Sunday, September 22, 2019

Smuggler Brothers - MUSIONE

The story of Smuggler Brothers starts in Palermo, the principal town of Sicily, in late 2011. Founded by three friends, musicians active in the fertile underground music scene of the city, the band aims to experiment new artistic directions, combining a diverse set of influences ranging from Italian soundtracks and Library music from the ‘60s and ‘70s to African-American music, with groove as the core essence of the band. From the initial nucleus, the band evolved soon into a 8-piece combo.

Following an exciting period spent rehearsing and honing their sound, Smuggler Brothers started an intense live activity, gaining the enthusiastic support of the local scene. In 2015 the band felt it was time to record their music – their self-titled debut album was recorded at Zeit Studio in Palermo, 15-tracks that were pressed on limited edition vinyl and released via Tone Deaf Records. Shortly after their album tour, the band suffered a period of instability – the departure of some players slowly weakened the structure of the group, forcing the surviving band members to interrupt the live activity and reflect on the future of the project.

2017 sees the band coming back to life and entering a new phase – with a renewed 5-element structure and a clear plan, the group started to work on new music and perform on stage again.

At the end of the same year the Milan-based record label Schema Records decided to put Smuggler Brothers under a contract. The label interest and the artistic direction of Massimo Martellotta (Calibro 35) pushed the band forward: in October 2018 the Sicilian brothers eventually landed in Milan at Schema Records’ Blue Spirit Studio to record their second album, published by Schema Records on May 10th, 2019.

Nicola Conte / Gianluca Petrella – Free Your Mind (EP)

Pioneering Italian musician and producer Nicola Conte and esteemed trombonist Gianluca Petrella team up again for their new project’s third EP on Schema, ahead of their forthcoming full-length project due out later this year.

For those unaware, Conte and Petrella have been working together on and off since 2001’s “New Standards”. In addition to working together as musicians, the pair has fostered a close creative relationship, trading and discussing vintage gear and records in a bid to open each other up to as wide a range of influences as possible.

This most recent offering further explores the themes and sounds found on their previous collaborations, “Sun Song / Nigeria” and “African Spirits / New World Shuffle”, with its heavily West African influenced rhythms and cosmic-leaning musicality.

“Free Your Mind” is a straight-up party jam, complete with a powerful horn section, playful synth lines and powered by a rock solid Afrobeat rhythm section. “Imani River” sees the duo putting their spin on a spiraling 6/8 time signature, featuring otherworldly guest vocals from Bridgette Amofah, who also featured on the duo’s previous collaborative releases. The track offers a stark contrast to the feel good party vibes of “Free Your Mind”, taking on a somewhat spiritual demeanor, due as much to Petrella’s evocative trombone playing as to Amofah’s lofty vocals or the reeling nature of the percussion. Conte and Petrella bring the tempo up a notch or two with closing track “Infinity”, which lands somewhere between the dancefloor focused “Free Your Mind” and more headsy “Imani River”, allowing the listener to get equally as lost in the song’s driving groove as the intergalactic sound-palette that floats on top of it.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Grover Washington Jr: Sacred Kind Of Love – The Columbia Recordings, 5CD

British label SoulMusic Records is very proud to present “Sacred Kind Of Love: The Columbia Recordings,” a 5-disc deluxe box set of six stellar albums, spanning nine years (1987-1996) by legendary saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr., justifiably considered an influential pioneer in fusing jazz, soul, R&B and pop and bringing his distinctive sound to mainstream audiences globally.

After he signed with Columbia Records in 1986, Washington had already established himself as a leader in the genre known as ‘jazz/funk’ thanks to a series of ground breaking albums for Kudu Records (including “Mister Magic” and “Feels So Good”) in the mid-‘70s. The 1980 release of “Winelight,” Washington’s million-selling debut for Elektra Records (which contained the mega-hit ‘Just The Two Of Us’, featuring Bill Withers) marked a state change in the crossover appeal of what became known worldwide as ‘smooth jazz.’

Four of the six albums –STRAWBERRY MOON (1987), TIME OUT OF MIND (1989), NEXT EXIT (1992) and SOULFUL STRUT (1996), his final LP for Columbia – achieved success on the U.S. R&B, jazz and pop charts, while two albums, 1988’s THEN AND NOW (with guest players such as Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Grady Tate) and 1994’s ALL MY TOMORROWS (featuring Eddie Henderson, Bobby Watson, Hank Jones, Robin Eubanks and Billy Hart) were both critically acclaimed by audiences demonstrating Grover’s skill as a ‘straight ahead’ jazz musician of the first order.

Various special guest vocal performances by Jean Carne (‘The Look Of Love’, ‘Keep In Touch’), Phyllis Hyman (‘Sacred Kind Of Love’), B.B. King (‘Caught A Touch Of Your Love’), Nancy Wilson (‘Your Love’), Lalah Hathaway (‘Love Like This’) and The Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs (‘Till You Return To Me’) are among the many highlights of Grover’s tenure with Columbia Records along with bonus tracks, ‘Protect The Dream’ (originally released on the CD version of TIME OUT MIND); ‘Every Day A Little Death’, (from the 1995 Sony album, “Color And Light: Jazz Sketches On Sondheim”); ‘Heat Index’ and ‘The Night Fantastic’, both originally included on “Prime Cuts,” a Columbia Records’ compilation released in 1999, the year Grover passed away at the age of 56.

“Sacred Kind Of Love: The Columbia Recordings” includes detailed liner notes by renowned UK writer Charles Waring that include comments from Ramsey Lewis; a personal tribute to Washington by reissue producer and founder David Nathan; with first class mastering by Nick Robbins and superb artwork by Roger Williams.

Nigerian American Recording Artist, Nola Adé Releases New Single, ‘Good to You’ from her 2020 Forthcoming Album

Nigerian American recording artist and songwriter Nola Adé releases her new single, “Good to You,” from her forthcoming album, Asaro and Yams, scheduled for release in January 2020.

After three inspired years of writing, performing and refining her craft, Nola Adé returns with the single and video “Good to You,” a dreamy interstellar seduction song produced by Toronto’s Michael Sonier that is captivating listeners in a sexy trance. All about connecting spiritually and sensually, “Good to You” shines a starlight on transparency and vulnerability as vital components for the ultimate union of spirits. The video, directed by Varisse, is a sparkling collage of images showcasing Nola’s radiant beauty and grace, the camera lingering long on the mahogany elegance of her face framed by fireworks and the litheness of her cocoa frame draped in creme.

Nola’s 2016 debut project, The Love Dance EP, found her chasing a more Pop-oriented Soul direction kissed with a touch of Jazz. However, for her forthcoming album, Asaro and Yams, Nola is reveling in a musical vibe that weds African rhythms with intoxicating melodies and lyrical ruminations about the maddening quandaries of love and the fortifying mysteries of life – the resolutions of which make our journeys on Earth vibrant and unforgettable. She dubs her style “Afro Soul,” mixed with the broad range of artists that she came up listening to as a first-generation Nigerian American on the Southside of Chicago: Ella Fitzgerald, Mali Music, Chrisette Michele, Lauryn Hill, and Jazmine Sullivan, to name just a few.

In West Africa, Asaro is a popular culinary dish described as yam porridge while in America, the root of that dish is Yams or sweet potatoes, a Soul Food staple. Nola’s album title, Asaro and Yams deliciously describes the duality of the African and American sides of her life which are also on dynamic display throughout her eagerly awaited first full album.

