Friday, June 29, 2018

Bob Marley & The Wailers 'Kaya' New Full-Album Mix By Stephen Marley

On August 24, The Marley Family, Island Records, and UMe will collectively proclaim the sun is shining in celebration of 40 years of Kaya, Bob Marley & The Wailers’ historic March 1978 release. This most special anniversary edition will feature Stephen “Ragga” Marley’s exciting and vibrant new “Kaya 40” mixes of all ten tracks from the original album alongside its original mixes in 2CD and 180-gram 2LP configurations.

 Recorded in London concurrently with the material that ultimately comprised 1977's Exodus — a record proclaimed by Time Magazine in 1999 to be the Best Album of the 20th Century — Kaya is the perfect sonic-sibling bookend that shares all the joy, spirit, and literal DNA of some of Marley's most groundbreaking material. Kaya contains a number of the most enduring, heartfelt songs in the entire Marley canon, including "Is This Love," "Easy Skanking," and "Sun Is Shining."

Kaya was initially released just one month ahead of Bob Marley & The Wailers headlining the legendary One Love Peace Concert at The National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica on April 22, 1978, an event that featured 16 of reggae's biggest acts. One Love Peace was heralded as Marley's triumphant return to his native soil, following his long exile in London after having fled the country as a result of a December 1976 assassination attempt at his Kingston homestead.

The album was recorded with the then-new configuration of The Wailers that comprised brothers Carlton and Aston "Family Man" Barrett on drums and bass, Tyrone Downie on keyboards, Alvin "Seeco" Patterson on percussion, and the I Threes — Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt — on backing vocals, along with newest member Julian (Junior) Marvin on guitar. Two of Kaya's songs had previously appeared in different arrangements on 1971's Soul Revolution — the title track, and "Sun Is Shining."

Stephen's goal in mixing Kaya 40 was to create a balance that drew heavily from the original versions. Using Bob's vocals from demos from original Kaya sessions that were recorded at different tempos, Stephen synched the vocals with alternate takes and layered it over different instrumental arrangements. Stephen tried to keep the flavor as authentic as possible. To mix the album, he used a similar minimal approach, basing his version heavily off the classic analog concepts they used in the 1970s. 

Bob Marley's artistic legacy forever endures, and the 40th anniversary edition of Kaya only serves to reinforce just how much we all share the shelter of this special music.

Bob Marley & The Wailers KAYA 40 [2CD & 2LP & Digital**]
1.Easy Skanking
3.Is This Love
4.Sun Is Shining
5.Satisfy My Soul
6.She's Gone
7.Misty Morning
9.Running Away
10.Time Will Tell
11.Easy Skanking (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
12.Kaya (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
13.Is This Love (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
14.Sun Is Shining (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
15.Satisfy My Soul (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
16.She's Gone (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
17.Misty Morning (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
18.Crisis (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
19.Running Away (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)
20.Time Will Tell (Stephen Marley "Kaya 40" Mix)


With Ask for Chaos, acclaimed guitarist Gilad Hekselman (who claimed the #1 spot in the Rising Star-Guitar Category in the 2017 DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll) takes a bold new turn, inspired by two new and quite disparate trio configurations. "The album title is not necessarily a description of the music," he says, "but the environment in which the music was made. In these bands we don't look for one way to do something, we always look for new ways. We like the instability and chaotic feeling of that. Also, with my becoming a father in 2017, it's affected my music and life in very intense ways. And of course politically, what's going on right now is chaotic. Ask for Chaos says that from chaos can come new things, in music and in life. You ask for chaos in order to make progress."

From the dawn of his career, Hekselman has nourished deep relationships with bandmates and strived to keep his music fresh and unexpected. His long-running work with bassist Joe Martin, from his debut SplitLife to his output with Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore on Words Unspoken, Hearts Wide Open, This Just In and most recently Homes (2015), revealed a guitarist with tremendous facility, a rich sound and boundless imagination as a composer. The New York Times hailed him as an artist "who favors clarity of tone and purpose, and who surrounds himself with strong talent."

Ask for Chaos
is the first release from the guitarist's new label, Hexophonic Music, in collaboration with Motema Music. "I look at my favorite artists from the '60s and '70s and see how many records they made," Hekselman marvels. "Having my own outlet for recordings couldn't be more liberating. I've always had more ideas than time and means to put them on records. This move will allow me to dream beyond the limitation of what I am expected to do, and when I am expected to do it." 
Hekselman sequenced the new album with the two trios interspersed, resulting in sonic surprise but also a seamless aesthetic unity. Of the gHex Trio, with Rick Rosato on bass and Jonathan Pinson on drums, Hekselman says: "Rick and Jonathan are giving a whole new dimension to my music. I tell them they have to keep me on my toes. I don't want to find a way to play a tune - to me, the way to play a tune is to not have a way, to find a new one every time. They're amazing at that and they love it too."

About ZuperOctave, featuring pianist/keyboardist Aaron Parks and drummer Kush Abadey in a charged, edgy electric setting, the guitarist remarks: "I've played in a lot of bands without bass and I've noticed that it has become a part of my sound that I still haven't documented under my own name. When I got a grant from the Jazz Gallery, I wrote a bunch of music for that instrumentation. I wanted Aaron because he understood that I wasn't trying to do a fusion band, I didn't want something too rigid. I wanted it to go places. Kush was very open to that as well and they both bring a lot of openness and breath into the music"

Ask for Chaos marks Hekselman's first use of piano on record, and Parks' vibrant mix of acoustic, electric and synthesizer makes for an uncommonly textured and adventurous result. "Aaron and I share the bass duties," he points out. "It's either nobody plays bass, or I have this octave pedal, the Boss OC3 Super Octave, that I use behind Parks' solos, and he has keyboards that he uses to play bass lines." Abadey's blend of drum kit and electronic pads also gives ZuperOctave a thoroughly modern sound, perfectly suited to the complex and rhythmically cutting-edge music Hekselman brings to the table.

