Thursday, February 25, 2021

Nina Ernst - "A Diva's Mind"

Berlin singer Nina Ernst has released a new album: "A Diva's Mind" (Label: Fina Flor, Rio de Janeiro). Originally it was supposed to be a CD to a self-written music comedy show about a failed diva. The result was a complex international music and video project.

Nina Ernst, who released the highly acclaimed Bossa Nova CD "Nina Ernst canta Jobim" at the label Fina Flor in Rio de Janeiro nearly 10 years ago, met the star photographer Gal Oppido (for Vogue, among others) in São Paulo on one of her numerous tours in Brazil.

Since the musical production of "A Diva's Mind" took place in Berlin at the same time and Gal Oppido liked the music very much, it turned out that he produced artistic videos of the recordings and included São Paulo's avant-garde artists in the production.

Inspired by international divas such as Sophia Loren, Carmen Miranda, Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee and Marlene Dietrich, Nina chose 14 classical songs in six different languages, which are associated worldwide with the aforementioned performers.

Always respecting the original melody and inspired by modern influences; sometimes hypnotic, atmospheric and moving freely between jazz, rock, ambient and folk.

Sensual, swinging and sometimes powerful; these classical songs deliver an emotional, yearning soundscape.

The album was produced, arranged and mixed by American bassist Max Hughes and percussionist Andreas Weiser and also the rest of the band is made up of top jazz musicians from the Berlin scene.

Cellist Anja Lechner & Pianist Francois Couturier Explore New Sounds on Lontano

On Moderato Cantabile, their 2013 duo recording, Anja Lechner and François Couturier illuminated some musical and spiritual affinities linking Komitas Vardapet, George I. Gurdjieff and Federico Mompou, composers at the crossroads of East and West. With Lontano, the German cellist and the French pianist widen the scope of their music.

Out of their shared work – which has included concerts and recordings with the Tarkovsky Quartet and the Il Pergolese project as well as duo activities – a shared language has evolved. Whether playing their own pieces, compositions by Henri Dutilleux or Giya Kancheli or Anouar Brahem, drawing upon a Bach cantata or an Argentinean folk lament, Lechner and Couturier have established a distinctive musical identity. Finding atmospheric and expressive connections among far-flung sources, they also create new music that reflects and refracts its inspirations.

“Alfonsina y el mar”, Ariel Ramírez’s zamba which pays tribute to modernist poet Alfonsina Storni is a piece Anja Lechner first heard in Mercedes Sosa’s version. In the Couturier- Lechner interpretation the cello takes on the singer’s role. It’s a role that Lechner has maintained in many different contexts including recent re-settings of Schubert songs with Pablo Márquez (refer to the album Die Nacht). The cello, she suggests, may be the singing instrument par excellence, by virtue of its range able to encompass the full span of male and female voice.

Since he arrived, mid-90s, at ECM with Poros, a delicate tracery of textures with violinist Dominique Pifarély, the hallmarks of Francois Couturier’s playing, improvising, and

composing have consistently been restraint, subtlety, patience and a meticulous fine-tuning of ideas. Alongside his own works François has been an important creative partner for the Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem, whose “Vague - E la nave va” is heard here.

It has been part of the Lechner-Couturier songbook for several years already. Giya Kancheli’s “Miniature 27” is a theme written for the film Tears Were Falling by Georgian director Georgiy Daneliya, which Anja first came to admire in the version by Jansug Kakhidze. The duo’s version takes off from the solo piano score. François suggested

bringing in Henri Dutilleux’s “Prélude en berceuse”. This spirited early work from the 1946 cycle Au gré des ondes has found approval among jazz pianists. Lechner and Couturier take a freer approach in their own arrangement: “At first we played the whole piece, then began gradually abandoning sections of it as we opened it up more and more.”

The tune recalled in “Memory of a Melody” is J.S. Bach’s aria “Wie zittern und wanken der Sünden Gedanken”, from the cantata Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht mit deinem Knecht. The duo have played the aria in its entirety in concert, but here it emerges obliquely out of improvisation – encircled, hinted at, buried again like treasure.

“Flow” and “Tryptic” are strikingly different compositions by Couturier, the first sailing forth serene and stately, the second shifting its perspectives in motoric flurries of activity.

Meanwhile, the improvisations broaden the reach of the programme. Anja Lechner’s solo “Shadow” began from “a spontaneous idea of playing a kind of Carl Friedrich Abel arpeggiated piece. Then François picked up on the idea, and continued with the piece now called ‘Arpeggio’”.

In the improvised selections unplanned references to Mompou (on “Lontano”) or to Gurdjieff (on “Hymne”) arise fleetingly - “maybe because we inhaled that music so comprehensively” - while the beginning of the improvisation called “Postludium” sounded in Anja and François’ view so much like something Valentin Silvestrov might have written that they wanted to dedicate the piece to him. The Ukrainian composer’s concept of music as metaphorical conversation with artists of the past and present is also not so far away from the current endeavour, where the musical language draws, consciously and intuitively, on a wealth of wide-ranging experience.

The Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Sextet Releases "Social Distancing"

Afro-Peruvian Jazz Music is the life’s work of trumpeter and composer Gabriel Alegría. For the past 15 years, he has led a cross-cultural ensemble called the Afro-Peruvian Sextet that has slowly (but surely) placed Afro-Peruvian Jazz Music on the international musical map. Alongside his principal collaborators Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón (percussion), Laura Andrea Leguía (saxophones), and Hugo Alcázar (drums), the Afro-Peruvian Sextet has to date produced seven CDs, one vinyl, and one documentary film. 

On the band’s latest effort, Social Distancing, Alegría digs deep into his longstanding relationship with the band’s fan base. Most recently, during the 2020 pandemic, the band opened a member’s area on their web site to include footage and closer access to their work. Featured on the new CD’s cover are hand drawings of more than 120 fans who sent in their pictures as part of the design process. (The band’s unique business model has included fan-accompanied tours to Peru.) The faces of the pandemic are thus vividly captured in an album that according to Alegría “will always serve as a memoir of what we went through in 2020.”

Alegria points out that the band dealt with the pandemic very directly in that one member battled Covid in the ICU—and won. “The album is a statement and a reflection not only of the pandemic,” he adds, “but also the issues of social justice that have surfaced as a result.”  

Alegría became a U.S. citizen very recently, and Social Distancing is his way to connect to that new part of his identity. “I’ve never felt it was my place to say much about the negative side of the U.S. But now, as a dual citizen, I believe it is my duty,” he affirms.   

One of the album’s highlights is “George & Breonna,” which, according to Alegría (pictured at right), reminds us of “the other pandemic: systematized social injustice in the United States.” The musical exchanges between Alegría and saxophonist Laura Andrea Leguia on this track are a testament to the deep level of communication between the members of this band. “The musical phrases Laura Andrea and I exchange are really from the gut,” says Alegría. 

This recording goes far beyond the music. “An immigrant knows all too well what it is like not to have rights,” says Alegria, “and our writing on the album reflects that experience and intention.” 

“Covid-19” is a powerful festejo written using a classical composing technique called serialism. “The melody is comprised of a 12-tone row where all 12 notes of the chromatic scale must be used before any notes repeat,” explains Alegria. “The result is a very angular and aggressive sound. Hence the title Covid-19.”

The haunting and relentless piece called “The Mask” includes spoken word by master percussionist Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón that echoes the idea with which Alegria frames the entire album: a poem-gone-viral by Kitty O’Meara called “And the People Stayed Home,” which is both the opening and conclusion of the album. The first iteration includes the poem read by the author in English, and the last track in Spanish. 

