Friday, April 30, 2021

Christian McBride | “The Q Sessions”

Seven-time GRAMMY® Award-winning jazz artist Christian McBride and Qobuz, the Hi-Res streaming and download service, have teamed up to release The Q Sessions EP tomorrow, April 30, just in time for International Jazz Day. 

McBride visited NYC’s Power Station earlier this year to record three start-to-finish Hi-Res songs commissioned by Qobuz. The project was created with top-notch equipment at 24-bit/ 192kHz quality, and the final product streams and downloads with the exact same sound, tones and touches in which it was first recorded. 

With no digital compression or downgrading involved, The Q Sessions is the first in a new series of Qobuz exclusives designed to transport listeners directly to the studio and show the difference Hi-Res recording, production, and listening can make. 

The EP features three McBride performances, played in a quartet with saxophonist Marcus Strickland, drummer Eric Harland, and guitarist Mike Stern. Comprised of one blues improv, one standard and one new original commissioned by Qobuz ("Brouhaha," a song inspired by the then-recent passing of Chick Corea), The Q Sessions was custom-designed for the jazz fans who turn to Qobuz for the best quality sound. This EP joins Qobuz’ already established catalog of exclusive content – expert penned “panorama” interactive essays, artist-created playlists, liner notes and lyric booklets – to add to the platform’s reputation for the best listening experience in the field. 

Read more about The Q Sessions and the McBride/Qobuz partnership HERE at WBGO, where you can take an exclusive Hi-Res listen to the new "funk-fusion workout" “Brouhaha” right now, "in the same 24-bit / 192kHz quality with which it was captured in the studio." 

“What a pleasure it was to put together a special group featuring one of my favorite guitarists of all time, Mike Stern. It was a great day in the studio with Mike, Marcus and Eric – not only jamming a couple of tunes, but to also record a new original of mine, 'Brouhaha,'" said McBride. "I’m thrilled we captured these performances in Hi-Res audio and can deliver them to the listener without compromise, and I look forward to more with Qobuz.”

Dan Mackta, US Managing Director of Qobuz, said, “Seeing the guys create this incredible music right before my eyes in the historic Power Station Studio A was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Knowing that everyone can have that same studio quality experience by listening on Qobuz makes it even better."

Founded in 2007, a pioneer of high-quality sound, Qobuz is the French music streaming and download service that meets the needs of demanding music lovers and audiophiles. Available in 18 countries around the world, in Europe, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, Qobuz offers an exceptional range of exclusive editorial content written by a team of experts. With its catalog of more than 70 million tracks, Qobuz also has the richest choice of high-resolution (Hi-Res) references on the market. Qobuz is the only multi-genre platform to achieve Hi-Res certification - a label awarded by the Japan Audio Society (JAS). For more information: qobuz.com 

Christian McBride is a seven-time GRAMMY® Award-winning bassist, composer and bandleader. McBride is the Artistic Director of the historic Newport Jazz Festival, New Jersey Performing Arts center (NJPAC) and the TD James Moody Jazz Festival, and the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Christian is also a respected educator and advocate as the Artistic Director of Jazz House Kids and the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Summer Sessions. In addition to consistent touring, McBride hosts NPR's “Jazz Night in America” and "The Lowdown: Conversations With Christian" on SiriusXM. Whether behind the bass or away from it, Christian McBride is always of the music. From jazz to R&B, pop/rock and hip-hop/neo-soul to classical, he is a luminary with one hand ever reaching for new heights, and the other extended in fellowship—and perhaps the hint of a challenge—inviting us to join him.

Grammy-Nominated Brazilian Guitarist Ricardo Silveira Releases "SOLO"

Renowned Brazilian guitarist Ricardo Silveira is releasing his first solo album, aptly titled SOLO. Silveira is a prolific recording and performing artist in both Brazil and the United States. He has worked with a Who’s Who of legendary Brazilian artists, and he has recorded over a dozen albums as a leader or co-leader. He has also appeared on numerous CDs as a sideman for other artists, including Elis Regina, Milton Nascimento, Wayne Shorter, Gilberto Gil, Ivan Lins, Joao Bosco, Gregg Karukas, Marcos Ariel, Diana Ross, Vanessa Williams, and others.

SOLO is an atmospheric, romantic album that pairs well with a glass of wine on a balmy night. JazzTimes Magazine has said, “Silveira chooses each note carefully, and his compositions are wonderfully detailed yet understated.” Silveira included six of his original tunes, all of which he recorded on previous albums but re-imagined here for solo guitar, as well as songs by great Brazilian composers Marcos Valle & Paulo Sergio Valle, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Johnny Alf, as well as a gorgeous rendition of Rodgers & Hart’s “My Romance.”

Silveira’s music is graceful, and his style is straight-ahead, contemporary, and audience friendly. Although Latin jazz and Brazilian flavors are sprinkled throughout this album, the music is reflective and airy while still maintaining its groove-based roots.

Marc Antoine - Something About Her

“It’s all about the voyage for me. I hope I can take listeners along with me to enjoy the voyage,” exclaims Marc Antoine. The Parisian born guitar extraordinaire’s spark for music began as a child. He recalls, “My parents told me that when I was four, I went into a trance while listening to Igor Stravinsky’s ‘The Rite of Spring.’” The same deep emotion that Antoine felt towards music as a child, has manifested itself in his remarkable ability to translate his powerful connection with music to his listeners. May 21, 2021 Marc Antoine will release his second recording for Shanachie Entertainment, Something About Her, dedicated to his wife Rebeca. “After 25 years, we are still in love,” reflects Antoine. The new recording is a life-affirming celebration that sizzles with dazzling melodies, dancing rhythms and exotic harmonies. Antoine is joined by many of his all-star friends including keyboardists David Benoit, Brian Simpson, Philippe Saisse and saxophonists Marion Meadows and Greg Vail, among others. “We are all good friends and everybody is magical in their own way,” shares Antoine, who is based in Laguna Niguel, a little town south of Laguna Beach in Southern California. “I prefer going to a studio and recording live with everyone but in this case, the collaborations were done in everyone’s own recording spaces. Technology these days is amazing and I think we still managed to make it sound like a live record. We defeated Covid in a way.” Danny Weiss, Shanachie Entertainment VP of Jazz A&R states, “Marc Antoine’s mastery and depth of expression of both jazz and classical guitar result in an absolutely exquisite style that is both beautiful and profound.” 

“I’m a firm believer of things happening for a reason and I think this past year has given a lot of people time for reflection. One thing I know for sure is the world needs some help,” states Marc Antoine. Those who acknowledge the transformative and healing power of music will rejoice in the release of Marc Antoine’s Something About Her. The ten track musical journey is an invigorating collection of songs that showcase Antoine’s impeccable musicianship and vast range of influences. “I like and listen to all kinds of music,” confides the guitarist. “For me it’s like cooking, you can’t cook the same meal everyday, otherwise it would be boring and unhealthy.” Antoine summons all of the right ingredients on Something About Her and the results are thoroughly satisfying. The album’s tantalizing and exhilarating opener “Still In Love,” features Antoine’s enchanting, melodious and crisp guitar lines, which are accentuated by the percussion of Luis Conté and the horns and flute of Greg Vail and Tony Guerrero. The swinging, breezy Bossa and title track, “Still In Love” is as cool as it gets. The interplay between Antoine and Brian Simpson is pure bliss. “Brian and I have played many gigs together and when I wrote the song, I heard his touch right away.” Bassist Roberto Vally and drummer Joel Rosenblatt round out the ironclad quartet and help to create a high point on the CD. The ebullient “Marco Polo” is a memorable and ear-catching ditty penned by pianist Philippe Saisse, who is also featured on the track. “Saisse and I are long time life brothers,” confesses Antoine. “He’s never far when I record a new project.” The album’s first single “Groovy Sunday,” has all the right ingredients for a perfect day. Antoine’s original features Philippe Saisse, saxophonist Marion Meadows and drummer Gorden Campbell.

