Sunday, July 31, 2022

Julia Hülsmann Quartet | "The Next Door"

The follow-up to 2019’s Not Far From Here sees Julia Hülsmann reconvening with the same line-up as last time, in Studios La Buissonne, and entering into intense interplay with a band that has been extensively worked-in on the road. The Guardian called the quartet’s debut “a standout, for understated reinvention of the familiar and cool virtuosity” and spoke of “clever, thoughtful, inquisitively contemporary jazzmaking." These virtues have been further refined and new idioms added to the blend on the quartet’s second stance, with each member – tenor saxophonist Uli Kempendorff, Heinrich Köbberling on drums, Marc Muellbauer on bass and Julia – contributing original material to The Next Door. 

“Since the last album we’ve been on the road a whole lot," Julia notes. “We’ve had time to further develop our rapport as a quartet and, as a result, our interplay has become even more intuitive.” Even when most live-activity was intermittently shut down, Julia and her quartet participated in alternative performance projects and spent many weeks vigorously rehearsing new material. The fruit of their labour, presented on this album, is as multi-facetted as it is uncompromising, with a strong emphasis on an intimate ensemble sound. Flashes of jazz’ tradition, somewhere between '60s modal customs and post-bop swing, pull through The Next Door like a guiding light, but it’s how the group subsequently transforms these notions and makes them their own that stands out. 

“Empty Hands," the album’s pensive opener, is a blank canvas, gradually filled in with tender key strokes, searching melodies and delicate accompaniment. As Julia, who wrote the song, explains: “When your hands are full, you have to juggle everything back and forth, you’ve too much to deal with simultaneously. Empty hands, on the other hand, are like a clean slate – you have all the possibilities in the world to do what you please”. “Made of Wood” contrasts this impressionist design with an earthy tone, set in a modal frame and propelled forward by straight-ahead swing: “Time and again I feel like writing something solid, conciliatory in a way. This piece refers to my inner foundation, which I associate with something made of wood, something comforting.” 

The pianist’s brief duo exposition in exchange with saxophonist Uli Kempendorff on “Jetzt Noch Nicht” – later reprised as a variation with all members of the group – is a moody theme with a twisty melody, inviting the players’ most expressive playing. On Julia’s “Fluid” the band presents a tight, spirited unit in a mesmerizing performance of a smooth, steadily crescendoing arc: “This piece is based around the thick, layered piano sound that’s introduced after a couple of bars. Melodies can crystallize over this fluid tapestry and flow on in waves. Water is an important element to me, which frequently appears in my images.”  

Uli’s warm tone complements Julia’s trio with exceptional warmth, entering into a natural symbiosis with the piano’s subtle action, and his own piece, “Open Up," is among the set’s highlights: “When writing ‘Open Up’ I was exclusively focused on the melody’s forward-motion. The line dancingly weaves its way through three octaves. The bass part is notated and creates a counterpoint, while piano and drums are free to interject, comment and mingle at will. There’s much room for free interpretation and alteration throughout.” 

Marc Muellbauer’s compositional contributions go through various pulsations – “Polychrome” being a rubato exercise built around a, mostly, diatonic melody that wants to escape its tonal framework. “Wasp at the Window” on the other hand finds the group conspiring in an extensive workout in nine-time with an ostinato bending and bulging to the quartet’s beat. Again different by design, Marc wrote the bossa nova “Valdemossa” with composer Frédéric Chopin in mind: “It is based on the harmony of Chopin’s well-known Prelude No.4 in E Minor, from his cycle of 24 Preludes, op.28. I wrote a new melody expanding the harmony’s chromatic suggestions and exploiting its ambiguity in modulating into two other, far removed keys. It is named after the beautiful place in Mallorca where Chopin wrote his piece…” 

With a playful and slightly deconstructed inclination, drummer Heinrich Köbberling’s first original in the programme, “Lightcap," initially suggests the sketch-like framework of a Paul Motian tune. Actually, the piece is inspired by Köbberling’s early trio endeavours in the '90s with saxophonist Lisa Parrott and bassist Chris Lightcap, giving the song its name. The drummer’s other composition is “Post Post Post” – a subtle group improvisation with a veiled melody that has occupied the drummer for several years. 

It has become customary for Julia’s records to highlight revamps of known songs from the pop world and with Prince’s “Sometimes it Snows in April” the quartet uncovers another neat treat. The piece’s catchy melody, immediate harmonic hook and laid-back groove are thoughtfully explored by the entire band, with Julia’s gentle touch at the centre of attention.  

The Next Door, recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in March 2022, is issued as the quartet embarks on a European tour, with concerts in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Norway.

New Music: Mark De Clive-Lowe & Friends, Kabir Sehgal/Amaan Ali Bangash/Ayaan Ali Bangash, Robert Diak, Antonio Adolfo

Mark De Clive-Lowe & Friends - Freedom: Celebrating The Music Of Pharoah Sanders

A wonderful set, one that's even better than you might expect – and a record that really marks the shift in Mark De Clive-Lowe from club music to jazz – a format that he carries off beautifully here in the company of some very like-minded musicians! The setting is a live one – and the double-length set builds with the kind of organic energy that really lives up to the legacy of Pharoah Sanders, especially his Impulse Records material – but also has a quality that's nicely individual, too – so that the tunes aren't just aping an older spiritual jazz sound, but instead showing how its legacy has really transformed creation on the contemporary LA scene! The group is small, and in addition to work from Mark on piano, Fender Rhodes, and live effects, the set also features Teodross Avery on tenor, Corbin Jones on bass, Tommaso Cappellato on drums, and the great Carlos Nino on percussion – plus excellent vocals from Dwight Trible on a number of titles too. Tracks include "Elevation", "Colors", "You've Got To Have Freedom", "Upper Egypt", "Love Is Everywhere", "Mansions World", "Memories Of Lee Morgan", "Greeting To Saud", and "The Creator Has A Master Plan". ~ Dusty Groove

Kabir Sehgal, Amaan Ali Bangash, Ayaan Ali Bangash - Sand and Foam: Music Inspired by Kahlil Gibran

The forthcoming remarkable release from multi Grammy winner Kabir Sehgal & master sarodists Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash. The creators fused East and West artistic traditions. They turned to the eclectic works of Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese writer and painter, for inspiration. The album and almost all tracks are named after Gibran's works. The eight tracks are an unfolding fusion of classical Indian music, with jazz harmonies, trap drums, and neo-synths. Special guest appearances by Claudia Acuna (vocals), Latin Grammy nominee; Tivon Pennicott (sax); Caliph (rap), Oran Etkins (saxophone), Malini Aswathi (vocals), Sudha Raghunanthan (vocals).

Robert Diak - Small Bridges

Small Bridges is the uncompromising new album from drummer, producer, and composer Robert Diack. After his debut, Lost Villages - an extremely focused concept album about a series of flooded townships in Southern Ontario - Diack wanted to explore a broader swath of genre and texture for his hour-long sophomore release. Small Bridges escorts the listener through a wide variety of expansive musical spaces shaped by impressive genre bending production techniques. Drawing inspiration from contemporary and traditional jazz, post-rock, fusion, and country music, Diack weaves his way deftly through this album, making clear his broad artistic vision. “I’m reminded of how Phillip Glass speaks of the intimate nature of the piano in his composition Opening from his album Glassworks” says Diack in reference to the opening track of the album. The attention to sonic detail is immediately clear: this album is truly a Hi-Fi fanatic’s dream. This initially inviting flow of Hollow hides where the song leads: it’s truly a tour-de-force of exuberant musicianship from a strong cast of some of Canada’s best young talent. The album’s sound is defined by layers of guitars contrasted with intimate piano, interspersed with complicated moments of layered meters, all packaged with an extremely focused attention to production detail and audio fidelity. Written entirely in his cramped, overpriced New York apartment, Small Bridges is a reflection of Diack’s experience uprooting countries, moving from Canada to study in the USA. This music was composed during an intense period of culture shock and isolation, and was recorded while he was in Canada for the release of Lost Villages. Small Bridges clearly demonstrates the deliberate line that runs through Diack’s entire body of work - not only in terms of the ensemble's sound, but with regards to the album’s visual appearance as well. This compelling new record is a brilliant showcase of young Canadian talent, featuring cutting edge improvisation and production.

