Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bob Baldwin takes on the Beatles with his new tribute project and launches a record-breaking recording featuring 10 soloists on one track

As we enter into the fall of 2018, pianist and keyboardist Bob Baldwin has unleashed several projects this year in celebrating his 30th year as an artist, and 10/1/18 will mark his 10th year on the air with his NewUrbanJazz Radio Network, which begun with a humble five stations in the NPR Radio chain. The show continues to grow with over 45 terrestrial stations and a listening base of over 500,000 listeners. The show can be consumed with a NewUrbanJazz app via your smartphone, or you can listen in from your desktop computer at work. Archived weekly shows appear on Soundcloud.

In 1988, his debut release I’ve got A Long Way To Go on Malaco Jazz announced to the world that he would continue to be a mainstay in the Contemporary/Smooth Jazz format. He now has over 25 discs released as a solo artist, having recorded some of them on 5 continents, including the countries of Brazil, the U.K., Dubai, and South Africa. His recent acquisitions of product from Shanachie includes Cool Breeze and The American Spirit, both of which are owned by his label, City Sketches Records, which launched in 1997.

“I anticipate that there was going to be some seismic shifts in the music business, so I anticipated what those changes would be”, says the native Mt. Vernonite. “When iTunes came to the party in the mid 2000’s, the message was to own your material, and that’s what I’ve been striving for since 2000. A lot of my peers didn’t answer the call, and now, most of them are playing catch-up. People are stealing the music, downloading less and streaming more…and most labels aren’t sharing all the revenues…less than 15% of industry revenues trickle down to the artists, while the labels clean up. I’m happy to say that I’m both the artist and the label, which is a huge advantage”. That Nostradamus-like prediction has enabled Baldwin to flood the market with music in 2018 without label interference.

So what way to further celebrate 30 years in the music business? By releasing even more music. His soon to be released Bob Baldwin Presents Abbey Road the Beatles featuring House groove singer CeCe Peniston, Smooth saxman Euge Groove, Flutist Ragan Whiteside and Washington DC vocalist Lori Williams.  His creatively arranged arrangements of classic tracks by Lennon, McCartney and the rest of the Abbey Road gang has been on the back burner for several years, but Baldwin had to time it perfectly to record and release the project in 2018.

Additionally, Baldwin has been working on a track that has evolved in history measures. His project by The Groove Pact featuring Marion Meadows and himself, entitled “Club Life” features a record ten soloists on one single 4:16 track, with solo appearances by Walter Beasley, Joey Sommerville, Ragan Whiteside, Oli Silk, U-Nam, Nils, Tom Browne and the aforementioned Baldwin and Meadows. The project has some proceeds to benefit the How Big Is Your Dream Foundation, which encourages young students to learn about music through performance seminars, based in the Atlanta, GA market.

Three re-mix projects with some new material are already in the works, beginning with the most popular disc, “Never Can Say Goodbye a Tribute to Michael Jackson (Remixed and Re-Mastered)”. The out-of-print recording which now sells on Amazon starting at an eye-popping $55.00 will now be re-released to ward off all rogue record retailers, released as a normally-priced disc.

A Mount Vernon, New York native who has become a longtime resident of Atlanta, Baldwin debuted in 1988 with “I’ve Got A Long Way to Go” and his 25 albums – eight of which climbed into the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Top 20 – are jazz, R&B and gospel outings. Over the years, he’s worked as a producer, songwriter and performer alongside George Benson, Gerald Albright, Euge Groove, Will Downing, Phil Perry, Pieces of a Dream, Paul Taylor, Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Chuck Loeb. Since 2008, he has hosted the nationally syndicated radio program “The NewUrbanJazz Lounge,” which attracts nearly 500,000 listeners weekly. His City Sketches, Inc. is the umbrella entity that houses a production and event planning company, the radio network and NewUrbanJazz Hats. Baldwin is also the author of a book about the music industry, “You Better Ask Somebody / Staying On Top of Your Career in the ‘Friggin’ Music Business.”

He now has recorded some of them on 5 continents, including the countries of Brazil, the U.K., Dubai, and South Africa.

New York based producer, Atropolis, announces the release of his new EP Shuffle Mode

New York based producer, Atropolis, announces the release of his new EP. Shuffle Mode is set for release on September 28, 2018 on the Cumba Mela imprint. Shuffle Mode encompasses Atropolis’ journey over the years of releasing, performing, teaching, and spending his youth among the diverse music scene of New York City. Taking close to 3 years to complete, each track has its own time, place, story, and sound.  Atropolis states, “This EP is a collection of intimate collaborations, it feels like a playlist on shuffle mode, a reflection of how music is being experienced by the masses.” 

Adam Partridge’s (a.k.a. Atropolis) deep passion for diverse musical cultures has led him to work with artists from India, Colombia, Ghana, Mexico, South Africa, London and beyond. With a degree in music composition and ethnomusicology, Atropolis explores international styles of music fused with electronic elements. Atropolis’ catalog includes two studio albums (Atropolis – 2011, Transitions – 2013), a collaborate remix project with Geko Jones on classic Palenque/Colombian songs (Geko Jones & Atropolis present: Palenque Records Remixed – 2013), and remixes for, Fania Records (Celia Cruz & Willie Colon), and Dom La Nena remixed with Jeremy Sole that was licensed to the Starz Network hit show – ‘Power.’ It’s no surprise that his work has received press accolades from NPR, SPIN Magazine, MTV, Remezcla, and XLR8R for starters.

2018 is shaping up to be a landmark year for Atropolis. He recently released a new EP called Jump for Wonderwheel Recordings and is already back with Shuffle Mode. Although both releases are bounded by the theme of collaborations, Atropolis explains the distinct differences, “For Shuffle Mode I wanted to work with more vocalists, as a response to my Jump EP, which was entirely inspired by instrumental collaborations. For this EP I focused my energy with working with the voice, one of the most powerful instruments.”

The name of the EP Shuffle Mode is inspired by today’s consumption of music with the prominence of playlists and how listener’s interact with music on their own terms now. Atropolis explains, “After the internet and the demise of record stores, the invention of the iPod and now Spotify, I am among many who enjoy a wide range of music over a short period of time. As a by product of New York I’ve always been drawn to diversity, as an artist this is everything to me. Shuffle Mode embraces my approach to making music and listening to music, I am never tied to one genre or sound.”

Shuffle Mode succeeds in having a diverse range of tracks with a talented mix of vocalists including Latasha, Zuzuka Poderosa, Vivian Garcia, Ani Challa, and a collaborate track with Slavic Soul Party. The lead single “The Take Back” features the critically acclaimed vocalist Latasha who floats her beautiful lyrics over Atropolis’ layered production. Atropolis was connected with her after Latasha reached out two years ago once she discovered his production through their mutual friend Lido Pimienta on “Reza Por Mi.” NYC by way of Brazil vocalist Zuzuka Poderosa graces the track “Violencia Policial” puts the spotlight on police brutality, a serious issue in the U.S. and Brazil. Vivian Garcia teams up with Atropolis on “Cada Mañana,” a love song about a conflicted lover rising above the rejection of their significant other.