Something About Her shifts gears with Marc Antoine’s exquisite waltz “Velvet Night” highlighting Philippe Saisse on vibes, while “Corto Maltese,” composed by Philippe Saisse, transports us on an unforgettable adventure and pays homage to the comic book sailor created by Hugo Pratt. “When Philippe sent me the tune with this title I loved it right away,” says Antoine. “I used to read Corto Maltese adventures when I was a kid. It was pretty out there back then. Philippe loves all those characters and he also has that Italian connection since his mother was born there.” Marc Antoine’s fascinating tapestry of sound on “Eclectic World” conjures up a beautiful world for all. “I think the world would be boring if it was not eclectic,” shares Antoine.

“America is very eclectic with all kinds of people from all around the world. I dream of a world where everybody can get along in harmony!” The R&B inflected “California Haze” shines a different light on Antoine as his guitar lines sail through a laid back groove enhanced the soulful tenor saxophone of Greg Vail. “I have known Greg for a long time. We are now neighbors and our wives are always hanging together so I see him all of the time. He’s way underrated so I wanted to give him a push. “Summer in Technicolor” conjures images of fluttering butterflies, melting popsicles and lazy sun-drenched days. The masterful pianist David Benoit, who helps to create a high point on the album, equally matches Antoine’s joyous vibe. “David and I made the recording So Nice together and we have toured extensively with this project. We’re now very good friends so it was logical for me to have him on this project.” Something About Her closes with the meditative “Song For Sasha,” written for Antoine’s granddaughter. He shares, “She lives on a French island called La Reunion in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I have yet to see her because of the pandemic.”

Revered for his soulful elixir of exotic textures and fluid artistry, guitarist Marc Antoine has been a force of nature on the contemporary jazz scene for over three decades. Classically trained at the International School of Classical Guitar, Antoine was first widely introduced to audiences in the late 80s when he hit the road with Basia. Loved for his unique fusion of classical, jazz, soul and world influences, Marc Antoine quickly became a mainstay on radio and the international touring circuit working with everyone from Sting and Cher to Marion Meadows, Rick Braun, Dave Koz and countless others. Through the years, Antoine has also been first call for the popular Guitars & Saxes All-Star tours and cruises. Some of the standouts in his illustrious recording catalogue features Gypsy (1995), Madrid (1998), Universal Language (2000), Cruisin’ (2001), Mediterraneano (2003) and Modern Times (2005), Foreign Exchange with Paul Brown (2008), My Classical Way (2010) and Guitar Destiny (2012). In 2012, Antoine faced health challenges and had to undergo major heart surgery. In 2014, after several misdiagnoses, he had surgery to relieve cramping in his hand caused by a previous accident as a teenager. Antoine’s severe nerve damage caused one of his fingers on his left hand to get stuck in an odd position, causing unbearable pain when he would play the guitar. Overcoming these challenges, Marc Antoine is back in top form. The consummate artist recently relocated back to Southern California after living in his wife’s hometown of Madrid for over a decade. Antoine released Laguna Beach in 2016 and his collaboration with David Benoit, So Nice, followed in 2017. 

Marc Antoine credits his fans and the search for his own musical truth as the sources for his continued inspiration. “I started playing the guitar when I was about 11 and a year later, I couldn’t let go nor imagine doing anything else. I’m so thankful I have been able to do so much more than I ever hoped for. I have the best fans all around the world. After all these years, they are still here listening to and buying my music. I am grateful. I never tried to copy anything and I always follow my heart.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021

CODE Quartet - Genealogy

CODE Quartet is a collective based out of Montreal. Formed four years ago by Christine Jensen on saxophones, Lex French on trumpet, Adrian Vedady on acoustic bass, and Jim Doxas on drums, the group came together with the equal goals of composing and improvising in a chordless-quartet setting. 

The primary motivation for the formation of the group has been to build on the freedom of expression pioneered by Ornette Coleman’s seminal group of the 1950s, with two horns interacting with acoustic bass and drums.

They prioritize the idea that each voice within the collective is given equal weight, blurring the boundaries between lead and supporting voices, between frontline instruments and the rhythm section.

The group have spent the past three years sculpting their original compositions as a team, leading them to some exciting performance opportunities. Over the past four years, they have performed residencies at jazz clubs in Montreal as well as The Wellington Jazz festival in New Zealand in June 2019. 

The group’s principal focus is to present original compositions, orchestrated exclusively for this particular ensemble, weighing heavily on their improvisatory reactions to the written material. The  result is their album Genealogy.

Genealogy will be released worldwide on Friday, April 23rd on Justin Time Records.

Bassist & Guitarist Aaron Germain Releases "Bell Projections"

Aaron Germain’s aptitude for both string instruments and haunting compositions reaches stunning new heights with Bell Projections, set for a May 14 release on his own Aaron Germain Music imprint. The album’s 17 pieces were written and arranged for guitar quartet—but on the recording, it’s Germain who plays all four guitar parts. 

It was never intended as a solo showcase. Best known as a bassist, Germain’s ambition was to challenge himself as a composer. “I was downloading tons of classical guitar quartet music, sorting through all of it and listening to it like crazy, looking for holes in the repertoire,” he recalls. Yet the real difficulty turned out to be finding guitarists to learn and play the complex music in time for a recording session. 

That’s when Germain decided that recording all the parts himself was the easiest route (although woodshedding on acoustic, soprano and bass guitar, electric and upright bass, and guiro could hardly be called easy). To accompany his one-man quartet, he enlisted a collective of 15 musicians, who appear in various combinations across the album.

Inevitably, however, Germain and his guitars are the heart and soul of Bell Projections. Whether he is alone in the spotlight, as on the delicate “Regarding Raistlin (for Elizabeth Germain),” duetting with oboist Paul McCandless (“Hush”) or drummer Deszon X. Claiborne (“Resident Eject”), or engaging with the flute trio of Robert Farrington, Chloe Jane Scott, and Nestor Torres on the luxuriant Peruvian-inspired piece “Breath Marks,” it is his beautiful touch and sly (self-) interaction that commands the listener’s attention.

As if his resourcefulness wasn’t already beyond question, Germain crafted each of his compositions with distinct personalities. Whereas Brazilian music gives shape to “Toitoisho (for Hotoshi Oyasu),” it’s Latin funk that animates “Gutter Sass,” while jazz harmonies and phrasing enliven “Pin Untended” and classical articulation resounds through “SubEthos.” Bell Projections is thus a remarkable testament to Germain’s embodiment of that famous line of Walt Whitman’s: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Aaron Germain was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1977, and began his musical journey at 15 when he picked up a guitar. However, it soon became apparent that learning to play bass would afford him wider and steadier work. He continued playing both, but gradually the bass became his primary ax.

That focus only intensified when, as a 19-year-old student at Massachusetts’ Hampshire College, Germain studied with Yusef Lateef. The legendary jazz multi-instrumentalist was impressed enough to hire the young bassist for a gig, a major turning point in Germain’s creative life. He went all in on enhancing his own skills; in addition, he deepened his repertoire with excursions into Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian jazz, salsa, Indian, and Senegalese and other Western African musical traditions. 

By the time he relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000, Germain was highly skilled in numerous styles of music. He quickly became one of the most in-demand musicians on his new scene. In 2009, he made Before You Go, his first album as a leader, following it up in 2013 with Chance. 

The eight-year gap between Chance and Bell Projections reflects the herculean effort that went into the creation of the new album. Germain spent six of those years studying the guitar quartet repertoire, writing the intricate music in four parts, then learning and recording those parts on the various varieties of guitar and bass. The degree of his labor, he says, is audible. “Classical guitarists play with their fingernails,” he observes. “I recorded without nails, because they don’t work with bass, which is my everyday gigging instrument. I strike the strings with the skin of my fingertips, but I have bass player calluses. I’d be delighted to hear traditional guitar quartets interpret these pieces in the future.”