The darkness is brought to light by driving and uplifting tracks such as Alegría’s “Octavio y Natalia,” which the composer describes as the counterpart of “George and Breonna.” "That's my daughter and Yuri's son playing and being children, being innocent, just like George and Breonna probably played when they were kids. The point of connecting these two tunes in red type on the CD cover is that Yuri and I—and every parent on earth—should never see the death of their kids. And they certainly should not be afraid of that possibility existing. Hence our web site right now says #blacklivesmatter at the header.” The spirit of the song is expressed over a festejo rhythm, with the saxophone and trumpet pursuing circular phrases throughout. 

Social Distancing is very much a concept album, a testament-in-sound that documents the story of the 2020 pandemic. Its infectious rhythm makes the listener feel that concept as well as think it—on a par with the great concept albums of the 20th century (think Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). 

New Music Releases: Sun Ra Arkestra, Ter-Ree, TJ Bridgewater

Sun Ra Arkestra - Swirling

It’s been a long time coming. Finally Sun Ra Arkestra, under the direction of the maestro Marshall Allen, release their first studio album in over twenty years, ‘Swirling’. It’s in the Strut store and on Bandcamp as well as a good record shop near you. Recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia, the new recording represents the continuation of a heartfelt rebirth of the Arkestra under Allen’s guidance since Sun Ra left the planet in 1993, gaining new generations of followers from their regular touring across the globe. With a big band line-up featuring long-standing Arkestra members including Danny Ray Thompson (RIP), Michael Ray, Vincent Chancey, Knoel Scott, Cecil Brooks, Atakatune (RIP), Elson Nascimento and Tyler Mitchell, the album is a full-blooded celebration of Sun Ra’s legacy. Tracks include brand new arrangements of Arkestra staples ‘Angels And Demons At Play’, ‘Satellites Are Spinning’, ‘Door Of The Cosmos’ and ‘Rocket No. 9’ alongside lesser-known gems; the rousing blues ‘Darkness’ is recorded here for the first time, resurrected from the Ra archives by Marshall Allen. Other highlights include an epic version of ‘Seductive Fantasy’ (first recorded on Ra’s ‘On Jupiter’ LP in 1979), the freeform sonic blast of ‘Infinity / I’ll Wait For You’ and a first-ever recording of the Marshall Allen swing composition, ‘Swirling’.

Ter-Ree - I Hope You Dance

After making head-turning guest appearances on recently released Christmas albums from labelmates Benny Barksdale Jr. and The Society Hill Orchestra, rising vocalist Ter-Ree headlines this soulful rendition of the award-winning “I Hope You Dance” – a song originally taken to the top of the charts by Lee Ann Womack. The Society Hill Orchestra returns the guest turn favor by laying down the music and Nikita Harmon, Toni Richards and Sharon Ingram provide backing vocals.

TJ Bridgewater - We Need You

A fabulous new singer generating a buzz around the clubs of South Beach and downtown Miami is a young man by the name of TJ Bridgewater. Originally hailing from the backwoods of central Louisiana, he became something of a local legend at a young age.TJ gained enough confidence to head to Miami to test his vocal skills on a wider audience. Record executives soon realized that this young man had the chops and stamina needed to rise to the top of the charts. The gospel-tinged "We Need You" - inspired by the current state of the world - with its soulful message and hip arrangement, is the second stand-alone single since the release of his debut album "Life Of A Champion," that has garnered rave reviews from those in the know. As an added bonus, this new single features exclusive instrumental and acappella mixes.

John Stein "Watershed"

You could say that John Stein has been working towards this moment for most of his career. Both as an educator, and as an acclaimed jazz guitarist, Stein has been building his audience, building his understanding of the idiom, and creating a style for himself, a unique form of expression that will, without a doubt, establish him as a premier purveyor of jazz on guitar. 

Watershed, the guitarist’s 15th overall recording and his 11th for Whaling City Sound, is definitely that moment. The recording presents Stein and his band digging into a remarkable set of deep grooves with incredible clarity and creativity. With a wonderfully diverse repertoire, one that traverses a spectrum of styles and tempos, the band approaches Stein’s song selections with genuine flair and a shared energy. Watershed was recorded last May while on a concert tour in Brazil with Brazilian jazz stars: Frank Herzberg (bass), Zé Eduardo Nazario (drums), Daniel Grajew (keyboards), and Teco Cardoso (flute and saxes). The musicians peel back the layers of these compositions to reveal the magic hiding in these grooves and rhythms. Each contributor is an equal accomplice, especially on tunes like the delicate opener and Stein original "Rio Escuro,” the friskier, more playful “Kobe,” the hushed but sassy funk of Pat Martino’s “Cisco,” and the breezily melodic “Wally.” Stein has always been inspired by the jazz genius Jim Hall, and here he takes a brilliant turn on Hall’s own composition, “Waltz New.” Stein’s soloing here is transcendent, proving that he deserves the Hall comparisons and then some. 

Throughout the recording, each musician’s individual brilliance and cooperative spirit work together to elevate the style, the variety, the grooves, and Watershed’s authentic emotion. “Every time I listen to this recording,” Stein says, “I hear how deep and committed the grooves are on each tune. Every musician is coordinated and expressing the essence of the music with a unified voice.” 

Stein, now newly retired from his acclaimed teaching career at Berklee College (also his alma mater), demonstrates he is ready for his curtain call, his opportunity to shine in the spotlight of jazz performance. He also seems to be determined to allow his band to lift his performance and take it to new and greater heights. Watershed is a magical achievement, the result of Stein’s experience and insight, of his band’s inspiration and collaboration, and of the excitement generated by both together. Like the best bandleaders, Stein puts his love and respect for his band-mates before his own musical gratification, and Watershed is the tremendous gift that emerges from that selflessness.

Caravela - A Macieira | Afro-Brazilian ensemble return with new single

Caravela’s debut full length LP ‘ Orla’ is an intoxicating mix of Afro-Brazillian rhythms and contemporary London jazz drenched in modern psychedelic and progressive textures. 

The band’s deep and infectious grooves form the basis from which they can showcase their beautiful and mature songwriting craft. Lyrics touching on social and environmental issues in both Brazil and Cape Verde, as well as reflections on modern life, weave between the songs in Loubet’s native Portuguese. Initially inspired by a recent period of living in Bahia, Brazil, interacting and working with local musicians there, Caravela took that experience and melded it alongside their wide range of influences to deliver a stunning set of contemporary songs. 

Hypnotic and groove-laden percussion ties together all the different elements Caravela are bringing to the table, from Afro-Brazilian influences like Candomblè music or the tropicalia of Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso with some darker, electronic elements reminiscent of Radiohead, electric era Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. There’s also a grittiness from the band’s music evolving from within London’s contemporary jazz scene that makes Caravela’s music uniquely their own. The African and Brazillian rhythms and jazz approach remain at the core of the groups sound, but the development and growth of their own songwriting, diverse range of textures and influences and their soaring vocals and spiritual lyrics make their sound so distinct. 

‘Orla’ showcases Caravela’s growth from their debut EP in 2017, building on their digging into Brazilian and Cape Verdian music to develop their songwriting and sound. ‘Orla’ represents the growing sense of identity of Loubet and Sousa’s songwriting partnership, organically developing the songs through spontaneously singing lyrics and melodies over Sousa’s ideas on guitar, the music came together very naturally. 

Lead single ‘ A Maciera ’ builds on a clipped and funky guitar line, strong percussion and tight, syncopated drums as Loubet’s incredible vocals soar above the band, reflecting on the folk themes of maturity and innocence, as with the eyes of an old woman, strong and steady, like the old apple tree. 

‘Orla’ will be released February 2021 on None More Records

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Fred Ramirez - Hold On I'm A Comin'

For its latest release, Matasuna Records goes back to Latin-influenced realms and presents two songs by US musician Fred Ramirez, which are available for the first time as official reissue on 7inch vinyl. These are instrumental cover versions of wellknown soul and jazz hits, which take a completely new direction under Fred Ramirez' killer Latin jazz-funk influence. The songs were transferred from the master tapes and got a new mastering to sound as good as never before.

