Thursday, August 31, 2017

DAVE LIEBMAN / JOE LOVANO Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane

Featuring an all-star band of long-time collaborators led by jazz legends Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano with pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy Hart

Includes 24-page booklet of photos, essays by Grammy Award-winning author Ashley Kahn and Resonance producer Zev Feldman, plus interviews and statements by all the musicians

Recorded on June 22, 2007 at the legendary Clinton Recording Studios in NYC for BBC Radio 3's program Jazz on 3, a Somethin' Else Production Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Coltrane’s Passing on July 17, 1967

Resonance Records has released Dave Liebman / Joe Lovano - Compassion: The Music of John Coltrane featuring pianist Phil Markowitz, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Billy Hart. Recorded a decade ago at the legendary Clinton Recording Studios in NYC for the BBC Radio 3 show Jazz on 3, produced by Somethin' Else, the newly revealed session commemorates the semicentennial of Coltrane's passing on July 17, 1967 with a seven-tune repertoire that covers each significant creative stage of Coltrane's recorded legacy. Compassion is Resonance's follow-up release to the acclaimed John Coltrane recording Offering: Live at Temple University from 2014, which featured Grammy Award- winning liner notes by Ashley Kahn.

It was in late June 2007 that NEA Jazz Master DaveLiebman received a call from Robert Abel, the producer of BBC's popular radio program "Something Else." Noting that July 17, 2007 marked the 40th anniversary of John Coltrane's passing, Robert asked if he could bring in Saxophone Summit, Liebman's outfit co-led with Grammy Award-winner Joe Lovano and Ravi Coltrane, to record an all-Coltrane program for the show. With the recording date just a few weeks away, Liebman managed to assemble regular members Lovano, Phil Markowitz, andBilly Hart along with Ron McClure as a substitute for the unavailable Cecil McBee. Recorded on June 22, 2007, almost forty years to the day after John Coltrane's death, the quintet laid down 50+ fascinating minutes of music that showcases the breadth of John Coltrane relatively short but momentous musical legacy. Now a decade later, Resonance is proud to bring the recording to light.

To commemorate Coltrane's semicentennial on Resonance, there are arguably no other musicians better equipped for the job. The influence of John Coltrane on each member of the quintet can not be overstated; as Billy Hart says in the liner notes, "we're just all unbelievable Coltrane fans." He estimates that between the five of them, the study of Coltrane's music has amounted to over 200 years

To celebrate the Coltrane anniversary, Liebman and Lovano decided that for this particular session they would broaden their scope to include music from all of Coltrane's musical periods, thus producing a wide-ranging exploration that showcases six distinctive phases of his legacy. "Each period represents such a different outlook and concept that it's incredible to imagine that one man accomplished all of this in such a short period," says Liebman in the Compassion liner notes.

Compassion opens with "Locomotion," one of Coltrane's many compositional twists on the blues that first made an appearance on Blue Train (Coltrane's only Blue Note recording) in 1958. "Locomotion" not only sets the stage for Compassion, but also served as an integral jumping off point in Coltrane's musical development. As Lovano states in the liner notes, many of the intervals heard on "Locomotion" can be found in later Coltrane works - the main theme of A Love Supreme being just one example.

Compassion moves forward with a ballad medley that includes the harmonically rich "Central Park West," featuring Lovano and " Dear Lord," which Liebman has referred to as "one of the most amazing compositions in the world."

The inclusion of "Olé" signifies Coltrane's well-documented interest in world music. A modal excursion with a Spanish tinged melody (borrowed heavily from the Spanish folk song "El Vito"), " Olé" served as a precursor to Trane's later explorations of other cultures (tunes such as "India," "Dakur" and "Brasilia" come to mind).

Named for Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., "Reverend King" is a completely diatonic study in free time that features a rare appearance of Liebman on flute, followed by "Equinox," which, like the opening track, is another version of the blues. The album then comes to a close with "Compassion," from which the recording gets its namesake, brings us into Trane's late period (1965-1967) with the second movement of his Meditations suite. "Subsequent song titles point toward Trane's intense spiritual journey of this period - "Amen," "To Be" and many more - all emphasizing the constant group interaction with little steady pulse or direct harmonic progressions," says Liebman.

Available on June 16, 2017 as a Deluxe CD and digital format, the CD package includes an exquisite digipak and 24-page liner note booklet that includes photos by Chuck Stewart, Richard Conde, John Abbott, Andrew Lepley, Vincent Soyez and more; exclusive interviews and statements by Liebman, Lovano, Markowitz, McClure, and Hart, and essays by Resonance producer Zev Feldman and Ashley Kahn. "For an archival production, this might be the most recent recording Resonance has released to date, but we didn't want to treat it any differently than our previous efforts," says Executive Producer Zev Feldman. "I can think of no closer and devoted adherents to the music and legacy of Coltrane than Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano and this band." Feldman adds that within the booklet one can find a wealth of knowledge from each musician as they shed light on the influence Trane had on them and how his music still holds such influence fifty years since his passing.

Says Billy Hart in closing: "I just think the world is a better place when you hear Coltrane's music."

Track Listing:

1. Locomotion (6:11)
2. Central Park West/Dear Lord (8:07)
3. Olé (8:44)
4. Reverend King (5:20)
5. Equinox (6:39)
6. Compassion (17:18)

THE URBAN RENEWAL PROJECT 21ST CENTURY GHOST 15-Piece Original Soul, Jazz & Hip Hop Band from Los Angeles

Featuring Special Guests Camp Lo, Gavin Turek, Hugh Augustine & others!

"Deep funk beats and powerful brass" - HiphopDX

"Cool as the other side of the pillow" - BuzzbandsLA

Resonance Records  has announced the launch of its new label imprint Fastrac Records, which will focus on new releases from emerging and contemporary artists. Fastrac will debut with the release of The Urban Renewal Project - 21st Century Ghost, a genre-bending meditation on isolation in the era of hyperconnectivity. Featuring nine guest vocalists that run the gamut from legendary Bronx rap duo Camp Lo to California indie pop princess Gavin Turek, 21st Century Ghost is due out September 15, 2017 and a summer/fall tour will support the release.

The Urban Renewal Project is a dynamic young big band out of Los Angeles, playing an original mix of jazz, soul and hip-hop. Since 2010, the 15-piece ensemble has teamed up with singers and rappers to blend the hip-shaking grooves and deep pocket of today's music with face-melting horn lines and fiery improvisation from big band jazz. In the past few years, their signature sound has blown away audiences from New York's Rockwood Music Hall to the San Jose Jazz Summerfest and beyond.

Born from a high school talent show act assembled by saxophonist and bandleader R.W. Enoch, The Urban Renewal Project began in earnest when Enoch met rapper Elmer Demond in Los Angeles several years later. After experimenting with different musical approaches and configurations which can be heard on earlier releasesLocal Legend (2014) and Go Big or Go Home (2012), the two settled on their current set-up: a big band performing a mix of soul, hip hop, jazz and pop music with guest vocalists from each genre - every song incorporating the polish and drive of contemporary pop records with the vibrant energy of live ensemble performance.