New Music Releases: Martin Trotman, Greg Smith, Perry Smith

Martin Trotman - Let's Begin

Martin Trotman has wowed ‘em at top venues in his native UK, worked with legendary Elton John guitarist Caleb Quaye and opened for Snarky Puppy and Nile Rodgers. Yet the multi-faceted composer, keyboardist and producer was so determined to become a solo artist on his own terms that he began playing in restaurants and hotels to fund the sessions that result now in Let's Begin, his dazzling and adventurous, perfectly in the pocket debut. While drawing on the stirring energy of his gospel roots, Trotman stirs in vibrant, tightly grooving splashes of funk and jazz, dreamy atmospheric soul, sweet piano elegance and a lush showcase for his inviting lead vocals. Fans of Brian Culbertson and Oli Silk will find Trotman’s eclectic vibes and keyboard sparkle right up their alley. www.smoothjazz.com

Greg Smith - Cluster 101

Drummer and composer Greg Smith GS has been active on the international jazz, classical, and beat-music scene since the mid 1990s. His chameleon-esque ability has led him to work with artists as diverse as David Binney, Chris Speed, Reggie Washington, Sandra St-Victor & Family Stand, and Kori Withers. Smith has additionally developed an affinity with experimental electronics, creating works for contemporary dance-theater companies around the world. Now, you can hear this synthesis of beats, pop-ish melodies, electronics and highly-charged improvisations come together in his debut album, Cluster 101. The album features the fantastic lineup of David Binney, Logan Kane, Vanja Kevresan, and Alexander Maksymiw. A thoroughly engaging and fun recording, with slightly dystopian echoes. Recommended for the curious listener seeking an alternative, unique voice in the modern jazz landscape. 

Perry Smith - Peace

For guitarist, composer, bandleader, and educator Perry Smith, standards are an integral part of his life as a musician, accompanying him on the ups and downs of life, providing a landscape for him to explore, and improvise on, from his heart. Smith elaborates, “I had been interested in recording a trio album of standards to really draw the listener in through classic melodies, dynamics and the natural sound of my Gibson ES-175. Using a traditional archtop hollow body, my style of jazz guitar can really work with a sensitive and swinging rhythm section like Schnelle and Minaie. I chose to record a variety of standards that have meant a lot to me over the years, and what I discovered is that as my own life experiences have unfolded, my connection to these songs, and what I have to offer them musically has only gotten deeper. It leaves me with an immense amount of gratitude for these standards.”

New Music Releases: Chick Corea's Vigilette Trio, ElectroBluesSociety feat Boo Boo Davis, Dreaming In Colour

Chick Corea's Vigilette Trio - Tempus Fugit

Chick Corea's Vigilette Trio features young lions Carlitos Del Puerto on bass and Marcus Gilmore on drums — the rhythmic backbone of Chick's groundbreaking Vigil Band and his recent Spanish Heart Band. Carlitos and Marcus both have interesting backgrounds. Marcus's grandfather is Roy Haynes who played on Chick's famous Now He Sings, Now He Sobs recording and also on Remembering Bud Powell. Carlitos's father, Carlos Del Puerto, played bass as a founding member of the famous Cuban band Irakere which was led by Chucho Valdez. Now both Carlitos and Marcus are incredible virtuosos who bring their own new unique creativity to this recording with Chick Corea. On this adventurous new CD Tempus Fugit, they take on Chick classics, with also brilliant takes on standards, and inventive classical excursions.

ElectroBluesSociety feat Boo Boo Davis - It's A Sad Thing

This is the fourth single release from the 'transatlantic quarantaine sessions'. From 1998 up to 2020 Boo Boo Davis used to tour in Europe several times each year and a lot of music was written and recorded during these tours. Covid-19 created a (temporarily) stop to that tradition. But with the help of the internet and Chris Brown in St Louis, the guys from ElectroBluesSociety started to exchange idea's and demo tapes with Boo Boo in East St Louis (USA) and their studio in the Netherlands. 



Dreaming In Colour - State & Main

Once heralded as the “Steely Dan of Smooth Jazz” by the European Jazz Press, Dreaming in Colour’s principal members Kevin Ellis (founder/bassist) and Chris Noonan (drums) have recorded over the years with the genre’s cream of the crop – including Nelson Rangell, Andy Snitzer, Eric Marienthal, Jeff Kashiwa, Jeff Lorber, Ken Navarro and the late Chuck Loeb. On their latest single, the buoyant, hypnotically percussive, tightly grooving and ultimately soaring “State and Main,” we’re treated to the richness of the group’s current core ensemble, which includes non-stop explosive solo action by saxophonist Jason Swagler, keyboardist Michael Scherer and guitarist Tom Byrne. The title of the spirited, high energy track refers to the intersection of everywhere USA, a dual musical link to the band’s storied past and bright future. www.smoothjazz.com 

  

REBECCA KILGORE AND THE REBECCA KILGORE TRIO, VOL. 1

Jazz vocalist Rebecca Kilgore is one the most prolific recording and performing artists on the scene today. With 50 or so recording projects as a leader or co-leader, she is one of the most respected interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Based in Portland, OR, Kilgore has worked with many of the top jazz musicians in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  Her newest recording, The Rebecca Kilgore Trio - Vol. 1 features pianist Randy Porter and bassist Tom Wakeling. Kilgore’s husband, Dick Titterington, also plays cornet on a couple of tunes. 

Kilgore has a smooth, flexible voice that is a perfect fit for her repertoire. Her approach is lighthearted. She is never histrionic and eschews melisma and vocal pyrotechnics for a swinging, bluesy, conversational style that puts the lyrics and melody front and center. Her singing has won her many accolades. An honoree of the Oregon Music Hall of Fame and Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame, Kilgore was awarded the Portland Jazz Master Award in 2020 by PDX Jazz, the largest organization presenting jazz performances in the Pacific Northwest. 

She has also been a frequent guest on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. She has performed with Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall and has been invited to perform at New York’s Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention for three years at Town Hall and Lincoln Center. She was the guest of honor at the 2013 Roswell Jazz Festival, and she was honored as a Jazz Legend at the San Diego Jazz Party in 2016. The Rebecca Kilgore Trio - Vol. 1 is an album by artists at the top of their game. The eclectic mix of songs is compelling and unexpected, but all beautifully held together by Kilgore’s expressive vocals and the superb musicianship of Porter, Wakeling, and Titterington.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

International Jazz Day 10th Anniversary Celebration to Take Place Worldwide, April 30, 2021


All-Star Global Concert Global Concert will be hosted by Michael Douglas and feature dozens of world-renowned artists including Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Andra Day, Dee Dee Bridgewater, John McLaughlin, Dianne Reeves and Joe Lovano

The 10th Anniversary of International Jazz Day, the world’s largest annual celebration of jazz, will take place on April 30th, with thousands of worldwide programs culminating in a spectacular All-Star Global Concert from New York, Los Angeles, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, Cape Town, Moscow, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and other cities around the globe. Hosted by multi-Academy Award winner Michael Douglas from United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Global Concert will feature performances from an array of jazz icons representing more than 20 countries. Following this historic program, viewers across the United States can tune in to the International Jazz Day 10th Anniversary Celebration on PBS for an unforgettable look back at the past decade of International Jazz Day celebrations, made possible by Toyota, the 2021 Lead Partner.

Premiering nationally at 9/8c on Friday evening, April 30th (check local PBS listings), the International Jazz Day 10th Anniversary Celebration is a two-hour retrospective that highlights performances by an extraordinary array of music icons over the last 10 years. The special takes a poignant look back at unforgettable moments from Jazz Day concerts at the United Nations, Istanbul, Osaka, Paris, Washington, D.C., Havana, St. Petersburg, New Orleans, and Melbourne. Viewers will enjoy legendary artists such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Chaka Khan, Annie Lennox, Sting, Christian McBride, Wynton Marsalis, and Hugh Masekela, along with hosts Morgan Freeman, Will Smith and Helen Mirren, among many others, paying heartfelt tribute to the treasured values and unifying heritage of jazz.

