Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Messthetics And James Brandon Lewis

Instruemental trio, The Messthetics joins forces with acclaimed jazz-saxophonist James Brandon Lewis for their forthcoming self-titled album, The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis. The album is set to release on March 15th via the legendary jazz label Impulse! Records. Alongside the album's announcement, The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis share the lead single "Emergence," which arrives with a visualizer created by The Messthetics' Brendan Canty.

On the heels of their performance at this year's Winter Jazz Fest in NYC last weekend, The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis will bring their collaborative sound on the road for a string of eight performances across the country including sets at Treefort Music Fest in Boise on March 21st and Big Ears Festival in Knoxville on March 23rd, along with a date supporting bar italia in Nashville on March 25th before a run of five headline shows. In May, The Messthetics will hit the road again for four headline shows without James Brandon Lewis ahead of a string of eight shows with James joining them on stage.

The Messthetics formed in 2016 and is made up of the rhythm section from renowned DC punk band Fugazi, with Joe Lally on bass and Brendan Canty on drums, along with experimental and jazz guitarist Anthony Pirog. Praised saxophonist James Brandon Lewis hails from New York City and first joined the trio on stage in 2019 and again in 2021, which sparked inspiration for the quartet to create an album together. The nine tracks of The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis were recorded in just two days in Maryland with engineer Don Godwin. The album captures the combustive chemistry the four musicians felt on stage while performing together and expands on the collaboration in all directions.

Though the configuration heard on The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis is relatively new, it builds on long-standing musical relationships. Lewis and Pirog first met around a decade ago at a session led by free-jazz drummer William Hooker and instantly hit it off, going on to work together extensively in Lewis’ own groups. “Since day one of knowing Anthony, me and him just fit,” says Lewis, now widely acclaimed as one of the most compelling bandleaders on the contemporary jazz scene. “We looked at each other after that William Hooker session, and we was like, ‘Damn, this shit is on point.’”

Lally and Canty of course share a similar brotherhood, rooted in the 15 years they spent touring the world as the supple yet rock-solid rhythm section for Washington, D.C.’s iconic Fugazi. “I play differently with Joe than I play with anybody else,” Canty says. “He creates this foundation that I call a very sturdy jungle gym for all of us to play on. He keeps it dubby and rhythmic, and there’s a lot of times where there’s a sixth sense — there's things that happen between us when we're playing that there’s no accounting for except for the fact that we've been playing together for 30 years.”

Lewis likens the experience of playing with Lally and Canty to his work with various jazz elders. “The way I revere them is the same way that I revere playing with Jamaaladeen Tacuma or playing with William Parker,” he says, citing a pair of esteemed veteran bassists. “It's a certain road experience that you can't get in school.” He also appreciates that he can hear the rich musical heritage of their hometown in their sound. “Growing up in the D.C. area, Brendan and Joe are familiar with go-go, with all of the stuff from the area,” he says. “So I will say that the time feel — it don't get no better than that. It's like a well-oiled machine playing with them.”

That steady rhythmic backbone, coupled with Pirog’s omnivorous guitar approach — which draws freely on jazz, punk and everything in between — gave the Messthetics a huge sonic palette right from the start, showcased on both their self-titled 2018 debut and 2019’s Anthropocosmic Nest. But Pirog had always been curious what his friend Lewis might add to the band, leading to him extending the invite for the saxophonist’s initial 2019 sit-in, which took place at New York’s Winter Jazzfest.

Pre-order / save The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis and check out "Emergence" above, see full album details and tour dates below, and stay tuned for more from The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis coming soon.

Impulse! Records' Dahlia Ambach-Caplin (SVP of A&R and Artist Development) and Kris Chen (A&R for the project) on working with The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis:

“The Messthetics truly represent the intersection of jazz and punk’s shared spirit of innovation and exploration. James Brandon Lewis is such a remarkable voice in the modern jazz world, and this incredible document of his recording with The Messthetics perfectly encapsulates both the legacy and the now of where Impulse! stands as a label.”