Rounding out the last two tracks off the EP is “Barbes,” featuring Brooklyn’s finest brass band Slavic Soul Party. The track is a full circle experience for Atropolis as he elaborates, “I studied jazz guitar at Queens College when I was 15,  after the program I didn’t see most of my teachers ever again. Five years later, I ran into one of my teachers at Barbes in Brooklyn, he was playing with Slavic Soul Party, and ever since that moment I knew I wanted collaborate with them.” The closing track on the EP is called “Immigrant” featuring Ani Challa. The track, which is a perfect topic in today’s political climate is about Ani coming to the U.S. from India at the age of 6. Ani explains, "I loved the open heartedness from people who were genuinely interested in knowing where I came from. I loved answering ‘Who are you?’ ‘Why did you choose to come to the US?’ and ‘How did I get to the US?’ Sometimes I would be asked these questions and in answering them encounters became not so pleasant....Being proud and remembering who you are is what I get to tap into. Spreading the love of my culture in sharing a different perspective on the American Dream…It’s something I am very proud of.” He adds, “I want the questions in the lyrics to spark conversation openly for anyone needing to get things out of their mind and feel what leading from the heart truly means for them.”

Even with two major releases coming out in 2018, Atropolis continues to make moves not only as an artist, but also as an Ableton Live instructor, where he was recently tapped by the legendary Grand Master Flash to be his Ableton Live Engineer. So what’s next for Atropolis? He concludes, “This release like all releases is a stepping stone, we are constantly striving to strengthen our voice, I am currently working on some new music with artists from Argentina, Mexico, and South Africa that I’m really excited about, so please keep your ears open for 2019.”

Shuffle Mode EP – Tracklist
1. Cada Mañana (ft. Vivian Garcia)
2. Violencia Policial (ft. Zuzuka Poderosa)
3. The Take Back (ft. Latasha)
4. Barbes (ft. Slavic Soul Party)
5. Immigrant (ft. Ani Challa)

New Music From: Change – Love 4 Love; Azymuth – Light As A Feather; Ashley Henry – Ashley Henry’s 5ive

Change – Love 4 Love

Wonderful new work from Change – the international soul combo who made some classic cuts back at the start of the 80s – still sounding great all these many years later, but in a slightly different way! The balance between all elements here is fantastic – as the music has all the best parts of the group's earlier music, but also updates the sound a bit – in the way that a combo like Incognito or Brand New Heavies were updating older soul music back in the 90s, by grabbing all the strongest parts of the past, and fusing them into a fresh lean groove. The songs are upbeat, positive, and full of the kind of catchy hooks that Change always did so well – and titles include "Friends", "Make Me Go Cray", "How Will We", "Too Late", "Living Monday", "Love 4 Love", "All My Life", and "Hit Or Miss". Also includes some remix versions of older tracks – "Searching (Figo Sound version)", "Oh What A Feeling (Figo Sound version)", "You'll Always Be A Part Of Me (Figo Sound version)", and "It's A Girl's Affair (Figo Sound version)". ~ Dusty Groove

Azymuth – Light As A Feather (180 gram vinyl)

One of Azymuth's best-remembered albums from their American years on Milestone – a really killer classic that beautifully blends Brazilian and American styles of fusion! There's a simple, elegant feel to these tunes that takes off nicely from the group's previous album for Atlantic in Brazil – a pushing forward of the soulful sides of their style, but with just the right blend of quirkier elements as well – one that still keeps the edge of the early years, yet helps the group reach out with a wonderfully warm sound! Most tracks are quite spare, and without any too-smooth polishing in production – and titles include the classic "Jazz Carnival", a funky fusion classic if there ever was one – plus "Light As A Feather", "Avenida Das Manguerias", "This Exists", "Partido Alto", "Dona Olimpia", "Amazonia", and "Young Embrace". (Limited repress of 500 copies. Remixed and remastered version with download code.) ~ Dusty Groove

Ashley Henry – Ashley Henry’s 5ive

This might be the first we've ever heard from pianist Ashley Henry – but given the quality of the set, we imagine that we might be listening to his music for many years to come! Henry's got this wonderful conception of rhythm – as if he's sometimes racing ahead of the bass and drums, and grabbing up all these handfuls of notes – scattering them quickly in these broad waves of soulful colors, while the bass of Sam Vicary and drums of Sam Gardner swing in and keep things moving forward! There's a sense of freshness to this album that reminds us of the time we first heard the music of Robert Glasper many years back – even though Henry is a completely different stylist – as you'll hear on titles that include "Deja Vu", "Altruism", "Deimos", "St Anne's", and "Monk's Dream".  ~ Dusty Groove

Terry Callier's Psychedelic, Romantic And Socially Conscious 1972 Funk-Soul Classic 'What Color Is Love' Available On Vinyl After Being Out Of Print For Nearly Two Decades

Terry Callier's 1972 album, What Color Is Love, is available on vinyl once again following nearly two decades of being out of print in the resurgent format. Released today via Verve/UMe, the album is on standard weight black vinyl and housed in a high-quality wrapped jacket. Produced and arranged by the legendary Charles Stepney, the revered album is a portal into Callier's socially conscious, musically kaleidoscopic blend of soul, jazz, funk, rock and classical. 

A childhood friend of Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler — the latter would go on to co-write a track on What Color Is Love — Callier began as a relatively conventional folk singer, releasing an album for Prestige, The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier, in 1968. But it was increasingly clear that Callier was thinking beyond coffeehouses. A musical omnivore who couldn't shake his soul roots, he was commensurately inspired by classical music, sinewy Chicago blues and the orthodoxy-breaking tenor work of John Coltrane. 

Callier pivoted hard from his folkie days. By the 1970s, Callier was recording for Chess' jazz imprint, Cadet Records, mainly known for releasing albums from hard-bop giants like Kenny Burrell, Lou Donaldson and Ahmad Jamal. But the creatively restless Callier fit like a glove in this unconventional environment. The three albums he produced for the label — 1972's Occasional Rain and What Color is Love and 1974's I Just Can't Help Myself — transcended genre descriptors to conjure a distinct sonic universe that was purely his.

While Rain, its predecessor, was often misty and diffused — a "blue" listen — What Color Is Love has dynamic fire to its performances. This was even down to its provocative cover sleeve that carried strong undertones of racial and sexual disharmony. And the music follows suit. On key tracks like "Dancing Girl" and "You Goin' Miss Your Candyman," Callier displays a polyphonous, kitchen-sink version of Chicago soul complete with sparkling string arrangements and driving rhythms.

Despite its ecstatic, genre-blending brilliance, What Color Is Love would eventually fall into relative obscurity, as Callier retired as a singer in the 1980s to become a computer programmer. He eventually returned to the fold of the music business on the Verve Forecast label in the late 1990s, when burgeoning interest in his work in London led to celebrated collaborations with Paul Weller, Beth Orton and Massive Attack. As he said to The New York Times of his triumphant return to the stage in 1998, "It was like a dream come true. A couple of times I had to stop the show because it was just too over the top emotionally for me to continue. People knew all the words to my songs."

Callier sadly passed away in 2012 at age 67 from cancer, but we all continue to know the words to those songs — especially What Color Is Love, which stands among his finest work to this day.


