Friday, April 16, 2021

Freda Payne "Let There Be Love" Album Featuring Johnny Mathis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Kenny Lattimore

Singer, legend, Freda Payne pairs up with four of the other world's greatest singers of Jazz for a duets album. It is a classic jazz big band album. Featured on album with Freda are: Johnny Mathis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling, Kenny Lattimore.

Internationally renowned singer, Freda Payne, known for her 1970's hit R&B Number 1 Gold Record, "Band of Gold," is releasing her first studio album in 5 years on April 16. The announcement was officially confirmed by Alain Franke Records who will be releasing this Jazz Big-Band album. This is Freda Payne's 26th album. 

The album is big in scope, expense and very lush sounding. Song arrangements are by Grammy winner composer-conductor, Gordon Goodwin. It is an ambitious project to have an analog classic sound with live musicians, recorded in late 2019 by Producers Rodrigo Rios and Michael Goetz.

The idea was to get the Freda Payne sound with a real 30 piece orchestra and see what it would be like to pair her up with other great jazz singers in a series of newly arranged classic Jazz Standards songs from the American Songbook.

The other recording artists on, "Let There Be Love," are the veteran jazz greats: Johnny Mathis, DeeDee Bridgewater, Kurt Elling and Kenny Lattimore.

The recording was done in the famed Capitol Records Studio A, famous for its high ceiling, grand size and great acoustics - big enough to fit an entire orchestra.

The album features the 1958 cool jazz pop hit, "Let There be Love," re-arranged and morphed into a contempo/up-tempo jazz pop song with the classic sound of a traditional horn section and strings. Freda Payne and Kenny Lattimore wail on this one. On, "Moanin'Doodlin," Dee Dee Bridgewater with Freda sing two jazz classics cleverly mixed into one. 2021 Grammy winner of Best Jazz Vocal Album, Kurt Elling, duets with Freda on a cool revamped Gershwin classic, "Our Love Is Here To Stay." Freda Payne and Johnny Mathis are together in their cute and sexy duet with the full "Nelson Riddle-type" Big Band on, "They Can't Take That Away From Me." Executive Producer, Michael Goetz of Alain Franke Records says, "All the tracks on this album are hot and will get the listener up and want to dance."


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Australian powerhouse The Bamboos cover Black Box's italo-house hit 'Ride On Time' (funk / soul)

Australian funk & soul powerhouse The Bamboos are announcing the release of their upcoming new album with first single and video “Ride On Time”, a cover of Black Box‘s italo-house hit from 1989.

Bandleader Lance Ferguson and his nine piece Melbourne outfit The Bamboos have come a long way since forming in 2001. Initially inspired by the instrumental raw funk of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, they made waves internationally and were quickly labelled as one of the greatest funk and soul bands of our time. But while many would be happy to simply soak up the praise and keep on keeping on, The Bamboos have proven that they are more than meets the eye; over 8 acclaimed albums their evolution in sound and style has consistently confounded and exceeded expectations, pulling the rug from under the feet of those who like to pigeonhole.

The Bamboos signed to respected Brighton (UK) indie label Tru Thoughts in 2005, becoming a real cornerstone of the roster. Across their five albums on the label – debut “Step It Up” in 2006, follow-up “Rawville” in 2007, third opus “Side-Stepper” in 2008, the aptly-titled “4” in 2010 and “Medicine Man” in 2012 – the metamorphosis of The Bamboos has been full of twists and turns, and it continues apace. A seasoned DJ, solo producer (aka Lanu) and all-round insatiable music obsessive, Ferguson‘s myriad influences and passion for pushing things forward ensure that each new release is a discovery for devout fans and newcomers alike.

The band’s fifth long-player “Medicine Man” released in June 2012 was a watershed – a forward-looking record brimming with fresh ideas, stellar turns, classic songwriting and a brand of multi–layered pop they can truly call their own. Guest vocalists Aloe Blacc, Tim Rogers (You Am I), Megan Washington, Daniel Merriweather, Bobby Flynn, alongside resident singers Kylie Auldist and then newcomer Ella Thompson helped make the album their biggest until then.

The Bamboos’ ridiculously enjoyable live shows have seen them perform at pretty much every major festival in Australia. In Feb 2010 the band played the prestigious headline set at The St Kilda Festival to over 7000 people. The Bamboos have also toured Europe and the U.K three times, performing sell-out shows at esteemed venues including The Barbican and The Jazz Cafe in London and in countries including France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Belgium, Switzerland and Ireland. As the go-to band for tight and heavy vibes, they have also performed as the backing band for international artists including Eddie Bo (US), Syl Johnson (US), Joe Bataan (US), Eddie Floyd (US), Betty Harris (US) and Alice Russell (UK).

Songs by The Bamboos have been regularly on playlists of national radio stations in Australia, the UK, France, the US, Japan and beyond. The unshakable charm of their songs has also seen them licensed to hit movies including “Crazy Stupid Love”, the soon to be released “Adore” with Naomi Watts & Robin Wright, and TV shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy”, “CSI New York”, “One Tree Hill”, “Ugly Betty” and more.

Like its predecessor, the band’s sixth album “Fever In The Road” was co-produced by ARIA- nominated, multi-instrumentalist studio wizard John Castle – ranked amongst the first-call producers in Australia. The new record (the first on Ferguson‘s own Pacific Theatre label) sees Castle and Ferguson venturing into sonic landscapes The Bamboos have previously touched on but never fully inhabited. There is a sense that the music is leaner and more muscular, yet upon closer inspection the tracks reveal themselves to be densely multi-layered in a ‘Wall Of Sound’ style.  It’s this aural complexity and depth that allows darker moods to roam through the album, taking their sound to a new place. Choosing this album to reflect the band as it is on stage, the vocals are split between Kylie Auldist and Ella Thompson. And each bring contrasting styles that complement each other magically, but show The Bamboos to be utterly unique.

2015 saw The Bamboos team up with Tim Rogers for the release of “The Rules Of Attraction”, with 12 meticulously crafted songs that strike a balance between the band’s patent introverted groove and Rogers’ effervescent rock’n’swagger. The result is something that sounds varied, fresh and brimming with enthusiasm. With eighth album “Night Time People” released in 2018, The Bamboos consolidated their relationship with Kylie Auldist, effectively constructing and executing the full-length around her unmistakable voice. This release provided a backbone twisting slab of pop colored funk that reaffirmed The Bamboos in their rich and unique sound while keeping their hefty and rich legacy intact.

Singer Mark Winkler Teams w/Pianist David Benoit for "OLD FRIENDS"

Singer, lyricist Mark Winkler and pianist, composer David Benoit have teamed up to record an album that pays homage to their 37 years of friendship. Old Friends is a collection of some of the artists’ favorites songs by some of their favorite composers, as well as three original tunes, newly rendered in an affable collaboration by two musicians at the top of their form. Los Angeles is rife with fine musicians, and Winkler brought some of the finest for this recording. He also asked producer Barbara Brighton to work on the recording. This is the 7th album of Winkler’s that she’s produced. Winkler and Benoit are seasoned artists in the music business, and Old Friends is imbued with warmth and camaraderie. Winkler, Benoit, and the rest of the band maintain a light, sensitive touch that has great emotional depth but is never overwrought. Benoit perhaps sums it up the best, “Working with Barbara Brighton and Mark was a highlight for me. I think this is Mark's best work. He is restrained and heartfelt. He never overdoes it, but always stays true to the melody, respecting the composer but adding his own imprimatur when needed. The song selections are fresh and original, and, I must say, I'm happy with the arrangements. Again. never too much, but elegant and tasteful. You can hear the communication with Mark and me, and it's superb. This is a result of a certain maturity that only comes with age and a willingness to put the time and effort into the project. This could be a happy result of Covid-19 giving us all the time we needed to make it right. And the results are self-evident.”


 

Nik Bartsch | "Entendre"

A fascinating solo album from the Swiss pianist and composer, Entendre offers deeper insight into pianist Nik Bärtsch’s musical thinking, illuminating aspects of his playing and the nature of his modular pieces. 

