Tuesday, August 31, 2021

June Garber | "Off The Carousel"

Dynamic, soulful jazz vocalist June Garber presents her fourth studio album, “Off the Carousel”. A masterful interpreter of standards, June has chosen some of her very favourite compositions that reflect upon her life’s ride thus far, on roads both rough and smooth.

With a performance career spanning more than four decades, June Garber is established as one of Canada’s leading jazz vocalists. What is less known is that her career as a jazz vocalist is only half her story.

June began her singing career soon after arriving in Canada from her native South Africa in 1975, joining a Toronto-based band as a back-up singer. She later formed her own 8-piece band, self-producing shows that were primarily contemporary songs but also included songs from the South African musical, Ipi Tombi. The band enjoyed huge success with long engagements in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Toronto, as well as single performances in cities across Canada and the U.S. Seeking a break from the rigours of touring, June later turned to the stage, her other love, acting with leading theatre companies and some of Canada’s best actors.

After a long hiatus for personal reasons that began in the late 80s, June began to sing jazz in 2003 and soon established herself as a much-loved and accomplished jazz vocalist in Toronto. Her first two albums, Smile (2005) and Here’s to You (2008) featured jazz standards backed by some of Canada’s finest musicians.

In 2016, she released This I Know, an album weaving a tapestry of emotions – love, joy, pain, sadness – presented in rarely done jazz songs and two original pieces. A touch of South African jazz and street music harkens back to the land of June’s birth.

In September 2021, June will release her fourth album – Off the Carousel. Her new album will be an interpretation of tunes, some known and others not so familiar, that reflect on her life’s journey on roads both rough and smooth. With this album, June shows her versatility – perhaps a glance back to her early singing career – with a track list that does not confine itself to the jazz genre.

June has toured and performed as a singer in major centres in Canada and the United States and in Cuba, the Caribbean, Mexico, South Africa and Australia. She has performed at jazz festivals throughout North America and with big bands in Toronto and Sarasota, Florida.

Every song that she chooses to sing connects to a base truth within – so there is never any artifice. Her voice reflects each emotional shift that the writer intended, whether swinging with an up-tempo jazz song or telling a story with a soulful ballad. The stagecraft she learned in her earlier career as an actor is still evident in her singing performances today.

Of course, that’s the miracle of June Garber; her instinct for capturing and delivering the details of a story and the nuances of emotions – the combination of sensuous luxury, effortless precision, characterful interpretation and the warmth of empathy. – Raul DaGama

Lineup Announced for 2023 Return of Blue Note At Sea

That definition well describes the unique and powerful mix of music performed on Blue Note at Sea, a seven-day cruise produced by Jazz Cruises in partnership with Blue Note Records and The Blue Note Jazz Clubs. After going on a short hiatus due to scheduling issues around the pandemic, Blue Note at Sea returns to sail again in 2023 and will feature a diverse lineup of dozens of stellar artists performing more than 100 hours of live music. Blue Note at Sea ‘23 departs from Ft. Lauderdale on the m/s Celebrity Millennium on January 13-20, 2023, with Ports of Call to be announced.

Multi-GRAMMY Award winners Marcus Miller, Robert Glasper and Don Was serve as hosts for the onboard festivities alongside headliners Chris Botti, Christian McBride, Sheila E., Cécile McLorin Salvant, Brad Mehldau, Christian Scott and The Baylor Project. Featured Performers on Blue Note at Sea ’23 include Cyrille Aimée, Emmet Cohen, Veronica Swift, Julian Lage, Gerald Clayton, Avery Sunshine, Jamison Ross, Derrick Hodge and many more. Saxophonist Eric Marienthal serves as the music director, with Alonzo Bodden as the comic-in-residence.

Performances take place at six venues on the ship, including the main dining room, The Metropolitan Restaurant, which is turned into a top-flight jazz club each night during the week. All venues feature the highest quality of production and sound. In addition to multiple concerts by the headliners in the Celebrity Theatre, there will be numerous performances by the artists throughout the ship in a variety of collaborative configurations, many never seen anywhere else. Shows and events go from around the late morning until the wee hours, when guests can enjoy late-night jam sessions or DJ sets.

“I have hosted cruise programs for Jazz Cruises for nearly a decade now,” says Marcus Miller, Blue Note at Sea host and headliner. “We have traveled the world bringing great music to wonderful fans, but there is something special, something different about Blue Note at Sea. In terms of its music content, it is as pure as it gets.”

Blue Note at Sea is a highly immersive experience designed to satisfy any avid music fan. Because the ship is chartered by Jazz Cruises, the programming is totally dedicated to the music. Guests can participate in artist interviews, experience meet-and-greet opportunities and engage in a wide range of special events with the musicians—from Wine Tasting to Cigars Under the Stars to Martini Hour, and even a pick-up basketball game organized by Glasper (who hit the game-winning shot during the last sailing!). It all adds up to quite a hang. And an experience unmatched by any festival on land. A cruise where Great Music is the Only Rule.

2023 will mark the fifth sailing of Blue Note at Sea, which is the product of an unprecedented partnership between three major players in the music community: The Blue Note Jazz Clubs, Blue Note Records and Jazz Cruises.

“Blue Note at Sea is the only cruise program Jazz Cruises produces where there are active participants in the programming outside of our organization,” says Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of Jazz Cruises. “The expertise and insights that Don Was (Blue Note Records) and Steven Bensusan (Blue Note Jazz Clubs) provide are amazing. Each has devoted his life to this music and it shows. The team at Jazz Cruises makes it all come together.”

Blue Note at Sea is one of three jazz cruise programs produced by Jazz Cruises, acting as a link between The Jazz Cruise with its focus on mainstream jazz and the two annual sailings of The Smooth Jazz Cruise.

“The quality of the musicians alone makes Blue Note at Sea special,” says Don Was, GRAMMY winner and President of Blue Note Records. “But the cruise is more than just great music. Each element of the cruise is way cool, but when you put them together, it is magic. I am proud to be a part of this project.”

A list of the past performers on Blue Note at Sea reads like a who’s who of today’s jazz scene: Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Gregory Porter, Dianne Reeves, Chick Corea, David Sanborn, Kamasi Washington, Melody Gardot, Chucho Valdés, Charles Lloyd, Maceo Parker and many more. 

Real Side Records presents Soul On The Real Side # 12 – Various Artists

The architects of soul are back with a stunning new 20-track Summer 2021 collection and, incredibly, almost half are new to CD.

The show opens with the first of the new-to-CD tracks, the seldom heard “I Need Love” by East Coast disco/funk band Daybreak. The sophisticated New Jersey 45 was originally played at Wigan Casino by Richard Searling shortly after release (covered up as “Search The World” and attributed to Tyrone Davis). It has since become one of the most cherished and in-demand of all Modern Soul records.

Track 2 sees the debut reissue of an obscure Philadelphia disc, “American Girl”, by Roscoe Thomas. Our sincere thanks go to label boss Frank Fioravanti, who provided this superb Latin-tinged crossover delight plus a further 5 Sound Gems. The rarest on the label is Billy Harner’s 1976 “I Got It From Heaven” (trk. 11), another Wigan Casino exclusive for DJ Richard Searling.

A special mention must go to Gean West’s Relatives, who make a guest appearance (trk. 5) with their emotive re-invention of the 1976 release “This World Is Moving Too Fast”. During recording Gean fell into a coma and passed away before the album was released, leaving us with this breathtaking and poignant legacy.