'Hold On I'm A Comin' on side A is a cover version of the 1966 soul hit by the duo Sam & Dave, written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter. A killer drum break and a deep bass line is the basis for Ramirez' virtuoso piano playing, which is complemented by brass and drums. Ramirez thus creates an independent, extraordinary Latin jazz version that is in no way inferior to the original and is brilliant due to its musical expansion and independence.

Side B contains another exceptional cover version of the instrumental jazz song 'Comin' Home Baby' written in 1961 by Ben Tucker and Robert Dorough, which became a jazz hit in 1962 with the vocal version of Mel Tormé. Ramirez' cover radiates a very special vibe through his sheer piano playing, which is especially evident in the twist in the middle of the song, where it increases in intensity and creates a lot of pressure and dynamics. Outstanding!

Born in Los Angeles, Fred Ramirez began his classical piano training at the age of six. At the age of 16 he bought a Musser Vibraphone and taught himself how to play by listening to the likes of Cal Tjader, Tito Puente and Milt Jackson. He started playing in nightclubs and his talent as a young pianist & vibraphonist quickly spread throughout the L.A. jazz scene. In the 60s and 70s he played in various bands and was on many tours across the states. In his extensive career he has worked with many greats of jazz and Latin America. With his own Latin jazz ensemble he was a welcome guest at numerous festivals and jazz clubs until the beginning of the new century.

In 1967 Fred released two singles with cover versions of well-known soul & jazz songs on Warner Bros. records, on which his unmistakable and extraordinary piano style and talent is evident. He was also a member of the nine-piece band Macondo, which was signed directly in the recording studio by Ahmet Ertegün, one of the founders of Atlantic Records. In the same year 1972 the LP was released on Atlantic. In 1995, he released an album on CD with a multi-piece orchestra entitled 'A Tribute to Legends of Latin Jazz' as a homage to to musicians who had an influence on him. A live CD followed in 2002, which was recorded at the Steamers Jazz Club (California).

Keith Jarrett - Budapest Concert

Budapest Concert is the second complete show to be issued from Keith Jarrett's 2016 European tour, recorded two weeks earlier than the widely-acclaimed concert released as Munich 2016. The new double album documents the pianist's solo performance at the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall in Budapest. Jarrett, whose family roots reach back to Hungary, viewed the concert as akin to a homecoming – also with regard to his lifelong affection for Bartók, as he explained to the audience - and the context inspired much creative improvisation. 

Where Jarrett's early solo concerts shaped a large arc of music over the course of an evening, his later performances, particularly since the Radiance album, have generated suite-like structures, comprised of independent "movements", each of them a marvel of spontaneous resourcefulness. Reviewing Munich 2016 in London's Financial Times, Mike Hobart suggested that "the early recitals mixed classical musings, populist references and jazz spontaneity into extended streams of invention, but later recitals separated the strands." If the process of improvisation was once the subject of the concerts, it could be said that Jarrett's 21st century solo concerts are less about seeking than finding. There is nothing tentative about the music making on display here: its sense of assurance is among its striking characteristics - whether a ballad, a polyrhythmic study, a tone poem or an essay on the blues is being shaped in the moment.

"His magnetism for the audience must come from his polygenre attitude," wrote Gábor Bóta on Hungary's Népsava news site. "Jarrett consumes all genres, from light to serious, and makes them his own. Since the entire performance is improvised, we witness the music being birthed right in front of us…One feels that he just sniffs the air, catches a moment's feeling, clicks his fingers, squints his eyes and there we have it: the right notes, the right melodies, a completely unique performance."

Creative energy is also applied to more familiar songs given as encores, and "It's A Lonesome Old Town" and a particularly rhapsodic "Answer Me" are transformed in Budapest.Lately, Keith Jarrett has been saying that he views Budapest Concert as his current "gold standard", the reference work against which other solo recordings might be measured. Whether heard as a late high point in an unprecedented musical journey or enjoyed entirely on its own terms, it is a remarkable achievement.

Roots of Creation and Mighty Mystic Release The Anthem We All Need Right Now With “Light it Up”

The Billboard chart topping band, Roots of Creations have created their second and most exciting collaboration yet with Jamaican reggae sensation Mighty Mystic on the new single “Light It Up.”

In current times of political upheaval, global distress, and shifting astrological tides, “Light It Up” reminds us that sometimes an anthem is all we need to reconnect to the here-and-now. Although RoC is known for diverse dynamics and sounds ranging from dub to hard rock, here the band settles into a propulsive rhythm that doesn't break for the track's 4:20 run time. Leave it to Brett Wilson's chorus “Damn, it feels good to be alive” to ring like medicine for a 2020 blight. And with Mighty Mystic providing slinky verses like “Yeah it’s a party yo/ spliff and Bacardi yo/ kick like karate yo/ sweat like a cardio” we have something fun, triumphant, and true to Reggae roots. So far new song has received critical accolades with their debuted on SiriusXM’s The Joint, and heavy rotation on Cali Roots radio.

 “Light it Up” showcases the band’s collaborative spirit and diverse sound that keeps Roots Of Creation at the top of the Reggae charts, bridging both Reggae and mainstream festivals. The song features Mighty Mystic, best known as one of the leaders in the modern reggae revival. As a Billboard chart topping musician, Mighty Mystic has worked with some of the industry’s biggest and most respected artists like Lutan Fyah and reggae icon Shaggy, and today with Roots of Creation.

According to Roots Of Creation, “when going into the studio for this record our vision was to combine a roots reggae sound with electronic elements and analog dub techniques. The vibe is spacey, yet still has a driving Riddim behind it. We wanted warmth with a bite and I think that’s exactly what we ended up with.” The new song features Andy “AG” Geib from Slightly Stoopid on trumpet, Billy Kottage (formerly of Reel Big Fish) on trombone, and Alex Brander of Big D & The Kids Table on percussion. It was produced by Andrew Riordan (Dub King Productions) and Brett Wilson (Bombshelter Records), and mixed and mastered by Pete “Boardz” Peloquin (Boardz House Productions).

Roots of Creation has earned two #1 Billboard Reggae chart debuts, two #1 Relix/ chart debuts, as well as chart debuts at NACC and FMQB. The new single “Light It Up” kicks off a series of releases coming soon, plus an EP and new album. Each release will be accompanied with limited edition merch. Check out the “Light it Up” 

CQ the Drummer New EP: Beach Café Vol. 1 Featuring Jazz Trumpeter Ryan Montaño

The multi-talented Albuquerque based percussionist, drummer, producer, CQ the Drummer, AKA Camilo Quiñones, is proud to announce his debut EP: Beach Café Vol. 1 featuring Billboard chart topping jazz trumpeter Ryan Montaño! 

Born in Albuquerque and following a family linage of Quiñones percussionists, Camilo joins his father Tony Quiñones, uncle Rafael Quiñones, and brother Marc Quiñones. The accomplished drummer and percussionist has performed as a featured guest with notable acts including Tito Puente, The Allman Brothers, Carlos Santana, The Spanish Harlem Orquestra, and Ozomatli. And most recently Camilo joined the legacy act Los Lobos as the drummer. Additionally he has started producing and collaborating under the name CQ the Drummer with GRAMMY nominated and award winning Producers like El Dusty and Fk1st. 

Today under his production moniker CQ the Drummer, Camilo is releasing his debut EP comprised of three instrumental songs. Joining Camilo on the new EP is the nationally recognized trumpeter, songwriter and recording artist Ryan Montaño. His beautiful tone, memorable compositions, and precise technique have garnered him national radio airplay and festival performances across the country.

Camilo reflects, “The Project was born from an open creative jam called "The Sessions.” These sessions would produce new Ideas in a live setting and musicians would come and add ideas and play along live. Ryan was one of the main supporters of this weekly event and we talked about producing a project for Ryan, but when I started working on the music it organically morphed into these Latin Lo-fi, electronic, instrumental ideas. That became Beach Café Vol. 1.” 