As its titles implies the new album, recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo studio, considers listening as a dynamic process. In these solo realizations, Bärtsch’s polymetric pieces unfold with heightened alertness to the subtleties of touch. The pianist finds freedom in aesthetic restriction, while also seizing opportunities to guide the music to new places. An adaptive as well as a highly original musician, he diligently serves the context at hand, and the solo work has been developing in parallel to his group activities over the last few years. For Bärtsch, some key moments in this regard have included his solo appearance at ECM’s 50th anniversary celebration at New York’s Lincoln Center in 2019, as well as performances in ongoing collaboration with visual artist Sophie Clements. A solo piano tour in 2017, furthermore, whose unorthodox itinerary took him to Teheran, Cairo, Alexandria, Kolkata and Delhi, had also prompted rumination on the intertwined relationships of performance and ritual music in different cultures. This, too, influenced the preparatory work on Entendre. 

Bärtsch's numbered “Modul” pieces can be considered as templates rather than fixed and final compositions: he likens them to “a basic training in martial arts, which can be adapted to all sorts of situations. My way of working is to create new contexts. Each piece plays with the idea of composition, interpretation and improvisation, and is nourished by the same force, yet can create very surprising results…” 

This is immediately evident on the opening “Modul 58-12” which unites pieces previously interpreted on recordings with Bärtsch's bands – “Modul 58” with Ronin on Awase, and “Modul 12” with Mobile on Continuum – to emotionally powerful effect. “It just developed in that direction in the studio. I didn’t plan it or expect it to open up in that way. The combination of these two pieces is maybe not a coincidence but more of an inner call. With a vivid celebration in the beginning, an opening flight that then goes to emptiness, stillness and breathing space.” 

Patience, intense focus and lightness are among the contrary qualities necessary to play this music in “a dramaturgically directed way” and set its secrets free. In playing solo Bärtsch attempts, he says, “to let go and flow in the piece and transcend the egocentric way of forcing the music, finding a higher level of freedom in agreement with the form of the work.” 

He also emphasizes that the solo music has been borne out of collaboration, including the long years of honing the music with Ronin and Mobile, and the teamwork of the session itself, with producer Manfred Eicher and engineer Stefano Amerio. “To have Manfred listening and giving advice about ways in which the pieces might be approached and interpreted, was extremely valuable. Hearing connections to Gurdjieff’s music in one piece, for example or suggesting that I play ‘Modul 26’ with the kind of flow that I’d found when playing 58," says Bärtsch. "Such feedback helped to enlarge the whole listening experience in a very organic way.” 

The responsive Lugano studio room – previously used also for Mobile’s Continuum recording – also asserted its character, Bärtsch says: “My touch in the solo music is not primarily a ‘jazz’ attack on the piano. It’s between things. Between chamber music, solo playing in the classical tradition, more modern minimal music, and the ‘groove’ aspect. And the natural sound of the Lugano room helped to bring out these elements. I also felt inspired by the history of the room. And I really like the fact that it is here in Switzerland, in the country where I live and where Ronin works. I didn’t need to go anywhere else to document this music. It happens here.” 

Entendre was recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in September 2020. The album is released as Lars Müller Publishers of Switzerland prepares to issue Nik Bärtsch’s book Listening: Music – Movement – Mind, which charts the development of Bärtsch's “ritual groove music” and the philosophy that underpins it.



Jazz at Lincoln Center Announces 2021 Gala Concert: Innovation + Soul

On the occasion of National Jazz Appreciation Month, and to honor the music, as well as the artists and figures who have made outstanding contributions to jazz, Jazz at Lincoln Center will celebrate the organization’s 2021 gala, Innovation + Soul, with a virtual concert on Thursday, April 15, at 7:30p.m. ET.

The Innovation + Soul concert will feature the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, the heartbeat of the organization, in a new performance pre-recorded at Rose Theater in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York, New York.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra bassist Carlos Henriquez, percussionist and vocalist Pedrito Martinez, and trumpeter Michael Rodriguez are among the performers featured alongside the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis on this celebratory evening.

The group will perform Henriquez’ composition, “2/3’s Adventure,” a piece that travels between mambo, swing, and guajira, and demonstrates Henriquez’ absolute mastery in orchestration and grooves. “2/3’s Adventure” has been featured in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s songbook in shows around the world for more than a decade, and the band’s recording of it remains one of Blue Engine Records’ most popular downloads.

Rooted in the soil of the Bronx, New York, “2/3’s Adventure” achieves a perfect fusion of singable melodies and danceable grooves with the sophistication of improvisation and advanced orchestration.

Innovation + Soul performance-only passes are $30.00. Following the premiere on April 15, ticket holders will have on-demand access to the performance portion of the event through April 25. For virtual gala tickets and packages, and information on ways to contribute to Jazz at Lincoln Center in a meaningful way, please visit  jazz.org/gala2021.

Hosted by Dee Dee Bridgewater, the Innovation + Soul gala will honor Jazz at Lincoln Center Board Member Charles Phillips and his wife Karen with the Ed Bradley Award for Leadership in Jazz. Pianist Jon Batiste will be honored with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Award for Artistic Excellence.

The Innovation + Soul gala will also feature appearances by President Bill Clinton, actor Anna Deavere Smith, jook dancer Lil Buck, vocalist Veronica Swift, and pianist Sean Mason throughout the evening. 

On this special gala concert, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis will perform some of the best compositions from the band’s vast, innovative body of original work over the past decade.  Selections including “Crazy,” composed by Willie Nelson, and arranged by JLCO trombonist Chris Crenshaw; “2/3’s Adventure,” composed and arranged by JLCO bassist Carlos Henriquez; “Bougie Rag,” composed by Sean Mason and arranged by JLCO saxophonist Victor Goines; and “Yes, Sir! That’s My Baby,” composed Lou Donaldson and Gus Kahn and arranged by JLCO saxophonist Sherman Irby demonstrate the orchestra composers’ and arrangers’ thematic ambitions, distinctive musical personalities, and unprecedented range.

Compositions and arrangements by members of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis are some of the finest and most stylistically diverse big band music in history. Such variety and uniformly high quality is a rare achievement for any band, but no other group has ever had 11 composers and arrangers of this level in its ranks.

Like all public-facing arts, Jazz at Lincoln Center’s ecosystem has sustained devastating losses during the pandemic, but we remain dedicated to our mission of supporting the global jazz community. The hundreds of artists who perform in Rose Theater, The Appel Room, and Dizzy's Club and our staff humbly thank you for your generosity during this trying time for us all.

Johnny Mathis - Heart Of A Woman/When Will I See You Again/I Only Have Eyes For You/Mathis Is (bonus tracks)

Four great albums from the 70s soul years of Johnny Mathis – all brought together in a single set, and with bonus cuts too! First up is The Heart Of A Woman – on which the voice of Johnny Mathis meets the soulful arrangements of Paul Riser and HB Barnum – all wrapped up with Johnny Bristol production! Johnny's tender voice, the gently sweeping arrangements and soul-rooted production make this one a gem. Titles include "Woman Woman", "Sail On White Moon", "Feel Like Makin Love", "It's Gone", "Memories Don't Leave Like People Do", "Strangers In Dark Corners", and "The Way We Planned It". 

When Will I See You Again finds Johnny taking on a comparably diverse batch of tunes, from a bright & breezy take on the Gamble & Huff penned title track, to a soaring Roger Nichols/Paul Williams medley, to more intimate strings-backed numbers. Another sweet set from a legendary vocalist, and the titles includes "Mandy", "Nice To Be Around", "You're Right As Rain", "You And Me Against The World", "The Things I Might've Been" and more. 

I Only Have Eyes For You has Johnny finding a new sort of groove with arranger Gene Page! Page had done funkier work in other settings, but here he mixes up soul and strings in a nice balance of modes for Mathis – blending ballads with a few gentle groovers, the latter of which really have Johnny taking off in great new directions – and finding a way to hold onto the spotlight as the 70s move on! Titles include "Do Me Wrong But Do Me", "The Hungry Years", "I Only Have Eyes For You", "Do You Know Where You're Going To", "Ooh What We Do", "When A Child Is Born", and "Every Time You Touch Me I Get High". 

Mathis Is has Johnny working with lots of strong Philly soul currents – thanks to arrangements and production from Thom Bell – which makes for a much more soul-based record than usual! Titles include "Hung Up In The Middle Of Love", "I Don't Want To Say No", "Sweet Love Of Mine", "I'll Make You Happy", and "As Long As We're Together". 2CD set features bonus tracks "Fifty Fifty" and "Nothing In This Whole World".  ~ www.dustygroove.com

Tom Brock – I Love You More and More

Re-issue of a soul masterpiece from 1974. Tracks ‘I Love You More and More’ by Tom Brock was Tom’s only solo album release, but what a beautiful classic it is. For some, it is up there in the pantheon alongside their all-time treasured soul favourites such as Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’.

