Monday, July 04, 2022

New Music - Michael Dease, Alex Sipiagin, Soil & Pimp Sessions, Doug Webb

Michael Dease - Next Best Thing

We love the work of trombonist Michael Dease, and a record like this really has him in the best possible setting to really do his thing – working with a combo of well-chosen, sympathetic players, getting to unfurl some great new compositions, and stepping forward with this rock-solid energy that easily makes him one of the greatest contemporary musicians on his instrument! Dease isn't one to take the trombone into free jazz territory – but he does evolve the instrument a few steps past the territory of predecessors like JJ Johnson, Curtis Fuller, and even Steve Turre – working with a voice that's all his own, and a tight sense of phrasing that resonates especially well here with work on trumpet from Alex Sipiagin. But, as mentioned, the whole group's great – a wonderfully warm lineup with Renee Rosnes on piano, Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto, Boris Kozlov on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums – the last two of whom are wonderfully hard-swinging, and are fast becoming one of our favorite contemporary rhythm teams. Titles include the Dease originals "Horse Trading", "Lullaby For Rita", "Charly Jaye", and "Parker's Brood" – plus the tracks "Tiktaalk", "Glory", "Rainbow People", and "With Love". ~ Dusty Groove

Alex Sipiagin - Ascent To The Blues

Trumpeter Alex Sipiagin is no newcomer to jazz, but he also seems to have really grown as both a player and a leader in recent years – deepening his sound sound with a sense of color and timing that we've never heard before, and really making the most of his comrades in a combo – especially in a setting like this! The tunes are mostly all originals by Alex, delivered with a strong focus by the quintet – a lineup that also features Diego Rivera on tenor, Art Hirihara on piano and Rhodes, Boris Kozlov on bass, and Rudy Royston on drums and percussion – a group who work with an innate sort of energy throughout, really packing a heck of a lot into a small space – while still allowing for plenty of individual moments of expression! Titles include "Dolphin's View", "Doppio", "Hindsight", "No Doubts", "Rush Hour", "Sandrigo Blues", and "Novorod Bells". ~ Dusty Groove

Soil & Pimp Sessions - Lost In Tokyo

Soil & Pimp Sessions sound better here than ever – still working with a style that nobody else can touch – but in a way that's also a nice change from some of their previous records too! If anything, these guys have really perfected their ability to step out and soar – with horn passages that are not as tightly tied to the rhythms as before, so that they can find all sorts of colors and moods on their own – really illuminating the music in a beautiful way, as the bass and drums step in at points to keep things funky and moving forward! There's nothing "lost" in their music at all – and although we've been following these guys from the start, and loving every minute – we might well be loving this record than any previous set. Titles include "Valley Of The Light", "Ring Route 7", "Meji Jingumae", "Riverflow", "Funky Pongi", and "Generation Tree". ~ Dusty Groove

Doug WebbMessage

An album that really soars with a saxophone-heavy sound right from the very first note – a unique quintet outing that not only features the tenor of leader Doug Webb, but also the alto of Greg Osby and additional tenor of Bob Reynolds – in a lineup that just also includes Hammond from Brian Charette and drums from Charles Ruggiero! The three horns really soar together over the organ lines – then break off into some well-focused solos before giving Charette some solo space too – although that might not even be needed, given that his superb handling of his instrument strongly colors the album at every single moment. As with most Posi-Tone albums, the set's brimming over with original material – a feature that we really love from the label – on titles that include "Where Did You Come From", "Doug's Dilemma", "Frustration", "Nekide", "Caught In The Webb", "New Beginning", and "Bonnie Lass".Dusty Groove.

New Music: Irie Reggae Hits – Featuring Joe Gibbs & The Professionals, Whatever You Want – Bob Crewe's 60s Soul Sounds, Spirit Of France – Obscure, Rare Spiritual Jazz, Deep Folk, & Psych From The French Underground The French Underground, The Dining Rooms

Irie Reggae Hits – Featuring Joe Gibbs & The Professionals (with bonus tracks)

A hugely expanded version of this classic album from Joe Gibbs – in a 2CD set that adds in 32 bonus tracks, 20 of which appear on CD here for the first time ever! The core album is one that's really telegraphed by the image on the cover – a 1979 gem that brings together a host of different vocalists working in a righteous groove produced by Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson – tracks set to slow-stepping rhythms that really let the vocals open up with plenty of soul, and plenty of message – in a great blend of personal and political themes that really tie together the different moods of Jamaican music at the time. Core titles include "Come On Little Girl" by Dennis Brown, "Lovely Lady" by The Mighty Diamonds, "This Train Is Bound For Glory" by Culture, "I Can't Stand The Rain" by Hortense Ellis, "My Number One" by Earl Sixteen, "Every Day Is Just A Holiday" by Ruddy Thomas, "Slim Thing" by Trinity, "The Greatest Love" by Lloyd Parks, and "Danger In Your Eyes" by Marcia Aitken. PLUS, the 2CD set features 34 more bonus tracks, all Gibbs and Thompson productions – work by Junior Murvin, Black Uhuru, The Africans, Jacob Miller, Althea Forrest, Dhaima, Enos McLeod, Dennis Walks, Junior Delgado, and others.  ~ Dusty Groove

Whatever You Want – Bob Crewe's 60s Soul Sounds

A great lost legacy in soul music – a killer collection of work that was all put together by Bob Crewe in the New York studios of the mid 60s – a time when Crewe was maybe best known for his brilliant work with the Four Seasons, but still had time to work with a whole host of other acts as well! Like his famous proteges, Bob also had a really strong appreciation for soul music – and here, he turns his stunning ear for studio perfection to a whole host of different artists on tracks that were issued on a variety of different labels – the kind of special magic that made Crewe's presence known to those who were paying attention to producer credits on 45rpm singles back in the day! The selection of cuts is as wonderful as the artists who recorded them – presented with detailed notes and great sound that go way past any of the bootlegs that have explored this territory in previous years – with a whopping 24 tracks in all, titles that include "Long Time No See" by Tracey Dey, "Count On That" by Shirley Matthews & The Big Town Girls, "Time Marches On" by Lainie Hill, "Sayin Something" by Dey & Knight, "Sock It To Me Baby" by James Carr, "3 Minutes Heavy" by The Time Keepers, "Everything Under The Sun" by Walter Jackson, "Deep Dark Secret" by Dee Dee Sharp, "Whatever You Want" by Jerry Butler, "An Angel Cried" by Hal Miller & The Rays, "My Own Two Feet" by Kenny Lynch, "Hurt Yourself" by Frankie Valli, "Stranger In My Arms" by Lynne Randell, and "I'm Going Out" by Kiki Dee. ~ Dusty Groove

Spirit Of France – Obscure, Rare Spiritual Jazz, Deep Folk, & Psych From The French Underground The French Underground 

A much-needed look at the really magical world of music in France – a scene that's always seemed to exist in its own sort of space, especially during the late 70s/early 80s years when most of these tracks were recorded! The French scene had some famous free jazz at the start of the 70s, but there was also another strain of unique sounds that were beyond categorization or comparison – music that took some of the creative inspiration of jazz and turned it towards global sources, acoustic instruments, analogue electronics, and even French vocal styles – creating work that was not only years ahead of its time, but which also was often missed on the global market, because it was so hard to label and categorize! This set brings together some of the best of those moments – music that's maybe a great second step if you've already dug sounds on labels like Saravah or Futura/Marge – and the whole package is wonderful throughout – filled with titles that even we might have missed otherwise. Tracks include "Gaal" by Noco Music, "Les Crocodiles" by Catherine Derain, "Reve De Voyage" by Remy Couvez, "Sokoto" by Structures Sonores Lasry Baschet, "Loreley" by Pan Ra, "Mahabaratha Kali" by Adjenar Sidhar Khan, "Bujumbura Lyon" by Workshop De Lyon, "Arabia" by Dynamo, "Love Always" by Jef Gilson, and "Moving Waves" by Andre Fertier & Clivage. ~ Dusty Groove

