Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds Series Set for Release

Craft Recordings and Acoustic Sounds have announced the Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds series, which begins with six album releases from the Contemporary Records catalog, celebrating 70 years of the legendary jazz label. 

Each title, originally engineered by Roy DuNann and/or Howard Holzer, features all-analog mastering from the original tapes by legendary engineer Bernie Grundman (himself a former employee of the label), and is pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Quality Record Pressings (QRP) and presented in a Stoughton Old Style Tip-On Jacket. 

The series begins with the May 13 reissue of Art Pepper’s +Eleven: Modern Jazz Classics. Throughout the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, Lester Koenig’s artist-friendly Los Angeles-based audiophile jazz label documented career-defining performances by some of modern jazz’s most influential and accomplished improvisers, including Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Harold Land and Benny Golson. No musician is more closely identified with Contemporary than Pepper, whose cool tone and simmering lyricism made him one of the very few mid-century alto saxophonists to forge a path independent of bebop patriarch Charlie Parker’s pervasive influence.  

Produced by Koenig and recorded in 1959, Art Pepper +Eleven: Modern Jazz Classics is one of the saxophonist’s masterpieces. Featuring brilliant arrangements by Marty Paich, the album elaborates on the lush but lithe sound introduced by the epochal Birth of the Cool sessions, which Miles Davis started to record almost exactly a decade earlier (like Birth, +Eleven kick offs with Denzil Best’s “Move”). Surrounded by the cream of the LA scene, including fellow saxophone masters Herb Geller, Bill Perkins and Med Flory, Pepper brings all his scorching lyricism to a program of modern jazz standards by Horace Silver, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan and Sonny Rollins. 

The series continues on June 10 with 1957’s The Poll Winners, the first of five all-star trio sessions featuring the dazzling interplay of guitarist Barney Kessel, drummer Shelly Manne and bassist Ray Brown. Kessel and Manne are also on hand for the July 15 release, 1958’s Four!, which fills out the quartet scorecard with bassist Red Mitchell and the supremely soulful Hampton Hawes, one of jazz’s most appealing yet unsung pianists. 

August 12’s release is another 1958 classic, Jazz Giant, which showcases the alto saxophone, trumpet and arrangements of triple threat Benny Carter, whose majestic talent awed four generations of jazz artists (he’s joined by a formidable cast including Manne, Kessel and tenor sax titan Ben Webster). The September 9 release, Manne’s hugely popular 1956 trio session My Fair Lady with bassist Leroy Vinnegar and pianist André Previn, paved the way for hundreds of jazz albums dedicated to Broadway shows. 

November 11 sees the release of Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section, the altoist’s auspicious 1957 Contemporary debut pairing him with pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones, three-fifths of Miles Davis’ nonpareil quintet. 

Zion I Kings Releases Single Red, Gold and Green Dubmarine!

For the last decade, Zion I Kings, comprised of  Laurent “Tippy I” Alfred of I Grade Records, Andrew “Moon” Bain of Lustre Kings and David “Jah D” Goldfine” of Zion High Productions, have delivered some of the finest and most indelible musical offerings to date in modern reggae. Adding to their success, the trio have created a dynamically rich lagoon themed dub, “Red Gold & Green Dubmarine” is out now, and off their 5th studio album Future Oceans Echo!  

With the new record the listener is taken into an aquatic dub-filled wonderland with streaming proceeds to benefit climate action for oceans and beaches in the Virgin Islands. “Red Gold & Green Dubmarine,” opens with the bubble-like sensation that carries the dark, driving drum and bass groove into a fervent quest of discovery, opening up to a bright, underwater dub lagoon in the B-section. Andrew Moon Bain declares, “A triumphant and courageous aquatic exploration of uncharted territories, in the dub abyss that is Future Oceans Echo. Press play, add or next and buckle up for the magical horn swells, crashing spring reverbs, analog synth lines and pulsing organ shuffle on this dubaquatic excursion.” The new song is the second release from the upcoming album and comes out on the heels of the stellar single “Whale Shark Skank” featuring the talented Ngoni player Losso Keita.

With the new release Zion I Kings have pledged a percentage of their streaming profits from Future Oceans Echo to support clean oceans and beaches initiatives in St. Croix, VI, with the Good Hope Country Day School’s climate action club. Laurent “Tippy” Alfred’s daughter Tsehai attends the school and is very active with the club. It’s a student-founded and student run organization whose mission aims for a more sustainable environment for the island community.

In a recent interview with Rootfire, Andrew Moon Bain reflected on the new project when asked if artists felt a responsibility toward the plight of the Oceans, he says, “I don’t know if artists have a responsibility but we all have to live here. We are all connected to one source of life, one planet and atmosphere…all of us depend on it. Whether we feel a part of it or not. It is all connected. A lot of people can’t understand what they can’t see. Can’t feel for what they can not touch. Whether it is my responsibility or not, I do feel a duty to uncover some overstanding of the unknown through art, music and the glorification of Jah.”

Zion I Kings is the talented multi-instrumentalists and producers Laurent “Tippy I” Alfred of I Grade Records, Andrew “Moon” Bain of Lustre Kings and David “Jah D” Goldfine” of Zion High Productions. Together they are an ever prolific and expanding crew of producers, musicians and performers whose work has spanned many waves within the genre to create a solid and unique modern roots sound that is infectious, warm, melodic and steady in any sound system. They are singular as much as a collective, as each musician has spent formative years honing their craft. Collectively they have produced for many great artists of our day including Akae Beka (Midnite) , Sizzla, Lutan Fyah, Jah 9, Blakkamoore, Chronixx, Protoje, Loydd Brown, Ziggi Recado, Pressure and many more. 

Out now, “Red Gold & Green Dubmarine” is the second release from Future Oceans Echo, due out April 15th, and available everywhere you stream music.

James Singleton | "Malabar"

James Singleton is one of the most in demand bass players in New Orleans. This is, of course, saying quite a lot. But it’s no exaggeration. At 66 years old, Singleton has accompanied everyone from Chet Baker, Ellis Marsalis, and Charlie Rich to John Scofield and James Booker. But he is much more than a reliable sideman. Singleton is a core member of Astral Project, a group that OffBeat has called “the finest modern jazz ensemble in New Orleans,” and since 2016, Singleton has performed and recorded as a founding member of the lauded Nolatet. Perhaps even more significantly Singleton has ventured far beyond New Orleans and into the farther reaches of creative music and improvisation, collaborating with Chicago jazz experimentalists Charles Rumback, Jim Baker, and Greg Ward on recordings for the venerable underground label Astral Spirits.  

It is for all these reasons that Malabar, Singleton’s new full-length recording as a band leader, is something of a miracle. 

Malabar marks the first time on vinyl for Singleton’s compositions, and the session was executed by a stellar and versatile sextet employing trumpet, electronics, guitar, vibraphone, saxophone, clarinet, flute, and of course Singleton’s commanding and adventurous bass playing. At times sweeping and romantic, at other moments chaotic, Singleton’s writing––and leadership––allows for the players to stretch out, but never beyond an engaging and fully engaged sense of narrative. We may not be sure exactly what the story is, but there is nothing other than fierce focus in the dramatic and soulful sense with which these players execute the narrative’s implications. 

The music on Malabar will likely call to mind Dave Holland’s Conference of the Birds, Charles Mingus’ Black Saint and the Sinner Lady or Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. But Malabar is no throwback to 1963 or 1973. Singleton’s vision is firmly cast, forward and up. And the work here has as much to do with the aforementioned Chicago experimentalists and some of their cohorts like Luke Stewart, Ken Vandermark, and Rob Mazurek. Malabar is another chapter, a brililant new chapter in James Singleton’s evolving songbook, and one that will be remembered as such for years to come.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Lynne Arriale Trio | "The Lights Are Always On"

The Lights Are Always On is pianist/composer Lynne Arriale’s 16th album as leader, and her third recording on Challenge Records International.  Lynne’s original music is a suite of compositions that reflect the world-wide, life-changing events of the past two years. Several of the pieces are named in honor of heroes around the world, including those who served as caregivers on the front lines of the COVID pandemic and as defenders of democracy. 

