Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Baby Charles' self-titled LP reissued for its 15th Anniversary

Together with Nicole Willis And The Soul Investigators’ “Keep Reachin' Up” album, 2008’s Baby Charles debut LP is the album that defined the European funk scene of the 2000s. Mojo Magazine described them as “the most likely candidates to lead the Deep funk scene” after hearing the album. Driven by the single “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”, an afro-funk cover of the Arctic Monkeys' hit, the LP went rapidly sold out, it was never been repressed and it now changes hands for ludicrous sums on the web. English writer, DJ, and television presenter Mark Lamarr, who wrote on the album’s liner notes to “file it amongst your funk classics”, invited the band to BBC's Maida Vale Studios, where they recorded a legendary live session for his BBC Radio 2 God's Jukebox show. In France, the album benefited from a massive support from legendary Radio Nova station thanks to its “Nova Aime” campaign, while in 2009 Pitchfork crowned Baby Charles, together with Sharon Jones & The Dapkings, as the reference band of the international funk scene. The band split up in 2010 when they were about to enter the studio to give birth to the awaited sophomore album and while the debut LP started reaching a cult status among djs and collectors.  

The 15th anniversary edition will hit the streets on March 17th, 2023 on limited edition LP and Digital Deluxe Edition featuring two bonus tracks: “Time Wasting”, which displays the heavier psychedelic edge of Baby Charles, with an unstoppable chugging groove, a heavy horn-led break, and climatic chorus to finish the track off, and “Jackson Fingers”, for which the band created a brand-new groove that could work just as well as a sixties soundtrack or as a dance-floor friendly slab of soul-jazz. 

The “Baby Charles” album was published on March 10th, 2008 and followed the release of 3 heavyweight 45s, all of which found heavy rotation in funk spots around the globe. On the album, Soul diva Dionne Charles delivers her unique, self-penned stunning vocal performance, while the band lays down the heavy funk grooves. Throughout the 12 tracks, the combo displays a range of styles, which reflect their diverse influences. There's the Latin-inspired bass groove in “Treading Water”, the Meter's style funk of “Invisible”, the James Brown influence on “Hard Man To Please” and “No Controlling Me”, the afrofunk of “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor”, there's even some Egyptian Jazz thrown in the mix on the instrumental track “The Sphinx” and a deep soul version of DJ Shadows’ “This Time”. The result is a must-have album for diggers, djs and funk and soul fans. 

The reissue of Baby Charles' album is part of Record Kicks’ 2023 initiatives to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Side by side with similar imprints like Daptone, Big Crown, Colemine or Timmion Records, under its motto "The explosive sound from Today's scene", Milan-based record label and music publishing Record Kicks, has been pitching the contemporary funk & soul scene since 2003. With over 250 releases under the belt, the label has released bands from all over the globe and earned support of VIP fans such as rap superstars Jay-Z, Tyler The Creator and Dr. Dre, who sampled the label’s catalogue.

Sam Bardfeld Trio | "Refuge"

Violinist and composer Sam Bardfeld proudly announces the release of his new trio album, Refuge, the follow up to the critically-acclaimed The Great Enthusiasms, his second for Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, and his fourth as a bandleader. On Refuge, to be released on March 24, 2023, Bardfeld once again called upon the eclectic, multifaceted propulsion of drummer Michael Sarin, and welcomes into the fold, the virtuosic and creative pianist Jacob Sacks. 

A refuge is a haven, not an escape. It’s a space to exercise one’s idiosyncrasies. This album serves that purpose for Bardfeld, Sarin and Sacks. It also serves as further expression of Bardfeld’s penchant for the tradition of “weird” iconoclasm in American music. It is no accident that critics place Bardfeld in this tradition of Monk, Ives, and Stuff Smith. As Bardfeld states, “It is one of humanity’s great cultural feats. The joy, the darkness, and the eccentricity of American culture are our birthrights, our refuge.” 

The music on Refuge follows a similar line to its predecessor, The Great Enthsusiams. It is at once lyrical, quirky, forward-looking, and deeply rooted in tradition. Bardfeld’s playing swings hard and integrates abstraction and expressiveness. One can hear references to a wide range of musicians stretching from Stuff Smith, Lee Konitz, and Eric Dolphy to 'post-jazz' contemporaries like Mary Halvorson. Sacks is an excellent harmonic partner and his piano virtuosity and off-kilter sense of humor fit perfectly into Bardfeld’s world. Sarin brings his tremendous gifts for orchestration, musical wit, sympathetic dialogue, and overall intelligence. The unusual instrumentation, with no bass, creates extra harmonic and textural space and adds intimacy to Bardfeld's unique compositions. 

In addition to five new Bardfeld compositions, the trio covers two songs that fit the theme - Andrew Hill’s ‘Refuge’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City.’ Bardfeld explains, “Andrew Hill has been called ‘one of the great overlooked geniuses of jazz’ because of his commitment to a singular, unconventional voice - a personal language that, like that of his hero Monk, is angular, lyrical, and harmonically unique. ‘Refuge’ is the opening track of his magnum opus, Point of Departure (1964). The song ‘Atlantic City’ is a personal favorite among Springsteen’s recordings (from his 1982 Nebraska album). It is a vision of hope and refuge in a noir world. As the chorus states, ‘everything dies, baby, that’s a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back.’ Bardfeld had the pleasure of recording and performing this song on tour with Springsteen and it stuck with him. 

Both Bardfeld’s playing and writing for this trio are unique and Sacks and Sarin inhabit his musical universe beautifully. Sam is a teller of musical stories that are odd, poignant, lyrical, and in the American tradition. He says, “As there is community in the expression of shared joy, there is community in weird, personal, iconoclastic stories and voices. With America’s recent flirtation with autocracy, these stories are more salient now than ever.” 

Bardfeld holds a unique niche in the jazz violin world with his fluency in inside, outside, and downtown worlds. He is a rarity in being both an accomplished jazz violinist and a true artist with a unique improvisational and compositional voice. Outside of his own trio, Bardfeld is a member of The Jazz Passengers and a semi-frequent collaborator of Bruce Springsteen's (a veteran of three recordings and two tours). He has worked as a sideman for a long list of jazz, pop, folk and experimental acts including Anthony Braxton, Henry Butler, Kris Davis, John Zorn, Ingrid Laubrock, Tomeka Reid, Steven Bernstein, Roy Nathanson, Hank Roberts, Vince Giordano, Elvis Costello, Calexico, Debbie Harry, John Cale, Savion Glover, The Red Clay Ramblers, Nancy Sinatra, Willie Colón, Johnny Pacheco, and Dar Williams, among others. Sam is also the author of Latin Violin, considered the seminal text on the Afro-Cuban violin tradition. Bardfeld has taken his groups to festivals and clubs throughout Europe including Banlieues Bleues (Paris), Sud-Tirol Jazz Festival (Italy) and Porgy and Bess (Vienna). 

On top of the release of Refuge on March 25, 2023, new collaborative/sideman projects this year include being asked by MacArthur Grant recipient Tomeka Reid to participate in a new string quartet dedicated to performing the music of Julius Hemphill. The Hemphill Stringtet debuted in 2022 with appearances at the Berlin Jazz Festival, and the Frequency Festival in Chicago. Bardfeld has also joined a new collaborative trio with jazz legend, drummer Barry Altschul and bassist Joe Fonda

Monday, January 30, 2023

Tony Kadleck Big Band | "Sides"

Trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader/educator Tony Kadleck is one of the most sought-after trumpet players on the New York City scene, and has been for some time. He moved to NYC in 1986, following his studies at the New England Conservatory–and a stint in the trumpet section of The Buddy Rich Big Band–and his phone has been ringing ever since. For good reason; at every turn, Kadleck puts the music first, and more than takes care of business. He graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in 1989 and quickly hit the road with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Blood Sweat & Tears, and others. Eventually, Kadleck was in such high demand locally, for studio and stage work, that touring took a back seat. He played on countless jingles, scores for TV and film, and worked with the cream of the crop, including Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Issac Hayes, and most recently Steely Dan, Tony Bennett/Lady Gaga, Santana, Weezer, Steve Tyrell, and many, many others. In addition to an on-going abundance of freelance sideman work with NYC’s A-list artists, Kadleck is currently a member of many organizations, including the New York Pops, John Pizzarelli’s “Swing Seven”, the Maria Schneider Orchestra, John Fedchock’s NY Big Band, and can currently be heard on Broadway in the band for “MJ”.  

