Thursday, September 28, 2017

Astrud Gilberto 5 Original Albums (Astrud Gilberto Album/Look To The Rainbow/Certain Smile Certain Sadness/Windy/I Haven't Got Anything Better)

A quintet of wonderful records from the legendary Astrud Gilberto! First up is the Astrud Gilberto Album – pne of Astrud Gilberto's greatest albums of the 60s – a classic session produced for Verve by Creed Taylor, and featuring sweet gentle arrangements from Marty Paich, co-arranged with Antonio Carlos Jobim, who also plays guitar on the session next to the piano of Joao Donato! That's a mouthful of heavy-hitters, we know – but the result is a totally great session that has Astrud's light and gentle vocals drifting over some of the most magical bossa backings you'll ever hear. The whole thing's great, stuffed with bossa classics done in English – and titles include "Once I Loved", "Aqua De Beber", "O Morro", "Dindi", "Dreamer", and "Photograph". Look To The Rainbow is one of the moodiest Verve albums from Astrud Gilberto – a set that has some surprising arrangements by Gil Evans – working here on one of his few 60s dates with a singer! Astrud's blue-tinged vocals work perfectly with Evans' backdrops – and Al Cohn also takes over the helm on two of the album's tracks, but still does a very good job of keeping the groove. 

There's a nice mix of sadness and lightness in the set – and titles include a wonderful version of "Berimbau" that actually features berimbau playing by Dom Um Romao, a great take on "El Preciso Aprender A Ser So" with English lyrics, and the titles "Bim Bom", "Lugar Bonito", "Frevo", and "Once Upon A Summertime". For Certain Smile Certain Sadness, Verve Records got the great idea of teaming up its (then) biggest Brazilian imports – vocalist Astrud Gilberto and organist Walter Wanderley – both of whom were selling plenty at the time! Astrud's lovely vocals are matched beautifully with the lean, rhythmic bossa grooves of Wanderley's trio – and the result is a record that's near-perfect in execution. 

Most of the tracks are quite short, as is the record itself – but it's a perfectly concentrated dose of the Verve bossa sound at its best, with tracks that include "Portuguese Washerwoman", "Tu Meu Delirio", "A Certain Smile", "Call Me", "Here's That Rainy Day", "A Certain Sadness", "It's A Lovely Day Today", and a vocal version of Wanderley's big hit "Summer Samba", redone here as "So Nice"! Windy is one of the hardest to find Astrud Gilberto records on Verve – and one of the best! Deodato, Don Sebesky, and Pat Williams did the arrangements – and the sound here is a bit different than some of the straighter Gilberto sets of the time – still very bossa-inspired, but also in a style that mixes in some great Sunshine Pop and 60s easy influences too – particularly on the tracks arranged by Williams! 

Tracks are all quite short, but get a heck of a lot of magic into a tiny space – and the album features some really wonderful songs that break Gilberto's pattern a bit – including versions of the Marcos Valle tracks "Crickets Sing For Anamaria" and "Chup Chup, I Got Away" – plus takes on "Windy", "Sing Me A Rainbow", "Never My Love", and "Where Are They Now?" I Haven't Got Anything Better To Do is one of the darkest albums ever recorded by Astrud Gilberto – her 60s last session for Verve Records, and a batch of beautifully moody tunes throughout! Arrangements are by Albert Gorgoni, who'd handled Gilberto's previous September 69 album – but the style here is a bit mellower, a bit sadder – touched with more adult themes of love, life, and loss – and very much in keeping with Astrud's tear-stained image on the cover! 

There's a sound here that almost mixes Gilberto's earlier bossa with the more baroque modes of Scott Walker at the end of the 60s – and as with Scott Walker's classic solo sets, the album shows a side of Astrud's talents that we never would have expected a few years earlier! Titles include "Wailing Of The Willow", "Where's The Love", "Wee Small Hours", "If", "Without Him", "Trains & Boats & Planes", "The Sea Is My Soil", and "Didn't We?".  ~ Dusty Groove




Soul and R&B songstress Deva Mahal steps into the spotlight with her debut single "Run Deep". A rare combination of masterful songwriting and breathtaking vocal talent, Deva offers an introductory glimpse of her brand of pulse-pounding indie R&B. Her self-titled debut EP drops Oct 27, featuring two original tracks and a powerful cover of a 1970s Carole King penned hit. Upcoming appearances includes: 13th November - Jaxxdock - Prague, CZ; 15th November - The Pheasantry (London Jazz Festival) - London, UK; 18th November - Jazz Unterfahrt - Munich, DE; 19th November - Kulturhuset  - Stockholm, SE; 21st November - Duc des Lombards - Paris, FR; 22nd November - Duc des Lombards - Paris, FR; and 23rd November - Municipal Theater - Fontainebleau, FR.


A sensitive tribute to the music of Aldir Blanc – the sublime Brazilian songwriter whose 70s collaborations with Joao Bosco helped elevate the music to a whole new level – and whose words really take on new sort of beauty here, thanks to very unusual handling by Maria Joao! Joao's always been one of the more interesting Brazilian female singers – equally skilled in jazz, and also open to more freely creative modes – which she really embraces here, as most tunes just feature one other instrument for accompaniment, leaving Maria's voice to handle a lot of the other elements of the songs. This doesn't mean that Joao just sings gently alongside a guitar or piano – instead, it means that Maria's expressiveness is pushed even further, to embrace the full scope of the songs, and make them come alive with her voice – as she does here on songs that include Aldir Blanc collaborations with Joao Bosco, Carlos Paredes, and Guinga. Titles include "O Coco Do Coco", "Sede E Morte", "O Bebado E A Equilibrista", "Linha De Passe", "Lendas Brasileiras", and "O Sonho".  ~ Dusty Groove


You might remember Nina Miranda for her great work with Da Lata years ago – but since that time, she's only evolved even more as an artist – to a point where she's really finding her voice here in a freshly creative way! The record's got a very compelling mix of acoustic and electric elements – some of the beats you might expect, but also mixed with more live percussion, and even some field recordings and other elements that really create a deeper texture of sound next to Nina's lovely vocals. The record also features help from some great talents from the underground – including Kassin, Chris Franck, Xaver Fischer, and others who've helped bridge the gap between Brazilian roots and 21st Century expression. Titles include "Marsh Mellow Dreams", "Whole Of London", "Megalopolis", "The Cage", "Silken Horse", "Capoeira 2020", "Play", "Amazonia Amor", "Soundtrack To Venus Night Boat", and "The Surfer".  ~ Dusty Groove



Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith never fails to blow us away – and even though he's captured our ear with recent higher-concept projects or other group work, he sounds equally mindblowing here in a completely solo setting! As you'd guess from the title, the set's based around the musical vision of Thelonious Monk – territory not often explored on solo trumpet, and handled beautifully here by Smith – both on his long extrapolations based on Monk's compositions, and on his own tunes dedicated to Monk – which are these bold, brilliant paintings in sound that the legendary pianist would have been proud to hear. We're not sure what's in the water over at Smith's house, but he's really had this amazing blossom of fresh creativity in recent years – as you'll hear on his compositions here, entitled "Monk & His Five Point Ring At The Five Spot Cafe", "Monk & Bud Powell At Shea Stadium", and "Adagio Monkishness – A Cinematic Vision Of Monk Playing Solo" – alongside versions of Monk tunes that include "Ruby My Dear", "Reflections", "Round Midnight", and "Crepuscule With Nellie".  ~ Dusty Groove


The bass of Eric Revis sounds better than we ever remember – and that's saying a lot, because we've really liked his other records too! Yet here, it almost feels like Revis is out to re-state himself as a musician – coming on strong with a tone that could put him up there with the giants of earlier years – and beautifully matched with drummer Chad Taylor, who's always been an amazing example of that rare quality of being tight and loose at the same time! Ken Vandermark blows tenor and clarinet – but in a way that really seems to respect the path taken by Revis and Taylor – as does the piano of Kris Davis, which punctuates the sound perfectly. Titles include "Sing Me Some Cry", "PT 44", "Good Company", "Rye Eclipse", "Rumples", and "Drunkard's Lullaby".  ~ Dusty Groove


Brian Charette's a contemporary organist who's always out to set himself apart from most of the rest – not by forcing any sort of experimental modes on the Hammond, or by trying to race up and down the keys – but just by relaxing into a tune, and really finding a way to deliver a performance that's clear and crisp, yet undeniably soulful! Whereas other younger Hammondists might be driven to work in the territory of the Jimmys – McGriff and Smith – or Jack McDuff – Charette's almost got more of the understated quality of Shirley Scott, especially on a trio date like this. Brian keeps his tone nicely in check – always playing with these round, fully-formed notes – even on material by artists like Larry Young or Joe Henderson – and he's balanced out here by the piano of Henry Hay and drums of Jochen Rueckert, in a way that uses the piano to almost underscore and echo the lines of the organ. Titles include "The Blessing", "Backup", "A Shade Of Jade", "Tadd's Delight", "These Are Soulful Days", and "Dahoud".  ~ Dusty Groove



The debut album by Bette Smith – a singer with a definite 70s look on the cover, and a definite sound to match! Bette was raised in Brooklyn, where she worked for years to hone her voice to a uniquely raspy style – but she recorded this album in Mississippi, with a deep soul vibe that really fits the spirit of her vocals – certainly different than if she were singing with a funk band up north! Jimbo Mathus is the second creative vision on the project – as he produced, wrote most of the songs, and even plays guitar and keyboards – with an overall vibe that maybe feels like some of the rootsier Malaco productions in the 70s. Titles include "Jetlagger", "Moaning Bench", "Shackle & Chain", "Durty Hustlin", "Manchild", "City In The Sky", "I Will Feed You", and a nice remake of Isaac Hayes' "Do Your Thing".  ~ Dusty Groove


Fantastic sounds from Hermeto Pascoal – an artist who first set the world of Brazilian music on fire in the early 70s, and has continued to be one of its most creative talents for decades! One of the great things about Hermeto is not only his own talents as a composer and instrumentalist, but also his warmly collaborative style, and strong sense of mentorship – which often has him working with younger players who not only realize his vision perfectly, but help spur him on to new creative heights! This double-length set is a fantastic testament to that tradition – as it has Hermeto working alongside his son Fabio, who helped organize the date – plus other instrumentalists who provide a range of sharp sounds with the sort of fast changes and inventive timings that we've really come to expect from Pascoal at his best. Most tracks are instrumentals – in a mode that's somewhere near jazz, but very much in its own territory – but the set also has one especially amazing number with indivdual associates speaking a bit with very cool backing. Titles include "Viva Piazzolla", "Som De Aura", "Para Miles Davis", "Salve Pernambuco Percussao", "Viva Edu Lobo", "Um Abraco Chick Corea", "Rafael Amor Eterno", "Ilza Nova", and "Para Ron Carter".  ~ Dusty Groove


That's a pretty clever title from Otto – but then again, the man's always been one of the most clever artists of his generation – and that's saying a lot, given that Otto rose up on a big wave of newly creative Brazilian talents at the start of the 21st Century! All the promise we've loved in his music is still strongly in place here – wonderful songwriting, of the sort that can make the tunes completely compelling, even if you can't understand their lyrical language – served up with inventive production that folds together acoustic and electric elements to resonate the gentle soul of the lyrics. We've always wondered why Otto's talents have never broken bigger on a global scale – but his underground status is maybe one of the reasons we've always enjoyed him so much too – as we greatly do this time around, on titles that include "Teorema", "Orunmila", "Bala", "Atras De Voce", "Caminho Do Sol", "Carinhosa", and "Meu Dengo".  ~ Dusty Groove



A great introduction to the voice of Gabriel Tajeu – a singer who has this way of grabbing us right from the very first note, with a vibe that's classic enough to have made him huge way back in the 70s! Gabriel's music has a sound that's as sunny as the image on the cover – a style that reflects both his roots in Alabama, and his handling here by an overseas funk label – a mixing of modes that's maybe even greater than the sum of its parts, and served up at a level that's mighty fresh! Tajeu sings in a way that slides right into the lyric beautifully, and the backings are often light, but with a slight sense of groove – slightly jazzy around the edges to warm things up and maybe point just slightly towards 70s AOR territory. Titles include "Down To The Wire", "Raindrops", "Weight Of The World", "Someone To Love", "Sunday's Best", "The Beat Goes On", and "All I Want Is You". CD also features five bonus acoustic versions of songs on the album.  ~ Dusty Groove