Though music has always been a focal point of Nola Adé’s creative life, her proud Nigerian parents insisted she earns a Master’s Degree in any field she wished. Nola chose entertainment law with business as a backup, studying at John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She later became a legal intern at Rush Communications in New York City where she also performed music at night.

Before her solo career, Nola was a member of the St. Ailbe Choir and the University of Illinois Black Chorus, perfecting her rich alto instrument under the private training of renowned vocal coach, Lyndia Johnson. Nola studied piano when she was young but stopped when she went to college. Nola became a full-fledged performer, singing backup then later singing lead in an eclectic cover band that did material ranging from Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools” to The Police’s “Roxanne” to Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley.

Then Nola’s writing muse began to bloom, which led to her becoming a solo artist, opening shows for internationally renowned artists such as Bilal, Avery*Sunshine, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and Daley. Then in March 2016, she released her debut 7-song EP The Love Dance featuring “Bittersweet,” “Love” and “Love Dance.”

Nola Adé is now preparing to put the world under her Afro Soul spell with songs leading up to Asaro and Yams.

New Music: Nat Birchall, Vin Gordon, ALAIAS

Nat Birchall - Storyteller – A Musical Tribute To Yusef Lateef

A tremendous record from one of our favorite saxophonists of the past decade – the completely sublime, completely wonderful Nat Birchall – a musician who was way ahead of the curve towards spiritual jazz that others have hit in recent years, and one who still does it better than anyone else! The title gives away only part of the story – as Nat's definitely paying tribute to the great Yusef Lateef, particularly the mix of soulful jazz and exoticism in his earlier work – but the overall execution is very much in the best Birchall mode – long-building tracks, really informed by a strong tradition of spiritual energy, and not just in musical form – as the leader blows tenor, soprano, bass clarinet, and handles a range of instruments from around the globe – in the company of Michael Bardon on bass, Andy Hay on drums and percussion, and either Adam Fairhall or John Ellis on piano, depending on the track. A few of the tunes are classics from the vintage Lateef songbook, and Birchall has also seamlessly contributed a few numbers of his own – making for a fantastic double-length set, with titles that include "Tales Of Saba", "Ching Miau", "Salaam Brother Yusef", "Inward Flight", "Brother John", "Not Yet Ornette", "Ringo Oiwake", and "Mashariki" – plus a great version of "Love Theme From Spartacus", a tune that Lateef made his own back in the 60s, with a fantastic reading that's gone on to inspire many. ~ Dusty Groove

Vin Gordon - African Shores

Fantastic work from Vin Gordon – who may well be one of the greatest reggae trombonists since the legendary Rico – working here in a very classic style that features plenty of contributions from saxophonist Nat Birchall! Nat's very much in the space of his previous collaboration with Gordon – and also plays piano, bass, and percussion – alongside co-producer Al Breadwinner, who handles drums, guitar, organ, and piano too! Tracks are a mix of echoey, dubby numbers that still have straightforward solo work from Gordon – and others that have maybe a tighter tuneful vibe, but which still fit the strong spirit of the entire session. The quartet also features Stally on baritone and David Fullwood on trumpet – stepping out in all-instrumental splendor, on titles that include "Gusum Peck", "Shucumooku", "Sa La Vie", "African Shores", "Gold Coast Dub", "Styler Man", and "Spill Over". ~ Dusty Groove

ALAIAS - Music For An Imaginary Surf Film

Born from a love of both surfing and musical improvisation, Bristolian trio ALAIAS share their debut LP 'Music For An Imaginary Surf Film', splashed with salty synth melodies and ambient electronic rhythms. 
Incorporating groovy 60s rhythms and contemporary jazz orchestration, the album is a sun drenched audio adventure inspired by numerous surf movie soundtracks. From the woozy guitar riffs and fuzzy Moog bass of lead single 'Stranger Coasts', to the harmonic Hammond organ on 'Handy Cam', 'Music For An Imaginary Surf Film' is an underwater fantasy. With elements of post-rock, punk-jazz and ambient psychedelia, ALAIS's original scoring belongs to the sea, rippling languidly in the saltwater shallows. "We've all sat on a beach squinting at a pod of surfers performing seemingly effortless acrobatics. 'I wonder what that feels like' we think to ourselves. Listening to this music with your eyes closed might go some way to answering that question" the group recount. Brainchild of Dan Messore, the trio consists of Messore on guitar, organ and synth player Dan Moore and drummer Matt Brown. Meeting in Bristol, the collective quickly found common ground with a shared passion for jazz and electronic experimentation. Drawing inspiration from the rich rock traditions of Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and John Fahey, the trio are constantly voyaging into new musical territory with their surprising compositions and thrillingly eclectic soundscapes. ‘Music For An Imaginary Surf Film’ was written as the name suggests - plunging the listener into the gentle currents of the glittering ocean tides.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Harold Mabern: Influential Jazz Pianist and Educator Passes Away at Age 83

Legendary jazz pianist Harold Mabern died suddenly on Tuesday, September 17, as a result of a heart attack. He was 83. His death was announced on Thursday by his record label, Smoke Sessions Records.

A product of the fertile Memphis music scene of the 1950s, Mabern enjoyed a career lasting more than six decades. He was renowned as a master of jazz and blues styles and worked with such masters as Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Wes Montgomery, George Coleman, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine and Hank Mobley. Mabern once said, “I think of myself as a blues pianist who understands jazz.” In his later years he passed that still-blazing torch onto a new generation, working extensively with such modern-day purveyors as Eric Alexander, Peter Bernstein and Christian McBride.

Born on March 20, 1936, Mabern came of age soaking up the music of Memphis masters, in particular the great Phineas Newborn Jr. He attended the city’s Manassas High School, whose music program also boasts such illustrious alumni as Frank Strozier, Charles Lloyd, Booker Little, Hank Crawford, Isaac Hayes, and tenor titan George Coleman. Mabern and Coleman would enjoy a lifetime friendship and collaboration, stretching from the pianist’s 1968 debut A Few Miles From Memphis to his final session, the saxophonist’s forthcoming release The Quartet.

Mabern moved to Chicago in 1954, where he made his name accompanying the city’s hard-blowing tenorman, including Johnny Griffin, Gene Ammons and Clifford Jordan. While there he and fellow Memphian Frank Strozier, joined drummer Walter Perkins’ MJT+3 quintet; in 1959 the group relocated en masse to New York. There Mabern’s career took off, landing him in leading groups like Lionel Hampton’s Big Band, Art Farmer and Benny Golson’s Jazztet, and a run at the San Francisco club the Black Hawk with Miles Davis in 1963 (reuniting him with Coleman).

The pianist signed to Prestige in 1968, launching his own recording career as a leader, which would continue to run in parallel with his prolific sideman work. He also was a member of two multiple-piano ensembles: the six-keys Piano Choir, led by Stanley Cowell; and the Contemporary Piano Ensemble, founded in tribute to Mabern’s idol, Newborn. He continued actively releasing albums as recently as 2018. His 2014 recording Right on Time was the inaugural release for his most recent record label Smoke Sessions Records. He subsequently released three more albums with the label before his passing: Afro Blue (2015), To Love and Be Loved (2017), and The Iron Man: Live at Smoke (2018). Before this, Mabern released more than 20 albums as a leader/co-leader on labels such as Prestige, High Note, and Columbia; and performed on nearly 100 releases as a sideman.