To say that Kadleck is a rare bird is a major understatement. Possessing the expertise, musical acumen, phrasing, range, chops, and the desire to handle gigs as diverse as the New York Pops and The Who (for example) with straight-ahead professionalism and excellence is not common. His prowess now bears fruit on his own project, Sides (to be released on Marshall Gilkes’ Alternate Side Records on February 10, 2023), which follows up his previous big band album, Around The Horn, and his debut as a leader, Extended Outlook.   

Somehow, Tony Kadleck found time in his bustling sideman schedule to expertly arrange nine of his favorite tunes for a star-studded big band recording, titled Sides, featuring Kadleck’s brilliant interpretations of Herbie Hancock’s “Driftin’”, Joe Henderson’s “Recorda-Me”, Jobim’s “Desafinado”, Bill Withers’ “Use Me”, another Hancock classic, “Dolphin Dance”, another Joe Henderson gem, “Caribbean Fire Dance”, one of Joni Mitchell’s biggest hits, “Both Sides, Now”, Paquito D’Rivera’s “One For Tom”, and “Can’t Buy Me Love”, from Lennon/McCartney.

The band on Sides is a dream band for sure, and probably could only be assembled in NYC, and most likely could only be corralled by a few people on the scene, Kadleck being one of them. Kadleck arranged solo spots for fellow trumpeters Greg Gisbert (on “Driftin’”), Marvin Stamm (on “Desafinado”) and Mike Rodriguez (on “Dolphin Dance”), and dazzles and delights us with his own solo flights on, “Use Me” (a wonderful example of the quintessential trumpet sound that Kadleck brings to the table), and “Both Sides, Now” (a beautiful, soul-stirring and poignant example of a world-class trumpeter and arranger at work, as is the entire album). Other artists featured on Sides include tenor saxophonist Jason Rigby on “Driftin’” (“whose technique and beautiful sound shine,” says Kadleck), Andy Snitzer on tenor saxophone (“one of the best in this genre,” proclaims Kadleck), “a fiery trumpet solo by the incredible Mike Rodriguez,” on “Dolphin Dance”, drummer Jared Schonig, the driving force behind Henderson’s spirited “Caribbean Fire Dance,” and Jon Gordon and Marshall Gilkes on “One For Tom,” of which Kadleck says, “Jon evokes the gorgeous sound and time feel of the great Phil Woods, and Marshall plays lines that we never knew were possible on the trombone.” 

When you really think about it, Sides has taken a lifetime to make. It is a culmination of thousands of hours of erudition, developing and maintaining the physical aspects of the trumpet, harmony and theory, sessions, gigs and tours, etc . . . really, a staggering amount of passion, love, work and experience goes into what you hear coming from Tony Kadleck’s horn, and from his colleagues on this album. Therefore, the release of Sides on February 10, 2023 is cause for reveling in the joy, excitement, wistfulness, and contemplation that these artists and this recording are capable of conjuring up.  

Emilio Teubal | "Futuro"

NYC based, Argentine pianist/composer Emilio Teubal presents his new recording (his sixth as a leader), Futuro. The title track, and most of the music on the album, was conceived of and composed during the initial lockdown in early 2020 for the newly formed, Emilio Teubal Post-Trio (w/ Pablo Lanouguere and Chris Michael). It is reflective of Teubal’s experience during this harrowing, uncertain time, with the added sadness of mourning the loss of his father. The music heard on this album came to life in the studio at the end of 2021 when the Post-Trio was joined by special guests, drummer Brian Adler (replacing Chris Michael who had a strong case of long-covid, and hasn’t recovered since), vibraphonist Chris Dingman, guitarist Fede Diaz, and clarinetist Sam Sadigursky. The resulting album is an eclectic, modern collection of singular music which represents Teubal’s rumination and contemplation about loss, grieving, and of course about the future; his own, and the world’s. 

Teubal explains, “Futuro (Future) is the word that synthesizes all those emotions that I felt during that period: the idea that suddenly we were living in a dystopian world not far from what is seen on those end-of-the-world movies I used to watch as a kid such as Mad Max and Blade Runner. On a more personal level, the loss of my dad in 2021 was a big part of the concept of “the future" that I had as a kid. Without much preparation, I found myself in a new reality that meant navigating a life without parents (is it even possible? I used to wonder)." Teubal pays tribute to his late father on the album’s closing tune, "Los Ultimos Seran los Primeros." “’The last one would be the first,’ is a phrase my dad would always use when I would lose a race or a game (probably against my brother). I finished writing this piece a few days before my dad passed in January 2021, so this is the last music he heard me compose and practice. This piece will always remind me of him, of those last days we spent together, and of how much I miss him. Closing this very personal album with this song felt like the right way to pay tribute to my dad,” says Teubal. 

Teubal also pays tribute to a dear friend who passed away recently, with the composition “Tokyo-Trenque.” Teubal elaborates, “I composed this piece in the style of Zamba (a rhythm/form from the north of Argentina), dedicated to Eduardo Garcia, a very close friend who we lost in 2019. Eduardo was born in Trenque Launquen, a small town in the middle of the Argentine Pampas, and he passed away in Tokyo, Japan. The title of the song refers to his departure and arrival destinations.” 

Futuro is a recording in which many different styles and genres organically coexist. Argentine music, especially the folk rhythms zamba, chacarera, milonga, etc, is a common language that keeps the music and musicians on the same page. However, it is far from being just an Argentine music record as Teubal is strongly influenced by modern jazz, classical music, rock, cinematic music, experimental, and even by Balkanic and Middle Eastern Music. This mixed bag, is represented in much of the music, including “Children of MMXX,” initially conceived using Chick Corea's Children's Songs as inspiration. “Next to the room where I have my piano, my then 7-year-old son was attempting to ‘go to school’ through Zoom. I felt for him, so I dedicated this piece to him and his generation; the kids who had to go through that horrible and disruptive experience during the pandemic,” explains Teubal. 

On “Remolinos (Tolerance)” a minimalistic piece that, instead of being inspired by classical minimalistic composers such as Phillip Glass or Steve Reich, was conceived as an homage to one of Teubal’s all-time favorite rock bands, King Crimson. “The addition of Chris Dingman's vibraphone opened up new possibilities on this tune, and others that he appears on. The subtitle of the song, Tolerance, was added later and it refers to the nickname that was given to the song by my son and my partner at the time, who had to listen to me and tolerated me practicing such a repetitive song. It’s also a wink to Crimson’s, Discipline. 

Los Que Fluyen (those that flow) is a Chacarera-infused song (Chacarera is a rhythm/song form/dance from the north of Argentina) that was part of the initial repertoire of the trio, but then acquired a new dimension in the studio thanks to the folkloric strumming of Fede Diaz’s guitar. Teubal comments that, “los que Fluyen” refers to a particular method of composing music that flows very organically for me, but it also refers to those situations in which things/energy flows smoothly and effortlessly (it can be friendships, relationships, musical ensembles, etc). We tend to stop and pay attention when those things don’t flow organically, but when they do, we don’t even notice it (and not noticing usually is a sign that things are flowing.) 

Other highlights on Futuro include Lennon-McCartney’s “Blackbird,” arranged in the style that fits the trio, with elements of Chacarera, odd meters, and a minimalistic cinematic coda, providing a snapshot of the heterogenous styles of the recording; “Rio” (titled by Teubal’s son after one listen), which works especially well with this trio due to, “drummer Chris Michael’s adeptness with South American grooves,” says Teubal; and “Tortuga,” a piece Teubal wrote for solo piano and featured on his previous album, Tides. “One of the most challenging and fun tunes for the trio to play. The version we recorded with the trio departs from the solo piano version thanks to the beautiful solo bass interlude that Pablo Lanouguere wrote, that eventually leads to a free improvisation that works as a contrast for all the written material,” explains Teubal. 

Deep funk kings The Mighty Mocambos release live album 'Scénarios' (funk / breaks)

The Mighty Mocambos and their many incarnations have released dozens of 45s and several albums on their own imprint Mocambo Records and other labels such as Kay Dee, Big Crown, Truth & Soul, Tramp, Légère and Favorite Recordings, to name a few. They have collaborated with musical legends such as hiphop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa, soul star Lee Fields, German composer Peter Thomas or master producer Kenny Dope, put new talent like Gizelle Smith and Caroline Lacaze on the map, brought Caribbean steel drums to funk clubs with their alter ego Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, and have toured through all civilized parts of the continent and beyond for the better part of the last years.