Our thanks also go to all at Mainstream Records, who, once again, supply a handful of class Seventies sides, including Sugar Billy’s original version of “Super Duper Love” (trk. 15), popularised by Joss Stone in more recent times, plus, of course, Almeta Lattimore’s timeless classic (trk. 7)


Good Good Feeling! More Motown Girls

The latest collection of 60s Motown magic from the company’s stable of fabulous female talent features many tracks previously available only as digital downloads, and six unreleased in any format. Here’s series mastermind Keith Hughes with some background on those six exclusive unissued titles:

We lead off with ‘This Love I’ve Got’, a great belter originally assigned to Ivy Jo Hunter. His version hasn’t survived (if it was ever cut) but Martha & the Vandellas’ ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­recording is sensational. The key changes are all “apparent”, edging the song upwards to keep the dance floor lively: the track fades in the same key in which it started.

After two singles on VIP, the Lewis Sisters’ recording career with Motown was effectively over, but they continued writing and cutting demos for the company; ‘My World Is Crumbling’ was their penultimate effort. Theirs is the original version of a track now known as a Brenda Holloway classic, thanks to the appearance of her recording on the popular “A Cellarful Of Motownǃ” CD series.

‘Good Good Feeling’ is possibly the last of Brenda Holloway’s 100-plus Motown recordings, about three quarters of which languished in the vaults until relatively recent times. It’s clearly unfinished – strings are shown on the recording sheet, yet are not present on the tape – but nonetheless Brenda gives it her best. Following some anguish over her tracks being passed over so many times, she left the company in 1968 to concentrate on married life.

Mississippi-born blues singer Hattie Littles recorded over 40 sides for Motown, almost all of which were unissued at the time. Although she had only one release, she was a fixture at the company between 1962 and 1964, touring with the Spinners and Marvin Gaye when not busy recording. ‘When I Was In School’ is from the pen of Earl Johnson.

Singing actress Barbara McNair had been with Motown for nearly three years when she cut the only known version of ‘Watching A Plane In The Sky’, an early Tom Baird song. Her time there was coming to an end: she had released two long-players and four singles, but hadn’t scored a hit, and her film career was beginning to take off. She would soon star as Sidney Poitier’s wife in They Call Me Mr Tibbs!, and movie roles don’t come much higher profile than that.

‘In The Neighborhood’, here by Connie Haines, was recorded by numerous Motown artists (sometimes with the alternate ‘On The Avenue’ lyrics) although not released by any of them at the time. Connie joined the company in 1965; she stayed for less than a year, releasing only one single, but did have the distinction of being the first to record ‘For Once In My Life’, one of the company’s most covered songs.


Tom Moulton | "Spring Event"

It’s June 2020 and I’m on a video call with Tom Moulton. We’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic but life for Tom Moulton hasn’t particularly changed a great deal. He’s effectively been in self-isolation for most of his life wedded to the two things he likes most in life, namely, music and cats.

I’ve known Tom for almost 50 years. The first 20 of those years were spent listening to Tom’s mixes, and I listened to everything he did (including all the un-credited stuff) and quickly realised he was the master. I wore all those 70s Trammps albums out very quickly. The dynamic on all those mixes was really off the scale. I eventually met Tom when I did Salsoul Mastercuts in the early 90s. Little did I realise I’d be working with the guy forevermore.

Over the last 30 years I’ve been fortunate enough to work with him on a variety of projects and all of them were fantastic experiences. Tom’s what I call an original creative and the whole art of mixing is a very emotional thing for him. It made for some long conversations. We fall out all the time but I’m always there for him and he’s always there for me. It’s one of those annoying Master-Servant relationships. Plus I always need access to his archives.

Anyway Tom got access to the Spring/Event vaults and then started working. This project started almost four years ago and, typically in this day and age, went through a number of mutations and delays. We’re lucky it’s finally here.

I still listen to everything that Tom does. These mixes bring out aspects of the songs that I never properly listened to before and, in a couple of cases, had never even heard. Thus is the art of the creative remixer.

It’s been particularly poignant talking to Tom throughout this pandemic. Tom is really the last survivor of his type. A master-craftsman using 80 years of skill and knowledge and who is every bit as passionate today, surrounded by his cats and computers, as he was in the 60s, surrounded by a coterie of young and adoring music fans.

Nothing’s changed. He’s already looking at Volume 2. Enjoy!

Track By Track Guide:

Spanish Hustle -The Fatback Band 9.55 – 1975

Arms had to be twisted and credible threats made to include this amazing instrumental in this package. Since the vocal version was being readied for a 12″ release along with “(Are You Ready) Do The Bus Stop”, the instrumental which Tom ran off was considered surplus to requirements until the handful of people who heard it insisted that it be made available. People power. And is it any wonder why! “Spanish Hustle” was the biggest of the Fatback Band’s run of mid 1970s hits, eventually reaching No.12 on the U.S. RnB charts in March of 1976. However, no one has ever heard this version. Quite simply the sheer scope of what can be achieved with the right multi-track and the right ears is staggering.  Four minutes longer than the original 12″ version, Tom’s mix is quite simply a peak hour banger that will turn legs and co-ordination into putty if heard over a great system. Take a deep breath and a strong scotch before listening. You have been warned.

No One Else Will Do -Ronnie Walker 7.39 – 1974

In 1974 Event Records must have been watching their Philadelphia counterparts reap gold from the explosion of ‘The Philly Sound’. Synonymous with that explosion was long-time veteran writer, producer and orchestra leader, Vincent Montana Jr. So Event swooped in and got Vincent’s services before the emerging Salsoul Records would eventually monopolise him. “No One Else Will Do” is the stunning flip to the topside, “You’ve Got To Try Harder (Times Are Bad)”. That “No One Will Do” has lain idle for the last 46 years is no surprise. The record only seemed to get traction in the UK at the time, with many people (myself included) completely ignoring the B side. Big mistake! Here Tom has all his favourite elements to work with – Ronnie and Vince’s sterling song and production that he has now extended to a far more feasible 7.39. This track is one of the biggest surprises of the package and another example of what Tom can produce with gems he manages to find.

Tom The Peeper – Act One 5.14 – 1973

Act One’s “Tom The Peeper” is actually one of the better-known tracks within this project, at least in the UK. “Tom The Peeper” became a surprise club hit in London and various Funk clubs throughout the UK in 1974. In fact it was even re-issued again in 1976. It’s one of those infectious Raeford Gerald songs with a battleaxe of a Funk riff running right through it. This is now put in full effect by Tom’s pile-driving never-let-up remix, which extends the song to a dance-floor friendly 5.14. The original U.S. 7″ copy of this calls the 2.16 version a ‘Longer Version’ without any sense of irony. It somewhat surprised me when Tom sent this over. The old boy can still groove on funk in his eighth decade. Once a funker, always a funker I guess.

Baby, You Got It All – Street People 5.33 – 1974

Most people would be aware of the Street People via their fantastic album on Vigor Records from 1976, which yielded several U.S. RnB Chart hits over 1976-77. However 2 years before that they released their debut 45 on Spring – the sprightly “I Wanna Get Over”, backed with a slice of magic called “Baby, You Got It All”, this great Ray Dahrouge song which benefits from a superb arrangement from 60s veteran Joe Renzetti. Naturally Tom took one listen to the strings and those gorgeous vocals and once again gave them room to work to best effect. It’s lucky he did. This is not the kind of record that remixers generally head towards but once Tom gets on a mission, who can possibly stop him? Listen and learn.

Going Through These Changes – Joe Simon 8.01 – 1978

Another Joe Simon track rescued from the vaults by Tom is the incredible “Going Through These Changes”.  This great Phillip Mitchell song gets ‘The Harris Machine’ treatment with a great Leon Mitchell arrangement. Surprisingly the only 12″ version released was promo-only and, despite a decent Joe Simon, Gerald Raeford and Michael Barbiero mix, the song got crowded out at the time. It was only ever released in the U.S. and Italy and is relatively unknown generally, all of which makes it ripe for the Tom Moulton remedy. As with everything else on this package, the song finally has a chance to breathe and exhale. There is simply no way that Moulton will allow any nuance of the full recording to escape his attention. And it doesn’t. I can see this mix getting a lot of attention in Soul and Dance circles. It may as well be a new release ‘cos no one has heard this 8.01 minutes of Soul perfection before.

