Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Stanley Rubyn | "On My Mind"

Nigerian reggae singer-songwriter, Stanley Rubyn, is set to release his new single ‘On My Mind,’ a song of heartbreak and longing. Combining his musical versatility and personal flair, ‘On My Mind’ blends together elements of reggae, afro-soul and folk. ‘On My Mind’ will be available on all platforms on the 1st of November 2021.

Written in the shadows of the night, ‘On My Mind’ was a silver light amidst the lockdown of 2020. Late night thoughts and reflective emotions inspired Stanley Rubyn, who was trying to leave behind a past love affair. “As they say, old memories live, and feelings come back. I was caught up with mixed feelings for her. She was just on my mind, and still is on my mind,’ explains Rubyn. This rings true throughout the song, especially in the chorus, as the hook circles around Rubyn’s lyrics; ‘You been on my mind, you’re still on my mind.’

Recurring hand claps, jovial electric guitar and a layer of percussive vocals lay the foundation of the track, while Stanley Rubyn’s honeyed vocals sit on top. There’s a hypnotic quality to the song, a carefree energy that lifts the spirit of the listener. There’s optimism in each word Rubyn sings, a buoyancy in the deep double bass, and a shining brightness in the guitar. Despite the longing in Rubyn’s voice, the sonic landscape of ‘On My Mind’ is vibrant and lighthearted, a fragment of hope lingering, ‘my love for you will always be, my love for you will never die.’

Now based in Germany, Stanley Rubyn, was born and raised in the Southwest Region of Cameroon. His intense upbringing on the streets, surrounded by a family who sang and prayed every morning, ignited a passion in Rubyn and his love for music. Often compared to Tracy Chapman, his talent for songwriting led him across the world, performing throughout Europe, including Vienna and Switzerland. He became the opening act for Inner Circle, and the new generation band of the late Prince. Since his first studio session, Stanley Rubyn realised that music was his true purpose, and has released a series of singles and albums. ‘On My Mind’ is the next part of Stanley Rubyn’s rich journey.

MARISA MONTE Announces Major U.S. Tour March 4-27 + New Album 'PORTAS"

Singer-songwriter MARISA MONTE, one of Brazil’s most adventurous and internationally acclaimed stars for over thirty years, is returning to the stage with a vengeance. Monte will resume touring in January 2022; in March she launches a ten-city U.S. tour—the largest of her career thus far. Her new show is based on her twelfth album, Portas (Doors), released in July on her own label Phonomotor and distributed by Sony Music; to date it has amassed well over thirty million streaming plays.

Monte’s voice has the lilt and delicacy of bossa nova, but her singing, like her songwriting, is driven by a fierce intelligence, a curiosity about the human condition, and a passion for risks. She has collaborated with a wide array of vanguard artists, including Seu Jorge, David Byrne, Philip Glass, Caetano Veloso, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Arto Lindsay, John Zorn, and Laurie Anderson. Recently Sony Music also released the single “Vento Sardo” (Sardinian Wind), written and sung by Monte and Jorge Drexler, the Oscar-winning Uruguayan singer-songwriter. They composed the song while riding together on a sailboat in Sardinia. Sung in Spanish and Portuguese, it talks about “the flow of life,” Monte says, “and how things are always in a dynamic movement, changing all the time.”

On October 22, Monte was in Sanremo, Italy to collect the prestigious Tenco Award for lifetime achievement in songwriting. Past recipients include Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, and several icons of Brazil (Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, and Vinicius de Moraes); Monte is her country’s first female honoree. “I’m glad to represent all my Brazilian sisters,” she says, “and to be opening doors for them outside Brazil. Female singers before my generation didn’t compose as much as now; it’s an interesting change in the way women occupy space on the musical scenery in Brazil, and it reflects our presence in society as well.”

Her newest album sprang out of the seemingly barren confinement imposed by the pandemic. While staying at home in Rio with her husband, son, and daughter, Monte planned Portas, an album filled with soft, comforting sounds and messages of hope. “I wanted to offer something that could heal and help people to cross this moment, to not be that depressed and sad,” she says. Of the sensual title track, Monte explains: “Doors are very symbolic elements; they talk about opportunities, changes, transformations, so I wanted to offer a sense of passage.”

In November 2020, when COVID restrictions began to ease, she started recording with her musicians in the studio, using full safety precautions. Musicians from New York, Spain, and Portugal made guest contributions through Zoom. Videos were shot for all the songs—“small musical documentaries that show the process of recording,” says Monte, “but also the garden, the sea, the sky, everything that was outside during the confinement, when we all had very limited physical space in which to live.”

MARISA MONTE “Portas” U.S. Tour 2022 

Mar 4 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Mar 6 - Atlanta, GA ,The Buckhead Theatre

Mar 10 - N. Bethesda, MD, Strathmore

Mar 12 - Minneapolis, MN, State Theatre

Mar 15 - Chicago, IL, The Vic

Mar 17 - Stamford, CT, The Palace Theatre

Mar 19 - Boston, MA,  Berklee Performance Center

Mar 22 - New York, NY, The Town Hall          

Mar 25 -  Berkeley, CA, The UC Theatre

Mar 27 - Los Angeles, CA ,Royce Hall

Jessica Pavone | "Lull"

Composer-violist Jessica Pavone has released an excerpt of the third piece from the upcoming album Lull, titled "Ingot," which features renowned composer and improviser Nate Wooley as a soloist on Bb trumpet. Wooley was chosen based on his own extensive work with experimental solo improvisation and unique expansion of the physical and sonic boundaries of his instrument. Pavone's own work on challeging conventional uses of the viola and string instruments in contemporary music makes this a fitting collaboration.

Wooley's solo work has often been cited as part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet playing and he is regarded as one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the boundaries of the horn. Wooley’s performance practice includes extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, vocalization and compositional rigor which all contribute to his revolutionary approach. The music of “Ingot” hinges around a single held note by Wooley which gradually modulates in tone and timbre; the orchestra shifts around this note, determining and reframing its context.

Composer-violist Jessica Pavone was thinking about how music has the power to cause you to feel a range of emotions—depression, excitement, nostalgia—as she wrote the works that comprise Lull. She’s inspired by processes that center intuition and instinct, learning from sound healers and alternative healing practices to bolster her philosophical interests in the power of sound to illuminate hidden emotions.  She channels all these ideas into compositions by focusing on the way music feels when it’s played and heard instead of what’s “right” and “wrong.” In writing music this way, she’s able to explore how sonic vibrations affect the body, weaving her many experiences as an instrumentalist into works that transcend time. 

Lull directly reflects Pavone’s interests by centering flexibility rather than perfection—the music is meant to sit right in the body, not force the artists to cram their hands in positions that simply don’t work. Her score for Lull focuses on open pitches that players oscillate between at their own rate, taking advantage of the natural resonance of instruments. Lull also represents an expansion of Pavone’s practice—this is her first octet, which she was inspired to begin after writing a string quartet in 2017. After writing the quartet, she dreamed of writing a long-ranging, drone-focused solo work; eventually, that turned into Lull, a four-movement octet with two acclaimed soloists, Yeah Yeah Yeahs percussionist Brian Chase and trumpeter Nate Wooley. 

Pavone implements her signature score style on Lull, in which she directs players to move between phrases at specific time points, floating between loosely dictated notes until they reach the designated clock marker telling them to switch to the next phrase. It’s indeterminate music—a structured improvisation that rejects the showiness of jazz improvisation and the rigidity of classical music in favor of gently structured spontaneity. She draws from her experiences both as a classical and jazz musician, working with artists like guitarist Mary Halvorson and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, to form her genre-transcendent music. 

Pavone also wanted writing Lull to be a collaborative process. When she approached Chase and Wooley, she asked them both, “what’s your favorite note to play?” and worked from there, crafting music that felt good to each of them. They’d sent files back and forth, sharing snippets of music they love. Pavone was then able to form movements that catered to each soloist’s desires; in rehearsals, she let the soloists dictate how they wanted to move or change the notes she’d written, giving them a voice in the process, too.