On this session Lynne is joined by bassist/co-producer Jasper Somsen and drummer E.J. Strickland, both outstanding, in-demand musicians on the international jazz scene. The trio creates the sort of engrossing musical conversation that has become a trademark of Lynne’s groups.

Lynne’s ten original, highly evocative compositions begin with the persistent Afro-Cuban influenced “March On,” a tribute to activists worldwide. “The Lights Are Always On” features a lyrical melody in perpetual motion; the foundation of a thematic arc that soars over the entire piece. It is followed by the jubilant, gospel-influenced “Sisters.” Lynne’s dedication to Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, “Honor,” is the melding of two engaging melodic ideas; each reinforcing the other. Together they convey the heroic character and unwavering strength of this American patriot.  “Loved Ones”expresses joyful appreciation for those who are precious to us. 

The set continues with “Sounds Like America,” where Lynne creates an optimistic melody and solo, culminating in a celebratory chordal finish. “The Notorious RBG,” is an exuberant dedication to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, assertively propelled by drummer E.J. Strickland. Following that, Lynne and Jasper deftly navigate the angular harmonic construction of “Into the Breach,” Lynne’s ominous remembrance of the January 6th Insurrection and the heroes that saved democracy on that day. “Walk in My Shoes,” a dedication to civil rights icon John Lewis, reflects the tenacity and strength of this remarkable leader. Lynne begins her solo with two motivic statements, which she skillfully integrates into a cohesive, powerful performance. The album concludes with “Heroes”, a heartfelt ballad composed in recognition of those who enlightened a very dark period in our history, and who embody the greatest humanistic virtues of mankind. 

The title of the project was inspired by Dr. Prakash Gada, an esophageal and robotic surgeon in Tacoma, Washington. Lynne explained, “This collection was inspired by the doctor and all front-line health care workers. For me, Dr. Gada crystallized the workers’ heroism; each day bearing the risk of personal infection, and enduring the emotional toll of staggering caseloads presented by this global crisis. Nevertheless, the doctor said, ‘Here I am back at work after COVID...I fled Kuwait after the invasion. No matter what happens, no one works at home. The lights are always on. Babies are being born; bones are being set. This hospital, this profession…..we are in a league of our own; we’ll take care of you, I promise. I stand next to the most fearless people I have ever seen.’ ”

“Dr. Gada’s words deeply moved me and evoked memories of 9/11. In the aftermath of that attack, I remembered the rescue workers who ran into the towers without hesitation or concern for their personal safety, and thought, ‘Who are these angels?’ Clearly, the angels of our time are Dr. Gada and all health care workers, professionals and volunteers alike, who battle COVID-19.

Lynne won the Great American Jazz Piano Competition.  Her 15 critically acclaimed  albums  have topped the Jazzweek Radio Charts and  have received  “Best of” honors in major publications. She toured Japan with “100 Golden Fingers” with Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Monty Alexander, Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, Harold Mabern, Roger Kellaway, Junior Mance and Ray Bryant. 

She has performed at major international festivals including Montreux, Burghausen, Gilmore, Spoleto Arts, Montreal, Monterey, North Sea, Stuttgart, Pori, San Francisco, Ottawa, Zagreb, Perth, Brisbane, Rouen, Sardinia, Rochester, Wigan, Poznan, Estoril, Inverness, Cork and San Javier.

Fabian Willman Trio | "Balance"

On his debut album, Balance, Berlin saxophonist Fabian Willmann immediately gets down to business. The opening track bears the businesslike title, "Intro". And indeed, with just a few simple tones, he foreshadows what emerges over the course of the album. Fabian Willmann is a trenchant narrator who, using a sonorous tone and a fearless narrative approach, strips himself down to the essentials, yet with something to say in every breath. 

The experience of following Willmann's music is akin to that of reading Marcel Proust's epic novel, In Search of Lost Time, not because the album is that sprawling – the contrary is actually the case here – but rather because he rappels himself down into an imaginary past with the subtle means of poetic expression, arriving directly in the here and now. Willmann's clear tone on the tenor saxophone recalls the best eras of a Dexter Gordon or a Stan Getz. On the other hand, the rhythmic meshing contributed by bassist Arne Huber and drummer Jeff Ballard is starkly modern. As opposed to a dichotomy, this implied contrast creates a unity that fully corresponds to the essence of this Berlin-based saxophonist, who radiates restrained calm while still making it unmistakably clear that he knows exactly what he wants. 

Willmann has been connected to Jeff Ballard since he was a student in Basel. He has always been captivated by the dynamics that the drummer can unroll, especially in trio situations. Arne Huber has partnered up with Willmann within various contexts. With Ballard and Huber, Willmann could envision a stable, equilateral triangular formation in which both playful and impulsive parts could be distributed in a balanced way. Fourth in the group for several pieces is the Danish alto saxophonist Asger Nissen, who harmoniously takes up Willmann's idiom from a complementary direction. The two saxophonists dance around and complete one another so elegantly that while listening, it is often difficult to identify who is making what tone. 

Willmann had the sound of these combinations in his mind’s ear before he started writing the pieces. "With these personalities in mind, I wanted to keep the pieces themselves as simple as possible in order to allow the trio’s sound to better develop," Willmann recalls about the genesis of his album. "Simple not in the sense of easy, but rather to limit myself while composing in order to be as free as possible while playing. The less I assigned to and the cleaner the compositions, the more could be created in the room with the three to four musicians." 

For Willmann, freedom always goes hand in hand with self-reflection. He considers spontaneity and control not as a contradiction, but rather as interdependent. At any given moment in his musical stories, he knows exactly where he is and what he has to say. Precisely because of this conscious vigilance, he is always able to give free rein to the music itself. As a saxophonist, he has a broad virtuoso vocabulary, but he deliberately uses only the means he needs in order to make the statement he wants. This concentration on what is necessary is extremely unusual for a debut album, but it is precisely this poised access to his imaginative mental and physical instruments that is Willmann's particular strength. His approach is devoid of any chatter, redundancy, or showing off. In this respect, Balance comes across as a kind of self-portrait. "I'd rather make a clear statement than hide the message somewhere in the saxophone" is his courageous credo. "The album’s title Balance doesn't imply shying away from extremes, for me it's more about the contours. The fact that different elements are balanced gives me a satisfying gut feeling of restraint." 

As is well known, jazz has many facets, and concrete classifications only make sense in very few cases. This also applies to Fabian Willmann's music, because it conveys much more about himself and the musicians involved than it does about historical derivations in jazz. Nevertheless, a certain proximity to the attitude of cool jazz cannot be dismissed out of hand. This applies less directly to the music itself – which was especially prominent in the 1950s with musicians such as Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz or Art Farmer – than it does to its aura. The album title, Balance, is also an apt motto for the record in that Willmann finds a balance between his influences – which he does not disclaim – and the genuine statements that only he himself can make. From the very first note up to the end of the album, the saxophonist and his companions leave no doubt that they not only know exactly where they come from, but also where the journey should go. 

Taking a break while breaking forth, breaking forth while taking a break: Fabian Willmann finds the perfect balance between perception and memory. He is a subtle chronicler of the eternal moment, finding the right tone for his debut as a leader in order to make himself undeniably heard. Indeed, Balance is the album we've all been waiting for. 

John Scofield | "John Scofield"

With a career spanning over half a century, marked by influential collaborations with jazz greats like Miles Davis and Joe Henderson as well as several dozen genre-bending leader dates, it’s all the more striking that this is in fact John Scofield’s first ever guitar-solo recording. The long wait, however, pays off, as John is able to benefit from his decades of experience and charts an intimate path through the styles and idioms he has traversed up until today. He is not entirely all on his own on this endeavour though: the guitarist enters into dialogues with himself, soloing to his own tasteful chordal and rhythmic accompaniment via loop machine. 