The Tibbs - Keep It To Yourself

Dutch soul veterans The Tibbs are back with their highly anticipated new album Keep It to Yourself, out Today on LP, CD and digital format on Milan-based label Record Kicks. Produced by Paul Willemsen (Michelle David) and mastered in Nashville by soul veteran Bob Olhsson, who used to cut vinyl for Motown back in the day, the new album Keep It to Yourself is the band’s third Long Play. It contains 12 fresh ‘n vibrant tracks that once again will take you back to the golden days of soul music. Prepare to be swept away on a groovy, soulful odyssey with one the most sensational and enchanting soul bands of the contemporary scene!

From the very first note, The Tibbs’ musical prowess exudes a soulful, funky energy that is nothing short of mind-blowing. Among the 12 new tracks of Keep it To Yourself, we find the first single “Ain’t It Funny”, a high-energy stomper that sets the tone for the entire album, the New Orleans funk inspired “Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks” and “Chicken Bones”, “In Orbit”, an emotional and heartfelt love ballad that allows the velvety vocals of singer Roxanne to take center stage or the northern soul belter “Give Me A Reason”.

Lyrically, Keep It to Yourself is a poetic wonderland, delving into the depths of love, heartache, but also social issues and the need to preserve the world we’re in. Roxanne’s vocals, rich and velvety, take you on a euphoric journey through the peaks and valleys of human emotion. The harmonious blend of the horn section weaves an exhilarating tapestry of sound that can only be described as a symphonic supernova. The rhythm section is an unstoppable force, driving each track with a pulsating groove that is pure sonic adrenaline. Keep It to Yourself is a true tour de force, a symphony of soul that will leave you awe-inspired, foot-tapping, heart-soaring, and utterly enthralled.

Based around Amsterdam, The Tibbs is a group of seasoned musicians who draw inspiration from the timeless music of the 1960s, channeling the emotional depth and raw authenticity of that era's classics. Led by their charismatic female vocalist Roxanne Hartog and backed by a powerhouse lineup of drums, guitar, bass, organ and a three-piece horn section, they have been wowing audiences with their live performances. They took off in 2012 working right from the start with producer Paul Willemsen (Michelle David & The True-Tones). In 2016, their first LP Takin' Over marked their debut with Milan-based imprint Record Kicks, while their sophomore album Another Shot Fired was released in November 2020. Now, with their third album Keep It to Yourself, a testament to their dedication to keeping the soulful spirit alive, The Tibbs are once more ready for lift off.

The Neal Kirkwood Big Band - Night City

Night City, The Neal Kirkwood Big Band is, all at once, playful, urbane and exuberant. The musicians and the compositions conjure up hopes and dreams, bring to mind the magnificence and tawdriness of city life, and paint sound portraits which evoke breathtaking landscapes. Kirkwood’s melodies can be wistful, they can be mysterious, or uplifting. You will feel as if you’ve returned home with this album if you have spent time in a big city past midnight, with smoke billowing from the streets, parties in full flow, couples heading home, and many just heading out, characters hustling, the rhythm of traffic and of the subway underneath your feet, and of course music, emanating from everywhere.

Night City is pianist/composer Neal Kirkwood’s eighth recording, but his first big band album. Kirkwood has been writing music for big bands and large ensembles for over forty years, and Night City reflects his musical journey. The album also embraces the history of big bands through their many manifestations, from the 1920s into today. Night City opens with “Prelude: Invitation,” which is a lively rhythmic etude, introducing the listener to the band. Next up is “Eve’s Garden,” which Kirkwood describes as, “an outdoor drama, from unfolding beauty to battles with critters and ultimate triumph.” The lovely solos are from Ron Horton on flugelhorn and Kirkwood on piano. “Jim Knew” was written in memory of playwright Jim Neu, “the most knowledgeable jazz aficionado I ever met. He was the ideal listener, because whatever you played, Jim knew!,” explains Kirkwood. Bassist Jennifer Vincent and drummer Rob Garcia get things swinging, and we hear solos from trumpeter Andy Gravish, and alto saxophonist Bruce Williamson. “Paddy Harmon’s Dreamland Ballroom” is an homage to Chicago in the 1920s, and the colorful character Paddy Harmon, owner of the Dreamland Ballroom in Chicago. Kirkwood elaborates, “Paddy financed the introduction of the Harmon mute, used by brass players to create a unique timbre.” Featured soloists are Dan Block on clarinet and David Smith on trumpet. “Skywalkers,” which was commissioned for a tap dance piece, features Willie Applewhite on trombone and Adam Kolker on tenor sax, with the entire band chiming in for some riveting moments. 