Antonio Adolfo - Octet And Originals

With over two dozen albums as a leader and multiple Latin Grammy and Grammy nominations, pianist, arranger, composer, and bandleader Antonio Adolfo is an internationally recognized Latin jazz star. More than 200 of his original compositions have been covered by artists like Sergio Mendes, Earl Klugh, Herb Alpert, Stevie Wonder, and Dionne Warwick.  Although he often includes his own compositions on his recordings, Adolfo has now recorded an album that comprises only his original music. Octet And Originals is a brilliant showcase for the writing talents of an artist about whom jazz critic Travis Rogers has said, “Let me say it from the top, I can't get enough of Antonio Adolfo. Every album, every song he has ever released is a treasure. Not only is Antonio a brilliant composer and pianist, he is also an arranger without peer.”  A few of the tunes on Octet And Originals were originally conceived with lyrics; however, Adolfo rearranged them as instrumentals for this album. His arrangements touch on a panoply of Brazilian musical styles, including samba, baiao, bossa, partido alto, quadrilha, toada, calango, maracatu and more. Although rooted in Brazilian music, Adolfo’s elegant reharmonizations transform his compositions into jazz. Antonio Adolfo is a Brazilian jazz master. Influenced by bebop, soul and West Coast jazz yet firmly rooted in the rhythmic, danceable styles of Brazil, Adolfo’s music has a polished opulence that is uniquely his own. The music on Octet And Originals is romantic, swinging, and toe-tapping with frequent unexpected turns that consistently keep the music fresh.

Brooklyn Funk Essentials have released the video for their afrofunk single ‘Scream!

Brooklyn Funk Essentials have released the video for their afrofunk single ‘Scream!’, featuring legendary vocalist Alison Limerick and the full BFE band. The video accompanying the single sees the much loved cult funk ensemble jamming in their element in the studio, with dynamic cuts of Alison moving gracefully across the screen. Watch the new video here:

‘Scream!’ is an infectious and uplifting funk and afrobeat jam, a syncopated groove wrapped by powerful Tower Of Power style brass and percussion, with lyrics that see Alison Limerick make a shout for freedom of expression.  ‘Scream!’ will be followed by the group’s hugely anticipated seventh studio album ‘Intuition’, which is due November 2022 on Dorado Records. Save & download the new single here:

Across 28 years and six albums, Brooklyn Funk Essentials have fused soul, hip hop, spoken

word, jazz, Latin, and of course, funk. The band has built up a loyal international cult following since its inception in 1993 by iconic producer Arthur Baker and bassist Lati Kronlund during New York’s buzzing hip hop, jazz and slam poetry scenes in the early 90s, rotating some of the finest musicians, DJs, poets, rappers and singers.

BFE’s celebrated debut album ‘Cool & Steady & Easy’ (Dorado/RCA 1995) scored an underground hit with their version of Pharoah Sanders’ ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’ and featured legends Maceo Parker, The Tower Of Power Horns and Dizzy Gillespie.

In 2015, BFE was joined by UK soul singer Alison Limerick, for whom Lati Kronlund had originally written and produced the iconic house anthem ‘Where Love Lives’ in the early 90s.  Limerick is now BFE’s co-writer, along with singer and guitarist Desmond Foster and drummer Hux Flux. Completing the BFE lineup is Kristoffer Wallman on keys and Ebba Asman on trombone and vocals.

Masterpieces Of Modern Soul Volume 6 – Various Artists

The latest volume in the acclaimed Masterpieces Of Modern Soul series is as strong as ever and drips with brand new, old recordings. An amazing 12 tracks are previously unheard and a further two are very different versions of already popular numbers.

Some rare-soul household names have new material featured on here. Ronnie McNeir hits a wicked dance groove with ‘Let’s Make A Move’ and Dee Ervin offers a superbly soulful ‘You Make Me Happy’ – sure to become a modern classic. The lesser-known Joe Graham’s ‘Higher Than High’ is already halfway there, thanks to advance plays in Europe from DJ Dave Thorley. It’s from an Atlanta session around 1976, in-between his Chant and later Hotlanta releases. Jean Shy is a highly-thought of artist who recorded firstly in Chicago and later in L A. ‘What Tomorrow Brings’ was cut in the latter city, under the auspices of Kent Harris; it’s a very classy midtempo jazz-infused number. Ramona King had her best-known records in the 60s but ‘Happy Times’ was recorded in the Bay Area’s GSR studios in the 70s and is a laid-back gem.

Then there are the late 70s / early 80s disco sound with numbers found on tape that were just crying out to be heard. Joe Simon cut the unknown group Cynic on ‘I Want You’ at Spring early in 1982. Detroit’s Exportations very catchy ‘Second Time Around’ and the equally fast, funky and fantastic ‘Have A Good Time’ by Atlanta’s Maggabrain were laid down in the late 70s as was Fox Fire’s ‘Don’t Play Me Cheap’. The early 80s is the likely era for Melanie Burke’s ‘I Can’t Turn You Down’ – which, like the McNeir and Hodges James & Smith offerings, were Mickey Stevenson productions made in L A.

There are three great LP-only tracks from 1975 Fantasy albums by Janice, Betty Everett and Three Pieces: they fit so well into the compilation. Margie Joseph singing a Willie Tee song called ‘Nobody’ is virtually guaranteed to be great music. It is still for sale at a reasonable price – as opposed to the arm and a leg you’ll need to offer for ‘You Done Let The Daylight Catch You’ by Second Re$surection.

In addition ,there's quite different vocal take for Phillip Mitchell’s ‘I’ll See You In Hell First’ and a much longer version of Dave Hamilton’s ‘Who’ as recorded by the unknown Jackie Dee – it was remixed from the master tape. Another Dave Hamilton song ‘Must Have Had Company’ by Elayne Starr has only appeared on one of the later Dave Hamilton CDs – well worthy of a rewind for modern soul movers. The highly talented west coast producer George Semper gives us ‘Doo Doop Dee Deep Doot Doo’ which owes a lot to the Sly Stone sound of the time and is similarly enthralling. There’s some moody Bay Area jazz-soul from the Karen Sanders Group; recorded in the 70s but only ever available on a 2011 US LP. Finally, we have yet another top quality, unheard 70s soul recording from Joe Hinton who had many tracks abandoned and left in the vault when Atlanta’s GRC records crashed due to the nefarious behaviour of its owner.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Marco Benevento Announces West Coast Tour In October; New Album "Benevento"

Marco Benevento has announced a West Coast tour this coming October. The 11-date run supports the Woodstock, NY-based artist's new studio album, simply titled, Benevento, out now on Royal Potato Family. Benevento—joined by his band featuring bassist Karina Rykman and drummer Chris Corsico—will kick off the tour at Pappy Harriet's in Pioneertown, CA followed by five additional California shows, including stops at Casbah in San Diego, Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles and The Chapel in San Francisco. Benevento and company then make their way to the Northwest highlighted by a two night stand at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland and Madame Lou's in Seattle. Special guest William Tyler opens each evening. 