If their debut album “This Is Gizelle Smith & The Mighty Mocambos” from 2009 presented them as the backing band of soul siren Gizelle Smith, follow-up “The Future Is Here” in 2011 put them firmly on the map as their own distinct and self-sustained entity, exploring new collaborations with guest vocalists and providing the blueprint for what would become their modus operandi. By third album “Showdown“ from 2015 The Mighty Mocambos had cemented their standing and reputation as one of the recognizable and exciting funk bands out there.

Fourth album “2066“ was released in October 2019 and sets yet another cornerstone in their prolific career as a globally active instrumental funk outfit. While maintaining their organic approach of recording real musicians live on tape, the group has refined their trademark sound with a dramatic edge, a hard hitting production and ventures into less obvious musical territories, with a diverse list of special guests ranging from German film composer icon Peter Thomas to hip hop pioneer Ice-T, up and coming MC JSwiss and the golden girl of funk Gizelle Smith.

Their unique style and trademark sound are loved by peers, fans and critics alike and distinguishes them from mere retro-copycat-acts as well as overproduced plastic soul. The Mighty Mocambos continue to deliver their brand of funk with blazing horns, soulful guitars, driving drums and basslines combined with an extra bit of quirkiness. When not producing records for one of their many incarnations and collaborations, the band is touring steadily, witnesses of their concerts will tell you about the musicality, passion, energy, humor and joy that the band loves to bring to the stage and people.


Sunday, January 29, 2023

Soulful new self-titled album by Nathan Johnston & The Angels Of Libra

The Angels Of Libra are a 10-piece soul outfit from Hamburg with a high affinity to analog recording techniques, 60s soul revue concepts and film scores.

Born out of a recording session in a house in Denmark in which producer & guitarist Dennis Rux, keyboard player Chris Haertel, bassist David Nesselhauf and drummer Lucas Kochbeck spent two weeks writing and recording instrumental songs onto a 1980s TASCAM 388 8-track tape recorder, the project was originally intended to be a soul revue featuring various singers throughout the record. 

A few years previously, Rux had met Nathan Johnston at Clouds Hill Studios in Hamburg while working on their own separate projects. In a search for new voices, Rux asked Johnston if he would like to feature as a vocalist on one of the songs from the Denmark recordings. As a challenge to his own songwriting abilities (with no instruction as to the lyrical content/vocal melodies and complete freedom of expression) Johnston accepted the offer and a few months later sent a demo to Rux of the newly titled track – “Angel Of Libra”. 

After hearing it, the band decided to name themselves after the song’s title.

The newly appointed Angels Of Libra made their debut in March 2021 with digital single “Kung Fu Noir”, a cinematic instrumental with mysterious vibes. Their first physical release however, came almost a year later, in February 2022, with double-sider 45 “Bless My Soul” / “Souvenir” on Légère Recordings, featuring music whiz Shawn Lee getting down over two modern soul steppers: A-side “Bless My Soul” is a dreamy funk track with a catchy hook, while the B side, “Souvenir” is a proper feel good soul number. 

In the meantime, the band enlisted Johnston to come to Rux’s ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah!’ studios in Hamburg to write and record a full length album, featuring 10 tracks of their own compositions reminiscent of Air, Khruangbin or Ennio Morricone. 

The first single off that album is the moody and seductive “Angel Of Libra” set for release on June 3rd 2022 with Berlin-based label Waterfall Records, soon to be followed by the full-length, and more surprises…. stay tuned!

New Music Releases: Malcom Strachan, Eufórquestra, Joel Sarakula, Harry Bartlett Trio

Malcolm Strachan - Point Of No Return

Malcolm Strachan has been a pro trumpet player since he left the Leeds college of music in 1996. During his career he has worked with countless artists and toured the world with big international names such as Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Jamiroquai, The New Mastersounds, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, Craig Charles’s Fantasy Funk Band and has recorded on countless pop tracks with various artists. Malcolm, who is originally from Inverness, Scotland, formed horn section / funk band The Haggis Horns in 1998 after leaving the college with fellow Scots Atholl Ransome from Dunfermline and the late Jason Rae from Aberdeen. They started out doing various club residencies in Leeds and quickly gained a following after appearing on “Keb Darge presents The New Mastersounds” and soon later releasing their debut album entitled “Hot Damn” in 2007 on First Word Records. Fast forward to today and The Haggis Horns are still going strong and as a horn section and do regular tours and pop sessions. But before the band releases their fifth full-length on their own imprint Haggis Records, the time has finally come for Malcolm to drop his debut solo album “About Time”,  a gorgeous set of soul-jazz instrumentals that tip their hat to the great sound of Blue Note.

Eufórquestra - While We Still Got Time

Eufórquestra (pronounced yoo-FOHR-keh-struh, think euphoria+orchestra) is energy and rhythm personified. An ever-evolving sound that has been influenced by music from all over the world with an emphasis on funk, pocket and groove. Today marks the culmination of over two years of writing and recording for Eufórquestra, and they came out with a bang on their newest collection of songs, While We Still Got Time, out today.  Fans of the band will notice a  fresh and powerful sound that is based on Euforquestra's signature "modern funk with vintage soul," but also infuses current topics in a way that has not been realized before with strong, compelling pieces. In early 2020 the band journeyed to The Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they fully created new friendships and new vision that Eufórquestra brought back home and forged into the album While We Still Got Time, as shown on Congolese pop star Papa Wemba cover "Show Me The Way." Make no mistake, Eufórquestra's honest sound and cultural influence is on display once again for their latest and greatest contribution to their venerable catalog that made its way from Iowa to Colorado more than a decade ago and has continued to grow across the world for nearly two decades.

Joel Sarakula - Island Time

Joel Sarakula is a European-based Australian artist who writes, produces and sings soulful pop, gazing out at a contemporary world through vintage glasses, vintage threads and long blond hair: think Ray Manzarek fronting a 70s soul band. His music is informed by a rich, 1970s-inspired palette, drawing on soft-rock, funk and disco influences – sunny, uptempo jams for darker times. He may look like a long-lost Gibb brother but at live concerts an irreverent sense of humour is always there just below the fringe. Born in Sydney, currently based in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (via London) and international in outlook, Sarakula is a songwriter who has travelled the world in search of his muse, experiencing everything from being a victim of Caribbean carjackings to performing in the remote fishing villages of Norway before finally establishing his career in the UK and Europe in 2012. After spending 10 years based in London, he moved to The Canary Islands at the height of the pandemic. His experiences of island life lead to the creation of his upcoming album Island Time (due Jan 20, 2023). His previous albums Companionship (2020), Love Club (2018), The Imposter (2015) and The Golden Age (2013) have racked up generous plays, often on rotation across national UK and European radio and got him noticed in The New York Times, The Independent (UK), The Irish Times, Shindig! (UK), Stern (Germany), Rolling Stone Germany, El Pais (Spain) and Sydney Morning Herald.

Harry Bartlett Trio - Wildwood

Wildwood is an exciting new release by the Harry Bartlett Trio. Rooted in the jazz tradition, this album draws heavily on American Folk and Western styles. The trio’s unique, focused identity offers a fresh path through the infinite potential of improvised music. The compositions on Wildwood were written and recorded on Gambier Island BC over a 6 month period. The rugged, isolated character of the BC coast permeates into the songs, lending qualities of reverence and peace. Through this process Harry was working closely with Toronto based guitarist and composer Geoff Young who lent his wide ranging experience and razor sharp focus as an artistic advisor. The Harry Bartlett Trio features Harry Bartlett (guitars), Caleb Klager (bass and modular synthesizer), and Harry Vetro (drum set). The Trio began in 2018 with the release of a debut EP, The Harry Bartlett Trio, and has since performed extensively, appearing in major venues and festivals across Canada. The Trio was awarded the TD Niagara Jazz Festival Jazz for the Ages Award in 2020. This album is a thoroughly crafted set of music that appeals not only to the dedicated forward thinking jazz listener, but to anyone interested in creative new music of a high caliber. Wildwood was released on November 18th 2022.

The Deplar Effect by The New Mastersounds

For over two decades, The New Mastersounds have maintained more than just a reputation of longevity. Instead, they’ve cultivated a rare balance of consistency, yet commitment to constantly evolving their sound. Forged out of the golden age of the modern funk and soul revival in 1999, the band has amassed a catalog of sixteen albums, embarked on countless world tours, and drawn in a broad audience through both their original material and collaborations with esteemed vocalists and remixers. The group’s seventeenth album The Deplar Effect captures the band on a high after a two-year hiatus of in-person engagements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The band retreated to the brand new Floki Studios located down the valley of Eleven Experiences’ Deplar Farm in Troll Peninsula, Iceland to hunker down and immerse themselves in truly being in the zone.