Earlier in the day, at 5 pm EDT/2 pm PDT, the 2021 All-Star Global Concert will thrill audiences with an historic lineup of performances by some of the world’s greatest jazz masters. Herbie Hancock will serve as Artistic Director, and John Beasley will serve as Musical Director. In New York, artists including Melissa Aldana (Chile), Massimo Biolcati (Italy), A Bu (China), Cyrus Chestnut, Amina Figarova (Azerbaijan), Roberta Gambarini (Italy), Kenny Garrett, James Genus, Stefon Harris, Ingrid Jensen (Canada), Joe Lovano, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Antonio Sánchez (Mexico) and Veronica Swift will deliver a rousing series of performances. In Los Angeles, Herbie Hancock will be joined by Alex Acuña (Peru), Justo Almario (Colombia), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jonathan Butler (South Africa), Mahmoud Chouki (Morocco), Gerald Clayton, Andra Day, Romero Lubambo (Brazil), Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves, Francisco Torres (Mexico), Justin Tyson and Ben Williams. Leading performances from their home countries will be Igor Butman in Moscow (Russia), Jacob Collier in London (United Kingdom), Mandisi Dyantyis in Cape Town (South Africa), Ivan Lins in Rio De Janeiro (Brazil), John McLaughlin in Monaco, James Morrison in Mt. Gambier (Australia) and Junko Onishi in Tokyo (Japan), among others. Renowned Beninese vocalist Angélique Kidjo will contribute a special performance from UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The concert will be presented as a live webcast via YouTube, Facebook, jazzday.com, UN Web TV, UNESCO and U.S. State Department outlets.

“Our International Jazz Day community has displayed incredible resilience, creativity, ingenuity and compassion throughout the immense challenges of the past year,” said Herbie Hancock. “While the global pandemic continues to make life difficult for so many around the world, the example of organizers from Nepal to Mexico to Cameroon inspires us to greet this historic 10th Anniversary milestone with joy, courage and hope for the future of jazz.”

The All-Star Global Concert serves as the official culmination of International Jazz Day, capping a program of performances, educational workshops, community service projects, panel discussions, jam sessions, radio and television broadcasts, virtual gatherings and more – all following recommended public health guidelines – taking place in all 50 U.S. states and more than 190 countries on all seven continents. A complete listing of events planned for International Jazz Day 2021 can be found at jazzday.com/events. As part of the lead-up to the concert, the Institute and UNESCO will offer a series of free virtual educational programs, including master classes with renowned jazz musicians such as Antonio Sánchez, Linda Oh and Lionel Loueke; a children’s workshop with vocalist and Institute Trustee Dee Dee Bridgewater; and illuminating panel discussions featuring UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, pianist and composer Kris Bowers, hip-hop producer DJ Khalil and others. The 2021 virtual education program will be streamed on jazzday.com.

“UNESCO created International Jazz Day to share the values of a deeply meaningful musical genre,” explained UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Today we need jazz more than ever. We need its values, based on human dignity and the fight against racism and all forms of oppression. It is so much more than music, jazz is the kind of bridge builder we need in the world today.”

Established by the General Conference of UNESCO in 2011 at the initiative of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock, and recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, International Jazz Day brings together countries and communities worldwide every April 30th to celebrate jazz and highlight the music’s important role in encouraging dialogue, combating discrimination and promoting human dignity. International Jazz Day has become a global movement reaching more than two billion people annually on all seven continents, including Antarctica, through education and community outreach, performances, radio, television and streaming, along with electronic, print and social media. The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz is UNESCO’s official partner in the organization and promotion of International Jazz Day.

Air transportation and support for artists and educators is provided by United Airlines, the irline partner of International Jazz Day.

Jennifer Nettles' Upcoming Album 'Always Like New'

Multi-GRAMMY® Award winner Jennifer Nettles will expand her musical versatility with a much-anticipated genre defying new album of American Songbook classics, titled Always Like New from Concord Records. The new album will be released on CD, Vinyl and Digital on June 25th.  For this project, Nettles teamed up with GRAMMY® and Tony® Award-winning orchestrator Alex Lacamoire, best known for his work on Broadway’s critically acclaimed shows Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and In the Heights, to reimagine, arrange and produce some of the most beloved songs from the stage, infusing each with her signature sound and giving these timeless works of art a new context and meaning in our current landscape.

Nettles shared, "As a child who grew up in musical theatre, this album feels like a homecoming to me. I savored every note of singing and arranging these songs with Alex Lacamoire. It is thrilling to be able to celebrate this amazing songwriting with arrangements and vocals that allow them to be rediscovered anew.” 

The album, executive produced by Adam Zotovich (Dear Evan Hansen, The Color Purple, An American in Paris), spans classics from “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’” (Oklahoma) and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” (My Fair Lady) to contemporary favorites including “You Will Be Found” (Dear Evan Hansen), “Wait for It” (Hamilton) and “It All Fades Away” featuring Brandi Carlile (The Bridges of Madison County). Always Like New’s first single “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ The Boat” is available today and features Nettles’ soaring vocals in a jazzy up-tempo version of the Guys and Dolls classic. 

“Great songs take life with great singers. On occasion these songs can soar to places unimaginable in the voice of an inspired interpreter,” says Concord’s Paul Kremen. “Jennifer Nettles proves to be this kind of otherworldly vocalist, not once, but repeatedly on her selections from the American Song Book. Woven into each of these recordings are demonstrable emotional stimuli....the resulting sympathetic vibrations of one’s heartstrings might prove the salve our times appear to demand of us.”

New Music Releases: Joao Selva, Darren Rahn, The Noteworthy Band

Joao Selva - Navegar

Joao Selva has a great way of bridging classic Brazilian modes and contemporary sounds – a quality we loved on his debut, and which seems to be even more fully-formed here on his second release! Maybe that past/present quality is no surprise, though, when you consider that the record's a collaboration with Bruno "Patchworks" Hovart – a man who's given us so much great music over the years, often in ways that move between decades and global scenes – borrowing just the right bits, and making something really new and fresh in the process! Selva almost acts like a lyrical focus for the grooves of Patchworks – who's equally at home in a Brazilian setting as he is in other tropical modes – on titles that include "Meu Mano", "Cade Voce", "Navegar", "Se Voce", "Tudo Vai Dar Pe", and "Devagar". ~ www.dustygroove.com

Darren Rahn - Midnight Sun

Coming April 26, 2021 - Saxophonist, composer, and producer Darren Rahn - a notable factor in nearly two dozen Billboard #1 hits - returns with "Midnight Sun", the next single from his forthcoming album "Rock the World". The dynamic, pop-jazz and Latin funk influenced track is inspired by the visual concept of an enduring light in darkness and difficulty; one of love, family, and faith. With multiple GRAMMY nominations over the past 14 years as an artist, producer and mixing engineer, Darren Rahn has become urban jazz’s premiere sonic architect - the “go-to” guy for established genre greats and up and comers looking for their next sure-fire hit. His most recent single "Infinite Love" reached the coveted Billboard #1 spot in May 2020.



The Noteworthy Band - Sweet Breeze

With the release of “Sweet Breeze,” the infectiously soul-jazzy, slyly funky and steadily rockin’ debut single from Northern California’s The Noteworthy Band, we can confidently add another gem to the list of pandemic musical silver linings. Sidelined from their longtime gig as the house ensemble at the Napa Blue Note, legendary Smooth Jazz bassist Tony Saunders, keyboardist Greg Rahn, guitarist John Wheeler and drummer Steve Trovao got together for some socially distanced jamming and songwriting sessions  - which now leads them to bring their inimitable “surf to smooth” vibe to a wider Smooth Jazz audience. Full album in the works! ~ www.smoothjazz.com

Cande y Paulo : Tuyo

Cande y Paulo, the Argentinian duo who caught the attention of the world when a performance of ‘Barro Tal Vez', an achingly intense but minimalist Argentine rock classic went viral on YouTube amassing over 12 million views, today announce their debut.  The self-titled album will be released on June 4th through the iconic Decca Records.