The group's pre-release singles have already garnered national press and radio attention, including spins on KCRW-Santa Monica, KPFK-Los Angeles and KPFT-Houston. HiphopDX described "Don't Ask Y ft. Camp Lo" as "deep funk beats and powerful brass," and BuzzbandsLA said "Hide ft. Elmer Demond" was "cool as the other side of the pillow." In support of the release, they have lined up a string of summer West Coast performances, with stops in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Jose, Carson City and more to come.

This record marks the first time the band worked with producer Neil Wogensen, a member of indie folk-rock band Valley Queen, who was featured on an NPR Tiny Desk concert last July. Bandleader R.W. Enoch said of the experience "it was amazing to see how Neil transformed a good-sounding band into something really special on these recordings."

In addition to Demond, guest vocalists on the album are Hugh Augustine, who is coming off two high-profile features in 2016 on Isaiah Rashad's The Sun's Tirade (2016/Top Dawg Entertainment) and the single "Nights On Replay" with Syd from The Internet; Amber Navran, who is also in the band Moonchild on the UK label Tru Thoughts; and Alex Nester, a cancer survivor who has performed with Santana and runs a cancer charity called #BurnItDown.

In 2016, the band was featured in a documentary film called Mighty Ground, which follows the life of a homeless songwriter, Ronald Collins, as he tries to kick a crack addiction and turn his life around to pursue his passion for music. The film was an official selection of the 2017 LA Film Festival and Collins occasionally performs as a special guest with the band at live shows.

Co-executive producer Zev Feldman (and EVP/GM of Resonance and Fastrac) says "I'm thrilled to be launching this new record label, Fastrac Records, with The Urban Renewal Project. I've been following this band for the past 8 years and could see that their passion and dedication to this music was genuine and was translating into more and more shows, and a bigger following. It was the perfect fit and the timing couldn't be better. We're really honored to be working together."

Track Listing:
1. Overture (1:47)
2. Newsflash Ft. Elmer Demond (3:02)
3. Hide Ft. Elmer Demond (5:54)
4. Don't Ask Y Ft. Camp Lo (2:50)
5. Armor Love Ft. Gavin Turek (4:32)
6. Road to Victory Ft. Hugh Augustine & Alex Nester (3:53)
7. Wait for Me Ft. T.J. Wilkins (3:47)
8. Another Day Ft. Alex Nester & Elmer Demond (4:45)
9. Here at Night Ft. Amber Navran & Elmer Demond (5:17)
10. Roll Credits Ft. Elmer Demond (2:52)

Tour Dates:
9/23 & 9/24 - Midpoint Music Festival (Cincinnati, OH)
10/14 - Kushstock (San Bernardino, CA)
10/15 - Topanga Canyon Community Concert (Los Angeles, CA)


Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome - Songs by Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal & Paul Avgerinos Inspired by American Immigrants Provide Hope & Acceptance to the International Community

12-Song Collection Serves as Accompanying Musical Pieces to Book of Poetry Inspired by Diverse Group of Immigrants Who Have Made Significant Contributions to the United States of America
The United States is composed of and built by immigrants, and it has been a beacon to those in search of a new life for hundreds of years.

Home is a collection of thirty-four poems and twelve songs inspired by a diverse group of immigrants who have made significant contributions to the United States. From Yo-Yo Ma to Martina Navratilova, Celia Cruz to Madeleine Albright, Carlos Santana to Albert Einstein, these poems symbolize the many roads that lead to America, and which we expect will continue to converge to build the highways to our future.

Offering a welcoming feeling intended to inform our cultural conversation and enhance our national dialogue, Home also has twelve accompanying musical pieces that serve as personal meditations on the essence of home, in which you can reflect upon where you feel most welcome, whether a place or state of mind.

Not only are Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal, Paul Avgerinos immigrants or the sons of immigrants, they are also artists. They came together to create Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome to inform and elevate the cultural conversation around immigrants. Combining poems and songs, Home reminds us of the contributions of immigrants and why it's important to make our fellow neighbors, friends, and citizens feel welcome.

Resilience Music Alliance has proudly partnered with Grand Central Publishing to bring the music of Home to the world. Released on August 25, the collection of 12 songs are the perfect representation of the human condition and the importance of multiculturalism in the American Dream. "Many have bravely emigrated before me and will continue to come to America with the dreams of making a new life and a new home," stated Chopra. "As an immigrant and US citizen, I have experienced my share of social resistance, suspicion, fear and prejudice that many other immigrants in this country have also faced. And I have also experienced warm receptivity and appreciation of my contributions and efforts. But until the recent sharp shift in this country's attitude toward immigrants, I have never been so dismayed or disheartened. For the first time in this land of immigrants, the leader of the country is encouraging fellow Americans to fear and reject immigrants. People are regarded as threats just because they look different or come from somewhere else. So, to address this concern, we bring you Home, a timely reminder that the intellectual and cultural vitality of immigration is the heart of America. Immigrants find that sense of belonging, or "home" in America through diversity and connection, not division and fear. Only by working together, living together, and respecting each other can we make America's future stronger and brighter."
Deepak Chopra is an immigrant who was born in New Delhi, India, moved to the United States in 1970, and became a citizen in 1984. He is an American author, lecturer and music composer who has contributed to seven albums and written over eight-five books translated into over 43 languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. One of his songs "Do You Love Me" featuring Demi Moore hit #10 on Billboard and remained on the chart for thirteen weeks. He recited Nehru's "Spoken at Midnight" speech on Ted Nash's Presidential Suite, which won the Grammy® Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album in 2017. TIME Magazine has described Dr. Chopra as "one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century." As the founder of The Chopra Foundation and co-founder of Jiyo and the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, he is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, Researcher, Neurology and Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The World Post and The Huffington Post global internet survey ranked Chopra #17 influential thinker in the world and #1 in Medicine.

Kabir Sehgal is a first generation American, and his parents are both from India. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of eight books such as Coined and Jazzocracy. Among his works are children's books that he has written with his mother, The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk and A Bucket of Blessings. He is also a contributor to Fortune and Harvard Business Review. A multi-GRAMMY® and Latin GRAMMY® Award-winning producer, he has collaborated with jazz artists such as Chucho Valdés, Arturo O'Farrill, and Ted Nash. Kabir is also a composer and musician. A US Navy veteran, he works in corporate strategy at First Data Corporation in New York City.

Paul Avgerinos is a first generation American, whose father Costas emigrated from Greece to the US in 1938. Avgerinos is a GRAMMY® Award-winning artist, composer, producer, and engineer with 23 critically acclaimed New Age albums to his credit. He is active in creating scores for a variety of television shows and has also collaborated with Jewel, Run DMC, and Willie Nelson. Avgerinos' multi-step, intuitive creative process includes archetype and style guide development, meditation, mantra and prayer. He is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. He runs Studio Unicorn and lives with his family in Redding, CT.