Beautiful work from Tribalistas – that groundbreaking group forged from three Brazilian stars who rose in the 90s – Arnaldo Antunes, Marisa Monte, and Carlinhos Brown – who somehow found a perfect way to come together, and make their music even more special as a trio! We've always loved their records, but this time around there's something maybe even more incredible – this instant classic vibe that rings out right from the very first note, as the voices of the singers trade back and forth, and blend – and the instrumentation follows suit with this subtle weaving of acoustic and electric elements. Monte produced the record, but really with help from everyone else involved – and there's this close-up, collaborative spirit to the whole thing that maybe makes the record the most intimate, personal offering from the group – and maybe the most mature as well. Titles include "Diaspora", "Um So", "Fora Da Memoria", "Anima", "Feliz E Saudavel", "Lutar E Vencer", "os Peixinhos", "Baiao Do Mundo", and "Alianca".  ~ Dusty Groove


A wonderfully fresh change for the mighty Nicole Willis – who works here with the decades-old UMO Jazz Orchestra – who have been as important to the Finnish scene as Willis has with her music in recent years! The sound is still in that mix of soul and funk that Nicole's given us on previous records – but with the larger group, she also brings in some jazzier shadings too – really rising with a sense of majesty, over arrangements handed by Jimi Tenor, her longtime partner – whose vision has really helped Nicole's talents over the years! The set is both classy and classic – but not in any sort of easy-retro, or overstated way – as Tenor and Willis really know how to strike the best sort of balance to showcase the strength of Nicole's original material for the set – songs that seem to have even more righteous power than before. Titles include "Break Free", "Haunted By The Devil", "No Child Denied", "Together We Climb", "When We Go Down", "Final Call", and "One In A Million". CD features the bonus track "Still Got A Way To Fall".  ~ Dusty Groove


14-year-old pianist and three-time GRAMMY® nominee Joey Alexander will release, Joey.Monk.Live! on Motéma Music, in honor of jazz icon Thelonious Monk's 100th Birthday. The album will stream exclusively on Apple Music and be available for digital download on iTunes on Friday, September 29, followed by wider digital release on Friday, October 13.

Joey routinely cites Monk as his greatest influence. This trio project, recorded live at Jazz at Lincoln Center in June 2017, features fresh arrangements of seven iconic Monk compositions.  There are five stellar trio tracks - "Evidence," "Ugly Beauty," "Rhythm-A-Ning," "Epistrophy," and "Straight No Chaser" - featuring bassist Scott Colley and drummer Willie Jones III, as well as a pair of imaginative and lyrical solo excursions on, "Round Midnight," and "Pannonica."

To celebrate the new album and Monk's legacy, Joey will headline New York's Jazz Standard one-night only on Monk's Centennial, Tuesday, October 10, with fellow Motéma artist, Charnett Moffett on bass, and Joey's frequent collaborator Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums.

The weight of Monk's influence is evident in elements of Joey's unique piano style, his thoughtful approach to Monk classics on his first two albums, My Favorite Things (2015) and Countdown (2016), and in the growing body of compelling Joey Alexander originals, three of which were featured on his prior albums, with six more to be unveiled when his third studio album is released in 2018.

"Thelonious Monk taught me to groove, bounce, understand space, be patient, be simple, sometimes be mysterious but, most of all, to be joyful," reflects Joey. "In my arrangements, I tried to stay true to the essence of his music - to treat it with the highest level of respect. Thelonious Monk's music is the essence of beauty."

Since coming to the United States in 2014, the response to Joey has been astonishing. The Bali-born 14-year old has experienced one of the most rapidly ascendant careers in jazz history. Since releasing his chart-topping albums, My Favorite Things (2015) and Countdown (2016), Joey has earned a combined three GRAMMY® Award nominations, making him the youngest jazz artist ever nominated for a GRAMMY® Award. His musical adroitness earned him appearances on the GRAMMY® Awards, The Today Show, CNN, as well as CBS 60 Minutes profile by Anderson Cooper, fueling a rare level of public notoriety for Joey as a jazz musician, both within the jazz community and among the public at large.

"Joey.Monk.Live!" Track Listing
1. Round Midnight
2. Evidence
3. Ugly Beauty
4. Rhythm-A-Ning
5. Epistrophy
6. Straight No Chaser
7. Pannonica

Tour Dates:
September 28: Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center, Birmingham, AL
September 29: Donald W. Nixon Centre for the Arts, Newman, GA
October 10: Jazz Standard, New York, NY
October 13: Schermerhorn Performing Arts Center, Nashville, TN
October 14: Loeb Playhouse at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
October 20: Orchestra Hall, Detroit, MI
October 21: Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, Brookfield, WI
January 12: Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami, Florida
January 19: Singha Winter Jazz Festival- Singha Park, Chiang Rai
January 25: Collins Center for the Arts, Orono, Maine
February 17: Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY
February 22: Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA
March 2-3: Appel Room @ JALC, New York, NY
March 23:  Strathmore, Bethesda, MD
March 30: Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, AZ
March 31: Capitol Theatre, Salt Lake City, UT
April 20: Schaeffer Auditorium/ Kutztown University
April 21: Strand Capitol Arts Center, York, PA
April 27: Musco Center, Orange, CA
April 28: La Jolla, San Diego, CA
April 29: UCSB, Santa Barbara, CA


Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas also features guest vocalists Selina Albright, Javier Colon, Kenny Lattimore, Gabriel Orengo and Jeffrey Osborne

After twenty years of sold out Christmas tours and five celebrated holiday albums within as many years, saxophonist Dave Koz has done his share – and then some – to help to make the season bright. This year he has reassembled his original holiday lineup – pianist David Benoit, trumpeter Rick Braun and acoustic guitarist Peter White – for the making of Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas, an album that features brand new recordings of classic Christmas songs.

The September 29, 2017, release of Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas on Concord Records sets the stage for Koz and this same lineup to go back on the road in late November for the 2017 holiday season.