Produced by the legend Barry White and released on 20th Century Records in 1974, it features the lush hallmark orchestration, heartfelt songs, and funky yet slick playing you’d expect from a White production. Like a dusting of sugar onto the top of the cake, the record also features the stunning arrangements of the great pianist, arranger, composer, and producer Gene Page, whose musical career left an impressive and prolific legacy.‘ I Love You More and More’ received another lease of life when it was resurrected for a new audience after having been sampled by Jay-Z, Mos Def, C.L. Smooth, and others. The record is solid throughout, but the song ‘There’s Nothing in This World That Can Stop Me From Loving You’ proved to be an extra- bright star in the sky and it formed the base to Jay-Z’s 2001 hit ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’.  

The sampling of Tom’s work triggered the collectors, diggers and DJs to explore his record and to transfer their passion for it onto their followers too.

Tom Brock passed away in 2002, but left behind his sensational soulful voice on a handful of amazing dusty 7” singles, several assorted productions recorded by other artists, and this absolute winner of an album, which will be cherished for years to come. ~ www.firstexperiencerecords.com

Mark Feldman - Sounding Point

In my 30+ years following violinist Mark Feldman, no record I know shows him off better than Sounding Point. He’s made much great music in groups, but solo play gives him maximum elbow room, fully exposing the richness of his sound, his distinct personal voice, and his sensitivity to sonic texture and pacing, all at the service of musical storytelling. Take for example the shortest piece here, the improvised “Rebound.” He starts with a simple gesture, the bow’s horsehairs bouncing lightly on the strings, a gesture he periodically returns to (and ends with), between scenic flights: high notes and trills, bracing close-interval wailing on adjacent strings, a burst of percussive pizzi- cato, falling glissandi, whispered notes barely bowed.... Fancy stuff. Yet those expansions and contractions, and the contrasting dynamics, sound natural as breathing. 

This recital was a long time coming, 26 years after his solo debut. (As Mark recalls, Intakt had first asked for a follow-up around 2008.) By the time Feldman recorded Music for Violin Alone in 1994, he’d lived a few musical lives already: playing rock in Chicago and country music in Nashville before hitting New York where his chops, invention, big ears and quick response time quickly made him a key player on the downtown/Brooklyn improvising scene. By 1994 Mark had begun his long association with frequent employer John Zorn, who produced that solo CD. Back then I’d called it “lyrical and technically boggling” – a reflection of everything he’d put together so far. 

That’s all ancient history (I can hear Mark say, as he’s reading this) but that’s the point: He’s led a whole other life since, reflected in this more seasoned if equally audacious music. Feldman spent 10 of those years playing in quartet with guitarist John Abercrombie, a musician and person he can’t praise enough; that connection led to Feldman’s 2006 quartet album for ECM, What Exit. Even more cru- cially, in 1995 Mark met Swiss pianist Sylvie Courvoisier, his collaborator ever after, in duo, trios and various quartets. In notes to their 2018 Time Gone Out (Intakt 326), Stéphane Olliver recounted Sylvie’s first impression of him: You could hear how he drew on jazz and classical without stepping into either camp; his improvising was very free but always aware of context. Those were her values too. They bonded, and have issued a bounty of recordings as co-leaders ever since, rein- forcing each other’s best tendencies. 

Violin Alone demonstrated his resourcefulness and conceptual rigor; he played onefurious piece entirely on his low string. Still, he says now, “I felt my technique was deficient, so I worked on it.” He is now much handier with a wider range of so-called extended techniques – sliding harmonics, picking strings with his left/fingering hand while bowing, bowing or batting at strings with the bow’s wooden spine, et cetera et cetera – to the point where he deploys them un-selfconsciously, mixing them freely. Feldman winks at the violin virtuoso tradition here with a few furious four-string arpeggios. 

“People who say, ‘I hate virtuosity,’ I wish sometimes they’d listen to the music and not notice the technique” – focusing on content not vocabulary. Sounding Point is all but made to order for that. Technical- ly impressive as it plainly is, it’s more about those musical stories – a variety of them, told by various means. “Unbound” and “New Normal” like “Rebound” are improvisations; “Maniac” with its recurring ele- ments – fluttery arpeggios, a fast plummeting pizz lick landing on open strings, a stairstep descending melodic sequence – is more pre-struc- tured, even as it leaves him room to extemporize. Two pieces are borrowed. “As We Are” is Sylvie’s; Mark’s self-contained call-and-re- sponse takes a cue from her trio version (on the recent Free Hoops) and he really makes the melodic hooks sing. (It also shows his various ways of addressing the beat, sometimes leaning into it, sometimes leaning back.) 

Ornette Coleman’s 1987 “Peace Warriors” is one of three pieces conspicuously using overdubs; Mark had arranged it for performance by two violins, and plays both parts in complementary not contrasting voices, making it sound deceptively violinistic. In the improvising he goes his own way, fragmenting the time and the theme, inspecting it from various angles. “I’m inspired by Ornette, but I’d never try to copy him. I try to be true to my esthetic. But can I mention how much I love his violin playing?” There’s a bouquet of lovely episodes here, like the sequence starting around 2 : 24, where a plucked note precedes a softly bowed high D, as if resonating in sympathetic vibration; or the Aaron Copland hoedown that breaks out a minute and a half later, with some of Feldman’s best stridio di gatto playing. 

Also multi-tracked is “Sounding Point” – that’s where the bow meets the string in violin parlance, by the way – with its softly undulating figures under the signature fragile flautando bowing that once earned him the nickname Zamfir. More and more violins beef up the album’s big piece “Viciously” (derived from the last eight bars of “Tenderly” – a connection not immediately apparent). There his sense of drama (and comedian’s expert timing) really come to the fore, as it builds in short order (and subsides and builds again and again) from a buzzing- bee start. Varied, compositionally savvy, full of improvised delights and studded with grand gestures, it’s Mark Feldman music all over: a portrait of the artist now. 

~ KEVIN WHITEHEAD, 2020 

Author of Play the Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film (Oxford University Press) 

Pianist ALAN PASQUA's Solo Album, "DAY DREAM"

Alan Pasqua is a piano legend. He’s performed and recorded with many of the top names in both jazz and pop. He was a member of The New Tony Williams Lifetime and appeared on the albums Believe It and Million Dollar Legs. He also performed with Jack DeJohnette, Paul Motian, Dave Holland, Michael Brecker, Randy Becker, Joe Henderson, Stanley Clarke, Gary Burton, James Moody, Gary Peacock, Gary Bartz, Reggie Workman, The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, Sheila Jordan, and Joe Williams, to name just a few.

In the pop world, Pasqua recorded two albums with Dylan (Bob Dylan at Budokan and Street-Legal), performed with John Fogerty on the album Eye of the Zombie, with Starship on the album No Protection, and with Allan Holdsworth on the album Sand. He was also the keyboardist for Carlos Santana on his albums Marathon, Zebop! and Havana Moon.

Pasqua has also been the leader or co-leader on many critically acclaimed jazz recordings. In 2008, Pasqua joined forces with Peter Erskine and Dave Carpenter, arranging, co-producing and playing on the Grammy-nominated trio album Standards. His recent releases are Twin Bill, which features Pasqua playing the music of Bill Evans on two pianos, and Northern Lights, which features Pasqua’s original compositions, exploring his roots in the classical, pop and jazz idioms. 

Soliloquy, his newest project, was recorded in Pasqua’s Santa Monica studio on his Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano. The sound is exquisite and the performance invites the listener to an intimate personal journey. Included are nine of his favorite standards and one cover of a Bob Dylan song.


 

3-Disc Anthology "OUT ON THE COAST" from David Angel and Jim Self

David Angel is one of the most respected composer and arrangers on the West Coast; however, he is virtually unknown to the general public. That is why tuba and bass trombone master Jim Self decided it was time to rectify that situation. He brought together The David Angel Jazz Ensemble to record Out On The Coast, a gorgeous three-disc anthology of Angel’s music. The David Angel Jazz Ensemble grew out of the rehearsal band that Angel began in 1969. Over the years, the group featured many West Coast jazz giants. Angel’s current 13-member ensemble of top-notch players were more than happy to participate in this project. Recorded right before the pandemic hit, the band laid down all 22 tracks in just four days. Out On The Coast features 15 original compositions by Angel and his arrangements of seven standards. Angel wrote so many great charts, it was difficult to narrow them down to fit on one disc, so he culled 22 tunes from his extensive oeuvre and burned them onto three discs. The music ranges from swinging to symphonic, from Latin-tinged to jazz waltzes to West Coast cool.  Written over many years, the compositions and arrangements on Out On The Coast provide a very satisfying glimpse of the prolific output and brilliance of David Angel, who never sought out and has never received wide public recognition. This project should change that, and it’s about time.