Breakaway – Millie Jackson 9.09 – 1973

Millie Jackson’s “Breakaway” was the fifth Top 20 U.S. RnB hit in a row for the estimable Ms Jackson, reaching No.16 in April 1973. Her run of great singles throughout the 1970s inevitably meant that some of her earlier works got forgotten or overlooked by us mere mortals. Typically this is the kind of stuff that Tom excels at. He likes to confound expectations by digging out tracks like “Breakaway” and then blowing people’s minds when they listen to his version. Mind duly blown. Tom has virtually tripled the running time from the original 45 release time of 2.53 to a gargantuan 9.09. Such is the power of the main riff, that “Breakaway” could almost be a female version of Edwin Starr’s “War” – it’s that powerful. Should absolutely come with a health warning when experienced over a loud system. Quite simply a monster of a mix.

Love Vibration  – Joe Simon 9.53 – 1978

Trust the eagle eyes and basic instinct of Tom Moulton to track down the multi-tracks to virtually anything in which Philly maestro Norman Harris was involved. In 1978 Spring had the thorny problem of trying to align veteran Soul man Joe Simon with Disco. Not an easy task. Mind you they’d done it before with Joe when they teamed him up with Gamble & Huff earlier in the decade, so they sent Joe to Philadelphia again and put him in the hands of ‘The Harris Machine’. Tom’s remix stretches the original 5.05 version to almost double the length and finally allows the song to breathe and stretch comfortably. Exactly the right approach for a song called “Love Vibration”.

Don’t Send Nobody Else – Millie Jackson 7.08 – 1973

Many people will know this fantastic Ashford & Simpson song from Ace Spectrum’s 1974 version,, which became a hit on the UK’s Modern Soul scene in the early 1990s. However Millie Jackson’s version from the year before lay dormant until the 2000s when some enterprising UK DJs started playing it. Timely as ever, Tom found the multi-track and has transformed this original Brad Shapiro produced 3.22 album track into a 7.08 length tour-de-force which is perfect for today’s dance floors. Tom completely enhances Mike Lewis’s string arrangements to new heights making this 1973 Southern U.S. production sound every bit as good as its better known rivals from later years. Ashford & Simpson would be proud.

You’ve Got To Try Harder (Time Are Bad) – Ronnie Walker 7.14 – 1974

The late great Ronnie Walker had a tight little fan base in the UK’s Northern Soul scene and his 1968 release, “You’re The One”, which was actually re-pressed by Phillips due to UK demand. So when “You’ve Got To Try Harder (Times Are Bad)” came into the UK on 7″ import, lots of us jumped on it and the record became a staple of the newly emerging Modern Soul scene. Produced and written by Ronnie and Vincent Montana Jr, three minutes seemed incredibly short for a record with such great instrumentation and Vince’s sublime arrangement. It’s no wonder that Tom’s heartbeat quickened when he got hold of the multi-track to this! The track has now been beautifully extended to a lush 7.14 and now has the space to incorporate all that incredible musicianship from most of M.F.S.B. at their finest. This track (along with “No One Else Will Do” featured above) should give a whole new lease of life to these vintage Philly Recordings. We’ve just been blessed.

Friends Or Lovers – Act One  4.34 – 1972 

It may surprise a lot of people, especially in the UK, but Act One’s “Tom The Peeper” was not a hit in the U.S. Their biggest hit was “Friends And Lovers”, a gorgeous Gerald Raeford song and production which edged the song into the U.S. RnB Top 30 in February 1974. The fact that it’s a ballad will have made little difference to Tom’s motive for mixing it. He hears most records in a different way from the rest of us and has spent most of his life searching for those special nuances in a song that will generally go above most people’s heads. Such is the case with “Friends And Lovers”. Just one listen to the orchestration and production would have marked this song as a Tom Moulton target. To those of us who have been lucky enough to visit the master in his apartment, it’s easy to envisage Tom working on this long into the night completely immersed in the sheer majesty of this song with only those cats of his to bear witness. A Moulton masterpiece. Should be savoured like fine wine. 


David Ornette Cherry | "Parallel Experience"

The new album by ‘Cosmic Nomad’ David Ornette Cherry following his father’s tradition, the legendary, innovative jazz trumpeter and composer, Don Cherry. This a mosaic of healing soundscapes blending spiritual jazz, leftfield electronica, Eastern & native, indigenous sounds into musical parallels that transport the listener through doorways of ancient pathways to futurist crossroads. 

David Ornette Cherry talks about his vision: “When I started my musical journey, my father, Don Cherry, took me under his wings. “To be an Artist/ Musician is a commitment, you must learn the music… own the music you create... and give it back. You must have a vision.” 

In my world, the piano, the keyboard, sounds of nature and numerous instruments of traditional peoples and those who reside in urban society, touch and effect each other with a calming and symbiotic fervour. I compose with the idea that all exist in a world of harmonies which mirror life evolving away from the chaotic (to the positive). There's not just a co-existence but a melding of forms to produce a single musical expression.” - David Ornette Cherry

These unique sounds are also a Cherry family affair with David collaborating with his incredibly talented nieces, Tyson McVey in the beautiful, upbeat ‘So & So & So and So’ and Naima Karlsson on the spiritual ‘Cosmic Nomad’, where Don Cherry’s instrument blue reeds is also featuring - an ode to his father’s work. 

This is phenomenal music with David Ornette Cherry working with upcoming, talented musicians from across the globe into creating genre-defying, groovy, spiritual organic soundscapes that speak to the soul!

'Organic Nation Listening Club (The Continual)', will be released by Spiritmuse Records on 15 October and will be available as heavyweight vinyl LP w/ insert, CD  and digitally. 

'Parallel Experience’ is an upbeat and dynamic track, with David Ornette Cherry performing all sounds and instruments - the song has been premiered by Gilles Peterson on BBC 6 Music

Carla Benson | "Tell Me Why"

Considered one of the most recorded vocalists in the history of soul music - as in-house background vocalist for Philadelphia International Records, Carla Benson can be heard on hundreds of hits, including Billy Paul's "Me and Mrs. Jones," The Spinners' "I'll Be Around," McFadden and Whitehead's "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," Evelyn "Champagne" King's "Shame," Patti LaBelle's "New Attitude" and "If Only You Knew," Lou Rawl's "You're Gonna Miss My Lovin" and Patti LaBelle and Michael McDonald's "On My Own" to name just a few. In the year 2000, Carla was hired to be the background vocals section leader for the Grammy award winning film, "Standing In The Shadows of Motown," a documentary about famed studio musicians of Motown, The Funk Brothers. Following the success of the film, Benson ended up touring with The Funk Brothers for three years. Carla continues to be involved in projects too numerous to mention, and her golden voice is still very much in demand to this day. Presented here is Benson's brand new single, an updated version of MFSB's 1980 hit, "Tell Me Why." Carla's stellar voice brings new life to the classic track and her legions of fans would agree that she sounds better than ever.

Tesa Williams | "Free"

One of the rising stars of the Philly soul scene, the uniquely talented vocalist Tesa Williams has actually been making moves for quite some time. After years of lending her voice in a supporting role to artists such as Gerald Levert and Vesta Williams, Tesa has become a well-respected artist at the front of the stage, wowing audiences with her dynamic presence and beautiful phrasing. Her long overdue solo album is slated to be released in the near future and if this second single from that eagerly anticipated debut is any indication, Williams has a great chance of becoming a big star. On her latest single, Tesa puts her own spin on Deniece Williams’ gem, "Free" - which hit No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart and No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100, and also climbed to No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in May 1977.Tesa repurposes the classic song for these modern times with the help of legendary producer Butch Ingram and a superb backing group comprised of the Philadelphia area's finest musicians.