Following an ethereal and effects-heavy guitar "Prologu00001101" we hear ZuperOctave launch into "VBlues," with its asymmetrical rhythms and McCoy Tyner-esque modern blues harmony. Parks, with a distorted Fender Rhodes sound, stretches over the form before yielding to Hekselman's heated yet lyrical turn. ZuperOctave returns on four additional tracks: "Tokyo Cookie," in deeply grooving 5/4, with involved melodic parts that take time to unfold, intersect and combine; "Stumble," a dreamy even-eighth piece based on Wayne Shorter's "Fall"; "Home to You," with solos trading back and forth in a dazzling spiral between guitar and piano; and the vivacious "Clap Clap," spurred by Hekselman's desire "to write something with two claps like those summer hits on the radio."

The gHex Trio appears on four tracks, beginning with "It Will Get Better," a slightly sad theme with folk-like harmonies and a pure, lilting melody. "It was written when my wife was still pregnant with our son," Hekselman says. "The thought of bringing a child into the world at the time of Trump's inauguration was heavy on me. The title is a promise I don't know if I have the power to fulfill, but part of my duty as a musician is to help things go in that direction. I wrote this to express my wish for what the world could be."

The bright, Brazilian-influenced "Milton" reflects Hekselman's deep appreciation for Milton Nascimento, while the brief yet impactful "Little Song for You" has a loosely phrased melodic construction reminiscent of Ornette Coleman. "Do Re Mi Fa Sol," which Hekselman calls "a love song to music," closes the album in a lyrical, almost country-ish vein, with a whistled refrain and a sumptuous overdubbed string arrangement performed by Duncan Wickeland arranged by Petros Klampanis.

With Ask for Chaos, Hekselman makes radical departures while holding true to the core of the sound he's been refining for years. Exhibiting his "unusual command of touch and dynamics" and his fluency "in a diverse, enthralling jazz vocabulary" (JazzTimes), he juxtaposes two trios with starkly contrasting tonal characters and derives from them a unity of artistic purpose.


gHex Trio 
(feat. Rick Rosato, Jonathan Pinson)

JULY 2 @ Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, QB, Canada (feat. Mark Turner)
JULY 8 @ Brosella Jazz Festival, Brussels, Belgium
JULY 10 @ Sunside, Paris, France (USE DISCOUNT CODE: 20GH107)
JULY 11 @ Sunside, Paris, France (USE DISCOUNT CODE: 20GH117)
JULY 13 @ North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands
JULY 14 @ Cowbell Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Valby, Denmark
JULY 15 @ Aarhus Jazz Festival, Aarhus, Denmark
JULY 17 @ Chiostro San Francesco, Andria, Italy
JULY 18 @ Peperoncino Jazz Festival, Castrovillari, Italy
JULY 19 @ Canaria Islands Festilal, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
JULY 20 @ Canaria Islands Festival, Arrecife, Spain
JULY 21 @ Canaira Islands Festival, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain
AUG 4 @ Jazz at the Maverick, Woodstock, NY duet with Fred Hersch USA
AUG 20 @ Smalls, New York, USA
AUG 21@ Smalls, New York, USA

*** (feat. Aaron Parks & Kendrick Scott) 

SEPT 11 @ Budapest Jazz Club, Budapest, Hungary ***
SEPT 12 @ Berlin Berlin-Friedrichshain, 16, Germany ***
SEPT 13 @ Jazz Dock, Prague, Czech Republic ***
SEPT 14 @ Dexter Jazz Club, Odense, Denmark ***
SEPT 16 @ Unity Jazz, Gothenburg, Sweden ***
SEPT 17 @ Unity Jazz, Gothenburg, Sweden *** 
SEPT 18 @ Fasching Jazz Club, Stockholm, Sweden ***
SEPT 19 @ Concert House, Fosnavag, Norway ***
SEPT 20 @ Victoria Nasjonal, Oslo, 12, Norway ***
SEPT 21 @ Paradox Jazz, Tilburg, Netherlands ***
SEPT 22 @ Jazz in Wageningen, Wageningen, Netherlands ***
NOV 13 @ Le Petit Faucheux, Tours-sur-Marne, France ***
NOV 14 @ Tonnère de Jazz, Pau, France ***
NOV 16 @ Lugo Jazz Festival, Lugo, Spain ***
NOV 17 @ Lleido Jazz Festival, Lleida, Spain ***
NOV 19 @ Stage Club, Hamburg-Nord, Germany ***
NOV 20 @ Stage Club, Hamburg-Nord, Germany ***
NOV 21 @ Clamores Jazz Club, Madrid, Spain ***
NOV 22 @ Zaragoza Jazz Festival, Zaragoza, Spain ***
NOV 23 @ Domicil, Dortmund, Germany ***
NOV 24 @ 12on14, Warsaw, Poland ***
NOV 25 @ Stadtgarden, Cologne, Germany ***
NOV 26 @ Royal Welsch College of Music & Drama, Cardiff, UK ***
NOV 28 @ Vortex, London, UK ***

You Funky Devil: GRAMMY-winning drummer Henry Cole’s Bomba-Powered Reinvention of Salsa Classic, “El Diablo”

Exuberantly inventive drummer Henry Cole was listening to a favorite album one day, when a whole new arrangement for a classic song leaped into his head. The result was “El Diablo (Espiritu Burlon),” the first song from SIMPLE, the long-awaited follow up his 2012 debut, Roots Before Branches.

The new song, like a lost Latin track off Maggot Brain, embraces Cole’s vision for 21st-century Puerto Rican music, encompassing a wide range of global influences from folkloric rhythms to jazz, rock, and funk. These influences are second nature to Cole, who’s played with jazz (luminaries Miguel Zenón, Ben Wendel, and Gary Burton, as well as Chambao, Residente/Calle 13, and Draco Rosa.