Each piece on Lull embraces themes of comfort, with titles like “Indolent,” or little or no pain, “Holt,” or wood, “Ingot,” or metal, and “Midmost,” or middle. The album’s title, Lull, took her the longest amount of time to choose, but in the end became a clear symbol to represent the music she’d written: This music is meant to be like a lullaby, and listening feels like a dream. Pavone isn’t writing show music, she’s writing a soothing balm to lose yourself in, one second at a time.

Airto Moreira & the Preservation Hall Jazz Band Documentary

Djerassi Films presented Resurrection! Airto Moreira and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the 24th UNAFF on Saturday, Oct. 23rd. In this new documentary, producer/director Dale Djerassi brings two powerful forces in the world of jazz together and takes us behind the scenes as famed percussionist Airto Moreira joins the Preservation Hall Jazz Band during Mardi Gras in the Big Easy.

Airto Moreira is a world-renowned jazz drummer and percussionist from Brazil, who exhibited great talent at a young age. 

In his twenties, he traveled to the U.S.A. in pursuit of Flora Purim, the woman with whom he had fallen in love, who had left Brazil to sing Bossa Nova with saxophonist Stan Getz. Over the years, Airto became a major musical figure by bringing his Brazilian percussion to American jazz. His credits range from records, performances, and compositions with Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, and numerous other notable artists to recording his own solo records. 

Fifty years after coming to the U.S., dealing with a number of personal challenges, Airto was depressed.

Preservation Hall was created in 1961 in the French Quarter of New Orleans as a venue where traditional New Orleans jazz musicians, who were struggling to keep their music alive, could play. Over the years, Preservation Hall became a revered part of New Orleans culture, where a group of venerable talented New Orleans musicians were able to continue to perform. 

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, founded by tuba player Allan Jaffe, began touring widely and attained a high level of recognition. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was awarded the National Medal of Arts, with this citation: "With enormous talent and pride, this ageless ensemble has toured the world displaying the unbreakable spirit of New Orleans and sharing the joy of New Orleans jazz with us all." 

Filmmaker and jazz enthusiast Dale Djerassi attended four nights of performances by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at SF Jazz Center, the premier venue for jazz in San Francisco. Each night, a different musical guest would perform with the band. 

On the last night, Dale approached Ben Jaffe, creative director, as well as tuba and bass player in the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, to ask if they had ever considered playing with Airto Moreira as their guest. Ben was excited by the idea and invited Airto to come to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, along with his accomplished daughter and jazz singer Diana Purim, and her husband, hip hop artist, and bandmate Krishna Booker, who perform together as Diana Purim and Eyedentity.

In the film Dale Djerassi documents how these powerful forces in the world of jazz come together to create a once in a lifetime event - following them from their first meeting at Congo Square on Mardi Gras morning to their arranging, rehearsing, and performing at the legendary Preservation Hall the next night. Taking the viewer behind the scenes, Dale Djerassi navigates the musical alchemy of this meeting and watches how music reignites Airto’s passion to perform. 

This magical Mardi Gras musical meeting has led to the announcement of a new Diana Purim & Eyedentity album on the Ropeadope label, entitled Pais Da Maravilha (Wonderland). The duo, consists of hip-hop artist Krishna Booker and Brazilian singer Diana Purim Moreira. With the new album, they strive for the Brazilianization of American music and the Americanization of Brazilian music, tapping into modern, urban, as well as traditional and cultural elements. This calculated integration of dualities is a deliberate movement toward a more unified understanding of one another, of nature, of humanity and of a grander universal scheme. Pais Da Maravilha (Wonderland) is due out November 12 and features a single with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band!  

The duo Diana Purim and Eyedentity will perform at the view of the UNAFF showing of documentary Resurrection! Airto Moreira and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. 

This is music as medicine for the soul! 

This film will be viewed at the 24th UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival) on Oct. 23rd at 5:30 PM. This year the 24th UNAFF will be held from October 21-31, 2021. This year’s theme MOVING FORWARD continues our two decade-long celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, emphasizing our readiness to resume resolute strides towards lasting solutions. 

Omar Coleman & Eddie Roberts | "You've Been Cheatin'"

The New Mastersounds’ guitarist, bandleader, and producer Eddie Roberts, has joined forces with Chicago’s West Side soul sensation, Omar Coleman, to release Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times via his record label and music platform Color Red. When Chicago-based producer David Vandenberg brought The New Mastersounds to the US for their first time to open for Greyboy All-Stars in 2004, little did he know nearly two decades later there would be full-circle energy tied into that first night out in Chicago and working with Omar Coleman, an icon-clad staple in the city heralded as ‘Home of the Blues.’ Coleman has released the third single on Roberts’ imprint, "You've Been Cheatin'."

When you put “You’ve Been Cheatin’” in a musical centrifuge, you extract a multitude of depth within classic blues themes. With Eddie Roberts producing the track, there are extracted elements of Daptone-esque horn lines, guitar riffs and organ stabs tastefully placed throughout, and a viscous layer of strings pads to contrast the rhythmic particles present throughout the composition. Coleman’s harmonica wails and tell-it-like-it-is vocals call out a lover’s infidelity and demand the truth be told in a precursor to his full-length album ’Strange Times,’ coming out via Color Red in early 2022. Joining Coleman on the track are Dan Africano (Ghost Light) on bass, Chris Spies (Matador! Soul Sounds) on keys, Cole Rudy (Dragondeer) on guitar, Carl Sorensen (Dragondeer) on drums, Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce) on trumpet and Nick Gerlach (Michal Menert) on saxophone. 

Whether dating back to picking up a harmonica at his local music shop to pass downtime as a barber or deep diving into instructional books on leather smithing, a now 10-year side hustle of Coleman’s, curiosity and refusal to be confined to a singular scene have proven to be pillars of longevity in Coleman’s career. After cutting his teeth at Eddy Clearwater’s Sunday jam, he took the plunge to become a full-fledged professional touring musician in 2010. He’d embark on month-long tours in Brazil twice a year, make frequent appearances in Japan, and perform over 30 dates in Europe both solo and with as the lead vocalist/harmonica player in the award-winning Sean Carney Band, a group that has won the International Blues Challenge. He’s had notable plays as the headliner for  “Blues for a Cure” benefit in Columbus Ohio for 3 years straight; Spain Blues Fest; San Francisco Blues Festival, and more and has been featured on the all-star compilation Diamonds in the Rough: Chicago Harmonica Project.

Coleman's debut single and title track “Strange Times” is reflective of the modern state of the world while the bulk of the rest of the album will unveil classic blues themes and uncanny coincidences dating back to that first meeting of Roberts and David Vandenberg (who also produced Coleman’s 2017 album West Side Soul) in the early 00s. On Roberts’ very first night in Chicago, Vandenberg took him to Rosa’s, a legendary blues club on the West Side of town, a club that Coleman had been playing for decades. While laying down his original tune “Old Man Teaser,” Coleman explained it was a story about the lady behind the bar at Rosa’s teasing all the older blues musicians. 

An instance like that goes beyond coincidence and demonstrates the ripple effect of Color Red’s collaborative spirit and the minuscule degrees of separation in their musical network. As for the album’s title, it’s an ode to The New Mastersounds’ 2001 debut record, Keb Darge Presents: The New Mastersounds, that was championed by the iconic Scottish DJ and curator launching the band into a 20+ year career and nine more records to boot. Now, the baton is passed to Roberts as a leading voice in the modern funk and soul revival era with notable producer and bandleader accolades and the launch of Color Red that curates top-notch musical talent from all over the globe. 