“I think that there’s a delicateness that I have acquired from playing at home alone," Scofield has recently said in conversation with The Boston Herald. “I am so used to playing with a slamming band […] and there’s a certain musicality to that. That went away and was replaced by this more delicate approach of pinpointing the beauty of the strings. When I play solo, I make these little guitar loops on the fly, […] and it’s almost like I’m playing with another person.” 

Not uncommon for self-titled recordings, a deeper meaning can be read into choosing the album name John Scofield, as John digs deep into the past, all the way back to his roots and the heroes of his youth. The result is a balanced and thorough picture of the musician, tying together the music that shaped him and that he has subsequently continued to influence and forge himself.  

“When I was a kid the guitar was the instrument of rock and roll and popular music, that’s what I was interested in," Scofield explains. In that spirit, he effortlessly pulls Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” from a hat, giving an edgy and laid-back rendition of the hit Holly wrote six years after Scofield was born. John reaches even further back with Hank Williams’ “You Win Again," released when Scofield was just a year old, in 1952. 

John’s main emphasis throughout the years, however, has remained his deep commitment to the jazz tradition, and here he grabs a number of standards off the rack and gives them unique interpretations. His comments on each song are included in the liner notes accompanying this release, where he reveals his fondness for Kenny Dorham’s take on “It Could Happen to You." John’s own version is a swinging affair with a deft key-change halfway through. He also reminisces about his first recording date, backing up Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker on “There Will Never Be Another You” and his pass at the song proves a nimble and compact adventure. An especially minimalist take on the Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow-penned “My Old Flame” follows – John turns off the loop machine for this one. 

The guitarist has filled a fair share of albums with his own writing – its tuneful qualities and inviting singability having the same timeless character as jazz standards. “I never think about ideas when I write music," John reflects. "Instrumental music exists in a different part of your brain, it’s not about an idea that can be described with language or visually. Music exists in its own place." 

His compositions are among the highlights of this set: Scofield renders “Honest I Do," which he originally wrote and recorded in 1991, into a soulful ballad, explored with experimental guitar tones. “Mrs. Scofield’s Waltz” is dedicated to his wife, who in turn gave “Since You Asked," a song John initially recorded with Joe Lovano in 1990, its name. “More of a feeling than an actual composition” – in the words the guitarist – “Trance Du Hour” is his “version of '60s jazz à la Coltrane." It maintains the same high level of energy as his blues “Elder Dance” does. 

Along with traditionals “Danny Boy” and “Junco Partner," John delivers a haunting and somewhat oblique interpretation of Keith Jarrett’s “Coral” – Scofield’s version doesn’t introduce the song’s main theme until the very end. They complete this graceful solo venture, recorded in Katonah, New York in August 2021. 

John Scofield’s ECM appearances to date include two albums with Marc Johnson’s Bass Desires group – Bass Desires (recorded 1985) and Second Sight (1987) – in which the guitarist shared frontline duties with Bill Frisell. On Shades of Jade (2004), a third Marc Johnson album, Scofield is heard alongside frequent colleague Joe Lovano. The live double album Saudades (recorded in 2004), meanwhile, features Scofield as a member of Trio Beyond, alongside Jack DeJohnette and Larry Goldings, reassessing the songbook of Tony Williams’ Lifetime. After 2020’s Swallow Tales, John Scofield is the guitarist’s second ECM recording as a leader.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Tord Gustavsen Trio | "Opening"

Tord Gustavsen’s album Opening develops the traits and styles explored on his earlier works, while introducing a broader spectrum of suppleness and a transformed sense of interplay to the trio’s repertory. It is the first Gustavsen Trio recording with Steinar Raknes on bass and the newcomer feels quite at home supporting his colleagues in the deep end, settling in quickly between Tord’s refined chordal studies and Jarle Vespestad’s delicate stick- and brushwork. 

There’s a particularly striking openness to the music, marked by spacious improvisations and a tendency to reveal the secrets and melodies at their own pace. “The urge for saying something, be it abstract or lyrical, has to come from within,” Tord reasons. “During the recording of the album it felt better to do the breathing first, open up the soundscape in more organic ways and let the melody enter when it comes naturally.“ 

Multiple causes may account for the shift in temperament on Opening – the change in lineup certainly being one of them. Bassist Steinar Raknes establishes a firm counterpoint in the music. “He’s an extroverted bass player, who likes to take center stage, while also being an incredibly supportive and humble accompanist, so he moves very swiftly between background, collective and soloist roles.” An ideal counterbalance to the variable basslines, Jarle’s percussive rumination acts as a mediator, guiding his fellow musicians through alternating straight-ahead and rubato passages. 

Here more than ever Tord dwells on minuscule fragments, brief chord chains and scarce hints of motifs, developing the material patiently: “It’s something I’ve been doing a lot in solo concerts. Having themes just appear out of the dark and disappearing back into a shady undercurrent…” 

In a way picking up where the prior trio album The Other Side left off, album-opening "The Circle“ presents a hymnal refrain, fashioned with a humble design. “I was sitting at the piano and the first four bars just came to me. I worked out and developed the remaining structure deliberately, but more and more I find that the best tunes I’ve written over the years basically just came to me, like gifts. I then have the responsibility to shape the gift, make it grow and turn it into a complete piece”. 

The trio offers spontaneous moments of dense rubato interplay on “Opening” and “Findings," the latter of which ends on an instrumental quote of the Swedish folk song “Vis Fran Rattvik," “It shows that I was listening to the classic Swedish Folk-tune arrangements by the late Jan Johansson, who also happened to be one of the greatest Swedish jazz pianists. I’ve been learning many of his arrangements by heart, just as an exercise, and that influence is in evidence here." These are also the most freely improvised exhibits of the record, as is counterpart “Findings II." “I really enjoy building these miniatures — it’s something we often do in live situations. It’s about creating a shape, not about free improv in the sense of showing everything you’re capable of doing," 

With each song, the trio shifts focus, presenting the reduced, most skeletal shape of a composition on “The Longing," the gentle untangling of melody on “Shepherd Song” and the subtle deconstruction of a dance with “Helensburgh Tango” – “to the point where it almost doesn’t qualify as a tango anymore." Like “Re-opening," most songs have prescribed harmonic changes and general shapes, “but when to move from one chord or section to the next isn’t pre-composed, but decided between us, in the spur of the moment." 

“Stream” uncovers a ‘classic’ piano trio ballad in shape and execution. “Though seemingly counterintuitive, in the studio our interplay grew densest during Steinar’s solo, then we move into a collective crescendo – both spontaneous decisions that really shed a different light on the track.” “Ritual” follows, seeing Steinar taking the lead with guitar-like treble and Gustavsen being in charge of the lower frequencies, applying subtle electronics in the process. 

The group goes full circle with the one subject that pulls through Tord Gustavsen’s entire ECM oeuvre, as Opening closes with Norwegian folk themes: “Fløytelåt” (the flute) by composer Gveirr Tveitt and Egil Hovland’s “Vær sterk, min sjel” from the Norsk Salmebok, the Norwegian Hymnal. Instead of stating the obvious and immediately going for the melody, Gustavsen and his accompanists again broach the songs with openness, trading strict organization for thoughtful and effortless improvisation. 

Opening was recorded in Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in November 2021 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Alune Wade | "Sultan"

France-based Senegalese Bassist, Vocalist and Composer Alune Wade Releases "Sultan" Featuring Lenny White, Harold López-Nussa, Christian Sands, Leo Genovese and More

Few artists would dare to tackle quite such a kaleidoscope of music styles and accompanying socio-political issues in the space of 12 songs and 66 minutes. And yet France-based Senegalese virtuosic bassist, vocalist and composer Alune Wade, who’s worked with Joe Zawinul, Marcus Miller, Oumou Sangare, Bobby McFerrin, Youssou N’Dour and others, achieves this with effortless mastery on Sultan, his fifth solo album in 15 years.

