Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The 45th Anniversary of Exodus Celebrated With Dolby Atmos Upgrade, Revised Exodus: Deluxe Edition

The Summer of Marley culminates this week with a brand new, official lyric video for Bob Marley & The Wailer's "Exodus," which debuts today on Bob Marley's Official YouTube Channel.

This new video for "Exodus" draws on shared histories, collective pain, and a cry for liberation, showing through rich visuals a parallel between the Biblical story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and the hope of guiding the Rastafarians to freedom. The protagonists set out to leave a destroyed land behind, hoping to find the Fatherland, with aspirations to build a spiritual homeland and find redemption and peace in the middle of Africa. Led by an international team of artists from Africa, Europe, and South America, the video articulates a message of triumph, hope, unity, and strength of a community coming together using hand-drawn illustrations and textures laced with powerful, archival footage of Bob Marley & The Wailers performing "Exodus" in Zimbabwe in 1980. 

Over the summer,  Bob Marley & The Wailers' original album, Exodus, named the "Best Album of the 20th Century" by Time magazine in 1999, became available in Dolby Atmos. Mixed by Nick Rives and approved in-person by Ziggy Marley at Capitol Studios.

In addition, the Marley Family, Island Records, and UMe marked the 45th anniversary of Exodus with a revised digital Exodus: Deluxe Edition in June. The digital deluxe album features the ten tracks from the original album, plus 18 Singles & Sessions tracks; 13 of the tracks were culled from two previous Deluxe Editions. Previously unreleased tracks, "Natural Mystic (Horns Mix)," and "The Heathen (Alternate Version)," the rare 7-inch versions of "Exodus," "Jamming," and "Punky Reggae Party,' and the original B-side to "Jamming" are also included on the new digital deluxe, as well as two cuts previously unavailable digitally. The Exodus: Deluxe Edition also boasts two additional bonus tracks, including the edited live versions of "So Much Things To Say" from the June 1st show (previously released on the Deluxe Edition of Exodus 40 – The Movement Continues in 2017) and "Exodus," the finale from the Rainbow's June 2nd set, previously featured on the album's 2001 Deluxe Edition. Each performance is otherwise presented unedited within their respective live set (see below). Click HERE to listen to Bob Marley & the Wailers' Exodus: Deluxe Edition.

June also highlighted the digital premiere of three of the four nights from Bob Marley & the Wailers' historic June 1977 run at London's Rainbow Theatre. While a select number of tracks from the Rainbow recordings were included on previously released Deluxe Editions of Exodus, and audio and video of the entire June 4th concert were released during the year-long 75th Birthday Celebration in 2020, most of the legendary performances from the three nights, each featuring slightly different setlists and alternate arrangements, had never been heard before. Twenty-nine songs throughout the three shows, equating to more than three-quarters of the total songs performed, are previously unreleased performances.

In other news, Bob Marley & The Chineke! Orchestra was also released by Island Records/UMe last month. The album reimagines some of Bob Marley's greatest songs with contemporary classical orchestration from the globally esteemed Chineke! Orchestra. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios and produced by Nick Patrick (If I Can Dream, Elvis Presley and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, True Love Ways, Buddy Holly and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), reimagined tracks include "Satisfy My Soul," "Exodus," "Is This Love," "Redemption Song," "Get Up, Stand Up," plus "One Love/People Get Ready." 

In addition, Ziggy Marley is wrapping up his summer tour, performing a live tribute to his father as part of the belated Bob Marley 75th Birthday celebrations. Ziggy and his band continue to breathe new life into Bob Marley's most iconic songs, headlining dates in Europe, the U.K., and North America. 

Yellowjackets | "Parallel Motion"

Maintaining a distinct group identity for 40 years is an exceedingly rare achievement, but what sets Yellowjackets apart isn’t their longevity so much as the consistently inspired quality of their music. Born in the age of fusion, the band has thrived through the decades by steadily seeking out new sounds and approaches, combining elliptical lyricism with a sophisticated and evolving harmonic palette all their own. Slated for release on August 26, Parallel Motion is Yellowjackets’ sixth album for Mack Avenue Records and it captures a vibrant creative communion that shows no signs of an impending midlife crisis.  

Since Yellowjackets’ eponymous 1981 debut album, the group has hewed its own creative path, influencing colleagues with enviable compositional craftsmanship and an ever-shifting blend of influences. In many ways Yellowjackets embody both continuity and renewal, with founding­ pianist/keyboardist Russell Ferrante providing the four-decade thread first joined by Will Kennedy­, who took over the drum chair from 1987-99 and returned to the fold in 2010. Bob Mintzer, a Jacket since 1990, contributes on tenor and soprano saxophones and EWI. By the band’s standards Australian-born electric bass virtuoso Dane Alderson is still the new kid, though he’s already anchored the quartet for seven years. Parallel Motion is a Technicolor portrait of a working band that’s still stretching its wings. 

“The last two projects were collaborations,” Ferrante said, referring to 2018’s luminous Raising Our Voice with extraordinary Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, and 2020’s orchestral Jackets XL with the WDR Big Band of Cologne, Germany. “We wanted to do a project focusing on the quartet. In terms of the material, we wanted to broaden the contributions from everyone. Dane is represented by several tunes. Will is in the mix. Everybody’s involved in every aspect.”  

 While Yellowjackets recorded the album in the midst of the pandemic, the music looks forward rather than exploring the angst and isolation that accompanied the advent of COVID-19. Of course, resilience and optimism in the face of tragedy is in itself a profound statement. For Mintzer, the new work “represents the commitment to stay together and keep moving forward. It’s really about this four-cornered square that functions no matter what. With each record, all four of us are on the hunt for new ways to put the notes together. The music keeps growing. The focus is this band. A clear, identifiable sound. Four equal parts.” 

Indeed, every Jacket is well represented on Parallel Motion. The album opens with Mintzer’s “Intrigue,” a lithe but stutter-stepping tune that offers a little surprise around every shifting groove. Lyrical and street smart, the piece showcases all four players at their most responsive. “There’s a singable component, but these little splashes of dissonance,” Mintzer said. “It doesn’t fit into any categories, which is one of the M.O.s of this band.”  

Ferrante’s passionate “Il Mio Amico” is a heartfelt ode written in response to his recently acquired Fazioli piano. It’s a spectacular instrument “and the resonance and overtones and response you get is really inspiring,” he said. “We brought it to the studio and used it on the recording, the first workout it got, and as the title says, it’s really my new friend.”   

Alderson’s slyly grooving “Early” grew out of a sketch that had been languishing on his laptop for more than a decade. “I brought it to the band and the guys brought it to life,” he said. “It’s a jammy party tune with an R&B flavor that really evolved in the studio.” 

Kennedy transformed a tune originally written with vocals into the ravishing “Samaritan,” a piece that expands on Yellowjackets’ long history of singable lines. “The goal was to have a melody that was simple and warm and I think we achieved that,” Kennedy said. “It’s a really calm and relaxing sort of song. As Dane was saying, it’s always an interesting adventure to present a tune to the band and have it take on a life of its own.”  

If Parallel Motion offers a snapshot of a band in mid-flight, it’s also a family portrait that includes Ferrante’s “If You Believe,” a track featuring the supremely soulful vocalist Jean Baylor. No stranger to Jackets fans, she’s recorded with the group several times, and of course her husband, drummer Marcus Baylor, was a member of Yellowjackets from 2000-2010. Her gospel-steeped performance adds another incandescent track to Yellowjackets’ deep roster of vocal collaborations, a list that includes Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Bobby Caldwell, Randy Crawford, Brenda Russell, Michael Franks, Gino Vannelli, Jonathan Butler and Luciana Souza.  

Recorded after a brief European tour, the album documents the process of discovery. “We rehearsed the tunes on the album maybe three times,” Alderson said. “I believe we’re only now on this tour performing these songs live, so what you’re hearing are about as fresh as they can be. Everything really came to life in the studio in those three days.” 