Sherman Irby Recalls Legends of the Alto Saxophone While Forging Unique Voice on Cerulean Canvas - Available October 20 on Black Warrior Records

Integrity is a word that often tends to be thrown around too loosely these days. But in the case of the extraordinary alto saxophonist Sherman Irby it not only fully applies, but demands a capital "I" for the proper emphasis. His latest album Cerulean Canvas on Black Warrior Records with his ensemble Sherman Irby & Momentum confirms that fact over and over again throughout its 10 outstanding tracks.

The entire history of jazz as expressed through the alto is always fully contained in every note that Irby plays--the rich lyricism of Hodges, the commanding facility of Parker, the whimsy of Ornette, the exuberant swing of Cannonball, the exploratory confrontation of Gary Bartz and Sonny Fortune--and in those appropriate moments, the down home bluesy funkiness of Hank Crawford and Maceo Parker. Irby is a protector of the profound legacy, not in the museum curator sense, but in the classic tradition of the living vitality of calling upon the past in forging his own unique voice to define the present and foretell the future.

In the old-school tradition that he's fully embraced, Irby uses his virtuosity to tell compelling stories, not just to show it off. Considering the title of the album, it's even more appropriate to say that he's a painter of images, deftly splashing his palette of colors upon the canvases provided by the delightful compositions - and in the company of like-minded artists who join him enthusiastically in the joy of creation.

For Cerulean Canvas, his eighth album as a leader and fifth for Black Warrior, Momentum is comprised of a stellar cast of collaborators, including trombonist Vincent Gardner, pianist Eric Reed, Gerald Cannon on bass, and Willie Jones III on drums. Two special guests are also on hand. Trombonist Elliot Mason spells Gardner on three tracks; and Wynton Marsalis steps out of the limelight of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra to grace the JLCO lead altoist's album with his eminent presence, offering his unique talents to the appropriate enhancement in the manifestation of Irby's music. This exemplary array of musicians fully and impeccably immerse themselves in Irby's music, bringing all of their collective heart and soul to the proceedings as if they owned it, but always keeping focused on the leader's intent and ownership of the art their synergy is creating.

The repertoire is captivating and expressive, providing brilliant canvases for the musical portraits: deeply grooved blues, poignant ballads, a blistering romp, a refreshing take on an old standard, a Stevie Wonder tune and an intricately crafted exploratory soundscape. Irby composed five of the pieces and shares the solo spotlight generously, but his alto is the primary color that unifies the tracks individually and the overall context that binds them together. Emotive and evocative on Mulgrew Miller's lovely "From Day to Day," and with filigreed warmth and wisdom on Wayne Shorter's gorgeous "Contemplation,"Irby's ballad artistry is steeped in traditional lyricism and is yet as urgent as this moment.

The Cannonball influence is front and center on Irby's edgy and deeply grooved "Racine;" and his urgent adventurousness highlights Gardner's episodic Mingus-tinted dedication to a remarkable African-American painter, "Blue Twirl: Portrait of Sam Gilliam" as Irby nimbly dances through the intricacy. Straightforward blues expression is on tap on two more Irby originals with an old-school statement that defers to Eric Reed's featured wizardry on the call-and-response "Blues for Poppa Reed;" and bestowed in undiluted form on "John Bishop Blues,"an organically flowing homage to a barbecue master (and all that might succulently represent) in Irby's hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Marsalis and the band add their own weight to Irby's brilliant raw blues essence in what usually happens only in the late night atmosphere, just for the musicians themselves and anyone else so spectacularly lucky to be there at the time.

Marsalis also joins in for "SYBAD," Irby's tribute to JLCO charter member Joe Temperley who passed away in 2016. Not a tearful remembrance, but more appropriately an easy swinging bluesy celebration of the man, with Marsalis and Irby fully immersed in the fond memory. Two contrasting angles of Irby's alto majesty round out this wonderful album.  Playful whimsy is the key in the effervescent take on the old standard "Sweet Georgia Brown"with Irby and Gardner doing a deft dance around Jones' sticks-on-rims percussive mastery; and all out scorching vibrancy alongside Mason's equally explosive trombone provide the one-two punch on Irby's blistering "Willie's Beat, aka The Sweet Science."

Since his arrival on the New York scene in 1994 where he was a regular on the vital Smalls scene for three years, Irby has steadily developed his career as a mainstay alto saxophonist through his recording and touring. Two albums for Blue Note led to his longstanding commitment to self-empowerment and artistic freedom and he has continued that since with his own Black Warrior Records. His artistic imperative forged by his participation in the unparalleled Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead Program, Irby has been a featured member of groups led by Marcus Roberts, Roy Hargrove, Elvin Jones, Papo Vazquez, and currently tours with the immortal McCoy Tyner. A member of the JLCO from 1995-97, Sherman rejoined the orchestra in 2005 and serves as both first alto saxophonist and a key arranger. In addition to all of his performing activities, Sherman has developed an excellent reputation as a composer, receiving commissions for works that include Twilight Sounds,and his Dante-inspired ballet, Inferno. Also heavily focused upon youth education Sherman was the regional director for eight years for JazzMasters Workshop, a mentoring program for young children. He has also served as Artist-in-Residence for Jazz Camp West, and as an instructor for the Monterey Jazz Festival Band Camp.

As incredibly busy as he is, this brilliant new album will hopefully inspire Sherman Irby to focus even more upon his own music as a leader.
Sherman Irby · Cerulean Canvas
Black Warrior Records · Release Date: October 20, 2017


Previously unheard recording from clarinetist Eddie Daniels & pianist Roger Kellaway joined by Buster Williams on bass and Al Foster on drums
Recorded live at the historic Village Vanguard on November 26, 1988

Vital addition to the Daniels/Kellaway discography includes 20-page booklet with vintage photos, essays by Resonance producers George Klabin and Zev Feldman, jazz writer John Murph, plus interviews and reflections from Daniels, Kellaway and Buster Williams

Resonance Records is proud to announce the release of Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard, a spirited never-before-heard live recording by clarinetistEddie Daniels and pianist Roger Kellaway featuring bassist Buster Williams and drummer Al Foster. Recorded by Resonance Records founder George Klabin in the front row at the storied Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village, New York City in late 1988, Just Friends is a revelatory meeting of two jazz masters, with one of the best imaginable rhythm sections, deep in dialogue on a set including the venerable standard "Just Friends" and two original pieces each by Daniels and Kellaway.

Klabin received permission from the band to record on this Saturday night of their weeklong run at the Vanguard, and came prepared with a high-quality cassette recorder and a single Sony stereo microphone. "I just placed the mic on the table facing the band, hit 'record' and let it run. It was as simple as that," Klabin recalls in his liner note essay. "The tape sat in my personal collection ever since I recorded it. Nearly three decades later, in 2016, I pulled it out and listened to it. Immediately I was transfixed again. I decided to send digital copies to Roger and Eddie for their enjoyment." Discussions ensued. Klabin got the go-ahead from all four quartet members and began laying plans for this remarkable DIY recording to finally come to light. The album cover photo is by the legendary jazz photographer William Claxton, with interior images by Tom Copi and Richard Laird, all beautifully assembled into the CD package by longtime Resonance designer Burton Yount.