On the single, ‘Tuyo', released 9th April, Cande y Paulohave reimagined Brazilian singer-songwriter Rodrigo Amarante's bolero, famous for being the theme to Netflix's international hit series, Narcos. This sensual yet haunting version evokes a candle lit dinner as much as it does an epic road trip worthy of the vast expanse of their native Argentina. The opening slow dance between the classical guitar and double bass is transcended by Cande's soft yet dark vocal which is then transported somewhere warm by Paulo's Latin jazz piano.

Cande y Paulo comment, "This modern Latin American standard was suddenly catapulted around the world and the nature of its journey struck a chord with our own personal story which is why we felt it belonged on our debut album. It was only written a few years ago and yet from the first time you hear it, it sounds like one you've known your whole life. Rodrigo Amarante's genius lies in making something so contemporary sound so traditional and our approach was to be as respectful as possible to its simplicity. Very little was needed to make this song work." 

Steve Cole | "Smoke and Mirrors"

“Smoke and mirrors” refer to the trickery used by magicians to fool an audience – but don’t we all indulge in a bit of hocus-pocus to represent ourselves to the world? On his new album, Smoke and Mirrors, Steve Cole offers up an intimately personal reflection of his own true self, free of trickery or sleight of hand.

Created entirely in pandemic-necessitated isolation, Smoke and Mirrors (due out June 18, 2021 via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group) brings together an all-star band with Cole’s longtime producer, co-writer and multi-instrumentalist David Mann. The far-flung ensemble includes guitarist Bernd Schoenhart (Cher, Marc Anthony); trumpet and flugelhorn player Trevor Neumann (The Eagles, Jeff Lorber); organist Ricky Peterson (David Sanborn, Prince); bassists Mel Brown (Stevie Wonder, The Temptations) and Mark Egan (Pat Metheny Group, Sting); drummers Brian Dunne (Hall and Oates, Ariana Grande) and Todd Sucherman (Styx, Brian Wilson).

While there were certainly challenges to corralling this stellar roster of musicians remotely from home recordings or socially distanced studio settings, quarantine did prove an equalizer in another sense. “Everybody’s stuck at home,” Cole points out with a laugh. “There are a lot of musicians that I would love to work with, but it’s impossible because they're always on the road. So there was a little silver lining in the fact that I could call old friends like Todd Sucherman and Brian Dunne, or amazing artists like Mark Egan, and they’re actually available.”

The unusual situation we’ve all found ourselves living in also changed the way that Cole and Mann composed the music for Smoke and Mirrors. In the past, the two collaborators would traditionally meet in a room and write together, trading ideas in the moment. The same creative back and forth happened this time, but long distance, with the two sending audio files between New York and Cole’s home studio in Minneapolis. The result offered the best of both worlds, allowing for a fruitful exchange of ideas with time for reflection.

“The energy of writing together can be really amazing and inspiring,” Cole says. “But you always tend to land on the first right answer and then move on. Having the time and space to contemplate and try things gives you the opportunity to discover a better right answer.”

The answers that Cole and Mann found throughout the writing of Smoke and Mirrors yield a wide spectrum of emotion, from quiet contemplation to funky celebration. The societal turbulence in which the album was crafted couldn’t help but pervade the music, Cole explains. “We're sitting with this stuff in our lives every single day: the pandemic, the political and social climate. How does that not find its way into your creative output, whether deliberately or subconsciously?”

On an even more personal note, Smoke and Mirrors marks Cole’s first outing since the untimely passing of his usual drummer, the great Khari Parker. “I didn't realize how much I thought about Khari when I was writing music,” Cole says. “I remember looking forward to what a tune would end up sounding like, knowing that Khari would be playing it. I have this idea of this groove in my mind that is so informed by how I’m expecting Khari to interpret it. Being cut off from that creativity and from that personality is really rough.”

In many ways, being “cut off” is a theme that weaves through the album. Another loss to the music is represented by “Wayman,” written for the late NBA player-turned bassist Wayman Tisdale, with whom Cole recorded on the bassist’s 2001 tune “Loveplay.” Tisdale was also an inspiration behind the album’s joyous opener, “Living Out Loud,” which took a convoluted route to its eventual shape, with Cole conceiving the melodies on bass a la Tisdale.

Travel has been an indirect casualty of the pandemic, which Cole references on the wistfully buoyant “Covent Garden.” The title is a reference to the area of London where the saxophonist and his wife stay during their yearly sojourns to England, a tradition sorely missed. 

The issues dominating the headlines this past year are more directly confronted on two pieces: “Justice,” which closes the album on a somber note, was written in reaction to the killing of George Floyd, mere miles from Cole’s home in Minneapolis, and the ensuing protest movement. “At a Distance” directly address life during Covid with both longing and optimism, while the soulful “Trust” – which Cole describes as a cross between Van Morrison and Babyface – conveys the composer’s gratitude for those closest to him, whether physically or spiritually.

Not every moment can be spent dwelling on such heavy themes even in such unprecedented times, and Cole does cut loose with some classic funk. “It’s a House Party” is a feel-food slab of Bootsy Collins-inspired funk, while “On the Money” reconnects the saxophonist with his Chicago roots with a song sure to thrill audiences once they can safely reconvene. 

Finally, the title track sums up the themes of the album and the notion of identity that prompted the name. Throughout Smoke and Mirrors, Cole reveals himself in both intimate, personal reflections and the extroverted thrill of his groove-loving spirit. No smoke, no mirrors – just heartfelt, inspiring music for the soul.

Monday, April 26, 2021

MISS FREDDYE I "SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN"

Freddye Stover aka Miss Freddye began her musical journey 25 years ago, when the Pittsburgh songstress first stepped onto the stages in and around her Western Pennsylvania hometown. Since then, the "Lady of the Blues" has seen her star on a continuous upward rise. Her career highlights have included international chart-topping singles, multiple industry award nominations and recognition in her own beloved town.

With the 2020 release of her first gospel single, "Wade In the Water," Miss Freddye returned to her church-singing roots. Her recording of the century-old spiritual reached #2 on the international iTunes Gospel sales charts, while hitting the European indie radio charts, too. Now, Freddye is about to release the second single from her forthcoming gospel album.

"Something To Believe In," recorded in Pittsburgh with renowned producer and fellow 'burgher, Bryan Cole, will be released on Saturday, April 24th, the anniversary of her mother's passing.

Miss Freddye says, "The song is a gift to my siblings, nieces and nephews, who all still miss her terribly. I pray for them. I want to them to know God has her watching over them. Love for our family will always prevail, in loving arms and loving spirit."

"Something To Believe In" was written by Frank Wildhorn. It will be released on Pittsburgh-based MTS Records.

The frontwoman for two bands: Miss Freddye's Blues Band (electric blues) and Miss Freddye's Homecookin Band, (acoustic blues, classic rock, gospel), Freddye Stover is a multiple award-winning blues singer from Pittsburgh, PA.

She has won past blues competitions; 2008 West Virginia Blues Society for Best Blues and 2012 Blues Society Of Western PA Best Duo/Solo Act. In 2014, Miss Freddye was awarded the Star Award from the Pittsburgh VA Medical Center for her work with veterans. She was awarded the 2015 Freedom From Silence Award from the Center For Victims. Miss Freddye has won in the Iron City Rocks Awards for Best Blues Band in 2016, 2017, and 2019. Her self-released CD, "Lady Of The Blues" won for Best Album in 2017.

In 2018, Miss Freddye was nominated for two Blues Foundation Awards, one for Best Emerging Artist CD and The Koko Taylor Traditional Blues Female. In 2020, Miss Freddye was named Best Blues Performer by the Pittsburgh City Paper.

http://www.missfreddye.com

Carol Welsman & Randy Bachman Serve Up “A Taste Of Paradise” with Newly Reimagined Single

Six-time JUNO Award nominated jazz vocalist and pianist Carol Welsman is serving up “A Taste Of Paradise” with this, her newly reimagined single with Randy Bachman.