The Dining Rooms - Turn To See Me

Some of the deepest work we've ever heard from the Dining Rooms – a set that still has the well-crafted grooves of their previous records, but which shows a richer understanding of sonic properties as well – delivered in ways that make the record more than just a batch of tracks – and instead have a wider palette of sounds that opens up in different ways with each new track. The record has a mix of both vocals and voice – not too many lyrics throughout, but the presence of guests who almost drift in and out of the mix at some points – and have a more straightforward presence at others. Titles include "Desire", "Turn To See Me", "Bonjour", "Lungo Il Fiume E Sull'Acqua", "Energy & Love", "What's Your Path Man", "Water & Sea", and "Empty Window/Empty Space". ~ Dusty Groove

New Music: David Versace, Laura Cream & Bill Coon, Brenda Rothwell, Risco Connection

David Versace - Okra

'Summer Party' is the first offering from David Versace’s forthcoming debut LP ‘Okra’. The sharp four minute track hooks like Kamal & The Brothers swinging back and forth between samba with the breadth of the Australian landscape organically intertwined. Perfectly illustrating the rest to come of the LP. Part Jazz, Samba and Ambient excursion and experiments.​David Versace is an Australian multi-genre keyboardist, composer and producer based in Meanjin, Queensland. Growing up in a very musical household it was always important to express and embrace all types of music and sonics. His sound ranges from Jazz and Samba to ambient works and the odd dance-floor heater. David also plays in Meanjin nu-jazz dance outfit First Beige.Since late 2019, he has self released around 20 different tracks and with the most recent signing to La Sape Records, David is excited to announce his debut solo album 'Okra' a conceptual body of work that flows through a culmination of raw organic concepts conceived in the moment, and his most elegant an articulated work yet. 

Laura Cream & Bill Coon - Stringsongs

National Jazz Award winning guitarist Bill Coon and acclaimed Canadian vocalist Laura Crema have collaborated on a book of genre-spanning  original songs. Their offering draws on jazz, Latin, country, and folk music, and evokes a wide range of moods, from carefree exuberance to haunting melancholy. The sumptuous sonic interplay between Laura, Bill, and their renowned collaborators Peggy Lee & Jon Bentley creates a lush, layered, and thoroughly mesmerizing sound. Their new album Stringsongs developed organically, the product of a longstanding musical friendship developed over the course of countless dates with a wide variety of bands. Fittingly, their first song began life as Benni, an instrumental Coon had written for a dear friend. Coon asked Crema if she was interested in writing some lyrics to help capture the essence of friendship and loss – themes which became essential leitmotifs for their entire collaboration. \

Brenda Rothwell - Destiny

Released just before the pandemic, Anglo-Canadian bassist/composer Brendan Rothwell’s 2019 smash single, “Keep on Keepin’ On” – which made him the first indie artist to hit #1 on all three SmoothJazz.com Airplay Charts – offered the musical hope and encouragement we needed to navigate the global challenge. Always evolving and full of surprises, this multi-faceted artist – who was inspired to play bass when he heard Marcus Miller’s groundbreaking work on Miles Davis’ TUTU – infuses his easy-grooving, buoyantly funky and often soulfully meditative third album Destiny the intimate and emotionally direct, heart to heart nature of Brendan’s compositions, Destiny presents twelve master-crafted tracks with titles designed to spark our musical imaginations. www.smoothjazz.com

Risco Connection - Risco Version

We're going back to 1979 at Strut HQ today as we release the first ever official compilation bringing together the reggae / disco singles of Risco Connection, formed by ex-Studio One house drummer "Drummie" Joe Isaacs. Isaacs had created history at Studio One, playing on countless pre-reggae classics before moving to Canada in 1968. “We were among of the first Jamaican musicians to go there,” he explains. “With Risco Connection, we wanted to try something new, songs with a crossover between disco and the rocksteady feeling." Musicians included Isaacs on drums and percussion, bassist Clarence Greer, guitarist Tony Campbell and keyboardist/singer Glen Ricketts. Isaacs also called on a number of great independent vocalists including Merlyn “Lorna” Brooks, (‘Caught Up’), Otis Gayle and Juliette Morgan (‘Bringing The Sun Out’ and ‘Sitting In The Park’). The dub of Risco’s dynamite cover of McFadden and Whitehead’s ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ became a firm favourite of David Mancuso at his famed Loft parties. ‘Risco Version’ brings together all of the vocal versions, dubs and additional tracks from the singles and features liner notes by journalist Angus Taylor including an interview with Joe Isaacs. Audio is restored by Sean P and cut loud and proud by The Carvery.


Sunday, July 03, 2022

New Music: Gerardo Frisina, Natural Lateral, The Jazz Report All-Stars, Per Møllehøj / Richard Andersson / Jorge Rossy

Gerardo Frisina - Soul Drum

For a prolific artist as Gerardo Frisina, almost two years without a new release from him seems like an eternity: this brand new 12′′ EP entitled “Soul Drum” breaks the silence, giving us three new works composed by Gerardo, four if we consider the two versions of the title track. This EP anticipates the full album already in the works, scheduled for release at the end of 2022. Without losing his Latin trademark, Gerardo continues his research into hypnotic and pulsating rhythmic patterns in both acoustic and electronic form, which are now a fundamental stylistic element of his. As on his previous album “Moving Ahead”, the rhythmic style blends naturally with echoes of tribal voices, piano keys and wind instruments (trumpet, saxophone, flute), creating the “Joyful Sound” (title of the forthcoming album) that reverberates on the surface.

Natural Lateral - Tapestry Of Life

Social Joy Records presents Natural Lateral's new album 'Tapestry Of Life', a superb excursion in fusion jazz with a wonderful blend of electronics and subtle elements of spiritual jazz. Undeniably on the rise after the success of their first album, ‘Cogito Ergo Jam’, which received support from the British Jazz scene and was featured on Gilles Peterson’s BBC 6 music show, the North- London based collective goes a step further this time by carefully crafting a new release of a tapestry of music stemming from rich jam sessions at the Lazy Robot Studio and representing the band's phenomenal musical canvas. Echoing jazz legends like Azymuth, Roy Ayers, Alice Coltrane and Miles Davis by paying tribute to those who paved the way but always searching for new musical territories, this six-track LP is moving, thougg and engaging. It is a musical quest where each band member searches for meaning through rhythm and sound - giving a new life to jazz music and dropping the full spectrum of a vibrant tapestry of life into the listener's ears. The release moves through elements of vintage, yet also involves sophisticated sound production fusing jazz with modern dance and world music sensibilities. The first track lifted off the LP is ‘Rendez-rio’, a feel-good summer track of Bossa. The superb Rhodes keys adds a Samba cadence to the track where one feels easily transported into a musical dream landscape – offering a "rendez-vous" in Rio de Janeiro.