And yet, as John Murph observes in his liner notes, Just Friends is "Not only a fascinating musical snapshot of Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway Daniels' early years playing with Kellaway, it introduces the larger jazz world to rare compositions penned by the two." Kellaway's fiercely uptempo but strikingly multifaceted "The Spice Man" is something the pianist hasn't revisited and doesn't intend to ("I just don't want to play that fast"). His "Some O' This and Some O' That" reveals a Thelonious Monk influence, perhaps Art Blakey as well, in its driving shuffle feel and dazzling solos. Daniels' contributions, the gorgeous ballad "Reverie for a Rainy Day" and the Mozart-inspired "Wolfie's Samba," are also rarities, never again performed by the clarinetist.

Just Friends also offers a window into a particular period in jazz history, when Daniels was a "roving studio rat" on multiple reeds who had logged many hours on the Vanguard bandstand with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. Williams, as noted in his booklet interview, had just begun working with Kenny Barron in the supergroup Sphere, as well as the Timeless All-Stars featuring Cedar Walton and others. Al Foster, still in the midst of his long Miles Davis association, was also playing with the likes of Joe Henderson, John Scofield and more. Kellaway, with sideman credits including Wes Montgomery, Oliver Nelson, Clark Terry, Sonny Rollins and Herbie Mann, was recording sporadically but always superbly as a leader, bolstering the case for himself as one of the most compelling if overlooked pianists in jazz. Just Friends adds to our understanding of this elusive but important figure.

Adding to the auspiciousness of Just Friends is the fact that Bill Evans' Some Other Time: The Lost Concert from the Black Forest, a landmark Resonance release from 2016, won top honors for Historical Album of the Year in the annual DownBeat, JazzTimes and Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) critics polls. As Nate Chinen of remarked in a story this April about Resonance's efforts tying in to the annual Record Store Day, the label has built a one-of-a-kind profile with its deluxe historical releases, including recent items by Wynton Kelly, Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane and Jaco Pastorius. "Each release is a gem," wrote Chinen, and Just Friends certainly upholds that lofty standard.

Track Listing:

Some O' This and Some O' That (9:32)
Reverie for a Rainy Day (5:37)
Wolfie's Samba (9:09)
Just Friends (17:47)
The Spice Man (15:57)

Eddie Daniels, clarinet
Roger Kellaway, piano
Buster Williams, bass
Al Foster, drums

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Lauren Kinhan Pays Tribute to Legendary Vocalist Nancy Wilson on "A Sleepin' Bee"

Whether on her own highly-acclaimed albums, as a 25-year member of the beloved vocal group New York Voices, or as co-founder of two diverse and inventive supergroups, Moss and JaLaLa, singer/songwriter Lauren Kinhan has always forged her own path as a performer, composer and improviser. With her latest, A Sleepin' Bee (due out October 6 on her own Dotted i Records), Kinhan once again steers herself in unexpected directions with a new release that is at once the first all-standards collection of her career, a loving tribute to legendary vocalist Nancy Wilson, and unmistakably a Lauren Kinhan album - with all the unique perspective and idiosyncratic personality that has come to imply.

If the sudden appearance of an album's worth of standards in a catalogue dominated by original songs comes as a surprise, the process of its creation is just as atypical. While Kinhan spent much of 2016 conceiving, rehearsing and workshopping the project, the circumstances of the recording arose suddenly through the auspices of her alma mater, Berklee College of Music. The session suddenly became an educational opportunity as well as a record date, providing a small group of Berklee students the invaluable privilege of observing and engaging in a recording session at the highest level.

First and foremost, though, A Sleepin' Bee is a celebration of Nancy Wilson on the occasion of the genre-hopping singer's 80th birthday. While Kinhan shares Wilson's penchant for blurring stylistic boundaries, her choice of material focuses on Wilson's early jazz albums, particularly her collaborations with Cannonball Adderley and George Shearing. Those recordings proved to be a jumping-off point for Kinhan, who utterly transforms these classic and obscure numbers with the help of pianist/creative partner Andy Ezrin and veteran producer Elliot Scheiner as well as a stellar band featuring bassist Matt Penman, drummer Jared Schonig and special guest trumpeter Ingrid Jensen.

With three brilliant albums of her own songs under her belt, not to mention her game-changing work with three distinctive vocal groups and wide-ranging collaborations with singular artists from Ornette Coleman to Bobby McFerrin, Kinhan decided it was finally time to create an album more in line with the jazz tradition of interpreting a book of standards. Of course, Kinhan has never been one to follow an obvious route, so the results quickly became something wholly her own. "I approached this project similarly to the way I write songs, except that in this case that creativity was expressed in the arranging and approach to the lyrics," she explains. "I wanted to make an album that was inspired by Nancy Wilson but still conveys my point of view in the way that I think about, interpret and reimagine music."

The starting point for the project quickly became Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley, the 1961 album on which the 24-year-old singer was backed by Adderley's incredible quintet with his brother Nat, pianist Joe Zawinul, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Louis Hayes. Kinhan had fallen in love with the album as a young girl searching through her parents' record collection, enamored with both Wilson's soulful voice and her elegant image. "I remember being 7 or 8, staring at the cover of this beautiful woman in a yellow dress and connecting with the songs, the arrangements and the bite of her tone. I know those songs like I know the songs of Carole King and Joni Mitchell. So revisiting them, they feel like a favorite cashmere sweater."

The 12 tracks on Nancy Wilson/Cannonball Adderley were evenly split between vocal and instrumental pieces, and Kinhan interprets all but one of the vocal tunes on A Sleepin' Bee. To fill out the repertoire, she began delving into Wilson's catalogue - only reaching 1964 before she had more than enough to work with. The remaining repertoire is carefully cultivated from Wilson's early-60s releases, the bulk of it coming from The Swingin's Mutual!, Wilson's 1960 collaboration with pianist George Shearing.

"In a way," Kinhan says, "A Sleepin' Bee is also a tribute to Cannonball and George Shearing and the fine musicians that played on the original recordings. The pairing of the voice and great players is what it's all about. It's never just about singing for me; it's the whole creative spectrum of arranging notes and form, and connecting with the musicians."

Those elements are combined and rearranged in disparate and intriguing ways throughout A Sleepin' Bee, from the laid-back swing of "Let's Live Again" to the haunted melancholy of "You Don't Know What Love Is," whether stretching the melody like taffy on "Never Will I Marry" (parried by Berklee classmate Jensen's darting trumpet) or finding a playfully bold character at the heart of the title tune. She effectively melds Nat Adderley's "The Old Country" with Billy Strayhorn's "Passion Flower," and fully imbues "Born To Be Blue" with the remorseful mood inherent in its title. Kinhan's vulnerable, stripped-down version of "Save Your Love For Me" completely reimagines Wilson's iconic take - which Kinhan previously performed both with and for Wilson herself, first on a recording with the New York Voices and later with the Voices as part of Wilson's 2004 induction as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master.

Perhaps the most surprising inclusion is Wilson's debut single, "Guess Who I Saw Today," whose lyrics haven't exactly aged well. Kinhan puts a new twist on the tune not only with her sly vocal performance - which acidly comments on a song that frames its tale of infidelity with some decidedly Eisenhower-era social mores - but with an updated arrangement that makes the song her own, apart from Wilson's quintessential version.