Marco Benevento recorded his latest eponymous titled release over the course of 2020 and 2021 while locked down during the pandemic at his home studio in the Hudson Valley. Amidst stacks of gear in varying states of repair, Benevento found fodder for inspiration during long quarantine-dictated solo jam sessions. In this environment, he unlocked his archives and surrendered to the machines, mining for unfinished song ideas, and coaxing beats and melodies from both go-to favorite instruments and gear that had long been collecting dust. Playing all of the parts himself with few exceptions, such as vocals added by his wife and daughter, the final 11-track collection mixes lo-fi dance floor jams like "Winter Rose," "At The End Or The Beginning" and "Marco & Mimo" alongside hallucinatory synth and drum machine experimentalism on tracks including "Do You Want Some Magic?," "Mountain Cougars" and "Is This A Dream."

West Coast 2022 Tour Dates

  • 10/11 - Pioneertown, CA - Pappy & Harriett's
  • 10/12 - San Diego, CA - Casbah
  • 10/13 - Los Angeles, CA - Teragram Ballroom
  • 10/14 - Felton, CA - Felton Music Hall
  • 10/15 - San Francisco, CA - The Chapel
  • 10/16 - Sonoma, CA - Sebastiani Theatre
  • 10/19 - Eugene, OR - Sessions Music Hall
  • 10/20 - Bend, OR - Volcanic Theatre Pub
  • 10/21 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir
  • 10/22 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir
  • 10/23 - Seattle, WA - Madame Lou's

Judy Whitmore |"It Could Happen To You"

The follow-up to her highly lauded 2020 debut album Can’t We Be Friends, “It Could Happen To You” marks a new era musically for Whitmore with a bold departure from the more traditional arrangements of its predecessors, unfolding in a more free-flowing sound imbued with the improvisational spirit and exploratory musicianship of jazz - a feat she achieves with both dazzling ingenuity and extraordinary grace. Produced by John Sawoski (a composer, orchestrator, and musical director who also helmed the production of Can’t We Be Friends,) the track came to life at the legendary Capitol Studios in Los Angeles (where her story began as a singer in college) in a series of sessions with Grammy® Award-nominated recording engineer Steve Genewick (Barbra Streisand, Burt Bacharach). With more music on the way, Whitmore stays true to her exquisite gift as a song interpreter, brightening each track with her warmly nuanced vocal style and radiant personality. 

No matter what mood she’s inhabiting, each track she sings spotlights the innate musicality Whitmore first discovered as a little girl growing up in Studio City, California. Named after Judy Garland (a friend of her grandfather, who played violin in the MGM Studio Orchestra,) Judy’s first foray into the music business by singing in a Mamas & the Papas-inspired band formed by Capitol Records. Although she’d begun to cultivate a promising career in music, Whitmore’s life soon led her in entirely different directions. After marrying young and having two children, like so many, Judy had to put her dreams on hold. From there, her family moved to Aspen, Colorado, where their closest neighbors were Annie and John Denver who coaxed Judy into confronting her fear of flying by inviting her to board their private plane, Windstar One. Not long after that first flight, Whitmore was determined to conquer her fear and earned her commercial pilot’s license and later began working search-and-rescue missions in the Rocky Mountains—an experience that ultimately inspired her debut novel Come Fly with Me, a 2013 romantic-adventure title that hit #1 on the Amazon Kindle Bestseller List.

Also working as a theater producer and a clinical psychologist, despite having achieved tremendous success in such disparate fields, Whitmore still felt that something was undeniably missing in her life. Once again demonstrating her boundless determination, in 2014 she took her first step toward realizing her deepest lifelong dream by co-founding Act Three (a cabaret group whose journey to Carnegie Hall was chronicled in the award-winning documentary film Once Upon a Dream). A truly unstoppable creative force, within several years, she’d struck out on her own and started performing solo shows around Southern California and also joined the board of directors for the Pacific Symphony, and currently serves on the executive committee for the world-renowned orchestra. This fall, Whitmore is gearing up for a series of live shows in support of her music by her brother and a 15-piece band. In her live performances and recorded material alike, Whitmore hopes to instill listeners with a profound love for the timeless music that endlessly inspires her. “When people hear my new music, I’d love for them to feel a deeper appreciation for these compositions and the era they came from,” she says. “The Great American Songbook is a body of work that’s stood the test of time, and all of its songs deserve to be heard the way the composers intended. So when I create an album like this one, I feel like I’m doing my part to keep this beautiful music alive.”



Clear Path Ensemble | "Solar Eclipse"

As pockets of new jazz scenes emerge around the world, it’s apparent that New Zealand’s bubbling microcosm in Wellington interprets the genre through a unique lens.

Clear Path Ensemble bottles the energy of that burgeoning movement and distils it into moody morsels of differing styles. From electric jazz to ambient, experimental, house and funk – it’s a DIY, jam- session attitude towards composition, as the band members freely cherry-pick from a vast orchard of influences.

Citing inspiration from ‘70s ECM catalogue, the ensemble channels the “expansive and astral” elements of electric jazz, with an introspective dynamic. At times it’s fused with catchy synth hooks, smooth basslines and shuffling beats, while other tracks morph into moody electronic soundscapes, and even Sun Ra-esque free jazz.

Led by percussionist Cory Champion, the band released their debut self-titled album with HHV in 2020, followed by a headline performance at the 2021 Wellington Jazz Festival. Champion has played drums alongside some of New Zealand’s most revered contemporary musicians (Lord Echo, Lucien Johnson and Mara TK to name a few), and also produces leftfield deep house and techno under the name Borrowed cs, which partly informs the ensemble’s electronic production.

Says Champion: “For a long time I had ambitions to make this project but always planned on it being recorded traditionally. Ultimately, I was encouraged by a new DIY spirit in contemporary jazz, where electronic music production techniques are fully integrated in the recording and production of great new contemporary jazz music.”

Title track 'Solar Eclipse' is the second single lifted off the album.

New Orleans' Laranah Phipps Ray & La Funkalicious Release “Jazz Crimes”

A fearless rendezvous of precision and skill, cosmically-wired jazz-R&B New Orleans artist Laranah Phipps Ray and La Funkalicious unveil the majestic and unbridled new single, “Jazz Crimes” — available now. 

Embodying the spirited mix of high-energy jazz, R&B, funk, and Afrofuturism start to finish, the multi-talented vocalist, songwriter, producer, and influencer continues to bend boundaries and break barriers with her deeply-rooted musicality and explosive scat execution — her new song arriving as no exception. 

Written by Joshua Redman, “Jazz Crimes” features Laranah on scat alongside trumpeter Arnetta Johnson. Produced by consummate hitmaker, guitarist, and co-founder of the legendary Gold Certified Group Instant Funk, Kym Miller, the track serves as a prime preview to Laranah Phipps Ray’s upcoming album, Game Changer — set for release January 2023. 

On the highly anticipated forthcoming release, Laranah brings her distinctive sound, phrasing, and storytelling to the table. Most noted for her “far from mainstream" scat-styling, five-octave range, improvisational facility, and volcanic grasp of groove, her voice is laced with a certain ancient richness and her instrument soars with a distinct yet familiar soul and power.

Laranah has penned several powerhouse songs as a recording artist, including the singles “I Rule the Night," “Love in Santiago” “Sudden Love,” and “Save Me Now." 