The Jazz Report All-Stars - Take The Train Eh

"Take the Train Eh", is an arrangement crafted around Strayhorn’s A Train, embellished with the dense, freewheeling arranging style of Don Thompson - himself on vibraphone. The band plays with the precision and electrifying energy of a high-speed commuter train jetting from one station to the next. Thompson solos brilliantly on vibraphone – followed by a classic Kirk MacDonald performance that straddles the landscape between Dexter Gordon and Wayne Shorter, and a third solo by trombonist Terry Promane, punctuated by an intervening series of Thompson interludes and extensions, leading to a final rousing eight bars of A Train. The Jazz Report debuted as a three-hour Thursday afternoon radio show on the campus of the University of Toronto in 1986 at CIUT 89.5 FM, produced and hosted by Bill King. By 1988, the show had transformed into an international jazz magazine – The Jazz Report Magazine which had an 18-year run, and in 1989 a nationally syndicated radio show heard in 26 Canadian cities—The Jazz Report Radio Network. The late ‘80s were a time of extraordinary growth in Canadian jazz, in that countless musicians broke away and began recording, producing, and pressing their own music. Most attached to a collective. In 1990, King received a request from an event planner to assemble a jazz entity for Roy Tompson Hall - a night of socialites and dignitaries fundraising for a select charity. The dollars earmarked for the music portion covered the hiring of a ten-piece ensemble, of which King called the Canadian Jazz Orchestra. The occasion was also significant in that King played on Glenn Gould’s Yamaha concert grand, notably bequeathed to the hall by Gould himself. The collective performed live on two occasions—once at the Du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival in 1993 and the Montreal Bistro over two nights in July 2000.

Per Møllehøj / Richard Andersson / Jorge Rossy - Inviting

With roots in Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Iceland, Copenhagen-based bassist Richard Andersson brings together legendary drummer and ECM recording artist Jorge Rossy with in-demand guitarist Per Møllehøj for “Inviting”, a true homage to the giants of jazz out August 12th. Turning to music aged 14 after a firework accident left him blind, he found his way into jazz first through Keith Jarrett and, later, the live recordings of pianist Brad Mehldau. The drummer on the latter's albums, alongside bassist Larry Grenadier? None other than a young Jorge Rossy. "I loved the way Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy played with such a natural feeling and groove,  even when in an odd meter. I studied this a lot back then and to be able to perform with Jorge Rossy himself (and to put some of those tricky rhythmic ideas on record!) is a thrill. And, to top it off, “inviting” my long-time friend Per Møllehøj to join us on guitar is a big honor for me.” It’s perhaps unsurprising given the preferred format of his music idols that he brings together a classic trio line-up for the recording. But it’s by no means a copy of those past greats. Leading with guitar instead of piano, the trio gives a fresh improvisational twist to some oft-underused jazz standards in addition to four original compositions by Møllehøj and Andersson. Bebop tune Conception gets a mid-tempo modern treatment, with Andersson’s virtuosic bass chops doubling the melody. Like Someone In Love undulates between sparse ballad to downtempo swing, whilst a cooking version of the tune You’re My Everything highlights the jazz tradition credentials of all involved. “To have Per Møllehøj and Jorge Rossy in a trio setting playing standards and alike is probably as close to a perfect musical situation as you can get for a bass player like me.” Described as “one of the most interesting characters of the Danish jazz scene” by Gaffa Magazine, you’d have to imagine the feeling is mutual!


Saturday, July 02, 2022

Walt Weiskopf European Quartet | "Diamonds and Other Jewel"

Waylaid by the COVID-19 pandemic, tenor saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and his European Quartet return with a vengeance on Diamonds and Other Jewels, set for an August 19 release on AMM Records. A collection of Weiskopf originals (and one standard), it demonstrates the powerful chemistry Weiskopf shares with pianist Carl Winther, bassist Andreas Lang, and drummer Anders Mogensen—matched by their audible relish at being back together. 

The album is the sixth release by the acclaimed quartet, assembled by Weiskopf in winter 2017 for a quick European tour but quickly becoming his regular working band (when not on the road with Steely Dan, Weiskopf’s other steady gig). The winter European tour became an annual tradition—although 2020’s was their last in-person summit for two years. (Their 2021 release, Introspection 2.0, was recorded remotely, with Weiskopf across the Atlantic from his bandmates.) When opportunity finally presented itself again in January 2022, they were more than ready to take it. 

“Playing together again was joyful, creative, productive; and what a relief to feel a semblance of wholeness at last,” writes Weiskopf in the liner notes. “After our first few concerts, I was excited and inspired to write some new material during a train trip from Belgium to Germany. I realized we now had enough music to make a recording worthwhile in earnest.”

The title Diamonds and Other Jewels is a direct reference to actual song titles, including the scintillating waltz “Black Diamond”; the pensive but emotionally charged “Blood Diamond”; and the autumnal ballad “Other Jewels.” But it could easily describe the overall quality of the album’s eight tunes. Among the sparkling treasures are tributes to two of Weiskopf’s mentors: “Thad Nation,” a brightly colored celebration of composer, arranger, and (co-)bandleader Thad Jones, and the Arthur Johnston-Sam Coslow classic “My Old Flame,” dedicated to the late great alto saxophonist Andy Fusco.

 These tunes are tight, most of them around six minutes. That’s a sterling testimony to how tight the band itself remains, both in terms of their personal bonds and their musical discipline. In those short timeframes, these musicians say a tremendous amount. (Photo above, l. to r.: Andreas Lang, Carl Winther, Walt Weiskopf, Anders Mogensen.)

Walt Weiskopf was born July 30, 1959, in Augusta, Georgia to a father whose work as a medical doctor was offset by his pursuit of classical piano. Both his sons—Walt and pianist Joel—followed in his formally trained footsteps. By the time he graduated from Eastman School of Music in 1980, however, Weiskopf was firmly in the jazz camp.

He kickstarted his career in Buddy Rich’s big band, moving on a few years later to the Toshiko Akiyoshi orchestra, then beginning to build a solo reputation. His first two albums as a leader, 1989’s Exact Science and 1990’s Mindwalking, both put him at the helm of a quartet with his brother Joel, bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Jeff Hirshfield.

From there, Weiskopf was leader and performed with a variety of different ensembles, recording 11 albums over a 15-year span from 1992 to 2007 while maintaining a healthy freelance calendar in the commercial world of the New York studio scene, Broadway show pit orchestras, as well as the Akiyoshi band, Frank Sinatra orchestra, and his notable peers including, among others, Renee Rosnes, Conrad Herwig, Jim Snidero, John Fedchock, and Billy Drummond. He got the call to join Steely Dan in 2003 and has been with the jazz-rock ensemble ever since.

Weiskopf assembled his European Quartet in 2017, sprinting across Scandinavia and northern Germany for just a week—but gaining enough steam for the saxophonist to document them on a self-titled album. But one recording couldn’t contain the band’s creative energy: European Quartet was followed by 2019’s Worldwide, 2020’s Introspection, and 2021’s Introspection 2.0, as well as the holiday EP A Little Christmas Music before laying down Diamonds and Other Jewels in January 2022.

Walt sums it up: “This is what I’ve always wanted to do—to work with like-minded musicians, to write music, share it, and perform all over the world. This is my professional dream come true.”

Blue Note Re:imagined II

Blue Note Re:imagined returns on September 30 with a new 16-track compilation featuring fresh takes on music from the Blue Note vaults recorded by a heavyweight line-up of the UK jazz, soul, and R&B scene’s most hotly-tipped rising stars. Arriving off the back of the widespread international success of the first volume, which topped jazz charts around the globe, Blue Note Re:imagined II once again infuses the spirit of the new UK jazz generation into the legendary label’s iconic catalog, balancing the genre’s tradition with its future and reflecting the melting pot of talent and diversity within the current scene.