All-Star Collaborative Trio THUMBSCREW (Michael Formanek/ Tomas Fujiwara/ Mary Halvorson) Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary with MULTICOLORED MIDNIGHT

At the center of a spiraling musical universe, Thumbscrew is like a reverse black hole radiating brilliant constellations of overlapping ensembles. The all-star trio is at the core, and they’re marking their 10th year as a collective endeavor – 2022 – looking ahead to new sonic territory rather than taking stock of a prodigiously creative decade. Celebrating this anniversary, Multicolored Midnight, the group’s seventh album for Cuneiform Records, is slated for release September 30, 2022. It features bassist Michael Formanek, drummer/vibraphonist Tomas Fujiwara, and guitarist Mary Halvorson on a set of 11 original pieces that oscillate between detailed composition, unbridled improvisation, and every gradation in between. It’s another step on an extraordinary journey by three of jazz’s most dauntless and resourceful artists. 

The focus that each player brings to Thumbscrew and the dense web of experience they share is part of what makes the ensemble so extraordinary. Thumbscrew’s ongoing evolution is powered by a super-charged matrix of relationships, as all of the players also lead critically acclaimed bands built on the trio’s thrumming creative synergy. Beyond their work as a trio they’re the foundation for Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus, the hair-raising and ridiculously talent-laden large ensemble that released its 2016 debut on ECM The Distance. Formanek joined Halvorson on Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up’s third release, the critically hailed 2015 album After All Is Said (482 Music). And Halvorson’s Thumbscrew bandmates are the foundation of her song-based band Code Girl. For Halvorson, Thumbscrew has become an invaluable creative foundation. “It’s one of my favorite rhythm sections to be a part of, the power and energy and everything we create together,” she said. “At this point, all of us have used this rhythm section as leaders.” 

Multicolored Midnight features music that Thumbscrew honed during a three-week residency at City of Asylum, a Pittsburgh program founded as a refuge for writers in exile. Since expanding its purview to include musicians, City of Asylum has become the fourth wheel powering Thumbscrew’s all-terrain evolution as the triumvirate fully utilizes the sequestration to generate and refine new pieces. Three of Thumbscrew’s prior albums had also been generated at City of Asylum. Multicolored Midnight grew out of the group’s fourth residency in August of 2021, which provided a welcome respite from the sudden and unnerving isolation imposed by the pandemic. 

If there was an agenda for Multicolored Midnight, it centered on fully incorporating Fujiwara’s vibraphone work into the mix, a bright hue that surfaced briefly on Thumbscrew’s 2020 celebration of Anthony Braxton’s 75th birthday, The Anthony Braxton Project. Marking a decade doesn’t have quite the same panache as a diamond jubilee, “but we do feel like it’s a big deal,” Formanek said. “That’s a lot of time for a cooperative band, and the residencies are a big part of what’s allowed us to dive in deeper and keep creating new music.” 

The album opens with the tightly constructed “I'm A Senator!,” one of five tunes that Formanek contributed to the project. It’s a wicked little groove that features some sharp Halvorson chordal work sandwiching her vertiginous bottom-falling-out single note runs. The bassist built “Shit Changes” on Fujiwara’s vibes ostinato, which feeds the mysterious, slowly blossoming melody. Mutations occur but the bloom is hardy. Formanek draws on many sources when it comes to titling his tunes, often settling on a word or phrase that has little direct connection to the piece. And then there’s “Fidgety,” which captures an anxious, unsettled mood from the opening bass solo, which Formanek bends and contours with some deft electronic processing. It’s his first use of electronics on double bass in Thumbscrew, adding another sonic resource to the growing palette. He’s at his most tuneful on “Capsicum Annuum,” a song-like tune that builds to a brief thrashing passage before the trio returns to the alluring melody. The intriguing line references the forward-and-backward phrase ideas that Formanek has explored elsewhere in a series of palindromic tunes. 

Fujiwara brought three tunes to the program, including “Song For Mr. Humphries,” a tribute to Pittsburgh drum maestro Roger Humphries, the well-traveled veteran who played on Horace Silver’s 1965 classic Song For My Father. Propelled by a quirky, vaulting bassline, the tune grows more intricate and less rhythmically stable as it progresses. It isn’t based on anything that Humphries plays. Rather, it’s a thank you for his generosity and ongoing contributions to the music. He actually lives a few blocks from City of Asylum and on Thumbscrew’s first residency City of Asylum co-founders Diane Samuels and Henry Reese made a point of mentioning him. “He still plays around town all the time,” Fujiwara said. “We went and checked him out and his feel and sound is amazing, so classic and specific. Every time I go to Pittsburgh I hear him play and I go to his house for a lesson and a hang.” 

The pandemic experience doesn’t surface directly on the album often, though Fujiwara’s “Future Reruns and Nostalgia” evokes the prickly, surreal suspension of time that marked the first months of sheltering in place. The chiming notes on the vibes that open the piece seem to toll for all of us as Formanek’s squally arco bass work ratchets up the pressure. The melody ascends and hangs in the air. Halvorson also contributed three pieces to Multicolored Midnight, including the title track, a stuttery tune with an almost folk-song like theme driven by her strummed chords. An improviser and composer of dry and poker-faced wit, she builds a repeating figure into the angular melody that was inspired by the sound of a skipping LP. On “Swirling Lives” she creates an almost chamber jazz setting for Fujiwara’s vibes. There’s a melodic line running through the tune that’s carried by all three players at different points and as the pace accelerates to a sprint the chamber piece takes on the feel of a frantic game of hide and seek. Playful, mischievous and insistently present tense, this is music that illuminates each moment’s vast possibilities. 

An album laden with fully realized connections and reflections, Multicolored Midnight also provides tantalizing hints regarding Thumbscrew’s future explorations. Integrating new textures, sounds and concepts, Thumbscrew has turned into an essential all-terrain vehicle for three of improvised music’s most venturesome artists. After a decade of coaxing and inspiring each other, the trio’s musical universe just keeps expanding, and Multicolored Midnight sheds dazzling light on where they’ll be heading next.

Samara Joy | "Linger Awhile"

Once-in-a-generation vocalist Samara Joy has signed with Verve Records, and will release Linger Awhile, her full-length debut for the label, on September 16. At just 22 years old, Samara has already garnered critical acclaim for a voice “as rich as custard” (The New York Times) and a delivery that is  “disarming [and] unhurried” (NPR Fresh Air), just as she has built a devoted following on TikTok and made avowed fans of Regina King, LaKeith Stanfield, and others. The Bronx native took home the 2019 Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition prize while still in college and performed on The Today Show earlier this year. Hailed as an “exciting boundary-stretcher” by the  (The Boston Globe), Samara also made her “glowing, auspicious debut” (NPR) at the Newport Jazz Festival last weekend, earning multiple standing ovations in the process.

Linger Awhile finds Samara updating beloved songs with a modern twist, sometimes singing original lyrics using the melodies of famous instrumental solos, a style known as vocalese. Recorded at Sear Sound in New York City and featuring exemplary musicianship by Pasquale Grasso (guitar), Ben Paterson (piano), David Wong (double bass), and Kenny Washington (drums), the tracklist is comprised of reinvented classics including “Someone to Watch Over Me” (George Gershwin), “'Round Midnight” (Thelonious Monk), and “Nostalgia (The Day I Knew)” (Fats Navarro). Linger Awhile not only highlights Samara’s timeless vocals and a musical wisdom beyond her years, it also introduces this foundational popular music to a fresh audience.

“I am deeply honored to be a part of a roster that has included so many of my greatest vocal inspirations: Sarah, Billie, Ella, and Betty to name a few,” says Samara about her Verve debut. “Being a part of this lineage is humbling, and I will continue to use all of the inspiration gleaned from them to pursue my own unique journey as a singer and an artist.”

Watch the visualizer for lead single “Can’t Get Out of This Mood” here:

Samara Joy has also announced a new string of 2022 tour dates throughout Europe and North America. The young vocalist will play club dates, festivals and cultural institutions, plus highly-anticipated NYC hometown shows at The Blue Note. Later this year, Samara will perform with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a handful of dates across the midwest before several holiday shows in December. 