In addition, she is married to renowned trumpeter Michael Ray — known for Sun Ra Arkestra, Kool & The Gang, Cosmic Krewe, and more. Affectionately dubbed the ‘Cosmic Couple,’ they consistently co-write and recently collaborated with famed saxophonist Marshall Allen of Sun Ra Arkestra on “Mayan Temple,” Kym Miller of Instant Funk on “Covid-19,” and Kevin Hearn of Barenaked Ladies on “Hello Hello.”

With a prolific career fronting La Funkalicious and collaborating with A-list musicians, her impossible-to-ignore talent is no surprise considering she was born to jazz royalty— the Phipps Family, Newark’s First Family of Jazz; as the daughter of pioneering saxophonist Gene Phipps, Sr., she received an unparalleled education in jazz and entertainment from a young age. As a result, Laranah's high-energy performances, regal stage presence, and mesmerizing vocal ability make her a favourite of fans worldwide.

While Laranah Phipps Ray is best known for her music, she is also a savvy media entrepreneur and a vital voice in the fight for racial justice. Her production credits include professional stage management, live events producer, and influencer with multimedia outlets Rayborhood TV, Behind the Cosmic Grind, and Down the Rabbit Hole. In addition, she is Executive Producer for the series Tales from The Stage, in which A-list stars reveal the secrets of the entertainment industry, and Co-Producer & Co-Host of kNOw Justice kNOw Peace. This 12-hour live stream provides entertainment, education, and resources to fight for racial equality.

Laranah Phipps Ray and La Funkalicious’ new single “Jazz Crimes” is available now. A Flat 5th Dimension Records (b5D) project, Game Changer is set for release January 2023. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Quentin E. Baxter & Charlton Singleton Mark Nearly 30 Years Making Music Together with Joint Albums "Art Moves Jazz" & "Crossroads"

Friends, bandmates, and fellow members of the Gullah cultural community Quentin E. Baxter and Charlton Singleton enrich their relationship yet further with the tandem August 12 release of their albums—Baxter’s Art Moves Jazz and Singleton’s Crossroads—on Baxter’s own BME/Baxter Music Enterprises. Two-fifths of the Grammy-winning Gullah music ensemble Ranky Tanky, drummer Baxter and trumpeter Singleton each also plays a prominent supporting role on the other’s record, with Baxter as the producer of both. 

Friends for nearly 30 years, Baxter and Singleton’s musical collaboration began on the jazz scene in their native Charleston, South Carolina (first as a duo, then in the popular local quartet Gradual Lean). They also found common ground in South Carolina’s Gullah culture, in which they both have roots. While that was the direction in which they ultimately found success in Ranky Tanky, they never lost touch with the jazz spark that had brought them together. 

“His playing reminded me of church,” Singleton (music and choir director of Charleston’s St. Patrick Catholic Church) says admiringly of the drummer. The admiration is mutual: “Musically, Charlton is just so dependable,” Baxter says. 

The albums make clear their exceptional abilities (separately and together). On Art Moves Jazz— Baxter’s leadership debut—the drummer extends his exploration of traditional Gullah music, stamping perceptively played jazz standards like Jimmy Heath’s “For Minors Only” and Thelonious Monk’s “In Walked Bud” with its rhythms. Singleton’s Crossroads (his fifth album) skews more toward bebop-based jazz, even as it comprises eight shrewd original compositions ranging from the propulsive swinger “On the Avenue” to the nostalgic ballad “Nett and Root.”

In each case, however, the leader finds a sympathetic partner in his associate. Whether it’s Baxter underlining Singleton’s music with his surefooted rhythm, or Singleton seasoning Baxter’s folk-dance milieu with his pungent tone, both draw deeply from the same cultural wellsprings of jazz, gospel, and Gullah traditions, extensions of the Black heritage of the American South. 

Or, as Baxter more concisely puts it, “That stuff we played was swinging!”

Charlton Singleton was born January 7, 1971. Quentin E. Baxter  was born April 28, 1971. Both were born in Charleston, South Carolina; both showed an early aptitude for music; and both had profound family connections to the region’s Gullah community—an African American enclave that forged a distinctive culture out of their African traditions and shared experience in slavery. 

Despite these coincidences, however, trumpeter Singleton and drummer Baxter didn’t know each other until the mid-1990s, when they (along with bassist Kevin Hamilton, another longtime friend and colleague) met at the Charleston record store where Singleton worked. Later that evening, he and Baxter got to know each other and were astounded by all they had in common. “Within two hours,” Singleton recalls, “we determined that we were brothers.” 

Soon they were also roommates, not to mention collaborators. Baxter and Singleton—along with Hamilton and guitarist Clay Ross—formed the jazz quartet Gradual Lean, which quickly came to be regarded as a linchpin of the Charleston jazz scene. However, Gradual Lean dissolved around the turn of the 21st century when its members turned to other pursuits. Baxter toured with such luminaries as René Marie, Monty Alexander, and Freddy Cole, also honing his chops as a producer; Singleton became an educator and continued developing the local jazz scene as the founder and director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra.

In 2016, however, the duo, along with the other two members of Gradual Lean and vocalist Quiana Parler, reinvented themselves as Ranky Tanky, a jazz- and soul-infused combo whose assay was the Gullah musical tradition that Baxter, Hamilton, and Singleton had known from birth. They garnered considerable acclaim (and the number 1 spot on the Billboard jazz chart) with their self-titled 2017 album. Then they outdid themselves with the 2019 follow-up, Good Time, winning a Grammy Award for Best Regional Roots Music album. 

All throughout, both men have cultivated accomplished solo careers. As he became a beacon of Charleston jazz, Singleton also recorded four albums under his own name. While he didn’t lead a record himself, Baxter co-led and produced three with poet and electronic musician Marcus Amaker. Their work together on Baxter’s Art Moves Jazz and Singleton’s Crossroads reveals significant new depths in each individual, and in the creative relationship they’ve fostered over three decades. 

Joyce's long lost 1977 album "Natureza" with Mauricio Maestro & Claus Ogerman finally set for release

Not long after the dawn of her career, as a teenager in Rio de Janeiro, Joyce was declared “one of the greatest singers” by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Yet despite reputable accolades and the fact that she has since recorded over thirty acclaimed albums, Joyce never quite achieved the international recognition of the likes of Jobim, João Gilberto and Sergio Mendes, all of whom became global stars after releasing with major labels in the US.

There was a moment when it seemed she might be on the cusp of an international breakthrough. While living in New York, Joyce was approached by the great German producer Claus Ogerman. Ogerman had already played a pivotal role in the development and popularisation of Brazilian music in the 1960s, recording with some of the all-time greats like Jobim and João Gilberto, as well as North American idols like Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and Bill Evans.

"I met him in New York City, in 1977”, recalls Joyce. “I was living and playing there, and João Palma, Brazilian drummer who used to play with Jobim, introduced me to Claus. We had an audition, he liked what we were doing and decided to produce an album with us.”

Featuring fellow Brazilian musicians Mauricio Maestro (who wrote/co-wrote four of the songs), Nana Vasconcelos and Tutty Moreno, and some of the most in-demand stateside players including Michael Brecker, Joe Farrell and Buster Williams, the recordings for Natureza took place at Columbia Studios and Ogerman produced the album, provided the arrangements and conducted the orchestra.

But mysteriously, Natureza was never released, and what should have been Joyce’s big moment never happened. As Joyce remembers, “I returned home, but Claus and I remained in contact, by letters and phone calls. He was very enthusiastic about the album and tried to hook me up with Michael Franks. He wanted me to go back to NYC in order to re-record the vocals in English with new lyrics, which I actually wasn’t too happy about. But then I got pregnant with my third child and could not leave Brazil. And little by little our contact became rare, until I lost track of him completely. And that was it. I never heard from him again."