ADRIAN YOUNGE’S THE AMERICAN NEGRO

Adrian Younge has released his most ambitious and deeply personal project to-date. The American Negro is a multimedia project release in conjunction with Black History Month, and sees the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer share an unapologetic critique detailing the systemic and malevolent psychology that afflicts people of color.

The American Negro is a powerful, multifaceted statement that reflects perennial injustices and serves to act as a lever of change during a time of mass disillusionment: an album for the people that details the evolution of racism in America. It is insightful, provocative and necessary in our fight for equality. “The American Negro is the most important creative accomplishment of my life. This project dissects the chemistry behind blind racism, using music as the medium to restore dignity and self-worth to my people,” notes Younge. “It should be evident that any examination of black music is an examination of the relationship between black and white America. This relationship has shaped the cultural evolution of the world and its negative roots run deep into our psyche.”

The American Negro is not for the faint of heart, including the album cover art–a recreation of “Lynching Postcards” that became very popular to celebrate the murder of African Americans at the hands of White Americans as vigilante justice at the turn of the last century, with no judicial reprisals; in addition, they served as warning signs against any person of color seeking to eradicate racial inequality. Modernly, death by asphyxiation is a tool Police officers have used in killing innocent Black Americans–the lynching of the Black Americans has to stop!

The album’s title track and lead single “The American Negro” captures the poetic spirits of black luminaries like Gil-Scott Heron, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. It cultivates a bold balance between melancholy and pure joy, with deeply poignant lyrics and melodic grooves. “The American Negro” single features The Linear Labs Orchestra with vocals performed by Loren Oden, Chester Gregory and Sam Harmonix. “The American Negro” single is available today and can be heard here: http://jazzisdead.lnk.to/AdrianYoungeTAN.  

Created as a companion to The American Negro, Younge is also releasing his brand-new podcast Invisible Blackness with Adrian Younge. The Amazon Music-exclusive podcast documents the development and evolution of racism in America. Over four episodes and a series of extended conversations, Younge analyzes the Black consciousness of America with new historical parallels to the future and the past. As part of the podcast, Younge will be joined by fellow luminaries like Chuck D, Ladybug Mecca, Keyon Harrold, Michael Jai White and more to reveal, illustrate, and make visible the dominant ideologies embedded in America’s culture. Debuting February 4th on Amazon Music, fans can listen to the series trailer here (https://youtu.be/gqg9rk88e3A) and subscribe to the podcast here: http://www.amazon.com/invisible_blackness. Amazon Music customers can access a wide selection of podcasts including new Originals like Invisible Blackness with Adrian Younge in the Amazon Music app for iOS and Android, on Amazon Echo devices, and at music.amazon.com/podcasts.

Adrian Younge is a member of The Midnight Hour and has produced for entertainment greats ranging from Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar and Wu-Tang Clan. He’s composed for television shows such as Marvel’s Luke Cage (with Ali Shaheed Muhammad), and films including Black Dynamite. He owns the Linear Labs boutique record label and analog studio, and is co-owner of Jazz Is Dead. When he’s not working on scores for major studios or networks, he’s making albums that speak to his own artistry. For The American Negro, Younge not only wrote, but played every instrument of the album’s rhythm section; he also orchestrated a 30-piece orchestra and recorded them in his analog studio. 

A true Renaissance Man, Younge wrote, directed, edited and composed the score for the upcoming short film T.A.N.–a narrative film that sees five fragile souls, confused and in a haze of consciousness and intolerance, enter an eerie dimension. Piece-by-piece, each person realizes their destiny, and the darkness they’ve left behind. The film will be available later this month via Amazon’s Prime Video and on the Amazon Music app. Look for more on the film soon. 

Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine's "MAZEL TOV KOCKTAIL!" 40th Anniversary Celebration

Mazel Tov Kocktail!, the newest recording by the Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine, is a swinging, rollicking collection of new and standard big band numbers performed by a tight-knit group of top-notch musicians. The band is well known in Southern California for its fun and engaging performances that have often featured some of the top names in jazz, like Bob Mintzer, Barbara Morrison, Wayne Bergeron, Holly Hofmann, and Eric Marienthal, to name just a few. This is the band’s 6th recording project, and like all the others, it features new compositions and newly imagined arrangements of standards. Liss says, “The band is the sum of its parts, and every chair is important. Big bands need a creative vision to push the music forward, and I like a lot of variety.” The music on this recording is indeed varied, with six arrangers contributing to the project. The Big Band Jazz Machine is a well-oiled group of musicians whose ensemble playing and solo work is sophisticated and compelling. Under the direction of conductor and producer Ira Liss, MAZEL TOV KOCKTAIL! is a high-energy, crowd-pleasing, romp through a diverse slate of tunes old and new.

Rick Margitza | "Sacred Hearts"

More than 15 years after his last release as a leader, saxophonist Rick Margitza makes his long-awaited return with the captivating new album Sacred Hearts, via Le Coq Records. The deeply personal album takes stock of the joys and tragedies that have unfolded over the last decade and a half, with new compositions dedicated to those lost along the way as well as the new life that has come into being.

Sacred Hearts also features the recorded debut of Margitza’s longstanding Paris-based quartet, in which he’s joined by pianist Manuel Rocheman, bassist Peter Giron and drummer Jeff Boudreaux. The saxophonist relocated to the City of Lights since 2013, and has enjoyed weekly gigs with the group – French native Rocheman and fellow expats Giron and Boudreaux – for a number of years, honing the tight camaraderie that can be heard throughout this set. The core band is also supplemented by guitarist and banjo player Oliver Louvel, percussionist Xavier Desandre Navarre, and vocalists Chloe Cailleton and Pierre de Bethmann.

While many of the pieces on Sacred Hearts honor people who have passed away in recent years, from family members to fellow musicians, the overall feeling of the album is far from mournful. There are certainly moments of profound melancholy and tinges of the bittersweet, but Margitza set out to celebrate lives well lived rather than to dwell on tragic losses.

“My heritage is Eastern European Gypsy,” he explains. “Our funerals are a lot like New Orleans funerals: the older men get together and play sad music, but once the person is buried we party and celebrate them. I didn’t set out to explore that kind of dichotomy on this record, but I think there's inevitably a sense of celebration intertwined with the sadness.”

The emotional core of the album is vibrantly represented by the cover painting, “Heart Forest,” by Colombian-American artist Patricia González. Margitza first encountered the image decades earlier, when his then-partner gifted him a postcard print. The tender title track is dedicated to Margitza’s nephew, Nolan Vahosky, who died at the far too young age of 13 due to medical negligence related to a heart defect. The album’s closing piece, the elegiac tenor-piano duet “Poem,” was inspired by the awful coincidence of an ex-partner’s niece, Sabrina Seelig, passing away under similarly negligent circumstances. 

“That’s the irony of life,” Margitza says sadly. “My ex and I both lost a niece or nephew due to mishandling in the hospital. They both passed away when they didn't have to, so I wrote ‘Poem’ in Paris when I heard the news. Both pieces came to me very quickly.”

The album opens with the surging “Truth Be Told,” dedicated to the late saxophonist Gerry Niewood, best known for his long association with Chuck Mangione. Niewood was lost in a plane crash in 2009 at the age of 65. “There's something in Gerry’s playing that conveys the truth,” Margitza says of the title, while his improvisation over the opening vamp includes a sly quote from a favorite Niewood solo.

“Gerry was one of my first major influences growing up,” Margitza says. “I was studying classical piano but I had an older cousin who was already into the jazz scene, and she introduced me to artists like the Brecker Brothers and Chuck Mangione. So even before I got into John Coltrane or Charlie Parker I heard Gerry Niewood’s playing on all those early Chuck Mangione records, which to me are still some of the most gorgeous saxophone improvisations ever documented.”