Other highlights on Night City include, “When I Hear That Serenade In Blue,” originally a setting of Jack Kerouac’s poem from Mexico City Blues for jazz vocal ensemble. After a piano introduction, Diana Herold takes the lead vocal line on the vibraphone, and we hear James Zollar on trumpet. The title track, “Night City,” was inspired by Maurice Lapp’s painting of the same name. Kirkwood explains, “this composition imagines a night on the town with two musician friends. Their adventure begins quietly but soon the conversation becomes lively. Things get a little crazy and wild, but as dawn approaches they head home amicably, contemplating the wonders of the city at night. The two friends are portrayed by James Rogers on bass trombone, and Ed Neumeister on trombone. “Alaskan Serenade” is dedicated to saxophonist/composer Harry Mann, and was composed for the great Ellington trombonist Britt Woodman. The featured soloist is Art Baron, who worked with Ellington’s last band. David Smith takes the trumpet solo. On “Interlude: Play” we are treated to lovely and intriguing duet for marimba, performed by Diana Herold and Neal Kirkwood. “Monolithic Attitude” is one of Kirkwood’s earliest compositions, and features Matt Hong on soprano sax, Adam Kolker, James Zollar, Willie Applewhite and Patience Higgins trading fours and soloing collectively; and the composer soloing on piano. Kirkwood explains that, “this music depicts an epic confrontation, and I hope it resolves satisfactorily!” The album closes with a dedication to Kirkwood’s memories of Bill Evans. “The Light of Birds” gets its title from the last line of Jacques Prévert’s poem Au Hasard Des Oiseaux (“Birds, At Random”). It features the composer on piano with flute work by Matt Hong and Adam Kolker.

More about Neal Kirkwood: Pianist, composer, and educator Neal Kirkwood’s main ensemble right now is his seventeen-piece ensemble, The Neal Kirkwood Big Band, featured on Night City. Throughout his long career he has also composed for classical ensembles, vocal ensembles, solo piano and full orchestra. He has received commissions from the New York State Music Fund; the New York State Council for the Arts; the Children’s Aid Society; the Jazz Composer’s Alliance and Belgian ensemble, Octurn. His melodic, harmonically rich compositions draw from Ellington, Gil Evans, Stravinsky, Bartok and others. His music has been described by Tim Page as, “simultaneously modernist and immediately appealing: lyrical, gracious and rhapsodic in character.” As a band leader and soloist, Kirkwood has released seven albums: Piano Stories (2022), Welcome To My Dream (2021), Blue Inventions (2019), The Neal Kirkwood Octet, The Chromatic Persuaders, Extrospection and Time’s Circle.

Kirkwood has performed and recorded with jazz artists Pony Poindexter, Bobby Previte, Lindsey Horner, Phillip Johnston, Mike Clark and others. He has toured internationally with vocalists Bobby McFerrin, Abby Lincoln, Michel Hermon, and Chris Connor. Kirkwood continues to work extensively as a composer and performer with NYC's creative and experimental theater ensembles, and has composed new music for Ralph Lee’s Mettawee Theater for twenty years. He has also composed songs and incidental music for playwright Jim Neu productions and has worked with experimental theater directors Joseph Chaiken and Anne Bogart.

Nina’s Back, the 1985 Album from Nina Simone

Verve Records announces the release of Nina’s Back, the 1985 album from Nina Simone. Recorded after a break from recording and time spent living in Barbados and Liberia, Nina’s Back features a rejuvenated Nina Simone reaching out to a wider musical audience. Now, this vital volume in her unparalleled catalog will be available digitally for the very first time, with new artwork befitting the album’s energy.