While Claus was known to be something of an elusive character, the album’s disappearance might also have been a result of timing. The Brazilian craze was coming to an end, making way for disco and new wave at the end of the seventies, and Ogerman struggled to find a major label interested in a new Brazilian sensation. Additionally, as Joyce mentions, it wasn’t quite finished. Ogerman wanted to add finishing touches to the mix and to record alternative English lyrics for the US and international markets - a critical artistic difference between Joyce and Ogerman.

As the military dictatorship’s grip on Brazil began to subside in the 1980s, Joyce had a handful of hits in her home county, including a tribute to her daughters ‘Clareana’, and the iconic ‘Feminina’ - an intergenerational conversation between mother and daughter about what it means to be a woman. But already a feminist pioneer, these successes were hard fought. Joyce had caused controversy as a nineteen-year-old when she became the first in Brazil to sing from the first-person feminine perspective, and the institutional sexism she faced was worsened by the dictatorship who would often censor her music. Even once the Junta was out of the way, Joyce found herself up against the male-dominated major record companies in Brazil, who sought to dictate her career and sexualise her image, before dropping her for refusing to play along.

A few years after the success of her albums Feminina and Agua E Luz in Brazil, Joyce’s music began to find its way to the UK, Europe and Japan, and “Feminina” and “Aldeia de Ogum” became classics on the underground jazz-dance scenes of the mid to late-eighties and early-nineties. 

The full-length version of “Feminina” from the Natureza sessions was first heard on a Brazilian Jazz compilation in 1999 and “Descompassadamente” was licensed for a CD compiling the work of Claus Ogerman in 2002. Following these, word began to get out about an unreleased Joyce album with Claus Ogerman and the legend of Natureza grew. 

Forty-five years since it was recorded, Natureza finally sees the light of day, as Joyce intended: with her own Portuguese lyrics and vocals. Featuring the fabled 11-minute version of ‘Feminina’, as well as the never before heard ‘Coração Sonhador’ composed and performed by Mauricio Maestro, Natureza’s release is a landmark in Brazilian music history and represents a triumphant, if overdue victory for Joyce as an outspoken female artist who has consistently refused to bow to patriarchal pressure.

Natureza will be released 30th September 2022 and vinyl and CD are estimated to begin shipping 28th October 2022.

The Jones Factor | "The Time Is Now"

The pandemic and post-lockdown restrictions created opportunities for some and provided a swift kick in the butt for others. In the case of the “little big band” The Jones Factor, it provided both. Typically, it’s a monumental challenge for the ten-piece ensemble of first-call studio musicians and in-demand live performers to synchronize their schedules in order to work on their own records, which is why they were three years into recording their first album in thirteen years when the pandemic hit. Unable to tour for an extended period of time, as soon as it was permitted for them to return to the studio, the contemporary jazz collective gathered with a renewed determination to complete and release their third album. 

Produced by the group’s Dave Anderson and John Fumasoli utilizing an unusual production approach for a jazz ensemble, “The Time Is Now” is a horn-powered session that serves up an expansive assortment of jazz – contemporary, fusion, bop and hard bop – along with swatches of blues, funk, Latin and pop nuances. Showcasing the pedigree of performers who have accompanied jazz, pop and R&B legends and luminaries (Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Diana Ross, Elton John, Steely Dan, and Smokey Robinson among many others), the musicianship throughout the nine-song mix of original compositions and covers given a big band makeover is scholarly and dynamic. Adding the firepower of six special guest musicians, the project is truly collaborative with each player given free rein to improvise, experiment and uniquely texturize the sonic amalgams.  

To get a sense of the magnitude of “The Time Is Now,” check out this studio performance video of the album’s “Hall of Mirrors,” a Bela Fleck tune to which multiple Grammy nominee and three-time.


Russ Hewitt | "Chasing Horizons"

With his musical background rooted in rock, Russ Hewitt’s fluid guitar work sets him apart. His album Chasing Horizons is a watershed project for Nuevo Flamenco.

Russ Hewitt impressed the fans world over with his debut recording Bajo El Sol (2008) and has been diligently honing his craft. With his strong follow up Alma Vieja (2011) and his last recording Cielo Nocturno (2016), is a continuation of this artists development as a virtuoso. Chasing Horizons continues to exceed all expectations. 

This album is an experience, a 10-track journey through samba, montuno, milonga, fatback, rumba Flamenco, guajira, and four-on-the-floor grooves. It begins with his breezy and steady, fluid and melodic “Allende”. Close your eyes as you just might hear the rustling of palm leaves as you sit on your mental warm sandy beach of choice. With a total of four tracks with Hewitt in the spotlight, he is equal to the task of making this album so inviting more so than anything he has done in the past. Check out the radiant “Luminous” or later in the album the brooding moody “Serein”.  

But it would be silly to talk all things Russ when he was kind enough to invite others to the musical banquet where they graciously accepted. First up is the appearance of Nuno Bettencourt, best known for his axeslinger work in the unique rock band Extreme. However, here Nuno trades in his electric strings for nylon ones and Hewitt goes toe to toe with Nuno on the title track. With a rumba flamenco number in 7/8 time signature the composition certainly has an underlying attitude and bite. Add the equally impressive “Vivir Libre” featuring former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman to a montuno rhythm, and you have the one-two punch of impressive collaborations. 

The smoother mid paced “Amor Perdido” featuring the Bucharest All-Star Orchestra is perfectly sequenced for a timely change of pace and mood. Meanwhile, we transition to “Sunset Samba” featuring Jorge Strunz who brings to mind the heady days of Deodato. This is later followed with the toe tapping sway of “Cubalia Café” featuring Hewitt and Ardeshir Farah where there is magic in this magnificent merger of musical styles. 

Russ Hewitt leaves us with his most unique and impressive collaboration to date by concluding the album with Tri Nguyen. This is where East merges with West featuring Nguyen’s Vietnamese zither work (sounds like a hybrid of an Indian sitar and Japanese coda) fusing with Hewitt’s sublime guitar work. It is this very unique collaboration that reflects an artist willing to take chances seeking growth in his compositional capabilities. Chasing Horizons shows an artist intentional in his convictions and sphere of creativity. 

Chasing Horizon street date August 19, 2022.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Meltdown | "It's A Long Road"

The Meltdown present their second LP ‘It’s A Long Road’, a wistful and uplifting journey through dusty, countrified soul music and tender, reflective songwriting.

Led by vocalist, keyboard player and producer Simon Burke, the band is understated but deft throughout, letting the songs and Simon’s golden voice do the heavy lifting. The band stick to a sonic palette reminiscent of golden era Southern soul studios from Memphis to Muscle Shoals and in that tradition there’s as much as country-soul and blues in the mix as there is soul and funk. Of particular interest to fans of Durand Jones and the Indications, Lee Fields and Tedeschi Trucks.

Bandleader, vocalist, producer and multi instrumentalist Simon Burke led the creation of this record from his home base in Avenel, Victoria, not far from the most-locked-down-city-in-the-world of Melbourne. Recorded over the course of the pandemic, ensemble recording was difficult if not impossible and on nearly half of the record Simon played every instrument himself, while his band was trapped inside the ‘ring of steel’ that encircled metro Melbourne. Throughout 2020 and 2021, in between his day job as an air ambulance pilot and raising a young family, Simon put down demo rhythm section takes on drums, bass and guitar to send to his band. When session after session was canceled, the demos became the record. It’s a mark of his musicianship that it’s genuinely difficult to tell the difference.