In 1981, Mabern began teaching at New Jersey’s William Paterson University, a position that would last for a remarkable 36 years. Students of the late venerable educator include Joe Farnsworth, Bill Stewart, Roxy Coss, Freddie Hendrix, Tyshawn Sorey, Mark Guiliana, and Eric Alexander. The connection he forged there with Alexander would lead to one of his most acclaimed collaborations, returning him to prominence in the 1990s and well into the 21st century. Both with and without the saxophonist, Mabern would record extensively with his newfound rhythm section of bassist John Webber and Joe Farnsworth on drums.

“Harold Mabern has lived through half of jazz history as a working pianist and has that history under his fingers,” hailed NPR in 2017. “[He] plays piano like he's in command and the keys are wired to his brain.”

Mabern is survived by his two children, Michael and Roxanne, and his granddaughter Maya. He was married to his wife, Beatrice, for nearly 40 years before her death in 2010. He was also preceded in death by his sister Nettie and his parents, Elnora and Harold Sr.

Mutlu’s '"Nothing In The Whole Wide World" Featuring John Oates

This past summer Philadelphia based singer-songwriter Mutlu has charmed audiences up and down the East Coast with his infectious soul-styled music and honeyed tenor vocals in support of his recent Good Trouble album release. Mutlu is now gearing up for the album’s second single, “Nothing in This Whole Wide World” featuring John Oates from the legendary duo Hall & Oates. The single will be available for radio streaming on September 20, 2019.

“Nothing in This Whole Wide World” is Oates and Mutlu’s homage to R&B singles of the past, and pays tribute to the city of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia with its classic soul sound. Mutlu sings deeply from the heart as he embraces love and connection, and with John’s retro backing vocals, and the track’s funky guitar groove, the new single delivers an authentically vintage feeling throughout. “We wanted to channel that 70’s Philly Soul sound for the listener when we wrote this” recalls Mutlu of the songwriting process with Oates.

Hall & Oates’ guitarist, Shane Theriot, co-produced the new single with Oates. The recording also features keyboardist Henry Hey, along with Hall & Oates band members Brian Dunne (drums) and Klyde Jones (bass).

Mutlu will reunite with Hall & Oates in North Little Rock, Arkansas as the opening act for the renowned band on September 26th at The Verizon Arena, and will then carry his ‘Good Trouble’ tour overseas to the famous Amsterdam music venue, Paradiso. He will also be performing at The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence at Trinity UMC in Ewing, NJ on October 5th, with a lineup of artists that includes rock legends Living Colour, and he will be performing at The Ardmore Music Hall in Ardmore, PA on December 15th with acclaimed rock/soul/blues artist Anders Osborne.

His latest album Good Trouble has received tremendous media praise for crossing the boundaries of R&B, soul, reggae, folk, and rock, while creating something completely organic. Relix Magazine is currently featuring Mutlu in their September issue along with their monthly Spotify playlist. Mutlu has also received coverage and praise for his “Good Trouble” EP release in Vents Magazine, Music Existence, Digital Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, Ditty TV, and others.


New Music Releases: Wallace Roney, Duduka Da Fonseca & Helio Alves featuring Maucha Adnet , Red Kite

Wallace Roney - Blue Dawn – Blue Nights

Fantastic trumpet work from the great Wallace Roney – the kind of record that really lets the legend show his strengths in the best sort of way – with plenty of those trademark long-blown, well-inflected notes that have always graced his music! The set is definitely blue – blue in tone, blue in construction – and Roney blows in a core group with Emilio Modest on tenor and soprano, Oscar Williams II on piano, and Paul Cuffari on bass – with shifting drum work from Lenny White or Kojo Odu Roney, plus guitar from Quintin Zoto on a few tracks. Wallace has a strong sense of color throughout, very much living up to his legacy – and titles include "In A Dark Room", "Venus Rising", "Elliptical", "Why Should There Be Stars", "Wolfbane", and "New Breed".  ~ Dusty Groove

Duduka Da Fonseca & Helio Alves featuring Maucha Adnet -Samba Jazz & Tom Jobim

A set dedicated to the memory of Antonio Carlos Jobim, but one that's hardly just the usual variation on his classic numbers – as only a few tunes here are actually by the composer, and all of the music has that fresh sort of sparkle that we always love in the Brazilian jazz material from drummer Duduka Da Fonseca! The core pairing here is Duduka and pianist Helio Alves, who also plays Fender Rhodes on some numbers too – and the duo get help from singer Maucha Adnet on about half the record, a key part of this trio who've been working together for over twenty five years. The set also features bass from Hans Glawischnig, saxes and flute from Billy Drewes, and guitar from Romero Lubambo – on titles that include "Pato Preto", "Gemini Man", "Helium", "A Vontade Mesmo", "Polo Pony", "Pedro Bonita Da Gavea", "A Correnteza", and "Untitled".  ~ Dusty Groove

Red Kite - Red Kite

A heady slice of psych jazz from Norwegian combo Red Kite – a group with strong to ties to Norway's free jazz scene and a way of pairing that kind of adventurous experimentalism with heavy psych and prog influences! Kicking off their self-titled album with a heavy take on Alice Coltrane's "Ptah, The El Daoud" with rolling drums, spacey keys and fuzzy guitars that go heavy and cosmic, unlike the soaring and spiritual original – while the remaining all original numbers roll from lumberingly heavy to spaciously moody. The group is a quartet featuring Even Helte Hermansen on guitars, Tronde Frones on bass, Bernt Andre Moen on keys and Torstein Lofthus on drums, and titles include "13 Enemas For Good Luck", "Flew A Little Bullfinch Through The Window", "Focus On Insanity" and "You Don't Know, You Don't Know". ~ Dusty Groove

Thursday, September 19, 2019

New Music Releases: Jason Palmer, Rich Perry, Dayme Arocena

Jason Palmer - Sweet Love: Jason Palmer Plays Anita Baker

Jason Palmer strikes an Anita Baker pose on the cover, and takes on her music as well – but all in a jazz-based style that's completely his own, and which follows up strongly on his tribute albums to Janell Monae and Minnie Riperton! The group is nice and lean – a quartet with Domi Degalle on piano, Max Ridley on bass, and Lee Fish on drums – and Palmer gets plenty of space to voice his own interpretations of tunes from the Baker songbook – numbers that have surprising depth when taken out into territory like this, especially on all the very long readings, most of which push towards the ten minute mark without losing any energy or imagination at all. Titles include "Sweet Love", "No One In The World", "Angel", "Same Ole Love", "Fairy Tales", and "Caught Up In The Rapture". ~ Dusty Groove

Rich Perry - Other Matters

Rich Perry has a great way of shaping his sounds here – sometimes rhythmically, sometimes more spatially – but all with a very distinct approach to his work on the tenor! The group is open and as fluid as the leader – Gary Versace on piano, Jay Anderson on bass, and John Riley on drums – all great players, but clearly driven with a sensitivity to the needs of the leader's tone, which is great – as Perry really commands a lot of attention, but without ever hitting us over the head. Part of the strength of the set is the material – all original compositions by Rich, which really suit his approach – titles that include "Other Matters", "Transparency", "Sono", "Neta", "Written Image", and "Mndfl".  ~ Dusty Groove