“If you had asked me twenty years ago, I would never in a million years believed that we’d be doing Christmas tours two decades later,” says Koz. “But here we are, still doing it, and it’s going as strong as ever! So with twenty years under our belts, it seemed like a great reason to celebrate, and that’s why we decided to include the original cast of our Christmas tour. It’s our chance to go back to the very beginning and celebrate the relationships that this whole journey was built on.”

In addition to the brilliant instrumental synergy of Koz, Benoit, Braun and White, Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas also includes a stellar lineup of guest vocalists: Selina Albright, Javier Colon, Kenny Lattimore, Gabriel Orengo and Jeffrey Osborne. In addition, several of the tracks are enhanced by the West European Symphony Orchestra. This confluence of instrumental, vocal and orchestral talent creates the peaceful, familial, home-centered vibe that everyone seeks at holiday time.

“This is the kind of record that really sets a mood and stays with that mood,” says Koz. “The feeling and the image I get when I listen to it, is that quiet time after dinner when the kids are asleep, the fireplace is crackling, you’re enjoying an eggnog and you’re gazing at the tree with all the lights and trimmings. This music is perfect for that moment. It’s just a very chill, very beautiful collection of songs for that very peaceful time during the season.”

The album opens on a light-hearted note with “Winter Wonderland.” The orchestra begins with a whimsical figure that sounds like snow falling, and then segues immediately into the familiar melody. “It’s a great song to start the album,” says Koz, “because everyone is featured, everyone plays the melody and everyone has a solo. You really get a sense of everyone’s personality in a single track.”

“Joy to the Wonderful World” is just what the title suggests – a medley of “Joy to the World” and “What a Wonderful World.” The track talks about the world in general, but especially at Christmastime. “People are different at this time of year,” says Koz. “Christmastime brings out the best in everyone and we all look at the world with childlike joy and tend to appreciate things more. We often hear people say – why can’t it be like Christmas all year ‘round.”

“Christmas Time Is Here” derives much of its beauty from the spontaneity of its inception. “We had a five minute conversation about what we were going to do,” says Koz, “we picked a key, we pressed record, and three and a half minutes later, there was the track! When you hear that melody, it’s the holidays. There’s no doubt about it. It takes you right there.”

Gabriel Orengo brings his expressive vocals to the Jose Feliciano classic “Feliz Navidad.” Koz calls the arrangement “a completely novel way of interpreting the song. Gabriel does this sort of Bruno Mars type of vocal delivery that’s so expressive and so in the moment. When I first heard Gabriel do it, I thought, ‘We have to find a way to make it work on the album,’ and we did. I’m very proud of this track.”

“Hark! The Herald Angels We Have Heard on High” is another one-take wonder that came together in the studio with very little preliminary planning. “It’s a pretty sophisticated piece of music, a musical mash up of two classics” says Koz, “and yet it was just one pass from start to finish.”

Selina Albright’s heartfelt vocals bring a retro sensibility to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” but at the same time, “she has all the dexterity of a modern pop singer,” says Koz. “She takes it to another level, but never overdoes it. Her version sounds so true to what the song is all about.”

“O Tannenbaum,” one of Koz’s all-time favorites, creates an opportunity for plenty of interplay between himself and his three bandmates. “At the end of the track, there’s a musical conversation that came about organically. Look for quotes from familiar melodies like ‘Jingle Bells,’ ‘On Broadway’ and others.”

Javier Colon delivers the emotional payoff in “Silent Night,” a track that starts as a subtle instrumental piece and culminates with Colon’s angelic delivery. “Since the moment this song was written in the 1800s, it has been something more than a song. It’s like a prayer. So you must approach it with tremendous respect. Javier does that beautifully.”

Kenny Lattimore’s emotionally powerful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” had its origins in Koz’s 2016 Christmas tour. “The first night Kenny sang it, he got a standing ovation,” Koz recalls. “So we asked him to memorialize his version on this album.”

The lush and peaceful “O Little Town of Bethlehem” is a classic that Koz hadn’t recorded on any previous holiday albums. “It’s a beautiful melody in its own right,” he says, “and David wrote this absolutely gut-wrenching, gorgeous arrangement for the orchestra.”

Jeffrey Osborne delivers the stirring “Home Medley,” a combination of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home,” a song that is traditionally the final number in Koz’s Christmas shows, and it speaks to the emotional connection so common at this time of year. “It’s that sense of stability you get when you’re surrounded by your loved ones,” he says, “whether you’re actually in your physical home or not.”

Indeed, home for Koz and his bandmates is any place where they feel a positive connection. It may be in your town, or even in your living room. “Oftentimes,” he says, “because we’ve been going back to some of the same venues over the course of twenty years for the Christmas tour, these places feel like our home – even if it’s just for two hours in one night in December. Likewise, the songs on Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas are all very important to those of us who recorded them. We’ve poured a lot of love and care into each song, and hope fans are filled with warmth, kindness and Christmas Spirit.”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Mark Zaleski Band Returns After Nearly a Decade With Its Wide-Ranging, Hard-Swinging Second Album, Days, Months, Years

Bandleader/composer Zaleski pulls off the impressive feat of playing both saxophone and bass on the album, which features his long-running ensemble

Sparks can fly from an initial meeting, but true chemistry only comes with time. That's true in jazz as it is in life, as can be heard by listening to the evolution of the music's great bands as they grow and evolve over time. Nearly a decade after their debut release, the Mark Zaleski Band returns with the fruits of their own long tenure together. On Days, Months, Years, due out October 6, 2017, the quintet (and sometime sextet) reveals the fruits that come from putting in the time, year after year, gig after gig.

While the Mark Zaleski Band has been together for 11 years, the relationships between the bandleader and some of his collaborators reach back even further - nearly a lifetime in the case of keyboardist Glenn Zaleski, Mark's younger brother and a gifted composer/bandleader in his own right. Tenor saxophonist Jon Bean has been Zaleski's best friend since the two met as students at Boston's New England Conservatory 12 years ago. Both guitarist Mark Cocheo and bassist Danny Weller (who is a regular part of the live band and appears on one track here) first crossed paths with Zaleski at that prestigious institution as well. In that company drummer Oscar Suchenek is the relative newcomer, joining four years ago after meeting Zaleski in the ranks of the acclaimed Either/Orchestra.