Michael Brecker, who passed away in 2007 from the blood disorder MDS, was also a key influence, and is honored here in an unexpected way with the eccentrically funky “Country Mike.” As Margitza explains, “There's a little part of Brecker’s playing on his earlier recordings, especially with the band Dreams, where he was definitely influenced by country-style guitar players. So instead of trying to write another Coltrane-inspired Michael Brecker tribute, I thought I’d try to capture another side of him that’s a little less well known, more of a rock and roll or boogaloo kind of feeling.”

The tune climaxes with nine separate overdubbed tracks of Margitza soloing – an acknowledgement, he says, that “it would take at least nine of me to make up a little fraction of Michael’s playing.” Margitza also layers multiple sax tracks on the playful “Muse,” an idea that he traces to his early love of the Charlie Parker tribute group Supersax. “Muse” is dedicated to the many artists who’ve influenced him as well as the elusive nature of inspiration itself. 

“When I’m composing,” he says, “I try to put myself in a state where I just let things come through without judging. Sometimes I get really lucky and I'm able to grab a melody like that out of the air. To me, that comes from the grand muse, whatever you want to say that is.”

The freewheeling “Place To Be” takes its name from a Seinfeld reference while recalling the impromptu dance parties that would break out among Margitza’s Gypsy relatives, whether during the holidays or even around the release of a new Motown record. “Crying,” whose title is captured in Margitza’s weeping tenor lines, sums up his feelings for the various family members lost in recent years, while the high-spirited “12-123,” with guest clapping and counting by a host of relatives, welcomes a number of new births into the fold. 

Louvel’s silky guitar sets a romantic mood for “Leading Lady,” dedicated to the women who have graced the composer’s life, while the wistful “Far From Home” was penned after a holiday visit, reflecting the bittersweet feelings inherent in setting down roots in a country other than one’s own. And “Trails of Tears” is dedicated to those souls killed at the hands of social injustice, from Margitza’s Gypsy heritage to the Native Americans forced off of their ancestral lands, to those still fighting for justice whose deaths make all-too-frequent headlines today. Whether family, friends, mentors or inspirations, Margitza concludes, “This record goes out to all these hearts that were sacred to me.”


Todd Mosby Explores Natural Elements with Concept Album: Aerial Views

If the music on guitarist and composer Todd Mosby's newest release, Aerial Views, seems to take flight and soar, that's not coincidental. From the time he was six years old, Mosby has been in love with flying-now, on this collection of a dozen towering tracks, he conveys that sensation through his music.

"I had early childhood experiences piloting my father's plane; he was a professional aviator," Mosby says, "and we spent a lot of time in the air, feeling a special freedom and independence whenever we took to the sky. As I grew older, that freedom evolved into an ever expanding musical and spiritual journey. Music became integral to my sense of centeredness, allowing my spirit to take flight through rhythm and melody. Practice was like a meditation and prayer, performance allowed my soul to soar. "

That freedom is evident throughout Aerial Views, the third in a series of concept albums that highlight the natural elements. It follows Eagle Mountain, a tribute to earth, and Open Waters, dedicated to the seas. In conceiving the music for Aerial Views, Mosby focused on strong melody and a unique form of harmony inspired by the Imrat guitar; the bulk of the tracks feature Mosby interacting in instrumental settings with some  "A" list, heavy hitting musicians. "I had an abundance of material to pull from," he says. "Each tune had to survive the production process while remaining engaging enough for each musician to bring their best forward." Mosby says.

Produced by the legendary Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton team, Aerial Views takes off with "Gliding," featuring a cast of world-class musicians: bassist Tony Levin, drummer Jerry Marotta, percussionist Jeff Haynes, multi-instrumentalist Premik Tubbs on soprano saxophone and Eaton playing the Fender Rhodes keyboard. Mosby plays both the standard Gibson ES275 guitar as well as acoustic and electric Imrat guitar, an 18-stringed sitar-guitar hybrid bridge instrument created by Ustadt Imrat Khan, Kim Schwartz and Mosby. Imrat guitars are utilized on four of Aerial Views' tracks in all.

The award-winning Mosby is considered a rare master of both North Indian raag and Western composition and improvisation. Mosby's immersion in Indian music has long given him a distinctive sound, and is once again explored in great depth on this new release. "I started listening to Indian music when I was 10," Mosby says. "It sat in the background of my life until I heard that Imrat Khan was coming to St. Louis to teach and live." Mosby, who resides in that midwestern city, monitored a class Khan was teaching and afterwards, asked to study with him on guitar. That initial contact led to a 13-year disciplined study of classical North Indian technique, raag, philosophy and history of music in old school Imdad Khan gharana tradition. After seven years Mosby began performing concerts with the great Ustad.

"My studies in classical North Indian music have had a profound influence on my concept, technique, composition, performance and standards of musical excellence," he says. "Tonal music is some of the most difficult to perform well. My understanding of raag, tal, bebop, modal music and composition combined with the Imrat guitars offer a bridge between the Western and Indian music cultures." Mosby is the only guitarist to become a member of the famed Imdad Khani Gharana of musicians, India's most prestigious family of sitar musicians dating back 500 years.

"Across America," the second track on Aerial Views, introduces the virtuoso violinist Charlie Bisharat, who returns periodically; other contributors on the album include pianist and vocalist Lola Kristine (an upcoming young artist and natural in the studio as well as stage) and veteran bassist Michael Manring. Ackerman, the legendary founder of Windham Hill Records and a Grammy-winning guitarist in his own right, contributes acoustic guitar to "Aether," another standout track, which according to Mosby is a reminiscent rendition of John Coltrane's "Naima."

Each successive track-bearing titles such as "Blue Horizons," "Earth & Sky" and "Between the Clouds," and of course the title track-further expounds on the album's overt theme, with various combinations of instruments providing the ever-shifting coloration. Mosby credits Ackerman and Eaton with setting the highest standards for each musician and helping to flesh out their best work via their high standards, superb production and musical insight. In addition, one solo acoustic guitar track and one lyric track fill out the program.

"Will has the "golden ears" of a true producer, and I trust him 100 percent," he says. "He knows how to make music live in a track forever. He knows what sounds right. The combination of Will, Tom and myself makes for a nice balance as far as musical choice goes. I stay out of the way as much as possible and always default to their insight unless I feel really strongly about something. [The lyric track] ‘Shining Lights' is an example where I pushed for a choir sound on the last verse. Eventually, Will and Tom were on board and then took it to a whole other level. And Tom Eaton is a rare engineer/musician who lives easily in both worlds. He is the Van Gogh of recorded music. Tom's ability to communicate, set mics, edit and mix along with an exquisite sense of musicianship, makes him unique. Together they bring clarity, focus and a sense of musicality to every project. This is my third album with this team so we have developed a nice synergistic relationship. Each recording gets more expansive and better."

Among the musicians who appear throughout Aerial Views, Manring, Haynes, Tubbs and Kristine are the core group of the New Horizons Ensemble, one of Mosby's regular performing groups. The tracks "Aether," "Into Starlight" and "Solo Flight" feature that ensemble, while the others feature the current expanded group. The album was recorded at three studios, with basic guitar and subsequent guitar parts cut at Imaginary Roads Studio in Windham, Vermont, overdubs done at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, N.Y., and the mastering and mixing handled at Eaton's Universal Noise Studio in Newburyport, Mass.

Amazingly, the final creation was pieced together from an initial 500 complete and incomplete ideas over a two year period. Mosby honed this down to 32 tunes submitted to Will and then further pruned for the final selection. The compositions were written specifically for this album, Mosby explains. "The tunes started appearing shortly after the Open Waters album was complete. I had also toured some of these tunes during our last set of concerts in January 2020. When composing for this genre, I like to start with interesting chord progressions which are fun to improvise over. I am able to create some pretty deceptively lush progressions on the acoustic Imrat guitar. This guitar offers a special kind of tonal integrity not found in any other chordal instrument. Melodies evolve pretty quickly, usually within a few passes."

Once the chords, melody and form were complete and the instrumentation laid out, it was time for Aerial Views to take flight. "There is an ability to see beyond land-based vision. Your perspective changes from above." Mosby says in summation. "As such, this music allows entry into the realms of flight and spirit which serve as a cohesive point of departure for this concept album."