Being surrounded by beautiful weather, snowcapped mountains, water, and the coziness of the brand new northern Icelandic studio had an “effect” on the band, as cited by guitarist and bandleader Eddie Roberts and further reflected within the wordplay of the album’s title. Fueled by their camaraderie and the energy in the room after their extended absence, there were several goosebump-inducing moments during the session. The album’s debut single “Gonna Get in My Way” was penned for the band by songwriter and vocalist Shelby Kemp of the Mississippi-based roots-rock group Royal Horses written from the perspective of a working musician. He elaborates that it’s an “inside looking out description of the struggles of finding and being one’s true self.” The track was then handed to vocalist Lamar Williams Jr. (son of the late Allman Brothers bassist, Lamar Williams) who joined the band in 2019 for their Billboard-charting album Shake It. While reflecting on the session, Williams notes, “We hit a groove where everyone got goosebumps and could feel it in their bones. The song goes into a spiritual realm with a line saying ‘I’ll try to fly if you do the same’ and it was reflective of what we were doing in the mountains with birds flying around and openness. It encapsulated the vibe of what was going on.”

Inspired by the harsh Icelandic climate, “Let Me In From The Cold” is a humorous song about a frosty relationship between a 'hard to get' woman and a man pleading for her affection also playing up to the Icelandic themes. Between Williams’ vocals and the band’s tight instrumental work and crisp turnarounds, the track is a highly danceable, uptempo nod to 60s soul reminiscent of Ray Charles and Mose Allison. “High on The Mountain” is inspired by classic Motown soul with some Curtis Mayfield-style bongos livening up the chorus. Roberts cites, “I wanted a contrast between the verses and choruses, reflecting the contract of the mountainous backdrop surrounding the studio." Keyboardist Joe Tatton adds, “The song has a hopeful, feel-good message about how things will come together. It was one of the first tracks written at Floki Studios.”

Longtime fans of The New Mastersounds’ instrumental quartet works will not be disappointed as the band honors their boogaloo and soul-jazz roots in “Watchu Want.” On every studio album to date, the band carries on a tradition of paying homage to The Meters with the first track of every album being bright and upbeat in the same spirit of the legendary New Orleans quartet. “Hot Tub” is a relaxed, mid-tempo groove allowing the pace to simmer and slow down, and relax.

From first to last note, the band revels in the experience of coming back together with the blank canvas of a new studio and living in the moment encompassed by the northern lights and eradicated from distractions. The Deplar Effect finds the band continuing to climb up the mountain top of never resting on laurels and their revolving doors of collaboration. It’s the culmination of their free-flowing musical vernacular, and adventurous spirit while at the same time, never completely reinventing the wheel. “At the point of release, you have to trust the process that the universe will accept it as you have delivered it—not try to be anything else but you,” says Williams. “We’re trying to come off with love and that’s the goal of each song.” 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Dom Salvador, Iconic Samba Jazz Musician, to Release New Album "Samborium"

This January, Dom Salvador will release “Samborium” a trio album that connects the legacy of his early works with an ever evolving side of his creativity. With Gili Lopes on bass and Graciliano Zambonin on drums, Dom explores an open, free way to approach his samba jazz, with influences from almost 50 years living in the USA. “Samborium” is a musical connection between generations and across national borders.

Dom Salvador was one of the creators of samba jazz in the 60’s with his legendary Rio 65 Trio with drummer Edison Machado and bassist Sergio Barroso. His iconic trio has influenced many generations across the world. In the early seventies Dom was responsible for the creation of the band Abolição (Abolition), a troupe that established the bases for the development of new sounds and tendencies in Brazilian music. The band that was credited with enriching the music scene with the creation of an explosive fusion of samba, soul, jazz, and funk.

Gili Lopes is a Brazilian bassist based in New York City who has been working regularly in the NY jazz scene and also around the world. Graciliano Zambonin, also Brazilian, works as a drummer and also teaches in NYC. Dom Salvador is now 84 years old and has decades of experience in the music industry. His latest album will soon be made available for sale online and in record stores. Anyone looking for the music can find it online at the following locations:

The album will also be on vinyl starting in February 2023.

Michael Feinberg | "Blues Variant"

An intriguing element of Michael Feinberg’s superb Criss Cross debut is that the leader could easily have titled it “Bassist In The Background” (Fans of Duke Ellington’s wonderful 1960 LP Pianist In The Background will know what I mean.) Throughout the ten selections that comprise Blues Variant (which include six tunefully percolating originals by Feinberg, one by tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger, one by pianist Leo Genovese, and an ingenious Feinberg arrangement of Herbie Hancock’s “Eye Of The Hurricane”), the 35-year-old bass maestro hews to the mantra, “If you want to hear me solo, come to a gig, where I often play a solo on every tune.” 

​“I’m serving the music,” Feinberg continues. “What I appreciate about a bass player is how they make the other people in the band sound. I love hearing the soloistic abilities of Christian McBride, John Patitucci, Dave Holland and the people I idolize, but they’re amazing because, when they play, it feels incredible and they push their bandmates to be the best versions of themselves or go beyond what they think they can do.” As another example, Feinberg mentions Jimmy Garrison, who triangulated between McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones with the “spiritually transcendent” John Coltrane Quartet between 1961 and 1965. “He rarely plays a solo, but you don’t get the Coltrane quartet with anyone else. So I don’t care about the solos, or being on top of the mix to indicate ‘this is a bass player’s record.’ I play a ton of notes. I’m playing the whole time. Can’t miss it.” 

​Feinberg’s remarks on the Garrison effect carry a certain gravitas; since the early 2010s, when he did The Elvin Jones Project, he’s delved into Coltrane’s repertoire on its own terms of engagement on numerous gigs, most of them featuring Preminger playing tenor saxophone and Ian Frohman on drums. On the pan-stylistic Blues Variant, he connects with the spirit of the great drum griot via the presence on three intense selections of Elvin alumnus Dave Liebman, Preminger’s teacher during student years who has often employed Frohman. Feinberg’s introduction to Liebman’s singular sound was Earth Jones, a 1982 Elvin-led release with Liebman, trumpeter Terumaso Hino, pianist Kenny Kirkland and bassist George Mraz. “I know every note of it,” Feinberg says. “I’ve been a fan of Dave’s playing for a long time.”

​An earlier Liebman-Preminger pairing is on Feinberg’s 2020 Steeplechase date, From Where We Came, which transpired not long after they met. The occasion was a Manhattan restaurant gig, where the septuagenarian saxophonist was dining with his daughter, rising-star publicist Lydia Liebman, who introduced them at set break. “I got his contact info, told him I was playing at Smalls the next month, and said, ‘If you want to play, there’s a gig for you,” Feinberg recounts. “Dave accepted. That began a beautiful relationship.” 

​In seizing the moment to align with Liebman, Feinberg was following a life-long predisposition to “create opportunities for myself – my hustler’s spirit; I’m always getting the wheels going, busy and active, trying to keep new, exciting things going on.” It’s an attribute he shares with Preminger, himself a two-time Criss Cross leader, a close friend since both moved to New York towards the end of 2000s. “I often have Noah in my mind’s ear because I know he’ll bring the right energy and treat the music with the proper respect,” Feinberg says. “He looks at music differently than most people. He’s one of the most technically virtuosic saxophonists – and that’s the least impressive thing about what he does. What really makes me feel his presence is the way he uses rhythm as a melody instrument in his playing, his long, slow phrases – and how he weaves theme and variation throughout a solo.” 

​The Feinberg-Genovese relationship is similarly long standing. “Leo is one my favorite musicians, a real artist, no ego,” Feinberg says. “He’s incredibly well-versed – he travels everywhere, soaks up cultural musical language, and performs with some of the best musicians from all over the world, playing regional ethnic music in their bands. He grew up in the countryside of Argentina and now he plays with Wayne Shorter. He’s like a shaman. He’s free, effortless in expressing himself in all times, in all situations.” 

​The corollary of Feinberg’s functional, groove-centric approach is a long-standing desire to play and record with such expansive drummers as Frohman, Billy Hart, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and – on Blues Variant – Nasheet Waits. “The drummer makes the band, always and forever, and picking the drummer is what the music is going to sound like,” he says. “With Nasheet, I appreciate the timbre, the sound he gets from the drums. He can bring out heavy and bring out light, and plays all my really hard music in ways that make it sound effortless. 