Ayumi Tanaka Trio | "Subaqueous Silence"

Subaqueous Silence, Japanese pianist Ayumi Tanaka’s leader debut for ECM – following two critically acclaimed releases with Thomas Strønen – is a strikingly original statement, conveying a musical atmosphere all its own, with its intensities and silences, its sense of mystery and dramatic tension. No other contemporary piano trio sounds like this. 

Tanaka met bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen and drummer Per Oddvar Johansen shortly after arriving in Oslo a decade ago and they have been developing their musical language together since then, exploring the implications of Ayumi’s compositions, which draw inspiration from both eastern and western sources, from the sounds of nature and more. 

Deep interest in the work of Norwegian improvisers brought Tanaka to Scandinavia. “The first time I heard Norwegian jazz I felt that the musicians’ expression was very personal,” she recalls, “the quality of tones making the air feel alive. So I came to Norway to understand how this unique music evolved.”

Born in Wakayama, Japan, Ayumi Tanaka began her musical studies at the age of three, initially playing electronic organ. She recalls improvising, almost from the beginning, in parallel with her studies. “I played everything from film music to the works of Bartók and Ravel. Alone, I would find myself improvising, sometimes about stories I imagined, sometimes to release my emotions. Or I’d just play along with the sound of a bird, the wind, water…”

At the Norwegian Academy of Music Tanaka studied jazz with Misha Alperin, Anders Jormin and Helge Lien among others. Soon she was making significant contributions to Norway’s world of improvisation: playing in a three pianos ensemble with Christian Wallumrød and Johan Lindvall, taking over the piano role in Time Is A Blind Guide from Kit Downes, and co-founding an open-form improvising trio with Thomas Strønen and Marthe Lea, recently heard on Bayou. Since 2015 she has also played with the ensemble Nakama, led by Christian Meaas Svendsen. 

Alongside all this activity, there has been a growing awareness of her own cultural roots; there is an ascetic rigour in her playing, as well as a sense of space suggesting affinities with Japanese musical tradition. “I feel myself in ancient Japanese classical music,” she acknowledges, “even though I am strongly influenced by Norwegian musicians. My late teacher Misha Alperin was always saying to me ‘Find your own voice’, which is something I continue to seek.” 

The stark and poetic pieces she writes for the trio set a musical direction for free creative interpretation. “I intend the group to be more like a chamber ensemble. We share a flow of energy, even in silences, as reflected in the album title.” Silence is often an energizing force in the music, helping to determine the shape of the content, and opening up new avenues of approach. 

Per Oddvar Johansen, long one of Norway’s most resourceful and versatile drummers, is a familiar presence to followers of music on ECM through his contributions to albums by Trgyve Seim, The Source, Christian Wallumrød and Mette Henriette. He is a master at playing in very open contexts, setting pulses in motion with a gently splashed cymbal or delicate brushes on a snare drum, generating powerful music from understated gestures. 

Christian Meaas Svendsen, making his label debut on Subaqueous Silence, variously utilizes Zen restraint and fiercely physical textural exploration in his improvising, alert to the changing needs of the moment. His intensely expressive arco bass on “Black Rain” is among the album’s highlights. 

Subaqueous Silence is the trio’s second album (the first, Memento, was issued in 2016) and recorded at Oslo’s Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria in June 2019. 

Darius Jones | "Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation)"

Acclaimed saxophonist Darius Jones shares his version of Sun Ra’s “Love In Outer Space”, his second and last preview from his first new solo album in five years, Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) releasing November 5th, 2021 via Northern Spy Records. 

Raw Demoon Alchemy (A Lone Operation) harnesses the gamut of raw, unadulterated emotions — suppressed feelings that we’ve all been allowed to “feel” again in the wake of a global pandemic. Born out of a live performance in fall 2019, during the last stop of his tour in Portland, OR, saxophonist Darius Jones renders a solo effort that evokes sadness, rage, and confusion, all the while still holding for glimmers of hope for the future.

With four of its five tracks on Alchemy, Jones selects compositions from artists who are not just unapologetically Black but also notably ones that he regards as “world builders.” From Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, and Roscoe Mitchell right up through the present with Georgia Anne Muldrow, Alchemy draws immeasurable strength from each of these artists who dared to envision and create an entire universe unto themselves, on their terms.

“I want to capture a moment in time, to crystallize the beginning of something at the end of something else,” says Jones. Separated and now divorced from his partner of 10 years, Alchemy balances the emotional heft of closure with the simple act of standing alone. Each track unearths a deep and profound vulnerability in every solo performance that isn’t just personal but also delves into the macro-level divisiveness of our current political climate.

With “Figure No. 2,” Jones offers us a modern-day version of the blues. Courtesy of Muldrow, her refrain encapsulates the vast breadth of the Black experience in America, transforming our deep-seated pain into our beauty and armor of resilience. Jones also proudly rests on the shoulders of Coleman and Mitchell, two of this music’s known improvisers who often stood alone in this music’s ever-changing landscape. He pays homage to Mitchell with “Nonaah,” which in the late 1970s was initially met with jeers from an audience, that is, until his 21+ minute long version overtook them.

Alchemy uncovers a duality of what it means to be alone, especially resonant in today’s climate of social distancing. In one turn, we were all forced to put life as we knew it on hold — to simply be still and deal with our emotional realities unencumbered by the distractions of life. But at another turn, Jones taps into an unknown power of his lone voice, finding a newfound strength and enthusiasm that will carry him — and its listeners — beyond the uncertainty and doubt of not knowing.

Nicole Henry | "Time To Love Again"

On TIME TO LOVE AGAIN, vocalist NICOLE HENRY performs an eclectic mix of jazz standards and reimagined pop tunes with the sweet yet powerful voice that has made her a favorite with audiences and critics alike, around the country and the world. Stephen Holden of The New York Times raved, “I had the sense of being in the presence of a pop-soul superwoman whose every gesture and inflection conveyed confidence and mastery.” BroadwayWorld says, “So powerful is her charisma, so unique is her personality, so rich is her music, so abandoned is her joy that you can't watch her without being drawn in.” Henry’s live performances have garnered fans and rave reviews in over 20 countries.  In Japan, where her albums are widely distributed and she’s enjoyed much touring success, The Japan Times has said, "Nicole Henry holds an audience in the palm of her hand.” Featuring top South Florida musicians, TIME TO LOVE AGAIN is a showcase for Henry’s soulful interpretations of songs by a diverse group of iconic composers. Often favorably compared to Whitney Houston and Natalie Cole for her dynamic range, impeccable phrasing, and bluesy gospel style, Henry truly makes each song uniquely her own, whether burning through a swing tune or gently crooning a ballad.

Andrea Prodan & The Crabs Corporation | "Lend Me Your Car!"

Buenos Aires rock steady kings The Crabs Corporation are back with the brand-new single "Lend Me Your Car" feat. Scottish-Italian film actor, composer and musician Andrea Prodan.

Record Kicks is proud to present "Lend Me Your Car", the brand-new single by Buenos Aires rock steady kings The Crabs Corporation. The new single features on vocals Scottish-Italian film actor, composer and musician Andrea Prodan and it comes out on October 29th on all digital platforms.

The Crabs Corporation are an Argentinian institution in mod-reggae with a sound devoted to “Reggae 69” and “Boss Reggae”. They debuted on Record Kicks in 2009 with the single “Let It Go” featuring Jamaican legend Dave "double barrel" Barker and Jennifer "Belle Stars" Matthias. The single was followed in 2010 by “Bring Down The Birds”, an early reggae cover up of Herbie Hancock’s classic produced by Nick Welsh aka King Hammond. In 2013 they teamed with Trojan Records and Lee “Scratch” Perry soulful queen Susan Cadogan to release the single “Day After Day” and collaborated with Roy Ellis aka Mr Symarip. Now they’re back with the Reggae scorcher “Lend Me Your Car”.