It takes the kind of telepathic communication that only comes with such longevity and chemistry to manage the album's most impressive feat. Zaleski does double duty in the band's line-up, part of both his namesake band's frontline, playing alto and soprano saxophone, as well as its rhythm section, playing bass on five of the six tracks. A lot of planning and some complicated logistics (not to mention a bit of studio acrobatics) were required, though as with the best magic the effort never shows in the final product. The music on Days, Months, Years is as lively, swinging and robust as if a sixth member - Zaleski clone or not - was playing along with them.

"Playing bass and saxophone for a jazz record is obviously kind of tricky," Zaleski admits. "I don't think I'd be able to pull it off with just any group of musicians. It requires the real life bond that everybody in this band has with each other."
While saxophone has been Zaleski's primary instrument since he first picked one up at 9 years old, he's maintained a lifelong flirtation with the bass. Growing up listening to classic and modern rock, the guitar loomed larger in his imagination than the clarinet that he played in the school band, which seemed to have little to do with the music of Led Zeppelin or Metallica. Even as he shifted his focus to jazz, Zaleski would sneak away from his sax shedding to play around with a friend's upright bass while studying at the Dave Brubeck Institute or NEC.

Seven or eight years ago, that tinkering became a little more serious as Zaleski finally invested in a bass of his own and quickly found himself in demand for gigs and recording sessions as a bassist. "What I thought was going to be a fun little hobby suddenly blew up," he recalls. "I always felt this organic connection to the bass, but it's now become a real part of my life that I couldn't let go of. Though it was kind of crazy, it seemed like the most accurate representation of myself as an artist had to do with bass playing as well as saxophone playing."

Days, Months, Years kicks off with the anthemic "Mark in the Park," which has become something of a theme song for the band. Over the course of its ten minutes, the band gets to show off nearly every facet of its sound, from bracing swing to lilting groove, modern jazz angularity and a rocking, funky backbeat. The first solo belongs to Zaleski's alto, over his own thick, Ray Brown-influenced bass line. Pulling that off required a bit of in-studio juggling and after-the-fact tracking, but the seams never show. "I didn't want anything to seem overproduced," Zaleski says. "I wanted to maintain the organic quality of the improvisational sections."

"Cerina," named for the street where the band used to practice in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood (not far from the park where "Mark in the Park" was written), begins with an unaccompanied duo improvisation between the two saxophonists that offers a glimpse of the deep friendship and understanding that Zaleski and Bean share. The rest of the band kicks in with a fiery, Latin-tinged rhythm, which later gives way to a more atmospheric section for Cocheo's entrancing solo.

The title track was penned by a younger Zaleski in a moment of career anxiety, its simmering intensity revealing of his frustration, though the song ultimately ends on a hopeful note, one that has since been paid off with the composer's success as both a musician and an educator. A funky arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" follows, offering a glimpse of a well-known piece reimagined through Zaleski's own singular voice.

An elegiac ballad showcasing Zaleski's soprano playing, "Katie's Song" is a dedication to a close childhood friend who was killed far too young in a tragic car accident. Finally, the swaggering "Big Foot" offers a glimpse of the live Mark Zaleski Band experience, with regular bassist Danny Weller (who was busy attending to the birth of his child when the rest of the album was recorded) joining the fold. Zaleski's arrangement of the lesser-known Charlie Parker tune melds the original bebop sound with a burly blues feel.

A native of Boylston, Massachusetts, Zaleski has enjoyed a diverse career, playing with jazz greats like Christian McBride, Dave Brubeck, Antonio Sanchez and Dave Liebman, among others, while also working with singer Connie Francis and touring with rock legends Jethro Tull. At just 31, he's become one of the most in-demand educators in Boston, serving as chair of the Woodwind and Brass departments at Bard College's Longy School of Music and harmony professor at Berklee College of Music, and teaching ear training, lessons and ensembles at his alma mater, New England Conservatory. In addition to leading his own band, he's currently a member (on electric bass) of the long-running Either/Orchestra and Planet Radio, a funk/soul band that he co-founded.

CD Release Concerts:  
o Thursday, October 5 - Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA
o Friday, October 6 - Smalls, NYC 
o Saturday, October 7 - The Side Door, Old Lyme, CT


On November 3rd, VP Records/17 North Parade will release “Havana Meets Kingston.” The innovative, culture-centric album pairs legendary and emerging Cuban and Jamaican musicians to reimagine classic songs and create new compositions, infused with Jamaican reggae and dancehall and traditional Cuban and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Produced by Australia’s leading reggae and dancehall producer Mista Savona (aka Jake Savona), ‘Havana Meets Kingston’ is the first full-length project to present the blended sounds of these two distinct island nations supported by an all-star cast of musicians.

Of the 15 new recordings on the album, fresh versions of ‘Chan, Chan,’ ‘El Cuarto De Tula,’ and ‘Candela,’ made famous by the album/film Buena Vista Social Club present a blended Caribbean flair. The album was recorded at Egrem Studios (Estudios Areito 101) in Havana and features performances by Grammyaward winning reggae duo Sly & Robbie with original Buena Vista Social Club instrumentalists Ronaldo Luna and Barbarito Torres among others.  New renditions of classic reggae songs; “Vibracion Positive” (Rastaman Vibration), “Row Fisherman Row” and “100 Pounds of Collie” feature the talents of vocalists Turbulence,Randy Valentine and Prince Alla among others. The music video and single ‘Carnival’ featuring emerging Cuban artist Solis and Randy Valentine, will be followed closely by “El Cuarto De Tula” featuring Maikel Ante, El Medico and Turbulence. A feature-length documentary chronicling the recording sessions is slated for release in 2018.

“When I first visited Cuba in 2013, there was something in the air- it just seemed to be begging to happen”, said Jake Savona. “The album simmers with an energy,warmth and sincerity that seems increasingly hard to find in this digital age. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed creating it.”