​“I’ve always been chasing Elvin – and Jack DeJohnette – sonically,” he adds. “Their ability to keep the foundational groove is always present, but also free, floating, melodic, compositional. You might think of Elvin as more like a bruiser than an artiste, but he brought forth to a magic feeling in the music like no else before or since – brushes, ballad; Afro-Latin, 12/8; swing, medium; down, up. However much he pushes and pulls the time, where it’s not really metric, BAM, he’s going to give you the one, which locks the whole thing. That’s what allows the ambiguity and contrast.” 

​Asked about his own time feel, Feinberg responds: “The music is alive, so it’s always changing. As long as the drummer and I are locked in, I can play on top of the beat or behind the beat – I know it won’t go to a bad place. But I don’t ever want to sit always in one place. The groove dictates the approach.”  

​Feinberg wrote most of the music contained herein during the pandemic with this personnel in mind, around the unifying concept of interrogating “the idea of what is the blues and presenting it in diverse, unique ways.” He first assimilated blues expression in his hometown, Atlanta, Georgia, where, by age 16, was playing professionally with such world-class practitioners as Russell Gunn and Bryan Hogans. His compositional endeavors began during freshman year at Frost Conservatory of Music in Miami, Florida, where – inspired by bassist-composer Ben Allison, and other contemporaneous New York “downtown” figures like Jim Black, Chris Speed, Chris Cheek, Andrew D’Angelo, Skuli Sverisson and the members of the Bad Plus – he organized Miami Creative Music Collective, which played original music by its members in monthly concerts. 

​“The idea of being a composer and having a band was popular amongst my peer group,” Feinberg says. “But I also played a lot of gigs – a blues band called Juke, Frank Sinatra night on South Beach with a crooner, different Latin gigs, endless jam sessions. I take the relationship with the audience seriously, not in a showman-performative way, but connecting with the general audience so they understand what you’re doing. Melodies, the feeling of blues and swing. A lot of great music is simple. What really inspires me artistically is contrast, and that comes across in all my music – contrast in styles, in instruments, in textures. Playing funk versus playing swing. Playing odd meters that feel like common time meters.” 

​As an instance of that last-stated juxtaposition, Feinberg cites the surging title track, which proceeds to an ostinato bassline in 13 that briefly transitions to swing at the end of the form. “The title ‘Blues Variant’ relates to the mutations of COVID-19, but also references theme-and-variations on the blues,” he says. “There’s a tonic, a subdominant and a dominant, and utilization of the blues scale and blues dominant chords, but it doesn’t sound like that to me – which is also part of the idea.” Genovese’s opening solo postulates fleet right-hand lines in counterpoint to a rollicking left-hand vamp with enviable independence. 

​On “Saqqara,” named for an ancient, historically important Egyptian village, Feinberg – whose maternal grandparents are Israeli – channels Middle Eastern roots. After a rubato intro, the flow transitions into an “exotic” refrain in 5/4, inspiring another scintillating Genovese solo. Waits seamlessly metric-modulates to brisk swing, propelling Preminger through a few choruses that wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the Hollywood epic Exodus, directed by Otto Preminger, his distant relative. 

​Genovese plugs in on Preminger’s “High or Booze” (rhymes with “minor blues”) which the saxophonist performed on his own 2022 Criss Cross release, Sky Continuous. “I got the idea for the project – non-traditional blues-based music – playing this tune on a gig with Noah and Nasheet,” Feinberg says. “It’s not an easy song.” Perhaps so, but the degree of difficulty isn’t discernible on this kinetic, elegant track, highlighted by the composer’s far-flung solo, Genovese’s texturally acute percussive comping; the leader’s angular bassline; and Waits’s force-of-nature drumming.  

​Waits’ funky backbeat underpins Feinberg’s “Healing Power of GRITS,” signifying not only the soul food staple grain, but also “Girls Raised In The South,” of whom his wife is one. “I wanted to do something in the spirit of Cannonball Adderley’s Mercy, Mercy, Mercy session or Ramsey Lewis – a groovy, ’60s-’70s soul jazz vibe,” Feinberg says. Again plugged in, Genovese elicits dark, kaleidoscopic Rhodes colors when soloing and when complementing Preminger’s declamation. 

​“I love playing the music of the tradition, but why play it the same way all the time?” says Feinberg of his metrically modulated treatment of “Eye Of The Hurricane,” provoking Liebman to uncork an effervescent, swinging soprano solo on the first of his three tracks. Genovese and Preminger follow suit. 

​Feinberg cites such ’70s-’80s Liebman waltz tunes as “Is Seeing Believing?’ as inspirating the ritualistic “The Water Spirit Brought Us, The Water Spirit Will Take Us Home.” After Feinberg’s well-wrought solo prelude, the ceremony continues with Liebman’s soaring soprano, Genovese’s mystically coruscating turn, and Preminger’s ascendant tenor statement, which channels Coltrane’s fire-in-stillness sound circa 1965-1966. 

​In response to Feinberg’s request for an unconventional blues, Genovese contributes the stately, spiky “Gather Power.” That sentiment seems to guide the solos – first Liebman, channeling Steve Lacy and Coltrane in his own argot; Genovese atonal, like Bley-meets McCoy, with crystalline touch; Preminger resolutely soulful; Waits incantationally Elvinistic. 

​After Feinberg’s spontaneously generated a cappella blues improvisation, poignant and honest, the recital continues with “vibey palate cleanser” – “Cycle Song,” a lovely melody based on a 4-bar loop. “This one really lets the musicians speak,” Feinberg says. “Again, it’s making something seemingly complex as simple as possible, making it easy to understand what we’re doing and feel the music.” Preminger’s tenor statement is a master class in melodic interpretation; Feinberg showcases his guitaristic electric bass conception; Genovese dances via on the Rhodes. 

​For dessert, Feinberg presents the set-closing “Year Of The Ox,” “a hyperactive, topsy-turvy explosion” that he wrote on Chinese New Year’s Day in 2020. Waits’s fresh, surging cascaras fuel apropos solos from each protagonist. 

​It’s a fitting wrap to a well-integrated musical banquet that fulfills Feinberg’s self-descriptive aesthetic mantra: “There’s a place for everything. But a lot of the greatest music – Kind of Blue, Weather Report, Oscar Peterson – is simple while also being incredibly sophisticated. It all comes down to authenticity.”

 — Blues Variant liner notes by Ted Panken


With Jonathan Barber, Noah Preminger, Axel Tosca

  • April 2 Hartford, CT - Public Library Baby Grand Jazz Series
  • April 29 Old Lyme, CT - The Side Door

With Tim Green, Davis Whitfield, Dana Hawkins

  • May 5-6 Savannah, GA - Good Times Jazz Bar
  • May 7 Durham, NC - Sharp 9 Gallery 
  • May 9 Baltimore, MD - An DIe Musik
  • May 10 Washington, DC - Blues Alley
  • May 11 Nashville, TN - Jazz Workshop

With Terreon Gully, Benito Gonzalez, Noah Preminger

  • May 20 Girona, Spain - Sunset Jazz
  • May 23 Valencia, Spain - Jimmy Glass
  • May 24 Bilbao, Spain - Jazz On
  • May 26 London, UK - Vortex
  • May 27-28 Frankfurt, Germany - Jazz Keller
  • May 29 Brno, Czech - Music Lab
  • May 30 Munich, Germany - Unterfahrt

Philip Lassiter | "Simmer Down”

11x GRAMMY award-winning arranger/trumpeter Philip Lassiter makes his Color Red debut with “Simmer Down,” featuring a vivacious 24-piece ensemble. Recorded live with 8 horns and a 6-piece vocal ensemble, Lassiter’s acclaimed arranging prowess is showcased with all players in the room recording simultaneously. The track exudes playful interplay between the horns and vocals over a groove that cross-pollinates funk and Latin influences with ear-twisting jazz harmonies and piercing guitar leads.

Written in tandem with longtime collaborator Brett Nolan, “Simmer Down” is a self-empowerment anthem for staying true to yourself and resisting the urge to be confined into a proverbial box whether it is creating music or walking your own path in life. “Simmer Down” is a direct reflection of Lassiter’s professional path that includes arranging and leading an 11-piece horn section for Prince that performed at the Montreal Jazz Festival, Essence Festival, North Sea Jazz Curacao, United Center Chicago, Arsenio Hall Show, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and more. The release comes off the heels of his prior live album "Live In Love" which featured David Paiche (Toto), MonoNeon, Durand Bernarr, members of Snarky Puppy, Ghost-Note, & 22x Latin GRAMMY. winner Juan Luis Guerra.