Today sees the release of the second track from the album — London tuba player Theon Cross’ reimagining of Thelonious Monk’s “Epistrophy,” which first appeared on Monk’s 1948 Blue Note album Genius Of Modern Music, Vol. 1. Cross is known as a core member of Sons of Kemet, and he’s collaborated with artists like Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia,  Jon Batiste, Emeli Sandé, Kano, Lafawndah, and Makaya McCraven. The pre-order launches today for the 7” vinyl release out July 8 of Theon Cross’ “Epistrophy” paired with Ego Ella May’s reimagining of visionary drummer Chico Hamilton’s “The Morning Side Of Love,” which was the first single released off the album.

Additional tracks on the album will include funk-pop duo Franc Moody’s version of Donald Byrd’s “Cristo Redentor,” fast-emerging vocalist Cherise’s take on Norah Jones’ “Sunrise,” Maya Delilah covering Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon,” which was recorded by Cassandra Wilson on her 1995 Blue Note album New Moon Daughter, Birmingham-born pianist Reuben James’ reimagining of Wayne Shorter’s ballad “Infant Eyes,” and 9-piece afro-jazz outfit Nubiyan Twist’s fresh spin on Donald Byrd’s “Through The Noise (Chant 2).”

Blue Note Re:imagined II – Tracklisting

  • Yazz Ahmed “It” – From Chick Corea Is (1969)
  • Conor Albert “You Make Me Feel So Good”– From Bobbi Humphrey Fancy Dancer (1975)
  • Parthenope “Don’t Know Why” – From Norah Jones Come Away With Me (2002)
  • Swindle “Miss Kane” – From Donald Byrd Street Lady (1973)
  • Nubiyan Twist “Through The Noise (Chant No.2)” – From Donald Byrd A New Perspective (1963)
  • Ego Ella May “The Morning Side Of Love” – From Chico Hamilton Pereginations (1975)
  • Oscar Jerome & Oscar #Worldpeace “(Why You So) Green With Envy” – From Grant Green Green Street (1961)
  • Daniel Casimir ft. Ria Moran “Lost” – From Wayne Shorter The Soothsayer (1965)
  • Theon Cross “Epistrophy” – From Thelonious Monk Genius Of Modern Music, Vol. 1 (1948)
  • Maya Delilah “Harvest Moon” – From Cassandra Wilson New Moon Daughter (1995)
  • Kay Young “Feel Like Making Love” – From Marlena Shaw Who Is This Bitch, Anyway? (1974)
  • Venna & Marco Bernardis “Where Are We Going” – From Donald Byrd Black Byrd (1972)
  • Reuben James “Infant Eyes” – From Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil (1964)
  • Binker Golding “Fort Worth” – From Joe Lovano From The Soul (1991)
  • Cherise “Sunrise” – From Norah Jones Feels Like Home (2004)
  • Franc Moody “Cristo Redentor”– From Donald Byrd A New Perspective (1963)

Ronnie Foster | "Reboot"

Organ great Ronnie Foster returns to Blue Note Records with the July 15 release of Reboot, his first new album in 36 years which arrives 50 years after his 1972 Blue Note debut Two Headed Freap. The nine-song album was recorded at the legendary Capitol Studios and marks a fresh start for Foster, who has whipped up an omnidirectional brew of Hammond Organ Groove that pays homage to the past but more often reflects his restlessness for ushering in the new. The album’s grooving title track “Reboot” is out now featuring Foster on organ, his son Chris Foster on drums, and Michael O’Neill on guitar. Reboot is available for pre-order now on D2C exclusive red vinyl, black vinyl, CD, and digital download.

Listeners the world over have heard Foster’s soulful playing, whether from his standout performance on “Summer Soft” from Stevie Wonder’s 1976 masterwork Songs In The Key Of Life, best-selling George Benson albums including Breezin’, or A Tribe Called Quest’s classic hip-hop track “Electric Relaxation” which sampled Foster’s “Mystic Brew” from Two Headed Freap, which was reissued last week as part of Blue Note’s Classic Vinyl Reissue Series.

The Buffalo, New York born keyboardist first caught the ear of Blue Note co-founder Francis Wolff when he made his first-ever recording as a sideman on guitar legend Grant Green’s searingly funky Blue Note LP, Alive! in 1970. After Wolff passed away a few months later, Ronnie was officially signed to Blue Note by George Butler making him the next in an illustrious lineage of Hammond B3 organ artisans the label had presented which included Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. Two Headed Freap was the first in a run of five stellar jazz-funk albums Foster would make for Blue Note throughout the 1970s including Sweet Revival, Live: Cookin’ with Blue Note at Montreux, On the Avenue, and Cheshire Cat. Stream our playlist Ronnie Foster: The Finest featuring highlights from the organist’s Blue Note discography.

Mightily hoisting the Blue Note organ torch once again, Foster gives thanks to the musical osmosis that was poured into him by all of the greats that preceded him. In the album’s liner notes, Ronnie makes sure to pay homage to one very important person in his life who passed away in 2021: “This album is dedicated to the memory of my brother, friend, Buffalo Homie and hero Dr. Lonnie Smith, who was one of the best in the world on the Hammond B3 organ.”

Friday, July 01, 2022

Julian Lage - View With A Room, plus tour dates

Guitar virtuoso Julian Lage expands his horizons on View With A Room, a collection of 10 compelling original compositions out September 16 that marks his second release for Blue Note Records. Having established a home base with his brilliant and deeply attuned trio of bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King—most recently heard on the guitarist’s acclaimed 2021 Blue Note debut Squint—Lage casts his gaze outward to discover new orchestrational possibilities with the addition of six-string icon Bill Frisell, who adds his inimitable voice to this stunning album. 

Lage has also announced his Fall U.S. tour View With A Room In Concert, which kicks off September 13. Lage’s Summer tour schedule also includes a week at the Village Vanguard in New York City (July 26-31), as well as performances across Canada and Europe. 

“In so many ways, I’ve wanted to make this record for years,” says Lage. “It comes from a line of musical inquiry: can you have lush orchestration combined with an organic sense of improvisation and the agility of a small ensemble?”

Without bolstering the line-up with additional instrumentation and more intricate writing, thus losing the maneuverability and venturesome spontaneity that he’s honed with Roeder and King over the last several years, Lage found his solution where he so often does: in the guitar.

“The answer came from some of the historical references that matter to me about the electric guitar,” Lage explains. “There’s a certain lineage that grows out of early pioneers like Jimmy Bryant and George Barnes and Charlie Christian, where there’s this almost electric volatility to the sound. It’s both beautiful and kind of sharp; it’s subdued and warm, but also kind of gritty. In thinking about the orchestration for this album, I wanted to foster the point of that arrow.”

There’s no one better suited to understanding what Lage was seeking, who is better versed in the history of guitar and jazz and beyond, its personalities and possibilities, than Bill Frisell. The legendary guitarist has worked with Lage in several different contexts, including duo concerts and projects devised by John Zorn, and enhances Lage’s vision in atmospheric and incisive ways throughout View With A Room. The pair honed in on a shorthand vocabulary rich with references as diverse as the Beach Boys, Keith Jarrett’s American and European Quartets, and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass. The two guitarists’ subtle weave is at the heart of “Auditorium,” where Frisell’s agile rhythm work buoys Lage’s eloquent leads atop the gracefully subtle propulsion of Roeder and King.

“There’s no one I would trust more than Bill Frisell to come into our trio ecosystem and be able to expand it while totally embracing it,” Lage says. “It became a beautiful collaboration that achieved the Technicolor experience that I’ve been searching for.”