For generations, Cuba and Jamaica have been at the forefront of trends in music, art,fashion and food throughout the Americas. “Havana Meets Kingston” meshes these musical pathways, effortlessly blending Cuban rhythms and melodies with reggae’s rumbling basslines and hypnotic drums, resulting in an exceptional listening experience.

“We are excited to be associated with this album,” said Randy Chin, President of VP Records. “it’s a historical album with amazing production and talented artists, making it a truly ground-breaking project.”


Jordana Talsky’s new full length album ‘Neither of Either’ marks an evolution from jazz songstress to performer with a distinct sound

Jordana Talsky’s new full length album ‘Neither of Either’ marks an evolution from jazz songstress to performer with a distinct sound, combining acapella and full band tracks while seamlessly weaving between intricate support harmonies, vocal percussion and quirky textures to create an innovative and compelling sound.

The Toronto based vocalist-songwriter takes risks, sonically and stylistically, encompassing her diverse influences across multiple genres from jazz to pop, to alternative and ambient, to blues and soul and beyond.

Produced by Juno award winner Justin Abedin, the multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer recognized Jordana’s innate sense of music and deep well of creativity. “She understands the value in the craft of songwriting and brings a fresh approach to her style”.

Pushing the boundaries of her current sound, Jordana and Justin ensured the 10 track ‘Neither of Either’ has a great vibe, ease of vocal transition, convincing lyrics and musicality that harkens to other strong female voices influential on Jordana including Fiona Apple, Dido, Feist and Alanis Morissette.

Jordana Talsky is a voice to be heard. Her unique sound and varied style may be attributed to her wide ranging experience. Once an opera singer, a musical theatre performer, and member of a funk band, Jordana pushes boundaries and embraces all of her musical sensibilities. She was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, a semi-finalist in the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition, and runner-up for the Julian Award of Excellence for Emerging Canadian Artists and Toronto Independent Music Awards (vocal jazz).

With a live show of high energy and excitement Jordana’s reputation has led her to perform in several music festivals and renowned venues. Established as one of Canada’s most exciting new artists in music, Jordana Talsky continues to perform on many notable stages both in the US and Canada making her a rising entertainer to watch.

From the catchy quirky intro of “Run” to the roots infused post-rock “Around You All The Time” followed by the darkly soulful “Ways”, and the epitome of being fed up expressed in “Sick”, Side A rounds out with “Bitter Sweet Heart”, where Jordana’s mesmerizing voice takes over. “Spark”, the first track on Side B, is a reminder that sometimes, that’s all that’s needed. “Wave of Emotion” conveys the confusion of being pulled in two directions while the title track, “Neither of Either” considers that sometimes not making the choice is wise. The RnB flavoured “Don’t Know” precedes Jordana’s imaginative acapella remake of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” and completes the album much like it began – catchy, great vibe and shining vocals.

Friday, September 22, 2017



Insanely wonderful work from the Texas scene at the end of the 60s – a huge collection of the English language soul songs of Sunny & The Sunliners! The group first hit national fame in the earlier part of the 60s, with a sweet falsetto crossover hit – but as the decade moved on, they balanced their music equally between Spanish and English tunes – the former in more of a Tex-Mex mode, the latter in a wonderful version of sweet soul! In a way, Sunny's work here is a lot like Joe Bataan during his Sweet Soul years – a heartbreaking blend of Latin roots and east coast soul – produced with a rootsy vibe that really gets right to the heart of the matter! Sunny's work has never been reissued properly – especially the soul tracks from this period – and the collection is an ear-opening listen all the way through – and one that should hopefully put the group right up there with material by The Delfonics, Moments, and other sweet soul groups. Titles include "Smile Now Cry Later", "Put Me In Jail", "Should I Take You Home", "Cross My Heart", "Get Down", "Rain Makes Me Blue", "Outside Looking In", "My Dream", and "Open Up Your Love Door". ~ Dusty Groove

British soul legend Seal returns with his new album, ‘Standards’ - combining his unique voice with some of the greatest jazz standards and swing classics ever written. “I’m so delighted to announce that my brand new album, Standards, is out November 10th. This is the album I have always wanted to make. I grew up listening to music from the Rat Pack era, so recording these timeless tunes was a lifelong dream.” “It was a true honour to collaborate with the same musicians who performed with Frank Sinatra and so many of my favourite artists, in the very same studios where the magic was first made - it was one of the greatest days of my recording career.” Seal’s new album brings the glamour of Old Hollywood straight to the present, and his signature, velvety warm vocals bring to life classics made popular by Frank Sinatra (such as Luck Be A Lady, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and It Was A Very Good Year), Ella Fitzgerald (I’m Beginning to See The Light) and Nina Simone (I Put A Spell on You). Available on CD, Deluxe Signed CD, and Vinyl.


Includes: This I Swear (Richard Darbyshire); I’m Back for More (Bob Jones Club Remix by Lulu feat. Bobby Womack); I Want You Back (Sinclair); Flavour of the Old School (Beverley Knight); For Your Love (Hil St Soul); Enough Is Enough (Dennis Taylor); Gonna Get Over You (Full Flava Mix by Beverlei Brown); Betcha Wouldn't Hurt Me (Change Has Come Mix by Full Flava feat. Donna Gardier); Until You Come Back to Me (Acoustic Version by Hil St Soul); It's Alright (Cooly's Hot Box); This I Promise You (D-Influence feat. Shola Ama); Stories (Full Flava feat. Carleen Anderson); Can't Get You out of My Head (Incognito); Talk About It (Seek); Make You Smile (Brenda Russell); The One for Me (Rahsaan Patterson); Watching You (Avani feat. Rahsaan Patterson, Carl McIntosh); Starship (Conya Doss); Sausalito (George Duke); Future Street ( Martha Redbone); My Door Is Open (Carleen Anderson); Stay Awhile (Don-E); Fooled by a Smile (Julie Dexter feat. Khari Simmons); Words (Anthony David feat. India.Arie); If I Were You (Donnie); Slippin' (Mikelyn Roderick); Been in Love (Eric Roberson feat. Phonte); To Love Again (Gordon Chambers feat. Ledisi); After the Dance (James Taylor Quartet feat. Omar); Distant Lover (Heston); Fall in Love (Tortured Soul); Real Love (Drizabone Soul Family feat. Nataya); All in Me (Angela Johnson feat. Darien); I Got Sunshine (Avery Sunshine); Never in Your Sun (Khari Cabral Simmons feat. India.Arie); So Cold (Don-E feat. D'Angelo); Dealing (Eric Roberson feat. Lalah Hathaway); Lowdown (Incognito feat. Mario Biondi, Chaka Khan); Got to Let My Feelings Show (Bluey); Nature's Call (Shaun Escoffery); 4 Evermore (Anthony David feat. Algebra); A Universal Vibe (Down To The Bone); What Color Is Love (Citrus Sun feat. Valerie Etienne); Call My Name (Avery Sunshine); Music and Its Magical Way (Jarrod Lawson); Can't Keep Rhythm from a Dancer (Tortured Soul); Yeah (The Layabouts Remix by Imaani); Unconditional Love (Greg Dean feat. Chantae Cann, Jarrod Lawson); Ain't No Time (Gil Cang Extended Mix by Shaun Escoffery); and Morning Love (Simon Law feat. Caron Wheeler).