The epic dozen-song Sultan, which represent 12 chapters of a voyage, features Wade’s onstage band, including percussionist Adriano Tenorio DD, pianist and keyboardist Cédric Ducheman, trumpeter Carlos Sarduy, saxophonist Hugues Mayot and drummer Daril Esso. The 43-year-old Wade is also accompanied by many high-profile guest stars who have been regular accomplices in Wade’s storied music career: Paco Séry, Cyril Atef, Lenny White, Josh Deutsch, Ismail Lumanovski, Hein Benmiloud, Mustapha Sahbi, Nasriddine Chebli, Harold López-Nussa, Christian Sands, Leo Genovese, Bobby Spark, Daniel Blake, Faris Ishaq and others. The guest artists help to expand the voices of Nora Mint, Seymali, Mounir Troudi, PPS the Writah, Aziz Sahmaoui, Mehdi Nassouli and Djam.

The seeds for Sultan were planted while Wade was wrapping up his fourth album, 2018’s African Fast Food, which included “Pharaoh’s Dance,” a song he says allowed a peek into what he’d been wanting to develop for some time.

“In 2018, I was fascinated by a potential meeting between the musics of East Africa – notably Ethiopia – and Egypt,” Wade says from his home base in Sartrouville, near Paris. “My ensuing travels – and there were many – allowed me to meet artists from the diaspora that you find in New York and Paris. This dynamic melting pot was enriched by my passion for jazz, highlife and Afrobeat. So, I just went deeper and deeper into my private musical laboratory, seeking to fuse these styles without losing any of their respective textures.”

But Wade’s reflections go well beyond mere music spheres. He has always displayed a sensitivity to the historical, social and political turmoil of our times and these infuse these 12 songs, as explained in the adjoining liner notes: “I have never stopped reading. And I decided to go on a philosophical mission based on Africa’s untold history: I wanted to recount it in another way, take off layers of revisionism, inch closer to the original sources.”

The COVID-19 lockdown gave him some breathing space in an Ile-de-France home shared by his partner and their child. Wade’s vision sometimes strayed the Mother Continent’s diaspora: “I read a book on the Falasha and their tragic uprooting and experiences in Israel. Its author, French Senegalese intellectual Tidiane N'Diaye reflects on the deep injustices and mistreatment these Ethiopian Jews went through in their odyssey, both at home and in the country that ‘welcomed’ them. Despite this, however, it made me feel that there remains an unbreakable link between Africa and the Middle East. I’ve been trying to expand on it.”

Wade’s focal point with Sultan was Tunisia. A 25-day residency supported by the Institut Français de Tunis kickstarted the project in January 2021. His residential villa in La Marsa, next to the Tunisian capital, became a rehearsal base for Wade and mercurial vocalist Mounir Troudi. The latter helped the former assemble the leading lights of the country’s traditional music scene.

“It was a true discovery for me. I had been more acquainted to Moroccan and Algerian sounds. But much had familiar echoes: the Stambouli style, for example, mirrors the diasporic culture of the Gnawa, a music I’ve grown to embrace over the years.”

Once the rehearsals consolidated the crossover experiments Wade sought, he took them to Tunis’ modern Arpège studios. He then left the Mediterranean shores to share them in New York and Paris with multi-Grammy winning producer/engineer/mixer Nic Hard (of Snarky Puppy, The Klezmatics, Elizabeth Chan and-a-plethora-of-others fame). Hard used his years of experience to knead the long explorations of this bass conductor into cohesive whole.

This tapestry now goes by the name of Sultan. It’s an Arabic name both masculine and feminine newborns, a word used not only in Arabic but also Turkish, Bengali, Avar and Urdu. This royal image and figure suits Wade to a tee: a graceful confidence, a calm authority, and an intensity that his bass playing echoes throughout these 12 musical chapters.

Like all wise leaders, he has surrounded himself with accomplices who shoulder the responsibility Wade delegates, entering a creative dialogue that he has the secret of. These outside artists have been part of the illuminati from Paris’ world music sphere for decades. They do honor to the restless explorations of an artist whose initial inspirations balanced delicately along a fine invisible line - between the creative artistry of his conductor father and the down-to-earth realism of his nurturing mother.

While Sultan represents 12 chapters of a voyage, Wade has been on own journey of sorts since he began on guitar as a child, egged on by an inspirational father who, at the time, was conducting Senegal’s Symphonic Army Orchestra. Precociousness was Wade’s middle name. Within years, he learnt scales for the piano, guitar and bass. Ismaël Lo’s bass player, Samba Laobé N’Diaye, lent him his first bass guitar at five and, irony of sorts, he took over from N’Diaye’s successor 12 years later. In 1999, he began his recording career at the singer’s side for Lo’s seminal albums, first with Jiguen and, two years on Dabakh.

This was just one of a list of collaborations Wade enjoyed over the decades. They read like a who’s who from the worlds of jazz and crossover music: Joe Zawinul, Marcus Miller, Oumou Sangare, Bobby McFerrin, Youssou N’Dour, Cheick Tidiane Seck, Harold López-Nussa, Lokua Kanza, Blick Bassy, Fatoumata Diawara… the list goes on. His inspirations – Weather Report, Charlie Parker, Salif Keita, to name but a few – reflect musical choices he made. Many were distilled in explorations with the aptly named University of Gnawa, an ‘institution’ Alune co-founded with the mesmeric Aziz Sahmaoui, the virtuoso singer and sinter player, formerly of L’Orchestre National de Barbès, also makes an appearance in Sultan.

Christian McBride | "The Q Sessions"

Seven-time GRAMMY® Award-winning jazz artist Christian McBride partnered with Qobuz, the Hi-Res streaming and download service, last year to produce The Q Sessions EP. Released exclusively through their streaming platform last year, the project is now available across all platforms.

The release comes on the heels of Christian McBride & Inside Straight's Live at the Village Vanguard album, as well as the GRAMMY® Award nomination for his 2020 Christian McBride Big Band release, For Jimmy, Wes and Oliver. Additionally, McBride is touring internationally through March and will return to the US with performances through the end of June. You can see a complete schedule here.

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

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

“What a pleasure it was to put together a special group featuring one of my favorite guitarists of all time, Mike Stern. It was a great day in the studio with Mike, Marcus and Eric – not only jamming a couple of tunes, but to also record a new original of mine, 'Brouhaha,'" said McBride.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Steve Boudreau | "Cherished Possessions"

Steve Boudreau is a jazz pianist based in Ottawa, Canada, and is about to release his newest album, Cherished Possessions, which will be released this spring.

After completing a five-volume solo piano recording project from home in 2020, Steve Boudreau's next step was to go back into the studio and record in his format of choice – the piano trio. This is his first trio album featuring primarily original music. In October 2021, Steve traveled to Montreal to record with two of its top jazz musicians, bassist Adrian Vedady and drummer Jim Doxas. The three of them played all of the pieces in a single afternoon, leading to fresh performances filled with the kind of spontaneous energy you might hear at a live show.

The interactive piano trio playing continues in the footsteps of such jazz luminaries as Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau as well as Fred Hersch and Danilo Perez who Boudreau studied with at the New England Conservatory.

Based in Canada's capital, Steve Boudreau has performed and taught extensively throughout North America and parts of Europe. He is in demand as both a leader and bandmate, and has appeared at various international theatres and jazz festivals. His most recent releases include a five-volume solo piano set made possible through the Canada Council for the Arts, a quartet album co-led with guitarist Garry Elliott, and a trio album featuring a unique look at the music of George Gershwin.