Nina’s Back features a number of memorable original Simone compositions. While classics “I Sing Just To Know I’m Alive” and “Fodder On Her Wings” are also featured on her 1982 album Fodder On My Wings, Simone is accompanied here by a band featuring horns and backup singers, for a recording that’s unique in her catalog. Simone’s rendition of “For a While” is accompanied by a new animated visualizer, featuring a mesmerizing art style that goes hand in hand with Simone’s vocal power.

In addition to their new release of Nina’s Back, later this year Verve is planning to debut a short documentary on “Mississppi Goddam,” the protest anthem that marked one of the most influential moments in Simone’s career. Simone holds nothing back on the groundbreaking track, which has remained steadfastly relevant to this day. This documentary will highlight the timeliness of “Mississippi Goddam” 60 years after it was recorded.

2024 also marks the 60th anniversary of Simone’s signing to the Phillips label, a partnership that produced some of her most seminal works. For more information about Nina Simone and Nina’s Back, visit ververecords.com.


  1. It's Cold Out Here
  2. Porgy
  3. I Sing Just To Know That I'm Alive
  4. For A While
  5. Fodder On Her Wings
  6. Touching And Caring 
  7. Saratoga
  8. You Must Have Another Lover


  • Nina Simone – vocals, piano, arrangements
  • Arthur Adams – guitar, bass
  • Luke Metoyer – percussion
  • Ray Brown – trumpet
  • Allan Barnes – saxophone
  • George Bohanon – Trombone
  • The Waters Family – backing vocals
  • Hense Powell – synthesizer, trumpet, cornet, arrangements
  • Eddie Singleton – producer
  • Jim Bailey – recording, remixing

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Jazz Saxophonist Joshua Redman To Appear At Jimmy's Jazz & Blues Club

Jimmys Jazz & Blues Club Features 11x-GRAMMY® Award Nominated Jazz Saxophonist and Composer JOSHUA REDMAN, and his Acclaimed Group with Vocalist Gabrielle Cavassa, on Saturday February 3 at 7 & 9:30 P.M. Joshua Redman's current album, his first recording as a Blue Note artist, Where Are We (2023), has received stellar reviews, including a rare and highly coveted 5-star review in Downbeat Magazine. The album was named the 2023 "Jazzwise Album of the Year".

JOSHUA REDMAN is one of the most acclaimed and charismatic jazz artists to have emerged since the 1990s. In 1991, Redman was named winner of the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition. Since then, Redman has worked and played with a vast array of jazz luminaries, released over 20 acclaimed albums, and has gone on to garner top honors in Critic's and Reader's polls of Downbeat Magazine, Jazz Times, the Jazz Journalist Association and Rolling Stone. The awards have included "Tenor Saxophonist of the Year", "Jazz Artist of the Year", and "Album of the Year".

Recently, in 2020, Redman reunited with his original quartet – Redman (Saxophone), Brad Mehldau (Piano), Christian McBride (Bass), and Brian Blade (Drums) − with the release of RoundAgain (Nonesuch). The album was Nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for "Best Jazz Instrumental Album" and Redman was Nominated for another GRAMMY® Award for "Best Improvised Jazz Solo" for the song "Moe Honk". In 2022, they released the album LongGone which was Nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for "Best Instrumental Jazz Album."

Born in Berkeley, California, Joshua Redman is the son of legendary saxophonist Dewey Redman and dancer Renee Shedroff. Redman was signed by Warner Bros. Records and issued his first, self-titled album in the spring of 1993, which subsequently earned Redman his first GRAMMY® Award Nomination for "Best Jazz Instrumental Performance". That fall saw the album release of Wish, where Joshua was joined by the all-star cast of Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins. He toured extensively with Pat Metheny throughout the latter half of that year.

In 2007, Nonesuch released Redman's first ever piano-less trio record, Back East, featuring Joshua alongside three stellar bass and drum rhythm sections (Larry Grenadier & Ali Jackson, Christian McBride & Brian Blade, Reuben Rogers & Eric Harland) and three very special guest saxophonists (Chris Cheek, Joe Lovano and Dewey Redman). The album was Nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for "Best Jazz Instrumental Album".