Thursday, September 21, 2017



Expansion’s most successful and longest running compilation series returns with a 2017 edition. The concept remains the same, fifteen must-have modern soul room gems taken from the year’s biggest dance floor spins on the soul scene. While tracks here have topped UK soul charts, many have not been available in all formats. Once again, attention is paid to the ‘flow’ of the 15 gems chosen here from shuffling beats to boogie to more soulful house as played at modern soul events. Participants this year include Omar with Los Charly’s Orchestra, Tawatha Agree (voice of Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit”) with Aeroplane, Kenny Thomas with Thames River Soul produced by and featuring Incognito, and both Wez and The Groove Association formerly members of Brit Funk group Second Image. Leela James is here after her stint in a US realty TV show “R&B Divas: Los Angeles”, other guests including Amp Fiddler, Faith Evans, Trina Broussard and Lifford.


While “Soul Togetherness” on Expansion continues to feature the best new floor fillers of each year, “Soul Festival” is here now with a collection of music reflecting the label’s love of 70s soul. “Soul Festival” spans the period from when new soul music took influence from the Northern soul we enjoy here at UK clubs and events. As the decade progressed, records became more lavish in their arrangement and grander in production, always with that essential soul feel, and that’s what you will find here on this compilation. Music from this era is thankfully plentiful, always something to discover or enjoy all over again. Much has been reissued before, not always legally or of great sound quality, and so the intention of this series is to bring tracks together on both LP vinyl and CD of a high standard that are rare or have not previously appeared on one of these formats or the other.


As the man who basically invented free jazz and even coined the term, Ornette Coleman has had the vast majority of his catalog reissued on CD, and rightfully so. But there are two records, both released on the legendary Impulse! label, that have somehow escaped digitization until now, The first, 1969’s Ornette at 12, features Ornette on alto sax, trumpet, and violin with Dewey Redman on tenor sax, long-time collaborator Charlie Haden on bass, and son Denardo (age 12 at the time of the 1968 recording) on drums. The jazz world was still getting over the effrontery of Denardo playing drums—he had made his debut two years earlier on The Empty Foxhole—which may explain why this one’s remained in the vaults till now. But Redman’s playing on tenor is just stellar, and Ornette’s untrained trumpet and violin technique make a nice foil for Denardo’s fresh approach to the traps. Another boundary-pushing record in a career full of them. But if it’s a puzzle that Ornette at 12 has not been previously reissued, it’s a downright mystery why 1972’s Crisis also hasn’t come out; recorded live in 1969 at N.Y.U. with a killer band of Redman, Haden, Denardo, and Don Cherry on flute and trumpet, it takes its place with Broken Shadows and Science Fiction as one of Ornette’s great small group recordings of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. The version of Haden’s “Song for Che” is one of the best on record, the rendition of “Broken Shadows” here is simply beautiful, which is not a term many associate with Coleman’s playing, and the addition of Don Cherry—fresh from his own experiments in Indian and African music—spices up what is already a pretty heady brew. Real Gone Music’s two-for-one reissue of this pair of albums features the original gatefold album art and an essay by Howard Mandel, author of Miles, Ornette, Cecil: Jazz Beyond Jazz. Remastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision from original tape sources.



The title's an apt one – as the music here is based on the improvisations from Roscoe Mitchell's earlier Conversations albums – but recast in a whole new way for an improvising orchestra! The group here features Mitchell on sopranino sax – a very strong voice out in the lead – but the larger ensemble really has a lot to add to the sound, in a lineup that includes flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, and oboe – reed elements used by Mitchell as in some of his previous "serious music" experiments – then mixed with violin, viola, electronics, trumpet, trombone, and percussion. The sound is a wonderful bridge between the compositional world of Mitchell and some of his looser small group improvisations – and the album satisfied both sides of that sonic spectrum in a great way. Titles include "Cascade", "Cracked Roses", "Who Dat", "Frenzy House", "Home Screen", and "I'll See You Out There".  ~ Dusty Groove


Excellent work from Souljazz Orchestra – a group who've consistently been one of the strongest contemporary Afro Funk ensembles for the past decade or so! There's a richness to the Souljazz approach that sets them apart from other groups that might just be going through the motions – especially in the way that they always know that the sound of the sum of their parts is very reliant on the parts – which mean that the individual musicians are quite strong, and burst out with very vibrant energy every time they get to take a solo! These guys are also never stuck in a groove – and really have found a way to refine and update their sound – this time around by maybe borrowing a bit more from some early 80s African roots and styles, of the sort that have had strong discovery in recent years. Titles include "Dog Eat Dog", "Lufunki", "Under Burning Skies", "Adawe Boogie", "Aduna Jarul Naawo", "Tambour A Deux Peaux", and "Oblier Pour Un Jour".  ~ Dusty Groove