Beach Café Vol. 1  started with a couple of mobile production field trips to Zendo, a local cafe around the corner from Camilo’s recording studio in the historic neighborhood of Barelas, Albuquerque, NM. Camilo comments, “I would bring a headphone splitter and a couple of headphones for coffee shop patrons to listen in on the music creation process,” he continues, “During the fall of 2019, I created the music beds and later recorded Ryan’s trumpet parts in my home studio. The recording sessions were very casual, in that we hadn’t set out to make the project. It was still an idea, but the trumpet lead became the feature and focal point of the music.”

It wasn’t until COVID-19 and the preceding lock down that Camilo had some time to fully realize the production of the new recordings. He says, “Silver linings for the Corona Era is that opportunities have come available that, under normal circumstances people would be too busy for. I’ve taken this time to double down on my development as a Producer/Engineer… this will be my 3rd release with Americano Label this year under the production name CQ the Drummer. (“20/20” & “Cruisin’ Song”) So in a way 2020 has been my best year yet!” The new EP was recorded at Camilo’s studio and mastered By GRAMMY award winning engineer Mariano Herrera.

 The three track EP, Beach Café Vol. 1, is a blissful sonic vacation that we all need right now. It kicks off with the lead single, “Beach Cafe,” Camilo explains “I wanted to capture the feeling of going to a Cafe for a mid morning coffee or brunch while on vacation. Something you can listen to and instantly you feel transported to a beautiful view of a warm beach or vacation vibe, with a latte or mimosa in hand.” The new EP also includes the upbeat fresh air song “Saturday Morning” with Andrew March on Clarinet, and the smooth contemporary song “Here” with vocals by Nicole Victory. Although only three songs deep the new EP sonically transports the listener to a mini beach café destination unknown.

Recognized at a young age for his talent, Camilo Quiñones was named Timbalero of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2005, Drummer of the Year in 2006, and Auxiliary Percussionist of the Year in 2008 by the New Mexico Musicians Fund. Camilo has held endorsements with the top brands in the industry, Pearl Drums and Percussion, Zildjian Cymbals, and Remo Drumheads for over 10 years. In addition to performing CQ the Drummer has produced music for, theater, live dance ensemble, TV commercials, internet promotional campaigns, and independent artist. The latest release "Cruisin' Song" by Raul Pacheco (Ozomatli) out now on Americano Label which is signed to EMPIRE.


The True Loves Chase Down the Golden Hour in "Sunday Afternoon"

The True Loves have released “Sunday Afternoon,” the lead single off of the album eponymously titled after the single out in March 2021. In addition, the track kicks off their partnership with Color Red, the music discovery platform founded by Eddie Roberts of The New Mastersounds that will be releasing the record on their platform.

“Sunday Afternoon” is a sweet, horn-laden tune that summons the golden hour. As one of the premiere funk and soul outfits of The Pacific Northwest, the band’s well-honed brand of instrumental soul shines as they craft a soundtrack for winding down on the weekend and getting back to the hustle and grind of the week ahead. The massive horn section features Jason Cressey on trombone, Greg Kramer on trombone, Gordon Brown on tenor sax, and Skerik on baritone sax. The hard-hitting rhythm section is comprised of Jimmy James, Bryant Moore on bass, David McGraw on drums, and Iván Galvaz on percussion. Members of The True Loves have performed with artists such as Macklemore, Odesza, the Paper Boys, Allen Stone, Mike Clark, Garage a Trois, The Dip, Theoretics, Durand Jones & the Indications, Kelly Finnigan, Polyrhythmics, Monophonics, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio and more, accolades that highlight their individual prestige in addition to the powerhouse ensemble they form when their forces are combined. 

 As depicted through the imagery of a multi-colored triple scoop ice cream cone, “Sunday Afternoon” is just as decadent in harmonies and brilliant in a melodic color palette to go hand-in-hand with the audio-visual experience the Color Red platform creates. Color Red has established relationships with other living legends on the Seattle funk and soul circuit including Polyrhythmics, The Pulsations, West Seattle Soul, and more and welcome the addition of the tight-knit soulful entourage of The True Loves into their musical family.

The band formed out of a jam session in 2014 between three of the city’s most sought after rhythm section players of James, Moore, and DeGraw that later blossomed into a global force with the expansion of the star-studded horn section. Even before their first release, they appeared at Sasquatch and Doe Bay festivals with their prior vocalist Grace Love, who has become a standout voice coming out of the Seattle Music scene. The group released their debut instrumental LP Famous Last Words in 2017. In 2018, the group released the  “Dapper Derp/Kabuki” 45 on WeCoast Records and followed it up by the “Famous Last Words/Mary Pop Poppins” 45 on Colemine Records in 2019. Sunday Afternoon will be the band’s second full-length LP effort that will fit seamlessly into the Color Red catalog alongside other acts on the Eddie Roberts imprint that include The New Mastersounds, WRD (Robert Walter, Eddie Roberts, Adam Deitch), Polyrhythmics, and more. 

Prior to the pandemic, the group was slated to perform High Sierra Music Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, and Doe Bay Fest. Those plays have been rescheduled for 2021 and the group will be announcing rescheduled performances in the coming months. 

The group’s live performances have garnered them much local acclaim and millions of streams on YouTube, especially adapting to present times. 

New Music Releases: Jesse Ryan, WRD, Kahil El'Zabar

Jesse Ryan - Bridges 

Bridges, the long anticipated debut recording from saxophonist and composer Jesse Ryan, is an eclectic and honest offering that straddles both jazz and Afro-Caribbean traditions: a true celebration of the cultural, rhythmic and expressive connections between North America and the islands of the Caribbean. The recording is released under Ryan’s own Fwé Culture label, and features six original compositions and one arrangement of a sacred Zambian folk melody. Each song on the album is either an idiomatic bridge between musical traditions or was written to present an idea in the form of an anecdotal narrative that encourages the listener to evolve by bridging the gap between their former and future selves.Three of the tracks on the album feature Tambrin drumming, performed by members of the Mt. Cullane Tambrin Band - a drumming tradition from Jesse’s homeland that is unique to the island of Tobago and has remained largely unchanged from when it began in colonial times.In keeping with the theme of bridging cultures, this recording brings together some of the finest young musicians from Toronto, Canada and Trinidad and  Tobago and was co-produced by the Grammy Award winning drummer Larnell Lewis.

WRD - Sleep Depraved

WRD the trio of some of the mightiest titans of the modern funk and jazz scene, Robert Walter, Eddie Roberts, and Adam Deitch, have released "Sleep Depraved." The track is off their forthcoming full-length album that slated to be released on April 30, 2021, in celebration of the respective birthdays of all three members in the trio. “Sleep Depraved” emulates the rush of adrenaline that comes from a marathon week of gigs during New Orleans’ Jazz Fest. Organist Robert Walter reflects on how music tends to get dirtier and more immediate in the extreme conditions from two weeks of late-night gigs where the joy of music overrides exhaustion. The track is heavily influenced by mid-70s jazz-funk artists like Roy Ayers and Donald Byrd and Grant Green’s album ‘Live at the Lighthouse,’ carrying the same fervor as the ironic album, but with organ trio instrumentation. The track was recorded during a 1-day session at Color Red Studios in Denver, CO where the band worked swiftly to talk down arrangements and roll the tape. 