Dayme Arocena - Sonocardiogram

The best we've heard so far from Dayme Arocena – a Cuban singer who's got a great way of reaching out from Havana with a sound that can circle the globe! The music here has a blend of jazz, soul, and Cuban roots – but all delivered together in a style that's completely unique and without cliche – really showing a maturity in Dayme's vocals since the previous record, and in her overall conception of a song! Instrumentation is by her core quartet, recorded live and openly, in a really unfettered way that instantly matches the spirit of Dayme's vocals too. The whole thing is tremendous – a record that lives up to the truest promise of the Brownswood label – with titles that include "Nangareo", "Porque Tu No Estas", "Yemaya", "Plegaria A La Lupe", "Homenaje", "Para El Amor Cantar", and "As Feridas". ~ Dusty Groove

Rachid Taha leaves us Je Suis Africain

A posthumous record? “Nothing to declare!” as Rachid would have said, leaning on the bar counter, with messy hair, bright eyes, and a raspy voice. He’s there, you can’t miss him. He may be laid to rest in Algeria, but he hasn’t left us. He knew that those who are allegedly missing are well and alive: “Do you really know the others?” the master of rock-Chaâbi once asked, quoting the greats Johnny Cash, Oum Kalthoum, and Andy Warhol in a prophetic song titled Andy Waloo. He wrote this arabic-punk-electro piece with guitars, balafon, and mouth harp before succumbing to a heart attack on September 12, 2018. “I was there with you last night, you told me to come. Every week you tell me, I'm waiting for you in my slum, there's a Picasso exhibition, go see him. What a bastard, he had a nice mirror, I saw Jean Cocteau kissing Jean Marais,” he sings, ending with a big laugh. So nobody is gone, they live on in us.

With boundless energy, Taha wrote eleven songs together with Toma Feterman for his eleventh solo album, diving deep into his roots as usual. First, Algerian Chaâbi, so subtle, yet so complex. Then rock, which took the world by storm during the postwar period, and punk, its offshoot, in the style of The Clash. Finally, electronica, the musical revolution of the late twentieth century, as hypnotic as the Gnawas guembris or Sufi trance sounds. Rachid was influenced by all of it.

Youyous, flutes, women's choirs, metal riffs: the French-Algerian, however weakened by the paralyzing effects of Chiari malformation, which he suffered from, created whirlpools, deluges, torrents. He invited us to dance with Andy Waloo, and also with Like a Dervish, his “first song in English, I know I'm cheating, my English is not so rich.” His plays on words were irresistible: English, backich, dervish, merlich... The troublemaker of the “alternative Koran” also used to speak francarabe, a mix of French and Arabic, which he used to both celebrate and mock the Jewish masters (Lili Boniche, Reinette l’Oranaise, Line Monty…), humming their oriental boleros, such as Chérie je t’aime, chérie je t’adore and Bambino.

That’s why his new record, which he had been working on for two years before he was buried in the Sidi Benziane cemetery, had to be in mandoline-embellished French. One of the songs is called Minouche: “Minouche ma minouche, pourquoi tu te fâches, ne prends pas la mouche, ma jolie peau de vache… Minouche, donne-moi ta bouche” (Minouche, my little Minouche, why are you upset, don’t get into a huff, my pretty vixen... Minouche, let me kiss you). A popular dance tune for sure, with words sculpted by Jean Fauque, who worked closely with Bashung and Erwan Séguillon.

The rough voice and wild blend of styles don’t give an accurate description of this son of immigrants (born near Oran, Algeria, he was raised in eastern France and later settled down in Lyon). Rachid the rebel built bridges, “introducing beautiful people to the world” by singing Charles Trenet’s Douce France with his first band, Carte de séjour (French for “resident permit”), in 1986 to mock French integration while the Marche des Beurs (March of the French Arabs) was being broken up and François Mitterrand was celebrating the creation of SOS-Racisme (a movement of anti-racist NGOs founded in France in 1984). In 1998, he created a transgenerational hit with the album Diwân, which included a cover of Ya Rayah, the anthem of Algerian immigrants composed by the Chaâbi idol Dahmane El-Harrachi (1925-1980).

Throughout these years of experience—which also marked the rise of Oranian Rai music, which Rachid sang the traditional way, following in the footsteps of the great Cheikha Rimitti—he worked with Steve Hillage, whom he met in 1984. The former Gong guitarist was a lover of looped electronic rhythms, and starting in 1997, he infused his energy into the creation of Voilà, voilà, an anti–Front National, anti-xenophobic song that Rachid would never stop singing.

And ever since this sensory overload, Rachid continued to speak to us, and jostle us, in Arabic, French, Franglish, and even Spanish, through the limpid voice of the young Flèche Love (Amina Cadelli, born in Geneva of an Algerian mother), whom he discovered on YouTube after finally being introduced to the digital tablet. This extraordinary tattooed and esoteric artist accompanied him on Wahdi, a song with Gnawa rhythms, to which he added a Mexican trumpet, evoking Ennio Morricone.

The album was produced and co-written by Toma Feterman, a gifted multi-instrumentalist and founder of La Caravane Passe, a band that mixes rap, gypsy jazz, Balkan fanfare, alternative rock, and electro.

Toma and Rachid hung out at the same bars and clubs in the north of Paris (Bellevilloise, Cabaret Sauvage), following their friend Remy Kolpa Kopoul of Radio Nova (a French radio station created in 1981, which played non-mainstream and underground artists of various musical genres), whose death in 2015 left Rachid feeling orphaned.

Toma then asked him to sing Baba, a song that he had just written for Canis Carmina, his band’s next album. Over the course of one night, the two friends recorded a dozen tracks. “I used the recordings from this first session,” Toma said, “without needing to make him sing again, because there was nothing to change.” They improvised, and it was the beginning of a frenetic, productive adventure, of nights partying at Toma’s or Rachid’s, or spent in the studio. Hours of creation and surprises shared with his son Lyes, his friend Toufik, his mandolin player Hakim Hamadouche, and his former keyboard player Yves Fredj Aouizerate, who was also his last manager.

It was a club, a family, a community, a trip. The adventure even passed through studios in Bamako, because Rachid is African, having been born in Algeria, bordering Mali, the Mandingo musical empire. Je suis africain (I am African), the song that gives its name to the album, is an homage to the sounds of this great continent, that weaves together soukouss guitars, an Arab-Andalusian orchestra, Middle Eastern violins, balafon, and talking drums. “I am African, from Paris to Bamako, from New York to Congo”—the magnificent joker is having fun, playing with elegance. He takes the accent of a “fantastical” Africa and quotes Marley and Malcom X, Kateb Yacine, Franz Fanon, Patrice Lumumba, Angela Davis—all of them “African.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Franco Ambrosetti's 'Long Waves' w/ Scofield, DeJohnette, Caine, Colley

From their relaxed, conversational interpretation of the poignant ballad "Old Folks" to their swinging treatment of "On Green Dolphin Street" to new Ambrosetti originals like his buoyantly swinging "Silli's Waltz" and the burning "Silli's Long Wave" (both named for his wife of 22 years) and his tango-flavored "Milonga," Long Waves stands as a crowning achievement in the long and storied career of the esteemed trumpeter-flugelhornist-composer.

Jazz has been a part of Ambrosetti's DNA since he was a child. Born in Lugano on December 10, 1941, he inherited a love of swinging music from his father Flavio Ambrosetti, an accomplished jazz saxophonist who founded the first jazz club in his hometown, organized the first jazz festival in Lugano and also played opposite Charlie Parker at the 1949 Paris Jazz Festival.