Q'd UP | "Going Places"

Q’d Up celebrates its enduring creative bounty on Tantara Records’ October 8 release Going Places. The venturesome quintet, formed in 1983 out of the jazz faculty at Brigham Young University, packs their seventh recording with eleven original compositions of hard-charging, straight-ahead jazz with bold progressive touches. 

Going Places also marks a sunset of sorts for the band. Its founding saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist, Ray Smith, and veteran keyboardist Steve Lindeman have both put in their retirement papers from the BYU School of Music after decades of service. Other longtime faculty members and Q’d Up players Eric Hansen (bass), Jay Lawrence (drums/vibraphone), and Ron Saltmarsh (guitar) will carry the torch, but the band’s chemistry and sound will inevitably take a new shape with two of its key members saying farewell. 

“With Steve’s departure and Ray’s retirement in a year, this is the end of an era,” says Lawrence. “We’ve worked together for so long, recording and performing together for nearly three decades. It’s been a lot of fun.” 

One might imagine that sentiment would color such a changing of the guard. Instead, Going Places finds Q’d Up as exuberant and inquisitive as ever. Even the album’s lone ballad, Lawrence’s beautiful “Timpanogos Snowfall,” is shot through with joy and energy that snap the listener to attention. If that’s the band at its most mellow, pieces like the fusion-injected “The Twilight Train,” the lively Afro-Caribbean “Arumana,” and the soulful groover “Perfect Pizza” are nothing short of electrifying.

As has been their habit, the band also brings in some friends to help out on a few tracks. Two former members, drummer Ron Brough and bassist Matt Larson, add memorable contributions to “Timpanogos Snowfall” and “Escarlatta,” respectively. The latter tune, along with Lindeman’s irresistible second line “Tchoupitoulas,” also feature the zesty vocals of Hayley Kirkland, a BYU alum who recently joined the jazz faculty in her own right. With colleagues like these on hand, Going Places suggests that in its next chapter, the band will remain as fruitful and accomplished as it ever has. Lawrence, who with Smith’s retirement becomes the senior member, says, “We’ve always been flexible. I’m optimistic about the future.” 

Q’d Up is the brainchild of Ray Smith, a native Utahn and graduate of Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music. He arrived at Brigham Young as the professor of saxophone—one of more than thirty instruments he plays—in 1982; a year later, he and a group of his colleagues came together to form what was then called the Faculty Jazz Quartet or Quintet (FJQ—the Q was versatile). 

The band’s next longest-tenured members, drummer/vibraphonist Jay Lawrence and keyboardist Steve Lindeman (a classmate of Smith’s at IU), both came to BYU and the band in the mid-1990s. Shortly after their arrival, in 1998, the FJQ dropped its first two initials and reconfigured the last into the more playful moniker Q’d Up. 

This new incarnation established itself in 1999 with its self-titled debut recording, featuring bassist Lars Yorgason (a founding member in 1983) and drummer/percussionist Ron Brough (who was with the band since 1984) alongside Smith, Lawrence, and Lindeman. After a few more albums and personnel changes, Eric Hansen took the bass chair for Q’d Up’s fifth album, 2018’s Never Better; guitarist Ron Saltmarsh arrived for 2019’s Zagranitsa: Mystical Wonderland. (This configuration of Q’d Up has recorded one additional album, Dawn Fire Mist, the group’s eighth, which releases in tandem with Going Places.) 

Q’d Up—and its members, all of whom are prolific and in-demand musicians in Provo (BYU’s home base), Salt Lake City, and throughout Utah—remains one of the state’s hidden treasures. As Smith, who also produces the album, remarks in its liner notes, “If you don’t know the group, you are in for a very happy and exciting discovery.”

Timo Lassy | "Trio"

Tenor saxophonist Timo Lassy, one of Finland's leading jazz artists, is back with a new full length-album ‘Trio’ on We Jazz Records.

The album, released on 27 August, introduces Lassy's new combo with bassist Ville Herrala and drummer Jaska Lukkarinen – both We Jazz Records roster artists on their own right.

The new Lassy sound is tight, swinging and funky, led by the strong and riff-ready sax of the tenorman. That being said, the album's sound is not limited to that of the swinging trio tradition. As we hear already on the first single ‘Orlo', Lassy's new vision also brings in some subtle electronics (played by Lassy and Dalindèo frontman Valtteri Laurell Pöyhönen) and lush strings performed by Budapest Art Orchestra as arranged by Finnish artist Marzi Nyman. It's a new sound for Lassy, but one which keeps true to his no-nonsense cookin' on the tenor.

"Trio" by Timo Lassy will be released by We Jazz Records as blue and black vinyl editions complete with a heavy duty tip-on sleeve, on CD and digitally. Foreign Routes' is the third and final single lifted from 'Trio'. The single is accompanied by a video filmed & directed by Petri Luukkainen and featuring 8mm film footage by Lassy's

Irene Jalenti | "Dawn"

Vocalist and composer Irene Jalenti claims a place in the jazz world for her vast musical talents on her long-awaited debut album, Dawn, set for an October 29 release on Antidote Sounds. The album collects four of Jalenti’s scintillating originals along with six smartly chosen covers and a stunning array of Baltimore’s finest instrumentalists, including guest appearances by two international stars: trumpeter Sean Jones and vibraphonist Warren Wolf.

 Although Dawn is her first recording, Jalenti has for over a decade been an esteemed part of the jazz community in the combined Baltimore and Washington, DC areas (known locally as “the DMV,” for the District, Maryland, and Virginia). While fans, friends, and colleagues have often urged her to record her work, it was the recent COVID-19-imposed seclusion that finally let her conceive, develop, and execute a vision for her debut album. “It wasn’t until last year that I felt I had what it takes to make a record,” Jalenti says. Quarantine, she adds, “allowed me to have time to dig a little deeper into myself… what do I have to say? Who am I in this?”

The answers to those questions are on radiant display throughout the album. She plies her rich deep tones and masterly delivery to gripping performances of the standards “How Deep Is the Ocean,” “You and the Night and the Music,” and “Beautiful Love,” the latter two featuring Jones’s gleaming trumpet work. She also discovers new layers of emotion and meaning in the Brazilian classic “Carinhoso” and the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” and evokes an aura of profound mystery with Howard Blake’s “Walking in the Air.”

That’s to say nothing of the joys and marvels to be found in Jalenti’s own songs. She offsets the constructive criticism in the lyrics of “That’s How the Story Goes” with a hard-driving scat line. With “Moon and Sun” she concocts a dramatic meditation on the cycles of day and night, and thus of life. On “Alma Desnuda” and “Dawn,” Jalenti demonstrates her imaginative knack for musical settings of poetry—here the words of Alfonsina Storni and Meleager of Gadara, respectively.

It is a testament to her artistry that Jalenti was able to attract such formidable talents to accompany her. Along with Wolf (who illuminates “Dawn”) and Jones (who appears on five tracks), she demonstrates great synergy with her ace working rhythm section of pianist Alan Blackman, bassist Jeff Reed, and drummer Eric Kennedy. In addition, Argentine American guitarist Cristian Perez puts his sublime stamp on two tracks. Together they help to elevate Dawn into a triumph by helping Jalenti to find and express herself. “My sound came out when I finally allowed my own music to come out,” she say

Irene Jalenti was born October 28, 1980 in Terni, in the central Italian region of Umbria. She is the scion of a musical family that includes her uncle, pop-star Sergio Endrigo, and cousin, guitarist Francesco Jalenti, among others. Her father, a record-store owner in Terni, immersed his daughter in music of all sorts and encouraged her to take piano lessons from a young age.