Mike Pride | "I Hate Work"

Mike Pride was not a fan of legendary punk band MDC – a straight-edge hardcore devotee, you could even say he had a chip on his shoulder about this more mainstream, less disciplined form of punk – when he suddenly found himself on a tour of Europe as their drummer sometime in the early ‘00s. Twenty years later, now a longtime fan and friend of the band, Pride unexpectedly turns to the band’s raucous catalogue as a source for jazz standards on his warped new album, I Hate Work.

Due out November 19th via RareNoiseRecords, I Hate Work draws its material exclusively from MDC’s iconic 1982 debut album, Millions of Dead Cops. Despite his long-established passion for bringing the extremes of hardcore and heavy rock into the jazz and improvised music realm (and vice versa), Pride instead does the unexpected, transforming MDC’s pummeling punk into swinging acoustic jazz. 

For the occasion he enlisted pianist Jamie Saft and bassist Bradley Christopher Jones, both master re-interpreters of a wide swath of pop and rock music, as well as special guests Mick Barr (Ocrilim, Krallice), JG Thirlwell (Foetus), Sam Mickens (The Dead Science) and MDC frontman Dave Dictor.

“I literally didn't know anybody when I moved to New York in 2000,” Pride recalls. “So to go from that to joining MDC, not realizing their history and how famous they were in certain aspects of the music world, was really eye opening. And doing 90-day tours without a day off was a serious ass kicking. In hindsight it was a great experience. I would never do it again, but it was a great experience.”

Pride quit the band in December 2004 after two years of touring and recording the album Magnus Dominus Corpus, though he’s maintained a close relationship with both vocalist Dave Dictor and guitarist/songwriter Ron Posner. Not long after, he began incorporating his experiences in the punk realm and his hardcore roots into “jazz” projects like his bands From Bacteria To Boys and Pulverize the Sound.

“Those projects really reflected my idea of the popular music I was into,” Pride explains. “I was getting to a phase of my musical output where I was trying to reflect the music that surrounds me rather than just following my id. I wanted to take tunes from my musical history and started thinking about ways to incorporate more aggressive music in the same way that certain pop tunes became jazz standards. That led me to think about trying to do something with these MDC tunes.”

The strangeness of the songs on the original Millions of Dead Cops was a product of its unusual recording, a marathon, speed-fueled session in which the entire album was recorded without a break. When he landed the gig two decades later, Pride had to transcribe every dropped beat and missed eighth note; he ended up reading from sheet music for his first year with the band, a definite curiosity in the largely untrained punk world that endeared him to his older bandmates.

That attention to detail paid off when it came time to revisit the songs for I Hate Work. “There’s a lot of meat on the bones of some of these tunes,” Pride says. “Originally I thought we could just play them really fast and blasty, which is probably what people would expect of me anyway. Then I decided it would be even cooler to slow them way down, figure out some chord progressions other than the usual I-IV-V stuff, and reimagine the melodies Dave might sing if everything wasn't happening at a breakneck tempo and he was able to really sing.”

That approach is in direct opposition to Pride’s actual tenure in the band, when the goal was to attempt the fastest possible version of each song on stage. The record came one night in Amsterdam, when this album’s title track, “I Hate Work,” clocked in at a blistering 24 seconds, nearly half the previous record. For its album-closing rendition on the present recording, the song is stretched into an 8-minute nightclub crooner, with Dictor bizarrely channeling his inner Sinatra (albeit Ol’ Blue Eyes in his present condition, disinterred and martini thrust into his decomposed clutches). 

I Hate Work opens with Pride’s chattering cymbal patterns setting the pace for a finger-snapping “Corporate Death Burger,” with Saft eloquently exploring the unearthed melody in much the same way as the eclectic pianist has songs by the likes of ZZ Top or Bob Dylan in his own projects. The serrated shredding of Mick Barr enters as the tune transitions into “Business on Parade,” where the guitarist plays like a death metal Sonny Sharrock. 

Barr’s presence on the album was a must, as the guitarist, along with Mr. Bungle bassist Trevor Dunn, was integral in encouraging Pride to join MDC in the first place. He returns for the funhouse mirror cabaret take on “Greedy and Pathetic,” featuring Pride’s frequent collaborator Sam Mickens on vocals. The drummer played with and served as musical director for the ex-Dead Silence singer’s Ecstatic Showband and Revue.

Foetus mastermind JG Thirlwell contributes his rasping purr to “America’s So Straight,” sounding like a showtune for a musical not only off Broadway but deep below it, in some subterranean lair. Saft switches to a calliope-like mellotron for the lilting “Dick for Brains,” trading buoyantly with Pride in the solo section. “Dead Cops” begins with a precision intro before settling into a lurching swing, with Saft essaying another dazzling turn at the keys.

In keeping with a series of threes marking the project – a 3-sided LP, a trio of guest vocalists – Pride also contributes three original compositions to the album, which take the ideas he derived from exploring and expanding the MDC songs into wholly different territory. He plays whispering brushes on the dirge-like “And So You Know,” and propels “Annie Olivia,” named for his young daughter,” with a methodical rumble. Jones’ vehement bowed bass and Saft’s droning mellotron combine in the ominous melody of “She Wants a Partner With a Lust for Life,” dedicated to Pride’s wife.

Family is central to Pride’s philosophy, perhaps helped by his tenure in MDC. I Hate Work is dedicated to bassist Mikey Donaldson, who died of an overdose at the age of 46. “It’s important to me that my family isn’t subjected to a terrible home life because their dad is a musician,” he says. “So I try to always give them some love on the albums.”

As Dictor’s memorable vocal turn implies, the members of MDC have given the project their blessing, which also was important to Pride. “They're very excited about it,” says the drummer, whose nickname during his time in the band was Baby Mongo. “With the generational divide, they definitely feel like proud uncles in some way. I hope it comes off respectful and sheds some light on their music, which is much more interesting than I ever would have assumed previous to joining the band.”

Monday, October 25, 2021

Gary Meek | "'Monterey Groove"

With opportunities for live performance and studio work suddenly non-existent due to the pandemic, saxophonist and keyboardist Gary Meek decided to introduce the world to his stellar new band while revisiting a number of original compositions from his rich catalog. The project soon grew beyond his core quartet, which features  guitarist/producer Michael Lent (Barry Manilow, Jeffrey Osborne). along with bassist Robert Wider and drummer Skylar Campbell.

With the album by necessity being recorded remotely, opportunities arose for guest appearances by some of Meek’s long-term collaborators, including drummer Dave Weckl, vocalist Flora Purim and percussionist Airto Moreira. 

The result is the vibrant Monterey Groove, a stunning set of modern fusion that both celebrates the musicianship to be discovered in the Northern California beachside community and draws inspiration from the area’s natural beauty and welcoming population. The album, due out August 27 via Autumn Hill Records, includes tunes from throughout Meek’s 30-year career as a leader, along with songs written to showcase collaborators new and old.

Anders Helmerson Trio | "Opus i "

Acclaimed pianist Anders Helmerson leads bassist Lukasz Chula and drummer Juan Meija as the Anders Helmerson Trio ahead of the anticipated release of their second album: Opus i. Its DNA intertwined through classical music, folklore, prog rock, and all that lay between, the album sees the band pay homage to those that came before while progressing jazz like no other. Unsatisfied with the genre dormant, the Anders Helmerson Trio infuse a technology and futurism inspired philosophy to bring new life to contemporary jazz.

This signature sound is heralded by the album’s lead track iSchertzo, a piece rooted in a pulsating bass and ever-changing drums that Anders’ masterful piano dances across. Listeners would be forgiven for struggling to define the piece. Part jazz fusion, part prog rock, the song shifts between its layers creating the presence of a totally engulfing soundscape from only its humble three-piece makings. Moments of respite prime listeners for the awe of explosive piano runs that move between feelings of percussion and the softness of tender vocals. 