In 2013, Redman released Walking Shadows (Nonesuch), a collection of vintage and contemporary ballads produced by his friend and frequent collaborator Brad Mehldau. This is Redman's first recording to include an orchestral ensemble and includes a core ensemble of Mehldau on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Brian Blade on drums. About Walking Shadows, the NEW YORK TIMES says, "there hasn't been a more sublimely lyrical gesture in his 20-year recording career."

After their first partnership during 2011 performances at the Blue Note in New York at the invitation of The Bad Plus, and intermittent performances together over the years, Redman and the tight-knit trio released their first studio album titled The Bad Plus Joshua Redman (2015 Nonesuch). Redman was Nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for "Best Improvised Jazz Solo" on the track "Friend or Foe" from this debut recording collaboration.

The album Nearness, released in 2016 on Nonesuch, was recorded at several European concert stops and illustrates in the most direct and intimate way the extraordinary musical rapport between saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau—label-mates, friends, and fellow travelers in jazz for 25 years. The album was Nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for "Best Instrumental Jazz Album".

The album Still Dreaming, released in 2018 on Nonesuch, features drummer Brian Blade, bassist Scott Colley, and trumpeter Ron Miles. The album was Nominated for GRAMMY® Award for "Best Instrumental Jazz Album."

The album Come What May, released in 2019 on Nonesuch, marks the first recording in almost two decades for this group of musicians: Redman and his longtime friends and colleague's: pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. The album was Nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for "Best Jazz Instrumental Album".

Redman's current release, his first recording as a Blue Note artist, Where Are We (2023), is one of his most challenging and compelling albums to date, featuring brilliant supporting partners and (in a first for Redman) built around a dynamic young vocalist, Gabrielle Cavassa. The album has received outstanding reviews.

In addition to his own projects, Redman has recorded and performed with musicians such as: Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, The Dave Matthews Band, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, Roy Haynes, B.B. King, Joe Lovano, Branford Marsalis, John Medeski, Marcus Miller, Dewey Redman, Dianne Reeves, The Rolling Stones, The Roots, John Scofield, Soulive, String Cheese Incident, McCoy Tyner, Umphrey's McGee, Stevie Wonder, and many others.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Edy Forey | "Culture Today"

One can’t help but admire the honest audacity of these lyrics. This song “Take Your Time” is from Culture Today, Edy Forey’s poetic urban-jazz debut album set for release on April 5 on So Soul Records. The UK-based duo enters the music scene with the clarity of self-knowledge, even if that knowledge comes from divergent artistic experiences. 

Vocalist Edy Szewy and keyboardist Guilhem Forey believe music is sacred and musicians matter greatly. For this reason, several guest artists joined them on this record, including founding members of Snarky Puppy bassist Michael League and saxophonist Bob Reynolds. Also, Sharay Reed, of the Funk Apostles, Femi Koleoso of the Ezra Collective and others provided significant contributions. Additionally, Bob Power whose distinguished resume includes Me'Shell N'degéocello, The Roots, D'Angelo, and Erykah Badu and many others mixed and mastered the duo’s entire album.

Szewy and Forey are as different as they are alike. Szewy was born in Poland to an American father and a Polish mother. Her parents separated early, but her dad would send her CDs from America that you couldn’t find locally. By the time she moved to one of the cultural centers of Europe, Edinburgh Scotland, she had absorbed the very American grooves of TLC and En Vogue, enthralled with the songwriting and production skills of the likes of D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill, imagining that one day she could do it too.

Conversely, Forey, born in Paris and raised in Nantes, France was a child musical prodigy. Bach spiritually and emotionally pulled him in at the age of three—so much so that this classical music was almost scary to his immature mind. But by the time his grandfather introduced him to American icon Ray Charles and British guitarist Eric Clapton, everyone who heard him play realized he was a gifted pianist. At age 11, his mom walked him into a rehearsal hall for his first jazz piano lessons. So taken was the teacher on this introductory audition, he flung his door open and quickly recruited a bassist and drummer to join in. It was the talented adolescent’s first jam session. By 16, Forey was leading a jazz trio.