The album starts on the cruisy but quietly anthemic ‘Tell You Not To Worry’ and picks up for the rolling triplet feel of ‘River’, featuring a blazing saxophone solo from Meltdown co-founder Lachlan McLean. Standout guest slots from Emma Donovan on the title track and Liz Stringer on ‘Not The Only Love' give the album additional emotional and musical depth.

Shawn Lovato | "Microcosms"

Microcosms is a septet formed by bassist and composer Shawn Lovato born out of a commission from New Music outfit Hotel Elefant in 2017.  Lovato, whose compositions have been described as “absolutely stunning” and “energetic, pointillistic, fluid” composed a striking and intricately developed suite performed by members of Hotel Elefant: violinist Patti Kilroy, guitarist Hannis Brown, and himself and by improvisers outside of the core ensemble: alto saxophonist Michaël Attias, pianist Santiago Leibson, drummer Vinnie Sperrazza, and percussionist Colin Hinton.  

Lovato composed the suite with each improviser’s unique perspective in mind, giving them freedom to express their individual artistic voices as they engage with and directly develop the composition to realize a unified vision. The work is a balancing act of sharp composition and multi-faceted improvisation, with transitions that blur the two.  The listener can feel the septet’s sense of community while they push, pull, and settle the boundaries of the composition together. As All About Jazz writer Troy Dostert wrote, Lovato has a “distinctive compositional approach and a knack for finding the right partners to bring it to life.” 

The compositional structures serve as a springboard for showcasing the improvisational virtuosity of each performer while being bound by a shared logic. Throughout the eight-movement suite, highly composed driving rhythmic lines intersect with colorful textures and dynamic voices.  The listener is transported to ethereal sonic landscapes before being returned to a grounding in energetic, driving rhythms. Most movements were configured to feature one or two soloists, and throughout the album each musician has control over how the composition moves within the parameters of solidly formed rhythmic and melodic structure. 

Microcosms premiered in October of 2017 at The Cell in Manhattan and was performed again in January 2020 at Scholes Street Studio in Brooklyn before going to the studio to record.  The album from the studio recording at Big Orange Sheep, Brooklyn, supported by a grant from Hofstra University, will be released September 2, 2022 by independent label, ear s& eyes Records.

For more than a decade, Lovato has composed and performed within the many strains of creative and experimental music of New York’s vibrant music scene:  as a performer of contemporary concert music with Hotel Elefant, as a composer and bandleader with the release of compositions on his debut record, Cycles of Animation (Skirl, 2017), and as an improviser working with material spanning from free-improvisation to the American Songbook.  Microcosms unites Lovato’s experiences by bringing together musicians of different disciplines, improvisatory approaches, and musical philosophies to collaborate within a framework where they can explore their common ground as artists.

New Music: Ron King, D. S. Wilson, Jim Allchin, Dee Lucas

Ron King - Cascade

A few years back, when veteran Grammy-nominated trumpeter Ron King first started working with guitarist and producer Paul Brown, the Smooth Jazz hitmaker put it bluntly to his new friend, “You need to write a hit song.” King, whose decades long resume includes Marvin Gaye, Frank Sinatra, Jeff Lorber and David Benoit, took the advice to heart and has been in solo artist overdrive ever since, releasing 6 singles from his 2020 album Downtown Mama. King's  latest single “Cascade” (the title track, from his upcoming album) is a silky, heartwarming ballad. A sultry and soulful romantic mood-setter with a slight touch of the blues featuring Paul Brown on guitar. King’s interaction with Brown’s trademark playing rolls like a dreamy, free-flowing harmonic conversation, complementing their world-class musicianship with dynamic riffing. ~

D. S. Wilson - Skyline

Throughout his multi-faceted career, saxophonist D.S. Wilson has played and recorded rock, pop and blues, sometimes with Grammy-nominated artists and producers. On a dynamic roll since turning his creative juices towards funky Smooth Jazz in 2018, the vibrant recording artist has released two acclaimed albums and singles that have earned the praise of prominent radio programmers and Spotify playlist curators alike. On his latest, “Life With You,” the second single from his upcoming Skyline project, you’ll hear why… Showcasing funky grooves and soulful sax melody, along with deep, joyful emotion and crisp horn licks. Interestingly, the track originated from a song idea Wilson recorded on a hand-held Roland MIDI sequencer he recently rediscovered and developed into this compelling performance track with world-class supporting musicians. Keep an eye on this fast-rising sax star, we anticipate lots more to come! ~

Jim Allchin - Costa Azul

As a master computer scientist, Jim Allchin helped create and grow the server business which is one of Microsoft’s largest enterprises. When not impacting the world with his networking, languages and operating systems innovations, he was writing incredible music. He charted #1 often on the Roots and Blues charts - and now, on his latest album Costa  Azul, co-produced with Grammy nominee Yaron Fuchs, he’s created another winner. It’s fresh, sensual with an intoxicating blend of Latin-tinged Smooth Jazz influenced by the classic rhythms of the son montuno, mambo, guajira, bolero and flamenco. Also passionate about his work with education in African countries, Allchin conceived the album during personal reflection time during COVID, when he began listening anew to songs he penned while on his travels. ~

Dee Lucas - Hot Ice

Eight years after his album Rebirth of the Smooth, saxophonist Dee Lucas’s bio page reminds us that like a fresh baptism of whimsical funk, he’s all about  creating a “Rebirth of Smooth Jazz” every time out. On his latest single, he’s feeling some intense yet cool “Hot Ice” in the wake of his across the board #1 hit “Full Tilt” featuring Blake Aaron and a 2022 Soul Café Radio Indie Soul Awards nomination. The title may be a hipster oxymoron, but Lucas makes perfect infectious sense of it, creating ultra-melodic and rhythmic flow with co-writer and guitarist Adam Hawley, the wildly adventurous pianist Gino Rosaria and the tight, deep pocket low end of bassist Mel Brown and drummer Eric Valentine.  It’s cool to the ear, but hot to the groove! ~

New Music: Luxury Soul 2022, Sarah Brown, Doomcannon, Ten Meter Band

Luxury Soul 2022 (3CD set)

Plenty of luxury, and plenty of soul – as you'll be living like a king with this well-priced set – a massive batch of music in one 3CD collection, and a heck of a lot more enjoyable than trawling the internet for underground soul songs you might have missed! This long-running series always serves up the best in contemporary soul – and has a way of bringing together tracks from a variety of global sources, in a way that reminds us that if you know where to look, you'll find that the spirit of well-crafted soul music is alive and well in the 21st Century! And given that some of the artists here exist in a world that's often digital-only, the CD collection makes things even more essential than before – as there's a number of tracks here that make their first-ever appearance in a physical format. Titles include "For This Love" by The Paradise Projex, "Be The Change (Michele Chiavarini rmx)" by Jarrod Lawson, "Get Down Saturday Night" by Full Flava with Chantay Savage, "Sorry Bout Bein A Ghost (Ghosted rmx)" by Sherree Brown, "In The Thick Of It" by Ernie & The Family McKone with Valerie Etienne, "No Matter How Far" by Maurice J, "Love In A Groove" by Raja Nee, "Loving You The Best That I Can" by Marlo Wells, "U & Eye" by Marshella Musik, "There's No One Like You" by Point Of Vu, "Time" by Deborah Bond, "Gimme Tonight" by Down To Earth, "90s Love (Realm rmx)" by Jane Handcock, "Lightness Of Love" by Alvin Garrett with Kim Scott, "Fine As Gold (T-Groove rmx)" by Christopher Williams, "I Gotta Pinch Myself" by Frank McComb & Kathy Kosins, and "A Little Love" by Julian Jonah with Lucita Jules. ~ Dusty Groove