These intricacies of composition are where the Anders Helmerson Trio set themselves apart. Compared by a Spotify curator to the complex movements and layering of a 3D geometric puzzle, and the paintings of Picasso, Opus i embraces the influences of our technologically rich world: 

“The concept of the letter i, he says, stems from a train of thoughts of random words starting on i as; infinity, improvisation, imagination… where ideas are flowing in a constant stream. My music is conceived in an iworld. The technology support my creative flow, helps me organise my ideas, combining them in different ways, to see it in its entirety, and to define its emotional meaning. – Anders Helmerson

Freeez's first two 12"s "Keep In Touch" & "Stay" reissued

Far Out Recordings presents a double bill of two monumental Brit funk classics. Keep In Touch and Stay were the first two 12” singles by the iconic Freeez, both self-funded passion projects of its founding member John Rocca, for his own Pink Rythm imprint. 

It all started over the counter at Derek’s Records on Petticoat Lane, London in the mid-70s. Rocca - at the time a budding teenage percussionist - met the prolific guitarist, composer, producer and all round brit funk fixer Jean Paul “Bluey” Maunick (also the father of Far Out producer Daniel Maunick). Best known as the founding member of Light of the World, Incognito, and more recently Str4ta, Bluey’s involvement in the origins of Freeez are lesser known, but no less crucial. Bluey invited Rocca to a weekly jam session in an East London basement, where they would develop their craft, form their first band Freeez and develop the idea for ‘Keep In Touch’: “Back in the basement there was this one particular track we were playing that I really loved. It had a groove that I thought I could sell” Rocca reminisces.

Going against the advice of all the musicians involved, who thought he was mad and set to lose all his money, John decided to go full DIY, hire out a high end studio in the West End to record ‘Keep In Touch’ and release it as a private press, birthing his now famed Pink Rhythm label. Featuring Bluey on guitar, Peter Maas on bass, Paul Morgan on drums, Jason Wright on keyboards, and John Rocca on percussion, Keep In Touch was a surprise underground hit selling over 5000 copies and reaching #49 in the UK, leading Freeez into a record deal with Pye / Calibre. 

Still giddy from the experience of having produced and pressed his first record at the age of just 19, John set out to do it all again with ‘Stay’ and ‘Hot Footing’, enlisting Bluey & co once again. This time Rocca attempted to take things to the next level by adding vocals into the mix. Though this new arrangement initially backfired and cost John the deal with Pye / Calibre who weren’t feeling the slight change of vibe, original copies of the Stay 12” have become one of the most in demand from the brit funk canon.

These foundational DIY 12” singles paved the way for Freeez to become a household name in the history of British funk who went on to record hits like ‘Southern Freeze’ and ‘IOU’ as well as underground cult classics like ‘Melodies of Love’ and ‘India’ as Pink Rhythm, John Rocca’s later formation of Freeez named after his imprint. 

Far Out will be releasing a very limited run of exclusive Pink Rythm T-shirts (complete with original misspelled 'Rythm'), alongside the two 12”s (1000 copies of each), both redesigned in the style of the original private presses. Shipping 12th November.

Let Your Hair Down | "Waiting Room"

Over the last three years, those with their ear to the ground will have detected the emerging sound of cinematic instrumental soul music from Melbourne, Australia, from groups such as Surprise Chef and Karate Boogaloo. From this sound emerges a group that precedes the current wave of releases: the rag-tag group of gun session instrumentalists Let Your Hair Down.

Formed in 2014 as a side-project to iconic Melbourne soul band Saskwatch under the name ‘The Let Your Hair Down Girls’, the group served as a vehicle for the instrumental impulses of the band’s rhythm and horn sections. In the ensuing years, the group held down a reputation as Melbourne’s ‘pub soul’ staple, brazenly introducing psych funk, cinematic soul and boogaloo sounds to the beer-drenched haunts that prop up Melbourne’s rock ‘n’ roll scene. 

After a hiatus born from the touring commitments of  the increasingly in-demand players within the group, the project was was revived with the addition of fellow travellers Hudson Whitlock (Karate Boogaloo) and Lachlan Stuckey (Surprise Chef), and a full-length LP of the band’s percussive instrumental soul committed to tape over a weekend in Karate Boogaloo’s infamous attic studio. 

Produced by Henry Jenkins (Karate Boogaloo, Mo’Ju), the production mind behind all College Of Knowledge recordings, Waiting Room moves deftly through moments of fuzzed-out psychedelia, dusty deep soul backbeat and incendiary minor key funk. 

Jesse Cook | "Libre"

What happens when you let multi-Platinum and Gold award-winning producer, composer, and guitarist Jesse Cook’s Spanish guitar off-leash with Algerian multi-instrumentalist Fethi Nadjem and some 808 trap beats? You get Cook’s newly-announced album, Libre — coming December 3rd.

“I wrote and recorded Libre during the pandemic when, like most people, I was longing for freedom,” Cook shares of the new project. “My music was my escape from the four walls that surrounded me, and the storm that was swirling outside.”

The inspiration came from a long summer-day drive with his 14-year old, Cook reveals. “My daughter entertained me with her favourite playlists, much of which were trap and 808-inspired. I loved them too, and a question was planted in my mind: ‘what would my music sound like mixed with those sounds?’”

He wasn’t short on material to draw from; it’s been more than 25 years since the internationally-lauded virtuoso first stepped onto the scene with his now-iconic release, Tempest. In the time since, he’s come to hold ten Gold and Platinum studio albums with a combined sales of 2+ Million copies, five concert DVDs and live discs, five PBS specials, and multiple awards — a JUNO win, 11 nominations, three Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, a Gemini, and an Acoustic Guitar Magazine Player’s Choice Silver Award.

The digital convergence of the past several years has also resulted in Cook’s music streamed in rather impressive numbers across a series of platforms; by September 2021, his Spotify stats had surpassed 55+ Million, and plays on Pandora soaring beyond the 300+ Million milestone. YouTube’s universally visual appeal has also grown steadily for Cook’s connection with audiences, with his channel accumulating upwards of 25+ Million views since 2010.

It was this ready-set relationship online with his legions of fans worldwide that inspired Cook through the unexpected over the course of the past 18 months. With gear cases locked and loaded, about to set off on a national 25-date tour marking Tempest’s monumental anniversary just as COVID-19 shuttered stages, and beyond, Cook made use of the time since through a series of creative experiments — including re-visiting hits like “Wednesday Night at Etric’s, “Tempest,” and more — unveiling them in relative real-time across his social profiles.

At 10 tracks, which will see re-treatments on the likes of “One World One Voice,” “Jaleo,” “Hey!” and more, the release of Libre continues this string of Cook revisiting his distinct repertoire down newly explored sonic streets.

But while it may sound like a new style for both long-time fans and those newly gathered across Cook’s thousands of concerts and millions of livestream views the world-over, reconnecting with an 808 sound takes Cooks all the way back to his beginnings.

“I was in Grade 10 when the Roland TR808 drum machine was first released,” Cook says. “I remember pooling my money together with friends in order to rent one for our mad basement recording sessions. We were spellbound; all of its drum sounds were made by an on-board analogue synthesizer, which gave it this other-worldly quality.

“Of course, I had no idea that, all these years later, the 808 would come to define so many forms of music — from hip hop, to rap, pop, reggaeton, and trap… And now, I get to incorporate it into my own.

“For many of my fans, it may seem like a huge departure for me to record an album dominated by 808 beats but, to me, it feels like I’m coming full circle… Kinda like when wide leg jeans came around again; it’s a bit like coming home.”

Emitime | "Cámara Oscura"

Emitime´s debut album Cámara Oscura is the result of a collaboration between musicians living in three different cities: Buenos Aires, New York, and Zurich. Their experiences and distinct musical backgrounds find a common ground in these chamber-jazz compositions where all the voices create something bigger. The recording was made after touring in Switzerland (January 2020) and in New York (March 2020).