“I had the good fortune of meeting Randy recently,” Welsman shares, “and, when I heard him sing ‘A Taste of Paradise,’ I immediately included it in my repertoire.”

As founder of The Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and with multi-Platinum, chart-topping, and multi-award winning status in the sphere, Bachman is ultimately known for his rock-influenced songs — but notes early-life inspiration from guitarist Lenny Breau; it was Breau who introduced him to Bossa nova, and the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The newly released version with Bachman on guitar and vox is a fresh take on the initial version found on Welsman’s recent album, Dance With Me (2020). Her 13th studio offering, the 11-track offering marked Welsman’s foray into Latin jazz; it’s an eclectic collection of International songs arranged among Latin rhythms including salsa, boleros, cha cha cha, Afro Cuban and calypso — all the while keeping within Latin jazz and traditional rhythms.

The selections include popular Latin standards adapted into English, Great American Songbook standards, original compositions, and a duet with multi-GRAMMY winning Latin superstar, Juan Luis Guerra on the title track and first single release, which is an English adaptation written by Carol of his song “Si Tú No Bailas Conmigo” (If You Don’t Dance With Me). Welsman’s co-producer, Oscar Hernández, is a four-time GRAMMY winning composer and arranger who, given his depth of knowledge of the Latin jazz idiom, was commissioned by Welsman to arrange all the music for the recording.

“A Taste of Paradise — The Paradise Mix” and Dance With Me are available now.

Eric Goletz's "INTO THE NIGHT"

On his new CD, Into The Night, trombonist and composer Eric Goletz offers a program that mixes funk, rock, and jazz sounds into a unique sonic blend. By featuring his trombone over a full rhythm section with keyboards, guitar, bass, drums and percussion, Goletz’ music has no artistic parallel in the current jazz scene. While the compositions are intricate, the approach is highly accessible for music lovers of all kinds. As a composer, Goletz wanted his pieces to appear in their fully developed state. On two tracks, he has added five horns to the band to create a powerful big band sound. Even when approaching established standards like John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.” or Cole Porter’s “What is This Thing Called Love,” Goletz finds inventive ways to make the music fit the personality of his band. These incredibly flexible musicians can create perfect grooves in a wide variety of genres, and then can switch those styles on the turn of a dime. They are also masters of dynamics, as displayed in the brilliant composition “Oasis,” which develops as a long crescendo and diminuendo. Naturally, this disc offers plenty of examples of Goletz as virtuoso trombonist, starting with the brilliant unaccompanied cadenza that launches the album opener, “Say What??” to the tender notes of the closer, “Lullaby.”

Keith Jarrett | "Sun Bear Concerts"

Sun Bear Concerts, documenting five complete solo performances by Keith Jarrett in Japan, is a milestone achievement in the history of jazz recordings. As DownBeat wrote on the occasion of the original release, Jarrett’s improvisations are “the inventions of a giant, overpoweringly intimate in the way they can draw a listener in and hold him captive. Jarrett has once more stepped into the cave of his creative consciousness and brought to light music of startling power, majesty and warmth.” Rich in incident and detail, the music is beautifully produced, illustrated, and presented in this ten-LP set. First issued in 1978, it revealed Jarrett as a player of limitless creativity, unique in his ability to find new forms in the moment, night after night. “These marathons showed Jarrett to be one of the greatest improvisers in jazz,” Ian Carr wrote in his biography of the pianist, “with an apparently inexhaustible flow of rhythmic and melodic ideas, one of the most brilliant pianistic techniques of all, and the ability to project complex and profound feeling” continued Carr. The present edition is a facsimile of the original LP set, described by the late Haus der Kunst curator Okwui Enwezor as “part of ECM’s declaration of independence from standard packaging of jazz records. Setting itself apart in this way, ECM treats recordings as works of art by musicians of the highest artistic and conceptual order.”

A work of art by any standards, Sun Bear Concerts brings together solo performances in November 1976 in Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo and Sapporo, in recordings made by Japanese engineer Okihiro Sugano and producer Manfred Eicher, who travelled through Japan with Keith Jarrett. The set’s book-form packaging was designed by Barbara Wojirsch, and includes photographs by Klaus Knaup, Tadayuki Naitoh and Akira Aimi. 


Harold Land | "Westward Bound!"

Continuing its mission to unearth important, previously unreleased jazz performances, Reel to Reel Recordings returns in June with Westward Bound!, a crucial collection of forceful quartet and quintet performances by the masterful tenor saxophonist Harold Land. 

Crisply recorded at the Seattle jazz club the Penthouse in 1962-65 by engineer Jim Wilke and originally aired as part of a weekly broadcast from the venue on KING-FM, the new collection will be issued on June 12 in celebration of ‘Record Store Day’ as a 33-1/3 rpm two-LP set on 180-gram vinyl mastered by Kevin Gray of Coherent Audio and pressed by Standard Vinyl in Toronto. The album will then be available on CD on June 18 and digitally on August 6. 

Reel to Reel – a partnership between Vancouver-based jazz impresario and saxophonist Cory Weeds and Resonance Records co-president and award-winning “Jazz Detective” Zev Feldman – was launched in 2018 with a pair of releases that included its initial title drawn from the Penthouse’s audio trove, Cannonball Adderley’s Swingin’ in Seattle. The label has since issued Ow!, featuring 1962 Penthouse dates by tenor men Johnny Griffin and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis; previous Resonance titles from the Penthouse archives have included sets by West Montgomery (Smokin’ in Seattle) and the Three Sounds featuring Gene Harris (Groovin’ Hard). 

In his notes to the new album, Feldman writes, ‘I feel that these recordings of Harold Land are special and need to be heard. Land was one of the purveyors of West Coast jazz whom I feel is an under-recognized genius who doesn’t get discussed enough….Land was on top of his game during this important part of his career in the mid-1960s.” Comparing the new release to In Baltimore, Reel to Reel’s 2020 live collection by George Coleman, Weeds adds, “Westward Bound! finds us celebrating another unsung hero of the tenor saxophone.” 

Born in Houston and raised in San Diego, Harold Land established himself as a jazz star with four EmArcy albums in the tenor chair of trumpeter Clifford Brown and drummer Max Roach’s celebrated ‘50s quintet. Based in Los Angeles from the mid-‘50s on, he worked fruitfully as a leader, recorded regularly with big band leader-arranger Gerald Wilson, and played behind such giants as Dinah Washington, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, Les McCann, and Hampton Hawes. In later years he forged fruitful alliances with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, and the Timeless All Stars. 

Sonny Rollins – who replaced Land in the Brown-Roach combo – says in a new interview with Feldman, “Harold Land was one of the premier saxophonists of the time. He was one of the best….He was a great player, one of my favorites.” Contemporary tenor titan Joe Lovano tells Feldman, “Harold had his own sweet way of playing and his own flowing language….He was equal to Coltrane and Sonny.” 

The earliest of the Penthouse dates heard on Westward Bound! pairs Land with a similarly underestimated player, the gifted Kansas City trumpeter Carmell Jones; the two musicians worked together regularly on sessions for Pacific Jazz Records. In his overview essay, jazz historian and producer Michael Cuscuna notes, “He and Land made a like-minded team; each would play every note with purpose and articulation.” The band on the Dec. 12, 1962 performance also included Wes Montgomery’s brothers Buddy (piano) and Monk (bass) and drummer Jimmy Lovelace. 

During Penthouse gigs on Sept. 10 and 17, 1964, Land was joined by another prominent artist he had worked with before: pianist Hampton Hawes, who had led the storied 1958 quartet date For Real!, which also featured the saxophonist. In an essay about the keyboardists heard with Land on the new album, pianist Eric Reed says, “Although it is not widely acknowledged (or even known), Hamp was largely responsible for blending the language of the Blues, Jazz, and Gospel music in such a way as to influence many that came after him.” 