Cherished Possessions will be released internationally on April 8, 2022, with a CD release show in Ottawa at Woodroffe United Church on May 22, 2022, and dates to be confirmed soon in Montreal and Toronto.

Multi-Instrumental Teen Trio "J3"

While most teens crave screen time, J3 seeks synchronicity on the bandstand. Proficiently grooving on virtually any instrument within any genre, Justin-Lee Schultz, Jamie-Leigh Schultz and Jaden Baker personify joy. “Music takes me to my happy place,” shares Justin. “As soon as I start playing or listening to my favorite artists, any bad emotions fade away.” His sister Jamie adds, “It helps me express myself when words fail,” while Jaden confides, “It’s my first love. Music provides a specific peace for me that nothing and no one else can.” Every now and then, special artists come along with mind-blowing abilities and an intuitive sense that is well beyond their years. J3 are those types of musicians. Independently the members of J3 have garnered praise from such dynamic forces as Quincy Jones, Robert Glasper, Harry Connick Jr. and Israel Houghton, among others. J3’s youthful exuberance is tempered with serious musicianship, deep reverence for their predecessors and an eye towards the future. The first time the electrifying teenage trio played together was in 2020 at the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) convention in Anaheim, California, where an instant friendship was kindled. “We work so well together because we have a real friendship and respect for one another and have a lot of fun,” says Justin. “What I love about being in this group is that we know how to joke and have fun, but we also understand when it's time to lock in and focus!” declares Jaden. J3’s anticipated trio debut, Opus 1, is set for release on Shanachie Entertainment, April 15, 2022.

Danny Weiss, VP of Shanachie’s Jazz A&R states, “J3's brilliance, passion and awesome chops are off the charts. The fact that they are just in their teens makes you believe in reincarnation.” Opus 1, is a thrilling collection of eleven tracks that shine a spotlight on the trio's far-reaching influences from Pop, Jazz, R&B, Hip Hop, Rock, Gospel and beyond. In addition to stunning originals, there are also memorable tributes to Chick Corea, the King of Pop and Jeff Lorber.‌

Born in South Africa and now based in Los Angeles, Justin-Lee Schultz says with a grin, "If I were not a musician, I would be a news anchor or a pilot. I think I could develop a good news anchor voice!” The 15-year old instrumental whizkid cites his Dad, guitarist Julius, as his first and main influence. Justin is well on his way to finding his own voice. He enjoys deep diving into diverse musical settings and has already caught the attention of numerous notables. Quincy Jones says, "This kid is something special!" while Robert Glasper says, "He sounds amazing and he's only getting better!” Equally adept on piano, bass, guitar, harpejji and talk box, Justin considers the piano his main instrument commenting, "The pianists that have influenced me the most are Bob James, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, George Duke, Oscar Peterson, Cory Henry, Art Tatum, and Jeremy Siskind." Justin who has been playing since he was a toddler, has appeared with his sister and father on America’s Most Talented Family and he wowed Steve Harvey on his former program Little Big Shots and Harry Connick Jr. on his former daytime talk show Harry. In 2020, Justin’s recording debut on Shanachie, Gruv Kid, landed at #1 on iTunes Jazz and featured such stellar guests as Bob James, Pieces Of A Dream, Gerald Albright and Jonathan Butler, among others. 

“Music has always been a part of my life ever since I can remember,” recalls Justin’s 18 year-old sister Jamie. “When I was around five years old, I played in front of an audience for the first time at one of my Dad’s concerts and after playing I knew music was my calling." A gentle force of nature, Jamie flows effortlessly between drums, bass and guitar and her influences range from such eclectic sources as Sheila E., Stevie Wonder, PJ Morton and Kendrick Lamar, among numerous others. “It’s important for me to be able to play different genres of music so I can remain versatile and not get stuck in a box,” explains the serious-minded musician who was recently accepted into Berklee College of Music. 16-year old Dallas based Jaden Baker cites bassist Derrick Hodge as a mentor and admits to having Robert Glasper, Moonchild, Mumford and Sons, Rascal Flatts and Snarky Puppy in heavy rotation on his current playlist. Jaden has recorded and toured with Gospel stars Israel Houghton and Fred Hammond and is the Music Director for Student Ministries at T.D. Jakes' The Potter's House. Jaden shares, “I play the drums, bass guitar, piano, guitar, cello, tenor trombone, bass trombone, and I've just started messing with trumpet and accordion. I was raised to never have a favorite. I have many influences for these instruments that keep me going and inspire me to do better!”‌

With the release of Opus 1, J3 is poised to take their career to new heights but their focus remains on the music and staying true to who they are.  Jamie adds, "I hope when people hear our new CD that they will feel inspired. My dream is that J3 will continue to have fun and make great music!" Jaden reflects, “It is important for myself and J3 to ride the positive train because the majority of the negative music that trends nowadays is directed towards teens and young people." Justin concludes, “I think it’s important for us to always be positive and to make music that spreads positivity. Music definitely has the power to bring people together and I hope J3 can do that."

New Music Releases: Chicago Experiment; Gary Brumburgh; Yannick Rieu; Theon Cross

Greg Spero / Makaya McCraven / Maquis Hill / Joel Ross / Irvin Pierce / Jeff Parker / Darryl Jones - The Chicago Experiment

Chicago finally gets its due – in this great series that previously gave us the Philadelphia Experiment and Detroit Experiment projects! This time around, though, the lineup is even more top-shelf – filled with the kind of artists who really make us proud to be part of the Windy City – many of them players with slightly different styles and approaches, which is what makes the record such a great break from the usual! Pianist Greg Spero heads up the group, and the septet features work from Makaya McCraven on drums, Jeff Parker on guitar, Joel Ross on vibes, Marquis Hill on trumpet, Darryl Jones on bass, and Irvin Pierce on tenor – working together with a style that's nicely unified, and which has some of the soulful currents of other projects in this series from Ropeadope. That mode is maybe a bit different than you're used to hearing from McCraven, is a perfect showcase for the more soulful side of Parker's talents, and is right on the money for Marquis Hill – on tunes that include "The Chant", "Sizzle Reel", "Cloud Jam", "Always Be", "Double Take", "Maxwell Street", "For Too", "Straight Shooter", and "Tiny Beat".  ~ Dusty Groove

Gary Brumburgh - Fill Circle

On Full Circle, vocalist Gary Brumburgh revisits his early career as a musical theater artist with fresh jazz interpretations of songs from iconic shows like Cabaret, Company, Fiddler on the Roof, Oklahoma! and others. This is Brumburgh’s third album as a leader and follows Moonlight (2018) and Up Jumped Spring (2008). Brumburgh performed in musical theater for close to two decades. Having appeared on stages across the country in dozens of shows, Brumburgh approaches lyrics much like an actor prepares for a role. In musical theater, lyrics are often used to advance a story. They suggest a scene setting and a character with specific emotions and motivations. Brumburgh’s training as an actor allows him to imbue lyrics with a distinct persona and highly personalized interpretations. That is why The Jazz Owl says, “Brumburgh’s voice is warm and emotion-filled, completely immersed in the feel of the song, and as stated over and over, so very believable.” The songs on Full Circle are not only some of Brumburgh’s favorite musical theater songs but are also from shows in which he performed. Pianist and arranger Jamieson Trotter fashioned these musical theater songs with a creative, new jazz patina. Full Circle is Brumburgh’s homage to his roots in musical theater. But this album is not a tour down memory lane. With its updated jazz arrangements coupled with Brumburgh’s warm voice and deep connection to the lyrics, Fill Circle is a project that casts a new light on some of the most popular and beloved songs from the Broadway stage.