View With A Room was produced by Margaret Glaspy, his wife and musical partner who brings her own insights as a singer-songwriter to the lyrical and storytelling aspects that make Lage’s compositions so singular. She worked closely at Brooklyn’s Bridge Studios with engineer Mark Goodell, who Lage credits with “wrangling this album into a sonic place that references what we love best about classic Blue Note records while still feeling utterly contemporary and unique to the sound of this band.” Lage’s longtime friend and collaborator Armand Hirsch added integral post-production elements that bring the emotional intent of each song into focus.

JULIAN LAGE – 2022 TOUR DATES:

June 25 – Victoria, BC – TD Victoria International Jazz Festival

June 26 – Vancouver, BC – TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival

June 27 – Edmonton, AB – TD Edmonton International Jazz Festival

June 28 – Ottawa, ON – TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival

June 29 – Toronto, ON – Axis Club

June 30 – Montreal, QC – TD Montreal International Jazz Festival

July 2 – Glynde, UK – Love Supreme Jazz Festival

July 5-6 – Jerusalem, IL – Jerusalem Jazz Festival

July 8 – Paris, FR – New Morning

July 9 – Rotterdam, NL – North Sea Jazz Festival

July 10 – Munich, DE – Jazzclub Unterfahrt

July 11 – Prague, CZ – Bohemia Jazz Festival

July 12 – La Spezia, IT – La Spezia Jazz Fest

July 14 – Genoa, IT – Piazza delle Feste

July 15 – Sète, FR – Jazz A Sete

July 26-31 – New York, NY – Village Vanguard

Aug. 22-26 – Big Indian, NY – Alternative Guitar Summit Camp

Sept. 3 – Detroit, MI – Detroit Jazz Festival

Sept. 13 – Pittsburgh, PA – Oaks Theater

Sept. 14 – Bellefontaine, OH – Holland Theater

Sept. 16 – Madison, WI – High Noon

Sept. 17 – Minneapolis, MN – Dakota

Sept. 20 – Seattle, WA – Neumos

Sept. 21 – Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater

Sept. 23 – Monterey, CA – Monterey Jazz Festival

Sept. 25 – Geyserville, CA – Trione Vineyards and Winery

Sept. 27 – Visalia, CA – Cellar Door

Sept. 28 – Solana Beach, CA – Belly Up Tavern

Sept. 29 – Phoenix, AZ – Musical Instrument Museum

Oct. 1 – Boulder, CO – Boulder Theater

Oct. 14 – Los Angeles, CA – Walt Disney Concert Hall*

Nov. 30 – Washington, DC – Sixth & I

Dec. 1 – Philadelphia, PA – World Cafe Live (Downstairs)

Dec. 3 – Boston, MA – Paradise Rock Club

Dec. 4 – Old Saybrook, CT – The Kate

Dec. 6 – Newark, OH – Thirty One West

Dec. 7 – Chicago, IL – Thalia Hall

Dec. 8 – Lexington, KY – Origins Jazz – Children’s Theater

Dec. 9 – Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle

Dec. 10 – Atlanta, GA – Center Stage

Dec. 11 – Nashville, TN – Brooklyn Bowl

Dec. 14 – Charlottesville, VA – The Jefferson

*with The Bad Plus

New Music: Thee Sacred Souls, Sioux Robbins, Booker T, Moor Mother

Thee Sacred Souls - Thee Sacred Souls

For Thee Sacred Souls, the first time is often the charm. The band’s first club dates led to a record deal with the revered Daptone label; their first singles racked up more than ten million streams in a year and garnered attention from Billboard, Rolling Stone, and KCRW; and their first fans included the likes of Gary Clark Jr., The Black Pumas, Princess Nokia, and Timbaland. Now, the breakout San Diego trio is ready to deliver yet another landmark first with the release of their self-titled debut on Daptone Records. “Every step of the way has just been so organic,” says drummer Alex Garcia. “Things just seem to happen naturally when the three of us get together.” Indeed, there’s something inevitable about the sound of Thee Sacred Souls, as if Garcia and his bandmates—bassist Sal Samano and singer Josh Lane—have been playing together for a lifetime already. Produced by Bosco Mann (aka Daptone co-founder Gabriel Roth), Thee Sacred Souls is a warm and textured record, mixing the easygoing grace of sweet ’60s soul with the grit and groove of early ’70s R&B, and the performances are utterly intoxicating, with Lane’s weightless vocals anchored by the rhythm section’s deep pocket and infectious chemistry. Hints of Chicano, Philly, Chicago, Memphis, and even Panama soul turn up here, and while it’s tempting to toss around labels like “retro” with a deliberately analog collection like this, there’s also something distinctly modern about the band that defies easy categorization, a rawness and a sincerity that transcends time and place. 

Sioux Robins - Relax Girl

Singer songwriter Sioux Robbins spent her earlier days performing in jazz clubs and cocktail lounges in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, singing jazz standards. Her dark contralto to silky soprano runs the gamut of Nina Simone, and Sade, to Roberta Flack and Anita Baker. Her music is born out of the classic writing styles of Carole King and Paul Simon while it pushes forward into the now of Solange and Janelle Monae.  Her lyric writing is poetic and thought provoking, and the music is fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Her vocals reveal a sound uniquely her own. "As I Breathe,: is a breezy Latin; "Scares Me," is a Pop/R&B ballad reminding us all that, yes, new love can be scary. The Doobie Brothers cover "It Keeps You Running" is a sexy, bump and grind, old school R&B ballad. "Relax Girl," the title track, is an uplifting pep talk that launches into a jam on the bridge. "All the Time in the World" is a chill Latin with clever lyrics and a memorable hook. "Gentleman Friend" is a pop ballad about a crush. "Ultimatum" is the icing on the cake, a blend of EDM and Latin. This debut album shows not just her strength as a singer but her possibly greater strength as a songwriter

Booker T - I Want You (with bonus tracks)

An early 80s gem from Booker T – and continuing proof that he made some mighty nice music after he split from the MGs! This set's got Book grooving in a sweet Cali mode all the way through – a vibe that's warm, yet never sleepy at all – and blended with just the right touches of funk and jazz to keep things hip, and give the album way more depth than you might expect! There's some surprising fusion touches at times, but the album always has a great focus – and if anything, reminds us of some of the best soul sides on Capitol Records of the time – particularly those influenced by earlier funk on Blue Note. Booker handles vocals, keyboards, and guitar – plus most of the arrangements too – and the album's got a sweet stepping groove that's mighty nice all the way through! Titles include "I Want You", "Treasure Chest", "Don't Stop Your Love", "Electric Lady", "You're The Best", and "I Came To Love You". ~ Dusty Groove

Moor Mother - Jazz Codes

Moor Mother's an artist who just keeps on getting more and more interesting with each new release – definitely in a genre that's completely her own – one that lives up to the spirit of west coast underground pioneers in recent decades – and, as with those artists, seemingly finds a sonic space that none of us knew existed! Under her real name, Camae Ayewa, Moor Mother has roots in musical education in the world of higher learning – and here, she's managed to draw together many strands of that experience into a voice that's not only all her own, but completely organic and laidback too – a mixture of hip hop, soul, spoken word, and some of the jazzier currents promised in the title. Nearly every single track features a collaboration – artists include Nicole Mitchell, Melanie Charles, Jason Moran, Wolf Weston, and many others – and titles include "Woody Shaw", "Ode To Mary", "Umzansi", "Golden Lady", "Blame", "Blues Away", "Dust Together", "Arms Save", "Barely Woke", "Rap Jasm", and "Joe McPhee Nation Time Intro". ~ Dusty Groove

Nate Wooley &Columbia Icefield | "Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes"

With the self-titled 2019 debut of his remarkable quartet Columbia Icefield, trumpeter and composer Nate Wooley traced the Columbia River from his Oregon hometown to its glacial headwaters, sonically reckoning with the awe-inspiring beauty of the immense icefield. The band’s breathtaking follow-up, Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes, essentially brings the project full circle, a thematic homecoming that contrasts the intimacy of one’s roots with the vastness of the wider world. 