Rooted in Texas Funk, Alabama Gospel, New Orleans Jazz, and Nashville Soul, Philip Lassiter is an 11-time Grammy award winning horn/string arranger, and former section leader/arranger of Prince and the New Power Generation. 

Currently based in Amsterdam., Philip has quickly garnered respect as the go to arranger and trumpet player for iconic artists such as: Prince, Kirk Franklin, Ariana Grande,  Timbaland, Roberta Flack, Jill Scott, Rodney Darkchild Jerkins, Hamilton w/ Barack Obama, Cece Winans, Kelly Rowland, Fantasia, Anderson Paak, Yelawolf, Queen Latifah, Al Jarreau, Fred Hammond, The Isley Brothers, Marsha Ambrosia, Ledisi, Johnny Lang, Donald Lawrence, Anthony Hamilton, Richard Smallwood, Karen Clarke, Dorinda Clarke Cole, Bebe Winans, Ricky Dillard, Anita Wilson, Natalie Grant, James Fortune, John P Kee, Anthony Brown, Myron Butler & Levi, Regina Belle, Cory Henry, My Morning Jacket, Lee Ann Womack, Big & Rich, and more. 

Philip has performed on stages around the world such as the Essence Festival, Montreaux Jazz Fest, Jam Cruise 2020, United Center Chicago, North Sea Jazz Festival Curacao, Bonnaroo, Titan Stadium, The World Cafe in Philadelphia, Arsenio Hall, Jimmy Kimmel, and Jimmy Fallon. 

He was crowned winner of the 2000 International Trumpet Guild Jazz Solo Competition and is endorsed by Cannonball Instruments. 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Jazz Singer Allison Adams Tucker Releases "1977," the First EP in Her "RETRO Trilogy"

In today’s streaming world, the process to broadcast the news about an artist’s forthcoming album involves a series of catchy preview singles that leads to the actual release date of the full collection. In the case of internationally acclaimed jazz singer Allison Adams Tucker, she puts a unique twist on the model. Instead of introducing one tune, the vibrant and lucent vocalist releases three full EPs (six songs each) from January to March in anticipation of the April 14 release of her fourth CD, RETRO Trilogy on Allegato Music. "1977," the first of the three EPs, is available now.

Each EP zeroes in on the three decades of her evolved freedom of musical expression: the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s—from Cat Stevens to Paul Simon, from Tears for Fears to Prince, from Beck to Elizabeth Fraser with Massive Attack. From her folk-pop-punk and new wave past to her dive into jazz in 2005, Tucker says, “This album shows me stepping into music as an artist. These songs spoke to me the most.” The full album is a three-part “old school meets the digital age” jazz collection of re-imagined covers of songs that informed Adams Tucker as she blossomed into a popular singer and bandleader.

Recorded in New York and produced by Matt Pierson in 2019, RETRO Trilogy features the San Diego-based Adams Tucker assembling an A-team support band that includes Kevin Hays (piano, Rhodes and melodica) Tony Scherr (bass and guitars), Kenny Wollesen (drums and vibes), Yotam Silberstein (guitar), Peter Sprague (guitar) and Bashiri Johnson (percussion). Hip, jazz-kissed arrangements were delivered by Hays, Silberstein, Sprague, Adams Tucker, Josh Nelson and Danny Green. Unlike her previous album, 2016’s travelogue WANDERlust on Origin Records, Adams Tucker decided to forgo horns in hopes of a more acoustic setting dominated by keyboards and guitars.

To be streamed on January 13, the EP “1977” comprises songs that held meaning to Adams Tucker as she was growing up in a musical family that surrounded her with the popular sounds of the day. “I started singing before I could talk,” she says. “The ‘70s were the beginning for me, the start of the journey. The songs in this EP were the seeds that were planted in me.”

To Adams Tucker, the love-and-beauty ‘70s was very personal—hence her inclusion of Paul Simon’s 1975 gem, “Still Crazy After All These Years,” delivered as a longing ballad. The gentle, introspective take serves as the overarching focus for the entire RETRO Trilogy.

“1977” opens with Adams Tucker taking a buoyant ride through Cat Stevens’ lyrical “The Wind” from his 1971 Teaser and the Firecat album. Her dad played the song on guitar when she was young. “That was my gateway into music,” she says. The accompanying video reflects her lifelong appreciation of nature and the elements with dramatic imagery shot on the Big Island of Hawaii.

She dreams into the 1976 Queen hit, “You’re My Best Friend,” which introduced her to Freddie Mercury. “Freddie was the beginning of my punk/new wave expression in the ‘80s,” she says.

In addition to her vocal-looped original “Wonderland”—a complex song conceived of at the Alice in Wonderland statue in New York’s Central Park and co-written with Sprague— she ends the EP with her bright, cheery rendition of Jeff Lynne’s happy tune “Mr. Blue Sky,” from Electric Light Orchestra’s majestic 1977 album Out of the Blue. (The music video for “Wonderland” will be released with the full album in April).

Known for her ability to sing in six languages, Adams Tucker committed herself to including one foreign-tongue piece on each EP. She considers herself a linguist, and since she was brought up so close to the Spanish-speaking Mexican border, it all became natural to her. “My schtick from my early years as an emerging jazz artist was to sing in different languages,” she says. “But because I love all kinds of music, I did not want to be defined by that alone, so the RETRO concept was born.”

‘’1977” highlights the Portuguese rendering of David Bowie’s 1971 tune “Life on Mars” from his Hunky Dory album. It was recomposed into Portuguese by Brazilian artist Seu Jorge for use in Wes Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. “I loved Bowie’s music,” Adams Tucker says. “It was quirky, out of the box and the first I encountered to make a statement that pop music could be fine art. What Seu did with ‘Life on Mars’ was to make it a classic love song for the film.”

“1988,” to be released on February 10, opens with the spirited, Latin-infused “Bamboleo,” sung in Spanish in reference to the Gipsy Kings’ 1989 breakout hit. It’s a delightful rendering with an upbeat vibe and killer Hays and Silberstein piano-guitar solo exchanges. “The title means ‘sway’ in English,” she says. “It’s the embodiment of the love for music and dance in Latin American culture that exists in everyday life.”

The ‘80s shined as a rich period of pop music. Adams Tucker taps into that with romantic jazz-flavored covers of Peter Gabriel’s hit “In Your Eyes” and the Cure’s “Lovesong,” written by Robert Smith as a wedding gift to his fiancée. And Adams Tucker pays tribute to Prince, among pop star royalty of the ‘80s, with a somber take on his rare beauty, “Sometimes It Snows in April.”

“I was a Prince devotee,” Adams Tucker says. “I saw him live many times and even met him in Minneapolis. This is one of his lesser-known songs written about his character, (Christopher) Tracy, who died in April in the final scene of his second film Under a Cherry Moon. Interestingly, Prince also died in April, so this song has felt like a eulogy.

One of the most important songs of “1988” is the beauty “Woman in Chains” recorded by Tears for Fear on its 1989 The Seeds of Love album. It was written by Roland Orzabal with vocals by Oleta Adams and was championed at the time as a feminist anthem. But Adams Tucker says that the song pays attention to a poignant side that includes domestic abuse and human trafficking. “I sang it to bring attention to that dark topic in respect and love.” She adds that the video for the track puts an inspirational spin on the subject with an emphasis on empowerment.

The last EP, “1999,” to be released on March 10, rolls out with a huge splash: Adams Tucker’s fun romp through Beck’s “Tropicalia” from his 1998 Mutations album. It’s his observations on Brazil complete with Adams Tucker’s fully arranged spins. It’s funky, cool, raw and features her opening with a startling vocal distortion. She happily says that the supporting video is “hallucinogenic.”

Another highlight is Adams Tucker’s vivid, balladic version of Annie Lennox’s “Why” from her first solo album, Diva, in 1992. “She’s my female David Bowie,” she says. “We slowed down the tune. It’s a tearjerker for me.” She also puts new life into electronica trip-hop Massive Attack’s “Teardrop,” with a grooving beat by Bashiri Johnson on percussion and Kenny Wollesen on vibes. The song was built on a sampled riff with melancholic lyrics composed by former Cocteau Twins’ singer Elizabeth Fraser. She based the song partly on her fascination with French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s 1942 essay “L’eau et les rêves” (Water and Dreams).