“El Diablo” was written by the iconic Puerto Rican songwriter Rafael Hernández nearly 80 years ago and was made famous by legendary percussionist Ray Barretto on his 1973 Fania Records album Indestructible. Singer Tito Allen was the lead singer in Barretto’s band at the time, and he repeats that role here, despite declaring he would never do another version. Some songs find the perfect recorded form, something so good it makes covers feel impossible. That’s what Tito Allen felt about “El Diablo,” and he swore was the only version the world needed.

Cole’s arrangement swayed him in the end. “I did that song with Ray and it made no sense to do it again without him, though lots of people asked,” says Allen. “Then Henry told me he wanted to record it. The group he had was so different. I was still thinking I might want to turn it down but then I heard the tunes a couple of times, and heard a lot of different stuff here. So I said yes. We did it and whoa, it sounded good. The guys he had were amazing, I felt so good there with them.”

The track shows how firmly Cole is pushing Puerto Rican forms forward. “‘El Diablo’ was purposely chosen as the first song I wanted people to hear from this new project,“ says Cole, who was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. “Rafael Hernández is the most beloved songwriter ever to emerge from Puerto Rico, and Ray Barretto is easily one of the greatest Latin jazz and salsa percussionists of all time. These are my roots, my heroes. So ‘El Diablo’ is my tribute to them.” Cole had a chance to play with Barretto several years ago as part of a jazz project Barretto spearheaded.

Cole burrows into the heart and pulse of the folkloric Puerto Rican bomba rhythm and rebuilds the track from there. Cole and his band Villa Locura freely wed a deeply churning polyrhythmic base to big band horns, rock guitars, electric piano and chanted call-and-response choruses. Tito Allen’s singing rides over all of it like a wicked master of ceremonies, egging the musicians on.

“Having Tito Allen on this song was a dream come true,” says Cole. “He told me that he’d turned down all requests since 1973 to re-record the song because the original was the unbeatable standard, but he thought my arrangement was different, so he agreed to join us.”

The musicians on El Diablo are a veritable who’s who of international artists who either call New York City home or are part of the constant Nuyorican/Puerto Rican back and forth. Bassist Panagiotis Andreou was born in Greece while guitarist Guilherme Monteiro hails from Brazil and pianist Luis Perdomo from Venezuela. Percussionist Mauricio Herrara is from Cuba, while Obanilu Allende, Beto Torrens, and Bryant Huffman are from Puerto Rico, as are the singers joining Allen on vocals, Jeremy Bosch and Cheito Quinõnes. Rounding out the band are American trumpeter Jonathan Powell, guitarist Adam Rogers, and saxophonists Chris Creek and Mario Castro (also from Puerto Rico).

“El Diablo and all the songs I wrote for SIMPLE are inspired by my land and the things I miss when I’m away from my roots, away from the coast of Puerto Rico, the feeling of not having to rush and not feeling stress at all, just joy,” says Cole. “I wanted to keep it simple. My focus was on feeling good, on how the musical parts worked together, and how I danced to it. I wanted people to enjoy it and make them feel like dancing and I wanted musicians in the band to enjoy themselves playing it.”

What critics, scholars, and Puerto Rican master musicians are saying about “El Diablo:”

“By removing ‘El Diablo’ from the Cuban Son Montuno, also known as ‘Salsa,’ and placing it on top of one of the many variations of the old Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba rhythm, Cole open his mind to a whole new world of possibilities and he goes to them without fear. You get strong sound of the “Bomba Barriles” ( Puerto Rico’s version, if you will, of the congas, but with a much bigger and richer sound, used to play bomba rhythms.), full rock and jazz sounding guitars, full brass section playing counterpoint and rhythmic melodies and of course, there’s Cole’s beautiful drumming driving the whole band. This is a definitely new look to Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms. You will dig this!” --Gary Nunez, founder of GRAMMY-winning ensemble Plena Libre.


Electrifying Eight-Piece Wonder-Band The Suffers Serve Up Their Delicious Blend Of Gulf Coast Soul on Everything Here

There is a contagious and combustible energy every time the eight-piece wonder-band The Suffers steps on the scene. NPR's Bob Boilen attributes the band's allure to their "Soul, straight from horn to heart." He adds, "This band is on fire when it's in front of an audience...but the intensity of their shows are also captured in the studio." Following The Suffers' electrifying late night TV debut on Letterman in 2015, David Letterman exclaimed, "If you can't do this, get out of the business!" There is something undeniable about The Suffers (whose name is a reference to the 1978 Jamaican film Rockers starring Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Jacob Miller and Burning Spear, among others), that instantly hits home with their audiences. "We make music for all people," says lead vocalist Kam Franklin. "At this point, we've played all over the world and one thing is certain - if the music is good, the people will enjoy it." Since 2011, the H-Town heroes have been on a steady grind and have no plans of stopping. It seems the secret to their success is simple. Keyboardist Patrick Kelly confides, "There is a universal groove in the music that we play," while bass guitarist Adam Castaneda adds, "I don't think any of us are trying to impress anyone with our technical abilities, we just want to make them dance."

July 13, 2018, Shanachie Entertainment will release The Suffers' highly anticipated label debut Everything Here. Guitarist Kevin Bernier says, "Everything Here, as a whole, explores the many aspects of who we are as people through songs. We've had crushes on people, we've had our hearts broken, and we've moved through all the difficult times so that we can experience the joyful moments."  The Suffers have got everything you need and there's no need to look further - a heaping dose of soul, a dash of reggae, a splash of jazz, a pinch of salsa, a hint of rock 'n' roll and a dollop of hip hop and funk - and that is just a few ingredients simmering inside their magical Gulf Coast soul. Percussionist Jose Luna says, "The glue that holds us together is our experience. We have all played with so many bands and musicians through the years that we have learned how not to step on each others toes."  The Suffers however will get your feet moving on Everything Here, a riveting collection of 15 originals that shows mad love for Houston (there are even cameos from Houston rappers Paul Wall and Bun B), explores the many sides of love, celebrates the virtues of individuality, reminds us of the destruction of Harvey and resilience of the human spirit  and declares love for their mothers.  All of these themes coalesce into one soulful soundtrack.   The band co-produced the album with John Allen Stephens and Zeke Listenbee co-produced on several tracks.   Trombonist Michael Razo explains, "One of our goals was to have the songs on the album flow or tie into each other. Like creating an album where you just press play and let it go without having to skip to the next song."  The album's new single is "Do Whatever," opens with tight and soul-stirring horns, thumping bass lines and Kam laying down the law singing "Full on disclosure, I'm not here for exposure. I came to have a good time so let me shine....Do whatever feels right all night, alright, alright!"