Jerry Bergonzi has been making records for decades – yet lately, he seems to be finding an even fresher way forward – with a set like this that can grab us right from the very first note, and having us get excited all over again about his music! Bergonzi's tenor sound is tremendous – that raw tone that's been building up right from the start – but maybe the strongest element here is the group, which seems to have this soaring vision that's even more than the sum of its parts – driven on by this excellent presence on bass from Johnny Aman, whose dark notes really color the music, and open up the moodiest side of Bergonzi's music – alongside the excellent Carl Winther on piano, who wrote songs on the record alongside Jerry – plus Phil Grenadier on trumpet, and Anders Mogensen on drums. The trumpet/tenor pairing, quite familiar in jazz, somehow manages to find all these new places throughout – bursting out beautifully on titles that include "Pleiades", "Dog Star", "Darkness", "Live Stream", "Vertigo", and "Repor-Pa-Int".  ~ Dusty Groove

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Live in Montreal captures the Japanese pianist and the Colombian harpist in an electrifying and emotional set from the 2017 Montreal International Jazz Festival

Two of the most electrifying and original voices in contemporary jazz come together on Live in Montreal, the thrilling new album from Hiromi and Edmar Castaneda. Captured live at the 2017 Montreal International Jazz Festival, the album features the Japanese pianist/composer and the Colombian harpist finding common ground on Canadian soil, joining forces for a duo set that’s alternately – and at times simultaneously – engaging, explosive, moving, intricate and infectious.

Set for release October 6, 2017 on Telarc, a division of Concord Music Group, Live in Montreal was recorded exactly one year from the day when Hiromi and Castaneda first met. It was at the 2016 edition of the Montreal International Jazz Festival that the harpist was scheduled to open for a performance of Hiromi’s Trio Project. Each caught the other’s set and instantly fell under one another’s spell, as so many audiences had done before.

“I didn't really know what to expect,” Hiromi remembers. “When I heard Edmar play I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. It was a jaw-dropping experience. I didn't realize the harp could create such rhythm and groove. I only knew about classical harp, so my image of the instrument was very different. His way of playing was pure energy, full of passion - I was just blown away.”

For his part, Castaneda was equally awed by Hiromi’s set that night. “Her trio was burning, really crazy. The energy that she produced was the same as I like to play. I realized that we share the same passion for our instruments.”

After the show that night the two broached the topic of a collaboration, but so often that kind of backstage talk gets forgotten the moment that each side moves on to the next town. Fortunately that didn’t happen this time around, and it was less than two weeks later that Castaneda’s phone rang with an invitation to join Hiromi for a weeklong engagement at New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club. The moment they began to meld their distinctive sounds, the chemistry they’d suspected was more than confirmed.

“We both clearly remember the first few minutes of playing together in soundcheck,” Hiromi says. “It was really magical and effortless. It felt like all the musical notes that we created were happy to be together. It was like dancing.”

From the blooming string swell that opens Castaneda’s “A Harp in New York,” the duo’s synchronicity is gorgeously apparent. As a duo, their shared intuitions lead them from moments of serene beauty into bursts of propulsive momentum, leaving the listener floating with the perfect balance of tranquility and drive. The opening tug-of-war on “For Jaco” elicits appreciative laughter from the Montreal audience, providing a glimpse of the sheer joy that the pair finds in playing together. The tune’s buoyant groove was created in tribute to the legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius, whose brilliant art and tragic life proved both inspiration and cautionary tale for Castaneda.

“I was so impressed - and I’m still impressed - by all the tones and options Jaco created on the four string bass,” Castaneda says. “He inspired me to keep doing what I do on the harp, to try to show a different face of the instrument to people. At the same time, he showed me what not to do, how to try to be a musician but not try to go on the bad path that he took. I learned a lot from him, both personal and technical.”

Hiromi’s stunningly lyrical “Moonlight Sunshine” was written in response to the devastating tsunami and earthquake suffered by her native Japan in 2011. Though she’s performed it in the past with bass giant Stanley Clarke, it’s a perfect fit for the soul-stirring virtuosity of both of these players. Their shared musical passions turn more fiery on the album’s closer, an entrancingly sultry take on Astor Piazzolla’s immortal “Libertango.”

John Williams’ familiar “Cantina Band” from Star Wars swings the mood in the other direction, its playful spirit rendered in an arrangement that evokes Django Reinhardt’s gypsy swing, Calypso rhythms, and saloon-style stride piano. Hiromi, a diehard Star Wars fan from childhood, had long been looking for an outlet to tackle the tune, while Castaneda, shockingly for anyone born in the late ‘70s, has still never seen the film.

The centerpiece of the set is Hiromi’s four-part suite “The Elements,” composed especially for this duo. “I couldn't find anything written for this particular instrument combination, and I also wanted to write something for the way we played,” Hiromi explains. “I was imagining Edmar’s sound and it reminded me a lot of sounds in nature.” Each piece imaginatively reflects its subject: the weightless of “air,” the gritty, deep-rooted groove of “earth,” the shimmering fluidity of “water,” the roiling simmer of “fire.”

Most importantly, the suite allows the duo to show off the limitless range of their approaches to their instruments, especially Castaneda’s relatively unfamiliar (in jazz settings) harp. “She really studied what I do and wrote for the way that I play,” Castaneda says. “I always try to be away from ‘harp,’ all these glissandos and soft sounds. It was really nice to have grooves and a different approach to harmony and the combination of the voices in this suite.”

The final element in the concert was provided by the famously appreciative Montreal audience. One of the most renowned jazz festivals in the world, the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, as it’s known north of the border, attracts true lovers of the music, who listen raptly and respond enthusiastically. It was as much for that reason as for the nostalgic thrill of returning to the same site where they’d met a year prior that the duo chose to record at the festival.

“I always love the audience in Montreal,” Hiromi says. “I always felt that they listen to the music with the same dynamics that we play it. They can be really loud and cheerful, but at the same time they can be really focused and quiet. That combination is very rare and amazing, and it puts me in the perfect mood to record.”

Not that either she or Castaneda need much encouragement beyond the spark they feel from each other’s inspiration. Live in Montreal captures all the exuberance and virtuosity that both bring to all of their music, with the added thrill of the new that comes with such an unusual pairing. “It takes courage to come hear a new combination of instruments,” Hiromi says – though she shrugs off the courage it takes to be part of creating such a new sound. “I can assure everyone that it will be a very exciting, brand new experience.”


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