Jalenti’s unusually low singing voice had at first convinced her that she had no place in the family’s musical tradition. However, a workshop at Umbria Jazz Clinic changed her mind, and she began cultivating her vocals as a means to a career. She studied at Siena Jazz, made pilgrimages to hear and sing jazz in New York City, then ultimately earned a full scholarship to Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory in 2010. She followed her Peabody degree with a master’s at Howard University in DC, then cultivated both a reputation and a following on the scenes of both her adopted cities. Jalenti formed a quartet with her respected Baltimore colleagues Alan Blackman on piano, Jeff Reed on bass, and Eric Kennedy on drums—which now forms the core of Dawn, Jalenti’s first album that fans and collaborators have spent years asking her to make.

Irene Jalenti will perform a CD release concert at Keystone Korner Baltimore on Thursday 10/21, alongside Sean Jones, tpt; Alan Blackman, p; Christian Perez, g; Jeff Reed, b; and Eric Kennedy, d. Jalenti also plans concerts at AMP by Strathmore, Washington, DC, Fri. 11/19; at Creative Cauldron, Falls Church, VA, Fri. 2/4/22; and at the Cultural Center at the Opera House, Havre de Grace, MD, Fri. 2/11/22.

Friday, August 20, 2021

Adam Hawley | "Risin' Up"

Dropping his third album two weeks prior to last year’s stay-at-home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t halt guitarist Adam Hawley’s remarkable chart domination. His R&B-jazz collection “Escape” proved inescapable, scoring three No. 1 singles, including the No. 1 single of 2020, “To The Top.” The musician-songwriter-producer who to date has amassed nine No. 1 singles returns on September 10 with his fourth album, “Risin’ Up,” which will be preceded by the horn-powered title track as the first single that went for playlist adds on August 16.

The second release on Hawley’s MBF Entertainment label, “Risin’ Up” is purposely upbeat after what the world has endured since his last album.

“Risin’ Up” represents us as a country ascending over the past year and a half with a sense of renewed purpose and vigor. It’s about overcoming and feeling inspired and hopeful. The title track, featuring a great horn arrangement from David Mann, encapsulates the positivity of this album,” said Hawley, who wrote nine new songs for the set, three of which were cowritten by keyboardist Carnell Harrell.

“I started writing as soon as my last album was released, which coincided with the pandemic. Like many others, I found myself at home with a great deal of time on my hands and spent most of it in the studio writing, experimenting with new sounds, and exploring my creativity.”  

One of the other things that Hawley did during quarantine was launch “AH•Live!,” a weekly Facebook Live show on which he interviews and jams remotely with other prominent musicians from the R&B and contemporary jazz worlds. Connecting with his fellow artists from a different perspective opened the door to new collaborations. That’s how Hawley got saxophonists and fellow chart-toppers Steve Cole, Vincent Ingala and Riley Richard to appear on the album.

“Many of the musicians on the record were people I got to know better through the show and collaborating virtually via my broadcast. It was natural to think of them for this album and I was excited that they agreed,” said Hawley, who will support the new album with concert dates through the end of the year.

Other featured soloists on “Risin’ Up” include bassist Julian Vaughn, who appeared on Hawley’s second album, “Double Vision,” and Kat Hawley, his wife who sings on all of his projects. Kat Hawley’s vocals command the spotlight on “Tell Me You Love Me,” a reimagined Demi Lovato tune that closes the collection.

The album explodes out of the gate with “Gotta Get Up,” a danceable number that recalls the mighty Earth, Wind & Fire horn section. The powerhouse horn arrangement in this case was provided by Michael Stever, Hawley’s former bandmate when the two toured with hitmaker Brian Culbertson.

“I always like to make a statement with the opening track and this funky tune is no exception. Look out for the killer horn break!” said Hawley, who released his first two albums on Kalimba Records, the label founded by EWF visionary Maurice White.

As charismatic as he is a nimble-fingered fretman, Hawley was an in-demand sideman and versatile session player who played with Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Cole, Dave Koz, The Manhattan Transfer, Brian McKnight and Backstreet Boys among others before dropping his 2016 debut disc, “Just the Beginning.” He’s performed as a solo artist at festivals, theaters and clubs around the world. An educator who earned a doctorate in music arts from the University of Southern California, Hawley has played in the house band on “American Idol.”

The Chesky Records 35th Anniversary Collection

Right from the start Chesky Records had a sound. David Chesky set out to make "aural photographs" of each session, capturing as much of the sound of being there as the technology allowed, continually pushing it forward. Every note of every session was recorded "live," there were no overdubs, no fixing it in the mix. What went down at the session, with some of the world's greatest musicians, was in the CD, LP, or later on, high-resolution digital download.

Chesky mostly recorded in great sounding acoustic spaces, namely churches and concert halls, with the earliest sessions conducted in the legendary, and sorely missed, RCA/BMG studios in midtown Manhattan.

Every session presented unique challenges, but David Chesky and his engineers, first Bob Katz, then, Barry Wolifson, and for the last decade or so, Nicholas Prout, continued to advance the state of the recording art. We hope you enjoy the music as much as we did recording it! - Steve Guttenburg

Chesky is celebrating their 35th Anniversary by presenting a collection of some of  their favorite and most influential tracks, complete with an in depth look at their record-making history. The collection features a selection of tracks from some of the world class musicians that they have had the privilege of working with over the past 35 years such as John and Bucky Pizzarelli, McCoy Tyner, Paquito D'Rivera, Ron Carter, David Johansen, Amber Rubarth, Livingston Taylor, Astor Piazzolla, Babatunde Olatunji, Ana Caram, Macy Gray, Casey Abrams, Luiz Bonfa, and more! The included digital (printable) booklet features photos, first hand accounts from David Chesky and Bob Katz, and interviews conducted by Steve Guttenburg with Bob Katz, Barry Wolifson, and Nick Prout. Not only that, but when purchased on HDtracks, this collection comes with an additional 13 tracks. And of course, like all Chesky Records releases, every track in this collection features the crystal clear sound quality that you've enjoyed over the years. They've included the highest resolution available of each track, whether that's 192 kHz, 96 kHz, 48 kHz, or 41.1 kHz, for your listening pleasure. 

Reissues by Monty Alexander & Mark Murphy

It’s been a special summer for jazz lovers and record collectors and another treat arrived on Friday when MPS Records reissued jazz vocalist Mark Murphy’s “Midnight Mood” and pianist Monty Alexander’s “Montreux Alexander: The Monty Alexander Trio Live! at the Montreux Festival” on vinyl and CD. With these two releases, Germany’s first jazz label that was founded in 1968 by Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer has reissued 31 titles by legendary jazz figures, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, The Count Basie Orchestra and George Duke, over the last two months in the US and Canada via Edel Germany in partnership with Bob Frank Entertainment.

A quintessential post-bop jazz singer, Murphy was viewed as underrated and revered as one of the finest jazz vocalists of all-time by many. 1967’s “Midnight Mood” finds the inventive singer who crooned blues, scatted bebop and emoted standards with panache paired with eight members of the Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band. However, Murphy opens the collection with a mesmerizing a cappella version of Duke Ellington’s “Jump For Joy.” Murphy swings elegantly on “I Don’t Want Nothin’” and he cowrote the cool “Why and How.” His articulate phrasing stands out on “Alone Together” while the ardent “You Fascinate Me So” is a romantic overture. The singer wrote the somber ballad “Hopeless” and “Sconsolato” cha cha’s to an exotic Latin rhythm. Murphy interprets Ira Gershwin beautifully on “My Ship.” “Just Give Me Time” swings to a bossa nova groove. The set closes with Hoagy Carmichael’s poignant and powerful “I Get Along Without You Very Well.”  