Due out July 29 via Pyroclastic Records, Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes finds Wooley reconvening with guitarist Mary Halvorson, pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, and drummer Ryan Sawyer, whose distinctive voices contribute to Wooley’s sweeping vision. The album also includes contributions from violist Mat Maneri and electric bassist Trevor Dunn. The album unfolds as a captivating hour-long narrative of the monolithic intensity, hushed atmospherics, and gravitational force of a shifting glacier. 

Columbia Icefield was initially conceived, Wooley explains, as a reimagined take on a jazz group, though the end result became something much more expansive. “I had been having trouble thinking of myself as a jazz musician,” the trumpeter says. “So I decided to write some music for a new kind of jazz group. But after recording the music and playing it live, I realized that it's closer to folk music.” 

When Wooley speaks of folk music, he’s pointing to a storytelling tradition that expresses the tales and collective ethos of a people. And Ancient Songs expresses the ethos of the title’s “burlap heroes.” As Wooley writes in the recording’s dedication:       

This album is dedicated to those who recognize living as a heroic act: the occupiers of sunup barstools; the cubicle-planted; the ghosts of Greyhounds; the reasonably sketchy. A burlap hero is one who marches—consciously or not—back to the sea in hopes of making no splash, who understands and embraces the imperfection of being, and in that way, stretches the definition of sainthood to fit. 

These concepts steered Wooley back to his hometown of Clatskanie, Oregon, with all of the conflicted emotions that one inevitably brings to seeing familiar sights through changed eyes. Where the group’s first recording dealt with leaving humble roots and being confronted with the monumental scale of the natural environment, Wooley says, “Ancient Songs feels like a long story told in front of a huge mountain—or in a forest of sequoias—alternating with intimate moments that feel like the trumpet is right against your ear.” 

These same ideas are echoed in the striking photographs by aAron Munson that make up the album’s artwork. Taken from Munson’s series Isachsen, Nunavut, the haunting images evoke similar ideas of return and abandonment—familial connections and innate loneliness—as those woven through Wooley’s music. 

Though it unspools as an uninterrupted, mesmerizing hour-long experience, Ancient Songs is divided into three poetically titled large-scale compositions. “I Am the Sea That Sings of Dust” depicts the struggle between the natural world and human expression, with waves of crushing sound threatening to drown out the initially gentle and airy playing. The music gradually accrues into a tempestuous whorl, then calms into soaring beauty, pairing Wooley’s trumpet and Maneri’s viola. “A Catastrophic Legend” was penned as a love letter to Wooley’s mentor, Ron Miles, with whom he’d previously recorded the 2016 album Argonautica. The piece, which includes Dunn’s elastic bass playing, was conceived long before Miles’ passing in March and now stands as an elegy to a lost friend. The stirring “Returning To Drown Myself, Finally” is based on a Swedish dalakoral, or religious song, called “Nu är midsommar natt,” an even more explicit reference to folk tradition. These larger pieces are set off by four rapturous ambient sections named by ellipses of increasing length, which incorporate field recordings Wooley captured in the fishing village of Machiasport, Maine and add to a distinct sense of place and environment that bolsters the imaginary landscapes conjured by the music itself.

Nate Wooley has often been cited as part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet; his combination of vocalization, extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, and compositional rigor has led one reviewer to call his solo recordings “exquisitely hostile.” He has performed regularly with such icons as John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Eliane Radigue, Ken Vandermark, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, and Yoshi Wada, as well as being a collaborator with some of the brightest lights of his generation, including Chris Corsano, C. Spencer Yeh, Peter Evans, and Mary Halvorson. In addition to Columbia Icefield, he also leads the ever-growing Seven Storey Mountain, an ecstatic song cycle for large ensemble; and Mutual Aid Music, a set of eight ensemble concertos in service of “anarchistic utopia.” He is the curator of the Database of Recorded American Music and editor-in-chief of their online quarterly journal Sound American, and runs the experimental music label Pleasure of the Text. 


Thursday, June 30, 2022

Horace Andy | "Midnight Rocker"

Adrian Sherwood has spent a long time realising his dream of making an album with legendary Jamaican vocalist Horace Andy, beloved by reggae fans worldwide for his classic 70s and 80s tracks for labels such as Studio One and Wackies such as "Skylarking" and "Money Money", and boasting proper crossover appeal in modern times via his frequent contributions to Massive Attack, being a mainstay of their touring line-up and singing on all of their studio albums to date.  

Midnight Rocker has been approached in a similar fashion to the late-career quality that Sherwood coaxed out of Lee "Scratch" Perry with the Rainford and Heavy Rain albums, assembling a crack team of players and spending many months perfecting performance, arrangements and mixing. The result is 11 remarkable tracks that sparkle with superb musicianship, carefully crafted production and some truly beautiful vocals from Andy.  

As well as revisiting some Horace Andy classics like "Mr Bassie", "Materialist" and "This Must Be Hell" with fresh production, the album also features brand new material penned by LSK, Jeb Loy Nichols, George Oban and Adrian Sherwood. The pair have also versioned a much-loved early single by the group that Andy is most associated with, Massive Attack, although Shara Nelson took the lead on the original “Safe From Harm” and here Horace steps up to the mic. Interestingly, Shara Nelson recorded with Adrian Sherwood several years before the inception of Massive Attack, and 1983’s lost street-soul classic “Aiming At Your Heart” could arguably be cited as a blueprint for the later group’s sound.  

The backing band on this album features the cream of On-U Sound players, including contributions from Gaudi, Skip McDonald, George Oban, Crucial Tony, the Ital Horns, and the late, great Style Scott. 

Like Rainford, Midnight Rocker will be followed by a full companion LP of dub versions, which is not completed yet but will hopefully come out later on in 2022. 

Horace Andy Live dates:

22/04/2022: Querbeat Festival - Unterwaldhausen, Germany

29/04/2022: ‘Pay It All Back Revisited’ - Marble Factory, Bristol

30/04/2022: ‘Pay It All Back Revisited’ - 02 Forum Kentish Town, London

12/06/2022: David Rodigan’s Outlook Orchestra - Kenwood House, London

Horace Andy was born as Horace Hinds on February 19, 1951 in Kingston, Jamaica. Andy, also known as "Sleepy," has become an enduring voice on the Jamaican music scene. His signature early 1970s hit, "Skylarking," defined his ability to deliver songs of black determination and social commentary, but he could equally deliver songs of love.  

Andy worked with producer George "Phil" Pratt on his first single, "This Is a Black Man's Country," in 1967. His cousin, Justin Hinds, was starting to enjoy some success at that time, but Andy would not gain notice until working with noted Jamaican producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd in 1970. "Got To Be Sure” became his first release for Studio One, Dodd's studio. Dodd gave him the stage name of Horace Andy - a reference to popular singer Bob Andy. With Dodd, Andy went on to record "See A Man's Face," the well-received "Mr. Bassie" and the breakthrough hit "Skylarking," among other songs. "Skylarking," which encouraged wayward youth to clean up their act, was released as a single and topped the Jamaican record charts, becoming a signature tune for Andy. 