Yannick Rieu - Qui Qu’en Grogne 

Yannick Rieu was the 18th recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award, celebrating the quality of his art and his outstanding contribution to the development of jazz in Canada. As early as 1988, DownBeat Magazine ranked him among the 20 most talented saxophonists in the world, alongside the likes of Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano and Courtney Pine. Since then, Rieu has toured the globe, collecting praise and awards for his recordings and his live performances.With his new album Qui Qu’en Grogne, Rieu invites us to revisit his musical origins and early influences with a new collection of songs grounded in the classic jazz quartet tradition. What begin as simple melodies expand as the group improvises together, becoming more elaborate, moving a step beyond the listener’s expectations. Musical conversations intertwine, achieving a truly unified sound. For this new recording, Rieu has assembled a unique combination of established and emerging musicians: pianist Gentiane Michaud-Gagnon, drummer Louis-Vincent Hamel, and bassist Guy Boisvert. As the name suggests, Génération Quartet is about the dialogue between two generations of musicians, who through several years of shared experiences have developed a chemistry and sound that is entirely their own. With one foot set firmly in the jazz tradition’s rich past and the other in its future, this group’s music is imbued with poetry, mystery, and beauty - this album is an evocative exploration of the human experience.

Theon Cross - Intra I

A pretty fantastic album from Theon Cross – the London-based jazz musician whose main instrument is the tuba, and who's given some really wonderful contributions to a range of different projects! Here, though, Theon really knocks it out of the park – still using his familiar instrument, but emerging maybe more as a soul-based musician too – vocalizing a bit, and bringing in a fair bit of electronics to keep things moving with a crisply crackling vibe throughout! The use of the tuba in these circumstances is wonderful – the depth of a bass part, but sometimes flowing out with more melodic moments too – and the whole record is one that will really blow away any expectations at all you might have for both Cross and his instrument. Titles include "Watching Over", "Forward Progression II", "Play To Win", "Universal Alignment", "The Spiral", "Trust The Journey", "We Go Again", and "Roots".  ~ Dusty Groove

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Cameron Graves | "Love From the Seven Spheres"

With 2017’s Planetary Prince and 2021’s Seven, pianist/composer Cameron Graves established himself as a visionary creative force emerging from the Los Angeles genre-defying collective The West Coast Get Down. Listening closely to these critically acclaimed juggernauts of hardcore precision exposes a musical alchemy influenced as much by 1970s jazz-rock fusion and classical music as it is by the likes of Pantera, Slipknot and Meshuggah. For his next journey, Live from the Seven Spheres, Graves expands on the otherworldly inspirations, reimagining songs from both of his studio albums to present an unapologetic powerhouse that grabs on and refuses to let go. 

Due out April 8 on Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group, Live from the Seven Spheres reconvenes his core quartet featuring guitarist Colin Cook, bassist Max Gerl and drummer Mike Mitchell. “This is the third chapter in the trinity,” Graves explains. “There’s always a seven and there’s always a trinity. In all the galaxies in the universe, everything operates off the trinity of Thought, Love and Action. Planetary Prince was Thought. Seven was Love. Live from the Seven Spheres is Action – showing the universe our power.” 

Staying true to his creative vision, Graves’ plans for the material on Seven and Planetary Prince are now fully being realized. “When I conceived the music for the last two albums, I envisioned performing these in varying formats in the future to achieve new heights. When you play these songs on solo piano, they sound just like a contemporary classical song, like Debussy or Ravel,” he says. “But when you play them with this band as a quartet, it turns into a massive explosion.” 

As you listen to the album it is clear that this music is deeply ingrained within the souls of the individual band members, with each instrument representing an unstoppable force of nature that ebbs and flows with the cosmic energy of the universe. Inner wisdom, self-awareness, intuition and mysticism are at the forefront of every note played and every rhythm set forth. As the completion of Graves’ musical trilogy, Live from the Seven Spheres invokes the spirituality of those numerical constants that are inextricably connected to the laws of our universe.

Cameron Graves, like the rest of the West Coast Get Down, saw his profile explode following the 2015 release of Kamasi Washington’s debut, The Epic. Since then, the collective has seen its members carve out their own critically acclaimed identities, through their own bands, releases and tours. 

Graves was also a key member of actress/musician Jada Pinkett Smith's nu-metal band, Wicked Wisdom, providing him an entrée into the world of film and television scoring through the Pinkett Smith-directed film The Human Contract and TV series Hawthorne. Through his soundtrack work, Graves connected with legendary bassist and fellow label mate, Stanley Clarke, and is now a member of his latest band, touring internationally. Graves wrote several songs and performed on Stanley’s latest release, The Message, and has performed internationally with The Stanley Clarke Band. Graves has also performed and recorded on albums for Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Dr. Dre and Miles Mosley, and is the pianist on the soundtrack to Becoming, the Michelle Obama documentary. Most recently, Graves appeared with Washington for their debut late-night television performance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Cameron Graves • Live from the Seven Spheres

Artistry Music (Mack Avenue Music Group) • Release Date: April 8, 2022

Sharon Green · Mack Avenue Music Group · 310-733-8380

Information and press materials (including album covers, promotional photos 

and bios) on all DL Media artists can be found at our website:

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Nat King Cole | "Capitol Rarities (Vol. 1)

He had a voice like cappuccino, swung like no other, and inhabited some of the greatest love songs ever written — and his music both typified its era and proves everlasting in 2022. Now, to celebrate Nat King Cole’s birthday, March 17, some of his rarest tracks are joining the digital age. 

Capitol Records and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) today announce Capitol Rarities (Vol. 1), a collection of 14 tracks by Nat King Cole, five of which will be available on streaming platforms for the first time ever. Sourced from Cole’s fruitful creative stretch between 1949 and 1952, highlights like “Tunnel of Love,” “I’ll Always Remember You” and “My First and My Last Love” feature all the effervescent swing and moonlit balladry that made Cole one of the most iconic performers ever to emerge from the jazz/pop sphere. 

Bruce Resnikoff, UMe’s President & CEO, said, “As guardians of Nat King Cole’s legendary Capitol tapes, we look forward to making even more of his vast catalog of recordings available, from his biggest hits to deeper tracks that have been unavailable for decades. Whether you’re a long-time fan or just beginning to discover this incredible American talent, this series will provide much more insight into his repertoire from across his storied musical career. With more Nat King Cole projects in the works, I can’t wait to release even more material from the vaults.”

Even the most casual music listeners probably know one or two hits by memory — such is his ageless appeal — but Capitol Rarities (Vol. 1) provides deeper insights into the Book of Nat. While lesser known than Nat’s biggest chart hits, these early and currently unavailable hidden gems are astonishing high-quality recordings. Most haven't been reissued in many years and, before this series, many had not been available digitally (and all are currently unavailable). The collection contains collaborations with some of the very best in the business — composers Frank Loesser, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, arrangers Nelson Riddle and Pete Rugolo, vocalists Alyce King and the Ray Charles Singers, and bongo player Jack Costanzo — it contains tender duets with his wife, Maria Cole.

Indeed, she sings in tandem with her husband on three tracks: The 1950 version of Larry Shay, Charles Tobias and Roy Alfred’s “Get Out and Get Under the Moon”; Roy Alfred’s “Hey, Not Now! (I’ll Tell You When);” and Marvin Fisher and Alfred’s “It’s a Man Every Time.” Many of the tracks feature Cole’s inimitable trio, which featured guitarist Irving Ashby and bassist Joe Comfort. And it all concludes with the radiant “Easter Sunday Morning,” which acts as both a fitting capper for this revelatory collection and a harbinger of more euphoric songs by an American treasure — ones that Capitol and UMe are lovingly restoring to their rightful place in the digital landscape.

Even though Cole passed away in 1965 at just 45 years old, he left behind a vast catalog of recordings that remind us, even on what would have been his 103rd birthday, of his extraordinary talents. When it comes to American geniuses like Cole, digging a little deeper every now and again is always an excellent idea.