Music has always been a guiding presence within Samara’s family. Her grandparents, Elder Goldwire and Ruth McLendon, led the well-known Philadelphia-based gospel group, The Savettes, and her father toured with the renowned Andrae Crouch. Although her earliest influences are the gospel and R&B sounds of Stevie Wonder, Lalah Hathaway, George Duke, and Musiq Soulchild, Samara fell in love with jazz while attending Fordham High School for the Arts, where she performed regularly with the jazz band and eventually won Best Vocalist at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington competition. Samara attended SUNY Purchase and recently graduated as the Ella Fitzgerald Scholar.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

New Music: Nate White, Imperial Boxmen, Steve Knight, Ernesto Jodos

Nate White - Up Close

Nate White's new single, "Migration" is off of his album Up Close. Legendary 70’s Group RAMP (Roy Ayers Music Production) has spent his career making music that his fans sincerely enjoy. Nate is deeply rooted in Funk/Soul/Jazz music and has truly created a signature sound which you hear on each track of the jazzterpiece Up Close. This Cincinnati native has opened up for The Godfather of Neo-Soul Roy Ayers, Chuck Loeb, Jeff Lorber, Everette Harp, Euge Groove, Phil Perry, the nine GRAMMY®- nominated, platinum-selling artist, Dave Koz & Friends which includes: Aubrey Logan, Richard Elliot, Rick Braun, and Gerald Albright. The single off the Up Close album titled “Migration” was inspired by the many events that has taken place around the world, and here in America. Hopefully listeners can receive the smooth, gentle, calming effects of this delightful song.

Imperial Boxmen - Imperial Boxmen

An excellent set from Kevin Ford – best known as the leader of Chicago Afrobeat Project, but working here in a much more stripped-down setting – a funky trio mode that's filled with his own great work on keyboards, served up here with a very cosmic vibe! The drums and bass are nice and heavy – well-pointed and nicely focused – which leaves the keyboards plenty of space to soar over the top and do all these cool spacey things while the rhythms stay funky – in a mode that's clearly inspired by 70s funky jazz, fused through the leaner modes of the London scene, and delivered in a style that's very much the group's own! Titles include "Hashley", "Reduxion", "Type B", "Dillatente", "Strawberry Feels", and "Imperial 7". ~ Dusty Groove

Steve Knight - Persistence

Steve Knight's journey from Olathe, KS, to Chicago via Oklahoma, South Carolina, New York, and the Caribbean has been anything but linear or predictable. He’s now releasing his debut album, Persistence, a trio recording featuring seven of his originals as well as several compositions by other artists. Like most jazz guitarists, Knight was Influenced by the pantheon of jazz greats like Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, and Grant Green, but his greatest inspiration is George Benson. “I don’t like music that seems to be written just for other musicians,” says Knight. “A jazz guitarist is part poet and part athlete. I think Benson strikes the perfect balance. He’s an incredible technician on the guitar, but his music is very accessible for a general audience.” Indeed, Knight displays his considerable chops on Persistence, but never overwhelms the listener with mere showmanship. Joined by two stalwarts on the Chicago jazz scene, bassist Justin Peterson and drummer Jeff Stitely, the trio began playing together during the Covid-19 lockdown, presenting weekly concerts from Knight’s backyard in their idyllic, tree-lined.  neighborhood. The impromptu jams became concerts with neighbors gathering at the fence and audiences growing quickly and reaching into the park across the street. The Alderman took notice, helped move the concerts to the park, and a whim turned into a weekly event. Playing for a live audience over the years gave the band insight into the music that people liked to hear, and the tunes on Persistence unfolded from those concerts.

Ernesto Jodos - Donde El Mundo Ocurre

If you even follow ear s& eyes Records slightly or how the jazz scene in Buenos Aires has been explosive these past years, you would definitely know the name Ernesto Jodos. He's one of those cats who has been teaching all young lions since they were teens. He's been such an important influencer and has guided what Argentine jazz is today. Yes, he went to Berklee years ago, and yes, his most recent album, Confluence, features Mark Helias and Barry Altschul, but he's taken those influences back to Argentina and transformed his take on jazz music with his own unique voice and vision. This new album is a grand culmination of this; Donde el Mundo Ocurre! The rest of his group on this are a mix of those young lions as well as one of the most influential and important voices in not only jazz, but also rock, Latin Grammy Award winner &  drummer Sergio Verdinelli (another name that shows up quite a bit in the ears & eyes catalog including well-received No Me Digas Loco (as leader), and as sideman Rodrigo Dominguez' Borocotopo and Juan Bayon's Vidas Simples. Rounding it out is Inti Sabev (clarinets), Juan Pablo Hernández (guitar) & Diana Arias (contrabass).

Monday, August 29, 2022

Patrice Rushen - Original Album Reissue Series

The complete Elektra recordings of Patrice Rushen - expanded 2LP versions of her seminal albums “Pizzazz”, “Now”, “Patrice” and “Straight From The Heart” featuring bonus 12” mixes, dubs, and unreleased versions, fully remastered from the original reel to reel tapes.

After a series of acclaimed soul-jazz albums for Prestige Records, Patrice came to Elektra as the label branched out from its trademark soft rock sound to hone a roster catering to the burgeoning “sophisticated R&B” audience during the late ‘70s, at the tail end of the disco boom. Pulling together a tight team of musicians and studio craftsmen that she had

worked with and respected through writing and performing sessions in L.A., including her mentor Reggie Andrews and producer Charles Mims, Patrice combined intricate, punchy big band arrangements with her new role as lead vocalist on Patrice in 1978. The album set the template for a series of classic recordings, bringing soulful style and musicality to dancefloors. Pizzazz (1979) ushered in the huge club hit ‘Haven’t You Heard’ and classic tender ballad ‘Settle For My Love’, before Posh and the infectious single ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ a year later. Then in 1982, the landmark album Straight From The Heart and the worldwide crossover success

of ‘Forget Me Nots’, following a self-funded PR campaign. Now ended her time with Elektra in 1984, a more stripped back, synth-led affair led by ‘Feels So Real (Won’t Let Go)’ and the reflective ‘To Each His Own’.

Patrice’s music has endured over the years as each new generation discovers her recordings. “So much of what happened with these records happened years after they had come out as people discovered them,” Patrice explains. “And that’s the biggest compliment of all, that the music is still being played. It’s kinda cool.”

Sara Niemietz’ fourth album, Superman

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and actor Sara Niemietz’ fourth album, Superman, will be released on October 28th. Sara's new single and video, "Locks," is out everywhere now. 

The new album represents a reinvigorated era in her artistic continuum born from small, vulnerable moments brought on by lockdown and seismic, non-pandemic life changes. “This album is about speaking your piece, shaking off the past, and finding the superhero inside,” shares the LA-based creative polymath. She continues: “As a kid, I used to run around with this blanket tied around my neck and call myself ‘Super Sara.’ This is a return to that, and it’s the most representative thing I’ve done to date.” The empowering album is also a showcase for a new collaboration with co-writer and co-producer Linda Taylor, the ace guitarist on the hit ABC show Whose Line is It Anyway.  

The pair met fortuitously on Sara’s last gig of 2020, a showcase with Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown, and just three days after their meeting, the world shut down. Sensing intuitive chemistry, Sara and Linda began to collaborate, tossing wildcard musical ideas and playlists back and forth.  

During the height of COVID, the two began to collaborate in earnest. A feverish flow of ideas went back and forth as Linda and Sara finished tracks self-contained, with Sara handling all her vocals and vocal production and Linda layering the tracks and mixing the recordings. Soon, the pair had six songs, with Sara producing earthy and engaging videos for each one. In addition, Sara’s broad internet reach and innate marketing savvy enabled the duo to become a buzzed-about collaboration.  

The twosome quickly nurtured a signature blend of soul, sonics, and story with passionate vocals and prominent guitars. Some of their artistic touchstones included Sister Rosetta Thorpe, Janis Joplin, Brittany Howard, and the early Kings Of Leon and D’Angelo. Sara says: “I’ve never been happy being tied to any genre. I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, polka records, Led Zeppelin, and Steely Dan. When I was a little kid, I would plug a Fender Squier into a cheap amp, tune down to drop D, and put on concerts bashing out power chords.”  

In 2021, Sara felt it was time she and Linda made a complete album. The two decided to keep their file-sharing creative process intact, fully realizing the songs with demos before they brought in musicians and booked a studio. Sara’s only stipulation was for the album to feel like an album, a whole work, not just a collection of songs cobbled together. How do you make such a broad palette of genres feel cohesive?  