"You better have a perspective on this song, especially as a woman who's been an outspoken feminist my whole life," Kinhan says. "It's not that cheating is old-fashioned; it's the way that the story is pitched from the beginning, drawing an outmoded picture of marriage where the woman stays home, does the shopping and dotes on her husband, who spends his day at work. To chew on those words was so strange - but it was also fun to hold that mirror up to society and look at its absurdity."

"(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am" was a fresh discovery for Kinhan in her research for the project. Despite Wilson's recording having won a Grammy in 1964, it was not that version but a less ornate live rendition that grabbed Kinhan's ear, and she takes a similar approach, powerfully singing with gospel-inflected soul accompanied only by Ezrin's lyrical piano and Penman's subtle bass. The at times inane lyrics of "Happy Talk" are sent up in a slapstick carnival atmosphere to close the album on a particularly offbeat note.

Recording the album with multiple Grammy-winner Elliot Scheiner at Berklee's state-of-the-art Shames Family Scoring Stage meant turning the studio into a classroom, a prospect that at first seemed daunting but that Kinhan quickly embraced. "The students brought a performance atmosphere to the session that was beautiful," she says. "Normally recording sessions can make you incredibly self-conscious, often putting yourself under the microscope, but knowing there was an audience was really liberating. The students witnessed great players laying it down right in front of their eyes, and that made for an inspired environment. The added bonus of sharing Nancy Wilson's legacy with them was a Sleepin' Bee we hope to have reawakened for generations to come."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Bassist OR BAREKET Connects With His Roots On His Debut Recording - OB1

Born in Jerusalem and raised in Buenos-Aires and Tel-Aviv, bassist, composer and bandleader, and first-call sideman for the likes of Ari Hoenig, Jean-Michel Pilc, Leon Parker, Aaron Goldberg, Sam Yahel, Yotam Silberstein, Camila Meza, Dida Pelled, Nitai Hershkovits, Cyrille Aimee and many others, Or Bareket has established himself as one of the most versatile and sought-after bassists on the NYC scene. Winner of the 1st prize at the International Society of Bassists' jazz competition in 2011, Bareket's multiculturalism informs his unmistakable sound.

Bareket's approach to improvisation and composition, magnificently displayed on his debut album, OB1, is informed by Mediterranean, South American and North African folklores, all interpreted through his deep knowledge and appreciation of the American Jazz tradition. However these traditions took time to connect and conspire. Bareket found a missing part of his musical DNA in 2014, when he embarked on his first trip back to Buenos Aires as an adult, to perform at The Buenos Aires Jazz Festival. Bareket explains, "for me, that experience of being in Buenos Aires affirmed and brought to light the source of a lot of my musical choices - rhythmically, melodically and texturally - aesthetics that I felt attracted to but didn't know their origin, so I just chalked them up as being idiosyncratic. Being in Buenos Aires caused me to realized where they had come from and it was a very strong affirmation of my musical instincts and intuition. This opened up a process through which I could just write - for the first time in my life I could just let the music come out and just let it be what it is. Amazingly, after I had a body of work ready to go, the band pretty much presented itself." The result is the compelling music on his debut recording, OB1.

The process of writing OB1 started with the realization for Bareket that as an artist you can create your own folklore, tell your own story, with whatever life puts at your disposal. After years of playing as a sideman with many of his musical heroes and mentors, he felt that it was time to start developing his own musical world, where he feels perfectly at home, and all of his intuitiveness as a bassist are in alignment with the way the music is written. 

Bareket elaborates, "throughout 2014-2015 I started collecting musical ideas from different parts of my life- daydreams, emotions too subtle or ambiguous for words, folkloric rhythms and forms from my grandparents' homelands of Morocco, Iraq, Israel and Argentina. I let those ideas grow into songs and gradually started playing them with my friends and peers. I finally decided to record this music when I found the right band for it - Shahar Elnatan-guitar, Gadi Lehavi-piano and Ziv Ravitz-drums/mixing & mastering, had the perfect sensibility for my compositions-they are all deeply intuitive and soulful musicians. Beyond their ability to resonate with the way I hear rhythm and harmony and bring my ideas to life, they also added new colors and dimensions to the music-ones I couldn't have imagined when I wrote it. The same goes for the special guests on the recording, Keita Ogawa-percussion and Victor Gonçalves-accordion."

Music has always been a physical, primal experience for Bareket, more than an intellectual or even an emotional one. Growing up between different places, and with a mixed cultural heritage, the bassist/composer has become comfortable moving, adapting to new situations and flowing with the changes life brings. "I have never really felt completely at home anywhere, never had a distinct sense of what my own roots are. The only place where I always felt a complete sense of belonging was while being immersed in music, or more specifically, in rhythm. First as a child listening and later as a musician performing. That moment of being fully present, connected, vibrant and still at the same time, is where I feel most at home. The music on this album, OB1, comes from this place, and was written with the intention of sharing it with the performers and listeners," Or Bareket.

Bareket started playing the electric bass at age 16 after hearing Jaco Pastorius. At 18 he took up the double bass and began studying with Teddy Kling (principal bass at the Israeli philharmonic), and later with Professor Michael Klinghoffer (former assistant to maestro Gary Karr). Simultaneously Bareket began working extensively on the Israel jazz scene and studying with bassist Avishai Cohen, among others. Bareket was the winner of the 1st prize at the International Society of Bassists' jazz competition in 2011

Since moving to New York, Bareket has performed, recorded, and toured with a wide array of artists all over the world. Notable names include Ari Hoenig, Jean-Michel Pilc, Leon Parker, Aaron Goldberg, Sam Yahel, Yotam Silberstein, Camila Meza, Dida Pelled, Nitai Hershkovits and Cyrille Aimee. He has also worked with Gilad Hekselman, Peter Bernstein, Hamilton De Holanda, Banda Magda, Eli Degibri, Chris Potter, Mike Moreno, Billy Hart, Victor Lewis, Don Friedman, Elliot Zigmund and others.

Or is a multiple-time recipient of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship for outstanding performers and the Eubie Blake Fellowship. He has participated in Betty Carter's "Jazz Ahead" at the Kennedy center, The Steans Institute Ravinia Workshop, and the Banff Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music.

This album is dedicated to my father, Ofer Bareket (1954-2016) - thank you for raising me to be the man and the musician I am, and for teaching me that only a broken heart can be an open heart - Or Bareket, New York City, 2017.