The pair’s teen years were marked by Szewy discovering the melancholy soul side of African American artists like Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, and the Jacksons. In contrast, Forey dived headfirst into jazz, discovering and studying Herbie Hancock and George Duke. With headphones on, Forey would often fall asleep to Chick Corea’s Akoustic Band album. The duo’s influences were expanding–greatly. 

As young adults, both found themselves mingling in the Edinburgh student circuit. While Forey was new to the city and the music scene, Szewy was studying at the prestigious Edinburgh College of Art - the fruit of which is the album’s cover. At the same time, she was leading a six-piece neo soul band. The two met when Forey filled in for Szewy’s keyboardist. Gradually, their kinship was born.

By the same token, they openly admit to having had pervasive parental challenges. Those challenges created in both feelings of being an ‘outsider.’ As teenagers, they atypically didn’t gravitate to the surrounding fads. A sensibility of non-conformity took root for both, and in time they would discover that this sensibility would anchor their creative union.

Forey was blown away by what he says was, “Edy’s pure artistry.” Similarly, Szewy says, “By far Forey was the best musician I knew in Edinburgh.” Still, initially Forey wasn’t so convinced of becoming a group. He was deep into the spiritual magic of jazz, immersing himself with the work of master organist/pianist/gospel artist Corey Henry. He played in jazz trios but beyond that, his solitary musical world was just that–solitary. Forey says, “I love jazz because it has something to say musically. And sometimes I have to isolate to hear what it is trying to say to me.” Despite that, he couldn’t ignore that Szewy was a visionary and her sky-is-the-limit attitude won him over. Forey put all his other musical endeavors aside and their musical alliance was born.

When they started composing what would become the genesis of their debut album, they kept this activity private. The duo did not showcase their music to family nor friends. Working together and remotely via WhatsApp, they embraced a style of discreet collaboration that would come in handy during the pandemic.

As much as the pair are very modern songwriters using very modern tools, their collaborative style was reminiscent of the great songwriting teams of the past where the free spirit of exchange and pushback reaped excellent results. Their sessions were vibrant. Szewy would challenge Forey’s chord choices at the same time Forey would challenge Szewy’s lyrical and production choices. Back and forth they hashed it out, examining their creative energies and impulses all the while persisting in the magic of spontaneity, which is at the heart of their urban-jazz album.

 “We have a very symbiotic creative bond,” Szewy says. “We complement each other's style. Basically, we're both in each other's business.” Forey adds, “We wanted to have a pure approach to it. We didn’t want to focus on perceived outcomes. We wanted to faithful to our original inspiration that we feel comes from above.”

That quest to fulfill their artistic calling is all over their album Culture Today. The duo has crafted a series of songs that showcase high musicality and themes of personal depth. Whether it’s the Orwellian-vibed, “Eerie Feary” or the critique against celebrity worship in “The System,” it’s clear that the original bonds of non-conformity that brought Szewy and Forey together are still very much intact.

Equally important are several songs that reach for something more transcendent. They include a poignant yet lighthearted petition to the divine in “The Fire,” while the songs “Your Soul” and “Agape” attempt to pierce the coarse, low-level of bumping and grinding to reveal the more eloquent and elevated feelings of love. This makes Culture Today an album you want to put on, lay back and let it absorb into your spirit, song by song.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Eugenie Jones | "The Originals"

Eugenie Jones was not supposed to be a jazz singer. She graduated with an MBA in marketing, and her post-graduate career took her deep within the nonprofit sector as a marketing communications executive. Her mother, a soprano gospel singer, was the singer of the family, and when cancer claimed her life, Jones managed her grief by setting out to see if she could carry forward that part of her Mom's life.

Ten years later, the now acclaimed jazz vocalist and songwriter with a heartwarming backstory celebrates her first decade in the jazz spotlight with The Originals, a greatest hits collection of songs from her prior albums, all from her own pen and all released on her own music label, Open Mic Records.

A harmonious journey through Jones's musical evolution, The Originals showcases a genuinely creative force whose voice continues to captivate audiences. With 27 recorded original songs to her credit, Jones has repeatedly proven her ability to blend emotive storytelling with alluring melodies, creating a compelling and entrancing sound.