1. Dancing Girl
2. What Color Is Love
3. You Goin' Miss Your Candyman

1. Just As Long As We're In Love
2. Ho Tsing Mee (A Song of the Sun)
3. I'd Rather Be With You
4. You Don't Care


Stu Mindeman, pianist and composer, is set to release his new album titled Woven Threads (Sunnyside Records) on September 14, 2018. The eight track album is a remarkable journey through themes of distant memories, self re-discovery, and the connection between North and South American cultures. Woven Threads is inspired by Stu’s recent trips to Chile reconnecting him to his childhood memories of the country’s rich culture, vibrant people, and diverse musical landscape. The album also features an impressive array of talents including Francesca Ancarola, Ana Tijoux, Kurt Elling, Miguel Zenón, and Marquis Hill.

Stu, who currently resides in Chicago, spent his formative years in Santiago, Chile when his father took a job with the Santiago Symphony. He elaborates, “My dad would bring home recordings of various Chilean folk music artists and play them for me as a child. A dear Chilean friend of my parents named María would often come to our home, while both of my parents were working, watching after me and teaching me Spanish. I grew up with very little memory of my time in Chile, expect for the echoes of those folk melodies in my ears, and the small amount of Spanish María had taught me.” As Stu began playing music professionally he started working closely with many Latin American artists that spanned Salsa to Afro-Caribbean to Latin Pop leading Stu to tour South America, which helped bring  his Spanish speaking skills back. The result led him to yearn for a return back to Chile in hopes to reconnect with his distant memories.

In early 2017, his dreams came true when he finally had a chance to visit Chile. Stu was instantly drawn into the rhythm and vibrant warmth of Chilean culture through his daily interactions with all the new people he met in Santiago. Stu adds, “I immediately immersed myself in the modern music scene in Santiago, meeting many Jazz, Folk, and Hip Hop musicians and I began to take note of the intensely vibrant and diverse art being made in Chile, both rooted in history and the present.”

In May 2017, Stu was invited back to Chile to present a series of concerts and decided he wanted to record a project with the talented Chilean artists he was collaborating with. These profound experiences resulted in Woven Threads and includes the talents of Chilean musicians Carlos Cortes Diaz on drums and Milton Russell on bass, as well as acclaimed Jazz singer Francesca Ancarola and Hip Hop artist Ana Tijoux.

One of the Chilean movements that deeply struck Stu was Nueva Canción, which was rooted in 60s and 70 protest songs about social change and political activism. Artists of the Nueva Canción movement included Victor Jara, Violeta Parra, Ali Primera, and Chavela Vargas. Stu expresses, “In my own life I resonated with the themes in Jara’s lyrics and Parra’s poetry, as well as those of the lyrics of the other South American songs I arranged: unrequited love, the cyclical nature of time, the tender balance between hope and depression, between longing and despair.” Inspired, Stu arranged two Victor Jarra songs, “El Aparecideo” and “No Puedes Volver Atrás” and composed stunning tributes to Violeta Parra in “Woven Threads – What Word” and “Woven Threads – A Thousand Stars.”

The tribute to Violetta Parra also emerges in the album title Woven Threads. Stu describes, “In my exploration of the work of Violeta Parra, I was seized by her works of visual art, especially her tapestries. After some reflection, I realized that the image of woven threads was a perfect metaphor for the entire project: Chilean music woven together with North American music, South American voices and poetry is blended with North American voices and sounds, I’ve woven together my childhood memories with my experience as an adult.”

After recording in Chile, Stu returned to the U.S. and added more layers and orchestration, featuring Jazz singer Kurt Elling, as well as celebrated Jazz instrumentalists like Miguel Zenón and Marquis Hill.

Woven Threads is Stu’s most personal release to date, focusing on his re-discovery of self through his Chilean upbringing and creative journey into distant memories.


To celebrate the October 26th, 2018, release of their brand-new Di-Tone Records project Phenomenal Woman: The Maya Angelou Songs, the critically acclaimed duo of vocalist Capathia Jenkins and award-winning composer, arranger and musician Louis Rosen will perform for three nights, Thursday through Saturday, October 25, 26, and 27, 2018, at the iconic jazz venue Birdland’s new Birdland Theatre in New York City. The Birdland Theatre is located at 315 West 44th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

This will be the first time Phenomenal Woman will be performed live since it was re-arranged for jazz sextet and recorded for release.  Jenkins and Rosen originally premiered the material in March 2005 at New York’s famed Joe’s Pub, in its original piano and vocal arrangements. Phenomenal Woman: The Maya Angelou Songs features eleven songs that pay tribute to the genius of the late American poet Maya Angelou, with some of her most iconic poems forming the lyrics.

This unique project came to fruition in 2005 when Jenkins and Rosen were granted rights by Maya Angelou to perform the 11-song cycle, which had been specifically composed by Rosen for Jenkins. The rights were expanded in 2017 to include recording and publishing. At that time Rosen began arranging the tunes for a jazz sextet (and occasional organ). The duo then went into the studio with their co-producer, Scott Lehrer. In addition to the Maya Angelou Songs, the new release also includes four instrumental interludes penned by Rosen, called Songs Without Words. This is the fifth album collaboration for Jenkins and Rosen.

Critics have already hailed the project: The Chicago Tribune stated, “Jenkins has an uncanny ear for the droll irony and naked emotion of Rosen’s work, and a vocal range that brings out every shift in tone without bombast or pathos.”  Bloomberg noted, “What is so memorable about this pairing is how unselfconscious and confident both are, Rosen as composer and songsmith, Jenkins his joyous, hand-in-glove interpreter. I’ve never been so seduced by music completely new to me yet as embraceable as any from the classic American songbook.”

The recording of Phenomenal Woman: The Maya Angelou Songs marks the completion of the recording of Louis’ Black Loom Trilogy, three song cycles composed for Jenkins on the poems of three major African-American writers, including Dream Suite: Songs in Jazz and Blues on Poems by Langston Hughes and One Ounce of Truth: The Nikki Giovanni Songs. The duo’s previous collaborations include South Side Stories and The Ache Of Possibility with four songs again on poetry by Ms. Giovanni.

Capathia Jenkins has been featured on Broadway in Newsies; Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me; Caroline, or Change; The Look of Love; The Civil War; and Off-Broadway in Nora Ephron’s Love, Loss, and What I Wore; (mis) Understanding Mammy: The Hattie McDaniel Story (Drama Desk nomination); and Godspell.  She has numerous TV and concert appearances to her credit.  For more information on Capathia Jenkins, please visit www.capathiajenkins.com.

Louis Rosen received a 2005 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Music Composition. He has three solo recordings, including 2017’s Dust To Dust Blues, Act One: Piano Music from the Theater, and Time Was; numerous compositions, and two musical theater pieces, Book of the Night (1991) and A Child’s Garden (2000). He has also scored 30 theatrical productions on and off Broadway and at regional theaters. Rosen is also the author of the memoir “The South Side: The Racial Transformation of An American Neighborhood” (Ivan R. Dee, Chicago, 1998). For more information on Louis Rosen, please visit www.louisrosen.com.