The Jamaican-born Alexander teams with bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton for the 1976 set “Montreux Alexander: The Monty Alexander Trio Live! at the Montreux Festival.” Blues, soul and gospel reign on this stellar jazz trio session that rightfully earned Alexander comparisons with his MPS label mate Oscar Peterson. Alexander’s nimble piano is centerstage on this six-song date anchored by the taut rhythm section with each member of the trio afforded equal time to solo.

Alexander opens with Ahmad Jamal’s “Nite Mist Blues” before going pop on “Feelings.” He swings on the Ellington, Johnny Mercer and Billy Strayhorn standard “Satin Doll” and then shows off his remarkable speed and dexterity on “Work Song.” Blues and gospel intersect on “Drown in My Own Tears.” The disc marches to an unexpected conclusion with a note of whimsy on “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”   

Another tranche of albums from the MPS catalogue will be reissued this fall.

Harley Cortez | "An Inventory of Memory: Vol. II

Composing, producing and performing the music for “An Inventory of Memory: Vol. II,” which dropped last Friday, was cathartic for multidisciplinary artist Harley Cortez. The album release represents the next phase in his healing process after losing his mother and nephew last year. The musician, painter, filmmaker and writer created a collection of aural examinations of genetic memory purposed with turning loss into something beautiful, which is a fitting description of the eight ambient-classical tracks that comprise the second volume of the four-volume “An Inventory of Memory” recording series.

With a history that includes being part of indie solo, duo and band projects and touring as the opener for alt-rock icon Morrissey, Cortez now records electronic instrumentals that are introspective, meditative and moody ruminations. Etching simple yet exquisite melodies and haunting minimalistic refrains, he crafts intimate compositions on piano and keyboards with sparse accompaniment by Modeste Colban (flute and saxophone), Andy Baldwin (violin) and Nancy Kuo’s (Janelle Monae) strings.

Cortez’s art over the last few years – music, paintings, drawings, sculptures, writings and experimental films – has focused on the “An Inventory of Memory” theme. He released the first album in the series last December. Early next year, he plans to publish “An Inventory of Memory” book, which is a collection of short stories, poetry and recollections tied to the motif.

“One of the things I think is really interesting about genetic memory is the idea behind how so much of what our ancestors did can dictate where we’re at, what we’re doing or who we are. Memories we perhaps didn’t know we had, so on and so forth. My mom was a very mystical person; being Native American, she was very spiritual, and my father, who I really didn’t know growing up, was a writer and a pretty well-known painter and musician for where he was. That’s how he made a living. I never really knew him, yet our trajectory was very similar. That’s what really sparked my curiosity in genetic memory, along with the theme of mortality. Those are both very apparent themes in my work,” Cortez recently told the Monster Children website.

“The third and fourth ‘An Inventory of Memory’ records are essentially done. I’m putting the finishing touches on both. The third volume will be out in the autumn or early next year around the book release. I’m still adding a couple of little things to the book. Traveling abroad this summer has been great inspiration for the book as well as for my upcoming art exhibitions,” said Cortez while traveling in the Greek Isles.

The artist who has exhibited his work in New York City, Los Angeles and Tokyo has several exhibitions slated to open this fall. Late next month, Cortez’s work will be exhibited for two weeks at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City. In October, he will be part of a major exhibition in New York City curated by noted art critic and poet Donald Kuspit  at the Georges Bergés Gallery. A third show taking place at La Galleria Nuevo Progreso in Mexico in November will include a performance element.

“For my solo show opening in Mexico in November, I will conduct a string quartet playing ‘Y (Be Still)’ from “’An Inventory of Memory: Vol. II.’ I’m very excited that the live music will be accompanied by a special dance performance in collaboration with renowned Mexican choreographer Diego Vega,” said Cortez who recently found out that his short film, “The Sick Oyster,” will premiere at the Kinsasha International Film Festival in September.

“This is a bit of a big deal because the lead actors are African and the characters in the film are Congolese. It is a Pan-African film,” said the Los Angeles-based Cortez.

Lisa Hilton | "Transparent Sky"

As America and other countries re-emerge from the limitations of 2020, Lisa Hilton and her trio with Rudy Royston and Luques Curtis, enthusiastically embrace the moment with a vibrant new jazz offering titled Transparent Sky, that will inspire, uplift and motivate us all. Rich with glorious harmonies and unique compositions, Hilton’s swinging band radiates a sun bleached aura to listeners. Throughout the album Hilton, Royston and Curtis develop a surprisingly wide range of rhythmic ideas from a variety of genres, masterfully blending classic traditions with new approaches and upbeat style.

The recording jumps in with the Latin tinged “Santa Monica Samba,” quickly following with the equally energetic “Random Journey” on this collection of nine originals, plus one cover. Hilton has a way with ballads, and “Nightingales & Fairy Tales” is no exception. With its slight nod to Bill Evans in the sixties, this has the making of a jazz classic for a twenty – first century audience. “Living In Limbo,” “Chromatic Chronicles,” “Fall Upon a Miracle” and “Infinite Tango,” highlight the multiple creative rhythms of Hilton’s compositions and showcase ample opportunities for Curtis’s agile bass, and the delightful details of Royston’s drums. A cover of “God Bless The Child,” co-written by Billie Holiday and Arthur Herzog Jr, is a charmer, and like all the tracks here, is skillfully and originally presented without being forced. Slowing towards the album’s end, “Extraordinary Everyday Things” is a calm and expressive soundscape. With a surprise twist, Hilton finishes the album with the title track, “Transparent Sky” as a sonorous piano solo. Lisa Hilton will debut the new album, Transparent Sky, with her Trio on Thursday, November 18th at Weill Hall in Carnegie Hall/NYC.

Lisa Kristine Hilton is a distinctive composer of jazz, an acclaimed pianist, a bandleader and producer. Growing up in a small town on California’s central coast, she originally taught herself to play piano with a colored keyboard guide, writing her first simple songs around six years, before beginning studies in classical and twentieth century music starting at the age of eight. In college she switched majors from music, and graduated instead with a degree in art. This art background informs her musical creations: she describes “painting” compositions using improvisation, and harmony or “sculpting” with multiple rhythmic ideas from different cultures. Hilton’s music draws on classical traditions, and twentieth century modernists as well as classic American jazz greats such as Cole Porter, Thelonious Monk, and Horace Silver, as well as blues heroes Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. Hilton’s music annually tops the jazz charts and appears on popular shows such as Apple Music’s Pure Jazz Playlist. In the book, “The New Face of Jazz: An Intimate Look at Today’s Living Legends and Artists of Tomorrow” by Cicily Janus, it states that Hilton has been “compared to some of the best pianists in history.” Noting that the overwhelming majority of music performed in jazz clubs and concert halls today are of compositions written by male musicians, Hilton is outspoken about the importance of presenting, and listening, to music composed by women in these fields as well.

Adonis Rose, New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Cyrille Aimee |"Petite Fleur"

The celebrated New Orleans Jazz Orchestra examines and the profound relationship of its hometown to the nation of France with its fall release of Petite Fleur on Storyville Records (digital release September 24, physical release October 15). The second album under the artistic directorship of drummer Adonis Rose features ten songs, nine of them standards associated with French and New Orleans musicians. The tenth tune is an original by Cyrille Aimée, the acclaimed jazz vocalist who was born and raised in France but now lives and works in The Big Easy itself. Aimée is the NOJO’s collaborator and vocalist on the album. 