“It occurred to me that as long as we’re telling the same story, the songs can be the chapters in the book. We kept this like a mantra - does the chapter fit the book? We can go anywhere we want sonically, stylistically, keep the story true,” Linda says. The pair booked Robby Krieger’s Horse Latitude Studios, confident they could make the album they wanted without compromises.  

The resulting album is a mosaic of soulful sounds, spanning sensual blues ballads, smoldering soul, snappy jazz-pop, and indie rock. Thematically, Superman grants privileged access to Sara's life before and during the pandemic, much like the pages of a journal set to music. The 14-song album explores tumult, triumph, the freeing feeling of starting new chapters, and resilience. "There were times in the writing process that I wondered, is this too personal? Then I thought, Nah, go for it."  

The bluesy "Locks" captures the bittersweet side of getting through life challenges. Sara's rich and sultry vocals imbue the song with a sense of burnished hope befitting the lyrics. One choice passage reads: Who' s that looking out from the mirror/A little bit leaner, meaner/She figured it out/Can't believe what I see/It's almost hard to believe/This other side of the street I'm standing on. The seductively soulful "I Want You" boasts a psychedelic organ drenched in Echoplex, and Sara's sweetly gritty vocals. Her words here smolder as she sings: Whatever you're doing, just keep doing it/I want the colors and the sounds of your love/All the power of your love/I can't, I can't, I can't get enough.  

On slinky and infectiously catchy songs such as "Keep An Eye," "Lovely Lies," and "Four Walls," Sara and Linda hone in on that sweet spot between jazz, pop, rock, and blues. The pair slip into hazy, neo-soul reminiscent of Voodoo-era D'Angelo on "Come To Me." "Four Walls," a quiet reflection on promise and healing, is being translated into Mandarin. Sara has reverently studied the language and culture since high school and released several videos singing in Mandarin.  

Superman is indeed a heroic effort as it is both uncompromising genre-bending and cohesively musical. It's a rare feat. Linda says: "Sara was very clear when we started this album about what she wanted and how she wanted it to sound. We didn't set out to find a style; we just wanted an honest reflection of Sara's diverse music palette." In closing, Sara says: "It was freeing, letting what was in my mind out into the world without self-editing or second guessing. This is the record I've wanted to make for a long time."  

Chris Botti Launches His Own New Luxury Jazz Cruise: "Chris Botti at Sea"

Chris Botti announces the debut of Chris Botti at Sea, a luxury cruise personally curated by the incomparable musician. Scheduled to sail from February 8 – 15, 2024 from Miami to Aruba and Curacao on Celebrity Cruises’ Summit, the voyage will bring the very best in music, accommodations, and destinations together.  

“I’ve loved defying expectations and pushing the boundaries of creativity throughout my entire career and hosting my very own cruise is definitely an extraordinary experience,” says Botti.  “My entire team is dedicated to making this a very, very special event for all the fans and musicians onboard.” 

Since the release of his debut recording in 2004, trumpeter Chris Botti has become the largest-selling American instrumental artist.  His success has crossed over to audiences usually reserved for pop music and his ongoing association with PBS has led to four #1 jazz albums, earning certification as both Gold and Platinum selling recordings, as well as numerous Grammy nominations and awards.  Over the past three decades, Botti has recorded and performed with the best in music, including Sting, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Bublé, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, John Mayer, Andrea Bocelli, Joshua Bell, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and even Frank Sinatra. Hitting the road for as many as 300 days per year, the trumpeter has also performed with many of the finest symphonies and at some of the world’s most prestigious venues from Carnegie Hall and the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House and the Real Teatro di San Carlo in Italy.  And Botti’s month-long residency at Blue Note New York is a longstanding staple of the holiday season. 

Jazz Cruises, LLC, the gold standard for music cruises at sea since 2001, will produce the cruise, undertake the reservation process and provide programming and technical support.  With more than 80 full-ship charters to its credit, Jazz Cruises has produced themed programs of all types throughout the world.  

“Chris Botti is a rare talent who can elevate virtually any musical genre by the strength of his talent and the breadth of his musical interests” says Michael Lazaroff, Executive Director of Jazz Cruises, LLC.  “We have dreamed of building a cruise around him ever since he was the featured entertainer on our ultra-luxury Mediterranean Signature Jazz Cruise in 2014 and are thrilled to be able to launch Chris Botti at Sea with him next year.” 

The cruise features a 2,100-passenger ship and will head out to Aruba and Curacao, the gems of the Caribbean Sea.  But it is the entertainment that separates Chris Botti at Sea from other programs.  Botti hand-picked most of the performers and each one of them is both a star and an exciting performer in their own right.  Heading the lineup is the world-renowned keyboardist and composer David Foster, who along with his wife, the multi-talented Katharine McPhee, will dazzle crowds with a show that features his amazing string of hits and her electrifying vocals.  Also performing on the ship are Gregory Porter and Melody Gardot, two of the jazz genre’s most dynamic and unique vocalists.  Botti is particularly excited to announce that Mentalist Lior Suchard, who has been astonishing crowds around the world for over a decade, will be performing on the cruise. Rounding out the entertainment is a collection of the very best musicians in the world, including Keb Mo, Lisa Fischer and many others.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Inaugural Jazz Music Awards Announces its 2022 Nominees and Honorees including Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Ambrose Akinmusire, Henry Threadgill, and others

The global awards ceremony to exclusively celebrate Jazz music, The Jazz Music Awards: Celebrating the Spirit of Jazz, and its creator and executive producer, Wendy F. Williams today announce the recipients of six honorary awards and the nominees in eight competitive award categories. These special honors, as well as the thirty-three nominees, recognize individuals who have made – and continue to make – a lasting contribution to this American art form. Finalists in each category are the result of the first round of nominations submitted during the eligibility period from April 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022. These well-deserved honors will be presented at the Jazz Music Awards ceremony, set for Saturday, October 22, 2022, at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, GA. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award will go to saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter; the Jazz Legend Award will be presented to the family of the late pianist and composer McCoy Tyner. There are three Awards of Distinction categories: Innovator, Composer, and Educator. Modern jazz trumpeter and composer Ambrose Akinmusire will receive the Jazz Innovator Award; avant-garde saxophonist and woodwinds player and composer Henry Threadgill will be honored with the Jazz Composer Award; vocalist and composer, Dr. Lenora Helm Hammonds will receive the Jazz Educator Award; and veteran musician and educator James H. Patterson will receive the Jazz Impact Award.

Also, the final four nominees have been announced in eight competitive categories; a tie in the Best Duo, Group, or Big Band category resulted in five nominees, while the Best International Artist category submissions did not meet the Jazz Music Awards submission criteria resulting in this award being removed from the final ballot this year.

Four-time Grammy Award-nominated artists Jean & Marcus Baylor, also known as The Baylor Project received three nominations for their release, Generations; along with Orrin Evans with two nominations for The Magic of Now and EEE (Eubanks-Evans-Experience) with well-known TV personality Kevin Eubanks; 2023 NEA Jazz Master and Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Kenny Garrett with two nominations for Sounds From The Ancestors; eight-time Grammy Award-winning bassist Christian McBride with two nominations with his band Inside Straight for Live at the Village Vanguard; acclaimed jazz harpist Brandee Younger with two nominations for Somewhere Different; and contemporary jazz keyboardist Brian Culbertson with two nominations for The Trilogy Red.

Also nominated are acclaimed jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn with Her Noble Force (Best Duo, Group, or Big Band); veteran organ master Joey DeFrancesco (Best Mainstream Artist); chart-topping contemporary flutist Ragan Whiteside (Best Contemporary Artist); contemporary jazz keyboardist and producer Bob Baldwin (Best Contemporary Album); multi-instrumentalist and producer Ben Tankard, best known as “the godfather of gospel/jazz” (Best Contemporary Artist); and veteran smooth jazz guitarist Norman Brown (Song of the Year). 

Other nominees in the contemporary jazz categories include popular bassist and producer Brian Bromberg (Best Contemporary Artist); jazz/pop vocalist Lindsey Webster (Best Contemporary Artist); master drummer Sonny Emory (Best Contemporary Album); Jazz educator and vocalist Shawnn Monteiro (Best Vocal Performance); multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Mark Hasselbach (Best Contemporary Album); and the Count Basie Orchestra, under the direction of Scotty Barnhart (Best Duo, Group or Big Band).