Sarah Brown - Sarah Brown Sings Mahalia Jackson

Sarah Brown's no stranger to the music business, as she's sung backgrounds with a number of big artists – but this set marks her long-overdue debut – and has a quality level that will definitely have Brown shining a lot more in the spotlight in years to come! As you might guess from the title, the tunes are all from the songbook of legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson – but the presentation here is very down to earth, and feels more like a small combo soul or jazz session overall – at a level that offers a really strong focus on Sarah's vocals, which have a hell of a lot of spirit of their own, even before the lyrics of the tunes take hold! Titles include "Trouble Of The World", "Nobody Knows", "I'm On My Way", "Just A Closer Walk", "Didn't It Rain", "Summertime", and "Walk Over Heaven". ~ Dusty Groove

Doomcannon - Renaissance

A stunning debut from Doomcannon – a set that's billed as a love letter to his native London, and which bristles with the best sort of experimental energy of that city's contemporary scene! As with work from some of his contemporaries, Doomcannon has a way of taking jazz roots and pushing them way past conventional generic descriptions – handling most of the instruments here himself, in a blend of acoustic and electric elements – soaring drums one minute, a found sound the next, echoed by a moody keyboard line, or a dreamy trumpet solo – and opening the door to so many other elements along the way! Very much in the spirit of Chicago experiments from International Anthem, too – with titles that include "Thesis", "Amalgamation", "Black Liberation", "This Too", "Times", "Dark Ages", and "Entrance To The Unknown". ~ Dusty Groove

Ten Meter Band - Ten Meter Band

Ten Meter Band is a 7-piece instrumental Jazz-Rock Fusion group based in Toronto, Canada. Formed in 2014, they released their debut EP Living Room Black Box in 2016 and are now releasing their first full-length self-titled studio album on July 14th, 2022. With all original music featuring plenty of electric guitar and keyboards, along with a 3-piece horn section, this music is high-energy and made to make you dance. As a group, Ten Meter Band has performed regularly at venues across Toronto and Hamilton, including in 2018 when they played the main stage at the TD Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival. They are known for their tongue-in-cheek commentary on social media and speaking to their audience at shows, combined with a high-quality and serious approach to performing. They also have a YouTube channel with several music videos from their debut EP, which were all filmed live during recording. Ten Meter Band was formed at Humber College by a group of music students who played together on several recording projects. It went on to become a creative outlet for them as they pursued various careers in music. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Freekbass & The Bump Assembly Announce 2022 Funk The World Tour

Freekbass & The Bump Assembly are  proud to announce the 2022 Funk The World Tour featuring Sammi Garett (formerly of Turkuaz). Freekbass & The Bump Assembly is a high-energy live show like no other. Part musical journey, part Ohio-Funk experience, everyone from bass guitar enthusiasts, to Funk and Live music fans will want to plan a party around this show when it comes to their town. The tour kicks off in Youngstown, OH on July 22 and will head through Denver, Chicago, and more before concluding in Freekbass’ hometown of Cincinnati on September 10. 

Freekbass has cemented himself as a groundbreaking bass player and funk guru. His innovative styling including his signature double thumb strumming technique has garnered critical acclaim and a cult fan following. Hailed by the legendary Bootsy Collins as “the new spiritual warrior for the funk,” Freekbass has graced stages across the country and has been a staple in the festival and touring circuit. His notable performances have taken place alongside Bernie Worrell, Umphrey’s McGee, Turkuaz, Dumpstaphunk, George Porter Jr., Buckethead, DJ Logic and Mike Gordon.

 Amidst the disruption of live music over the last couple of years, Freekbass kept the music moving forward by releasing a single & video a month throughout the shutdown from 2020-2021. During this time he collaborated and released music with musicians such as Stefan Lessard (DMB), Billy Sheehan, Doug Wimbish (Living Colour), Eric Nally (Foxy Shazam), Gary Mudbone Cooper (P-Funk / Bootsy’s Rubberband), and Karina Rykman. Many of these songs, and others from that period will be making their debut live. 

The Bump Assembly is comprised of Sammi Garett on vocals (Formerly with Turkuaz), Dione Howard on drums, Reilly Comisar on vocals, and for select dates: Nate Lewis on guitar (Ernie Johnson from Detroit), and Craig Brodhead on guitars & keys ( formerly of Turkuaz). In addition to Freekbass songs, The Bump Assembly set will include some of Sammi's new material, also. Sammi Garett is currently releasing her solo singles which are produced and mixed by Freekbass.

 When Freekbass is not on the road, you can always find him live-streaming on his new Twitch channel, On “Live Grooves with Freekbass,” Freekbass creates new bass guitar-centric grooves and songs on each stream, along with the participation of the chat/audience. 

You won’t want to miss the infectious energy that is showcased in a Freekbass & The Bump Assembly live show. Freekbass states, “Recordings are the blueprint/ template for the live show. With Funk & Dance music, the Live Medium always takes these songs created in a studio to a higher level.” Catch the Funk The World Tour here and listed below. 

Tour Dates

  • July 22 - Youngstown, OH - Westside Bowl
  • July 28 - Fort Collins, CO - 830 North
  • July 29 - Steamboat Springs, CO - Schmiggity's
  • July 30 - Denver, CO - Knew Conscious  
  • August 5 - Pagosa Springs, CO - Motel SOCO
  • August 11 - Chicago, IL - HVAC Pub
  • August 12 - Ferndale, MI - Otus Supply
  • August 18 - Ashbury Park, NJ - Wonder Bar 
  • August 19 - Harrisburg, PA - XL Live
  • September 2 - Kempton, PA - Karnival Of The Arts Festival
  • September 10 - Cincinnati, OH - Riverfront Live

Paul Brown | "Promised Land"

Some say that there is a boundary line to art but few true artists and visionaries conform to that notion. It is no surprise that two-time Grammy-winning guitarist and producer extraordinaire Paul Brown cites both Jerry Garcia and Wes Montgomery as founding influences. Brown, who has amassed 75 #1 Contemporary Jazz radio hits and who has engineered for R&B divas Aretha Franklin and Diana Ross, is somewhat of a free-spirited musical chameleon who comes by it honestly. "I grew up listening to rock and blues and my parents were jazz musicians, so I heard a lot of that music in the house," reflects Brown. "I have always loved soul music and have worked as a producer with many greats like Luther Vandross, Al Jarreau and George Benson." July 15, 2022 Shanachie Entertainment will release Paul Brown's second recording for the label, Promised Land. "The music is very free and open," confides the guitar wizard who took advantage of the downtime the pandemic presented. "There wasn’t the normal pressure to make 'hit' songs. Instead it was more of a 'let’s take this time we’ve been more or less forced into and write and record some great music." Brown's relaxed and organic approach resulted in one of his strongest and most authentic recordings to date. The ten-track uplifting and jubilant sonic journey unites Brown with an all-star Contemporary Jazz line up including labelmates Marion Meadows and Euge Groove, as well as Shane Theriot, Jeff Carruthers and others. Danny Weiss, Shanachie Entertainment’s Vice President of Jazz A&R states, "Before launching his career as an artist, Paul Brown absolutely dominated the Contemporary Jazz format as its premier producer. Now, amazingly, he has achieved great heights as a solo artist as well. We're honored to be associated with him!"