Though he studied classical piano from age nine, Ambrosetti eventually picked up trumpet at age 17. And while he may have patterned himself after Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan in his early years, the single biggest influence on his now signature singing quality on the trumpet and flugelhorn was Miles Davis. "Miles sometimes was playing just three notes but with so much intensity, and especially when he was playing a ballad," he noted. "So from listening to Miles I learned about stretching a note when you play a melody. Instead of playing the notes shorter or staccato, you stretch the notes out like you're really singing. And I think I can express my feelings more if I really cry that note."

In 1966, at age 24, Ambrosetti won a prestigious international jazz competition in Vienna directed by pianist Friedrich Gulda. With a jury consisting of Cannonball Adderley, Art Farmer, Jay Jay Johnson, Joe Zawinul, Ron Carter and Mel Lewis, Franco ended up outranking fellow trumpeters Randy Brecker, Claudio Roditi and Tomas Stanko for the first prize. The following year, he played his first concert in the United States, performing in his father's quintet, the Flavio Ambrosetti All-Stars, at the 1967 Monterey Jazz Festival. Through the '70s, he led his own groups and also toured with the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band. During the '80s and '90s, he performed concerts and made TV appearances throughout Europe while recording most of his projects in New York City with such esteemed sidemen as pianists Hal Galper, Tommy Flanagan, Geri Allen and Kenny Kirkland, saxophonists Phil Woods, Michael Brecker, Steve Coleman and Greg Osby, bassists Dave Holland, Buster Williams and Michael Formanek, drummers Billy Hart and Billy Drummond. His 1993 album, Live at the Blue Note, featured tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Victor Lewis.
Ambrosetti's 2001 album, Grazie Italia, was a collection of beloved Italian folk and popular tunes, from "Volare" to "Roma Non Fa Stupida" to Bruno Martino's "Estate." As he said of that beloved project, "Italy is my culture but I'm Swiss, so I was thanking Italy for giving me this kind of gift." In 2008, he appeared at Quincy Jones' 75th birthday celebration at the Montreux Jazz Festival, performing a sublime rendition of "My Ship" (recreating the Gil Evans arrangement from 1957's Miles Ahead) and a soulful muted trumpet reading of "Summertime" (recreating the Evans-Davis collaboration from 1959's Porgy And Bess). His 2015 Enja release, After the Rain, was a heartfelt tribute to John Coltrane that featured alto saxophonist Greg Osby, pianist Dado Maroni, bassist Buster Williams, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and his son Gianluca on soprano sax. In 2017, Ambrosetti marked the milestone of his 75th birthday by inviting an all-star cast of friends and colleagues to record Cheers. Pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Williams, drummers DeJohnette and Carrington, pianists Caine, Maroni and Antonio Faraòi, saxophonist Osby, guitarist Scofield and fellow trumpeter and longtime friend Randy Brecker were among the participants in that gala New York session.

Ambrosetti's debut on Unit Records was 2018's lavish orchestral project, The Nearness of You, with strings conducted by Massimo Nunzi and brass and woodwinds conducted by Tonino Battista. That album, which included gorgeous renditions of Kurt Weill's "My Ship," Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Luiza" and Hoagy Carmichael's title track, also featured Franco's son Gianluca on soprano sax. That same year, the trumpeter received the Swiss Jazz Award presented at the Jazz Ascona Festival in Switzerland. In his autobiography, Two Roads, Both Taken, Ambrosetti addressed the issue of juggling careers as jazz trumpeter and industrialist. "Music won me over right away," he wrote, "whereas, the business activity took a few decades to seduce me."

While Ambrosetti decided to pursue his family's multi-million-dollar business for decades, he never put his trumpet on the shelf. "I would practice every day through the years and I still practice every day," he said. "Trumpet is an instrument that you have to practice every day, at least half an hour, or you lose your chops. So I do manage to play every day of my life." He pours a lifetime of experience into every note on Long Waves, pushed to some dramatic heights by his stellar crew of seasoned veterans in Scofield, Caine, Colley and DeJohnette.


Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter, guitarist and contemporary Blues Americana artist Keb’ Mo’, will appear on Season nine’s third episode of the Emmy Award-Winning “Bluegrass Underground” tonight, Sept. 18. Check your local listings and set your DVRs.

Over the past two decades, Keb’ Mo’, has cultivated a reputation as a modern master of American roots music through the understated excellence of his live and studio performances. Keb’ Mo’ recently announced the release of his first-ever holiday album titled, Moonlight, Mistletoe & You (Concord), slated for an Oct. 18 release. Earlier this year, Keb’ released the thought-provoking solo project, Oklahoma (Concord), which received acclaim from critics saying,”Keb’ Mo’ built his now-legendary reputation as a bluesman but has proven to be equally adept in R&B and Americana-styled roots music.,” (Glide Magazine) and, “Keb’ Mo’ is truly unlike any other artist on today’s contemporary blues scene” (Ink19).

B.B. King, Buddy Guy, the Dixie Chicks, Joe Cocker, Robert Palmer, and Tom Jones have all recorded Keb’s songs. His guitar prowess has inspired leading instrument makers Gibson Brands to issue the Keb’ Mo’ Signature Bluesmaster acoustic guitar and Martin Guitars to issue the HD-28KM Keb’ Mo’ Limited Edition Signature model. Keb’ also wrote and performed the theme song for the smash sitcom, “Mike & Molly,” and was the music composer for TV’s “Memphis Beat.”

Bria Skonberg to Release New Album: Nothing Never Happens

Whether it’s the hassles and hurdles that arise for a musician touring the world, the run-of-the-mill mishaps that inevitably disrupt daily life, or the barrage of bad news constantly clamoring for attention; Bria Skonberg succinctly captures the hectic tenor of our times in the title of her latest album, Nothing Never Happens. The trumpeter and vocalist found her own escape in order to craft a new set of originals and artfully chosen covers that spans the emotional and stylistic spectrum.

Due out November 1, Nothing Never Happens invites listeners to join Skonberg in diverting attention from the overload of social media, breaking news, political bickering and negative energy, with a stunning album that at times channels the ubiquitous anger and hopelessness that confronts us all in the modern media landscape, but at others manages to drown out that white noise and shine a light on the serene and the celebratory.

The album showcases Skonberg’s working band of recent years – pianist Mathis Picard, bassist Devin Starks and drummer Darrian Douglas – along with guest appearances by saxophonist Patrick Bartley, Hammond B3 master Jon Cowherd, and guitar great Doug Wamble. The project was helmed by GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Eli Wolf, shining a spotlight on Skonberg’s compelling songwriting, smoky vocals and blistering trumpet playing along with the scintillating chemistry of the ensemble.

In calling the album Nothing Never Happens, Skonberg captures the chief obstacle to its own creation. “My favorite way to write music is just to sit at a piano, be quiet and wait for things to surface,” she says, hinting at the struggle to find those peaceful moments in which to compose. “I needed to get out and find a space to process the overload of information and feelings because of what's been going on in the world in the last few years.”

Of course, it also helps to commune with sympathetic listeners, and Skonberg also enjoyed a unique opportunity to workshop her new music through a monthly residency at Joe’s Pub in New York City, an eclectic venue where audiences were not necessarily jazz aficionados. “It’s a venue where you can do whatever you want,” she says. “I was looking to get some more grit into my sound on this album. That’s a big part of my personality that hasn't been as represented on my recordings in the last couple of years.”