The band was formed in Brooklyn in October 2019 where Argentine pianist Santiago Leibson, bassist Santiago Lamisovski, and Swiss drummer Samir Böhringer met as a trio for the first time. They hadn’t played before but the musical affinity was there: influences of modern and chamber jazz and free improvisation with a clear leaning towards creating meaningful creative music. Swiss tenor saxophonist Tobias Pfister, an old collaborator with drummer Samir Böhringer and also known by Leibson, was the perfect fit to finish the band. He was added to the first European tour in January 2020 and in March 2020 the quartet came to New York to record.   

All the compositions were brought by the “Argentinian legs” of the band: Leibson and Lamisovsky but all of them also were reworked as a band; thus, the final pieces are a product of a collective effort. All the tunes showcase some of the different possibilities that a true “band” has to tell a story. In this manner, the arrangements sometimes feature duos, trios, and even solos, combining these different formats to shape and color larger structures. The compositional and improvisational focus is on the counterpoint and interaction between the instruments. The written material gives a structure that is meant to be amplified by the improvisational skills of the players. Most pieces are five minutes in length; they are concise musical ideas that develop into larger forms where the intention is for the listener to always be eager to know what happens next. 

Another way to look at the concept is that they represent the diversity of experiences and musical backgrounds of the four members of the band. Besides being from different countries, all these musicians share a deep connection with creative music and improvisation. This is the beauty of this music; every experience (musical or not) portrays a different perspective that enriches the overall result. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

Nubya Garcia | "SOURCE ⧺WE MOVE"

Saxophonist and composer Nubya Garcia has announced a forthcoming remix album - SOURCE ⧺WE MOVE, out 22nd October - and shared the opening single, La Cumbia Me Está Llamandofeat. La Perla (Kaidi Tatham remix).

SOURCE ⧺WE MOVE finds Garcia reinventing her Mercury Prize-nominated album, SOURCE, through new collaborations with several artists and producers, including: Dengue Dengue Dengue, Georgia Anne Muldrow, DJ Harrison and Moses Boyd.  The reworked tracks retain the inspiring musicianship and blend of jazz and other influences found on the original, whilst also moving in a more beat-driven, electronic direction.  

Garcia’s critically acclaimed debut album, SOURCE, released in August 2020, is included in this year’s Mercury Music Prize shortlist.  Garcia will perform at the awards ceremony, broadcast live on the BBC on 9th September.

In other news, Garcia and her band - which features Joe Armon-Jones on keys, Daniel Casimir on double bass, and Sam Jones on drums - made their debut performance at the BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall last night.  They were joined by special guest Sheila Maurice Grey on trumpet.

After a lengthy enforced hiatus, Garcia recently resumed playing live and has dates throughout the summer, followed by her own headline UK tour from 31st October to 8th November - more Europe and UK live dates are due to be added over the coming weeks.  In addition, Garcia continues her long-running monthly DJ residency on NTS Radio. 


Chakourah | "lotusland"

Born to a musician and raised as a backstage and studio baby, Alecia Chakour aka Chakourah spent her formative years soaking up the magic of many of the architects of rock and rhythm and blues, as well as her family’s deep well of musical traditions. It was in these spaces that her passion for exploration, community, harmony and texture developed that shines so vividly in her work today, as illustrated through her vast catalogue of live and recording credits (most recently with artists such as Kevin Morby, Gary Clark Jr., Danger Mouse & Karen O, Michael Kiwanuka, Lettuce, Mark Ronson and the Menahan Street Band).

Running at 22 minutes, her forthcoming EP, lotusland, is a lush, dreamy and playful exploration of grief, rebirth and beginning again. Equal parts psychedelic folk and avant-soul, the EP honors, but never replicates, life-long influences as wide-ranging as Marc Bolan, Junie Morrison, Fairuz and the Muppets.

Joining the Chakour siblings and rounding out the band on this record are frequent collaborators and an all-star extended family: Homer Steinwess on drums and Sam Cohen on guitar, with special appearances from Jared Samuel on organ, Cochemea Gastelum on saxophone and flute, and Alecia and Alex’s father Mitch Chakour on piano.

Ali Shaheed Muhammad & Adrian Younge | "Remixes JID010"

As the final chapter in the initial run of Jazz Is Dead releases, Remixes JID010 continues the creative catharsis of an exhilarating new chapter in jazz music. Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad tapped nine iconic creators to reimagine their personal favorites from Jazz Is Dead’s catalogue to-date, who created striking new versions of songs by Marcos Valle, Roy Ayers, Gary Bartz, Azymuth, João Donato, Doug Carn, Brian Jackson and The Midnight Hour. Holding the line taut like a bass string, Younge & Muhammad only invited those special musical alchemists who have previously participated in Jazz Is Dead happenings, or those who are slated to share that stage soon: Cut Chemist, DJ Spinna, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Akili, Shigeto, Pink Siifu, Dibiase, Natureboy Flako, and Kaidi Tatham. It’s a family affair. 

The album blasts off with Kaidi Tatham’s reinvention of Marcos Valle’s wistful beachside stroll, transforming “Gotta Love Again” into a strutting, pulsating excursion equally at home in the club and headphones. Building off of Valle’s mellifluous vocalizations, Tatham harnesses the composition’s polyrhythms to build a soulful, jazz-house track that floats over ethereal synths and stutter-steps to a propulsive beat entirely unimaginable, yet true to the spirit of the optimistic and effortless original.

On his remix of Gary Bartz’s “Soulsea” Cut Chemist taps into the big-beat atmospherics of his old running partner, DJ Shadow, to craft a moody, echo-laden, percussive down-tempo saxophone meditation. Creating drama over bombastic beats, Cut Chemist layers Bartz’s searching sax refrains over sparse keyboard bars.  

Brian Jackson’s mellow masterpiece dedicated to the recently departed jazz vocalist, “Nancy Wilson”, receives an epic overhaul by producer Shigeto with help from harpist Ahya Simone and DJ Dez Andres. More than tripling the original’s duration while adding layers of new sounds, Shigeto’s remix weaves in and out of movements that alternately showcase Jackson’s soulful flute work, Simone’s sparkling harp and Andres’ bubbling percussion. Imagine if Dorthy Ashby and Hermeto Pascoal dropped in on Miles’ In A Silent Way sessions. 

It might have been a foregone conclusion that Adrian Younge & Ali Shaheed Muhammad would give their Jazz Is Dead series the remix treatment, but that doesn’t mean this is your average remix album. Just like Younge and Muhammad fused their aesthetic with the musical masters they invited to collaborate with for Jazz Is Dead, the DJs, producers and musicians tasked with remixing songs from the catalogue tapped into the same jazz ethos, resulting in imaginative and sometimes radically reimagined versions of the originals.

Angel Roman & Mambo Blue | "Festive Interplay"

This new release, Festive Interplay, by Austin-based bassist/composer/arranger Angel Roman is already getting lots of attention for Roman’s inventive compositions, as he blends different Afro Latin rhythms, along with elements of Jazz, Brazilian, Pop, Fusion, Neo-Soul and Funk. 

Composer, arranger, and bass player Angel Roman is an innovative Latin jazz artist who prefers not to tread the well-worn path of past masters of the genre as he blends different Afro Latin rhythms, along with Jazz, Brazilian, Pop, Fusion, Neo-Soul and Funk. On Festive Interplay, Roman fully embraces his talents as an imaginative composer while presenting a program of Latin jazz that is at once very recognizable, but at the same time, quite different and unexpected. Festive Interplay is the fourth album by Roman and his band Mambo Blue. The personnel of Mambo Blue have changed from album to album, reflecting the peripatetic nature of Roman’s life. 

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Roman currently resides in Austin, and the current iteration of the band consists of top talent from the Austin area. Roman performs in a variety of live venues and is involved with various studio projects. His primary focus is his band, Mambo Blue, which gives him a vehicle to experiment and cultivate his compositional skills. It was important for Roman to create a project where each composition is distinctive and unlike any other tune on the album. Festive Interplay is an idiosyncratic album that has the warmth and charm that emanates from the composer himself.