Although American R&B singers were Andy's early influences, he also comments: “I wanted to be like Jimi Hendrix, to play the guitar like him! I didn't see myself as having a great voice. I didn't know I'd be a great singer." 

Andy has consistently recorded and performed around the world, and has remained relevant in reggae subgenres such as roots reggae, rock steady, lover's rock and dancehall, recording with some of the all time great reggae producers including Bunny “Striker” Lee, Niney Holness, Tapper Zukie, Lloyd Barnes and Steely & Clevie. 

In 1990, he was discovered by the Bristol based trip-hop band Massive Attack, who cited Andy's work as a major influence. He recorded the song "One Love" for their 1991 debut album ‘Blue Lines’, and the band's popularity exposed Andy to a younger generation of fans, many of whom continue to seek out his earlier work. After Massive Attack launched their own label, Melankolic, they released Skylarking, a compilation of Andy's career hits. Andy is the only singer of Massive Attack's rotating group of guest artists to appear on each one of the band's albums. He also appeared on the British group Dub Pistols' 2001 album ‘Six Million Ways to Live’, and on the Easy Star All-Stars' 2006 Radiohead tribute ‘Radiodread’. 

More about Adrian Sherwood: 

“Someone once described me as just a fan who’d got his hands on a mixing desk, They were probably trying to be nasty, but I took it as a compliment – that’s exactly what I am!” 

For over 40 years now, forward-thinking sound scientist and mixologist Adrian Sherwood has been dubbing it up, keeping the faith when others have fallen away and blowing minds and speakers alike. 

Producer, remixer, and proprietor of the British dub collective/record label On-U Sound, Adrian Sherwood has long been regarded as one of the most innovative and influential artists in contemporary dance and modern reggae music. His talent for creating musical space, suspense, sensations and textures have enabled him to pioneer a distinctive fusion of dub, rock, reggae and dance that challenges tradition not only in roots circles, but also in the pop world at large. 

“I’d rather try and create a niche amongst like-minded people, and create our own little market place be that 5, 50 or 500,000 sales and also be true to our principles of making things, and to your own spirit that you put into the work.” 

Born in 1958, Sherwood first surfaced during the mid ’70s and formed On-U Sound in 1981. While the On-U Sound crew’s original focus was on live performances, the emphasis soon switched to making records and Sherwood began mixing and matching lineups, resulting in new acts including New Age Steppers, African Head Charge, Mark Stewart & Maffia, and Doctor Pablo & the Dub Syndicate. 

All of these early records, according to Rock: The Rough Guide were “phenomenal, generally bass-heavy with outlandish dubbing from Sherwood, who worked the mixing desk as an instrument in itself.” 

Long influential and innovative on the UK reggae scene, Sherwood’s distinctive production style soon began attracting interest from acts outside of the dub community and by the early-’80s Sherwood was among the most visible producers and remixers around, working on tracks for artists as varied as Depeche Mode, Primal Scream, Einsturzende Neubaten, Simply Red, the Woodentops, and Ministry. He became increasingly involved in industrial music as the decade wore on, producing tracks for Cabaret Voltaire, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, and Nine Inch Nails, and although On-U Sound continued to reflect its leader’s eclectic tastes, the label remained a top reggae outlet. 

In 2003 he launched his solo artist career with Never Trust a Hippy, which was followed in 2006 by Becoming a Cliché. Both were released by On-U in conjunction with the Real World label. 

Still one of the most sought-after producers in the contemporary music industry, Adrian Sherwood and his progressive style and interest in developing new ideas continue to propel On-U Sound’s ongoing success. In 2012 he issued his third solo album Survival & Resistance, and began an ongoing collaboration with Bristol-based dubstep don Pinch. This brought two different generations of bass together and in 2015 the pair released their debut album Late Night Endless. Behind the mixing desk he has been working with the likes of Spoon, Roots Manuva and Nisennenmondai; and delivered remixes of Halsey, Congo Natty and Django Django. His production and remix works has also begun to be anthologised by On-U Sound with the critically acclaimed Sherwood At The Controls series. 

“Music is lovely because it stimulates people, superficial music doesn’t. If you make something that you put your heart and soul into and really try to push it so it leaps out the speakers at you, and if there’s a good feel to it, then you’ve achieved something.”

Al Foster | "Reflections"

Approaching 80 years of age is occasion enough for anyone to take a moment and look back on a life well lived. For revered drummer Al Foster, those eight decades have been more memorable than most, filled with exhilarating sounds and encounters with some of the music’s most iconic figures. On Reflections, his second album for Smoke Sessions Records, Foster revisits the work of several of his legendary peers alongside an inspiring quintet of all-stars: Nicholas Payton on trumpet, Chris Potter on tenor saxophone, Kevin Hays on piano and keyboards, and Vicente Archer on bass.

Due out August 26, Reflections finds Foster – as ever – playing at rarefied levels of chops, creativity and musicality. Throughout the session he propels this supremely talented unit through fresh, vital treatments of well-known and less-traveled numbers by iconic legends Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, and McCoy Tyner, all of whom regarded Foster as their first-call drummer for long portions of his celebrated career – at times competing for his services. Band members Payton, Potter and Hays contribute a tune apiece, while Foster penned three well-wrought songs, including two homages to Thelonious Monk that bookend the program.

The follow-up to his well-received 2019 Smoke Sessions debut, Inspirations & Dedications, is Foster’s fifth leader recording and, as even the notoriously self-critical drummer surprisingly says, “It is my best record as a leader.” Bringing together the influences he gleaned and experiences he shared with his idols and peers with the rejuvenating energy of this younger cohort of brilliant players, the humble Foster takes well-deserved pride in his accomplishments.

“As I’m aging, I can’t believe all the things I’ve been able to do,” Foster says. “I've been blessed, and I'm so proud of the things I’ve done with really great musicians. I don’t play like my idols, though I loved every one of them and I hear them in me. When I was coming up, I was trying to play like Art Taylor and my solos were like Max Roach. When I heard Tony Williams, and then Joe Chambers and Jack DeJohnette, I said to myself, ‘What about me? How come I don’t hear my own stuff?’ I wanted so badly to find Al Foster. I prayed for it. I believe in God, and I think he gave it to me. To this day he’s giving me new ideas and new little tricks.”

Reflections opens and closes with Foster’s tributes to the great Thelonious Monk, one of his primary heroes (His third original, “Anastasia,” is an ode to his eldest granddaughter). Foster first had an opportunity to work with the formidable pianist, during a couple of weeks in 1969 at Manhattan’s Village Gate, but his imprimatur remained on the drummer’s music. “Most of my tunes have some Monk in them,” Foster says. “It’s not the notes. It’s some of his accents. It isn’t deliberate but when I sit at the piano, it just happens that way. I worship Monk and I miss him dearly. He was a sweetheart. A really strange character...oh my God. But that's who he was. That's why he wrote the way he wrote – different than anybody. I fell in love with him at a young age.”

Shortly after his time with Monk followed his initial gig – the first of hundreds until the latter 1990s – with Sonny Rollins, at the Village Vanguard opposite Tony Williams’ just formed Lifetime band. He also teamed with Rollins in 1978, on a tour and recording with the Milestone All-Stars, which included McCoy Tyner, who subsequently would tour and record with Foster regularly until the early 2000s. Foster tips his hat to both former employers on Reflections – Rollins with the saxophone colossus’ classic “Pent-Up House” and Tyner with “Blues on the Corner” from the immortal 1967 Blue Note album The Real McCoy.