There is an arc to Nothing Never Happens, beginning with the soulful opening song, “Blackout.” At the surface the song could be taken as a classic “wronged lover” blues, albeit updated for the modern age. But the song is more a rejection of media itself, thereby becoming a mission statement for the album as a whole. When Skonberg sings “I’m done with your face / I’m done with your friends,” it could be directed at an ex, but it also conjures a certain inescapable name that has dominated the discourse over the past few years, with toxic results. Her pointed solo provides a much-needed moment of catharsis.

“Just being able to play music right now is essential to getting to a level of normalcy,” she says. “Playing trumpet really lets me get all those emotions out. It’s not always joyous, but it is a release.”

Skonberg originally recorded “So Is the Day” on her 2012 album of the same name, with a sultry New Orleans flavor. The powerful song has since become a staple of her live sets, slowing down in the process to the dirge-like feel that it takes on here. The slow burn is a testament to the patience and rooted feel of Douglas, while the addition of Wamble’s guitar and Cowherd’s organ adds to the dense, swampy atmosphere.

Zooming out for a bit of historical perspective, “Blackbird Fantasy” is an ingenious mash-up of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and Duke Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy” that reflects on the cyclical nature of history. The hybrid piece encompasses the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights era that paralleled the British Invasion, and our modern day still much in need of change. The wistful “Square One” recognizes how much is still left to be accomplished, whether in life or in society. Co-written by Nashville songwriter Cariad Harmon, the song is simultaneously resigned and hopeful, retaining a sense of optimism based on what's been learned and accomplished so far.

The raucous “Villain Vanguard” plays on the name of the legendary jazz club but was inspired by the Women’s Marches that rose up in the wake of the 2016 election. The piece itself captures the marching pace and outpouring of voices that accompany these protests.

Sonny Bono’s oft-recorded “Bang Bang” – which has been covered by Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga and Nancy Sinatra, whose version Skonberg discovered via the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill – is another piece that serves double duty: originally about the heartbreak of a childhood romance, it now inevitably conjures images of the gun violence that has erupted across the country. Such tragic events necessarily lead to questions like “What Now?” though Skonberg’s remorseful ballad is more intimate, capturing the self-doubt that can encroach in the twilight hours.

Opening with Starks’ infectious bass groove, Queen’s “I Want To Break Free” ends the album with a soaring sense of escape. The original’s anthemic melody is enhanced here by the band’s exuberant expressiveness, highlighted by Bartley’s explosive solo. Its inclusion harkens back to memories of Skonberg’s freewheeling high school days. “Talk about being an optimist!” she recalls with a laugh. “I had a convertible in British Columbia, where it rains ten months of the year. But there were always a few days when I could go out, put the top down and rock out to that song.”

The breadth of emotions and styles on Nothing Never Happens mirrors Skonberg’s career to date, which boasts an impressive range of accomplishments and accolades. In the last year alone, she sang the music of Aretha Franklin alongside Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, played with U2 at the iconic Apollo, sat in with the Dave Matthews Band, was a featured guest with Jon Batiste, performed as part of The Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour, and sang the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden for a NY Rangers game. The 2017 Juno Award Winner for Best Vocal Jazz Album and 2018 Juno nominee has garnered over 7 million streams on Spotify, made the Top 5 on Billboard jazz charts, and was voted #2 Rising Star by DownBeat Magazine.

Bria Skonberg · Nothing Never Happens
Release Date: November 1, 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Randy Napoleon - Common Tones

Randy Napoleon blends jazz guitar retrospective with a visionary look forward on Common Tones

For Randy Napoleon, known as jazz guitar’s forward-thinking, tradition-loving performer, composer, and professor, study and creation go hand in hand. His philosophy, whether performing or writing, is to immerse himself in the techniques of the masters, then trust his mind, heart, and fingers to respond in the moment. “When you are playing jazz, it is a conversation that moves at lightning speed. There is no time to think. It has to be reflexive, an ingrained response.”

After twenty years of road apprenticeship with some of the most celebrated jazz musicians and groups of our time, Randy Napoleon has, in recent years, shifted his focus to honing his leadership skills at the head of the ensemble. This Fall he is back on tour and will release his fifth record as a bandleader with Common Tones  (out Oct 4, 2019, on Detroit Music Factory), a collaborative record featuring four generations of musicians from Michigan’s continuing jazz legacy. Comprised in nearly equal parts of both rearrangements of the great classics that have inspired him and several of his own originals, teetering at the cutting edge of jazz composition, Common Tones is a summary of Napoleon’s current goals, influences and musical philosophies, and as well as a celebration of his evolving musical lineage.

From a young age, Napoleon enthusiastically immersed himself in what is often considered the golden age of jazz: the early 40’s through the mid 60’s. While he could be considered a classicist by nature of his musical preferences, he emphasizes that he’s never had an interest in recreating the music that influenced him the most. Yet, this music remains Napoleon’s template for both instrumental and compositional excellence. This is where he finds his tool kit for self-expression and creation with a goal to retain the good feeling of the era while continuing to personalize the language and explore new modes of expression.

Having, come up playing in Ann Arbor and Detroit where the Motown sound easily seeps into local jazz culture,“You’ve Got To Hang On,” featuring Drew Kilpela’s soulful Trombone, is Napoleon’s tip of the hat to that motor city aesthetic. With “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” Napoleon shows that a good melody transcends genre by adapting this poignant Beach Boys ode to a vehicle into swing. Napoleon shows he is a true devotee of the Great American Songbook with a beautiful rendition of “I Married An Angel,” a Rogers and Hart song that he’s been performing in trio format. Bassist Louie Leager and drummer  Nick Bracewel play memorable solos on this one.

For Napoleon, names such as Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Joe Pass, and Kenny Burrell, still represent the gold standard. He continues to study these masters and more daily, knowing there is always a higher level of detail and nuance possible.

“I think of my time with their records as a very personalized lesson,” says Napoleon. “I’m studying technique, sound, language, structure, everything. I emulate horn players and piano players also because it forces you to come up with solutions to play things that don’t lay naturally on the guitar.  Joe Henderson or John Coltrane can lead you into unexplored sounds on the guitar. As Charlie Parker said ‘You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail’. ”

Napoleon holds a lifetime dedication to processing the lessons of his teachers. Having cut his teeth touring and playing over the last twenty years with respected artists across the jazz spectrum such as Bill Charlap, Natalie Cole, Monty Alexander, Rodney Whitaker, and John Pizzarelli. He has performed or arranged on over seventy records, contributing in both capacities on Freddy Cole’s seven most recent records over a thirteen-year tenure, including the Grammy-nominated releases, Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B and My Mood Is You. He performed on The Clayton Hamilton Orchestra: Live at MCG, and his guitar chops are featured on Michael Buble’s Grammy-nominated CD/DVD Caught in the Act. Similarly, Napoleon is a seasoned veteran of the late-night television circuit, having played on The Tonight Show, Late Night With David Letterman, The View, The Today Show, and The Ellen DeGeneres show.

These masters demonstrated to Napoleon what it means to be a jazz musician and a true professional. Before he went on the road with them, he was lucky to grow up in Michigan. The greater Detroit area scene has always been an amazing musical incubator where he was exposed to the transience of touring musicians and the steadfast instruction of local teachers. During this recording, Napoleon was thinking a lot about two of his teachers who have since passed away, the trailblazing tenor saxophonist Donald Walden and legendary bebop trumpet player, Louis Smith. both exposed a young Napoleon to a level of musical depth that he will pursue for his entire life.