The Suffers' drive coupled with their can't lose attitude and serious chops have taken them from their beloved Houston to the world stage (they are the first band to break nationally out of Houston in a long time). "We're a testament to teamwork and camaraderie resulting in things working out even when the odds are against a positive outcome," says drummer Nick Zamora. "The wonderful thing about music is that it is ultimate universal communication," reflects trumpeter Jon Durbin.  The Suffers have played sold out shows in Japan and Latin America, turned out audiences at the Newport Folk Festival and Afropunk Festival and made believers of just about anyone who has experienced their live shows.  With the release of Everything Here, The Suffers are bound to further endear die-hard fans and make believers of new ones. "I'm most proud that we are still here going at it," concludes Kam Franklin. "All the travels, new friends, and fans we've gained along the way are just an added bonus to a much bigger dream."

Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band Returns with Raucous Live Recording, Presence

The influence of the late playwright and educator Donald Evans has always loomed large over the Captain Black Big Band. Pianist and bandleader Orrin Evans named the band for his father’s brand of pipe tobacco, the aroma of which always announced his father’s presence in the house. The big band’s third album, Presence, is a celebration of the warmth and spirit of the elder Evans, but more importantly it’s quite simply a celebration – an approach to not only music but life that Evans inherited directly from his parents.

Presence, due out September 21 via Smoke Sessions Records, features a scaled-down 11-piece version of Evans’ long-running big band, recorded live at a pair of venues in his hometown of Philadelphia: Chris’ Jazz Café (where the band made its debut in late 2008) and South Jazz Parlor. The line-up features a core group of collaborators that the pianist tends to refer to as “a family” or “a village” more than a band. Most of the musicians on this recording have played with Captain Black for years, while many of them have contributed compositions and arrangements to the ensemble’s ever-growing book.

The album’s cover art, drawn by a close friend, depicts the face of Donald Evans gazing upon the band, his enlivening spirit embodied by the diversity and raucous sense of joy that Captain Black always brings to the stage. “There was always a party in my household,” Evans says. “I always looked forward to events at the house, where guests would gather around the piano in our living room. That leads into how I approach the Captain Black Big Band. I try to create that party and to have people in the band that are fun seekers.”

That pervasive sense of familial camaraderie shines through the music on Presence, especially in the band’s smaller, tighter incarnation. The band’s downsizing can be explained in part by practical considerations: it makes an easier fit for their long-running stint on the intimate stage of Smoke Jazz & Supper Club, for one. It’s also been easier to manage as Evans’ schedule has become more crowded since joining The Bad Plus in January.

But the 11-piece band also represents a distillation of the larger ensemble, pared down to a close-knit core of players that know each other very well, can navigate the music with the spontaneity of a small band, and simply enjoy the experience of sharing the stage together.

“I look for something different in the Captain Black Big Band,” Evans says. “I look for the ability and desire to be part of a family. I actually get disappointed sometimes when other people don’t see the appeal of that. You have to be ready and down to be a part of this. That all stems from what I saw growing up in my household.”

The Captain Black Big Band’s taut, boisterous energy bursts out of the gate with trombonist David Gibson’s aptly-named “The Scythe.” The tune’s keen-edged theme evokes a ferocious round of soloing from the composer as well as saxophonist Troy Roberts, trumpeter Josh Lawrence and the leader, recently name “Rising Star Pianist” in the 2018 DownBeat Critics’ Poll.

Robert’s vigorous tenor leads the way into Eric Revis’ bracing “Question,” originally recorded by Tarbaby, the collective trio that Revis and Evans share with drummer Nasheet Waits. Evans opens John Raymond’s “Onward” with a meditative intro that lends a spiritual overtone to the piece’s sense of inspirational uplift, answered by the composer’s swelling trumpet solo, which soars ever higher as it draws strength from the band’s powerful backing.

Evans’ own “When It Comes” finds the band teasing out its raw edges, enjoying a playfully tempestuous give and take. Raymond’s blustery solo rides the avalanche of Anwar Marshall’s roiling rhythms, while Evans adds incisive interjections. Another Evans original, the spring-loaded “Flip the Script” prompts a spirited dialogue between Roberts and alto saxophonist Caleb Curtis. The surging groove of Roberts’ “Trams” is established with an audience participation clap-along, parrying the roaring horn thrusts of the tune.

Evans tenderly establishes the mood for his own “The Answer,” while Lawrence’s explosive title track, originally recorded on his own album Color Theory with Evans in the band, ends the set on a characteristically vibrant note. All that’s left is a brief, ramshackle reprise of “When It Comes” that sends listeners off with the band’s rambunctious clamor in their ears.

“In all the bands I lead, my concept is allowing for the unknown to happen,” Evans concludes. “This is a real, raw and honest representation of what happened on stage on those nights.”

Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band · Presence
Smoke Sessions Records · Release Date: September 21, 2018

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Louie Vega – NYC Disco

The mighty Louie Vega pays tribute to the New York scene that gave him a start – and which he helped transform with his classic club work of the past few decades! The set's a fantastic celebration of the spirit of disco, but is delivered with a very contemporary vibe – not straight house, but that warmer blend of the music that first started hitting the Paradise scene in the second half of the 80s – when folks weren't afraid to go back and borrow some of the best moments of the 70s, and work them into leaner grooves for the new generation. 