Kahil El'Zabar - America The Beautiful 

An incredible new album by the legendary multi-percussionist addressing the state of America today while calling for a better tomorrow, the album is his musical testament to the state of affairs, expressed with love, urgency, hope & spirit.Following his latest release ‘Spirit Groove’ ft. David Murray, El’Zabar went into his musical vault to uncover for Spiritmuse Records works that he had scored for Daryl Roberts’ award-winning documentary, America the Beautiful. Kahil decided that the timing was right to release this music, in light of the tragic outbreak of COVID-19 and the global heartfelt tragedy of George Floyd’s brutal death. El’Zabar then went back into the studio recently to compose and score the rest of the music that would accompany the vision of what America the Beautiful has become. The album speaks to the times that we are living in today, with El’Zabar exploring issues related to the current affairs of America and the globe regarding race, ecology, economic disparity together with hopes, love and aspirations for a better world yet to come. 'America The Beautiful' is the last recording of legendary World Saxophone Quartet co-founder, Hamiet Bluiett – this album is dedicated to him.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Legendary Music Label Philadelphia International Records Celebrates 50th Anniversary In 2021

Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Chappell Music, the global publishing arm of Warner Music Group, are thrilled to announce today the launch of the yearlong campaign in 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of music's most historic record labels, Philadelphia International Records.  The anniversary campaign will highlight the extraordinary musical output of this storied label and spotlight milestone musical moments, artists and songs from the remarkable Philadelphia International Records family that have defined the landmark label and its incredible impact over the past 50 years.  Throughout the year, Legacy Recordings, Warner Chappell Music and Philadelphia International Records will collaborate on an exciting series of exclusive partnerships, product and content releases, artist initiatives and much more. 

The groundbreaking label, founded in 1971 by innovative and prolific songwriters/producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, became the birthplace, incubator and launching pad for the sophisticated Philly Soul sound also known as "The Sound of Philadelphia."  The duo amassed an extraordinary array of producers, songwriters, musicians and engineers including Thom Bell, Dexter Wansel, Bobby Martin, MFSB, Joe Tarsia and more to help craft some of the most memorable lyrics and melodies of the past five decades.  The legendary roster of music stars who helped bring these chart-topping disco, R&B, soul and funk sounds to life included The O'Jays, Patti LaBelle, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, Teddy Pendergrass, Lou Rawls, McFadden & Whitehead, The Three Degrees, Phyllis Hyman, The Intruders, the ultimate "house band" MFSB, and many others.  You can watch a highlights reel spanning 50 years of Philadelphia International Records:

"It's a blessing to celebrate all of the writers, musicians, engineers, disc jockeys, and all the people that were on our team," said Philadelphia International Records co-founder Kenny Gamble.  "When I listen to this music now, I can close my eyes and the music brings us all back together again.  Hearing this music reminds me of all the hard work and dedication our team went through to make such a long lasting catalog, that has been embraced by the world and I'm thankful."  Philadelphia International Records co-founder Leon Huff shares the sentiment saying, "Long live the music of Gamble and Huff!"

To get the anniversary party started, Legacy Recordings teamed up with renowned producer/DJ/musician Eric Kupper and executive producer Brad LeBeau to release inspiring new remixes of one of the label's most iconic hits which has been adopted as an anthem for a new generation, the McFadden & Whitehead staple "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." 

Additional partners who are coming on board the Philadelphia International Records "Love Train" in 2021 to help celebrate the label's rich musical history include:

In celebration of the 50th anniversary, leading sound experience company Sonos will premiere a new station on Sonos Radio HD, the ad-free, CD-quality audio tier of Sonos Radio, the popular streaming service available to all Sonos customers globally.  The new station, titled the Sound of Philadelphia, will be hosted and hand-curated by Kenny Gamble himself.  In partnership with Warner Chappell Music, The Sound of Philadelphia will explore the label's greatest hits from artists including The Jacksons, Patti LaBelle, the O'Jays, and more. The Sound of Philadelphia will take listeners behind-the-scenes with Gamble, who will share stories from his time writing, producing and working on 120 internationally-beloved albums and over 40 gold and platinum records. The station will feature special guests, as well unique programming for Black History Month, Women's History Month and more. The Sound of Philadelphia will be available February 24 on Sonos Radio HD.

VMP (Vinyl Me, Please) in conjunction with Legacy Recordings will partner on VMP Anthology: The Story of Philadelphia International, an exclusive vinyl box set celebrating the renowned Philly Soul label coming in 2021. The Story of Philadelphia International reinvents the box set experience to take listeners on a sequential journey told across eight albums remastered from their original tapes and paired with liner notes and an exclusive podcast interview series in celebration of the label's 50th anniversary.

Snapper Music-United Souls in conjunction with Legacy Recordings will release a volume series of limited edition 8-CD sets throughout the year celebrating the 50th Anniversary of PIR.  Each set will contain a unique giant poster, exclusive 12" single, endorsed numbered certificate, a lavish 48-page hardcover book with a comprehensive archive of rare photographs compiled and curated in association with artists, engineers, and producers relevant to the label's story. All discs will be mastered from original tapes bringing together the entire PIR studio album collection for the very first time.

In 2014, Sony Music Entertainment announced their historic deal with Philadelphia International Records, securing global ownership of all recordings made for PIR. The landmark deal added all post-1975 PIR recordings to the PIR titles already owned by Sony Music Entertainment, reuniting the entirety of the Philadelphia International Recordings catalog under a single global licensing and reissue entity.

For nearly 30 years, Warner Chappell Music has had the privilege of representing Gamble and Huff and their legendary music catalog, spanning approximately 3,000 songs. 

Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly's 'Live In New Orleans' 40th Anniversary 2LP Reissue

MAZE Featuring Frankie Beverly, one of America's best-loved R&B bands, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their acclaimed 1981 double album Live in New Orleans with a 2LP vinyl reissue and two special digital releases on February 19, 2021 via Capitol/UMe. The album will be released in two physical forms: standard weight black double-LP and special white vinyl, an homage to Beverly's all-white stage outfits and an acknowledgment to the audience members who in their own tribute faithfully wore all-white to Maze shows. 

Live in New Orleans reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Albums chart and #34 on the Billboard 200 chart. With three sides recorded at New Orleans's Saenger Theatre, it features extended live versions of their top 10 R&B chart hits "Feel That You're Feelin'" and "Southern Girl;" the definitive live versions of album cuts "Look At California" and "Joy and Pain," probably their biggest song that was never a hit single – and it shows, as the band performance transforms into a thrilling audience sing-along. The studio side of Live in New Orleans includes the top 10 R&B hit "Running Away," and the Maze anthem, "Before I Let Go," the latter of which was covered by Beyonce for her 2019 Homecoming: The Live Album and was the topic of a dance challenge from the musician on social media. 

To coincide with the 40th anniversary release of Live in New Orleans during Black History Month 2021 and the week of Mardi Gras, also releasing the same day are two digital remix EPs: Maze: The M+M Mixes and Joy and Pain: The Lifelines Remixes.

The M+M Mixes EP features all of the remixes created by M+M's John Morales including Maze's first R&B chart #1, "Back in Stride," in a version longer than the original 12", and "Too Many Games" (#5 US, top 40 UK), originally released only in the U.K. in 1985, and Morales's 2017 remixes of "Before I Let Go" and "Joy and Pain," that had only a limited release in Europe. Each remix also has a corresponding instrumental version, two of which are previously unreleased (see track list). All tracks are making their digital debut as well as their commercial US debut.

The Joy and Pain EP features the rare "Lifelines" remixes of the classic song by Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler and Paul Shabazz, a.k.a. members of the production team The Bomb Squad, best known for their era-defining, multi-layered work with Public Enemy. These remixes, with Kurtis Blow doing a guest rap, were originally only issued on a promo 12" in 1989 to promote the album The Greatest Hits: Lifelines that included some remixes – and now, except for the long version on that album, these tracks are making their commercial debut as well as their digital debut. The EP also includes a highly sought-after instrumental version of the original LP version of "Joy and Pain."

The American soul band MAZE was founded by Frankie Beverly in Philadelphia in 1970 under the moniker Raw Soul. Upon moving to San Francisco in the mid '70s and being introduced to Marvin Gaye, who took them out on the road as an opening act, they changed their name to Maze in part due to Gaye's suggestion. Along with having roots in both Philadelphia and the San Francisco Bay area, Maze have always considered New Orleans their home base. Beverly has credited the city for the Gold status of their 1977 debut album, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, saying that the majority of copies were sold in Louisiana and the greater New Orleans area. With that in mind, Maze decided to record their first live album and fifth overall album, Live in New Orleans, at the Saenger on November 14–15, 1980. The studio tracks that make up Side 4 were recorded at the Automatt Recording Studio in San Francisco. The album was produced and arranged by Frankie Beverly for Amazement Music. 