Promised Land opens with the insatiable and soulful groove of "Secret Sauce," the album's first single. The inviting track is a sumptuous mix of Brown's bluesy chops and crisp guitar lines, flanked by the Memphis-styled and swinging horns of Greg Vail and Ron King. Brown admits that the funky ditty provided ample fun for him to play over. The show-stopping "Hey Dude" pairs Brown with Shane Theriot who plays bass, keys and rhythm guitar. The duo let it all hang out as they concoct a winning trifecta of country-grit, rock-edge and down-home blues. Brown describes "Hey Dude" as a “smooth Beatles type homage.” Brown collaborates with Joe Wolfe on the scintillating and percussive "Wolfpack," while the ballad "Elegance," co-written with Jeff Carruthers, creates a moment of serenity, offering a gorgeous and melodious affair that shines a light on Brown's effortless, tasteful and flawless soloing. It is almost as if Brown is singing through his hypnotic guitar lines. "I do approach solos and basic melodies from a singing perspective," admits the Sherman Oaks- based guitarist. “Since my folks were both singers I guess it was inevitable. I like quirky singers like Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan, much to the dismay of my parents," chuckles the guitarist, adding that he is also a Sinatra fan. Paul puts his own vocal chops to the test on the album's title track written by Shane Theriot. "Shane is one of the best musicians that I have ever known. We've collaborated on many projects and have become great friends. He lives in New Orleans and he decided to rent my guest house about two years ago. He wrote "Promised Land” about the change in life that would occur if he did move to LA. It’s not only about the geographical place but also the mental state one has to get into to change directions in your life so dramatically. We are all evolving as musicians and people. I was lucky enough to be born and raised here in LA, the promised land of creativity."

Two highlights on Promised Land join Paul Brown with two of his Shanachie brothers, saxophonists Marion Meadows and Euge Grove. Meadows' agile and fluid soprano dances with Brown's buttery smooth riffs on the relentless groove of "Don't Stop" which also features Lew Laing on bass, keys and drums. Brown and Euge Groove have created numerous hits with one another as Brown has produced a total of eight albums for the saxophonist. This time around Brown's wizardry is in full effect on the R&B-laced and dance-inducing "7 and 7." Their telepathic call and response and joyous interplay is an album highlight. The Latin-tinged "Yo Tengo" find Brown on vocals and guitar for this festive, percussive and super-charged fiesta. Brown and company beckons us to "Da Spot" for the feel-good romp, where everything sounds just right. The soulful affair raises the roof as the horns of Ron King and Greg Vail have an unforgettable musical conversation with Brown’s spirited riffs answering back to perfect effect. Promised Land comes to a finale with Brown’s blues drenched collaboration with Shane Theriot entitled “Round and Round.” After all is said and done Promised Land delivers on every front. 

“Music is my spirituality and has been my entire life. Everyday I’m either writing, playing, recording or performing and I’m still loving it,” confesses Paul Brown. Born in Los Angeles to musician parents who sang with Mel Tormé, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, among others, Brown started playing drums at age five and picked up his first guitar two years later. His influences are as far reaching as Wes Montgomery, Peter Gabriel and Johnny “Guitar” Watson. Brown has been a foundational artist in Contemporary Jazz from since the late 80s. As accomplished as Brown is center stage as a guitarist, he is equally revered for his Midas touch as a producer. Brown’s inaugural recording for Shanachie was Love You Found Me in 2010 followed by Soul Searchin’ with Larry Carlton in 2021. Promised Land is Paul Brown’s 12th album as a leader.  Brown plays a mix of guitars on Promised Land including his Stratocaster and his beloved Gibson L5. "The guitar that really changed things for me as an artist is the Gibson L5," explains Brown. "I got it in 1993. I started recording melodies to songs I was writing for other artists and they started to sound like a solo artist all of a sudden in 2004. That guitar turned out to be my soul mate!"

Paul Brown has managed to take us to the mountaintop to see the Promised Land, but for Paul there are still many more miles to log. "I love music and enjoy helping other artists recording and building their careers…there’s rhythm and melody to everything in life. It's cool identifying and finding those rhythms and melodies," concludes Brown. "In the end I just try to be positive. Like my Mom always told me, “Reach for the stars!"

Blake Aaron | "Dreamland"

Guitarist Blake Aaron is living the dream. Writing, producing, recording and performing music all over the world at the highest level, he just notched his fifth Billboard number one single as a solo artist. The scintillating summer smash that he wrote with chart-topper Adam Hawley, “Dreamland” went number one on five national charts simultaneously: Billboard, Groove Jazz Music, Mediabase, Radiowave and Smooth Jazz Network. The Innervision Records single is the second consecutive release to go number one from Aaron’s forthcoming seventh album, “Love and Rhythm.”    

“I set out to create a song that captures the imagination, excitement, fun and unbridled curiosity of a dream come true," said Aaron whose dexterous electric jazz guitar was accompanied on the energizing track by Hawley (rhythm guitar and keyboards), drummer Eric Valentine (who recently topped the Billboard chart with his own single), bassist Mel Brown, saxophonist and horn arranger David Mann, and trumpeter Trevor Neumann.    

Together, Aaron and Hawley scored a number one last year with Aaron’s single “Sunday Strut,” which topped four charts, including Billboard. Although Aaron has produced number one singles for himself as well as for other artists, he realizes the benefits of teaming with Hawley, a consistent chart-topper both as a solo artist and as a producer.

“Working with another Billboard number one producer inspired ideas and concepts that I may not have thought of on my own. Having a writing and production partner whom I respect but has a different style than mine opens up new musical and creative doors through different approaches and compromises. Utilizing a producer to challenge an artist to go to another level with an idea they may have thought was already ‘making the cut’ or conversely, encouraging the artist to run with an idea they were ready to throw out, can take the song in a whole new direction,” said Aaron.

Aaron hopes to continue the success that he and Hawley share by collaborating. In May, they locked themselves away in Hawley’s studio and didn’t emerge until they recorded rough mixes for two more singles.  

“In the internet age when most artists are collaborating online, Adam and I have found a certain magic of writing ‘old school’ by actually meeting in the studio, locking the door and not leaving until we have a fully recorded rough mix of a hit single,” said Aaron who plans to drop the next single crafted during their recent session on September 19.

Aaron has a proven track record of recording more than a handful of hit singles before bundling them as an album. Initially, it was an approach that came out of necessity for the time crunched artist – he’s also a first-call studio musician who has composed and produced music for television and film – but as the music industry has changed and evolved, now it’s a chosen path that helps him reach more listeners via Spotify. The coronavirus quarantine allowed him time to finish and release his last album, “Color and Passion,” in 2020, which spawned three Billboard number one singles.

“We’ll probably have enough music ready to release ‘Love and Rhythm’ next year.”   

Catch Blake Aaron on tour in the following cities (additional dates may be added):

  • August 20 | Tyron, NC - Mountain Brook Vineyards Wine & Jazz Fest
  • August 21|San Diego, CA - Humphrey’s Backstage Live
  • August 27 | Melbourne, FL - The Maxwell C. King Center
  • August 28 | Largo, FL - Central Park Performing Arts Center
  • September 5 | Atlanta, GA - City Winery Atlanta
  • September 10 | Oxnard, CA - Oxnard Jazz Festival
  • September 11 | Temecula, CA - Rhythm on the Vine Concert Series
  • October 20 | Avalon, CA - Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival
  • October 23 | Galveston, TX - BillyRay Sheppard’s Smooth Jazz Cruise
  • October 31 | Sa Coma, Spain - Mallorca Smooth Jazz Festival        


Rick Scott


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