The Jazz Music Awards nominations also recognize a diverse array of burgeoning artists, including French vibraphonist Simon Moullier (Best New Jazz Artist); Grammy-nominated Jazz vocalist Stacey Kent (Best Vocal Performance); Kazemde George, Brooklyn-based saxophonist, composer and beatmaker (Best New Artist); Julieta Engenio, Argentine-born tenor saxophonist, composer, and bandleader (Best New Artist); neo-traditionalist Samara Joy (Best New Artist); acclaimed Rwandan-Ugandan jazz singer and playwright Somi (Best Vocal Performance); South African-born teen multi-instrumentalist Justin-Lee Schultz (Song of the Year); and Alabama-based drummer/producer James “PJ” Spraggins (Song of the Year).

“We are honored to recognize and present a wide range of dynamic and innovative artists including our six award honorees and our thirty-three nominees. I am still amazed that in 2022, a dedicated global Jazz award show in North America has never been done at this level. I am thrilled that we can step into this space to honor and recognize musicians and the entire genre in this way. We are making history and we are just getting started,” says Wendy F. Williams, creator and executive producer of the Jazz Music Awards, as well as the General Manager of NPR-affiliate Jazz 91.9 WCLK. “Jazz music has been an essential part of the legacy of Jazz 91.9 WCLK, which will be celebrating fifty years on the air in 2024, from its home on the campus of Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. By recognizing our honorees and nominees, we are giving thanks for their incredible artistry that furthers the richness of the Jazz tradition, which is integral to American music and culture.”

An added attraction during the Jazz Music Awards will be several live performances. These will include appearances by several acclaimed Jazz vocal talents: NEA Jazz Master and Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award-winning artists Dee Dee Bridgewater, Grammy Award-winning artist Ledisi, preeminent jazz/gospel/blues vocalist Lizz Wright, and four-time Grammy Award-nominated artist Jazzmeia Horn. All performances will be under the musical direction of NEA Jazz Master and three-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist and composer Terri Lyne Carrington, who serves as the musical director and co-executive producer for the inaugural ceremony.

“The Jazz Music Award is a necessary and important platform for the jazz community,” says Carrington, who is also the founder of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice. “It’s vital that we spotlight and celebrate artists across all hybrids of Jazz, many of whom have been overlooked or unsung throughout their careers.”

The inaugural Jazz Music Awards will establish a new platform for recognizing the rich history, musical innovation, and vital artistry that continue to inform America’s truly original art form – Jazz Music. As an essential component of the vast tapestry that weaves together African Americans’ contributions to the arts, Jazz is the Culture of America. It is a unique sound and style that is beloved around the world.

For updates and information on the award ceremony, please visit

Trombonist Marshall Gilkes Presents: Cyclic Journey, Featuring Aaron Parks, Linda May Han Oh & Johnathan Blake

Grammy nominated trombonist and composer Marshall Gilkes has a singular and distinct voice on the trombone, one that simultaneously expresses beauty, virtuosity, the raw spontaneity of improvisation fused with the elegant, stately architecture of classical music. From playing lead trombone with The Vanguard Orchestra, to performing with The Maria Schneider Orchestra, the Slide Monsters Trombone Quartet, and leading his own projects, producing six critically-acclaimed albums thus far. Gilkes is also a prolific composer, most recently contributing a stunning set of compositions to the WDR Big Band, titled “Always Forward.” In short, the man is a musician’s musician who can do it all. 

Following up his essential album with the WDR Big Band, Köln, and his 2020 release, Waiting To Continue, Marshall Gilkes latest coup de maître is a stunningly beautiful and captivating suite of music, titled Cyclic Journey, available on September 30. On Cyclic Journey Gilkes uncovers and explores the elements of his own journey. “I wrote the music for this album in March and April of 2022, but I’ve had this idea – to bring these two worlds together – for quite some time,” Gilkes explains. “And in terms of the theme, it really came to light through reflection on what’s most familiar to me. That’s how I arrived at the idea to write a soundtrack to my daily external and internal existence.” Gilkes’ daily existence means being able to deliver on a very high level in a multitude of musical situations and partnerships, which he does with a quite uncommon flexibility, and command of his instrument; and taking care of his family as a dedicated father and husband.

The ensemble on Cyclic Journey is an accomplished and unique band, and they bring Gilkes’ vision to life in remarkable ways. Pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Johnathan Blake could be thought of as a modern day version of “the rhythm section,” so cohesive and powerful is their union (as many know, the original “rhythm section” being Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums). Integrated with this dream quartet, is a brass octet comprised of a who’s who of classical heavyweights, including trumpeters Brandon Ridenour (of Canadian Brass fame), Ethan Bensdorf (from the New York Philharmonic), and the omnipresent Tony Kadleck (a much in demand lead player in the Big Apple), horn player Adam Unsworth (Professor of Horn at the University of Michigan and a former member of the Philadelphia Orchestra), the legendary Joseph Alessi (longstanding Principal Trombone in the New York Philharmonic), bass trombonist Nick Schwartz (from the New York City Ballet), euphonium ace Demondrae Thurman (Chair of the Brass Department at Indiana University), and king of the tuba, Marcus Rojas, who has held down the low end for everybody from Henry Threadgill to the Metropolitan Opera. “I feel like with this project it’s not just about the combination of two groups or ideas, but the musicians themselves. Linda’s sound on the bass is just so incredibly pure. Aaron’s touch on the piano, evident, for example, in the way he takes over after that fanfare on ‘Go, Get It!,’ is beautiful. The way Johnathan plays and orchestrates everything just elevates the music. And I have the ultimate cast of characters with these brass players. I feel like I’m very lucky that I was able to bring together the perfect group of people,” says Gilkes. 

The nine movements on Cyclic Journey reflect the elements of Gilkes personal and professional life. “First Light” opens with a gentle chorale (Gilkes composes the hippest, emotive Chorales, which are featured throughout the album), capturing the optimistic mood of a quite house, very early in the morning, while the rest of the world is seemingly still sleeping. “That’s really a piece about the gears of life starting to turn at the beginning of each day,” explains Gilkes. “Up and Down” is about moving out into the world, putting things in play with a hip, understated groove. “The Calm” is an aural depiction of one being able to catch their breath, and on this movement we hear the perfect integration of jazz quartet with classical brass octet in all its glory. Contrasting “The Calm,” is “Go Get It!,” a call to action, the fanfare an announcement of great things to come. After the lovely serenity of “Respite” our hearts are racing again with “Beat The Clock,” which is about having too much to do, and not enough time to do it! Check out “Genre Battles,” which offers contrasting brass octet sections against the jazz quartet absolutely burning over Rhythm Changes, demonstrating, to great effect, Gilkes’ impartial love for these idioms. “I’m honestly someone who adores classical brass playing, but also loves jazz,” says Gilkes. “Musings,” and “Cyclic Journey,” are the resolution and the afterglow, expressing joy and satisfaction, and two examples of Gilkes’ gorgeous sound, his gift as a composer, and his melodicism. The bonus track, worth the price of admission alone!, is one final bow to brass grandeur, as Gilkes and his fellow horn men bring down the house with “Sin Filtro,” (Unfiltered) which boasts some of the leader’s signatures – extreme register jumps, strong melodies, sophisticated harmonies, rhythmic intensity – it’s a Spanish-tinged stunner that spotlights this unbelievable collection of slide and valve virtuosos.     