Previously Unreleased Historic Recordings: Dexter Gordon Quartet's Espace Cardin 1977 and Woody Shaw Quartet's Live in Bremen 1983

Elemental Music is pleased to announce the release of two recently discovered, previously unreleased live recordings: Dexter Gordon Quartet, Espace Cardin 1977 and Woody Shaw Quartet, Live in Bremen 1983. Presented in exceptional sound quality, these deluxe-CD editions include a 12-page booklet with an essay by famed jazz producer and Elemental project coordinator Michael Cuscuna, as well as contributions from Gordon’s widow and biographer, Maxine Gordon, and from Shaw’s son and namesake, Woody Shaw III.

In 1977 Dexter Gordon returned home to the U.S. after more than a decade living in Europe and launched perhaps the most productive period of his long and varied musical career. “He had peaks and valleys to his playing career, but boy in the mid-‘70s he was at a peak. It was unbelievable,” Cuscuna remembers. “I used to hear him night after night, on and off over a couple of years, and he never had a bad night. It was always just extraordinary.”

Not forsaking Europe entirely, Gordon returned for gigs like the inspired set captured here at the Espace Pierre Cardin (Théâtre de la Ville) in Paris in September 25, 1977. Sharing the stage with him that night are the well-known rhythm section of French bassist Pierre Michelot and American drummer Kenny Clarke. What makes this performance unique is that it is the only known recording of Gordon playing with one of the stalwarts of bebop piano, Al Haig. A constant presence on 52nd street during the embryonic days of bebop in the late 1940s, Haig’s career had gone fallow by the 1960s. At the time of this performance, he was experiencing a much-deserved rediscovery.   

In a set that both celebrates and is grounded in jazz standards from “Body and Soul” to “’Round Midnight,” Gordon’s tenor saxophone with its rich, unmistakable tone dominates from the opening notes of his own composition, “Sticky Wicket,” which he laces with playful quotes including “Pop Goes the Weasel.” This tour de force continues with Gordon’s own fresh and inventive take on “Body and Soul,” one that owes a debt to John Coltrane’s earlier re-imaging of this most played of all modern jazz standards.

After a dashing whirl through Gordon’s own “Antabus,” this set concludes with a swinging, full-blooded rendition of Sonny Rollins’ “Oleo” in which the ever-mischievous Gordon adds another quote, this time from “Here Comes the Bride.” A quieter reading of Thelonious Monk’s immortal “’Round Midnight” by just the trio minus Gordon closes an impressive evening.

To further complement this series, Gordon’s legacy is also being illuminated by Gordon’s widow and former manager, jazz historian and archivist Maxine Gordon, with the completion of his official biography entitled Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon - to be published by University of California Press in November 2018. Maxine has preserved Gordon’s legacy and worked to advocate for and document the work of numerous musicians and organizations since Gordon’s passing in 1990. Visit http://maxinegordon.com and http://dextergordon.com for more info.

Woody Shaw Quartet’s Live in Bremen 1983 was recorded live at Post Aula, in Bremen Germany on January 18, 1983. It’s a rare and satisfying snapshot of trumpeter Shaw’s second great quintet, formed in 1980 with pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Stafford James, and drummer Tony Reedus. Like all Elemental releases, this set was produced by Cuscuna, who was a close friend of the late trumpeter during the last 15 years of his life.

All of the Shaw releases in this series were curated and assembled by Shaw’s son, Woody Shaw III, Associate Producer of these Shaw projects. A musician and digital producer with degrees in the arts and business from Columbia University and Harvard, Shaw III has spent the past 15 years preserving his father’s legacy. In fact, Cuscuna and Shaw III have co-produced several reissues of Shaw’s classic recordings together, including the 7-CD set for Cuscuna’s Mosaic Records label entitled Woody Shaw: The Complete Muse Sessions (2013). Shaw III also wrote liner notes for this Elemental series.

Woody Shaw III is currently producing a documentary film on the late trumpeter entitled Woody Shaw: Beyond All Limits. The film which is in production, documents the artistic, intellectual, and philosophical discoveries of Shaw through his music, serving as an intergenerational memoir of a rich musical legacy passed down from father to son. Visit http://woodyshaw.com for more info.

 “Woody was an incredibly unique player, who broke the trumpet mold because his style was forged on a respect for Lee Morgan, Booker Little and to some extent Freddie Hubbard but also on saxophone players,” Cuscuna says, “He was an exceptional soloist and also a great intellect. He’s influenced a lot of people who came after him.”

Opening with the “You and the Night and the Music,” a standard recorded by everyone from Sinatra to Bill Evans, Shaw charges into a brilliant solo that turns from long and lyrical lines to rapid fire bursts while Miller shows the influence of McCoy Tyner on his playing. Introduced by Shaw as something “fiery and uptempo,” his fast-paced “Rahsaan’s Run” composed as a tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk who had died in 1977, appeared on Shaw’s breakthrough recording, Rosewood. The Miller composition, “Eastern Joy Dance” follows, and here again the lyricism that was such a striking feature of Shaw’s playing comes to the forefront.

First appearing on Shaw’s third Columbia Records album Woody III (which was dedicated to Shaw’s father, Woody Shaw, Sr. and his newborn son at the time, Woody Louis Armstrong Shaw III) — the tune “Organ Grinder” was composed in tribute to famed Newark organist and fellow Arts High School alum, Larry Young, who was a close friend and musical mentor to Shaw. Written as part of the soundtrack to the silent film, Seventh Heaven, Lew Pollak and Erno Rapee’s “Diane” here receives a deeply sensitive and emotional reading with Miller, Stafford and Shaw all embroidering their solos with uncommon thoughtfulness and inventiveness. Shaw closed the set with a sprightly, rhythmic version of Walter Davis Jr.’s “400 Years Ago Tomorrow,” which was chosen by Shaw to celebrate the Afro-Caribbean roots of his music and of jazz as a whole. The show’s encore is a swift and sweet version of one of Shaw’s most memorable melodies, “Sweet Love of Mine,” which was first recorded on Jackie McLean’s Demon’s Dance album for Blue Note Records in 1967, and later on Shaw’s Master of the Art album for Bruce Lundvall’s Elektra/Musician label in 1982.

“In the United States, all the engineers from the ‘50s like Rudy Van Gelder, Frank Laico, Fred Plaut were all trained in mixing as you recorded,” Cuscuna concludes. “All the European guys, especially in France and Germany, were the same way. They knew how to record something in two-track and capture it beautifully, and that’s reflected in the sound of all the Elemental releases.”

Best of all, both Dexter Gordon Quartet, Espace Pierre Cardin 1977 and Woody Shaw Quartet, Live in Bremen 1983 are presented in remarkably clear and dynamic sound quality.
Dexter Gordon Quartet · Espace Pierre Cardin 1977
Woody Shaw Quartet · Live in Bremen 1983
Elemental Music · Release Date: October 19, 2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Frank Sinatra's Landmark 1958 Album 'Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely' Receives New Stereo Mix For Expanded 60th Anniversary Edition

Frank Sinatra's intimate 1958 opus, Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely, has been newly mixed in stereo for an expanded 60th Anniversary Edition to be released worldwide on October 19 by Capitol/UMe and Frank Sinatra Enterprises. 'Only The Lonely' (60th Anniversary Edition) will be released in a Deluxe 2CD package, in 180-gram 2LP vinyl and 1CD configurations, and in two digital album versions. 