Live in New Orleans secured Maze and Frankie Beverly's deep-rooted bond with New Orleans, and transformed it into an indelible, tangible delivery for the entire world to experience. They've since closed the annual Essence Fest in the city for more than 20 years. 

Tracklists / Live In New Orleans (2LP Set)

Side 1

1.    You

2.    Changing Times

3.    Joy and Pain

Side 2

1.    Happy Feelin's

2.    Southern Girl

3.    Look at California

Side 3

1.    Feel That You're Feelin'

2.    The Look In Your Eyes

Side 4 - Studio Side

1.    Running Away

2.    Before I Let Go

3.    We Need Love To Live

4.    Reason

The Remix EPs

Maze: The M+M Mixes

1.    Before I Let Go / M+M Mix  8:50

2.    Joy and Pain / John Morales M+M Mix 11:11

3.    Back In Stride / Extended M+M Mix  9:34* [original 12" version was 8:00]

4.    Too Many Games / Extended Remix  7:30

5.    Before I Let Go / John Morales M+M Mix Instrumental  6:56*

6.    Joy and Pain / John Morales M+M Mix Instrumental  11:14*

7.    Back In Stride / John Morales M+M Mix Instrumental  8:15

8.    Too Many Games / John Morales M+M Mix Instrumental  5:47

*Previously Unreleased

Joy and Pain: The Lifelines Remixes

1.    Joy and Pain / Lifelines Remix 7" feat. Kurtis Blow  4:17

2.    Joy and Pain / Lifelines Remix Radio Version feat. Kurtis Blow  6:56

3.    Joy and Pain / Lifelines Remix feat. Kurtis Blow  8:47

4.    Joy and Pain / Lifelines Remix Instrumental  8:32

5.    Joy and Pain / Original LP Instrumental  7:21

Various Artists - The Vinyl Series Curated By Chris Blackwell

Since its beginnings in Jamaica in 1959, the story of the pioneering Island Records label has been inextricably linked to the story of its founder, Chris Blackwell. Now, Blackwell has curated a series of compilation LPs, featuring his hand-picked tracks that correspond with his and Island's legendary history.

On February 26, Island Records / UMe will release Volume One of The Vinyl Series, a 14-track album covering the years 1962 to 1969. Volumes Two and Three will follow later this year and explore Island's history in the decades that followed. 

Since its beginnings in Jamaica in 1959, the story of the pioneering Island Records label has been inextricably linked to the story of its founder, Chris Blackwell. Now, Blackwell has curated a series of compilation LPs, featuring his hand-picked tracks that correspond with his and Island’s legendary history. On February 26, Island Records / UMe will release Volume One of The Vinyl Series, a 14-track album covering the years 1962 to 1969. Volumes Two and Three will follow later this year.

"When I moved Island Records' base from Kingston to London in 1962, all I wanted to do at first was just release the really great music that was coming out of Jamaica," writes Blackwell in the collection's liner notes. "But then I got caught up in all the music that I was hearing in London, much of it from America."

The first volume of The Vinyl Series includes such groundbreaking hits as Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop" and "Israelites" by Desmond Dekker and the Aces—songs which introduced much of the world to the sound of Jamaican music. Several early singles set the context for these singles by Toots and the Maytals and "Forward March" by a teenage Derrick Morgan, the "first star of ska."

The set also points to the expansive musical directions that Island would soon pursue, especially after the 1966 smash "Gimme Some Lovin' " by the Spencer Davis Group, whose lead singer, Steve Winwood, would later further influence the label's direction. Also included are some of the immortal R&B singles that Island released in the UK through its Sue Records subsidiary, like "Mockingbird" by Charlie and Inez Foxx and "Harlem Shuffle" by Bob and Earl. In track-by-track essays by noted author and longtime Island Records chronicler Chis Salewicz, the album package features reminiscences that offer Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Blackwell's own perspective.

The future volumes of The Vinyl Series will illustrate the visionary role that Island played in the folk, hard rock, singer-songwriter, glam, and progressive movements—and, of course, the records by Bob Marley and the Wailers and Jimmy Cliff, among others, that defined reggae around the world.

"Clearly, the culture was moving in a new direction," writes Chris Blackwell in the introduction to this revelatory collection, "and I wanted Island Records to mirror that shift and be in this new world."

The Vinyl Series Volume One /Various Artists


1   Long Shot Kick De Bucket – The Pioneers 

2   Six and Seven Books of Moses – Toots & The Maytals 

3   Rivers of Babylon – The Melodians 

4   Forward March – Derrick Morgan 

5   Liquidator – Harry J. All Stars 

6   Israelites – Desmond Dekker & The Aces 

7   007 (Shanty Town) – Desmond Dekker and The Aces


1   My Boy Lollipop – Millie Small 

2   54-46 Was My Number – Toots & The Maytals 

3   Keep On Running – The Spencer Davis Group 

4   Gimme Some Lovin' – The Spencer Davis Group 

5   Mockingbird – Charlie & Inez Foxx 

6   Harlem Shuffle – Bob & Earl 

7   I Can't Stand It – The Soul Sisters 

Frank Sinatra: Reprise Rarities Volume 2

A collection of tracks from one of popular culture's most romantic singers goes digital today with the release of Frank Sinatra: Reprise Rarities Volume 2 from Frank Sinatra Enterprises and UMe. Featuring 13 Reprise tracks, many making their digital debut, the collection follows Volume 1 released last month in honor of Frank Sinatra's birthday and celebrating the 60th anniversary of "The Chairman of the Board" founding Reprise Records.

Hailed by The New York Times for an "extraordinary voice [that] elevated popular song into an art," Sinatra realized a long-time dream by forming his own record label, Reprise, in 1960. At the time Sinatra's business model was highly innovative in the recording industry; the very first of its kind, he pioneered the concept of having artists create and control their recordings.

"Untrammeled, unfettered, unconfined" is how the early advertisements described Sinatra on Reprise.

Throughout the years artists including Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bing Crosby, Nancy Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Green Day and Michael Bublé among others have recorded albums for Reprise.

Additional volumes of Frank Sinatra: Reprise Rarities will continue to be released in 2021. Siriusly Sinatra (SiriusXM Ch. 71) will also air part two of an exclusive 'Sinatra: Reprise Rarities' special in February.

Throughout his seven-decade career, Frank Sinatra performed on more than 1,400 recordings and was awarded 31 gold, nine platinum, three double platinum, and one triple platinum album by the Recording Industry Association of America. The three-time Oscar® winner also appeared in more than 60 films and produced eight motion pictures. 

Sinatra was awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards from The Recording Academy, The Screen Actors Guild and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), as well as the Kennedy Center Honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. 

Frank Sinatra demonstrated a remarkable ability to appeal to every generation and continues to do so; his artistry still influences many of today's music superstars. He remains a legend and an inspiration around the world for his contributions to culture and the arts.

The Roots "Do You Want More?!!!??!" Deluxe Edition

It's been 26 years since Do You Want More?!!!??!, the groundbreaking second studio album and major label-debut by The Roots. Originally released on January 17, 1995 via DGC Records, Do You Want More?!!!??!, brought The Roots' neo-soul bohemian zest to life and established them as leading figures of hip-hop-jazz. The album which peaked at #22 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart, features their singles "Distortion To Static," "Proceed" (considered one of their most signature recordings), and the rap ballad "Silent Treatment." Led by MC Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter and drummer Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the Philadelphia rap crew are going back to where it began with a 3LP, 4LP and a digital deluxe collection of Do You Want More?!!!??! to be released on March 12, 2021 via Geffen/Ume.