New Music: Kool & The Gang, Vega Trails, Neil Swainson, Rudi Mahall & Michael Griener

Kool & The Gang - The Albums Vol 1 – 1970 to 1978 (13CD set)

That's the later Kool & The Gang logo on the front cover, but this killer set brings together all their greatness from the early days – a fantastic run of funk that set a whole new standard for the 70s! Right from the start, the group had something different going on – a leaner, sharper vibe that took some of the raw energy of the 60s, and gave it a sharper focus – heard first on an assortment if important funky 45s, then brought together on their first album, and expanded into some tremendous developments as the 70s moved on! All that greatness is here, featured in one amazing box – a full CD of singles from the time – plus the full albums Kool & The Gang, Music Is The Message, Good Times, Wild & Peaceful, Light Of Worlds, Spirit Of The Boogie, Love & Understanding, Open Sesame, Force, and Everybody's Dancing – plus the incredible concert albums Live At PJ's and Love At The Sex Machine. A fantastic set – essential for any fan of funk and soul! ~ Dusty Groove

Vega Trails - Tremors In The Static

Both artists here are ones you might know from other UK jazz projects – bassist Milo Fitzpatrick hails from Portico Quartet and saxophonist Jordan Smart is part of Mammal Hands – and together, they work in these spare duets that are really beautiful, and often very different than their previous recordings! There's a nice sense of space in both the way the bass and sax are recorded – so that the larger sound of the production wraps their sounds together nicely – almost an ECM sense of space, but without the coldness that label always seems to have – which makes for a key difference here in the way things come across. Titles include "Train To Kyoto", "Spiral Slow", "New Planet", "Epic Dream", "Red Moon Rising", and "Thoughts Shifting". ~ Dusty Groove

Neil Swainson - Fire In The West

Bassist Neil Swainson almost never gives us a record as a leader, but when he does, it's usually something special – which is definitely the case on this well-crafted set! Swainson's kind of a secret talent – a great player in his own right, an excellent composer, and one of those leaders who really seems to pull something extra out of the players in his group – as you'll hear here in the quintet session with Rene Rosnes on piano, Lewis Nash on drums, Brad Turner on trumpet, and Kelly Jefferson on tenor! Both Turner and Jefferson aren't as well-known as the rhythm players, but they do a fantastic job of illuminating Swainson's set of all-original material – tracks that really set things up for the horn solos as they take off. Titles include "Late Afternoon", "Fell Among Thieves", "Standing Back", "Cascades", "Fools Gold", "Kyushu", and "Silver Mine". ~ Dusty Groove

Rudi Mahall & Michael Griener - Jazzpreis

Rudi Mahall and Michael Griener have known each other for many years – a fact that becomes instantly clear on hearing their rapport here in improvisation – Griener on drums and vibes, and Mahall on bass clarinet and baritone saxophone – instruments used in these stark, lean settings that really get at the heart of what makes free jazz so wonderful! Griener doesn't use vibes that often, but when he does, the approach is great – and no matter what the reed instrument, Mahall always has a way of crafting these notes that are sharp and distinct, and full with a subtle sense of emotive power. Titles include "Minute Spater", "Nach Entsprechenden", "Derweil", "Viele Tassen Beruhigungstee Spater", and "Und So Nahm Die Sache Ihren Lauf". ~ Dusty Groove

Saturday, August 27, 2022

New Music: Nat Birchall, Pharoah Sanders, Richard Baratta, Marc Mac

Nat Birchall - Spiritual Progressions

An instant classic from saxophonist Nat Birchall – the kind of set that first made us fall in love with him all those many years back, when we first heard his early records on the Gondwana label! Nat's working here in a mode that's spiritual, but on long tracks that have a great modal vibe – really enforced by the energy of his group here, which features some especially great piano from Adam Fairhall – a player with a very majestic command of his instrument, and one that really sets the tone for the whole record! Other members of the group include Michael Bardon on bass, Paul Hession on drums, and Lascelle Gordon on percussion – but Birchall is clearly the shining light in the front – blowing beautiful long solos on tenor, plus a bit of wood flute too – with occasional contributions on mbira and balafon as well. Tracks are all nice and long, and include "Nile Valley", "Sun In The East", "Lokumbe", and "Unity" ~ Dusty Groove

Pharoah Sanders - Africa (2CD deluxe edition)

A brilliant 80s set from Pharoah Sanders – a record that has him a much more understated setting than some of his other albums from the time – but one that's maybe even more soulful and searching overall! The great one plays blistering tenor right from the start – in a quartet with John Hicks on piano, Curtis Lundy on bass, and Idris Muhammad on drums – all players who have this way of doing a lot with a little, especially in the rhythm department – where they seem to give Sanders some of his strongest sense of groove since the key albums for Theresa. Muhammad's got this tight sense of timekeeping, but with a looseness that we love – and Lundy's warm soulful bass does more than enough to give the set a sound bottom – and Hicks' free lyrical piano works nicely with Sanders' spiritual horn. Titles include a remake of "You've Got To Have Freedom", plus "Naima", "Origin", "Speak Low", "After The Morning", and "Africa". Also features the tracks "Duo" and "Heart To Heart" – not on the vinyl release! Great 2CD version – with a bonus CD that features two alternates of "Speak Low", and one more of "After The Morning". ~ Dusty Groove

Richard Baratta - Music In Film: The Sequel

Jazzy takes on tunes that you'd know from famous film soundtracks – served up in a special way that not just draws from the talents of leader Richard Baratta on drums, but also heavily from pianist Bill O'Connell, who handled most of the arrangements for the set! There's a strong Latin jazz vibe to the set that reminds us a lot of O'Connell's own records – with Baratta on percussion alongside his drums, and added percussion and congas from Paul Rossman – in a group that also features Vincent Herring on alto, Paul Bollenback on guitar, and Michael Goetz on bass. Most tunes are familiar, but the arrangements are mighty fresh , and really open things up – on tunes that include "Last Tango In Paris", "Soul Bossa Nova", "Pure Imagination", "Man Of Constant Sorrow", "You've Got A Friend In Me", "Out Of This World", and "Pink Panther". ~ Dusty Groove

Marc Mac - Br-Azil-Ah EP

Marc Mac's given us two previous records that each showcase cultural inspirations – one on Africa, the other Jamaica – but as with those releases, the style on this Brazil-driven collection is still very much Marc's own – that wonderfully cosmic groove we've always loved in his music going back to the early days of 4Hero! There's maybe a slight touch more acoustic percussion here than usual, but the rhythms are still cracklingly jagged – warmed up by some great keyboards, and saxophone work on a few tracks – including one appearance from the great Nathan Haines! Titles include "Encantadora", "Music Of Life", "Tribos Coloridas", and "The First Movement". ~ Dusty Groove

Otis Redding Foundation to Host Weekend of Events Celebrating 81 Years of Otis Redding

The Otis Redding Foundation will celebrate Otis Redding's legacy on what would have been the Soul singer's 81st birthday. The events, to take place September 9-10 will bring world-renowned musicians to Macon, GA and serve as a major fundraiser to benefit the future Otis Redding Center for the Arts, which will further support the Foundation's mission to empower, enrich, and motivate youth through education programs involving music, writing, and instrumentation. 

"Our family is elated to celebrate my dad's legacy in person for the first time since the pandemic. We are happy to bring the weekend-long celebration back to Macon and thank the countless patrons who have supported the Otis Redding Foundation since my mother established it in 2007. We're excited to share our vision of musical education with the community," says Karla Redding-Andrews, Vice President and Executive Director of the Otis Redding Foundation. 

The weekend of events will kick off on Friday, September 9 with the highly anticipated groundbreaking for the new Otis Redding Center for the Arts—an 11,000 square foot space dedicated to musical education, outfitted with learning labs, collaborative spaces, practice rooms, and a stage for student performances.

That night, An Evening of Respect will take place at Macon's historic Grand Opera House and feature GRAMMY Award-winning, jazz-influenced pianist Robert Glasper and GRAMMY-nominated singer Mickey Guyton. During the event, the Otis Redding Foundation will honor supporters DJ Derrick "D-NICE" Jones, Georgia heroes Chuck and Rose Lane Leavell, Dr. Vickie Perdue Scott of Legacy Builders Foundation, and Dr. C. David Keith of Mercer University.

The Big "O" Homecoming Show will take place on Saturday, September 10 at the Capitol Theatre and feature performances by Kendra Morris, Monophonics, and The War and Treaty. The tribute show is a callback to Otis Redding's own Home Coming Show and Dance held at the Macon City Auditorium throughout the 1960's, where the singer brought his contemporaries and musical peers to Macon. 

Since its inception, the Otis Redding Foundation has supported thousands of students in pursuit of their goals in music and the arts. Programs include the annual Otis Music Camp for ages 12-18, Camp DREAM for ages 5-11, music education workshops, private and group lessons, and opportunities to perform on iconic stages, such as the Ryman Theater in Nashville, TN. 