Frank Sinatra’s intimate 1958 opus, 'Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely,' has been newly mixed in stereo for an expanded 60th Anniversary Edition to be released worldwide on October 19 by Capitol/UMe and Frank Sinatra Enterprises. ‘Only The Lonely’ (60th Anniversary Edition) will be released in a Deluxe 2CD package, in 180-gram 2LP vinyl and 1CD configurations, and in two digital album versions.
'Only The Lonely' (60th Anniversary Edition)'s 2CD Deluxe package pairs the album's remastered original 1958 mono mix with a new 2018 stereo mix by Larry Walsh. Four bonus tracks from the mono session recordings are also featured, including studio takes making their release debuts: "Angel Eyes" (alternate session takes – May 5, 1958) and "Lush Life" (session takes – May 29, 1958). The album's original mono mix makes its digital release debut in an expanded digital collection pairing the remastered album mix with the four bonus session recordings, while the 1CD, 2LP vinyl, and standard digital album configurations feature the album's 2018 stereo mix. The new edition's audio was mastered by Ron McMaster at Capitol Studios.

'Only The Lonely' was recorded as both a mono and stereo presentation," explains Larry Walsh in his notes for the 60th Anniversary Edition. "The mono was the focus as that was the chief format of the day. The stereo was recorded with two microphones suspended high over the studio orchestra. Frank Sinatra's voice was recorded onto a third track. With the stereo recording being mid-side decoded, the depth of the studio is revealed."

For 'Only The Lonely,' Sinatra recorded evening sessions at Capitol Studios in May and June 1958, joined by an orchestra and his frequent collaborator, conductor and arranger Nelson Riddle. Sinatra delves deeply into love, pain, and loss across the album's songs of heartbreak and yearning, including "One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)," "Angel Eyes,"' and "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry." 'Only The Lonely' reached No. 1 on Billboard's albums chart and remained on the charts for 120 weeks. At 1959's inaugural GRAMMY Awards® ceremony, the album won the award for Best Recording Package.

"The ones that stick in my mind are 'Only The Lonely,' 'Wee Small Hours,' and 'Come Fly With Me,' because I think the orchestrator's work and my work came together so well." – Frank Sinatra.

James Brown's 'Say It Live And Loud: Live In Dallas 08.26.68' Makes Vinyl Debut With Expanded 2LP 50th Anniversary Edition

On August 26, 1968, two weeks after releasing his civil rights anthem, "Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud," James Brown recorded his concert at Dallas, Texas' Memorial Auditorium. First released on CD in 1998, Brown's Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68 album will make its vinyl debut in an expanded 2LP 50th Anniversary Edition, to be released October 12 by Republic/UMe. The album's new, expanded digital edition will be released on the same date.

On August 26, 1968, two weeks after releasing his civil rights anthem, “Say It Loud - I’m Black And I’m Proud,” James Brown recorded his concert at Dallas, Texas’ Memorial Auditorium. First released on CD in 1998, 'Brown’s Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68' album will make its vinyl debut in an expanded 2LP 50th Anniversary Edition, to be released October 12 by Republic/UMe. The album’s new, expanded digital edition will be released on the same date.

Starting today, James Brown's previously unreleased performance of "That's Life" from the Dallas concert is available for streaming and for immediate download with digital album preorder. Preorder Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68: https://UMe.lnk.to/SayItLiveAndLoudPR

"From touchstone to newborn, from bop-inflected Maceo on the piss-break instrumental to born-again JB on the climax medley, breakneck intensity for the ages." – Robert Christgau

Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68 captures James Brown and his band laying it down onstage in the heat of a tumultuous summer, just months after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and on the same night the turbulent Democratic National Convention opened in Chicago. The album features the first-ever live recordings of "Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud," which Brown performed twice. The new 2LP vinyl edition add two previously unreleased recordings, "That's Life" and "The Popcorn," as well as an updated essay by James Brown's former tour manager, Alan Leeds. An essay by Public Enemy's Chuck D, written for the album's 1998 CD package, is also included.

Recorded August 7, 1968 and rush released on August 14, James Brown's "Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud" rose to the top of Billboard's R&B chart, reaching No. 1 on October 5, 1968 and holding the top spot for six weeks. The single also peaked in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

"James Brown singlehandedly took a lost and confused nation of people and bonded them with a fix of words, music and attitude," recalls Chuck D in his liner notes essay for Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68. "'Say It Loud – I'm Black And I'm Proud' was the phrase that prepared me for the third grade, 1969, and the rest of my life."


Barry White's 20th Century Records Albums Remastered For 9CD And 9LP Vinyl Box Sets, 'The 20th Century Records Albums (1973-1979)'

Marking 45 years since the release of his debut solo album, soul/R&B legend Barry White's nine 20th Century Records albums have been remastered from their analogue master tapes for new 9CD and 9LP 180-gram vinyl box sets, titled Barry White: The 20th Century Records Albums (1973-1979). To be released worldwide on October 26 by Mercury/UMe, the new CD and vinyl collections bring together all the albums White released with the 20th Century Records label. On the same date, the nine remastered albums -- all long out of print on vinyl -- will be released in individual 180-gram LP packages with faithfully replicated original sleeve and label artwork. 

Soul/R&B legend Barry White’s nine 20th Century Records albums have been remastered from their analogue master tapes for new 9CD and 9LP 180-gram vinyl box sets, titled 'Barry White: The 20th Century Records Albums (1973-1979).' To be released worldwide on October 26 by Mercury/UMe, the new CD and vinyl collections bring together all the albums White released with the 20th Century Records label.

In March 1973, Barry White released his first solo album, I've Got So Much To Give, with 20th Century Records. Fueled by two Billboard R&B Top 10 singles, including the No. One "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby," the album topped Billboard's R&B chart and reached No. 16 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. White's second solo album, Stone Gon', soon followed in October 1973. Also boasting two Top 10 R&B singles, the album's success closely matched that of his recent debut, topping Billboard's R&B chart and reaching the Top 20 of the Billboard 200.

White's blockbuster Can't Get Enough album was released in August 1974. It hit No. One on Billboard's R&B chart and the Billboard 200, and it also reached No. 4 on the UK chart. The album features two of White's iconic signature songs, "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" and "You're the First, the Last, My Everything," both of which topped Billboard's R&B chart and went to No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" reached No. 8, while "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" topped the singles chart at No. 1.

Released in March 1975, White's self-produced fourth album, Just Another Way To Say I Love You, also topped Billboard's R&B chart. The album reached No. 17 on the Billboard 200 and No. 12 on the UK chart. It features two Top 10 Billboard R&B singles, the No. 1 "What Am I Gonna Do with You" (also a Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit and a Top 5 UK single) and "I'll Do For You Anything You Want Me To."