Capitol Rarities (Vol. 1) (2022)

Roses And Wine 

Tunnel Of Love 

Get Out And Get Under The Moon (featuring Maria Cole)

The Way I'm Loving You 

My Brother 

Hey, Not Now! (I’ll Tell You When) (featuring Maria Cole)

The Magic Tree* 

Home (When Shadows Fall) 

It’s A Man Every Time (featuring Maria Cole)

Early American* 

I'll Always Remember You 

The Day Isn't Long Enough*

My First And My Last Love* 

Easter Sunday Morning*

*making digital debut



Joel A. Martin | "Jazzical Komitas - Passion Of Fire"

JAZZICAL KOMITAS – PASSION OF FIRE presents to world audiences the beauty and music of Armenia, their folk songs and the music of iconic Armenian legend Komitas Vartapet and other well-known Armenian composers re-imagined in the signature Jazzical® style of pianist/composer Joel A. Martin.

JAZZICAL KOMITAS is an experience like no other. The music of Komitas recreated in Joel A. Martin’s trademarked Jazzical® style for the twenty-first century. Like fire, there are many layers to this music: red, hot, and painfully beautiful. JAZZICAL KOMITAS celebrates the heritage and art of the Armenian people - past, present and future - through music. JAZZICAL KOMITAS – PASSION OF FIRE astonished audiences at its world premiere in NYC at St Vartan Armenian Cathedral on December 6, 2019.

Through Martin’s sensitive interpretations, JAZZICAL KOMITAS channels the sublime beauty of Komitas’ music and other ethnic folk songs, fostering a new love, respect and appreciation for Armenian art and culture. The album features Armenian mezzo soprano Solange Merdinian, violinist Nune Melik, and 13-year-old Dhol percussionist Hamlet Exoyan from Yerevan, on several tracks along with American symphony players and jazz musicians including flutist Pamela Sklar, drummer Jon Berger, and the Andrew Smith Strings Orchestra.

Joel A. Martin is an award-winning pianist and has travelled throughout the world performing both classical and jazz. His classical career spans 32 years and includes solo performances with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony and Delaware Symphony. He has given recitals at such notable venues as Purchase College Performing Arts Center, Avery Fisher Hall, Severance Hall, and the Phillips Collection. His concert appearances span the globe with performances in Japan, Finland, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Austria, England, France and Korea. He has performed over 400 chamber concerts throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic and was a featured guest with The Emerson String Quartet. His career also includes multiple projects and tours with Grammy Award winners Kathleen Battle (opera superstar), Disney composer Alan Menken, among many others.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Jason Tamba | "Gethsemane"

International singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jason Tamba is proud to announce his solo debut album “Don’t Give Up” due out April 8th on Playing For Change Records. The Congolese born artist has toured globally and appeared in numerous videos with the Playing For Change Band, Afro Fiesta and world-renowned musicians such as Peter Gabriel, Angélique Kidjo, John Paul Jones, Bono, Sara Bareilles and more. Now, with his infectious smile, compelling story-telling and powerful vocals, Jason embarks on his solo musical journey with a level of passion and soul that transcends boundaries. 

Gethsemane is the second single from Jason Tamba's debut album “Don't Give Up.” This reflective song, sung in Tamba's native language of Kikongo, "speaks of the last words of Jesus at Mount Gethsemane where he warns of being aware of those who you surround yourself with." Tamba goes on to explain about the song: "The message is: choose your friends wisely!!" The new song comes out on the heels of the first album single released in December, Maasai, which is a beautiful, introspective song with a soul-stirring energy that evokes a time of innocence. 

“Don’t Give Up” is a culmination of Jason Tamba’s musical experiences around the world, and a fusion of sound, bridging the Congo with the West. Recorded in May 2021 with engineer Harlan Steinberg at Hen House Studios, the album features a combination of traditional instruments from Africa along with instruments more generally associated with contemporary and rock music. Tamba says, “The room in Hen is set up for live recording and the acoustics of the room are great for capturing the feel and sound I was going for. I am very happy with the sound we achieved.” 

Tamba is joined by an all-star cast of skilled musicians on “Don’t Give Up,” including Whynot Jansveld (active touring member for The Wallflowers) on bass and mastering, Greg Leisz (recording credits with John Mayer, Aaron Neville, Eric Clapton and more) on pedal steel guitar, award-winning guitarist/producer Louis Mhlanga, Matt DeMerritt on saxophone, Roberto Luti on slide guitar, Grammy award-winning producer Mark Johnson on production, and Yasu Takeuchi. Tamba is also joined by PFC Band members Mermans Mosengo (vocal/ percussion/harmonica) and Robin Moxey (guitar).

For Tamba, the new album conveys the sentiment that one should always listen to their inner voice, for in doing so you are able to live and manifest your destiny. The title "Don't Give Up" stems from the lyrics in the song Loti, which appears on the album. This concept is the essence of the message of the whole album, Tamba explains, “My fundamental hope is that others can listen to these songs and gain inspiration to never allow challenges to dissuade you from your heart's desire and vision for, indeed, those are gifts placed inside you by God as a unique expression to the world.”

Born in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jason Tamba, a self-taught musician, has been playing guitar since age seven, when he made his own instrument out of wood and four strings. He later pursued his musical aspirations, culminating in earning a degree in classical guitar and traveling to South Africa to explore more opportunities. It was there that he became a singer, songwriter and guitarist for the Afro/Latin/reggae group, Afro Fiesta, who are widely regarded as innovators in the entertainment industry, fusing elements of Afro-jazz, Kwasa-Kwasa, Makossa and hints of Latin music. Since 2008, Jason has been a lead singer, guitarist and touring performer in the Playing For Change Band most notably performing with musical legends in some of PFC’s most popular Songs Around The World videos that have been viewed by over 300 million people internationally.

As a touring singer/musician, Tamba has traveled to over 25 countries, globally spreading a musical message of hope and unity, sharing concert stages with artists such as Robert Plant, Taj Mahal, Keb’ Mo’, Ziggy Marley, Toots Hibbert and many more. He is excited to perform the songs on “Don’t Give Up” live with audiences in 2022, most notably his upcoming performance at NOLA Jazz Fest in May.

Jason Tamba has warmed the hearts of millions and continues to make an impact on world music with his charismatic presence and limitless talent. Tamba’s new single Gethsemane is available March 21st ahead of his highly anticipated solo debut album “Don’t Give Up” out April 8th.

Aleksi Glick | "Guitar And Me"

Guitar and Me is the debut solo release from New York based guitarist Aleksi Glick. The album plays as a genealogy of the guitar, weaving through various musical styles that have been crucial to the guitar’s evolution as well as influential to Glick’s own journey with the instrument. While still rooted in jazz and blues, the album pushes the boundaries of genre by seamlessly floating through an eclectic mix of other styles including R&B, folk, rock, and bossa nova.

Guitar and Me features thirteen original compositions and solo arrangements of guitar based classics that Glick recorded while in isolation at the height of the Covid pandemic. The album starts off with a burner, “With Ease,” an original bluesy hard bop tune that came to Glick after a memorable Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The bossa and R&B infused title track “Guitar and Me” follows as Glick’s own love letter to his guitar. A mix of originals, jazz standards, and classic songs follow. Other highlights include an arrangement of the Grateful Dead fan favorite “Casey Jones” and the timeless classic “Georgia on My Mind.” “A Tune for Vic,” is a moving tribute to Glick’s recently deceased mentor, the late great Vic Juris. The album concludes with another original, “Rebirth” which is an homage to Glick’s early love of classic rock and finally “Long Black Veil” one of two tracks that Glick sings on. With each track you can hear the different influences on Glick’s playing from the classic tones of Wes Montgomery to the modern techniques of John McLaughlin, to the dynamic energy of Jimmy Hendrix. 

On this intimate debut, Aleksi Glick pushes the boundaries of solo performance and showcases his own journey through music with a deep understanding and reverence for the roots of the guitar.