Westward Bound! climaxes with an Aug. 5, 1965, date featuring Monk Montgomery, pianist John Houston, and another jazz legend, the explosive drummer Philly Joe Jones. The rhythm turbine of Miles Davis’ magnificent ‘50s quintet, Jones relocated in the ‘60s to L.A., where he played regularly with Land. Cuscuna writes, “This is a high-octane quartet, thanks in large part to Philly Joe’s ability to swing hard and keep a tight rein on the music with the loosest feel.” 

In his own introductory note to the album, Charlie Puzzo, Jr., son of the Seattle club’s owner and operator, says, “I hope the release of this album will allow you to experience the magic of Harold Land’s performances at the Penthouse and also to feel the excitement of actually being in the audience. As a collector myself, I know how important it is that the packaging and esign live up to the source material, and I believe this album does just that.”

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Jazz Quintet Fifth Element Releases "FIFTH ELEMENT”

“Fifth Element” incorporates the musical talents of each member to create the ensemble sound you hear on every track. Bassist, Ron Johnston, brings decades of experience to provide the big sound that is the foundation of every great ensemble. His lines weave in and out of the changes in a seamless manner and he is also a wonderful soloist. Drummer, Glenn Anderson, provides the ideal balance bringing his vast knowledge to supply just the right touch to every tune. In Swing and Latin tunes, Glenn provides energy and drive to the ensemble and he is equally gifted with impeccable brush work on Ballads. Pianist, Dale Scaife, has a musicality in his accompaniments that demonstrates remarkable sensitivity in backing the vocals and soloists. His own solos have a thoughtful compositional approach and are, at times, playful. Our vocalist, Nina Richmond, has a complete mastery of every genre on this album. With her gift of musical phrasing and lyricism, she has an ability to communicate with her audience in large and intimate settings, which translates beautifully in this recording. Tenor saxophonist, Dave Coules, ensures that he complements each vocal in an eminently tasteful manner. As a soloist, he consistently gives the listener access to the song clearly rooted in the lines he crafts. "Fifth Element" displays the strengths of the individual players and provides the perfect vehicle for this ensemble to perform 12 of its most requested tunes, all arranged by Dave Coules.

Christina Jones - You Were My Compass AN ALBUM OF LOVE SONGS

Pain. Fear. Denial. Hope. The overwhelming emotions that come when love breaks. The anger at being betrayed. These are the topics of You Were My Compass, a collection of 8 songs written by Kimiko Ishizaka and performed by Christina Jones.

In a collaboration that started at the very outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christina and Kimiko have created an epic musical journey of love ballads, rooted in jazz and blues, that mirror Kimiko's own experience when her husband left her.

Guided by arranger and producer Corey Allen (The Tonight Show, Manhattan Transfer, Chuck Mangione, Lou Rawls), the album resulted from studio sessions in The Dominican Republic, Los Angeles, and Cologne, Germany.

Allan Leschhorn, the recording engineer, is a four-times Album of the Year for the Latin Grammys winner. 

The mix and mastering for You Were My Compass is done by Tom McCauley, who has worked with some of the biggest names in music, including Dionne Warwick, Arturo Sandoval, Bobby McFerrin, Snarky Puppy, John Legend, and Herbie Hancock.

As a musical theater major at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Christina Jones started her pursuit in art as a young girl by singing in church, school musicals, and competitions.

She entered the world of performing arts and music theater as a top contender in American Idol, with multiple appearances at The Apollo in Harlem, NY, and roles in musicals at the New Repertory Theater and Central Square Theater.

Her influences include Ella Fitzgerald, Janelle Monae, Alicia Keys, and Maya Angelou. Christina has a unique artistic style that moves seamlessly between multiple genres and draws on her special talents of perfect pitch and synesthesia.

You Were My Compass will be released in June, 2021.

Alberto Rigoni’s “For The Love Of Bass” Features All-Star Bass Player Line-up

Featuring Nathan East, Leland Sklar, Michael Manring, Tony Franklin, Doug Wimbish, Adam Nitti, Lars Lehmann, Cody Wright, Mohini Dey, and David Pastorius. Alberto Rigoni's “For The Love of Bass,” simply put, it’s bass heaven.

After the success of his latest prog rock album “Odd Times,” Italian bassist & composer Alberto Rigoni (BAD As, Natural Born Machine, The Italians, Vivaldi Metal Project), now releases his 10th solo album. As the title suggests, the instrumentation is exclusively electric bass, spanning ambient, fusion, jazz and new age styles. 

“It has been really challenging but the special guests contributed some gorgeous playing and we are all proud of the result,” says Alberto. “For The Love of Bass” is an all-star bassists album featuring some of the best players anywhere: Nathan East, Leland Sklar, Michael Manring, Tony Franklin, Doug Wimbish, Adam Nitti, Lars Lehmann, Cody Wright, Mohini Dey, David Pastorius, 

Are you ready to face a new bass experience?!

Friendy - Friendy Fire

Friendy Fire is an explosive collection of original compositions, fusing supercharged rock with contemporary jazz, while also drawing inspiration from animated Japanese TV shows and films. Friendy’s vision is to create a powerful musical experience that mixes a strong rhythmic feel with an abstract atmosphere. 

The album will be released through GSI Records (Eric Harland) and is a culmination of over a decade of friendship, hard work, and a common view of life. The band’s quirky social media activity uses humor and creative videos to create buzz and hype through their original music. 

Friendy’s members have been living in NYC and Boston for the past 3 years and have performed regularly on the scene. They have played or recorded with the likes of Kenny Garrett, Mark Turner, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dave Douglas, Alex Sipiagin, Andy Mckee (bass), Jonathan Finlayson, and more.

The album was mixed by Brett Bullion, who mixed albums by Dave King and Reid Anderson, members of the Bad Plus. It was then mastered by Nate Wood, drummer for Tigran Hamasyan and Kneebody, who also mastered albums by Ben Wendel, Aaron Parks, Donny Mccaslin, Shai Maestro, and Tigran Hamasyan among others.

Each song in the album has its own narrative and imagery- "Glass Box" conveys the feeling of finally breaking out of a shell, "h" tries to give the feeling of sitting alone in a dark room lit only by your computer screen and "My Ninja Way", named after a quote from the Japanese anime “Naruto”, is all about staying true to your inner self and values. 

Each member’s unique style and approach adds a different dimension to Friendy’s musical universe. Zohar Amar has a passionate and rhythmic approach to the horn, very much influenced by African rhythms such as Gnawa. His harmonic language blends very well with Noam Borns’ into a style which they cultivated together since their high school days, based around concepts by Allan Holdsworth and Shostakovich among others. Borns has a charismatic and defined style, blending emotional melodicism with detailed and complex lines and textures coming out of Paul Bley, Aaron Parks, and Lennie Tristano. Daniel Ashkenazy’s playing is very imaginative, has story-like qualities, and manages to push boundaries and conventions of how to approach harmony, rhythm and form on the bass. As a unit, Ashkenazy and drummer Shai Yuval are cohesive and dynamic and are able to make both a swing tune and a heavy rock groove sound just right. Yuval is a very dynamic and wholesome musician, bringing a compositional approach to the drums that compliments the music and helps guide it where it needs to go. As a composer, drummer, and a person, he is the voice of reason that ties the music together.

Friendy’s members have been playing together for over 13 years, and share a unique musical language and view of the world- both of which are portrayed and demonstrated in the album Friendy Fire.


Kevin Hays, Ben Street, Billy Hart | "All Things Are"

On June 4th, Smoke Sessions Records proudly releases All Things Are, a collaborative encounter between pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Ben Street and drummer Billy Hart. Performed on the bandstand of an otherwise empty Smoke Jazz Club, the album features seven pieces, six composed by Hays, who contributes three original melodies and three ingeniously crafted contrafacts of canonic standards.

The proceedings transpired on the first weekend of December 2020, when Smoke proprietors Paul Stache and Molly Johnson – who have made herculean efforts to sustain the club as a viable venue during the COVID-19 pandemic – booked the trio for two livestream concerts in celebration of Hart’s 80th birthday. “The setting and the circumstances were unique, and the guys were eager to play again,” Stache says. “The music was so incredible that we all thought we should cut a record from these tracks.”