A trio of second-period Sly Stone albums – all brought together in a single CD set! On Small Talk, Sly's still doing pretty nice for himself in 1974 – with a sound that's perhaps a bit warmer than on the early records, but still nice and soulful – and peppered with a good dose of funk! The groove is really great on the set – bubbling with a more "deep down" feel than the skittish funk of the first few records, and breaking out on some great soul numbers that show Sly to be an even better singer than before – touchingly sensitive at times, in a really beautiful way! Titles include "Loose Booty", which has a wonderful popping bass/hollow drum sound, and a tasty break in the middle – plus the cuts "This Is Love", "Wishful Thinkin", "Time For Livin", "Can't Strain My Brain", and "Say You Will". High On You is a nice little mid 70s set from Sly – one recorded without the Family Stone, but still grooving wonderfully with lots of funky edges! Sly's expanded his sound nicely here – pushing past the shorter funk of earlier years to work in some complicated instrumentation that keeps things really sounding fresh. Great examples of this are the frenetic horn bits on "Crossword", which you'll recognize from its famous Tribe Called Quest sample – or the sweeping strings on the mellow groover "That's Lovin You". The whole thing's great – and other tracks include "I Get High on You", "So Good to Me", "Le Lo Li", "Green Eyed Monster Girl", and "Organize". On Heard Ya Missed Me, Sly Stone's looking like a one-man band on the cover, but the album's definitely got the full-on collaborative vibe of his early records with the Family Stone! The main man himself has plenty of charm, and still has that wonderful ear for a sharp-tinged funky cut – but he's also working in this mode that allows for other voices to come into the mix at times, and plenty of lively funky instrumentation underneath the lyrics – which really makes the whole thing feel like a party all the way through! Titles include "Sexy Situation", "What Was I Thinkin In My Head", "Mother Is A Hippie", and "Family Again".  ~ Dusty Groove


One is the new, highly energetic and unifying studio album from Tim Garland. Working with his regular collaborators Jason Rebello, Asaf Sirkis and Ant Law, the sax maestro has dug back into his past and re-examined his early interest in jazz-rock styles. With One Tim explores many of the influences that have guided him from the beginning, such as jazz-rock (his Canterbury roots); saxophone players from both sides of the Atlantic; the Celtic guitar music from long running project Lammas; the Latin and Spanish inflections that are so deeply a part of Chick Corea s music; and a variety of rhythmic patterns learned from drum maestros Bill Bruford and Asaf Sirkis.


'Pekka' is the new, epochal album in Finnish trumpeter and composer Verneri Pohjola's already illustrious and prolific career. An album that promises to be a defining moment in Finnish culture, Pekka reinterprets the music of Verneri's late father Pekka Pohjola, the internationally acclaimed and revered prog-rock bassist and composer, through the prism of his son's unique vision. Due for release worldwide on 2 June 2017, Pekka is one of the most anticipated albums to emerge from the Finnish progressive, rock and jazz scenes for some time. Seeking to combine Pekka's music, adored in Finland and internationally during the last four decades, with Verneri's powerful sense of music making, 'Pekka' is an album that will excite, inspire and move many fans across borders, generations and genres. Approaching his 40th birthday, Verneri is in his musical prime. With an undeniably unique trumpet sound and a gift for blending raw emotion, technical finesse and control and with an ear adept at finding the middle way between accessibility and the avant-garde, he has developed an impressive profile in his home country and internationally as a leading European jazz performer, bandleader and composer.



Danny Grissett is definitely one of today's most exciting and respected pianists. For his first recording as a leader for Savant, Grissett and company offer a varied and interesting set-list which mixes jazz standards and some of the pianist's own compositions. The go-to keyboard man for the likes of Tom Harrell, Jeremy Pelt, Wayne Escoffey and others, Grissett also finds time to lead his own groups and is a composer of considerable merit. A rare artist who grips and holds attention, Grissett handles the classics of the American songbook with an aplomb equal to the way he deals with the rather complex structures of his own intricate compositions. A gifted improviser with splendid technique, the pianist can also offer warmth and affection in melodic lines, the balance of fine taste, pungent swing and a jubilant approach inevitably generating audience cheer. Personnel: Danny Grissett (piano, Fender Rhodes), Dayna Stephens (saxophones), Vicente Archer (bass), Bill Stewart (drums)


Melanie De Biasio marks her return with third album, Lilies - from the unsettled glide of Your Freedom Is The End Of Me, De Biasio mining a deep blues over spectral, knowing piano, to the restless rumble of Gold Junkies, which relocates the infernal bustle of Nina Simone's Sinnerman to the 21st Century, to the bereft, bewitched Brother, and the haunted, after-midnight spook of And My Heart Goes On - you'll be struck by how alive, how teeming with ideas and energy this music is. Classically trained and revered in her native Belgium, De Biasio has uncovered fans in the shape of Gilles Peterson - who heralded De Biasio as one of the most exciting artists in the jazz world and Radiohead's Phillip Selway with the release of her second album, 2014's No Deal.


The wunderkind, award-winning London based guitarist Rob Luft delivers one of the best debut records in many years. Riser is the new album from London born award winning guitarist Rob Luft. A musician of incredible talent, depth and maturity, Rob Luft is set to become a name to remember. At only 23 years of age, his proficiency as a guitarist and composer embodies a level musicianship and vision well beyond his years. A winner of the prestigious Kenny Wheeler Music Prize as well as placing second in The 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition, Rob's already garnering praise from across Europe. The UK's Jazzwise Magazine have already highlighted his "obvious star quality" and Riser is an album that stands up to scrutiny as one of the finest debut records in many years in the burgeoningly creative current UK Jazz scene.

Dave Bennett Reflects on Loss, Heartbreak and His Return to Faith and Hope on Blood Moon - Available October 20

A "blood moon" is a natural phenomenon that evokes a sense of foreboding yet captivating wonderment. However, the moon eventually returns to its natural state, shedding its reddish hues back to normalcy. Clarinetist Dave Bennett has not returned to normalcy and neither has his music. Blood Moon, Bennett's sophomore release for Mack Avenue Records, is a dark and reflective collection that deals with loss, heartbreak, and ultimately a return to faith and hope.

"During the period of establishing what this new album's direction was going to be--pop? gospel?--I spoke with Mack Avenue's president who said, 'Why don't you do your own stuff?' That gave me the confidence to finally sit down and create my own songs for this record," says Bennett. Blood Moon finds Bennett bravely exploring this new terrain of original music, as he draws on influences from Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel and Genesis. "I tend to feel emotions somewhat magnified...whether good or bad," he says. "I'm very thankful I was given this chance to create something of my own, to share my own stories. I've always admired how Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel could write songs that people could relate to on a deeply emotional level. Even though I've written instrumental music, as opposed to lyrical songs, I hope and pray the listener might find solace in the music we created."

To co-write five original songs, Bennett teamed up with Toronto-based composer, arranger and bassist Shelly Berger. The two met in 2010 through a mutual friend and instantly discovered their common sensibilities. "We both have a great love for all styles of music, especially pop," Bennett says. "We wanted to come up with something that hasn't been done before. Something original. It was really a dream come true working with him."

Berger provided the arrangements for Don't Be That Way, Bennett's 2013 Mack Avenue debut. For Blood Moon, they embarked on a much closer collaboration. The songs were created through an intensive period of experimentation with Bennett on the clarinet, Berger at the keyboard, and a recording machine. The end result was over 15 hours of spontaneous invention. "Writing your own music can be kind of nerve-wracking," Bennett admits. "When you play standards or songs that are already hits, you know those are good songs. That's half the battle. When you're trying to find your own thing, it can be a little scary."