It was the singer who initiated the collaboration, telling Rose that she would like to work with the 18-piece big band and asking if he had any ideas for a project. “I said, ‘Well, okay, musically, how can I tell a story here?’” Rose recalls. “I thought about the long, shared history of those two places, and that became the concept. A narrative about the musical relationship between New Orleans and France.” 

The title tune, a standard by early jazz clarinet legend Sidney Bechet, epitomizes the concept: A composition by a New Orleans artist living in France, performed by a New Orleans band with a French vocalist. Composers from both sides of the Atlantic, from Michel Legrand to Jelly Roll Morton, get similar treatment. So do various New Orleanian styles, from a stomp (“Get the Bucket”) to a second line (“Down”) to Fats Domino-style rock ’n’ roll (“I Don’t Hurt Anymore”).

In addition to being its spotlight vocalist, Aimée is also Petite Fleur’s featured soloist, applying her razor-sharp scat singing to “In the Land of Beginning Again,” “On a Clear Day,” and “Undecided.” She is in good company, with superlative instrumental improvisations from soprano saxophonist Ricardo Pascal (“Petite Fleur”), tenor saxophonist Ed Peterson (“Get the Bucket”), and, on Aimée’s “Down,” a fierce trumpet duel between Ashlin Parker and John Michael Bradford. However, it’s really the orchestra itself—as well as the parallel lands of New Orleans and France—that earns top billing alongside Aimée. 

Adonis Rose was born January 11, 1975, in New Orleans, the scion of a musical family. He began playing drums at 3 years old, following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, and as a teenager became enamored with the music of fellow New Orleanians Wynton and Branford Marsalis—whose father, Ellis, eventually hired Adonis as a member of his working quintet. 

Rose won a prestigious presidential scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston; just afterward, however, Terence Blanchard called and invited him to tour. “So, two days after my high school graduation I went out on the road with Terence. That was my first gig,” he recalls. He continued to get work with Betty Carter, Marlon Jordan, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, ultimately dropping out of Berklee to go on the road and make a home in New Orleans. 

In 2002, Rose became the founding drummer for the nonprofit, Grammy-winning New Orleans Jazz Orchestra (NOJO), the first institution in jazz’s birthplace to build a performing arts center committed solely to the music’s development. He maintained that position even after moving to Fort Worth, Texas, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, where he taught at the University of Texas at Arlington and established the Fort Worth Jazz Orchestra. Rose moved back to the Crescent City in 2015, by which time NOJO was his steadiest gig—soon to be his full-time one. 

The following year, Rose took the reins of the 18-piece band, inaugurating his leadership with the 2019 release of Songs—a tribute to New Orleans musical legend Allen Toussaint. Petite Fleur, Rose’s second project as artistic director, was delayed by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as both NOJO and the city of New Orleans itself have done so often over the years, it persevered. In this, says Rose, Aimée played an important part. 

Growing up in the town of Samois-sur-Seine in France, Cyrille Aimée would sneak out of her bedroom window to join the gypsy caravans gathered for the annual Django Reinhardt Festival. She would carry the joyful spirit of gypsy jazz to the Montreux Jazz Festival, where she won the 2007 vocal competition—the first of many such accolades—and recorded her debut album with the prize money. In 2014 Aimée made her major label debut with It’s a Good Day (Mack Avenue), featuring an innovative two-guitar band that returned for 2016’s highly acclaimed Let’s Get Lost. Move On: A Sondheim Adventure (2019) is her most recent release. 

“Cyrille’s a phenomenal performer,” says Rose. “Working with her was effortless, and she has great chemistry with the orchestra. I was struck by her level of professionalism and her ears. She can hear anything. She came in and nailed it in first and second takes. It was a thrill to work with her.” 

Adonis Rose and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra featuring Cyrille Aimée will perform a CD release concert at the Jazz Market, 1436 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd, New Orleans, on Friday 10/15. Additional dates are planned for January 2022: 1/14 La Mirada (CA) Theatre for the Performing Arts; 1/15 Scottsdale (AZ) Center for the Performing Arts; 1/16 Tucson (AZ) Jazz Festival. Midwest and East Coast appearances for the spring are in the works, as well as possible dates in Europe surrounding Jazz Ascona in Switzerland (6/24-7/3). 

Thursday, August 19, 2021

New Releases: Leela James, Alvin Fielder / David Dove / Jason Jackson / Damon Smith, Lord & Dego

Leela James -  See Me

Is it us, or has the voice of Leela James just gotten deeper and more expressive over the years? Here, she's got a way of inflecting the lyrics that we never would have guessed way back at the start – set up in well-crafted contemporary soul modes with plenty of help from Rex Rideout, but always at a level that makes it known that Leela's very much in charge, and setting the tone strongly with her work on tunes that include "Put It On Me", "Tryin To Get By", "See Me", "I Want You", "You're The One", "Complicated", "Rise N Shine", "Angel In Disguise", and "Break My Soul".  ~ Dusty Groove

Alvin Fielder / David Dove / Jason Jackson / Damon Smith - Very Cup of Trembling

Beautifully resonant improvisations, recorded in a cathedral in Houston, with a sonic power that's really wonderful – given the space and the depth of the room! The quartet often start out in relatively subtle territory – with the drums of Alvin Fielder or bass of Damon Smith staking out space before the others find their way into the mix – which eventually results in some beautifully bold lines on trombone from David Dove, and all these many unusual soundshapes from Jason Jackson on both tenor and baritone saxes! The titles are all from pieces by poet Fred Moten – and titles include "If Your Sweetheart", "Brushstroke Curvetime", "Othar Or Other", "Lonely Slipper", and "Long Hall". ~ Dusty Groove

Lord & Dego - Lord & Dego

A long-overdue full length set from Lord & Dego – the duo who've been giving us some great London tracks over the past few years, and who really deliver on this extended set! If you know those cuts, you'll know that Matt Lord and Dego are really evolving the style that Dego first was giving us back on the London scene years back with other associates – lean grooves with a cosmic vibe, and an approach that shows that sometimes using just a little can do a hell of a lot! Lord handles the funky drums next to basslines from Dego – and while both handle some of the keys, we're especially in love with the album's fantastic Fender Rhodes likes from Dego. The album's all instrumental, but has a righteous message nonetheless – and titles include "No Romance", "Better Than Pleasure", "Your New Life Costs You Your Old Life", "People Lie Actions Don't", "Keep To The Left", "Guess Who's Smoking", "Who's Gold Who's Gold Plated", "Life Happens Here", and "It's Not What You Know It's What You Can Prove". ~ Dusty Groove, Inc.

The Bogie Band feat. Joe Russo | "The Witnesses"

Following a sold out show at Nublu in New York City recently and a performance at Newport Jazz Festival back on Sunday, August 1, The Bogie Band featuring Joe Russo has released a new single, "The Witnesses".

The 10-piece ensemble founded by saxophonist Stuart Bogie and drummer Joe Russo is comprised by musicians who hail from a long list of groups, including Antibalas, The Dap Kings, Red Barat, Arcade Fire, Joe Russo's Almost Dead, David Byrne's American Utopia, St. Vincent, The Budos Band and Superhuman Happiness. A collaboration between old friends, Bogie's horn arrangements meet Russo's propulsive drumming in an explosive combination of woodwind and brass instruments that reimagine wind music in bold and dynamic new ways.

"'The Witnesses' speaks to urgency of the times in a musical language that laid the ground work for the Bogie Band featuring Joe Russo," says Stuart Bogie. "The brass knocks you right and left, the saxophones scream, and the drums keeping you running for your life."

The Bogie Band featuring Joe Russo will release their debut album in early 2022 via Royal Potato Family.

Charles Langford | "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 (see below for complete list).

​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. 

