Jazz - Copenhagen, DK
NOV 9 THU - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Dexter, Odense, DK
NOV 10 & 11 FRI - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Sunset - Paris, France
NOV 14 TUE - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Wharf Chamber - Leeds, UK
NOV 15-16 - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Birmingham Conservatoire, UK
NOV 17 FRI - gHex Trio + Mark Turner - Royal Welch College of Music
Cardiff, UK
NOV 18 SAT - gHex Trio+ Mark Turner - Vortex - London, UK
DEC 8, 9 & 10 - ZuperOctave - Musig Im Pflegidach - Muri, Switzerland
DEC 14 THU - ZuperOctave - Jazz Maastricht - Maastricht, Netherlands
DEC 15 FRI - ZuperOctave - Jazz Station - Brussels, Belgium
DEC 16 SAT - ZuperOctave - Bimhuis - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith tops 3 categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll and is featured in August 2017 cover story

Boldly original trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist and composer Wadada Leo Smith has topped three categories in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll: Jazz Artist, Trumpet and Jazz Album (for America’s National Parks on Cuneiform.)  A group of 155 international critics from organizations including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, DownBeat, Jazziz, JazzTimes, NPR, Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Village Voice participated in this year’s poll.  Smith is also featured on the cover of the August 2017 issue of DownBeat.

A six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country’s public landscapes, America’s National Parks earned wide praise as one of the best albums of 2016 from media like The New York Times, the NPR Jazz Critics Poll, Slate, The Wire and many others.

Throughout his career, Smith, 75, has been recognized for his groundbreaking work. Transcending the bounds of genre or idiom, he distinctly defines his music, tirelessly inventive in both sound and approach, as "Creative Music."  A finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music, he received the 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and earned an honorary doctorate from CalArts, where he was also celebrated as Faculty Emeritus. In addition, he received the Hammer Museum's 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement "honoring brilliance and resilience."

In addition, Smith was honored by the Jazz Journalists Association as their 2017 Musician of the Year as well as the 2017 Duo of the Year for his work with Vijay Iyer.  The JJA also named him their 2016 Trumpeter of the Year, 2015 Composer of the Year, and 2013 Musician of the Year. In 2013 he was also selected as DownBeat Magazine's Composer of the Year and he graced the cover of that magazine in November 2016.

In October 2015, The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of Smith's Ankhrasmation scores. In addition to igniting creative sparks in the musicians who perform them, their use of non-standard visual directions makes them works of art in themselves. In 2016, the scores were also featured in the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A. exhibition, and at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Kadist in San Francisco, among other places.

Born December 18, 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, Smith's early musical life began at age thirteen when he became involved with the Delta blues and jazz traditions performing with his stepfather, bluesman Alex Wallace. He received his formal musical education from the U.S. Military band program (1963), the Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76).

For the last five decades, Smith has been a member of the legendary AACM collective, pivotal in its wide-open perspectives on music and art in general. He has carried those all-embracing concepts into his own work, expanding upon them in myriad ways.

Smith has released more than 50 albums as a leader on labels including ECM, Moers, Black Saint, Tzadik, Pi Recordings, TUM, Leo and Cuneiform. His diverse discography reveals a recorded history centered around important issues that have impacted his world, exploring the social, natural and political environments of his times with passion and fierce intelligence. In addition to America’s National Parks, Smith was widely recognized for his landmark 2012 civil rights opus Ten Freedom Summers, “A staggering achievement [that] merits comparison to Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in sobriety and reach,” (Francis Davis, Rhapsody Jazz Critics Poll).

Upcoming recordings include Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa (TUM) featuring Smith with guitarists Michael Gregory Jackson, Henry Kaiser, Brandon Ross and Lamar Smith, plus Bill Laswell on electric bass, Pheeroan akLaff on drums and Adam Rudolph on percussion. Also on TUM will be Alone: Reflections and Meditations on Monk, a solo recording. 


Noah Preminger earns #1 Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll

Acclaimed saxophonist and composer Noah Preminger has earned the #1 spot as “Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist” in DownBeat Magazine’s 65th Annual Critics Poll. A group of 155 international critics from organizations including The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, DownBeat, Jazziz, JazzTimes, NPR, Rolling Stone, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Village Voice participated in this year’s poll.

Preminger won handily in his category. A feature article in the current edition of DownBeat cites his “distinctive character” and “huge tenor tone and muscular rhythms.” It calls Preminger’s 2017 Meditations on Freedom “an impassioned musical treatise.”