Guitarist Mike Scott's "COLLECTING THINGS," feat. Joe Bagg, Darek Oles & Jake Reed

Collecting Things, the newest recording by guitarist and composer Mike Scott, is a pastiche of music styles mostly penned by Scott and performed by some of the top jazz musicians in Southern California. Scott has performed around the United States and abroad in jazz clubs and concert halls. He has also recorded for television and film soundtracks, played as a sideman on numerous CD projects, and performed with well-known names in jazz. A mainstay on the Los Angeles jazz scene for over 20 years, Scott is also a founding member of The Los Angeles Jazz Collective. A jazz guitarist with classical training, Scott is known for his lyrical and soulful approach. Scott says, “Classical guitar playing involves extensive use of your right hand. Each finger plays a different sound, allowing you to control the dynamics and expressive quality of each note individually.” His writing is influenced by swing, classical music, and the blues. Scott composed all of the tunes on this album except for “On a Clear Day.” He is an engaging, versatile guitarist and composer with a style that is distinctly his own. From swing to classical to blues and rock, the compositions on Collecting Things reflect the many musicians and musical styles that have inspired Scott over the years. The music is beautifully crafted and the performances by these top-notch artists are assured and full of heart.

Barra Brown - LFT:RT

Across his work in acoustic jazz with his Barra Brown Quintet and as one half of creative beat-making duo Korgy & Bass, Portland-based musician and producer Barra Brown’s thematic ambition and fearless merging of electronics with improvisational forms reaches a climax on the his debut solo LP LFT:RT.

The diversity of Brown’s musical experience is the driving force of LFT:RT. The album’s title represents Brown’s attempt to break down the binary thinking so often used to sort complex human life into simplified categories. “I say I’m left-handed, yet I’m extremely ambidextrous,” Brown says. Realizing his drumming “was not left- or right-handed, but a continuous circle that connects at points of contact,” his ideas and phrasing themselves became more fluid, more flexible. 

Featuring mostly remote-recorded contributions and co-writes from ERYST artist ePP, guitarist Jack Radsliff, Brubeck Institute Fellow Tree Palmedo, Oregon Music Hall of famer Dan Balmer, and more, this 11 track album is a rollicking exploration of instrumental music through the lenses of hip-hop, nu-jazz and ambient music (just to name a few). LFT:RT serves both as a sampling of the Portland jazz scene’s brightest young heavyweights and a perfect introduction to Brown as a solo artist of strikingly eclectic, forward-thinking style.

The opening track, “RIDE (feat. ePP)” is an explosion of huge drums and driving synth ostinatos. ePP’s voice lands somewhere between singing and rapping as he calls attention to issues of police brutality. On “CYRUS”, we hear Brown on flute doubling Nabipoor’s trumpet melody. Bleeps & bloops surround DnB style drums in the exploratory sound-scape of “Whoa Hey!” (one of 4 tracks with trumpet leads). “SAM” uses a six-string bass as the lead instrument while “GULLS” is a soaring three section piece with multi-layered guitars. The penultimate track, “WASTED TIME (feat. Alexander Mackenzie)” is a deep groove and hook based hip-hop cut. The closing track, “rhetorical,” is the most ballad-like track and is reminiscent of both Miles Davis & Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s harmon tone. 

In 2019, following an impressive catalog of releases (two quintet records & a large ensemble commission with Portland Jazz Composer’s Ensemble), Brown co-composed the album Remote -- a sonic journey from industrialization to the modern-day tech industry --  with his project Korgy & Bass in collaboration with NOLA trumpeter Cyrus Nabipoor. This remotely made album landed on KMHD Jazz Radio’s “Top Ten Albums of 2019”. In 2020, Barra & Co. released Agrocrag into the world -- a bombastic and genre-transcendent album featuring a track with Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani. This creative beat-making exploration culminated into a multisensorial performance in the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) planetarium show.

Barra has shared the stage with Ani DiFranco, Gregory Alan Isakov, Robert Glasper, and Makaya McCraven among others. He has worked with Tucker Martine, Michael Curry, OMSI, PNCA, Alan Jones, Radiation City, Ages and Ages, Shook Twins, Morning Ritual, Old Wave, and the Portland Jazz Composer’s Ensemble & performed at notable venues like The Fillmore West and Red Rocks Amphitheater.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Vincent Herring | "Preaching to the Choir"

Saxophonist Vincent Herring speaks for nearly all of us when he writes, “2020 into 2021 was a morbid nightmare.” Herring has experienced the effects of the pandemic firsthand, contracting COVID-19 while suffering the same loss of performance opportunities befalling every musician during this trying year. That’s only meant more time spent at home, watching the turbulent presidential election and its violent aftermath. 

Despite the prevailing darkness, Herring insists on seeing a silver lining in the looming storm clouds overhead. On his latest album, Preaching to the Choir (due out April 30, 2021 via Smoke Sessions Records), he delivers a sermon of optimism and hope to the jazz faithful, aided by as fervent a congregation as a swing disciple could pray for: pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Johnathan Blake. 

“We have to have hope for the future,” Herring insists. “I’ve been in a constant state of disbelief with so much going on that is negative in the world, but I try to look at the positive side of everything. Fate is written with all kinds of twists and turns, and in the end the only thing you can do is realize that as bad as things are – and they are bad –the promise of tomorrow is going to be special.” 

Herring’s story has undergone more than its fair share of twists in recent months. Last August, he traveled to Las Vegas to take part in a centennial celebration for one of his heroes, Charlie Parker, with conductor Justin DiCioccio leading a string orchestra. The saxophonist now believes that it was on the flight back to New York that he contracted COVID. “It felt like the flu,” he recalls. “I was tired all the time, but I wasn’t coughing, and I didn’t have any respiratory problems. After less than a week, I felt totally fine.” 

Despite the relatively minor effects, though, the virus wasn’t done with Herring yet. A few weeks later he began feeling pain in his joints. “I remembered some comedian talking about when you get to be over 50 you get aches and pains, and when you tell the doctor they're just like, ‘Yeah, it happens.’ So, I didn't think anything of it, but then it got progressively worse. My doctor had me do a blood test and she told me I had rheumatoid arthritis – and it was a gift from COVID.” 

Chronic joint pain can be a death knell for a musician – it has ended careers, especially for pianists – so Herring entered the studio feeling strong but unsure of his future. “I knew it was a possibility that this would be my last record,” he says. “I wasn't saying that to other people, but the thought was constantly in my mind.” 

“Fear” and “trepidation” are hardly words that come to mind when listening to Preaching to the Choir, however. The buoyant, robust music never sounds like the work of a man in pain, and not once does it take on the solemn character of a swan song. Since the recording, Herring—with the help of specialists—has managed to get the pain under control. And despite the disheartening news of injustice and political divisions, Herring is uplifted by the rallying of young people in support of protest efforts like the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The saxophonist’s refusal to let the anxieties surrounding the recording pervade his music is evident from the outset of Preaching to the Choir. The album opens with the relaxed stroll of “Dudli’s Dilemma,” an original tune dedicated to the Swiss drummer Joris Dudli, who the composer calls “a great musician and a true friend.” The warmth of that personal relationship lights up Chestnut’s sprightly solo as well as the gentle precision of Blake’s rhythmic foundation. 

Nakamura kicks off the well-worn standard “Old Devil Moon” by crossbreeding it with the famed bass line of Benny Golson’s classic “Killer Joe,” shifting the emphasis to the sly devilishness of the song. “Ojos de Rojo” comes from the prolific pen of the legendary pianist Cedar Walton, in whose band Herring played for more than two decades. The saxophonist feels utterly at home as he unfurls an effortlessly eloquent solo, juggling equal parts intensity and lyricism. The quartet then wrings every ounce of emotion from Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” Blake’s ethereal brushwork embracing the heartfelt yearning of the leader’s keening alto. 

The mood turns a complete 180 with the gutbucket groove of guitar great Wes Montgomery’s “Fried Pies.” One can almost smell the sizzling grease during the raucous blues, propelled by the window-rattling bravura of Nakamura and Blake. Chestnut contributes the self-explanatory “Minor Swing,” along with a fleet, explosive solo that leaps around the keyboard with bristling spirit. Herring’s breathy, elegiac tone crafts a haunting atmosphere for Duke Ellington’s immortal “In a Sentimental Mood,” matched by the delicate sensitivities of his bandmates. 

The call and response head of the title track is straight out of a roof-raising church service, but the choir being preached to in this instance is multi-denominational, united by the simple love for Herring’s lively brand of swing. “I wrote this song as a tribute to my fans,” he says, recalling the messages of love and support he received throughout his recent ordeal. “During a time like this you need to hear kind words. Thinking this would be my last recording was depressing but hearing from people what my saxophone voice meant to them was very rewarding.” 