The nerves don't show anywhere on the album, which was recorded in Toronto with a band assembled for the occasion by Berger. Bennett made the drive with his longtime drummer,
Pete Siers, but met the rest of the ensemble--pianist Dave Restivo, guitarist Reg Schwager, bassist Jim Vivian and percussionist Davide DiRenzo--for the first time on the day of the session. This group of musicians gelled quickly, and the final product sounds as if it were made by a band with a long history and deeply-attuned chemistry.

The opening track, "Blood Moon," received its name while Bennett was reading Scripture. As the rhythm section sets a nocturnal mood, Bennett plays a shadowy melody that showcases his dark and warm clarinet sound. This is followed by the wistful "A Long Goodbye," a melancholy ballad that looks back on loved ones lost and relationships ended, but not necessarily resolved. "There were several events over the last few years that led to the overall feeling on this album. When I reflect on those experiences, I realize it is easier to write from a dark place rather than a happy place. Emotions seem to come pouring out when I am in that frame of mind," states Bennett.

"Falling Sky," also a Scripture-based title, began as a swinging blues, but evolved into something more mysterious. This track recalls the influence of the band Genesis on Bennett's compositions. A complete change of pace, "13 Fingers" harkens back to Benny Goodman's blazing-fast runs, and shines a spotlight on Bennett's jaw-dropping skill on a swinging barnburner.

The atmospheric "Heavy Heart" completes the album. "This is the most personal song on the album," says Bennett. "I think we all go through our valleys, but we ultimately journey to the other side of the mountain and find our faith once again."

Bennett supplements his own pieces with a half-dozen road-tested covers from his regular repertoire. "Hallelujah," the intensely beautiful piece written by the late Leonard Cohen, fits perfectly on the clarinet. Bennett skillfully captures the loneliness of the open road on Jimmy Webb's terse love song "Wichita Lineman." Spirits lighten with a buoyant "(Back Home Again in) Indiana," which serves as a palate cleanser after some of the darker songs. The classic "Down in Honky Tonk Town" provides some toe-tapping New Orleans funk, while The Beatles' "In My Life" is poignant and reflective. The album's most unexpected moment comes in the form of Ennio Morricone's theme to Sergio Leone's classic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Bennett steps in for Clint Eastwood as a clarinet-wielding gunslinger.

"I have performed music written by other people for most of my career," Bennett says. "After 20 years of playing professionally, I am finally walking down my own path. A lot of songs on the album come from personal stories that may be a little dark or moody. Naming it Blood Moon makes a statement that this is completely different from anything I've done before. It has been the most fulfilling experience of my life, thus far."

Finding this new path and direction, Bennett pushes the boundaries of what he can personally achieve. He transitions as effortlessly through musical ideas and thoughts as the moon transitions through its natural phenomena. Bennett is finding his own unique voice that will only develop further.

A multi-instrument phenomenon, Bennett is a clarinet virtuoso who also plays electric guitar, piano, drums and sings. Entirely self-taught, he began playing along with Benny Goodman records at age 10, and by 12 he was invited by legendary trumpeter Doc Cheatham to the bandstand of New York's famous Sweet Basil jazz club. Leading his tribute to Benny Goodman, Bennett has been a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops and has played the program with 50 other US and Canadian orchestras. An annual fixture at a dozen American music festivals, his "Rockin' the '50s" show always brings down the house, while his "Swing to Rock" Symphony Pops program premiered in 2016 with The Kingston Symphony Orchestra. Blood Moon is his follow up to the 2013 Mack Avenue release, Don't Be That Way.

Dave Bennett · Blood Moon
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: October 20, 2017

Monday, August 28, 2017

Saxophonist Johnny Butler Releases Debut Album HyperViolet

HyperViolet is a space. It is a destination. HyperViolet is the hollowness behind aching, arching light glancing off half-hidden spires and metallic mountaintops. In HyperViolet, Brooklyn-based saxophonist and electronicist Johnny Butler has found his perfect medium, his perfect space within the sound of his own life. Combining pop sensibilities with avant-garde yearnings, Butler has created a world within a world, and it is a glorious place within which to get lost.

"It is its own little eco-system, a forest of its own, growing with its own organic rules," explains Butler. "I hate when music is in its box and that's it. I hate conservative creative behavior. The album has an electronic angle but I want it to sound real too though. I want real people playing organic music."

The result is a forty-four minute, hard-hitting tour-de-force that explores the depths of depression, the ravages of creativity, the brilliance of overexertion, and the final serenity of embracing closure. Whirling through myriad musical environments, Butler and his band (bassist Michael Feinberg, guitarist Jeff Miles, drummer Bram Kincheloe, alto saxophonist JJ Byars, and keyboardist Dov Manski -- along with special guests including Kassa Overall, Raycee Jones, Tecla, Sister Sparrow, Todd Reynolds, and Jackson Kincheloe, and mastering from Daddy Kev) paint in strokes that cut deep, leaving the listener hanging over a precipice of musical motion, waiting for the cliff edge to crumble.

That mastery of time and timbre is no accident for the Seattle-born Butler, who as a young man found himself drawn to the tension and passion of seemingly unconnected genres of music. "Even though I grew up in the jazz world, I used to judge the quality of any band based on how many people were moshing," recollects Butler of those wild, early days. "If some band was playing and no one was moshing, I would just walk out. Maybe I'm in the wrong community, now. But at the right kind of gig I still get the occasional guy going buck wild." That wildness lies at the heart of everything Butler does. And now, after years giving himself to other people's projects -- including being a founding member of the Brooklyn-based soul rock band Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, plus accruing writing and arranging credits for such artists as Beyoncé -- Butler is ready to take his biggest step yet in bringing his unique, bridge-like ideas and songs into the world.
"I have this crazy creative energy that if it is not getting used, it sort of turns inward and becomes a self-destructive feeling. I was channeling all of this emotional energy into all these songs and creating something out of it rather than having it turned inward. I have to be doing this," Butler says with a smile. "After committing myself to this music, to my own vision, I had this crazy writing period where I was writing a ton of music. I wrote, like, five hundred songs. Things for myself, chamber pieces, pieces for other people, beats, remixes..."

Butler was on a hot streak and began enlisting as many friends as he could to play and collaborate on his overflow of ideas, which culminated in HyperViolet being recorded in stages, with each musician adding their own special touch to Butler's initial vision. "It's sort of like each person came in and spilled their guts. Everyone was so honest and vulnerable. It made the record come to life in a way I'd never imagined."

"Crossing the River" and "Jump" both feature rapper Kassa Overall. The former uses immense space to support Overall's syrupy flow. Incidental chatter and Todd Reynolds' ethereal violin push and pull the listener through the former's hazy reality while the latter digs even deeper into the hip-hop realm. "I think Kassa is exploring a lot of ideas that have to do with staying and going. Don't stay or don't leave. It's all about trying to control the situation," says Butler. "He thought he knew what he was writing but there is so much more depth that I don't think he initially saw what had formed. You can hear the process very clearly. You can hear Kassa drinking. I wanted that to be part of it. That kind of stuff is my favorite: the seams of the music where you see the canvas a little bit like Monet in his old age where you can see the brushstrokes."