Meditations on Freedom was released on Inauguration Day (January 20, 2017), as a protest album. It features Preminger’s quartet with trumpeter Jason Palmer, bassist Kim Cass, and drummer Ian Froman. The album, recorded live on the studio floor with no edits by engineer Jimmy Katz, reimagines politically charged songs by Bob Dylan, Bruce Hornsby, Sam Cooke, and George Harrison, and features Preminger originals including “the 99 Percent,” “Women’s March,” “Mother Earth,” “Broken Treatis,” and “We Have a Dream.”

About his motivation to release Meditations, Preminger says, “I realize that the key thing I can hope to do with music – particularly instrumental jazz, with no words – is to heighten emotions. That said, some of the most beautiful, meaningful creations in the history of jazz have been poetic statements of protest, like John Coltrane’s ‘Alabama’ or Sonny Rollins’ ‘Freedom Suite’ and so many more great examples. I would never put myself in that category, but I’m not alone among jazz musicians today who wonder why it is that we do this. Ultimately it’s important to care about something larger than yourself and that’s what I am trying to convey with this music."

30-year-old Preminger has performed on stages from Boston and New York to Europe and Australia, playing with a wide range of jazz greats including Dave Liebman, Dave Holland, Fred Hersch, Dave Douglas, Victor Lewis, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Billy Drummond, George Cables, Roscoe Mitchell, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Cecil McBee, John McNeil and Frank Kimbrough. A native of Canton, Connecticut, Preminger has released eight critically acclaimed albums.  His 2008 debut Dry Bridge Road was named Debut of the Year in the Village Voice Critics Poll, along with making Top 10 Albums of the Year lists in JazzTimes, Stereophile and The Nation.  In 2011 Palmetto Records released Preminger’s next album Before the Rain, an essay in atmospheric romance that blends virtues both modern and old school. Reviewing that album, All About Jazz said: “Sensitivity and an ear for aural sophistication are the hallmarks of tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger.”  

Preminger’s third album, Haymaker (Palmetto, 2013), features the saxophonist in mostly original material (plus a Dave Matthews cover and a tune from Annie for good measure). In The New York Times, Ben Ratliff said: “Mr. Preminger designs a different kind of sound for each note, an individual destiny and story,” while Nate Chinen chimed in, too, lauding his “darkly shaded… warmly expressive” tone and his “fluency, prudence and control.” The Boston Globe called Preminger’s music “impressive, challenging and beautiful.” In autumn 2016, Preminger followed his fiery, blues-fueled quartet discs Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground and Pivot: Live at the 55 Bar by showing his more intimate, romantic side again with a collection of ballads, Some Other Time, released exclusively as a vinyl LP by Newvelle Records. He recorded this with a dream band featuring Monder, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Billy Hart. All About Jazz, reviewing Some Other Time, said: “With this all-star band in tow, Preminger does what he does best: He tells a compelling story without frills – and he does it better than he has ever done before.”



A fantastic record from Gaby Hernandez – a singer we've loved for previous collaborations with Build An Ark and Life Force Trio – but who really knocks it out of the park with this double-length set! The presentation is a bit unusual – in that the entire album is presented with vocal versions of the songs, then a second instrumental take on the tracks – the latter a great showcase for the album's many collaborators – a heavy-duty lineup that features Kamasi Washington, Carlos Nino, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Dexter Story, and the Contact Field Orchestra! Gaby's vocals really sine in all this great company – and the musicians have ways to deepen the spirit of her songs, and take things in places that still make us love the music, even after her voice has dropped out. Titles include "Spirit Reflection", "Into Yoa", "Super Nova Lovers", "Baobab Tree", "Messy Love", "Los Mas Dulce", "Stay A While", and "Entranced".  ~ Dusty Groove


One of the boldest statements we've heard from the Detroit underground in years – and a great reminder that the city's legendary club sound is still alive and well – if you know where to look! Terrence Parker serves up a set that makes the Planet E label very proud – and which also maybe hits even more soulful territory than that imprint in its early days – kind of a rising, merging mode that also absorbs some of the best Chicago and New York currents, yet still keeps things very straightforward, with that special Detroit crackle that's always made the city's club tracks so exciting! Parker works with a few guests on the album – Merachka and Coco Street – and the set's about half vocal, and half instrumental – with tracks that include "Just Like Musik (main mix)", "Bassment Beats (TP bassment mix)", "God Loves Detroit (The Resurrection)", "Latter Rain (healing rain mix)", "Let's Go", "Lift Yo Hands Raise Em High", "The Sabbath", "Transition", and "Will You ever Come Back To Me". ~ Dusty Groove