Other tunes include the hummable “Birdhouse in Your Soul” by the nerdy, quirky band They Might Be Giants and John Ondrasik’s profoundly reflective “100 Years” (only included on the EP). As for the foreign-language number, Adams Tucker scats and sings in French to the engaging Sting/Dominic Miller tune, “La Belle Dame Sans Regrets,” which was used as a protest against France’s above-ground nuclear testing that thankfully ended in 1996.

“It’s my homage to beloved Paris, and a slightly political moment on the album,” says Adams Tucker, who has a strong audience of French lovers worldwide thanks to her interpretation of “La Vie En Rose.” The 2009 soundtrack of the popular video game “The Saboteur” included Adams Tucker singing another French song unavailable to the public, and this caused “La Vie en Rose” to go viral in the gaming community, garnering Adams Tucker significant worldwide downloads and streams that continue today. 

In many ways, RETRO Trilogy is a healing tool for Adams Tucker, a reflection of beautiful and meaningful times. She says, “It’s retrospective, but also represents a look ahead.”

Nicholas Brust | Daybreak"

Heralded as one of the premiere saxophonists of his generation, Boston-based Nicholas Brust has established his voice, both as an instrumentalist and a composer, in the world of modern instrumental music. He has found his niche as a bandleader and composer, taking advantage of the numerous textures and combinations available in small-group improvised music, evident on his new recording, Daybreak, featuring Brust with guitarist Lage Lund, pianist Julia Chen, bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Gary Kerkezou. The album will be released on Outside In Music on February 17, 2023. 

Daybreak is the follow up recording to Brust’s debut full-length album, Frozen in Time, released on Fresh Sound in 2020. The album has received international critical acclaim from All About Jazz, Jazz Journal UK, Modern Jazz Today, Rootstime Music, and the Jazz Quad, among many others. Marc Philiips of Part-Time Audophile exclaimed, “It’s as if one of your favorite movie stars from long ago suddenly started telling you about all the secrets of the universe.” 

Nicholas Brust has a crystalline sound, imbued with a life force, vitality and exuberance that is addictive. As Dan Bilawsky stated in All About Jazz, "this leader's skills and solid intuition move beyond his writing and performing, as his personnel choices also reflect excellent taste." Indeed, his band is in lockstep with him throughout every tune on Daybreak, making for an elevated listening experience. Brust and his music sound at once completely familiar and brand new; in the tradition, while breaking new ground. He is influenced by the likes of Pat Metheny, Brian Blade, George Coleman, Robert Glasper, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kenny Garrett, and Roy Hargrove, among others, and he seems to have taken the best qualities of these stalwarts and forged them into his own elements. “Not only does Brust impress with his versatile playing, but he reveals a flair for composition that sufficiently nods to tradition without the usual predictable patterns, finding a nice balance with more modern jazz sensibilities. He delivers a colorful well-conceived debut that already has us anticipating his next recording,” said Jim Hines in Making A Scene.

About the music on Daybreak with Nicholas Brust:

“Absence of You,” is about the necessary development of artistic independence and its accompanying isolation. “It is both crucial and challenging for artists to balance the isolation of practicing with time spent with others.”

“Diamonds and Clubs,” is a continuation of a suite that Brust started with “Hearts and Spades,” released on, Frozen in Time. “Both pieces begin with a bowed bass introduction, and this one reminds me of a glimmering diamond.”

“Mind’s Eye”: This composition, “plays with similar melodies in two different keys, as though one is being remembered slightly differently than the original.”

“For Wisdom” is a tribute to Roy Hargrove and the inspiration his music and presence on the NYC jazz scene had on Brust as a musician.

“To Carry the Torch” reflects on the, “complex circumstances and responsibilities each generation inherits from the previous one, and the care we take when we ourselves pass them along.”

“Suspense in Blue” is Brust honoring the importance of the blues. “It has connected just about every genre of music (and subgenres of jazz) for generations and continues to be relevant today.”

"Daybreak,” the title track, was the guiding force for the album’s concept. The melody, encompassing two octaves, was inspired by the possibilities of a new day. “You can hear the sun coming out with a burst of energy, followed by the day’s first shadows. It’s ultimately about making the most of the opportunities that each day brings us. On a more personal note, It is about things coming anew, from the birth of my son to the reemergence of live music in a post-Covid world.”

“In This Moment”: “Spending time with loved ones has only become more precious as I’ve gotten older, and the birth of my son this past year sharpened that feeling. This song is meant to encapsulate the feeling of the fleeting, priceless time spent with the ones you love.”

“The Tempest”: Brust’s attempt to capture the structure of a storm in song - the foreboding, the destruction, and the peace of the aftermath.

“Ballad of a Sea Porpoise”: “The piano and guitar combination, without saxophone, reminds me of being underwater. Writing this song, I wanted the listener to imagine living their whole life submerged.”

“A Midsummer Night” is a contrafact written over the changes of “You Stepped Out of a Dream” by Nacio Herb Brown and is also a reference to Shakespeare. “The rhythms of the melody are meant to reference Shakespeare’s twisting, turning plots.”

Brust has performed with numerous highly acclaimed musicians, including Gilad Hekselman, The Peter Silver Big Band (sharing the stage with Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Owens, Steve Wilson and others), guitarist Ben Eunson, Kristina Koller (appearing in her Quintet at the 2020 NYC Winter Jazz Fest), and many others. The saxophonist/composer is currently on faculty at New England Conservatory, in addition to maintaining his own private studio.

Nicholas released an EP of original music entitled Brooklyn Folk Songs in January 2015, which, “showcases a set of original compositions that infuse sturdy melodies with a rich, contemporary harmonic palette...like the borough for which it’s named - encompasses a variety of moods along with its own unique accent” (David Kastin). Since then Brust has continued to showcase his compositional and improvisational talents both on his previous recording Frozen In Time (Fresh Sound, 2020), and in a series of videos that can be found on his YouTube channel. Brust has a Master of Music in jazz performance from New England Conservatory as well as a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies and music education from the Eastman School of Music.

New Music Releases: WaJazz – Japanese Jazz Spectacle Vol 2, Andrew Cyrille, Tim Carman Trio, The Jazz Room – Compiled By Paul Murphy

WaJazz – Japanese Jazz Spectacle Vol 2 – Deep, Heavy, & Beautiful Jazz From Japan 1962 to 1985 – The King Records Masters

A wonderfully wide-ranging look at the more unique aspects of Japanese jazz from the 60s onward – a set that mixes together spiritual tracks, bossa nova, and some surprisingly soulful tracks too – all from records that were only ever issued in Japan! If you've heard the great first volume, you'll know what to expect here – but we can also say that the scope of work here might even be better, and there's some great surprises along the way – especially on cuts that show the way these Japanese jazz musicians have taken some inspiration from American music, then really run far in their own new directions with the work. Titles include "Yamame" by Akira Miyazawa, "Loving You" by George Otsuka, "Down To The Sea" by Yoshio Ikeda, "Clair Deluge" by Toshiyaki Yokota & The Beat Generation, "Saynoara Blues" by Hideo Shiraki, "Blossom In The Water" by Masao Yagi, "Day Of The Sun" by Masahiko Togashi & Isao Suzuki, "Summer Wind" by Yasuko Nagamine & Yasuaki Shimizo, "Desireless" by Masahiko Togashi, "Lady Boogie" by Takeru Muaroka & His New Grup, "Constant Rain" by Tadao Sawai & Toshiyuki Miyama, and "Ma Mere L'Oye" by Jun Date & Masayki Takayanagi. ~ Dusty Groove

Andrew Cyrille - Music Delivery/Percussion

A hell of a record from the great Andrew Cyrille – and one that lives up to his key legacy of solo percussion records from back in the day! Cyrille's very first date as a leader was a solo percussion set – and for years, he's continued to be one of the best performers in the mode – as musical as he is rhythmic, with a touch on the instruments that's been groomed in so much other work with others, but which has this sense of warmth and personality in a solo setting that seems to go far beyond anything else that Andrew ever does! The set has a nicely large array of percussion instruments – all woven together into a wonderful tapestry of sound by Cyrille – on titles that include "Water Water Water", "Jumping In The Sugar Bowl", "Enter From The East", "Bernard Albert Wilkinson", "Thruway", and "Tambourine Cocktail". ~ Dusty Groove