Vega was a key part of that generation – and there's a spirit here that's very much in keeping with his early Masters At Work material, especially when it got collaborative – as the record features work from guests, and a lot of classic tracks that are transformed in Vega's hands. 

Louie mixes lots of new music with his remixes – so the album is quite different than a remix record – and new guests include Josh Milan, The Martinez Brothers, Patrick Adams, Anane, Rochelle Fleming, Barbara Tucker, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Tony Touch – amidst older work by John Davis, Sylvester, Luther Vandross, Rhyze, Greg Henderson, and Klassique. 27 tracks in all – including "Rebel Nation" by Louie Vega with Patrick Adams & Cloud Two, "He Promised Me" by Bebe Winans, "Love Having You Around" by Louie Vega, "Get Myself Together (Louie Vega rmx)" by Luther Vandross, "Dreamin (Louie Vega rmx)" by Greg Henderson, "This Beat Is Mine" by Vicky D, "Cosmic Disco" by Dub Disco Band, "Get With The Funk" by Louie Vega, "Dance (Disco Heat) (Louie Vega rmx)" by Sylvester", "Somebody's Loving You (Ray Reid 12" mix)" by Klassique, "Let's Do It (Louie Vega interpretation)" by Leroy Burgess & Convention, and "Gotta Get Outta Here" by Lucy Hawkins.  ~ Dusty Groove


After winning the 2015 Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition then performing at the Montreal International Jazz Festival the following year, 25-year-old singer and songwriter Arianna Neikrug makes her grander introduction to the music world with the August 24, 2018 release of Changes on Concord Jazz.

Produced by the Grammy-winning pianist and arranger Laurence Hobgood, Changes displays Neikrug’s gift for interpreting tunes from the Great American Songbook and more recent pop and R&B classics from the ’70s. The disc also contains two originals that reveal some of Neikrug’s journey from her hometown of Los Angeles to New York City, where she argues she truly belongs.

Hobgood, who recruited his regular trio mates – drummer Jared Schonig and bassist Matt Clohesy – for Changes, describes Neikrug as “an intellectual and complex person.” “I can honestly say that she’s the most theoretically informed singer that I’ve ever worked with – in terms of just knowing music,” Hobgood says. “She understands the basic structures of music and how to talk about it. She has a healthy combination of being strong-willed with being totally open-minded to suggestions. Those are attributes of a singer with a long career.”

Changes begins with a hypnotic reading of “No Moon at All” on which Neikrug initiates by pairing her comely soprano with Hobgood’s economical piano accompaniment. Soon after the rhythm section enters the fray and buoys her along as she demonstrates her assured sense of swing, bluesy phrasing and remarkable scatting acumen.

Neikrug’s graceful rendition of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” is the second of the Great American Songbook compositions to appear on Changes. Neikrug says that she started singing the Fran Landesman and Tommy Wolf tune when she was only 17, but with little understanding of its emotional subtext. “How could I? First of all, living in Los Angeles, I only had summer my whole life. So, what is spring?” Neikrug laughs. “After I first moved to New York, I finally understood what spring was all about. I found out why so many songs are written about the weather and the seasons, because they make a huge difference in your mental and emotional state.”

The disc shift gears with Neikrug’s divine makeover of Al Green’s R&B staple, “Let’s Stay Together” on which she sings the pleading lyrics and succinct melody atop Hobgood’s beguiling arrangement. Hobgood suggested the song to Neikrug during one of their first think-tank sessions while they were scanning Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Best Songs.”

Neikrug’s burgeoning songwriting talent gets the spotlight with “Changes,” the disc’s title track. Spurred by a lithe samba rhythm, the song touches on the difficult period between graduating from Frost School of Music at the University of Miami with a bachelor of music degree in studio music and jazz vocal performance and applying for the Sarah Vaughan International Vocal Competition. “I was going through my first major depressive episode,” she recalls. “I was experiencing a rough time because I didn’t have any structure or job yet. It was weird for me to be out in the real world and think, ‘Okay? What do I do?  How do I make a schedule? Where do I go?’”

Now in hindsight, Neikrug sees that struggling, transitional period as a blessing because it afforded her some of life’s big lows and highs, which enabled her to write more convincing life-based songs and interpret emotionally gripping standards. “Having to build yourself up when you’re down is not an easy thing to do” she says. “But how else are you going to write music from the heart and emote these big experiences that you can put into your art? In the worst way, it’s kind of cool.”

Changes continues with the first of two intriguing mash-ups, “Never Let Me Go/I’ll Be There.” Neikrug and Hobgood delve into Ray Evans and Jay Livingston’s 1956 standard as a sparkling duet before the rhythm section slides in for a sumptuous rendition of the Jackson Five’s Motown gem. “I’ve been pitching ‘I’ll Be There’ as just a lush jazz ballad to a number of singers for about 15 years. Nobody has bit until now,” Hobgood says.

Neikrug returns to jazz standards with a blistering version of “The Song Is You,” on which she flaunts her rhythmic and tonal agility before delivering her second original “New York Song,” articulating her long desire to move to the Big Apple then returning to standard repertoire again by digging deep into the jazz canon for her bewitching, R&B-laden refurbishing of “After You’ve Gone,” a Henry Creamer and Turner Layton classic that’s 100-years-old. At the Sarah Vaughan International Competition, she’d performed a vastly different, more up-tempo treatment of “After You’ve Gone” during the final round.

Neikrug then performs what she argues is the song that sealed her win at that aforementioned competition – Bob Dorough and Terrell Kirk’s “Devil May Care.” Again, she explains that Hobgood’s mesmeric arrangement differs from the one she performed at the competition, which she described as “sassier and more down-home blues.

Changes concludes with its second mash-up – two Joni Mitchell songs “Help Me/Be Cool.” After college graduation, Neikrug went on a Joni Mitchell binge, beginning with the 1971 landmark LP, Blue. “[‘Help Me’] sounds almost as if it were written for my voice,” Neikrug says. “The key is perfect; the melody is perfect. The song is challenging enough that I had a desire to learn it.  But it was also about storytelling and being young and full of angst.”