The band simmers on Joe Henderson’s “Granted,” before bursting out for an incendiary run from Herring and a shimmering turn by Chestnut, capped off by a round of trading with Blake’s effusive outbursts. The album closes on a lovely, tender note with Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life,” which Herring aptly describes as “a classic song played with love.” 

That spirit of love, appreciation and, most of all, hope colors every tune on Preaching to the Choir, which arrives as a much-needed salve after such a divisive and disheartening period in history. “In spite of everything,” Herring declares, “even though I’m in constant pain and discomfort, I still feel grateful because it could have been worse. So, I do count my blessings.”

Three Pines Records Launches

In March of 2021, Three Pines Records (TPR) was proud to introduce their new label with the releases from TuneTown (the all-star combination of Kelly Jefferson, Artie Roth and Ernesto Cervini) and vocalist Sarah Jerrom’s Dream Logic (Harley Card, Rob McBride, Jeff Luciani).

The JUNO Award-winning, Grammy-nominated team of drummer Ernesto Cervini, vocalist Amy Cervini and composer/producer Oded Lev-Ari are combining to create a new media company dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Canadian music, with a specific focus on Jazz and improvised music. TPR is committed to creating a safe and supportive space where musicians can focus on creating and sharing their work with a growing fan base they help create. Between them, Cervini, Lev-Ari and…Cervini have extensive experience in the business of music not only as musicians but as entrepreneurs, label-owner, manager, publicist…the list is long. They are combining these unique skill sets to help artists find their fan base and create a sustainable career and mostly to share great music with fans across Canada and the world. TPR will be working with artists across Canada and across the spectrum of jazz…the focus will not be on a specific style of music, but rather on good music! 

First up was the March 19th release of Entering Utopia from celebrated jazz trio collective, TuneTown.  This is a follow up to their debut album, There From Here which came out in the fall of 2019 to rave reviews across the globe:  “Seamlessly assimilating elements from the avant-garde, funk and jazz worlds, There From Here is a stimulating addition to the saxophone trio canon” - Jazz Journal

On March 26th, Three Pines Records released Sarah Jerrom’s Dream Logic, an artsy folk-jazz album from the other end of the spectrum.  The ensemble consists of four highly-skilled Canadian musicians who each actively explore and play in a variety of musical projects and genres: Harley Card on guitar and vocals, Rob McBride on acoustic bass, Jeff Luciani on drums, with Jerrom on vocals and piano.

Ryan Dugré Releases "Old Hotel"

Written in January of 2019 during a song-a-day exercise, the instrumental pieces on Three Rivers produce a captivating calmness with shadowy undertones, melodically tending towards introspection. Guitar is at the forefront supported by piano and synth, strings, and sparse percussion. Elements of film music, pastoral jazz, and Americana create a meditative mood which is enhanced by the underlying pulse of each song. This is music that rewards patient, active listening.

As part of the songwriting exercise that produced Three Rivers, Dugré churned out a new piece of music each day. The purpose was to build a routine of writing and creativity. The only rule was to submit something daily — an improvisation, loose sketch, or fully orchestrated piece. Everything counts.

The benefit of this deliberately fast pace is that it leaves little time for second-guessing. By forcing you to commit to an idea quickly, this method eliminates overthinking and presents a more honest depiction of the original thought. This is also the challenge — at the end of the day, you must live with your output, and allow yourself to be vulnerable as your colleagues listen to your work.

Using a barely functioning laptop and one microphone, Dugré embraced the limitations of this process. “My usual approach to writing is to methodically work out a solo guitar arrangement; melody, harmony, and bass all intertwined and performed simultaneously,” he says. “It takes a week or so to get it right.” This time, he started with a rhythm part on guitar or piano, and then added melody after. For many of the pieces he imagined someone singing the melody, and tried to get close to creating that with slide guitar, piano, or synth.

Dugré came away with a batch of new song ideas and spent the following months finishing the arrangements at his home studio. These songs were then re-recorded in October 2019 in Brooklyn at Trout Recording with engineer Adam Sachs. Three Rivers features string arrangements from Ian Mcllelan Davis (Relatives), and contributions from Brett Lanier (The Barr Brothers), Sean Mullins (Wilder Maker), Adam Dotson (Slavic Soul Party), and Will Graefe (Okkervil River, Star Rover), who co-wrote Shining. The album was mixed by Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Sam Amidon).

Ryan Dugré is a New York based multi-instrumentalist and composer from Holyoke, MA. Since graduating from New England Conservatory in 2007 he has been an active freelancer, having performed and/or recorded with Rubblebucket, Joan Wasser, Eleanor Friedberger, Cass Mccombs, Landlady, Jesse Harris, Ran Blake, and many others. Ryan has performed internationally at festivals including Le Festival d’été de Québec, Bonnaroo, Haldern Pop Fest, as well as NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series and BBC 6 Radio with Marc Riley. He has been a featured guest artist at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Eliot Fisk's Boston GuitarFest at New England Conservatory of Music. Three Rivers, out on 11A records, marks his third solo release. His second record The Humors, mixed by Sam Owens (Sam Evian), was named best album of the month in March 2019 by Paste Magazine.

“Ostriconi” is the first full length album from French multi-instrumentalist Jean Dasso

Ostriconi” is the first full length album from French multi-instrumentalist Jean Dasso, better known as Yeahman, and its release is guaranteed to kick the new year off with dreamlike finesse. "Baixi Baixi" is the second single from the album, which sees Liane and Vera - sisters and singers behind “Aluna Project" - join forces with Yeahman and guitarist Kino B. to create a lush and emotional chiller. Their lyrics convey not only the ways in which nature speaks to us, but also of the untold wealth nature provides us that we must protect, enjoy and be grateful for. All of these elements combine into crisp and tropical ecstasy on “Baixi Baixi”.

Jean Dasso (Yeahman) began his musical career with a clear desire and vision to gather different sounds and rhythms from all around the world. While his first EP “Transborda” (Frente Bolivarista, 2017) was more focused on latin-american vibes, his next project and first full length album “Ostriconi” promises to expand his musical universe. His single “Miniyamba” (Shika Shika, 2018) performed with Mina Shankha and Hajna, quickly reached millions of streams and garnered interest from national radio broadcasts that propelled his career to the next level. He's now identified as an artist in the vanguard of the global-electronic scene, alongside other exciting artists such as Nicola Cruz, Chancha Via Circuito and El Buho. It is thus no surprise that he has been invited to perform on stages and at festivals around the world, in diverse areas such as Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, the United States, Canada and of course around his native Europe.


 

Dan Bonsanti and The 14 Jazz Orchestra's "CARTOON BEBOP," feat. Peter Erskine, Mark Egan, Lindsey Blair and Ed Calle

Cartoon Bebop, the newest release by composer and arranger Dan Bonsanti's band, The 14 Jazz Orchestra, is a swinging, contemporary take on jazz compositions by modern masters. The 14 Jazz Orchestra is a 13-piece jazz ensemble under the direction of arranger and producer Dan Bonsanti. The group comprises 13 outstanding jazz musicians who have recorded and performed with many of the top names in jazz and pop. Bonsanti was the Associate Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Miami, and the album features mostly players originally from South Florida with just a few notable exceptions. Bonsanti is a sax player who performed with big bands like the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Jaco Pastorius’ Word of Mouth Orchestra, and Doc Severinsen. He also wrote charts for The Jaco Pastorius Big Band, a tribute band to Jaco’s legacy, and the Atlantean Driftwood Band. The compositions on the album represent a variety of styles, with compositions by Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Airto Moreira, and others, including two tunes by Bonsanti. Although Bonsanti has written extensively for large ensembles, he prefers smaller configurations for his own recordings. “My goal is to ‘not’ sound like a big band. I like the lightness and colors you can get with less instrumentation,” says Bonsanti. “I prefer to get orchestral flavors by mixing instruments from different sections of the band. It allows for a softer, more fluid and less strident sound.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Pianist Yaniv Taubenhouse Releases MOMENTS IN TRIO VOLUME THREE – ROADS

Pianist and composer Yaniv Taubenhouse once again assembles his mighty trio, going on seven years of creating music together, of Rick Rosato on bass and Jerad Lippi on drums, to craft their third tour-de-force, Moments in Trio Volume Three – Roads (available on April 9, 2021 on Fresh Sound/New Talent). The trio’s camaraderie and solidarity is unmistakable and saturates their work together. In the face of the long, storied history of the piano trio in jazz, Taubenhouse, Rosato and Lippi endeavor, and succeed, in finding new roads on their creative journey.  