Going back to the vault, this deluxe edition is drawn from the original recordings and features eighteen bonus tracks curated by Questlove; some of which have never been released and others that have never previously been available digitally. The 3LP deluxe vinyl edition features five bonus tracks — "Proceed II Feat. Roy Ayers", "Proceed III", "Proceed IV (AJ Shine Mix)", "Proceed V (Beatminerz Mix)," along with five remixes of "Silent Treatment" — plus a 24-page booklet featuring images taken by Mpozi Tolbert, essays by Questlove and Black Thought as well as track-by-track commentary. While the 4LP edition features all of the above plus the additional eight bonus tracks; "In Your Dreams Kid (I'm Every MC)," "The Ultimate (Original '94 Version)," "...…(dot dot dot…on & on)," "Pffat Time," "Swept Away (Original Draft)," "It's Coming," "Lazy Afternoon (Alternate Version)," and two remix versions of "Distortion To Static."

What made them stand out from other artists who were intertwining hip hop with jazzy influences and prominently using live instrumentation was the Roots' unabashed confidence with experimentation and letting the music speak for itself. As Albumism says, "While the live instrumentation is integral to their artistic success, it is not the sole attraction. Even 25 years ago, Black Thought stood out as a commanding lyricist, as did Malik B, his more publicly reserved rhyme partner. " A quarter of a century after the release of Do You Want More?!!!??, they are still considered to be one of the greatest live acts in the industry and have been named as such by Rolling Stone. They are also the house band on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and served in the same role on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009 to 2014.

Do You Want More?!!!??! has been considered by critics as a classic of hip-hop-jazz. Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot celebrated the group's ability to "mate hip-hop wordplay, funk rhythms and jazzy textures" and called the album "an impressive display of skills, intelligently arranged and performed." In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. On November 2, 2015, twenty years after its release, the album was certified Gold. The album stands out from The Roots' iconic discography as it showcased a pioneering live band that put their own spin on a genre that was still coming into its own. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

New Music Releases: MelBreeze, Russell Ferrante Trio, Delasito Project

MelBreeze - I Love Paris

Turkish vocalist and visionary MelBreeze’s album titled “I Love Paris” is a beautiful modern album featuring many talented artists. Produced, Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered by Scott Kinsey c/o Wishbone Studio and Kinesthetic Music. Now, after years of collaborating with Scott Kinsey, they’re debuting her first co- produced album, I Love Paris. The songs are born out of countless jam sessions where they riffed off each other, creating a fertile improvisational foundation. The album, chalked full of standards interpreted in untraditional ways, is a delight to discover. Whether it’s a Turkish children’s game song making an appearance in “Sentimental Journey.” Or improvised spoken word, creating a moment of storytelling in the middle of “I Love Paris.” Each song is a titillating reinterpretation of songs you know and love. Explore the journey of I Love Paris, and you, too, will fall in love with the odyssey.

Russell Ferrante Trio - Inflexion

Russell Ferrante (YellowJackets) releases a beautiful jazz trio album titled, "Inflexion​". Featuring the beautiful interplay from Russell Ferrante (piano), Michael Valerio (bass), and Steve Schaeffer (drums). "Inflexion or inflection comes from the Latin root inflexionem meaning to bend in, to change direction. This music is indeed very personal and intimate and one could say it bends in. It is rooted in friendship, mutual respect, and the numerous points of connection we’ve shared over decades. I met Steve Schaeffer shortly after moving to Los Angeles in 1977 through our mutual friend, guitarist, Robben Ford. I met Michael Valerio years later when we began collaborating and recording with vocalist, Lorraine Feather. We all met Aaron ten years ago after Steve built a home recording studio and was searching for an audio engineer and some musicians to kick the tires. I didn’t have a home studio but I did have a few tunes that needed their tires kicked. As we worked on the music it became clear that Steve, Michael, and Aaron were perfect collaborators. Their generosity, sensitivity, commitment, and talent is what made this recording possible. It has been an exhilarating, sometimes humbling, but always rewarding experience to shape this music together. Thank you for bending in with us." ~ Russell Ferrante

Delasito Project - Filodia

Inspired by the distinctive, atmospheric sound of the vibraphone, the Delasito Project band has developed a vibrant repertoire of original, multi-dimensional compositions influenced by the jazz / funk scene, as well as classical music, free improvisation and ethnic music. The band has appeared in important jazz and alternative contemporary music festivals, managing to deeply move the audience with its fascinating soundscapes. In June 2020 the band released its debut album. Titled Filodia - A musical journey to jazzality, this album is a journey to the contemporary jazz world, as seen and conceived by vibraphonist and composer Christos Sitokonstantinou. Filodia's sounds are harmonic, rhythmic, dreamy, improvisational, enchanting, subversive, liberating, redeeming. There are moments in the album that the listener might feel the urge to sway his/her body to the rhythm of the music, whereas in some other moments the music becomes overtly playful. Filodia has received quite complimentary reviews as a concise 8-track body of work, while at the same time some of its tracks seem to particularly stand out to critics. According to the Más Jazz magazine, Filodia is a vibrant amalgam, with elements of phantasmagoric art and with advancing, ambient sound, while the track "Naida" is according to 45rpm amazing, epic and reveals a mystique. Contemporary Fusion Reviews refers to Filodia as "unique, engaging and enchanting", commenting that "Naida" is mighty mellow, "Subway" is eerie, bringing to life stimulating imagery, and "Made in Chapan" will carry the listener through many different, high pleasing moods. Filodia has gained significant airplay in the UK, Greece, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Canada and the USA.

J. Peter Schwalm's Neuzeit

How we define the age we live in depends entirely on the frame we choose to view it through. On one timescale we’re just getting settled into the 21st century; zoom out and we’re deeply entrenched in the Anthropocene. We might be waking to the dawn of an enlightened, interconnected new era or teetering on the brink of a sixth mass extinction

Neuzeit, which German electro-acoustic composer J. Peter Schwalm views through his new duo outing with the Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen, is generally taken to refer to the modern era that began in the 16th century and witnessed the rise of Western Civilization. Schwalm chooses to take the term on its face, however; the fusion of “new” and “time” he defines as a period marked by sudden and drastic change. To borrow another word from the German, it ably yet dauntingly captures the zeitgeist of our tumultuous moment, one in which political upheaval, global pandemic and catastrophic climate change seem poised to usher in an uncertain new existence.

“Neuzeit reflects the time of change after a crash,” says Schwalm. “The cards are remixed again; changes in any direction are possible. There are opportunities to get things right again – e.g. to rearrange them. Of course, there is always a dark side in everything.”

Neuzeit is not only a sonic commentary on this unstable age but a product of it. The collaboration was created almost entirely in the altered reality brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schwalm began crafting the compositions in February, as cities around the world began instigating lockdowns to stem the tide of the virus. Realizing that he and Henriksen would be unable to meet in an actual studio, a collaboration by correspondence began, with conversations over the phone and ideas and music sent via email. Once the parts were recorded, Schwalm sequestered himself in the studio for months, assembling, mixing and editing to conjure the finished product.

“My idea was to offer Arve ideas that might inspire him to step into a territory where neither of us have ventured before. After some conversations on the phone we narrowed it down to a basic idea. Our starting point was rather formal and orchestral. It was quite a formal but at the same time a very creative working process in the beginning as we couldn’t meet in a studio due to the COVID-19 situation. But I soon realized that Arve is a really fast and creative performer and co-composer.”

Both men can boast a rich history of deep and inventive collaboration throughout their respective careers. In 1998 Schwalm’s electro-jazz ensemble Projekt Slop Shop caught the ear of legendary musician/producer Brian Eno, instigating a six-year partnership that included recording the album Drawn From Life, composing the soundtrack to Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Fear X, and the creation of a multi-channel sound installation in the crater of the Volcano del Cuervo on the Spanish island of Lanzarote. Schwalm released Musikain, the first album under his own name, in 2006; since then he’s released three other albums, the last two for RareNoise: The Beauty of Disaster in 2016 and How We Fall in 2018.