After agreeing on “Help Me,” Hobgood suggested intertwining it with “Be Cool.” Neikrug had her reservations though. “To be honest, the first time I heard it, I said, ‘OK, could you give me something a little bit harder to sing?’” Neikrug laughs. “But Laurence wanted to do a mash-up. It almost resembles how I wish pop music sounded. It still sounds really hip but it’s challenging, eye-opening and re-imaginative.”

Blending the right amount of reverence for the jazz tradition with a knowing glance to modern pop and R&B classics, sprinkled with two inviting originals, Changes will delight both jazz purists and novices without making any unwise artistic compromises as she superbly negotiates the glories of jazz’s past with a wide-eyed optimism that betrays her tender age. “When you’re recording your debut album, fresh out of college, you’re not exactly sure how you want to present yourself,” Neikrug explains. “It was easier figuring that out by discovering who I didn’t want to be. I’m just trying to take the jazz tradition and move it in my direction.”



Pat Metheny Elected into the Prestigious Royal Swedish Academy of Music

Founded in 1771 by King Gustav III, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music is one of the Royal Academies in Sweden. The academy's purpose is to promote art music and musical life. It shall thus follow developments within Swedish and international music circles, take initiatives to advance musical culture as well as support education, research and artistic development in music's various fields.

The news comes just months after the guitarist, composer, and bandleader received the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award (the United States’ highest national award for a jazz artist) as well Jazz FM’s “PRS For Music Gold Award” for lifetime achievement.

Additionally, the 20-time GRAMMY® Award winner kicks off a 24-city European tour this week with Antonio Sanchez, Linda May Han Oh, and Gwilym Simcock, followed by a U.S. tour this fall. Complete tour schedule listed below.

Royal Swedish Academy of Music Voting Board:
“The American Guitarist and Composer Pat Metheny is one of the world's most significant living jazz musicians. He has an unmistakable sound and is an improviser with what appears to be an infinite flow of ideas. He has collaborated with most of the biggest names in the jazz, but also with composers and artists like Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Joni Mitchell and David Bowie. His discography is extensive. Metheny has driven many types of projects in the course of his career, both traditionally and experimentally. Some with a wide, inclusive appeal, others with a narrower, more searching side. Pat Metheny is also a diligent writer in all topics that appeal to music.”

With his addition to the Academy, Metheny will join a select group of the most renowned and influential musicians/composers in the world, including, but not limited to: Marilyn Mazur (Composer, Musician), Palle Mikkelborg (Jazz musician, composer), Lars-Ulrik Mortensen (Cembalist, Conductor), Riccardo Muti (Conductor), Paul Mega (Conductor), Susanna Mälkki (Conductor), Truls Dark (Cellist), Jon Nordal (composer), Per Nørgård (composer), Sakari Oramo (Conductor), Roger Parker (Musician), Krzysztof Penderecki (composer), Arvo Pärt (composer), Steve Reich (composer), Wolfgang Rihm (composer), Gennady Rozhdestvensky (Conductor), Poul Ruders (composer), Kaija Saariaho (composer), Aulis Sallinen (composer), Esa-Pekka Salonen (Conductor), Peter Schreier (Chamberlain), Heinrich W. Schwab (Prof., Dr. Phil), Leif Segerstam (Chief Captain), Grigory Sokolov (Pianist), Leon Spierer (Concertmaster), Simon Steen-Andersen (Tonsettare), Atli Heimir Sveinsson (Tonsettare), Bent Sørensen (composer), Olav Anton Thommessen (composer), Péteris Vasks (composer), Christian Zacharias (Conductor).

Jun 28 Figueira de Foz, Portugal
Jun 29 Lisbon, Portugal
Jun 30 Castelo Branco, Portugal
Jul 1 Porto, Portugal
Jul 2 Madrid, Spain
Jul 4 Valencia, Spain
Jul 5 Cordoba, Spain
Jul 6 San Javier, Spain
Jul 7 Barcelona, Spain
Jul 8 Vitroles, France
Jul 10 Merano, Italy
Jul 12 Kiel, Germany
Jul 13 Dusseldorf, Germany
Jul 14 Rotterdam, Netherlands
Jul 16 Stuttgart, Germany
Jul 17 Gardone Riviera, Italy
Jul 19 Perugia, Italy
Jul 20 Rome, Italy
Jul 21 Borgia, Italy
Jul 22 Molfetta, Italy
Jul 24 Pescara, Italy
Jul 25 Arona, Italy
Jul 26 Aosta, Italy
Jul 28 Marciac, France
Aug 2 Great Barrington, MA
Aug 3 Newport, RI
Aug 4 Newport, RI
Aug 5 Portsmouth, NH
Sep 26 Lebanon, NH
Sep 27 Ridgefield, CT
Sep 28 Morristown, NJ
Sep 29 Stony Brook, NY
Sep 30 Beverly, MA
Oct 2 Burlington, VT
Oct 3 Portland, ME
Oct 5 Philadelphia, PA
Oct 6 N Bethesda, MD
Oct 7 Red Bank, NJ
Oct 9 Toronto, CAN
Oct 10 Ann Arbor, MI
Oct 11 Carmel, IN
Oct 12 Chicago, IL
Oct 13 Brookfield, WI
Oct 14 Madison, WI
Oct 16 Boulder, CO
Oct 17 Denver, CO
Oct 19 Portland, OR
Oct 20 Vancouver, Canada
Oct 21 Bremerton, WA
Oct 22 Eugene, OR
Oct 24 Sacramento, CA
Oct 25 Oakland, CA
Oct 26 Los Angeles, CA
Oct 27 San Diego, CA
Oct 28 Santa Barbara, CA

New Releases: Gerald Alston; Jason Palmer – Jason Palmer At Wally’s Volume 1; Skymark - Vitrual Stars