Also self-produced, White's fifth album with 20th Century Records, Let The Music Play, was released in January 1976. It reached No. 8 on Billboard's R&B albums chart and peaked at No. 42 on the Billboard 200 and No. 22 on the UK chart. The album yielded three charting singles, including "Let the Music Play", which peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's R&B chart and No. 9 on the UK singles chart. "You See the Trouble with Me" reached No. 14 on Billboard's R&B chart and No. 2 on the UK singles chart, while "Baby, We Better Try to Get It Together" reached No. 29 on Billboard's R&B chart and No. 15 on the UK singles chart. 

Is This Whatcha Wont? is White's self-produced sixth album, released in November 1976. It reached No. 25 on Billboard's R&B chart, with its two singles, "Don't Make Me Wait Too Long" and "I'm Qualified to Satisfy You" respectively peaking at No. 20 and No. 25 on the Billboard R&B chart. Both singles also charted in the UK, at No. 17 and No. 37, respectively.

White's self-produced seventh album, Sings For Someone You Love, was released in August 1977. It was White's first album since 1975 to top Billboard's R&B chart, and it also reached No. 8 on the Billboard 200. The album features two Top 10 Billboard R&B singles: the No. 1 "It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next to Me" (also No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100) and "Playing Your Game, Baby." A third single, "Oh, What a Night for Dancing," reached No. 13 on Billboard's R&B chart.

The Man, White's self-produced eighth album, was released in October 1978 on the renamed 20th Century-Fox Records label. It was his sixth Billboard R&B No. 1 and it also reached No. 36 on the Billboard 200. The album's lead single, "Your Sweetness Is My Weakness" reached No. 2 on Billboard's R&B chart, while White's cover of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" reached No. 45 on Billboard's R&B chart and No. 12 on the UK singles chart. A third single, "Sha La La Means I Love You," peaked at No. 55 on the UK singles chart. A cover of White's "It's Only Love Doing Its Thing" (with the shortened title "It's Only Love") was a hit for the British band Simply Red in 1989.

White's ninth self-produced album, I Love To Sing The Songs I Sing, was released in April 1979. Featuring the title song, the album peaked at No. 40 on Billboard's R&B chart. It was White's final LP for 20th Century-Fox Records, after which he released new recordings on his own Unlimited Gold imprint.

Across the nine albums he released with 20th Century Records between 1973 and 1979, Barry White established the new sound of orchestral soul that became an enduring R&B staple. Fifteen years after his untimely death in 2003 at the age of 58, The 20th Century Records Albums (1973-1979) honors and celebrates Barry White's legendary career by restoring these classic albums and presenting them together.

Soul Togetherness 2018: 15 Modern Soul Room Gems (Various Artists)

Expansion’s most successful and longest running compilation series returns with a 2018 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 Cornell CC Carter with a track from one of the year’s biggest albums, huge tracks by UK soul artists Kenny Thomas, Jaki Graham (exclusive extended mix), John Reid (exclusive extended mix); a return to form for the massive Change; two artists Brian Courtney Wilson and Lexi from Motown’s new gospel label; superb dancers from new artists The APX, Imaa, with a vintage flavor from Ernest Ernie & The Sincerities. There’s excellence from German DJ Mousse T with Peven Everett; soulful garage anthems from DJ Spen and Prefix One, an 80s revival from The Richie Family, and fantastic to have Cheryl Pepsii Riley back with an James Day on an extended mix exclusive to this album.

Ashford & Simpson: Love Will Fix It – The Warner Bros. Records Anthology 1973-1981

Ashford & Simpson: Love Will Fix It – The Warner Bros. Records Anthology 1973-1981 is a comprehensive three-disc collection spanning the legendary song-writing duo’s classic recordings for the major label. The husband and wife team of Nickolas and Valerie, having established themselves as one of Motown’s many successful hit-making partnerships (“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need To Get By”), added even more depth, emotion and rich musicality to their self-produced recordings. This Groove Line Records release features all of the duo’s Warner Bros. R&B hits including I’d Know You Anywhere, Send It, Don’t Cost You Nothing, Found A Cure, Is It Still Good To Ya, Tried Tested And Found True, and Nobody Knows, as well as an un-released version of The Debt Is Settled and club hits like Stay Free, Bourgie Bourgie and One More Try. A third disc features 12” Disco mixes from Jimmy Simpson, Tom Moulton, Joe Claussell and previously unreleased John Morales (M&M) and Mike Maurro mixes of Love Don’t Make It Right and Tried, Tested and Found True.

Groove Line Records cut no corners when making sure that each and every one of our releases has the highest quality performance possible. This anthology is newly remastered from the original tapes and housed in a deluxe digipack containing a 28 page booklet featuring rare photos and artwork. With liner notes penned by Christian John Wikane, which include many glowing quotes from the artist’s peers and personal tributes from musical director Ray Chew and vocalist Fonzi Thornton (CHIC), Ashford & Simpson: Love Will Fix It – The Warner Bros. Records Anthology 1973-1981 three CD set is an essential addition to any serious R&B, Soul, Funk and Disco collector.

Composer and arranger Mark Masters paints compelling jazz landscapes for eight original works on new release Our Métíer

With his Capri release Our Métíer (September 21, 2018), Mark Masters applies his prodigious talent for painting brilliant, complex, and satisfying jazz landscapes.  The eight Masters compositions featured on the album showcase some of the most adventurous creative improvising musicians in jazz today: Andrew Cyrille, Mark Turner, Oliver Lake, Tim Hagans, Gary Foster, Dave Woodley and Putter Smith. In addition, Masters incorporates the unique voice of Anna Mjoll as an orchestral color, mixing with the instrumental waves in wordless swirls of sound.

The ensemble that supports these improvisers includes Scott Englebright and Les Lovitt (trumpet), Stephanie O'Keefe (French horn), Les Benedict and Ryan Dragon (trombone), Jerry Pinter, Kirsten Edkins and Bob Carr (woodwinds), Ed Czach (piano), and Craig Fundyga (vibes). The group's big band sound is augmented by bass clarinet and vibes giving the project, at times, an ethereal personality.

In his ten previous projects for Capri Records, Masters has reimagined the music of Lee Konitz, Gary McFarland, Dewey Redman, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker (Steely Dan), Grachan Moncur III and Clifford Brown.

With Our Métíer, Masters has produced a classic "free-bop" large ensemble statement.  One key to the success of the recording is the combination of improvisers completely simpatico with the compositions. In fact, the music was conceived and written specifically for these soloists. The music itself is an artist's canvas filled with all the hues and textures that flow from Masters' creative core.

The opening track "Borne Towards the Stars," inspired by the conclusion of Malcolm Lowry's novel "Under the Volcano," shimmers with atmospheric gravity and features explosive solos by Lake and Hagans.  In "51 West 51st Street," drummer Cyrille establishes the groove after an opening steeped in funk featuring Mjoll and Carr's bass clarinet.  When Hagans and Foster boogaloo into the musical space you can close your eyes and imagine being in Toots Shor's legendary New York City bar.  "Lift" is an understated blues featuring Mjoll's exquisite voice and solid solo work from Mjoll, Lake, Smith and Fundyga.  The harmonically engaging "Ingvild's Dance" with Foster and Turner brings to mind the classic pairing of Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. "A Précis of Dialogue" is the first of two collective improvisations demonstrating clear textures and sparkling musical interplay with Turner, Foster, Cyrille and Smith.  Foster, Smith, Woodley, and Turner deliver emotionally charged solo statements on the heartbreakingly gorgeous ballad "Dispositions of the Heart."  "Obituary" is Masters' tribute to friends and teachers no longer living.  Far from a dirge, the composition is an up- tempo, celebratory romp that shows off the ensemble in top form.  From the haunting opening and trombone clusters aided by Mjoll to the sophisticated tenor sax and trumpet solos that follow, "Luminescence" brings you the blues in an entirely different way. "In Our Time," the second of two collective improvisations is wildly exploratory, conversational and always compelling.  The title track closes the recording with a powerful, quintessential "free-bop" statement.