Nina Simone | "Nina Simone And Her Friends"

Originally released by Bethlehem Records in 1959, Nina Simone and Her Friends was a compilation album comprising the few remaining unreleased tracks from the 1957 Little Girl Blue recording session plus songs recorded by two other former Bethlehem artists, the powerhouse jazz vocalist Carmen McRae and the elegant song stylist Chris Connor. 

An RSD-Essentials exclusive “emerald-green” limited-edition 180-gram LP will be available, along with CD and digital/streaming versions (high-definition and standard) on December 3, 2021. The reissue features a fresh stereo master done by four-time Grammy winner Michael Graves as well as a vinyl remastering by the renowned Kevin Gray. Grammy winner Cheryl Pawelski produced the set, which includes a new essay by Daphne A. Brooks, author of Liner Notes for the Revolution. 

As Brooks explains in her essay, “Bethlehem clustered their work — tracks that had previously appeared on the label’s Girlfriends compilation — together with the younger, upstart Simone’s and essentially offered up a collection of songs that span a range of genres — folk, jazz, pop song staples, and torch song laments, plus a couple of provocative original compositions by McRae and Simone. Each track is a reminder of the clear-eyed independence, verve, and confidence of three artists whose music, taken together, brims with the majesty and the assured talents of the late 1950s women artists who led with conviction and invention as musicians and song interpreters.”  

Available October 20, as a sneak-peak, “African Mailman” is an instrumental track recorded during the Little Girl Blue sessions, showcasing Nina Simone’s incredible piano playing. At the time, Simone was in her mid-20s and still aspiring to be a classical concert pianist. As Brooks describes it: “A magisterial original composition of Simone’s which, as she recounts it, ‘was made up on the spot in the studio and recorded in one take,’ finds her moving across an Afrodiasporic terrain of percussion, leading at the keyboard, rolling and tumbling, building waves of contrasting chromatic depth and spinning, ethereal flight.”


Nina Simone – “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” 

Chris Conner – “Someone to Watch Over Me” 

Carmen McRae – “Old Devil Moon” 

Nina Simone – “I Loves You, Porgy” 

Chris Connor – “I Concentrate on You” 

Carmen McRae – “You Made Me Care” 

Nina Simone – “For All We Know” 

Chris Connor – “From This Moment On” 

Carmen McRae – “Too Much in Love to Care” 

Nina Simone – “African Mailman” 

Chris Connor – “All This and Heaven Too” 

Carmen McRae – “Last Time for Love” 

Jorge Rossy, Robert Landfermann, Jeff Ballard | "Puerta"

Jorge Rossy makes his leader debut for ECM on vibraphone and marimba, carving out a diversified musical programme in interplay with Robert Landfermann on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums. The Spanish musician’s switch to mallets follows his contribution on drums to guitarist Jakob Bro’s trio with Arve Henriksen on Uma Elmo. Puerta sees Jorge leading his trio through a set of original compositions. 

The album’s inception can be traced back to Jorge’s growing interest in the vibraphone, going back over a decade. “With this trio the objective was to leave a lot of space for the instruments to breathe and unfold by playing fewer, essential notes. It is also something I finally felt ready to do, after having played it safe in the comfort of harmonically dense line ups in the past,” explains Jorge. Thus, Puerta proves a collaboration based on an equal footing – each instrument sharing the spotlight to the same degree. 

Like his approach as a drummer – formerly the musician’s primary role in any given lineup and most notably so with the first incarnation of the Brad Mehldau Trio – Jorge’s vibraphone elaborations unfold in elegant waves, made up of minimal phrases and poignant vocabulary. His rhythm section responds accordingly. The vibraphonist leaves little up to chance, but instead chooses his lines carefully and with absolute command over his melodic vehicles. “I tend to be a minimalist on vibraphone and marimba, to play few notes and make more use of the space that separates the individual sounds from each other. I was a trumpet player for ten years when I was still quite young. The lessons in melody I learned from that time also translate very well to the vibraphone or to the marimba.” 

Accordingly, Puerta finds Jorge sculpting clear melodies around jaunty vamps at gentle speed, alternatingly interrupted or accompanied by inspired sidemen who inject the music with their own signatures. “Jeff and Robert capture the essence of my tunes so well, and at the same time I think they feel very comfortable to be themselves” notes Jorge, “for this trio I knew I needed more than just a rhythm section. I needed three soloists in order for it to be a completely balanced affair.” 

Three-time swinging “Post-Catholic Waltz,” “Ventana” and “Maybe Tuesday” – based on George Gershwin’s “The Man I love” – offer a rare glimpse at the trio’s more traditional layout, treating the listener to deft walking bass workouts and nimble solos to a fleeting pulse. Elsewhere, Jorge and his cohorts engage in inventive exchanges that – while maintaining the underlying melodic themes as the main priority – expand on rhythmic and textural impulsions. On “S.T.,” “Scilla e Cariddi” and “Tainos,” Jorge opts for the marimba and lets the instrument’s earthy, wooden textures unwind in frames of varying arco and pizzicato bass accompaniment and Jeff Ballard’s percussive cymbal mist. “Cargols” – the sole track in this set that wasn’t written by Jorge but by Chris Cheek – provides a mid-tempo groove for Jorge and Robert’s solos. With “Adagio,” the programme is rounded off by a rubato ballad – an exercise in quiet improvisation that finds appropriate contrast in the blunt tango “Adiós”. 

Jorge came up with the title track to Puerta at a crossroads in his life: “It was like a premonition – intuitive; I wrote ‘Puerta’ in a hotel in London right before the third to last gig that I played with Brad [Mehldau]. At this point, we hadn’t talked about me leaving the band yet, but I had started to feel like it was time to move on. ‘Puerta’ is Spanish for ‘door’. I think I was subconsciously already thinking about opening up a new one in order to enter a new phase, a new chapter.” 

The album, Puerta, too works like a door, opening to an exciting perspective on one of today’s most gifted and versatile musicians. 

Jeff Ballard’s prior recordings on ECM include his work with the Fly trio, alongside Mark Turner and Larry Grenadier, on albums Sky & Country and Year of the Snake. Puerta represents Robert Landfermann first record with the label.


Alison Miller & Jane Ira Miller | "Tues Days"

In March and April of 2021 soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom and drummer Allison Miller came together on five Tuesdays in March and April of 2021 to record some improvised sax and drum duets to see what might happen. They didn’t set out to make an album - they just wanted to play because they needed to improvise any way that they could. They played with complete abandon, performing remotely from their home studios in New York City in the reality of the world of 2021. Tues Days is the result of those recordings that now appear on Bloom’s Outline label and are available through Miller’s Bandcamp site, mixed and mastered by bassist Mark Helias with breathtaking fidelity. It’s a musical duet saturated in a kaleidoscope of color. The music is spontaneous composition at its best by two masterful improvisers – energetic, tactile, and alive. Miller’s multi-colored array of percussion augments her drumset in exquisite counterpoint to Bloom’s signature tone on the soprano sax. The music is both rhythmic and deeply lyrical - drum and sax dancing around one another until their song is sung. The compositions are Bloom and Miller making-it-up live and in the moment, taking you on a wild ride through their musical universe. From the adventurous journey of “The Wild Frontier” to the unpredictable “A & J’s Test Kitchen,” get ready for Tues Days - a story for your ears that will have your head spinning in wonder.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