Tim Carman Trio - Key Lime

Drummer Tim Carman is best known for his work in the bluesy trio GA-20, but here he's in much more of a jazz-based mode overall – leading a trio that features some stunning organ work from Ken Clark, a player we don't know at all, but who clearly knows how to channel the best soul jazz styles of the 60s! There's a fierce, freewheeling vibe to the cuts – not funk, but more classic organ jazz – supported throughout with equally strong work on guitar from Steve Fell. If we had to come up with a reference for the vibe, we might go back to the 60s trio work of Don Patterson with Pat Martino and Billy James – and that's a heck of a compliment from us! Titles include "Blues For Bob", "Buster Rides Again", "Insomnia", "Sonnymoon For Two", "Not A Tear", "Key Lime", and "Scoochie". ~ Dusty Groove

The Jazz Room – Compiled By Paul Murphy

A really great collection of jazzy groovers – one that effortlessly combines older material and newer recordings, all with a great ear that never tires in its pursuit of the groove! The blend of old and new is a bit like some of the collections we used to love from Gilles Peterson back in the last century – but Paul Murphy definitely has his own style and way of choosing a tune, and like Peterson, he has a great way of setting a new sort of fire with jazz – one that will burn strongly for generations to come! Titles include "Yatra-Ta" by Terje Terasmaa, "African Mailman" by Rhythmagic Orchestra, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Blue Mode, "Foot In The Door" by Onward International, "Zombie" by Art Ensemble Of Chicago, "Emnete (live)" by Imperial Tiger Orchestra, "4 Beat Cha Cha Cha" by Lucas Van Merwijk & His Cubop City Big Band, "Tribute To Mulatu" by Patchworks, "Koumba Fri Fri" by Mamelon, "Sorrow Tears & Blood" by Shola Adisa Farrar & Florian Pellissier Quartet, and "Mambo De La Pinta" by Art Pepper. ~ Dusty Groove

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Emilie-Claire Barlow | "Spark Bird"

During the dark isolation days of the coronavirus pandemic, award-winning Canadian songstress Emilie-Claire Barlow found herself at an artistic crossroads. She questioned if she would ever want to make another record to add to her impressive 12-album oeuvre. She hadn’t been able to tour and she wasn’t aroused to assemble a new collection of songs.

In her 25-year career of delivering a distinctive and accessible style of vocal jazz, Barlow has accrued a remarkable resume of critical success, including seven Juno nominations, with two jazz vocal Juno awards—2013’s best Jazz Vocal Recording for her all-French song collection Seule ce soir and her Clear Day collaboration with the Metropole Orkest winning the same award in 2016. Also in 2013, Barlow scored a Felix Award for Seule ce soir as ADISQ’s Album of the Year—Jazz Interpretation. Previously, she had been named Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2008 National Jazz Awards.

So, despite the pause time of recent years, you can’t fully quiet a vital creative artist. Case in point: Barlow’s return to action with her brilliant new album, Spark Bird, that she co-produced with her partner Steve Webster.

After a five-year hiatus from releasing a full album, this year finds Barlow in fine Spark Bird shape to wing her career to a new plateau. Little did she guess during the dark times that a daily visit from a yellow-winged cacique that is native to the southern Pacific Coast of Mexico would inspire her to dedicate an entire album of songs to birds of all shapes and varieties.

Released on her own independent label, Empress Music Group, which she founded in 2005, Spark Bird takes flight in its entirety on March 31. As Barlow writes in her liner notes, “A bird arrives and changes everything.” Before its debut, she is offering a cascade of singles, beginning January 20 and continuing every two weeks until the release date. “Birds have the power to completely transport me,” says Barlow, who splits her time between Toronto and Mexico where she and Webster are building a house with a fully operational studio. “So, when I decided to do the album, I started going down this path of gathering songs about birds. They’re my joy, my fascination. These songs tell a story.”

The first hatching comes with Barlow delivering a bright jazz voyage into the Harold Arlen-Yip Harburg standard, “Over the Rainbow” (the single released on January 20). Relaxed yet energetic, Barlow leads the way for her quintet to soar into a percussive bossa swing. True to her theme, she buoyantly sings, “If bluebirds fly over the rainbow, why can’t I fly?”

Barlow follows the first single on February 3 with the playful single “Fais comme l’oiseau” (translated: “Do Like the Bird”) where she delightfully sings in French the hopeful voice of bird-like patience while swinging with tenor saxophonist Kelly Jefferson’s lyrical lines. Choral translation: “Act like a bird/It lives on pure air and fresh water/On a bit of hunting and fishing/But nothing ever stops it from going higher.”

Both singles offer a fresh beginning to a captivating eight-song avian journey that began with the magical cacique incident.

“In our Mexican home, the biodiversity is incredible,” Barlow says. “The bird activity is off the charts. My first personal experience came when a bird kept tapping on the window of our guest room and squawking loudly. When I tried to catch a glimpse, it would fly out. So we set up a camera and caught this wonderful, comical activity of a yellow-winged cacique that I discovered was a very common bird for this area. I started spotting them everywhere and hearing them—their vocabulary fascinates me.”

She started to tune into the variety of bird voices that she says is a “constant soundtrack,” with rhythmic tapping, high-pitched whistles, piercing calls, soft sporadic whistles, diatonic melodies. “It’s the closest thing to living in an aviary,” she says. “As the sun appears, you hear the orchestra warm up. Birds are nature’s musicians.”

Barlow hastens to note that while she is not a member of an organized birder group, her appreciation of the choirs and colors of birds has heightened her passion to learn more about her winged discoveries.

Other bird songs include a show-stopping, uptempo reimagining of Stevie Wonder’s 1974 hit “Bird of Beauty” (part of the chorus encouraging ”Take a chance and ride the bird of beauty of the sky”). Then there’s Barlow’s unique sexy, romantic, blues-touched read of the Hoagie Carmichael/Johnny Mercer standard “Skylark” with a surprising swell of strings arranged by Drew Jurecka. On the Gershwin & Gershwin classic tune, “Little Jazz Bird,” Barlow swerves from the obvious with the playful song—adding in another popular melody from the ’20s, “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)," as a countermelody and ending the song with guitarist Reg Schwager’s solo that Barlow uses for a noteworthy stretch of vocalese.

Barlow sings deep into the mystery and longing of the futuristic “Where Will I Be?”—“When there’s no more rain, no more sun/Will there still be birds?”—by the Toronto-based composer Hannah Barstow who plays piano on the track and in Spanish renders Manolo Garcia’s “Pájaros de Barro” in a duo format with pianist Chris Donnelly as the appropriate closing song about seizing the day and flying free.

The most poignant song of the collection is Barlow’s moving take on Coldplay’s “O” that was arranged by band pianist Amanda Tosoff. “This song has a special meaning,” the singer says. “I tragically lost a young family member in a plane crash. He and I and his mom were big fans of Coldplay, so the lyrics of ‘fly on’ are so relevant. I played this at his funeral. For this album version, we used strings and Rachel Therrien offers a melancholic, mournful flugelhorn solo.”

In addition to the bird songs of joy and sorrow on Spark Bird, Barlow has worked with graphic designer Caroline Brown of Whitebear Design to create original bird illustrations. “Caroline’s avatars for each song are so whimsical, playful and special,” Barlow says. “And she has me interacting with them in some way. There’s a happy orange-breasted bunting for ‘Over the Rainbow,’ a graceful and solitary great blue heron for the darkness of ‘Fais comme l’oiseau,’ a flock of swallows for ‘O,’ a ridiculously cute Australian pink robin for ‘Little Jazz Bird.’ And the signature bird for ‘Pájaros de Barro’ is my yellow-winged cacique.”

So, Spark Bird ends with the noisy, comical bird that served as the inspiration for her soulful, emotive music. In her liner notes, Barlow writes, “When that cacique tapped on my window, I felt a spark. Not just a budding bird obsession, but the curiosity and desire to see what life would be like if I spent more time in this place that makes me feel so buoyant and full of wonder…the birds—a constant source of joy and inspiration—have reignited my spark. For that, I’m full of gratitude.”

2023 Tour Dates

  • Mar 25 - Minneapolis, MN - Crooners Supper Club
  • Mar 26 - Austin, TX - Parker’s Jazz
  • Mar 29 - San Antonio, TX - Jazz, TX
  • Mar 31 - New York, NY - Birdland 
  • April 1 - New York, NY - Birdland
  • April 2 - New York, NY - Birdland
  • April 5 - Denver, CO - Nocturne 
  • April 6 - Boise, ID- Sapphire Room
  • April 7 - The 1905  - Portland
  • May 26 - Quebec, QC - Palais Montcalm
  • May 27 - Delray Beach, FL - Arts Garage
  • July 6 - Montreal Jazz Fest - Monument National
  • July 21 - Campbellford, ON - Westben The Barn Series


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