Mark Masters (b. 1957) has earned wide acclaim as an inventive and prolific composer and arranger. All About Jazz calls him "one of the great jazz arrangers of the late 20th and 21st centuries."  Born in 1957 in Gary, Indiana, Masters studied jazz at California State in LA. He organized his first ensemble in 1982 and has never looked back.

"A strikingly creative spirit," (Jim Santella, All About Jazz), Masters has led numerous recording sessions, almost all for Capri Records. Among them are Priestess (Capri, 1990) that Masters wrote to feature Billy Harper and Jimmy Knepper.  A subsequent recording with Knepper, The Jimmy Knepper Songbook (Focus, 1993), featured arrangements by Masters of Knepper's compositions.

Masters' most recent recording Blue Skylight (Capri, 2017), features his innovative ensemble writing and unique approach to the music of Gerry Mulligan and Charles Mingus.  Farewell Walter Dewey Redman (Capri, 2008) features Masters' "in and out" approach and re-casts Dewey Redman's music while retaining its substance.  The project features Oliver Lake, Tim Hagans, Dave Carpenter, and Peter Erskine. Other recordings include Wish Me Well (Capri, 2005) with Steve Kuhn, Gary Smulyan, Gary Foster, and Tim Hagans, Exploration (Capri, 2004) with Grachan Moncur III's octet arranged by Masters, One Day With Lee (Capri, 2004) featuring alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, and The Clifford Brown Project (Capri, 2003) featuring Jack Montrose, Gary Smulyan, Tim Hagans, Cecilia Coleman, and Joe La Barbera. In addition, in 2013 Capri released two recordings, Ellington Saxophone Encounters and Everything You Did: The Music of Walter Becker & Donald Fagen.

Masters' 2005 recording Porgy and BessŠRedefined! (Capri) is a more harmonically adventurous approach to Gershwin's classic folk opera than what has come before.  John Kelman, writing for All About Jazz said "ŠMasters' score is the real star here.  From the opening fanfare he introduces two contrasting elements that, to a large part, define the approach to the whole suite-vibrant swing and some surprisingly free passages.  He clearly proves that it's possible to take a piece that has been approached from a variety of angles and still find a new way in."

Since 1998, Masters has been president of The American Jazz Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the enrichment and enhancement of the appreciation of jazz. Under Masters' direction, the AJI supports activities that educate and expose the public to jazz through live performance and an oral history project, as well as by supporting charitable endeavors that advance jazz music. One such endeavor is the AJI's Find Your Own Voice mentoring program that takes professional musicians to middle and upper school campuses to present clinics and master classes to student musicians.

Masters served as a guest lecturer at Claremont McKenna College (1999 - 2006) where he was involved with the History of Jazz class, overseeing an oral history project, and writing for and producing a series of concerts that brought such notable artists to the college as Billy Harper, Billy Hart, Bennie Maupin, Rufus Reid, Sam Rivers, Andrew Cyrille, Mark Turner, Gary Foster, Lee Konitz, Jack Montrose, John La Porta, Tim Hagans, Gary Smulyan, Ray Drummond, Steve Kuhn, Peter Erskine, Joe La Barbera, Ted Brown, Grachan Moncur III, Henry Grimes, and Dewey Redman.

Masters has been named a Rising Star Arranger in DownBeat Magazine's Annual Critics Poll multiple times.


Tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman partners with legendary sax man David Liebman for new release Glimpses

When acclaimed Denver saxophonist Keith Oxman joined forces with the legendary David Liebman, magic happened. Glimpses, out September 21, 2018 on Capri Records, offers listeners more than just a few quick looks at the musical partnership between the two saxophonists. On eight meaty tracks the pair demonstrates virtuosic technique, remarkable musicality, and an astonishing camaraderie.

For more than four decades Oxman listened to and transcribed solos from many jazz greats like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Among his first transcriptions was one of Liebman's recordings. Through a former student he was able to connect with Liebman's daughter, then the man himself. The two developed a mutual respect, rapport, and friendship that shines brightly on Glimpses. With Oxman on tenor sax and Liebman on soprano and tenor, the artists approach the music with intelligence, sensitivity, and joy. They are ably backed throughout by Oxman's working band with pianist Jeff Jenkins, bassist Ken Walker, and drummer Todd Reid.

Both Oxman and Liebman are devotees of the late, great John Coltrane, a connection which cements their combined sound. "I really enjoyed Keith's compositions that have challenging and interesting harmonic twists and turns, always framed with lyrical, melodic content." says Liebman.

The conversational, musically sensitive relationship between Oxman and Liebman is established on the record's opening track, Oxman's "Shai," in which the horns interact with solo licks and unison statements before breaking off in hard swinging solos. The exquisite ballad "Lenny," another Oxman original, follows with Liebman's smoky soprano saxophone joined by Oxman's sweet tenor. Oxman's "Trane's Pal" pays homage to the inspirational John Coltrane with a punchy head followed by wailing, bop-inspired solos.

Liebman takes the reins on the Ellington classic "In a Sentimental Mood," showing off his masterful musicianship and sense of fun in a duet with pianist Jenkins, whose wistful, extended piano solo leads into Liebman's expressive, searching rendition of the time-honored melody. "Afreaka" by Cedar Walton has Oxman and Liebman trading eights and grooving to a world beat. On Oxman's upbeat "Louminus," the pair exploit the range of their instruments with guttural low notes and wailing altissimo. Oxman alone is featured on the deep catalogue standard "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" by Leon Rene, and his expressive horn sings on the gorgeous melody. The album closes with the title track "Glimpses," a Liebman original that delivers a powerful double-barreled saxophone tour de force.

Glimpses is a remarkable achievement, bringing together one saxophonist and his trio with a horn legend who remains as receptive to and excited about the music as ever. "I love this process and the ensuing bond that develops so quickly when jazz musicians interact," says Liebman. That bond is evident all over Glimpses, which brims with lyrical melodies, surprising harmonics, fantastic solos, and masterful horn playing.

From the tender age of 12 when he first picked up a tenor sax given to him by a cousin, Denver native Keith Oxman spent his musical career studying jazz greats like Sonny Stitt, Mel Torme, Louis Bellson, Phil Woods, Buddy Rich, Tom Harrell, Jack McDuff, Joe Bonner, and many others. This is Keith's 10th album on the Capri over the last 24 years.

NEA Jazz Master David Liebman is considered a renaissance man in contemporary music with a career stretching nearly fifty years. He has played with masters including Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, McCoy Tyner, and others, authored books and instructional DVDs which are acknowledged as classics in the jazz field, and recorded as a leader in styles ranging from classical to rock and free jazz.  He has performed on over 500 recordings with over 200 as a leader/co-leader featuring several hundred original compositions.