New Music Releases: Theo Crocker, Norah Jones, Burnt Sugar Arkestra

Theo Croker - Blk2Life: A Future Past

Wonderfully righteous work from trumpeter Theo Croker – and a set that's really got the sort of majesty you might expect from the cover! Theo's never been a straight jazz artist on other records – but here, he really ups his game on the cosmic soul front – mixing in guest vocals and instrumental elements with some soul-drenched arrangements that often have a nicely crisp crackle on the rhythms! Croker's trumpet is only part of the album's strength here – as the set also features work from Gary Bartz on alto, plus vocals from Kassa Overall, Iman Omari, Wyclef Jean, and others – on titles that include "Every Part Of Me", "Soul Call Vibrate", "No More Maybe", "Happy Feet", "Where Will You Go", "Anthem", and "Imperishable Star".  ~ Dusty Groove

Norah Jones - I Dream Of Christmas

The first-ever Christmas album from Norah Jones – done in close collaboration with funk maestro Leon Michels, who also co-wrote some of the songs on the album! The album's still got the jazz-tinged approach of Norah's familiar music – but there's a different spirit, too – maybe a bit more up-close and soulful at times, especially on the original material. Backing is by a small combo that features Brian Blade on drums – and titles include "It's Only Christmas Once A Year", "Christmas Calling", "Christmas Don't Be Late", "Christmastime", "You're Not Alone", "A Holiday With You", and "Christmas Glow".  ~ Dusty Groove

Burnt Sugar Arkestra - Angels Over Oakanda

Wonderfully righteous work from Burnt Sugar Arkestra – a group who've been giving us great records for years, but who are maybe even more important to the scene than ever before! The core of the record is the long title track – a very jazzy tune that builds up over loops set down by composer Greg Tate, with a flowing, snakey vibe that allows for plenty of long trumpet, tenor, flute, and alto solos over the guitars and Fender Rhodes that work the rhythms – maybe almost in electric Miles territory, but more laidback. That tune is then reworked on a number of variations that are very different – mostly instrumental, as the main track – but finishing up with a bit of vocals near the end of the record – a great contribution from singer Lisala Beatty! Titles include "Angels Over Oakanda", "Repatriation Of The Midnight Moores", "Oakanda Overdrive", and "Lisala Oer Inna Oakanda". ~ Dusty Groove

Lady Blackbird | "Black Acid Soul"

Lady Blackbird didn’t mean to soundtrack a revolution. But last spring, that’s exactly what she did. On May 27th, 2020 Los Angeles-based singer Marley Munroe released her debut single. Now, “the Grace Jones of Jazz,” as dubbed by BBC’s Gilles Peterson, presents her debut album, Black Acid Soul.  

Minimal yet rich, classic yet timely, the album connects backwards to Miles Davis (his pianist, Deron Johnson, plays Steinway Baby Grand, Mellotron and Casio Synth throughout) and forwards to Pete Tong (he made the Bruise mix of ‘Collage’ his Number Two Essential Selection tune of 2020) and, yes, Victoria Beckham – Matthew Herbert’s remix of second single ‘Beware The Stranger’ soundtracked the designer’s Spring/Summer 2020 Fashion show.  

Its 11 tracks have a sound, feeling and attitude that speak of Lady Blackbird's deep experiences in music, stretching all the way back to infancy. “I don’t ever remember not singing,” she says, recalling performances in church and at fairs from the age of five. “It’s what I knew how to do, and I don’t want to do anything else.”  

By her early teens, Lady Blackbird was traveling to and from Nashville. She was signed to a Christian label but the only music that resulted was some work with rock/rap group DC Talk. After they split, she worked with former member TobyMac, appearing on his first four solo albums. “But I realized that that whole Christian world, which my parents tried to place me in, was so goddamn far from who I was. I did not want to do Christian music, I didn’t believe anything of what they did, and I quit the tour.”  

A wise young soul already at the age of 16, she then found herself “in limbo, because I was in this contract ‘til I was 18.” Once legally an adult and free, she based herself out of New York while flying to and from sessions in LA. She was working with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, Tricky Stewart and The Heavyweights. A production deal led to a record deal with LA Reid’s Epic. But creative differences led to her parting ways with the label. So, the deal ended “and it was back to the drawing board and working with different people.” 

One of those was artist- turned-writer-and-producer Chris Seefried, who’d been GRAMMY® Award-nominated for his work on the debut album by Andra Day (seen as Billie Holiday in biopic The United States Vs. Billie Holiday). On meeting Lady Blackbird, he recalls thinking: “Wow, I’m working with the best new vocalists there are – Andra and Lady Blackbird are two of the greatest singers on the planet.”  

From Lady Blackbird's point-of-view, “I fucking loved his shit!” she hoots, relieved to have finally found a musical partner who got her. “Chris listened to me, asking, was I feeling this vibe, or that vibe? He was able to dig inside what I was feeling. Next thing you know, he had some amazing sounds worked out. We really just connected.” They took their time, working in Seefried's LA studio, feeling out the bespoke musical path that would work with the fiercely individual performer. Finally, in hitting on the idea of stripping everything back, “we cracked the code.”

“I’d written a song, ‘Nobody’s Sweetheart,’ a jazz ballad kind of thing, and asked her to do a vocal,” explains Seefried. “I laid the tune on her – and it’s quite a complicated piece of music – then I played it again. And she goes: ‘OK, I got it.’ And in two takes she nailed it, live. It’s a real natural genius kind of thing to have that kind of musicality intuitively. 

A sad, elegantly simple tune, “Nobody’s Sweetheart” was, too, a pathfinder song, and was also the first one they recorded with a beautiful trumpet solo from the great New Orleans virtuoso, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. After going all out, they were going all in, deeply in, getting out of the way and letting shine the voice of Lady Blackbird.  

For the singer, a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, that approach, however, didn’t – couldn’t – diminish her onstage persona. “I loved my over-the-top costumes and all this elaborate shit on stage. Chris convinced me we could be jazz and still keep that attitude.” Suffice it to say that, when Seefried played “Nobody’s Sweetheart” to Ross Allen – the British label exec, DJ and crate-digger who’s signed Lady Blackbird to his new imprint Foundation Music – he was astounded. “I also showed him this picture of her, this radical woman on stage, and it was from the back, wearing this incredible dress and Pattie LaBelle headgear. Ross was like: ‘She sings like that and looks like that? Fucking hell!’” 

You can hear that personality in “Collage.” An instant earworm which she inhabits in multiple colours, it’s Lady Blackbird’s take on the James Gang original, a soulful psych-rock deep cut from 1969.  

There’s more inspired reinvention on the aching “It’ll Never Happen Again,” written by Tim Hardin and which first appeared on the folk singer’s seminal 1966 debut. Forthright as ever, Lady admits, “that was one of the ones I didn’t like at first. It wasn’t boring, I just didn’t know how to give it some power or personality at first. But then I tried it, it was a beautiful session, and it’s ended up one of my favorites on the album. It just sounds magical.”  

That spirit of adventure and invention is there, too, on “Beware The Stranger.” It’s a take on “Wanted Dead or Alive,” a rare groove classic recorded by funk/gospel collective Voices of East Harlem in 1973 and co-produced by Curtis Mayfield.  

Rounding out the album are two killer cuts written by Lady Blackbird and Seefried, “Fix It” and “Five Feet Tall.” The former is an elegant piano ballad that was inspired by the Bill Evans classic instrumental "Peace Piece". The Evans Estate granted Lady Blackbird and Seefried co authorship on a song that sounds like a Great American Songbook standard sung by a woman on the side of the angels. Her ability to nail the song in the studio in minimal takes was clearly something to behold.  

As for “Black Acid Soul,” closing the album, it speaks of both the “Jackson Pollock jams” Seefried describes in the studio and the mantric soul evocative of Hot Buttered Soul-era Isaac Hayes. Explaining how the song became the title and then, again, the vibe, Lady Blackbird says: “We used to hashtag #blackacidsoul, as our sub-genre of music. It just encompassed everything we were doing. It cemented all those ideas and genres in this made-up shit! 

"And because ‘Blackbird’ is a great start to the album, because it gets dark and violent and goes somewhere spiritual, we wanted to tail the album with another expression of acid soul. So that became the title track at the end.” 


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