“I fell in love with Sonny Rollins from his albums with Max Roach,” Foster recalls. “He played so lyrically on those records. It was like he was having a conversation through his solos. What a super genius he is.”

Foster’s recollections of Tyner are more poignant, inflected by his last encounter with the master pianist before his passing in March 2020. The two crossed paths at Smoke during a tribute concert led by pianist Mike LeDonne. “I didn’t know it was going to be the last time I saw him,” Foster says. “He said, ‘Oh, Al, we did so much together, man!’ It brought tears to my eyes because his voice wasn’t very clear. I had to put my ear close to him. But he was a beautiful human being.”

The drummer met Joe Henderson, whose “Punjab” he takes on here, not long after the tenor giant hit New York in 1962. In the 1980s, Foster was the drummer on Henderson’s influential album The State of the Tenor, Vols.1 & 2 with Ron Carter and the association continued full bore during the 1990s on long trio tours with bassists Charlie Haden and Dave Holland and classic albums like So Near, So Far and The Joe Henderson Big Band. Herbie Hancock’s “Alone and I” nods to Foster’s many years recording and touring with the great pianist. “I’ve been all over the world with Herbie, and he’s another beautiful human being.”

And then there’s Miles. Foster first encountered the notorious trumpet icon as a teenager at Birdland and Minton’s, later becoming Miles’ drummer-of-choice on various plugged-in, backbeat-oriented bands from late 1972 until midway through the 1980s. “I never really played jazz with Miles,” says Foster, who regards Davis as the best friend he’d ever had. “Miles had his demons, but I loved him more than my father.”

For all the praise he heaps upon his past collaborators, Foster is equally generous in discussing his modern-day personnel. He describes Potter – a member of Foster’s mid-’90s band and a participant on his 1995 album Brandyn, not long after Foster and Hays played on the saxophonist’s second album, Sundiata – as “genius level, with his own way of playing, his own style – one of the best people around on tenor that I know.” Potter also contributed the probing “Open Plans” to the proceedings. Foster is similarly enthusiastic about Hays, saying “he is my favorite pianist” and notes the “distinctive harmonic concept and great voicings” of this frequent collaborator of long standing who based his “Beat,” which he wrote for the occasion, on Sam Rivers’ “Beatrice.” And finally Foster celebrates the promethean Payton for his “tastefulness and great chops” and for his harmonically intriguing, spacey-funky, “Bitches Brew-ish” tune, “Six.”

It’s hard to overstate Foster’s contribution to the musical production of the aforementioned giants – as well as that of artists like Bobby Hutcherson, Stan Getz, Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Blue Mitchell, Joe Lovano and John Scofield, as a short list – who have defined the mainstem tributaries along which jazz has traveled during his 60 years as a professional. But as much as Foster likes to wax nostalgic about the past, it’s also evident on every note of this 68-minute gem that he’s fully committed to living in the moment and playing in the here and now.

Cumbiamuffin | "Cumbiamuffin"

It was only a matter of time before cumbia hit Australia. After humbly coming to life on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, this rhythm—and everything it represents: its multi-ethnicity, its danceable pulse, its resilience—snaked its way up the mountains to reach Colombia’s urban capitals, Bogotá and Medellín, who transmitted the signal to Mexico, Peru, Argentina... Cumbia travelled, and wherever it landed it took hold; Charles Mingus got his fill in the 70s, Mexicans brought it across the US border in the 80s, Joe Strummer couldn’t get enough of it in the 90s; and wherever it landed, it has shown its flexibility, its ability to adapt to new environments.

Cumbiamuffin are the perfect example of what happens when cumbia arrives in a completely different continent. Since forming in 2010, they have become Australia’s premier large format cumbia orchestra, offering a twist on the genre that no one saw coming. They take their inspiration from cumbia’s brass band traditions, when the genre was adopted by orchestras in the 1940s, the start of its golden age, but they do not stop there. They also look further afield, to the big bands of Mexico and Peru, and even to the Caribbean, which is how their name came about. Cumbiamuffin represents the contraction of two musical styles that the group seamlessly bring together in one big, vibrant, joyous experience: cumbia and raggamuffin reggae. This is a group that can inject even more life into a bona fide Colombian classic like Lucho Bermudez’s “Salsipuedes,” take a Greek club version of a Mexican banda track written by an Argentine accordionist and come up with the cohesively international “Ritmo de Sinaloa,” and then there’s that unmistakable ragga skank all over “La Promesa,” with “La Cabezona” being an instrumental descarga that has no right to rumble so low, designed with dance halls and sound systems in mind.

Armed with the collective energy of two authentic Colombian vocalists, a seriously massive brass section, heavy bass, funky guitar, salsa piano and equally authentic percussion, the 15-piece band combines elements of reggae, dancehall and roots from the Colombian Caribbean in a deft mix that is both retro and futuristic, authentically traditional and yet also experimental. Put together by a collective of Colombian and Australian musicians, the project has the common vision of introducing the purest sounds of the golden era of orchestrated cumbia to Australian audiences, but with a little something more added to the formula to keep things fresh.

Having triumphantly conquered their home country’s competitive music scene with sold out shows at numerous festivals and well-known venues all over Down Under, Cumbiamuffin are poised to break out to a global audience with their debut self-titled LP.

Cumbiamuffin will be joint released by Peace & Rhythm, Hyperopia Records and, Sounds and Colours on 1st July 2022

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Hidden Waters: Strange & Sublime Sounds of Rio de Janeiro

Over four sides of vinyl, Hidden Waters: Strange & Sublime Sounds of Rio de Janeiro charts a surge of creativity and camaraderie born from Rio’s underground that's now firmly making its way into the national consciousness. This 23-track compilation documents a landmark moment in popular Brazilian music, deep-diving into a wellspring of vibrant and vanguard sounds. Spotlighting the last decade’s most defining releases, as well as giving a platform to upcoming artists, unreleased material and left-field experimentation, the compilation collects and canonises a vital pool of talent which is reshaping the sound of Brazilian music.

Hidden Waters features such musicians as seminal scene mainstays Negro Leo, Ava Rocha and Kassin, Brazilian jazz upstart Antônio Neves, critically-lauded avant-pop trailblazer Thiago Nassif, breakthrough artists Ana Frango Elétrico and Letrux, lo-fi psych rocker Lê Almeida, and sonic explorer Cadú Tenorio, as well as revelatory new voices Raquel Dimantas and ROSABEGE, among many others. 

The music on Hidden Waters is unequivocally Brazilian, swelling with samba, bossa nova, funk and jazz. But it’s the album’s blend - from sunny psychedelia to dusky synth pop, via experimental electronics and euphoric disco - that marks the compilation as the sound of modern, multicultural Rio. Fans of Brazil’s fertile sixties and seventies will spot the antecedents in Tropicália. Not only in the experimentation but also through the music’s similar political context: back then it was Brazil’s military dictatorship, now it’s Bolsonaro’s censorious premiership. This is a group of musicians writing a colourful chapter within Brazil’s musical history.

This comprehensive compilation comes with album artwork designed by Rio music’s leading album artwork designer, Caio Paiva. It features essays by professor and music critic Bernardo Oliveira and music journalist Leonardo Lichote, plus extensive notes on each track by the artists themselves.

Sounds and Colours have launched a vinyl fundraising campaign for Hidden Waters: Strange & Sublime Sounds of Rio de Janeiro via Bandcamp Vinyl. 

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