Over the last three decades, Arve Henriksen has established himself as one of the most distinctive and in-demand trumpeters and improvisers on the diverse Scandinavian scene. In addition to releasing ten albums of his own through Rune Grammofon and ECM, Henriksen has also been an integral member of the renowned avant-jazz band Supersilent since its formation in 1997. The trumpeter has worked with a staggering list of creative music luminaries, including Jon Balke, Marilyn Mazur, Nils Petter Molvær, Arild Andersen, Dhafer Youssef, David Sylvian, Jon Hassell, Laurie Anderson, John Paul Jones, Gavin Bryars, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Bill Frisell, Terje Rypdal, Maria Schneider and Christian Fennesz, among many others.

The pair met in 2006 at the second Punktfestival in Kristiansand, Norway, an annual gathering of experimental musicians dedicated to the idea of live remixing. Since that year Schwalm and Henriksen have both made regular appearances at the festival, and have often discussed the idea of a joint project. “I always felt that the right moment and the right basic idea to start with would come when the time was right,” Schwalm explains.

Despite their mutually impressive credentials, Schwalm says that the two were strangers to each other’s work when their paths crossed initially. “When I saw Arve performing for the first time at the Punktfestival, I didn’t know him and Iwas absolutely amazed by his natural musical drive,” the composer says. “He is one of the few musicians where I think, ‘He is music.’ The way that the instruments he plays and his voice melt into such a unique sound is just stunning.”

Henriksen’s singular voice, combined with Schwalm’s visionary approach to crafting vast and evocative sonic landscapes, immediately seize the listener and transport them into an exploratory terrain on Neuzeit. The tone is vividly set by the opening piece, “Blütezeit,” which refers to something emerging and growing. There’s a bristling hybridity to the sounds created by the two men; the elusive atmospherics that usher in the piece seem to morph fluidly from snare drum echoes to crashing tides. Henriksen’s horn tone mutates into a vocal keen and back again seamlessly. Throbbing electronics and tolling piano suggest a no man’s land between the organic and the artificial.

The title of “Suchzeit” alludes to a search for answers and reasons, a resonant quest amidst such disquiet. Henriksen’s inquisitive horn probes the dark recesses of Schwalm’s mysterious environments, with an element of hope – if not quite certainty – arising over the course of the track. The title track, with its suggestion of tentative, unsteady footsteps, sums up the album’s theme of radical change driven by world events. The same is reflected in the album’s cover art, a vast expanse of sea and sky, momentarily poised between light and darkness – which, depending on the viewer’s mood, could be perceived as either threatening or promising.

With Schwalm’s elegiac piano tones, Henriksen’s breathy, mournful horn and the patter of rain upon an imaginary window, “Raumzeit” suggests a place of reflection and peace, whether physical or mental. Schwalm describes “Schonzeit” as the pause between the onset and the finale of a Big Bang; that could be the infinitesimal break of a held breath or it could be time itself, and the pair’s tautly cinematic dialogue here suggests the intimacy and expanse of that ambiguity. 

Stark and pointillist, “Unzeit” stands for the wrong time, thrilling in the dissonant strangeness of its disjointed design. “Wellenzeit,” with its suggestion of waves, refers to the cyclical nature of time, a returning and repeating contained in the rhythms of life and the echoes of history. Gentle, questing and heartbreakingly hopeful, “Zeitnah” means, simply, “soon.”

Interpret that single word however you will, but with Neuzeit J. Peter Schwalm and Arve Henriksen not only encapsulate the conflicting feelings of our modern era but suggest a way forward. How today is seen will only be clear through the lens of history; but its shaping, this transportive and powerful album, seems to urge, is entirely our doing.

Swiss Jazz Icon Franco Ambrosetti Releases "Lost Within You"

For this third recording on the Swiss-based Unit Records label and 25th overall in his long and illustrious career, trumpeter-composer and bandleader Franco Ambrosetti demonstrates his soulful command of ballads on Lost Within You. Coinciding with his 79th birthday, this all-star outing, which finds the Swiss jazz icon once again in the company of guitarist JohnScofield, pianist Uri Caine, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Jack DeJohnette (all of whom appeared on Ambrosetti’s 2019 Unit release, Long Waves) has Franco concentrating strictly on flugelhorn as he digs deep on a beguiling program of ballads by such jazz greats as Bill Evans, Horace Silver, and McCoy Tyner, along with a couple of well-chosen standards and two new Ambrosetti originals. Pianist Renee Rosnes also appears on five songs, including Tyner’s “You Taught My Heart to Sing” and the delicate Bill Evans-Miles Davis composition “Flamenco Sketches.” The leader imbues each of the nine tunes on Lost Within You with a golden tone, his signature lyricism and a depth of feeling that comes directly from the heart. Combining all of those inherent qualities with a masterful sense of storytelling, he is able to pull heartstrings throughout the affecting program. 

“As a young man, my goal was to play fast,” recalled the Lugano native. “Then slowly but surely I started to discover ballads, and Miles Davis was one of the great inspirations for that. From listening to Miles play ballads I started to understand and I was able to go inside the ballad and play these long notes that he was playing. Miles showed me how you stretch the notes out like you’re really singing or crying, and I think I can express my feelings better that way.”

Ambrosetti’s “less is more” approach to ballads has served him well for five decades. That refined approach was particularly evident on 2018’s lavish orchestral production, The Nearness of You, and it plays out in sublime fashion again on Lost Within You. In a relaxed, unhurried environment at Sear Sound Studio in midtown Manhattan, he and his stellar sidemen rise to the occasion with some highly interactive, conversational playing throughout their three days of recording. Drumming great DeJohnette turns in a rare piano performance on Horace Silver’s delicate “Peace,” a tune where Scofield makes his six-string presence felt. The guitarist also contributes an outstanding solo on Ambrosetti’s Latin-tinged “Silli in the Sky,” named for his wife. 

Franco delivers a particularly lyrical touch on poignant readings of the Cy Coleman-Joseph McCarthy torch song “I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Outta My Life” and Dave Grusin’s “Love Like Ours,” both performed in an intimate, revealing trio setting with Rosnes and Colley. Pianist Caine provides the perfectly syncopated backing on Franco’s wistful “Dreams of a Butterfly,” which opens with a fragile ascending figure before setting into an insinuating New Orleans flavored “Poinciana” groove on the kit by DeJohnette, inspiring some of Ambrosetti’s boldest playing on the record. Caine also sets the mood for a relaxed, expansive quartet take on Johnny Green’s “Body and Soul,” then plays with graceful restraint as a trio with Franco and Colley on Benny Carter’s melancholy ode, “People Time.” Rosnes brings a luminous quality to a delicate reading of “Flamenco Sketches,” the innovative modal closer from Miles Davis’ 1959 classic, Kind of Blue, co-written by Miles and Bill Evans. And she alternates between delicacy and light swing on the tender closing number, McCoy Tyner-Sammy Cahn’s “You Taught My Heart to Sing,” which features searching, expressive solos from Scofield and Rosnes and showcases Ambrosetti’s golden, alluring long tones. 

Intuition and trust played a major role throughout the three days of highly interactive sessions for Lost Within You. As the leader explained, “Musicians of this caliber, you want them to play what they are. I can explain the form and what is happening in terms of the solo order and everything. But then I tell them, ‘What you do behind that, it’s up to you.’ They know exactly what to do. We think the same way so I trust them completely.” 

The venerable jazz master holds the reigns loosely on this inspired outing, demonstrating the power of ‘less is more’ in his beautiful restraint on flugelhorn and his remarkable chemistry with some of greatest names on the jazz scene today. Lost Within You is his sublime triumph, a healing balm for tense times.


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