When you play the most popular instrument in the world, having an “original” sound is a near- impossibility, but the young New York virtuoso Aleksi Glick has done just that.

As a member of a musical family, Aleksi has been exposed to virtually all styles of music since birth, from jazz to classical, folk to rock and a half dozen other stops in between some of those genres. He’s listened to everyone from Jimi Hendrix to John Scofield, Derek Trucks to Wes Montgomery. His guitar speaks an authoritative language and yet, there is a relaxed feeling and an inbred admiration of music’s many faces. The sound is warm, round and full, the phrasing is like a smooth-flowing brook, bubbling here, charging there, but always reflecting his basic understanding of what his instrument is about.'

As any good New York artist does, Aleksi plays with the best and brightest across the creative landscape. From films to radio, pop to jazz, on tape or video, he maintains an ideal balance of adaptability and uniqueness. He’s played and/or or recorded with Snack Cat (The Funk-Soul band he leads), Roberta Flack, Jersey Boys, J Hoard, Bailen, the Broadway cast of Aladdin, The Seth Weaver Big Band, Bailen, Peter Bernstein, Sam Dillon, Paul Bollenback, Augie Haas, Benny Benack, Vic Juris, Mike Glick (his pops) plus dozens of regional and nationally known bands and artists. He has also worked with major labels and publishing companies including Warner Chappel, Warner Music, Ropadope, APM, EMI and Outside in Music.

Danilo Perez | "Crisalida” |

GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist, composer and educator Danilo Pérez hopes to usher in a new era of enlightenment that will unite all of humanity with his epic new album, Crisálida, which in English translates to “chrysalis.” 

Incorporating multiple artistic disciplines that include works from Panamanian painter Olga Sinclair, Panamanian photographer Tito Herrera, and spoken word from his Chilean wife and saxophonist Patricia Zárate, Crisálida is a holistic inter-disciplinary package that invites listeners to reimagine a world in which we all create our own crisálida so that our individual light and humanity radiates regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. And, in turn, we nurture that prismatic iridescence to better care for the environment and human race. 

“I envision Crisálida as a protected space where we all come together, whether we’re addressing immigration issues, climate change, environmental justice, science, interconnecting different art forms,” Pérez explains. “We need to work together to build our new crisálida, which, to me, is the emotional, mental and physical state of protection in our early development.” 

Crisálida is composed of two engrossing suites on which he leads the Global Messengers, an intrepid new ensemble, consisting of alumni from Berklee College of Music’s Global Jazz Institute. Similar to Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra, which helped launched Pérez’s international career, the Global Messengers is a multicultural combo that features percussionist Tareq Rantisi (Palestine), laouto player Vasilis Kostas (Greece), violinist and vocalist Layth Sidiq (Iraq, Jordan), cellist Naseem Alatrash (Palestine) and singer Farayi Malek (United States). Guest appearing on several cuts are batá drummer Román Diaz (Cuba), Ney flutist Faris Ishaq (Palestine), Zárate (Chile), singer Eirini (Greece) and the Kalesma Children’s Choir of The Ark of the World (Kivotos tou Kosmou) (based in Greece). 

“These musicians are very interested in cultivating their gifts to become role models for the betterment of humanity. I love this openness of wanting to explore and connect,” says Pérez, who in addition to being the founder of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, is a UNESCO Artist for Peace, the Cultural Ambassador to the Republic of Panama, and the Founder and Artistic Director of the Panama Jazz Festival. 

“In the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, we talk a lot about finding new sounds through the blues and connecting to your roots – expanding the folkloric elements of where you come from,” he adds. “The Global Messengers are a new family that explores the power of music as a tool for inter-cultural dialogue.” 

With their intriguing, unconventional instrumentation (to jazz standards), the Global Messengers afford the music with an arabesque, “beyond category” quality that alludes to chamber music, cinematic score and, of course, the sparkling improvisation associated with jazz. The album’s four-part “La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite” occupies the first half, while the four-part “Fronteras (Borders) Suite” concludes the program. 

The “La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite” begins with the gorgeous “Rise from Love,” which features stunning vocals from Malek along with Kalesma Children’s Choir of The Ark of the World. Underneath the alluring strings and Pérez’s suspenseful piano improvisation and jabbing accompaniment is Diaz’s surging batá rhythms, symbolizing Africa’s arrival to the Western world and worldwide influence on music. 

On “Monopatia (Pathways),” Pérez initiates a suspenseful musical dialogue with Kostas before the rest of the band enters, establishing a 21st century universal blues that connects the dots between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean sonic imprints, African American sensibilities and Latin America’s rhythmic and melodic flourishes. The composition also showcases Zárate’s commanding spoken-word artistry as well as Eirini's poignant singing. 

An increased sense of urgency arrives with “Calling for the Dawn” as Rantisi begins with an intricate percussion introduction, followed by a triumphant melody delivered by Malek and Sidiq. Pérez’s embroidered passages, hammering across the rumbling rhythmic bedrock, heighten the suspense, which is intermittingly interrupted by Malek’s asking, “Where are we going? Is it up or down?” “It’s a call to the divine,” Pérez explains of the composition. “It’s a warning that if we mess with nature and the environment, then we are responsible for what comes afterward.” 


closes the “La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite” as the strings animate a coruscating rhythm, based upon a folkloric Panamanian dance that Pérez discovered had very striking similarities of some of Palestine’s folkloric rhythms. Pérez’s hypnotic piano accompaniment anchor the interlocking polyrhythms, concocted by the strings, vocals and percussion. After he pecks a dramatic solo, Zárate enters the fold to deliver an incisive rap in Spanish. 

Pérez says that the “Fronteras (Borders) Suite” was based, in part, by a series of dreams, touching upon the emotional plight of immigration. It begins with the somber “Adrift,” which tells the story of a mother seeking to reunite with her daughter after being separated for 20 years. Malek wrote the evocative lyrics and articulates them splendidly as her voice soars across the arresting arrangement. 

The Global Messengers summon the universal blues again on “Al-Musafir Blues,” which deals with a Palestinian man trying to travel to the U.S. to study but gets stuck in the airport. Alatrash’s prowling cello rhythm conveys the sense of determination, while the violin and voice melody evoke the weariness that often comes with seeking better opportunities across international borders. 

“With ‘Al-Musafir Blues’ I wanted to find a connection and understanding to the blues from another perspective,” Pérez says. “We need to understand that the blues were created by African Americans – but also that its values and concepts can connect with other cultures. I’m trying to create this musical space where the blues can be the connector in which worldly sounds emerge.” 

A call-to-action arrives with “Kalesma (True Calling)” on which Pérez declares that the world is in a humanitarian crisis. Beginning with a faint violin melody that gives way to a plaintive laouto melody and vocals, the soul-stirring composition unfolds gradually, concluding in a haunting rhythmic and melodic recurring motif. 

The “Fronteras (Borders) Suite” ends with the energetic “Unknown Destination,” a composition that begins like a casual conversation as Pérez ricochets improvisational passages with the Global Messengers’ strings and vocals, underneath Rantisi’s percolating rhythms. The composition coalesces into a dynamic collective improvisation that’s as cohesive as it is capricious. 

History will reveal Crisálida as yet another one of Pérez’s crowning achievements. Now after four decades as a professional musician, some of which has been spent with the world-acclaimed Wayne Shorter Quartet and leading his own projects, Pérez has now achieved living legend status. Most recently, he won the prestigious 2021 Doris Duke Artist Award of $250,000. 

When asked to assess his career at this moment, Pérez responds: “I want to continue my journey of exploring this pathway of using the power of music to unite and humanize. I want to promote music that acts as a bridge and to inspire younger artists to continue the journey and leave something positive that other generations can draw upon.”

With the Global Messengers and Crisálida, Danilo Pérez is succeeding in that mission. 


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