The Otis Redding Foundation's mission is to empower, enrich, and motivate all young people through programs involving music, writing and instrumentation. Each partnership and program sponsored since its inception in 2007 supports the philanthropic commitment of Otis Redding to empower and enlighten all young people to fulfill their dreams.

The Otis Redding Center for the Arts is a multipurpose space open to students ages 3-18 who have a desire to explore their interest in all elements of music and the arts. Planning is well underway with a proposed opening in 2023. The Center will be staffed with Macon's finest musicians offering private music lessons in areas such as piano, audio engineering, strings, and more. Students are encouraged to go beyond and tap into their best effort. The Center believes in the vitality of music and the arts and continues to develop those avenues for youth. Partnerships with Mercer University, Middle Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University and more, help make these efforts possible for our students.

New Music: Terrace Martin, Kaidi Tatham, Chicago Soul Jazz Collective with Dee Alexander, Jas Kayser

Terrace Martin - Drones

Terrace Martin is an artist who just keeps on getting deeper and deeper over the years – an already-great jazz musician, but one who's widened his scope to touch on broader currents of soul and hip hop – all of which really open up with the jazz-based energy at the core! At some level, this record might be to Martin's career what the Black Radio project was to Robert Glasper – as Terrace opens the door to all-star guests who include Kim Burrell, Leon Bridges, Ty Dolla $ign, Kendrick Lamar, Kamasi Washington, and even Glasper himself – while also finding space to serve up a few key tracks on his own, without any guests – tracks that may well be some of our favorite on the album. Titles include "Turning Poison Into Medicine", "Drones", "Leave Us Be", "Don't Let Go", "Listen", "Sick Of Cryin", "Leimert Park", "Tapped", and "Griots Of The Crenshaw District".  ~ Dusty Groove

Kaidi Tatham - Don't Rush The Process

Kaidi Tatham never rushes the process – and in fact, sometimes he makes us wait so long between full length albums, we really jump into a new record with a great sense of excitement! And here, all that excitement is definitely warranted – as Tatham not only lives up to that sense of cosmic energy we've always loved in his music, but also really seems to be opening up to new rhythmic modes as well – which take the record far past the broken beat generation, and really show a way that an artist like Kaidi can reach for the stars with a new sense of spiritual energy! There's a richness to the record that we haven't heard before from Kaidi – and we've loved every one of his other albums – and although Tatham plays most instruments himself, the set does feature some great guest appearances by others, including surprisingly strong use of the Easy Access Orchestra. Titles include "Knocknee Donkey", "We Chillin Out", "Just Not Right Rudi", "Don't Rush The Process", "Sooretama", "Any Flavour", and "Runnin Tru". ~ Dusty Groove

Chicago Soul Jazz Collective with Dee Alexander - On The Way To Be Free

A very hip step for this tight Chicago group – as they take their already-righteous sound, and open the door for singer Dee Alexander, who really adds a lot to the record! We mostly know Dee as a jazz singer, but here, she also brings in a bit of soul too, as do the group – and create a record that's in territory that's maybe a bit more jazz-based than the music of Sharon Jones, but still also pretty funky too! Dee's great in the lead, and the set's full of original tunes that really carry a message – as you might guess from the album's title, and the group's previous record – mostly written by John Fournier, the tenorist in the group – with titles that include "The Man Is Coming Back", "Nothing Good Ever Goes Away", "On The Way To Be Free", "Mama Are We There Yet", "Carry Me", and "Crazy Wrong". ~ Dusty Groove

Jas Kayser - Jas 5ive

A great entry in the fantastic 5ive series from the UK jazz underground – music led by drummer Jas Kayser, but with a vibe that really draws a lot from the rest of the group! Kayser's rhythms are nicely jagged at times – mixed with live percussion, but with a vibe that often feels like some of the cosmic rhythms of the London club underground – complex, but always moving forward too – and topped with alto, tenor, trumpet, and a bit of vocals from female singer Ava Joseph – who leads off the first track and really sets the tone of the record! Jamie Leeming brings in some great guitar lines at times, with a very unique solo approach – and titles include "Half Race Face", "Stupid On The Beat", "Darkness In The Light", "Dream", and "Jamie's Blues". ~ Dusty Groove

Friday, August 26, 2022

Tawanda | "Smile"

The 9th Annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, held in Newark, New Jersey on June 6, 2021, uncovered a 25-year-old singer of such grace, musicality, and emotional directness that it was hard to imagine how she had learned so much, so soon. Tawanda Suessbrich-Joaquim, now known simply as Tawanda, could have rested on the natural beauty of her alto voice, with its trombone-like low notes, a middle register as clear and polished as glass, and a distinctively sweet-and-sour tone. She was rhythmically spot-on, with impeccable diction, but underneath it, all lay a wisdom unusual in one so young.

For her debut album Tawanda took on a broad, demanding repertoire, much of it suggested by Resonance owner-producer George Klabin.  Backed by a stellar band featuring pianists Josh Nelson & Tamir Handelman, bassist Kevin Axt, guitarist Anthony Wilson, saxophonist Gary Meek and others.  Features a fresh and adventurous mix of standards including ‘Smile”, “What A Little Moonlight Can Do”, “Out Of This World” and many others.

Tawanda is determined, she says, to keep developing, and to “sing these different styles of music and honor the song while putting my own spin on things. I’ve been practicing a lot and trying to get more comfortable with jazz theory and expression. I want to be right there with my voice and storytelling.” She’s well on her way.

Track Listing: 

  1. Smile/I'm All Smiles
  2. Out of this World
  3. Bridges
  4. Sister Moon
  5. What a Little Moonlight Can Do
  6. I'm Okay
  7. A Child Is Born
  8. Lucky to Be Me
  9. Sack Full of Dreams
  10. Bring Back My Dreamer
  11. Smile (A Capella)

Dr. John’s Final Studio Album - Things Happen That Way Due

There are few artists who are as closely associated with New Orleans as Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, Jr., known to music fans the world over as Dr. John. His Nite Tripper persona was, for many, their introduction to the music and culture of New Orleans, and Rebennack was the ultimate ambassador for his hometown’s artistic heritage.

When Rebennack set out to record Things Happen That Way, one of the featured guest artists he invited to participate in the sessions was fellow New Orleanian Aaron Neville, whose friendship with Mac dates back to their teen years. Today, their jubilant, joyful rendition of The Traveling Wilburys’ classic “End of the Line,” on which they are also joined by rising star Katie Pruitt, is released. 

Rebennack was planning future projects when his life was unexpectedly cut short in 2019. Now, three years after his untimely passing, in a world complicated by COVID-19, Things Happen That Way will see the light of day. The album, which features three brand new original compositions, a mesmerizing reworking of Dr. John’s 1968 classic “I Walk on Guilded Splinters, and new interpretations of songs by Willie Nelson, Cowboy Jack Clement, Hank Williams, and The Traveling Wilburys will be released on September 23. 

Things Happen That Way marks the fulfillment of a longtime goal of the six-time GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter/pianist and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, who first began plotting a country-inspired album decades ago. In bringing his album’s songs to life, Dr. John drew on a lineup of musicians befitting of a universally beloved luminary. Along with an elite cadre of New Orleans session players, the album also features guest appearances by his longtime friend and frequent musical collaborator Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. 