Angel Canales | "Sabor"

Craft Latino, the Latin repertoire arm of Craft Recordings, proudly announces the release of an all-analog remastered vinyl reissue of Sabor, the electrifying salsa album that established Angel Canales as “El Diferente” – one of the most idiosyncratic and charismatic singer/songwriters in the annals of tropical music. So memorable and unique was Canales’ artistic style, that he gained a rabid following among salsa aficionados throughout the Americas. 

Out August 27th and available for pre-order today, the new edition of Sabor was remastered from its original analog master tapes by Phil Rodriguez at Elysian Masters and pressed on 180-gram audiophile quality vinyl. The iconic album will also be released in hi-res digital for the first time, including 192/24 and 96/24 formats. 

Born 1950 in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Angel Luis Canales moved with his family to New York when he was only eight years old, and grew up listening to the albums that Ismael Rivera recorded with Rafael Cortijo’s orchestra – a paradigm of Afro-Caribbean singing with personality and flavor. After working as a jeweler and a stint in the army, Canales devoted himself to music. Lacking any formal training, he used the limitations of his voice to maximum effect, perfecting a style that is instantly recognizable: stressing vowels in unusual places, emphasizing lyrics in theatrical fashion and creating a particular groove and emotional connection to the music that draws from previous masters but remains inimitable to this day. 

Canales’ recording debut couldn’t have been more auspicious. He was lead vocalist on Markolino Dimond’s 1971 Brujería – one of the most transcendental and atmospheric albums in salsa history. Produced by Joe Cain and released in 1975 by Alegre Records (Alegre was acquired by Fania Records in 1975), Sabor introduced Canales as songwriter, bandleader and star vocalist, featuring a provocative cover with a naked female torso and the bald-headed singer flaunting his love of jewelry. Arranged by Colombian pianist Edy Martínez, the eight songs inside are hugely flavorful. Canales introduces his players one by one on opening cut “Sabor los rumberos nuevos,” waxes poetic about his nostalgia for Puerto Rico – the mega-hit “Lejos de ti” – and in Ruben Blades fashion, sings about a colorful Nuyorican character on the simmering “Perico Macona.” The LP also includes two boleros – earthy and velvety – showcasing Canales’ natural flair for melodramatic narratives. 

Even though Canales’ stage persona was decidedly eccentric, salsa fans of the ’70s were quick to embrace a performer so eager to rewrite the rules of the game. Sabor established him as a tropical icon and the few concerts he offered in South America were wildly successful. He continued recording at a feverish pace throughout the ’70s and ’80s, and later retired due to health issues. Disappearing from the public spotlight, he is now considered one of salsa’s most intriguing figures. His mercurial legacy remains.

Nicholas Payton | "Smoke Sessions"

For a young Nicholas Payton, Miles Davis’ 1966 album ‘Four’ & More, captured live two years earlier at Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall, provided a template for what music could – and should – be. Now long established as one of the most renowned musicians and composers on the scene, Payton has convened two of the legendary musicians who played with Davis on that album, bassist Ron Carter and special guest saxophonist George Coleman, to craft some exemplary sounds of his own.

With Smoke Sessions, set for release on October 29, 2021 via the label of the same name, Payton finally realizes his long-cherished dream of leading a session with Ron Carter on bass. To reignite the chemistry of the album he’d fallen in love with decades before, he also invited George Coleman to contribute to a pair of tunes. (A third contributor to ‘Four’ & More, pianist Herbie Hancock, is represented by the composition “Toys,” but Payton fills the keyboard chair on the date as well as playing trumpet). Rounding out the quartet is the esteemed drummer Karriem Riggins, a longtime collaborator of Payton’s who helps ensure that the music bridges generations as well as styles.

“Miles Davis' ‘Four’ & More was the album that really inspired me to take up music seriously,” Payton explains. “Ever since then, Ron Carter has been an idol and a favorite musician of mine. As long as I’ve been leading bands I’ve patterned my choice of bassists by the metric of how much Ron they have in their playing. When I’ve looked for pianists in my band over the years, it's often predicated on how much Herbie they have in their sound. So this album is really a dream come true for me.”

Far from a tribute or a look back, however, Smoke Sessions is a wholly contemporary new album that vibrantly captures Payton’s open-eared blend of swing, funk, soul and hip-hop influences with Riggins’ expansive fluidity behind the kit and Carter’s renowned, rock solid majesty on the bass. Payton seizes the opportunity to engage with that recognizable voice in multiple forms, taking both the Miles and Herbie roles as trumpeter, pianist and keyboardist via the multi-instrumentalism that has become a thrilling trademark of his approach.

While Payton has crossed paths with Carter on a number of occasions over the years, he’d never been able to persuade the famously exacting bassist to appear on one of his own dates before now. “He finally started giving me the time of day,” Payton says with a laugh. “Once I had his interest I hurried up and locked it in before he changed his mind.”

Whatever the delay, Carter spoke highly of the bandleader in the wake of recording Smoke Sessions. “I was quite pleased and had fun playing with him as a piano player as well as a trumpet player,” the bassist said. “Listen to him play trumpet. He’s listening to my response to what he does — if the trumpet players of today want to try to put him in a place, he should be up there because he listens to what the bass player contributes to his solo.”

The album opens in high-spirited fashion, with the elastic groove of Payton’s aptly named “Hangin’ and a Jivin’” before Coleman makes his first of two appearances on the sultry “Big George.” “I feel like George didn't get as much credit as he deserved for being a part of Miles's experimentations in alternate changes and chord progressions,” Payton says. “That's why the songs on the album with George tend to be basically four-bar vamps – those four-bar turnarounds and what they would do with them were so influential in changing the landscape of how musicians play chord changes. It was important to me to get into that stuff that they did back in the 60s. George being there was like the cherry on top.”

Those concepts are explicitly referenced in the title of “Turn-a-Ron,” Coleman’s second guest spot, which gives the two masters plenty of space to interact with one another. The bassist is also paid homage on “Levin’s Lope,” which references his middle name while repurposing the bassline of “Cyborg Swing,” from Payton’s Quarantined with Nick album. “The sound of how I hear bass in an ensemble comes basically from Ron Carter and Ray Brown, so a lot of the music that I write is tailor made for what Ron does. I didn't have to make any alterations to accommodate him because I write with his sound in mind anyway.”

The two-part “Lullaby for a Lamppost,” dedicated to New Orleans music legend Danny Barker, takes its structure from a New Orleans funeral procession – slow and dirge-like at first, then celebratory as the body is laid to rest. “Danny Barker gave me my first regular gig at this club on Bourbon Street in New Orleans called the Famous Door,” Payton recalls. “The tune is my homage to him, to his mentorship and the dedication he had to educating the youth in New Orleans.”

“Q for Quincy Jones,” originally recorded on Payton’s 2015 Letters album, pays tribute to another wide-ranging musical icon whose production skills, Payton remarks, “have been part of the fabric of the sound of music in the 20th century from Dinah Washington to George Benson to Michael Jackson.” The composer adapted “Gold Dust Black Magic” from his orchestral work of the same name, premiered earlier this year by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.

The remaining two pieces are drawn from the songbooks of two of Payton’s most formative keyboard influences: Hancock’s aforementioned “Toys,” originally recorded on 1968’s Speak Like a Child with Carter on bass; and Keith Jarrett’s achingly beautiful “No Lonely Nights.”

The recording of Smoke Sessions, Payton concludes, was “like a pinch-myself moment… I used to pretend I was playing with [these musicians] when I was a child, and now it’s happening. I literally felt like I was walking on air. To have someone I've listened to on record and admired from afar actually be a part of something that I created was just beyond my wildest imagination. I remained in a dream state for a couple of months afterwards.”"Smoke Sessions" was produced by Paul Stache and Nicholas Payton, and recorded live in New York at Sear Sound's Studio C on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to 1/2" analog tape.


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