Gerald Alston

Brilliant solo work from Gerald Alston – the first album issued under his own name, after a strong legacy of work with The Manhattans! Alston's vocals are wonderful here – beautifully crafted, with a sense of maturity and feeling that most of his younger soul contemporaries couldn't match – polished with the kind of class that kept The Manhattans strong well into the 80s – but updated nicely with some of the more adult soul modes of the latter part of the decade. Production is by Stan Sheppard and James Varner, who know to keep things laidback to keep Alston at his best – and titles include "Stay A Little While", "You Laid Your Love On Me", "I've Waited All Night", "Activated", "We've Only Just Begun", and "I Come Alive When I'm With You". (Part of the Disco Fever 40 series!)  ~ Dusty Groove

Jason Palmer – Jason Palmer At Wally’s Volume 1

Trumpeter Jason Palmer has given us some great creative projects in recent years – but this time around, he's in a wonderfully back-to-basics mode – working with an excellent combo in a small club in Boston – on long tracks that really stretch out and let us hear his imaginative skill on solos! The core group is a quintet – with the excellent Noah Preminger on tenor, and Max Light ringing out nicely on guitar – driven by rhythms from Simon Willson on bass and Lee Fish on drums – players who keep a nice sense of structure in the tunes, even while things are open enough to really let the solos expand! Chris McCarthy plays Fender Rhodes on one track on each volume – and all titles are great originals by Palmer – really showing his dynamic vision as a leader. Titles on this first volume include "Gabby", "Kemerovo", "Preservation Of The Lower 9th Ward", "Be Aware", and "Stop Drop & Roll". ~ Dusty Groove

Skymark - Vitrual Stars

Skymark is Marc Friedli – a European keyboardist with a real love of vintage instruments – Arp, Moog, Prophet, Roland, and more – all of which he brings to bear nicely in this very groovy set! As with his previous record, the vibe here is kind of late 70s/early 80s – some warmer keyboard modes, some a bit more electro – as are the vocals on the album, which are slightly more prominent than before, but often highly processed – so that they're maybe a lot more down in the mix than the keyboards, with deeper tones that are more likely to slide into the basslines and rhythms. Yet although understated, the vocals also maybe give the album more of a spiritual core than ever before – on titles that include "Yesterday's Flame", "The First Special Feeling", "Insomnia", "Our Shelter", "The Center Of My Joy", and "The Power Of A Positive Smile". ~ Dusty Groove

Dave Grusin - 5 Original Albums (One Of A Kind / Mountain Dance / Out Of The Shadows / Night Lines / Cinemagic)

Five full albums from keyboardist Dave Grusin – packaged together in a single set, with tiny LP-styled covers for each CD! First up is one of our favorites – the album One Of A Kind, which is a sweet funky fusion outing that really sums up some of the best Dave Grusin modes of the 70s! This excellent LP from 1977 really captures the best of the Grusin soundtrack style – heard in the 70s on shows like Barretta, or in films like Three Days of the Condor – mellow fusion with a tightly arranged style – lots of nicely isolated instrumentation, and the kind of spare and spacey grooves that you'd expect from a hip CTI session! Musicians include Grover Washington on saxes, Dave Valentin on flute, Ron Carter on bass, and Steve Gadd himself – plus Grusin on a lot of sweet keyboards – and titles include great cut "Modaji", plus "Heart Is A Lonely Hunter", "Catavento", and "Montage". 

Mountain Dance has a similar vibe, too – nice and lean – and one of Dave's funkier albums of the time – with cuts that include "Captain Caribe", "Rondo", "City Lights", "Rag Bag", and "Mountain Dance". 

Out Of The Shadows has a nice sort of vibe – not the too-smooth later sound of the GRP label, and instead this nice balance of electric keyboards and acoustic piano – delivered with help from key contemporaries who include Lee Ritenour on guitar and Steve Gadd on drums! Production is nicely understated – and titles include the mellow stepper "Serengeti Walk", plus "Last Train To Paradiso", "She Could Be Mine", "Crystal Morning", "Hokkaido", and "Sweetwater Nights". 

Night Lines is a record that has Dave Grusin elevating a bit more into the jazz/soul mainstream – as the set has the keyboardist working with a few more crossover modes than before, but all in a way that seems to demonstrate his many years in various kinds of music! The album was a key entry in the new sound of fusion during the mid 80s – maybe a bit sharper than later smooth jazz, but with efforts from some leading lights of that generation to come – including David Sanborn and Marcus Miller. Phoebe Snow sings a bit on the record – which might provide her with one of her more exciting settings in years – and titles include "Power Wave", "Thankful N Thoughtful", "Night Lines", "Tick Tock", "Bossa Baroque", and "Secret Place". 

Cinemagic is a famous pairing of the keyboards of Dave Grusin with the orchestrations of the London Symphony Orchestra – served up at a level that made the record a giant hit for so many folks who wouldn't have touched a Dave Grusin record a decade before! The tunes are a bit different than usual – all film tunes, as you might expect, delivered in a way that's not afraid to lean on all the sentimental currents of the tunes – which come from films that include Tootsie, Heaven Can Wait, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Three Days Of The Condor, and The Goonies. Titles include "Condor", "An Actor's Life", "It Might Be You", "Heaven Can Wait", "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter", and "Goodbye For Cathy". ~ Dusty Groove

New Releases: The Stanley Clarke Band – The Message; Girl Named Nino – Moonlight Daughter; Leata Galloway - Tenderly

The Stanley Clarke Band – The Message

Bassist Stanley Clarke is right on message here – serving up the kind of cosmic sounds and soulful styles that he first brought to his music many years back! This time around, Clarke's got some great help onboard – keyboardist Cameron Graves, who we've really loved from his own recent work – really soaring alongside Stanley's always-deft work on electric bass – more dynamic here than we might have expected, and also given some strong direction from drummer Mike Mitchell. Beka Gochiashvili plays acoustic piano in the core quartet – and the album also features contributions from Skyeler Kole, Steve Blum, and Trevor Wesley on vocals – and Doug E Fresh on a bit of beatbox too! There's lots of surprises along the way, and titles include "The Rugged Truth", "Lost In A World", "Enzo's Theme", "To Be Alive", "And Ya Know We're Missing You", "Combat Continuum", and "After The Cosmic Rain/Dance Of The Planetary Prince". ~ Dusty Groove