As a remixed, remastered, best-of compendium, The Originals continues the artist's evolution with a meticulously curated anthology that breathes new life into her most-played, most-beloved tracks, including "Sweet Summer Love," "Swing Me," and "Sittin' at the Bar." With a worldwide release campaign set to launch on January 19, 2024, The Originals reminds current fans of the musical journey thus far while introducing new audiences to Jones's smoke-satin vocal stylings and her clever, hip, and romantic lyricism.

As National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Reggie Workman says, "This is an extraordinary singer, songwriter, and a source of a light we are fortunate to experience."

Jones's professional musical journey began with her debut album, "Black Lace Blue Tears," in 2013, followed two years later by "Come Out Swingin'." Her 2022 album, "Players," pays tribute to her bold, collaborative spirit in taking on the enormous challenge of recording in each region of the United States with four different bands comprised of 32 illustrious musicians, including Reggie Workman, Bernard Purdie, Julian Priester, Lonnie Plaxico, Bobbie Sanabria, Lynn Seaton, Bill Anschell, Marquis Hill and many others.

"At the start of my career, I had no formal training or industry know-how; only my mother's musical intuition, my father's grit, and a newly discovered voice," explains Jones. "The Originals is a milestone that represents how much I've been fortunate to grow these last ten years."

Having established herself in the international jazz scene, Jones has consistently pushed the boundaries of her artistic expression. Her latest album, The Originals, reflects a unique style and sound, which Jones has persistently honed and nurtured since her first live performance in 2011. That progression has led to recognition as a Recording of the Year and Vocalist of the Year award recipient. Her recordings have also brought her international attention and commercial success, climbing to #7 on the Jazz Week Top 50 charts, #30 on Jazz Week's Top 100 Albums in 2022, and making it to the first round of the 2022 Grammys® in the Best Vocal Jazz Album category. 

"This is an excellent singer with a voice, style, and range encompassing multiple idioms. I predict she will become the next singing sensation in all of music," – Joe Chambers, legendary jazz drummer and band leader. 

Born and raised in Fairmont, West Virginia, surrounded by seven siblings, the singer grew up in a musical household. Her father, Eugene Parker, a coal miner, led the choir at the family's church, where her mother, Tommie Lee Parker, was the lead soprano. Ray Charles, Nancy Wilson, and Motown records kept the family turntable spinning, especially during large family gatherings. Beyond jazz, rhythm and blues records, Eugenie grew up with her mother's voice as a continual backdrop around the house.

"I have memories of doing my homework at the kitchen table while my mom hummed and sang as she cooked. Occasionally, I'd look up and say,' That's pretty; what song is that? And she would reply - oh, just something I made up.' So, while I never imagined growing up to be a singer and songwriter, I do know where my gift came from."

After earning her BA and MBA in marketing from the National University in San Diego, Jones married and began pursuing a marketing career and raising two sons. When her mother passed away in 2008, to assuage her grief, Jones decided to keep her mother's spirit alive by taking up singing. For the next three years, she woodshedded and worked her way up in the Seattle jazz scene. With tremendous talent and tireless energy, she has etched out her space onto the international stage with her recordings playing around the world.

Throughout her music career, Jones has also been active in community affairs. She is the founding board president of a nonprofit organization called the Music Discovery Center, which provides musical instruments and instruction to underprivileged youth. She has also spearheaded the Ernestine Anderson Tribute Series and, for five years, served as the executive director of the Jackson Street Jazz Walk, both of which aim to educate residents about Seattle's rich African American music legacy, promote jazz, and raise funds for various nonprofit organizations such as food banks, youth organizations, and community medical clinics.

The Jazz Journalist Association, recognizing Jones's efforts to combine jazz with community service, awarded Jones and 33 other national recipients the Jazz Hero Award, an annual honor given to those whose efforts have significantly impacted their local communities.