Napoleon pays homage to both of these teachers on Common Tones in both arrangement and composition. “If DW Were Here,” an original composition presented as a duo with pianist Xavier Davis is dedicated to Walden’s challenge to Napoleon as a student to avoid clichés and always reach forward in music, and “Mr. Smith” is a cheerful Bebop line featuring bassist Rodney Whitaker and trumpet player Etienne Charles.  The track is played in the style of Louis Smith and dedicated to the dignity and professionalism this teacher instilled in a young Napoleon.

At the same time, Napoleon also includes arrangements of compositions by these two teachers. “Signed Dizzy, With Love” is a Donald Walden composition, which in this is memorable and hip arrangement, features modern giant of the tenor, Diego Rivera, and “Bakin”  featuring saxophonist Diego Rivera, trumpet player Etienne Charles, trombonist Michael Dease and Randy “Uncle G” Gilespie was penned by Louis Smith.

For Napoleon, jazz is and always has been about collaboration. As he’s grown and evolved, both as a musician and a teacher, he’s come to realize that musical exchange is never a one-way street. Attentive to a long-held tradition in jazz of young musicians disrupting, inspiring, and evolving the scene, Napoleon now finds himself in a stage where he collaborates with and is in run influenced by musicians who are much younger than himself. He has met many new voices through his role as an educator and he considers it an incredible experience to witness his students’ transformation into artists. Many of the featured musicians on the album are, in fact, Napoleon’s former students.

“The best young musicians play with reckless abandon. Sometimes they play things that are out of the idiom, and that can be exciting and inspiring to play with. They take me out of my comfort zone and force me to stretch. I like being around musicians who have unbroken musical idealism. They haven’t had their tastes compromised by the commercial industry. They know what they like, and that is where they take their direction. I try to share my experiences with them and expose them to the history. I let their new spirits take me to the future.”

Merzbow Joins Forces With Haino and Pandi on Blisteringly Intense Improv

A certain magic floods the room when free improvisers of the highest order get together to make music. And when said improvisers are also kindred spirits who know and can anticipate each other's moves, a kind of wonderful telepathy takes over. Such was the case when enigmatic Japanese noise legend Merzbow (Masami Akita) got together in the studio with fellow countryman Keiji Haino and Hungarian drummer Balazs Pandi for Become The Discovered, Not The Discoverer. For their second encounter for RareNoiseRecords, following 2016's An Untroublesome Defencelessnes, the three intrepid improvisers explore a threshold of sound so blisteringly intense, that it passes into a zone of divine cacophony.

Comprised of four lengthy, uninterrupted suites, each containing dense, sometimes harsh sonic onslaughts, BecomeThe Discovered, Not The Discoverer is fueled by Merzbow's cathartic sheets of electronic sound and guitar, Haino's slashing guitar, bass and vocal work and Pandi's pummeling intensity on the kit. And as Pandi explains, "It was 100% improvised, nothing added in post-production, just like every time we record together. No limitations, no concepts, nothing. Just listening, and playing."

Merzbow has found a true kindred spirit in Pandi, who has also become a kind of 'house drummer' for RareNoise. "The chemistry between us was there right from the very beginning," says Pandi, who began collaborating with Merzbow in 2009. "My way of playing fits his music perfectly, as I play both improvised music that is changing shape all the time and heavy amplified music. We don't have things anchored, we just have a continuously expanding vocabulary and we pay attention to each other and find immediate hooks in each other's playing."

The third member of this formidable triumvirate, singer-songwriter-guitarist Keiji Haino, had previously worked with Merzbow under the moniker Kikuri. "Keiji is like an infinite well of ideas," says Pandi. "It's incredible how he can push music and sounds into new directions. Sounds coming from him have way more qualities than the ones coming from most musicians, as he uses every possible way to alternate sounds and give them extra qualities that people just don't know about."

For Pandi, this latest is also the fifth recently RareNoise release involving both him and Merzbow, following 2013's Cuts (a trio with Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson), 2015's Cuts of Guilt, Cuts Deeper (a quartet with Gustafson and skronk guitar hero and Sonic Youth founder Thurston Moore), 2018's live Cuts Up, Cuts Out (a quartet again with

Gustafsson, and Moore) and 2016's An Untroublesome Defencelessnes (as aforementioned, with Haino). And for the powerhouse drummer, the thrill is definitely not gone. "It's been almost 10 years since I first played together with Masami as a duo," he says. "That was a string of four shows, and even on that tour there was a difference between the first and the last gig. So its obvious that we continue to do different things, and our relationship on a human and an artistic level also strengthened throughout the years. For obvious reasons we can't play too many shows. In a busy year, we have about a handful of shows, but it's always exciting to play and we always discover new things within our music. Masami never uses the same setup twice, and I always do my best to have something new to drop on him every time we play together."

As far as the particularly intense nature of this latest invocation in the studio with Merzbow and Haino, the drummer says, "All we do is listen and play. Wherever we go with the music, the moment takes us there. Even if we make a plan, we just go with whatever we feel like doing. Haino-san decided on the spot to use the bass guitar, an instrument he never played on previously on recordings, if ever. Also Masami plugged in a guitar he found in the studio, so for a part of this recording we were a rock trio. The only thing we talked about the night before was to do five to seven-minute takes, but then the first take we actually did was over one hour."

While Masami and Haino strike such a seamless blend with their electronic onslaughts, Pandi fuels the proceedings with his signature skills, drawing on the power of grindcore and death metal while also listening intently and reacting in the moment. "I just play whatever feels good to play," he says. "It's funny that even though I try to not play in tempo anymore and approach drumming more as coloring to give the music another texture, this one turned out more like a classic rock record. And at some parts I am even playing a backbeat kind of thing. So it's definitely more straight-forward drumming than what I usually play these days."

"I basically grew up with playing and being surrounded by all kinds of music.", continues Pandi, "Back then it was Morricone scores, Verdi, Bill Haley & The Comets. One day I would play Dead Kennedy songs with my high school punk band, the next morning I would play "Slavonic Dance No. 8" by Dvorak on tympani. And still today, I have varied music tastes. So whether I'm playing with Merzbow, Obake or Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, it's all music to me."

Like the music itself, the titles of Pandi's latest outing with Merzbow and Haino - "Become the discovered, not the discoverer" and "I want to learn how to feel everything in each single breath"- are intriguing. "The titles came from Haino-san and are inspired by the music," the drummer explains. "The titles, just like the music doesn't need to be understood, or doesn't need a strict interpretation." 
Born in Chiba, Japan on May 3, 1952, Keiji Haino has been active on Japan's underground music scene since the 1970s and remains active at age 67, ever-exploring on the fringes. His main instruments of choice have been guitar and vocals. Known for intensely cathartic sound explorations, he has lent his distinctive voice to recordings by a variety of groups, including Vajra (with underground folk singer Kan Mikami and drummer Toshiaki Ishizuka), Knead (with the avant-prog outfit Ruins) and Sanhedolin (with Yoshida Tatsuya of Ruins and Mitsuru Nasuno of Korekyojinn, Altered States and Ground Zero). He has also collaborated with such artists as Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann, Loren Mazzacane Connors, Charles Gayle, Makigami Koichi, Jim O'Rourke, Yamantaka Eye, Fred Frith, Charles Hayward and John Butcher. He also appeared on John Zorn's 1993 album Painkillerwith bassist Bill Laswell and drummer Mick Harris.