If there's a tune on this album that can fill the dance floor it is "What It Deserves." Butler uses beats and the charms of vocalist Tecla to provide a forum to both riff and cut loose over a rising storm of percussion. "Crake's Dream" is a pensive build-up of beeping keyboards behind the intricate twists and turns of vocalist Bridget Davis' tightly harmonized lead. The title is derived from Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel Oryx and Crake. "Flipper Wants Out" was one of Butler's first tunes for the record and features his former band-mates from Sister Sparrow. Jackson Kinechole's wheezing harmonica appears to emanate from a Martian juke joint before vocalist Arleigh Kinechole snarls a firm request for a little personal space. Butler's horns swirl with downtown attitude, chomping at the air in tight formation.

HyperViolet is an eclectic debut riddled with creative insights and original horn work with Butler hanging in the back as often as he is in the spotlight. Each pluck of a string and tap of a pad is given its own room to breathe in a space that can be brimming with ideas. Butler knows that the all encompassing vibe only makes him stronger so he is happy to share, soloing when it feels right and laying back with an embracing pillow of thick harmonies and unexpected beats for friends and band-mates.

With his roots in the Pacific Northwest, his feet firmly planted in Brooklyn, his mind turned towards strangely swirling lands, and his saxophone unsheathed and ready to slay, Johnny Butler has -- with the release of HyperViolet -- announced himself as a true force in this musical landscape.


The Free Poetics of Henrique Eisenmann introduces the music of Brazilian pianist Henrique Eisenmann, a groundbreaking voice in the today's jazz community. Drawing inspiration from different folk world rhythms, chants, voices, poems and animal sounds, Henrique creates a unique musical universe, modern, thought-provoking, but at the same time lyrical and playful. The idea of using the piano trio instrumentation with percussion instead of drums adds a new layer of subtlety and complexity to the sound, and at the same time suggests sounds and images from several traditional musics from around the world.

Henrique's virtuosic piano playing is completely unconventional, featuring an impressive array of creative techniques, gestures and independence; hands juxtaposing multiple different rhythms, playing different melodies simultaneously, all with an extreme freedom and mobility over time, but still committed to the groove.
The opening track Introduction - Niños Peruanos immediately throws the listener into a completely new world, by featuring a recording of 6-year-old Peruvian boy reciting a poem in Spanish, underneath which Henrique freely improvises and suddenly starts a joyful musical conversation with the kid. Words gain a complete new musical sense, and slowly a wonderful musical fabric starts to unveil, leading to a celebratory explosion over Hermeto Pascoal's Zurich.

Sarabande No. 2 offers a strong contrast, introducing a lyrical and classical melody with intricate chromatic harmonies, elegantly accompanied by Jorge Roeder, the Peruvian born Grammy-nominated bassist. The piece arrives to its climax, in which the polished Sarabande is transformed into a rhythmic outburst led by percussionist Rogério Boccato, who is able to emulate, alone, the sound and energy of fifty percussionists. Born in Brazil, Boccato has performed with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Milton Nascimento and jazz legends such as Kenny Garrett and Joe Zawinul, operating a daring fusion of traditional percussion with improvisation and experimental sounds.

Jeneupti is perhaps the most mysterious and fascinating piece on the album, featuring a perplexing field recording of a Ghanaian girl hoarsely singing a hypnotic melody. Henrique is in the background playing a series of repetitive chords extracted from Charles Ives' song Serenity (1919), and slowly starts to seamlessly harmonize the voice revealing an entirely new hidden character in the melody hitherto unnoticed by the listener.

"I'm always searching for creative alternatives for re-composing music, to not get stuck in scales and traditional harmonies, and human speech is a great source of inspiration because of repeated notes, unexpected leaps, and sometimes sequence of notes that you would never imagine otherwise; so transcribing to voice is a great exercise to expand your musical horizons." (Eisenmann). 

According to Henrique, Afro-Latidos was inspired by mbira music from Zimbabwe, emulating the peculiar sounds of the thumb-pianos. The piece unfolds into an energetic groove, featuring a magnetizing solo by saxophonist Gustavo D'Amico, that recalls the sonority of Roscoe Mitchell's or John Coltrane's collaboration with North African musicians.

Anthropophagy is the album's ballad. The weird title - anthropophagy means cannibalism - is a reference to the Modernist movement in Brazil, which used the metaphor of foreign culture being devoured and digested by natives, becoming a new national identity. The piece is actually a recomposition of Charlie Parker's "Anthropology", played six times slower than the original tempo. The result is a completely new lyrical piece, completely unrecognizable. Perhaps the few bebop phrases at the very end may hint some of Parker's original melody to the attentive listener.

Dans un Fracas de Plumes (birds) was inspired by the poetry of Israeli poet Hadassa Tal, who has collaborated with Henrique in his 2013 solo record "Notes for Pina Bausch". The central idea is to recreate the chaotic interaction between groups of birds, in which there's no real pulse, harmony, and order, but somehow it creates a sort of meta-organization, with humor, spontaneity and abrupt musical gestures. The highly crafted unison phrases played by Eisenmann and saxophonist Gustavo D'Amico demonstrate a fantastic work on precision and rhythmic freedom.

Zumbi describes the life of Zumbi dos Palmares, an important pioneer in the resistance against slavery in Brazil. Henrique introduces by the piece by imitating the sounds of a Brazilian berimbau (one-stringed percussion instrument) on the piano, and slowly developing it into an enigmatic melody, recalling ancient African Brazilian grooves.

Epilogue - Pífanos is a short and perfect closing piece, a synthesis of the idiosyncratic musical worlds created by Henrique. While playing and whistling a simple folk melody on the piano, Henrique simultaneously introduces a utterly wild improvisation on the left-hand, slowly taking over and transforming the piece into a turbulent musical blast; a demonstration of incredible virtuosity and independence. In the background, one can hear the distant sounds of the old Brazilian "pífano" bands, traditional marching bands playing small bamboo flutes.

As a nostalgic yet transformed musical exploration, "The Free Poetics of Henrique Eisenmann" features the virtuosity and fertile creativity of the young pianist, able to bring together the complexity of improvisation and a wide array of musical genres, sculpting a voice of artistic liberty that celebrates imagination, affection and the joy of making music together.

"Poetics is the raw essence behind a piece of art; the purpose, the fresh energy that allows art to free itself and fly opening new paths; a praise of freedom." (Henrique Eisenmann)

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Henrique Eisenmann has always been intrigued with the idea of translating different musical sonorities to the piano. Henrique focuses on unique collaborations with artists from all different fields: dancers, poets, and actors. Among his latest releases, the 2015 solo album "Notes for Pina Bausch" (inspired by the poetry of Hadassa Tal) has drawn large recognition from the dance community, being used in several dance and theater spectacles around the world. Henrique has performed and recorded with dozens of outstanding musicians such as Gunther Schuller, Luciana Souza, Bob Moses, Luis Bonilla, Matti Caspi and Tom Zé. He holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the New England Conservatory in Boston.



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