Things Happen That Way Track Listing:

  1. Funny How Time Slips Away
  2. Ramblin’ Man
  3. Gimme That Old Time Religion (feat. Willie Nelson) 
  4. I Walk On Guilded Splinters (feat. Lukas Nelson & Promise of The Real)
  5. I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
  6. End Of The Line (feat. Aaron Neville)
  7. Holy Water
  8. Sleeping Dogs Best Left Alone
  9. Give Myself A Good Talkin’ To
  10. Guess Things Happen That Way

Lindsey Webster | "Reasons"

“Everything is energy," exclaims the stunning, charismatic Billboard #1 singer/songwriter Lindsey Webster. “Atoms make up everything, and they are only made of 0.0001% matter. That leaves 99.9999% space - aka energy! This simple fact is how I remember to take my focus off of this physical world and tune into my spirit." Webster who studied cellular and molecular biology in college with the intentions of becoming a researcher adds, “The more we tune into our own energy, the better our lives become.”  Soultracks once declared “If Carole King and Sade had a kid, she would be Lindsey Webster.” The amiable and earthy singer, has managed to shake up the cliquish male and instrumental dominated - Contemporary Jazz scene, forging a path that is uniquely her own. Amazingly in 2016, Webster became the first vocalist to hit #1 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz charts since Sade.  All About Jazz declares, “Webster is soulful, authentic and belongs on the short list of new talents keeping the tradition alive and taking it to the next level,” while Pop Matters describes Webster’s voice as “Soulful…Effortless.” The Woodstock native’s anticipated new recording, Reasons, (to be released September 9, 2022) is the next step in her evolution as an artist. “For the first time, I think I made an album for myself,” she confides. “I’ve come a long way. On my first album, little 21-year old Lindsey was singing those songs the way I thought Mariah (Carey), Amy Winehouse or Adele would do it. I had no idea who I was as a person, let alone as an artist. This album speaks to what I want and in return I think that it will connect with my audience in a deeper way.” Reasons features several major special guest collaborators including bassist Nathan East, trumpeters Nicholas Payton and Randy Brecker, pianist Brian Culbertson (who plays trumpet and trombone on the album) Kev Choice who raps on a track and drummer Lil John Roberts, among others. At the heart of Lindsey’s collaborations is her long-time musical partner and former husband, pianist Keith Slattery. “I think our shared vision for the potential of what our music is capable of keeps the dream alive,” confides Lindsey. “Keith is an amazing example of understanding and compassion. I can speak for the both of us when I say that relationships are given to us to learn from whether they are romantic or not. I find it trivial and petty to throw away a great friendship and partnership over differences. Life is too short!”  The winning combination of Webster and Slattery has resulted in two Billboard #1’s and eight Top 10’s on the Billboard charts.

The highly anticipated Reasons is an intimate and introspective portrait of Lindsey Webster’s epiphany about herself and her relationships. It has all the makings of a career-defining album as she steps forward as one of the best singers of her generation, a promising songwriter and rarity in the world of Contemporary Jazz. The cathartic album explores not only the joyful side of love but also the heartbreak and growth from disappointment. Although Lindsey has always prided herself in maintaining a level of honesty in her music, she has only recently become comfortable delving into the darker side of her feelings. “I used to shy away from my negative emotions and felt guilty about being one of those ‘toxic positivity people’ who fake smile through things, telling myself and others to ‘just be positive,’” explains Webster, who meditates daily. “This attitude got me through a certain time in my life but it took sitting with myself and being curious about my negative emotions. It’s scary territory, but once you become friends with your demons, it’s like the Wizard of Oz, and it’s not as scary as you once thought it was.”

Reasons is a sublime showcase of Lindsey Webster's metamorphosis as an artist, shining a spotlight on her precise, effortless and ethereal vocals. At times her voice calls to mind such iconic singers as Mariah Carey, Anita Baker and Roberta Flack. There is an authenticity that permeates the songs featured on the album. “There has never been another option for me, other than honesty,” reveals the former EMT and firefighter. “The better I get to understand myself, the better my expression and music seems to get and this makes music truer, and people feel that.” Reasons was recorded during three different sessions, starting August 2021, with a second session at the end of January 2022 with the final session wrapping in May 2022. “I think that the pandemic really forced me to look inward, giving me deeper insights into who I am, which made it easier for me to say what I was feeling in these songs,” shares Lindsey, who was first cellist in High School and continues to play to this day. “I reached a new level of not caring if what I said might offend someone.” 

Reasons opens with the sassy, insatiable groove of “I Didn’t Mean It,” which is a Top Ten Billboard single. The track features Brian Culbertson who joins Lindsey for the fist time on recording. Bassist Chris Snowden and drummer Lil John Roberts are also on the track and in the rhythm section throughout most of the album. "I Didn't Mean It" finds Lindsey reconsidering her feelings about a love gone awry. “I wrote this one when I was in a mood and frustrated that this particular guy wouldn’t take our dating to the next level. I was reacting to what was a blow to my ego and the frustration of not getting my way.” Lindsey sublty reverses the mood with the sensational "Love Of Your Life." In a soulful and moving performance, she proves why she is worth every bit of praise she commands. Once you hear her sing a ballad, it is hard not to become a believer and “Love Of Your Life,” a shining example. The stunning and flirty number finds Lindsey's voice at its peak as she shows off her impeccable range, soulful delivery and flawless intonation. She sings, “Come and let me give you the love of our life” and it is hard not to surrender. The track features bassist Nathan East who solos on both bass and vocals, adding just the right touch. “When choosing what instrument should take the solo, I kept hearing Nathan on his bass, doing his classic singing along thing. He agreed to be on the song and killed it!” 

Another highlight on Reasons is the lilting, melancholy and sultry “Just The Night.” “This is a song that led me to do a lot of soul searching,” reveals Lindsey. “My heart felt broken, because despite how much I wanted this relationship to work, the guy still tried to deny our chemistry and I was left feeling alone. At the time I didn’t realize that this experience would push me to inquire deeper into myself and my motives for wanting him, and for that matter, any man, enough to let it disrupt my inner world so much." “Stay With Me,” is a vibey bouncy R&B banger featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker and a rap by Kev Choice while “Wish You Well” tells the realization of a love affair coming to an end as Lindsey sings “We were cool and now you don’t even feel like a friend…baby its cool, one day I’ll wish you well...” Webster shares that the track “The Way” is the best song that she has written to date. The song itself is realization and confirmation that Lindsey is enough and right where the universe needs her to be whether she is in a relationship or not. Webster candidly sings about finally arriving in a space where she can trust her intuition, not give in to fear and have the confidence of knowing her own heart. “The words to this song are so true to my journey and musically Keith really killed it,” she shares. “4 AM” is a short but sweet, dreamy ditty about a new love, while “Twin Flame” further explores Lindsey’s new love with a kindred spirit. “A twin flame is an energetic match. It’s much deeper than a typical soulmate. It’s someone who is basically a mirror.” Also showcased on Reasons is the memorable “You Take Me," about a departed love that still lingers in your heart and mind and haunts your dreams. The album’s title track was one of the final songs written on the recording. "I was having trouble determining the title for the album," explains Lindsey. "The title 'Reasons' resonated because there were so many reasons for all of the things that happened leading up to this album." Lindsey leaves us on the right now with “I’m OK,” featuring trumpeter Nicholas Payton. The gorgeous track is affirmation that everything Lindsey has been through has brought her to where she needs to be. “The truth of the matter, is that through all the things that happen in this world, I always end up being OK.”

Growing up in an artist community of Woodstock, NY, the daughter of loving hippie parents, the allure of music was never far from Lindsey Webster. The singer grew up listening to her parent's Jimi Hendrix, Beatles and Elvis Costello LPs and later the Supremes. Influenced by everyone from Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera to Steely Dan and Earth Wind and Fire, these days Lindsey still feeds her eclectic taste. “Bob Marley is my #1 most listened to artist on Spotify but I listen to Lake Street Dive, Raveena, Chaka, Joanna Teters, and so much more,” shares the singer who enjoys outdoor activities, bootcamp challenges and hiking. Webster made history in 2016 with her original, "Fool Me Once,” which was the first vocal driven #1 song to top the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart since Sade's “Soldier of Love” in 2010. She beat Sade’s three-week run at #1 with a four-week stay at the top of the charts. November 2016, Webster made her Shanachie debut with Back To Your Heart, which spawned three songs that reached Top 3 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Charts: “Back To Your Heart,” “Next To Me” and “Where Do You Want To Go,” which hit #1. 2018 saw the release of Love Inside, which featured the Top 5 hit “Love Inside” and "the Top ten single “It’s Not You, It’s Me” featuring Rick Braun.  A Woman Like Me followed in 2020 featuring the standout title track, the lush ballad "A Love Like Me" and the catchy "One Step Forward." Webster who counts Steve Wonder, Anthony Hamilton and Chris Botti at the top of her wish list of collaborators concludes, “I feel that the highlight of my career is still an unfolding journey. There is excitement around every corner of my life and work!


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