Spare drums, percussion, and lots of electronics from Tommaso Cappellato – a musician who works here with only a bit of guest vocals from time to time, but never makes us feel like we're missing the presence of a larger group at all! Cappellato's somewhere in a space near cosmic jazz, but is also maybe focused a bit more on the rhythms too – almost like some of the best talents coming out of the London scene about a decade ago – younger musicians who were influenced by 70s electric jazz, but took things in a new territory that was all their own! Tommaso's definitely in his own space here – soaring out on titles that include "Pastlife Flashbacks", "Solitary Orbiter", "Melting Spheres", "Get Set Free", "Fly", and "Team Ball".  ~ Dusty Groove

Tuesday, June 27, 2017



As seasoned and important players on the national and international traditional jazz scenes, Sheryl Bailey and Harvie S – known together as Plucky Strum, made real impact with their recent eponymous debut, a work which showcased discerning talent and true creative art.  One their follow-up, aptly titled Departure, Harvie and Bailey dig a little deeper, engaging in some creative improvisation and interplay.  Those familiar with their work – Harvie has played with many of the greats, including Jim Hall, Larry Coryell, Pat Martino, Gil Evans and Thad Jones, will love how they’ve enhanced the adventure here, filtering in Sheryl’s electric guitar with subtle electronics, clever bebop excursions and some stellar simpatico interplay that takes the duo into exhilarating sonic regions.  All in all, Departure is accomplished and masterful.  The material is bravely selected and boldly performed.  The recording is balanced and skillfully produced, with lovely mixing and mastering.  Interpretations, like CSN’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” with Harvie’s bowed bass lines and Sheryl’s tactile exploration, is one example, but there are many equally wonderful examples on the record, all of which deserve to be heard.  This is major league stuff, brilliant and beautiful.


A fantastic setting for the voice of Dwight Trible – one of the few contemporary jazz singers who inherited the style of spiritual jazz greats like Leon Thomas or Joe Lee Wilson! Trible's singing here with backing from a group that includes trumpeter Matthew Halsall, recording on Halsall's own label too – a wonderful imprint that's also one of the few to really get the spiritual vibe just right – that sort of long-flowing, always-soulful mode that grew out of the post-Coltrane generation! Tracks are all open and modal – just the right vibe for Trible to hit his heights – and they also leave plenty of space for Halsall to take some great solos, too – in a combo that also includes piano, bass, drums, and even a bit of harp. Most titles are remakes of older numbers, but given a completely different spin by Trible – and titles include "Tryin Times", "What The World Needs Now Is Love", "Black Is The Color Of My True Love's Hair", "Heaven & Hell", "Feelin Good", and "Dear Lord".  ~ Dusty Groove


A fantastic set of contemporary soul tracks – music from both sides of the Atlantic, served up in a well-priced collection that brings together the best of the British and American underground soul scenes! A good deal of the work here is from the catalog of the Dome label in the past decade or so – an imprint who continues to be one of the few stronger indie labels dedicated to discovering and properly presenting the best in soul music – something that's becoming more and more important in recent years, as so many new artists only issue digital releases. This 3CD pacakge is a great reminder of how wonderful it can be to hear tracks like these on a proper CD release – and the whole thing's a treasure trove throughout – with 40 tracks that include "Sky (Ski Oakenfull rmx)" by Bluey, "Spiritual Eyes (Young Pulse & ATN rmx)" by Jarrod Lawson, "Feel Like Dancing" by Heston, "Need You Now" by Avery Sunshine, "Looking For" by Eric Roberson, "You Know Just When" by Dennis Taylor, "Morning Love" by Simon Law, "To Prove My Love" by Incognito, "Hurts Like Hell" by Angela Johnson, "Let's Do It Right" by Imaani, "Something More" by Makeda, "Like Rain" by Greg Dean with Natalie Weiss & Amber Iman, "Never Letting Go" by Frank McComb, "Crazy" by Rahsaan Patterson, "Only Be Me" by Conya Doss, "Surrender" by Seek, "The Real Thing" by Avani, "People Of Tomorrow" by Citrus Sun, and "Take It" by Cooly's Hot Box.  ~ Dusty Groove