Boston's creatively charged Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra rematerializes with its first new album in a decade Down a Rabbit Hole

The trick about falling down rabbit holes is knowing how to get back out. The insistently inventive composer, arranger, bandleader and educator Ayn Inserto has built a brilliant career around her gift for designing fantastical but slyly logical musical landscapes and crafting sonic adventures marked by sinuously surprising melodies, Technicolor harmonies, and arrestingly vivid voicings. Due for release on Summit Records on September 21, 2018, the Ayn Inserto Jazz Orchestra's first new album in a decade, Down a Rabbit Hole, reintroduces her sly and imaginative musical world, a realm populated by some of jazz's most expressive improvisers.

In many ways Inserto conceived Rabbit Hole to showcase her three special guests - trumpet star Sean Jones, tenor sax great George Garzone, and trombonist John Fedchock - along with her exceptional cast of players many of whom have been with her since she launched the group in 2001. "I saw the album as an opportunity to feature these three amazing musicians, people I consider good friends and musical influences," says Inserto. "They're three artists who don't necessarily play together so it was really fun to bring them together."

A protégé of legendary trombonist/arranger/composer Bob Brookmeyer, Inserto has ascended to jazz's top ranks over the past two decades, earning numerous awards and commissions. Her last release, 2015's Home Away From Home (Neuklang Records), documented her collaboration with Italy's acclaimed Colours Jazz Orchestra. With Rabbit Hole, she's landed back on home turf. From the first track "Three and Me," her bespoke sensibility provides her guest triumvirate with passages tailored to their musical personalities. 

She arranged "BJ's Tune" as a vehicle for Jones' gorgeous trumpet, a sound as rich and glorious as any on the scene. His poised solo is a case study in melodic development as the band gently churns underneath his ascending lines. Inserto doesn't really write programmatic music, but the briskly swinging "Mister and Dudley" does capture the frisky energy and quotidian pleasures of spending time with the tune's sources of inspiration. Inspired by Fedchock and bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton's two namesake dogs, the piece evokes the pooches with affable affection.

Inserto recorded the title track, which was commissioned by the Amherst Jazz Ensemble, on her last album with Colours Jazz Orchestra, but that sojourn underground was a relatively calm excursion. Unleashing Garzone on the tempestuous chart results in a whirlwind adventure with his Mad Hatter saxophone inciting the band's tea party rumpus. The album's centerpiece is Inserto's two-part suite pairing of "Ze Teach" with "And Me," a commission by Madison Technical College. The first piece is inspired by Brookmeyer (who signed off on notes to Inserto as "Ze Teach") while the second movement is a powerhouse statement driven by her sensational rhythm section with guitarist Eric Hofbauer, pianist Jason Yeager, bassist Sean Farias, and drummer Austin McMahon (whose supple touch and architectural sense of form always elevates her music).

There are any number of ways to run and maintain a jazz orchestra. Duke Ellington's ornery crew was famous for its long-running feuds and disputations, a bumptious environment that clearly didn't impede his unprecedented creative output. Inserto has taken the opposite tack, fostering a familial vibe that encompasses her special guests. She met Jones during his tenure as chair of the Berklee College of Music's brass department. "We started collaborating early on," she says. "I've gotten to know him really well and was so excited he was into recording."

Garzone, who has mentored several generations of improvisers and is the subject of a new documentary Let Be What Is, has appeared on every album by Inserto's orchestra. Though not an official member, he has played an essential role in shaping the group's sound. Fedchock has intersected with Inserto in various ways over the years, from hiring her as a copyist way back when to marrying her longtime friend, the orchestra's able bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton.

Inserto worked assiduously to foster an environment in which exceptional musicians like trumpeter Dan Rosenthal, saxophonist Allan Chase, and reed expert/flutist Rick Stone can thrive. "I always cook for my band," she says. "Any time we have a gig I make sure they have food. I consider lot of the players close friends. My husband Jeff Claassen plays lead trumpet. There's a trombone and bass trombone duet in 'Mr. and Dudley,' featuring Jen and John. Randy Pingrey (trombone) and Kathy Olson (bari sax) are another married couple. There's not a single person in the band who I couldn't call on or hang out with."

Born in Singapore, Inserto was 14 when her family relocated to California. Within a year had settled in the San Francisco Bay Area's East Bay, where Inserto was well prepared to take advantage of the region's extensive jazz educational resources. She had started taking piano lessons as a child and jumped into music at her Catholic church where she became "very active in the church choir. They had this one band that had a little more modern sound," Inserto recalls. "I was playing the organ, and there was lot of improvising that would go on before the service started. A lot of our music only had lead sheets, and I'd make up stuff to go with them."

Introduced to jazz via the Manhattan Transfer, she learned to read chords from a book of Disney tunes and soon started substituting her own chord choices to make the songs sound more interesting. By the time she entered Clayton Valley High School in the East Bay city of Concord, Inserto was obsessed with music, playing piano in various school ensembles including the jazz band. She discovered Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner and other piano giants while continuing to study classical piano. She was also an avid member of the award-winning Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps, playing mallet percussion. A weeklong Berklee camp in Los Angeles expanded her jazz vocabulary exponentially, she says. "Around that time," she says,  "I also got hired to write for the Blue Devils corps, writing all these mallet percussion ensemble pieces."

She attended Los Medanos College's respected jazz program for several years and then transferred to Cal State Hayward (now Cal State East Bay), where she thrived under the tutelage of trombonist/arranger Dave Eshelman, a revered educator and bandleader who has mentored several generations of exceptional Bay Area jazz musicians (he provides Rabbit Hole's spot-on liner notes in verse). Encouraged to apply to New England Conservatory by saxophonist and NEC professor Allan Chase, Inserto was drawn to the school by Brookmeyer. "I studied two full years with him," says Inserto, now a long-time associate professor of jazz composition at Berklee College of Music. "I was writing from a piano player's point of view, and he got me into more melodic writing, developing these long lines. After NEC he really took me on as a mentor."

While Brookmeyer's influence is laced throughout Inserto's music she has honed an independent musical identity writing and arranging for her orchestra as well numerous other ensembles that come calling with commissions. Her orchestra's 2006 debut album Clairvoyance earned rave reviews hailing her vivid writing and seemingly boundless well of ideas. The project featured Brookmeyer, Garzone, and many of the key players who are still part of the 17-piece ensemble. Her second album, 2009's Muse, cemented her reputation as a composer and arranger of exceptional acuity.  

The various connections manifesting in Down a Rabbit Hole are captured in the album's cover art by Kendall Eddy (a former bassist for the band). Inserto commissioned him to create the artwork, which features various layers of symbolism - like Boston's skyline in the background - readily discernible to a sharp-eyed observer. "There's the brook running through the field, which stands for Brookmeyer," Inserto says. "There are the three giants who drank the potion, like Alice, and became the big artists. I'm running around amidst all the madness."

Crazy like a fox, Inserto has created her own musical Wonderland with her orchestra, a sensational aural universe easily accessible with a little step down a rabbit hole.


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