Girl Named Nino – Moonlight Daughter

Captivating, genre-defying indie soul from Girl Named Nino – a girl originally from Tbilisi, Georgia who has long called the Chicago area home, has a sound as far reaching as her travels, but it still feels intimate and personal! Her voice is front-and-center throughout Moonlight Daughter, in both the vocals and in the distinctive songcraft, and it's strong on both fronts. As a singer, she has a way of balancing classic jazz vocal influences with more modern soul, global/multi-lingual pop and even a bit of hip hop. Likewise with the songs and the production. Nino and partner Pablo Gordy – who together handle all of the writing, arranging, production and instrumentation – have this knack for layering styles and sounds, but with such strong songwriting core, they can no doubt play even the most lushly-produced songs here in a stripped down setting without losing the heart and soul of it. Titles include "Moonlight Daughter (Flowers To The Moon)", "Whiskey & Cigarettes (Chaser)", "Little Lady (Keep Your Lights On)", "Four Letter Words (Siren)", "The Revolution (Lost At The Bazaaar)", "Jukebox Joint (Heard You, Watched You)", "As We Love (Asa Nisi Masa", "Valentine" and "Deda (Mother)". ~ Dusty Groove

Leata Galloway - Tenderly

Leata Galloway is a name you might recognize from a classic soul album in the 80s – but here, the singer's moved into quite strong jazz vocal territory – working with small combo backings on most numbers, and working through a set of classic tracks that all have a very nice vibe! The shift is quite a surprise from Leata's earlier work – and it's great to hear that raspy, crackling style in a mode that's much more unadorned – with plenty of warm basslines from Larry Ball, who co-produced and arranged the set with Galloway – and musicians who include Phil Upchurch on guitar, Frank Zatoli on piano, and Ron Brown on tenor. Titles include "All Blues", "Moondance/Fever", "Desafinado", "I Want To Be Loved", "Yeah Yeah", "Tenderly", "Stella By Starlight", and an excellent version of Ahmad Jamal's "Ahmad's Blues". ~ Dusty Groove

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

New Releases: Al Di Meola - Elegant Gypsy & More Live; John McLaughlin - Live At Ronnie Scott's; Michael Sarian & The Chabones - Leon

Al Di Meola - Elegant Gypsy & More Live

With his acclaimed current studio album 'OPUS', Al Di Meola not only topped the TOP 5 of the Official German Jazz Album Charts and burst to #1 position in the US Contemporary Jazz Album Charts, but once again proved his status as a 'guitar superstar'. His curriculum vitae is full of exciting musical moments and incredible works and he still finds ways to challenging himself: he is a jack-of-all-trades, who does not take a real break in supposedly quieter times. Al Di Meola is burning for his passion - the music. With 'Elegant Gypsy & More LIVE'; partly recorded on his very successful 'Elegant Gypsy 40th Anniversary'-US Tour in 2017, Al Di Meola proves once again that jazz music tremendously 'rocks'. Above all, for him it is also a journey back to his musical beginning, which he brings to new heights with fantastic versions of songs like 'Race With Devil On Spanish Highway', 'Flight Over Rio', 'Midnight Tango' or 'Egyptian Danza'. Available on CD and Digital.

John McLaughlin - Live At Ronnie Scott's

Live at Ronnie Scott's is a single vinyl that features 6 songs from the CD. The music has been completely remastered for this release. It features all the Mahavishnu Orchestra songs that appear on the CD. The venerable London jazz club and its charismatic namesake gave so much to McLaughlin s career, the roots of which extend as far back as McLaughlin s stint as a member of the club s house band in the 1960s. Since then, his pioneering spirit, instrumental virtuosity, and improvisational fearlessness have taken him around the world, put him on stage alongside fellow giants such as Miles Davis and Tony Williams, and has given listeners a series of compelling, revolutionary recordings that have redefined improvised music for generations to come. Limited Edition of 1,000.

Michael Sarian & The Chabones - Leon

Albeit mostly playful, there's a common stigma against gingers (people with red hair) throughout the world, and my home country Argentina is no different. Although they don't believe gingers have no soul, and although they don't believe gingers are vampires; they do believe they're bad luck. There's this saying, Colorado Yeta, which roughly translates into 'bad luck ginger' (yeta = bad luck; = yeta, Colorado = ginger). To be honest, I never felt discriminated against because of my red hair, but I did stand out. Originally, the album title was going to be Colorado Yeta, which is the more introspective track, melancholic, almost like a ballad. But I knew that non-Spanish speakers would have a hard time pronouncing and understanding that title. Additionally, I didn't want the whole album to have this defeatist vibe to it, so I thought about what positive twist I could give the fact that I am, in fact, a ginger. Enter León (lion). Yes, I have long red hair and a beard, but the lion speaks to more than just my, or anyone else's, appearance. It speaks to anyone who's ever felt 'less than' for any reason, because they too can be a lion. The lion represents anyone who grows into who they are, and owns it. The album, although not chronological, is somewhat autobiographical. Throughout the title track, we try to blur the line between playing in duple and triple meter, and eventually get into a chacarera sort of feel that does exactly that. It doesn't hurt that Jim Piela plays an incredibly beautiful solo that makes us stop worrying about what meter we're in. The second track, No 3, is a feature for our drummer, Josh Bailey. The rest of the band holds out chords (voiced without the third), giving him plenty of space to play freely. The top voice of the chord progression spells out what I call the 'colorado yeta' melody, which also appears in the intro to Casquito, and in a way prepares the listener for it. - Michael Sarian



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...