Talented, Energetic, Charismatic, Warm-Hearted. These adjectives and many more are being used to describe this self-motivated, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Marcus Anderson! He is an artist who emerged into the contemporary jazz world in 2005 and has been blazing a trail ever since with his display of talent and musicianship. From contemporary jazz tinged with R&B, to inspirational and gospel jazz, Marcus has shown he s uniquely adept to representing feelings in music we can all gravitate to and appreciate. His latest release, Limited Edition, gives us more of this incredible instrumentalist, vocalist, as he teams up with some of the best talents in contemporary jazz such as pianists and keyboardists Brian Culbertson and Nicholas Cole, bass guitarist Ashley A Luv Doe, and guitarists Adam Hawley and Darnell Showcase Taylor. Gifted and talented, Marcus music promises to always be listenable, danceable, and fun! And he delivers in true Marcus Anderson style with songs such as Backseat Drivers. Keeping the romantic moods are tracks titled Can You Come Over, Let s Not Wait, and That Feelin . In tribute and inspiring hope, Marcus beautifully offers Give Love featuring Anthony Saunders. The album doesn t stop there with hits like Understanding, Don t Stray, The Art of Gold, Stalker, Mellow Mood. The title track Limited Edition is also joined by the first scheduled single release Will Power. With his originality and talent showcased with these songs and more, Marcus Anderson once again shows why he s a talent to be reckoned with! Dionne Maldonado, The Jazz Lady, Independent Music Review


On his Criss Cross leader debut, Transitions, guitarist David Gilmore pays tribute to recently deceased masters Bobby Hutcherson, Toots Thielemans and Victor Bailey, the legendary trumpeter Woody Shaw, and living elders Annette Peacock and Hermeto Pascoal, by interpreting their music along with two original compositions. Joined by a top-shelf New York quartet comprising tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, pianist Victor Gould, bassist Carlo DeRosa and drummer E. J. Strickland (vibraphonist Bill Ware plays on Hutcherson's 'Farallone'; harmonicist Gregoire Maret plays on Thieleman's 'Bluesette'), Gilmore navigates both the acoustic and plugged-in spaces with equal fluency, showcasing his lovely sound, improvisational prowess and focused intention within an array of stylistic formats. A glimpse at Gilmore's distinguished discography (it includes three prior leader records, and consequential sideman stints with Steve Coleman, Wayne Shorter, and Meshell Ndegeocello, as well as more recent Criss Cross dates with Donald Edwards [CRC 1365; CRC 1386] and Boris Kozlov [CRC 1389]), gives a sense of the breadth and accomplishment of this bracing recital.


A new album by legendary pianist and composer Ahmad Jamal is always a hotly anticipated event. But Marseille has an additional glow of excitement as it is a very personal expression of the sincere and long-standing mutual admiration that has existed between the American artist and French audiences for over six decades. The title track of the record is a love letter to the iconic Southern city whose magnificent port and dazzling light have inspired numerous artists and filmmakers over the years. In a daring departure for Jamal, it features a striking performance by French rapper Abd Al Malik. Marseille is the work of a master musician who never says more than he has to but always says enough to make the world sit up and listen.


With his honey-sweet vocals, soul singer/songwriter JOHN GARY WILLIAMS rose to fame as the lead voice of inimitable Stax group, The Mad Lads (“Don’t Have to Shop Around,” “I Want Someone”). At the height of the band’s success, however, Williams was drafted into the military to serve in the Vietnam War and when he returned home his newly discovered political consciousness led him down a different path altogether. His powerful 1973 solo effort, John Gary Williams, which would also be his last recording for the Stax label, presents both sides of a man who proved to be much more than just another soul singer, one who delivered a message that still resonates today. 

This oft-overlooked gem from the waning days of the Stax Empire is being reissued Friday, April 28 by Stax Records, marking the first time the record will be in print on vinyl since its original 1973 release. The 180-gram LP--cut at Ardent Studios on the original Stax lathe and pressed in Williams’ hometown at Memphis Record Pressing--features brand new liner notes by author, journalist and filmmaker John Hubbell and comes housed in a faithfully reproduced replica old-school style tip-on jacket.
This first and only solo recording was produced almost entirely by the artist with help from notable members of Isaac Hayes’ Movement and features several original titles by Williams, including the under-the-radar smash political-groover, “The Whole Damn World is Going Crazy.”

The album is rounded out with tried and true covers of the likes of the Four Tops and The Spinners, and retains a world-weary, but ultimately hopeful spirit.

Tracklist for John Gary Williams:
A1. I See Hope
A2. I'm So Glad Fools Can Fall In Love
A3. Honey
A4. Loving You (It Ain't Easy)
B1. Ask The Lonely
B2. How Could I Let You Get Away
B3. Open Your Heart (And Let Love Come In
B4.The Whole Damn World Is Going Crazy


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