Moments in Trio Volume Three: Roads is comprised of music influenced by the many crossroads we face in life, and in music, the effect of the choices we make, and the journey we find ourselves on with each decision, both monumental and mundane. Taubenhouse elaborates that, “although we think we might know which path to follow to a specific destination, we often end up in a completely different place, and the artist's goal or vision is continually shaped by his/her experiences along the way. It is crucial for artists to stay focused on their vision, but also to remember that the magic often happens when least expected and one should remain open and receptive to those moments when they arrive. In music, the magic happens between the notes and in jazz, especially in a trio, it’s the subtext of the conversation between the three musicians that creates those special moments. If the road is the musical journey, then perhaps the song is the vehicle that transports us. Or if the song is the road, then the musical instruments might be the vehicle. It’s really up to the imagination to decide but either way, there are no journeys without roads and without journeys the roads would be empty. As we move forward on our path, the contour of our journey is revealed, and the map of our unique path unravels.” 

When Taubenhouse formed this trio (about seven years ago), there was already a strong connection both musically and personally, and it was very humbling and inspiring for Taubenhouse to see how this connection has been gaining strength over the years. He explains, “as our friendship grows, it only solidifies our musical connection and brings more trust and creativity on the bandstand. When I compose new music for this trio, I have Rick and Jerad’s sounds in mind, and when we get together to play new material for the first time, I prefer not saying too much, but rather letting the guys bring their own personalities and ideas to the music. It’s very important to me that each member of the trio will be able to find their own space within the material and that a musical vision will be developed collectively (even if I am the one who wrote that particular composition or arrangement). Both Rick and Jerad are incredibly musical and great listeners and when we play together there’s always a sense that at any given moment each one of us can come up with a musical idea/direction and the other two will be there to listen and interact. This keeps the music fresh and every time we play together it’s a new journey. In addition to being amazing musicians, Rick and Jerad are truly good human beings. The human aspect is so important when playing with the same guys over a long period of time and when guys are on the same page on a personal level, it only helps elevating the music.”  

CHANGUI - The Sound of Guantanamo

In Guantánamo, changüí means party. The very word changüí is derived from the Congolese word for party and it’s easy to hear why: This living musical tradition is a joyful bundle of hooks, riffs and foot-stomping choruses played for the sole purpose of celebration, togetherness and inclusivity. CHANGÜÍ - The Sound Of Guantánamo, a 3-CD box set from Petaluma Records, is the first comprehensive collection of changüí music and intimate photographs, bringing a rarely documented living culture and its people out from the shadows.

It has been stated many times, that Cuban culture starts East and moves West, and Guantánamo Province is just about as far East as you can go. This area is the source of much of the Cuban music we’re familiar with. 

Independent producer and music journalist Gianluca Tramontana, whose roots music expertise has been featured in numerous pieces for MOJO Magazine, Rolling Stone, NPR and BBC, has been visiting Cuba since the 1990s. On one trip in 2017 to the Guantánamo Province, he observed that of the precious little documentation there is of changüí, almost nothing had been recorded on location in the countryside or villages where the music continues to be performed, danced to, and enjoyed to this day. Through 2019, Tramontana spent several months in this area of Cuba that's mostly known for its geo-political issues and immersed himself in a largely overlooked 150-plus year-old culture of rural, riff-based, mostly improvised music. He traveled around Guantánamo capturing the music of changüiseros from the mountainous areas of Yateras, where changüí is said to have been born, to Guantánamo City, where it drifted in from the mountains in the early 1900s.  

Back in New York, Tramontana shared some of the recordings with an old friend and colleague, four-time GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Steve Rosenthal. Rosenthal, known for his archival and restoration work of Alan Lomax, Woody Guthrie and Les Paul, immediately recognized that Tramontana’s digital recordings were special — that they managed to capture the energy and excitement of the festivities happening in areas of the country not often explored. “Gianluca spent months in the countryside getting to know the people of the Guantánamo province,” producer Rosenthal points out, “so the musicians were completely at ease. We’re listening to a real snapshot of a unique gathering which makes any listener feel like they’re actually there.”

With support from Petaluma Records, mix engineer Ed McEntee and three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning mastering engineer Michael Graves worked with Rosenthal and Tramontana to complete the production of this 50 track, 3 CD collection, curated from well over 200 recordings made in Guantánamo. GRAMMY® Award-winning graphic designer Barb Bersche created the physical design and layout for the packaging and the extensive booklet that accompanies this extraordinary box set, CHANGÜÍ - The Sound Of Guantánamo.


Mike Freedman - Into The Daybreak

Into The Daybreak is guitarist Mike Freedman’s debut album as a bandleader. Inspired by 30 years of experience on the Toronto music scene, months of extensive touring in the US and Europe, and  collaborations with the likes of Tia Brazda, Barbra Lica, Steven Taetz, and The Willows, Freedman was ready to strike out on his own with his first solo statement, channelling all of his creative energies into his original music.

The album features nine of Freedman’s   compositions, which blend his love for many disparate styles of music, ranging from jazz and blues, to latin and ambient music. These nine contrasting and colourful tunes glimmer with inspired, vibrant performances. A strong melodic thread runs through these songs, displaying a depth and feel that are both natural and very memorable.

With assistance from Grammy nominated engineer Jeremy Darby and his masterful mixing and recording capabilities, Freedman was able to capture a clear snapshot of this top notch band in action: this session is a musical masterclass, full of catchy melodies, beautiful solos, and heartfelt ensemble playing. Into The Daybreak is a highly listenable album, driven by stellar performances and polished production. Freedman maintains a balance of accessibility and originality with this gem of a record, shining brightly into the year 2021.

Dan McCarthy - A Place Where We Once Lived

Recorded in Brooklyn, NY the day before permanently returning to Toronto, Dan gathered with two of the most in-demand improvisatory musicians in New York to present an introspective look at his 15 years living in the jazz Mecca of the world.

“A Place Where We Once Lived” is a reflective and brooding collection of eight impressionistic original compositions, three “short stories” which act as interludes, and one cover of the beautiful Steve Swallow piece “I’m Your Pal."  Though each musician is accomplished individually, the result of this recording is certainly greater than the sum of its parts, and exemplifies the definition of musical unity.

Dan McCarthy is a Canadian jazz vibraphonist based in Toronto. After graduating top of his class from the prestigious jazz program at Humber College, he moved to New York City in 2004, giving him the chance to play and record with some of the top jazz musicians in the world, such as George Garzone, Myron Walden, Ari Hoenig, and Gerald Cleaver.  In March 2019, Dan’s first major-label release “Epoch” came out on Origin Records. The record features jazz icon Steve Swallow on bass, as well as giants Ben Monder on guitar and Mark Feldman on violin. It received glowing international reviews.


Al Muirhead Quintet - Live From Frankie's & The Yardbird

The first recording trumpeter Al Muirhead was ever involved in was recorded in 1953. He was 18 years old, playing in a small dance band at the Waterton Lakes Dance Hall. A gentleman at the venue had just purchased a new direct to disc recording unit, and wanted to record the band live.

Al still treasures that live recording experience to this day. Now here we are, 67 years later, as Muirhead releases his first vinyl LP as a bandleader - recorded live to disc at two of Canada’s finest jazz clubs. As Al recalls, LP's were his preferred way to listen to music in his younger days, and he is happy to see them gaining in popularity again.

After such a long and storied career, it was high time to capture Muirhead’s playing - and the music he loves - live in concert. The idea was to plan a setlist of jazz standards ahead of time, while also allowing for organic, real-time improvisation and in-the-moment decision making - after all, some of jazz history’s best performances have been spontaneous, single takes! And with his 2020 JUNO-nominated quintet on hand, the sessions were sure to include some magical moments.

This recording project speaks to the concept of legacy. It captures the organic nature of live jazz, where each performance is unique from one night to the next. This is an in-the-moment recording that couldn’t be replicated, quite different than a produced studio recording. There is no option for overdubs or retakes here. It’s a pure representation of the musicianship that Al and his bandmates have brought to the Canadian cultural landscape for so many years. What you are hearing on this recording is the result of two evenings from that 2018 tour at the Yardbird Suite in Edmonton, Alberta  and at Frankie’s Jazz Club in Vancouver, British Columbia.


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