These jazz all-stars from different generations, convening for the first time as a unit, achieved this sublime recital in an empty room, after a single rehearsal. That they were able to coalesce so fruitfully in this environment stems not only from their rarefied musicianship, but also mutual trust built on long-standing relationships.

Street’s been a first-call bassist for everyone who’s anyone in New York’s progressive jazz circles since the late 1990s, when he and Hays first intersected on a private gig at Ahmet Ertegun’s Long Island house. They’ve subsequently worked together with Kurt Rosenwinkel and other ensembles led by luminaries of their generational peer group. He’s played alongside Hart in Hart’s working quartet with Ethan Iverson and Mark Turner since 2006.

Hays – whose c.v. includes 16 albums as a leader, a host of collaborative duos and trios, and consequential side artist work with such luminaries as Eddie Henderson, Sonny Rollins, John Scofield, Chris Potter, and Roy Haynes (and an engagement at Smoke Jazz Club in March 2020 with Ron Carter and Al Foster that was attenuated by the onset of COVID restrictions in New York) – first played with Hart in 1987.

Then 18, Hays was in Madrid, on tour with [drummer] Tony Moreno, who brought him to a club where Hart was playing with Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach and Ron McClure. “Tony introduced me to Billy, and without skipping a beat, Billy said, ‘I’m curious about you. You want to play?’ It was an amazing experience. He didn’t know me, and he didn’t have to do that, but if you know Billy Hart, he does stuff that he doesn’t have to do.”

On All Things Are, Hart decisively imprints his personality on the flow. “It seemed like Billy was playing with Kevin like a singer, which inspired me to think of Kevin that way and guided everything,” Street says, perhaps thinking of Hays’ mid-career choice to showcase his considerable singer-songwriter chops on albums like the eponymous trio recital New Day (2015), the Hays-Lionel Loueke duo Hope (2017), and a duo with vocalist Chiara Izzi titled Across the Sea (2019).

Street continues: “Playing next to Billy, there’s a feeling that he’s searching again and again for this thing he already knows, that could be out of reach but is worth reaching for. This beautiful human drive is inspiring. It takes you out of the mundane self-judgment process of ‘am I playing well or not?’”

Hays concurs. “Every time I’ve played with Billy, it sounds like everything is freshly minted in that moment, even though, of course, there’s such history behind it,” he says. “He’s constantly listening and responding to you; there’s a tremendous amount of conversation going on.”

Hart regards All Things Are as an opportunity “to play with two of my favorite players.” He describes Street as “unique – my epitome of a contemporary bassist; what he takes as normal, I think is extraordinary.” He continues: “I love the way Kevin plays. I played with Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner and Richie Beirach, and I don’t use the word ‘love’ lightly. Kevin reharmonizes on that level, and I love his touch.”

Consider Hart’s remarks as you absorb Hays’ ingenious melodic formulations on the contrafacts “Unscrappulous” (“Scrapple from the Apple”), “All Things Are” (“All the Things You Are”) and “Twilight” (“Stella by Starlight”); or the lovely melody and beautiful chord changes of “Elegia” (which debuted on Modern Music, Hays’ two-piano recital with old friend Brad Mehldau) and “Sweet Caroline.”

Then consider how “the sound of surprise” suffuses this iteration of “New Day,” the anthemic leadoff track. “After we finish the head, we’re suddenly in outer space,” Hays says. “Ben somehow knew it was time to go somewhere else, and he stopped playing, then Billy took it – and we were off. I wouldn’t have expected it to go completely left. But at that moment, BOOM, this ‘big bang’ happened, and we now had to evolve.”

That telepathic interplay, which these exemplary improvisers perhaps might have regarded as their quotidian norm before COVID, resonated deeply after months-long pandemic-imposed isolation. “I’ve been practicing more than maybe ever, which I enjoy – but it’s me alone at home,” Hays says. “Perhaps I’ve improved, but I’d also fallen out of practice of playing with other musicians. For this date, I was excited to interact with other musicians again, that it wasn’t just me and my own musical thoughts.

“This is the way I like to play. As someone who loves improvisation, I do my best to not repeat myself. I like the unplanned and I tend not to be directive – these musicians already have a direction, which tends to be open. This isn’t a free trio; we’re not playing free jazz. But we’re playing with the tabula rasa spirit, with as little as possible figured out other than the bare bones.”

Contemporary and Smooth Jazz Saxophonist Charles Langford releases his Sophomore album titled, "Powerless"

Contemporary and Smooth Jazz Saxophonist Charles Langford releases his sophomore album titled, "Powerless". Featuring guest appearances from Jimmy Haslip (bass), Russell Ferrante (keys), Jimmy Branly (drums), Avery Sharpe (bass), Poogie Bell (drums), and many other notable musicians. ​With "Powerless", Charles and his talented group take the listener on a smooth musical journey by way of deep grooves, soulful horns, and passionate textures that blend seamlessly with their superior musicianship and production.

Charles Langford has been writing music since his teenage years. This Springfield, Massachusetts jazz man does it all...tenor, alto, soprano sax, clarinet and flute. Mr. Langford came to the Northeast United States after attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the New School for Social Research in New York City. He studied composition and teaching with Billy Harper, Donald Byrd, and Barry Harris, among others. Prior to that, Mr. Langford studied with Archie Shepp and Yusef Latef. Since then, Charles Langford has become one of the Boston area's top A-list players. He's played with artists ranging from The Toni Lynn Washington Blues Band to The Temptations and Mighty Sam McClain. He's paid his dues and put in years with Melvin Sparks, Norman Connors, Solomon Burke, and Steve Turre.  


Friday, April 23, 2021

Jihye Lee Orchestra: DARING MIND

Daring Mind, the Motéma debut of the Jihye Lee Orchestra, came out March 26th to great enthusiasm from critics and playlisters who have recognized Lee as a refreshing and important new force in contemporary jazz.  Produced by Lee, in collaboration with Secret Society bandleader Darcy James Argue,  Daring Mind presents selections from Lee’s award-winning ‘Mind’ series, including her BMI Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize-winning “Unshakable Mind” and the Manny Albam Commission “Revived Mind.”

The album, which reflects her "struggles, doubts, joys, and hopes while living in the amazing city of New York" has gained features internationally including a coveted online lead feature for Telerama (France), features in Jazz Times, Jazz Thing, Jazz Wise, covers for Amazon's "The Pocket" and "Fresh Jazz" playlists, inclusion on Spotify's "State of Jazz" and Apple's "Jazz Currents" and "Pure Jazz" playlists.  So the word is out, and the word is good. Congratulations, Jihye!

Steve Gadd Band Captured Live "At Blue Note Tokyo"

According to Modern Drummer Magazine, “Steve Gadd is one of the very few drummers whose innovations changed the way other musicians heard music.” For the Rochester native, who turned 75 last year, it’s all about making the music feel good. And though Gadd has played his share of super-intricate, challenging music throughout his illustrious career spanning five decades, he’s strictly laying in the pocket with that signature organic feel throughout At Blue Note Tokyo, his latest recording on BFM Jazz and a follow-up to 2018’s Grammy-winning Steve Gadd Band. The great drummer is joined by longtime Steve Gadd Band members Jimmy Johnson on bass and Walt Fowler on trumpet along with newer member Kevin Hays on keyboards and vocals on two tracks. Guitarist David Spinozza, an associate of Gadd’s from the ‘70s, replaces guitarist Michael Landau in the lineup for this Tokyo engagement. “Michael wasn’t able to do the tour,” Gadd explained, “so I was glad that David could do it.”  The tracks on At Blue Note Tokyo were hand-picked and mixed by Gadd and his son, Giancarlo, from the two sets the band played at the legendary club on one magical night during their 4-night run in December of 2019. Three of the nine tracks are original compositions which have never been recorded or released by this band (“Doesn’t She Know by Now,” “Hidden Drive,” and “Walk with Me”). At Blue Note Tokyo proves in no uncertain terms, Gadd is still grooving after all these years.


  

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