Haino's initial artistic outlet was theatre, inspired by the radical writings of Antonin Artaud. He had his musical epiphany after hearing The Doors' "When The Music's Over" and immediately changed course towards music. After brief stints in a number of blues and experimental outfits, he formed the improvised rock band Lost Aaraaf in 1970. By the mid 1970s, he collaborated with psychedelic multi-instrumentalist Magical Power Mako and in 1978 formed the rock duo Fushitsusha. The lineup expanded to a trio and continued to perform, with shifting personnel, through the 1990s. In 1998, Haino formed Aihiyo, which performed covers of tunes by The Rolling Stones, The Ronettes and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, filtered through his ownunique garage-psychedeliaprism. In recent years, Haino has made some of his most profoundly intense musical statements in the company of fellow countryman Merzbow and Hungarian drummer Pandi.

Merzbow's onslaughts of sound employ the use of distortion, feedback and noises from synthesizers, machinery, and home-made noisemakers. Utilizing two laptops, four stomp boxes and a homemade sound-maker, he creates a world of sound ranging from ambient drones to fusillades of frightening intensity. One of the most recognizable figures on the international noise scene, he began his recording career in 1980 with Fuckexerciseand Rembrandt Assemblage. He followed in 1982 with his landmark recording, Solonoise, which incorporated tape loops and creatively recorded percussion and metal. He has since released over 400 recordings, collaborating with dozens of musicians, contributing tracks to compilations and making numerous guest appearances on recordings by other artists. His stage name Merzbow comes from the German dada artist Kurt Schwitters' artwork Merzbau, in which Schwitters transformed the interior of his house using found objects.

Born in Tokyo on December 19, 1956, Akita listened to psychedelic music, progressive rock and free jazz in his youth. He became the drummer of various high school bands and shortly after began playing improvised rock at studio jam sessions with high school friend Kiyoshi Mizutani. A graduate of Tamagawa University, where he majored in Painting & Art Theory, Akita commenced work as an editor of several magazines upon getting his degree. He subsequently became a freelance writer for several books and magazines and has written several books of his own on a variety of subjects, including music, modern art and underground culture. His other interests include painting, photography, filmmaking and Butoh dance. He has cited a wide range of influences on his own music, from progressive rock, heavy metal, free jazz, and early electronic music to non-musical influences like dadaism, surrealism and fetish culture. His 2010 project, 13 Japanese Birds, was a 15-album series highlighting his ongoing ecological and vegetarian activism.

The youngest member of this powerhouse improvising trio is drummer Balázs Pándi. Born on August 6, 1983 in Budapest, Hungary, he has worked and toured with various acts from all around the world including Venetian Snares, Otto von Schirach, Last Step, To Live and Shave in L.A., The Blood of Heroes, The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and the Italian experimental instrumental group Zu. His current projects include Italian doom band Obake, Metallic Taste of Blood (featuring Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, Eraldo Bernocchi of Obake and RareNoise Records' resident keyboardist, Jamie Saft), Slobber Pup (with Saft, guitarist Joe Morris and bassist Trevor Dunn)and the black metal/punk band Wormskull. From 2012, he started to play solo shows at festivals under his own name. Since 2009, he has frequently played drums live with Merzbow, headlining at experimental music festivals around the world. Pandi's muscular drumming style, marked by high-speed churning, intense blast-beats and thunderous double bass drum pedals, has been informed by free jazz, breakcore, doom metal and noise. It's always pedal to the metal with Pandi.

Together these three intrepid explorers and noise renegades arrive at some intense, harsh and ultimately compelling on BecomeThe Discovered, Not The Discoverer, their latest RareNoise release.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Camill Thurman Touring with The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis

Camille Thurman, the talented composer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist, continues to make waves as one of the most exciting figures in the world of jazz with new performance dates in the U.S. and abroad. The triple-threat artist embarks on her second exciting season as a saxophonist with the world-renowned Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. The 2019-2020 season kicked off with a three-night stand, September 12 through 14, featuring the music of the “South African Songbook: Celebrating 25 Years of Democracy” at its home base at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater in New York City.

The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra season continues with tour stops across Africa, Europe, South America, and the U.S. through 2020, including the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, on
September 26 through September 28.

In between her season tour dates with the orchestra, she has a series of solo dates, including the White Plains Jazz & Food Festival in White Plains, NY, on Sunday, September 15, with the Darrell Green Trio. On Friday, October 11, Camille Thurman with the Darrell Green Trio will be headlining at the NCPA Jazz Festival in Mumbai, India. After her dates in Mumbai, she will head to Italy for a two-week engagement with jazz musician Marco Marzola.

Additionally, Thurman appears as a featured artist on the brand-new High Note Records project Hand Painted Dream by composer, guitarist, and bandleader Peter Hand. The project includes some of the best musicians in the scene today and is an extraordinary testament to the best in modern big band music. The all-star ensemble includes trumpeters Eddie Allen and Valery Ponomarev; saxophonists Don Braden and Bruce Williams; trombonist James Burton III; and a rhythm section including James Weidman, Harvie S, and Steve Johns. Thurman has also been named as an endorsing artist for Key Leaves saxophone key props.

The year 2019 has already proven to be stellar for Thurman. The artist kicked off the summer season with the Sisterhood of Swing Seven with Bria Skonberg at the Mid-Summer Night Swing concert series with special guest Catherine Russell. She wowed audiences at the Charlie Parker Festival in New York, performing a new collaborative project featuring harpist Brandee Younger and Vibraphonist Nikara Warren titled “Reclamation,” commissioned by the Joyce and George Wein Foundation, the Jazz Gallery and City Parks Foundation of New York. Thurman also performed at the Jazz In Marciac Festival in France as part of Wynton Marsalis’ Young Stars of Jazz showcase. As part of a Charlie Parker birthday celebration show, she joined an all-star band including Jeremy Pelt, Greg Osby, Helen Sung, Lonnie Plaxico, and Billy Drummond at New York City’s legendary Birdland. She and collaborator Darrell Green headlined a tribute to late pianist Horace Silver as part of the Singers and Songbook Series at Bard College. Thurman also headlined the Jazz Museum of Harlem’s Gala honoring Benny Golson, alongside veteran singer and songwriter Valerie Simpson. What’s more, she appeared on TV’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” as a featured artist with Jon Batiste and Stay Human.

Last month, Thurman was one of the featured vocalists with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for the performance of Marsalis’ composition “The Ever Fonky Lowdown,” with the Chautauqua Symphony. She also presented a lecture on Nina Simone at Chautauqua Institute.

Thurman has earned respect and raves as the only female featured player on tour with the Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra during its 2018-2019 season, which included dates in the United States, Singapore, China (Guangzhou, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Beijing, Shenzhen), Australia (Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne), and Brazil (São Paulo). She garnered additional admiration during the JALCO’s two-week engagement in São Paulo, Brazil when she sang “Flor de Lis” by Djavan in perfect Portuguese backed by Wynton Marsalis and Brazilian artist Hamilton de Holanda as the encore (see her rehearsal of the tune with de Holanda here).

The talented New York native’s ascent in the world of jazz has been nothing short of astonishing. Thurman’s heady mix of fluid, scat-tastic vocals, muscular sax lines and rhythmic inventiveness have steadily gained fans and critical raves. In just a few years, Thurman was named a finalist in the 2013 Sarah Vaughn International Jazz Vocal Competition; released four full-length album projects; was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album (for Waiting For Sunrise); received her first Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll nomination for Rising Star Tenor Sax; and won two Independent Music Awards for Jazz Vocal Album (Waiting For the Sunrise) and Fan Vote for Jazz Vocal Song (“Nearness of You”).


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