PDX Jazz Announces Exciting Additions and Headliners for the 2024 Biamp Portland Jazz Festival

PDX Jazz, the largest organization presenting jazz performances and associated educational programming in the Pacific Northwest, is excited to announce significant additions to the 2024 Biamp Portland Jazz Festival lineup. The festival, running from February 16 through March 2, 2024, highlights both legendary jazz figures and emerging local talent, promising a diverse and enriching experience.

This year's festival showcases a stunning lineup of NEA Jazz Masters, GRAMMY® Award-Winners and artists who are driving the evolution of jazz such as Jon Batiste, Dianne Reeves, Nicholas Payton, Sudan Archives, Bob James, Lee Ritenour, Louis Cole, Shabaka, John Patitucci, Julian Lage, Kamaal Williams, Bassekou Kouyate, Vieux Farka Touré, Theo Croker, Kassa Overall, Keyon Harrold, Sullivan Fortner, Mary Halvorson, Yotam Silberstein, Genevieve Artadi, Corey Harris, Cedric Watson, Nicole Glover, Nicole McCabe, Hailey Niswanger and Eldon T Jones.

The event also introduces ticketed shows with artists such as Braxton Cook, Marco Benevento, Stella Cole, Ronnie Foster, Stephan Crump, Melanie Charles, Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, Caroline Davis, and Carrtoons.

The festival is closely intertwined with the Portland community, offering a wide range of events, many of which are free to the public. This includes performances by both esteemed local jazz artists and distinguished visiting musicians. These events take place across various partnered locations throughout the city, encompassing hotels, unique venues, and colleges, making jazz accessible and enjoyable for all. Headline show appearances feature notable local artists such as Dan Balmer, Tyrone Hendrix, Lo Steele, Mel Brown b3 Organ Group, greaterkind, Cyrus Nabipoor, Threedom, DoubleDash and Ryan Meagher.

The festival will also feature the world premiere of a PDX Jazz commissioned piece, "The Age of Influence," by the Shaun Keylock Company with music by Methods Body, marking the debut of jazz-inspired dance at the festival. Furthermore, the community-focused event "A Binding Truth" film screening at McMenamins Kennedy School Theater, accompanied by a jazz conversation with Portland resident Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and director-producer Louise Woehrle, offers a profound exploration of America's racial history and a path toward healing.

Moderating the festival's jazz conversations is Ashley Kahn, a renowned music historian, journalist, and author known for his expertise on jazz and its history. Kahn's works, including acclaimed books on John Coltrane and Miles Davis, have established him as a leading voice in jazz scholarship. His involvement promises insightful and engaging discussions, adding a unique educational component to the festival.

This year's conversations include a multimedia presentation by Kahn on John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," a conversation and audience Q&A with Julian Lage and Dan Balmer, and a pre-performance discussion with Theo Croker and Kassa Overall.

Chris Doss, PDX Jazz Executive Director, emphasizes the festival's commitment to exploring the full realm of jazz: "Pushing the boundaries and exploring the entire realm of jazz is a key element of the Portland Jazz Festival. This year, we're thrilled to expand our offerings with both renowned jazz masters and the exciting new voices of Portland's local artists."

PDX Jazz is a non-profit cultural arts organization dedicated to curating jazz in Portland, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest. Committed to nurturing jazz artists and audiences, PDX Jazz organizes the annual Biamp Portland Jazz Festival, a series of concerts, and numerous educational initiatives to celebrate and promote the art form's evolving legacy.

First Word Records To Reissue Jazz Fusion Trumpeter & Composer Takuya Kuroda's Widely Acclaimed 2014 Blue Note Debut LP Rising Son

First Word Records brings you an exclusive vinyl-only re-issue of Takuya Kuroda’s highly-sought after album ‘Rising Son’.

‘Rising Son’ was first released on the seminal Blue Note Records imprint 10 years ago in 2014, with Takuya being the first Japanese artist to sign to the label. The record received widespread critical acclaim, hitting No.1 on Japan’s jazz charts at the time, with original copies now fetching hundreds of pounds on Discogs and the like. There has long been high demand for a re-press of this album, and we’re very pleased to say it’s finally here, a decade on.

The re-issue is to be released via London-based Worldwide Award-winning label First Word Records, who coincidentally celebrate their 20th year running in 2024. First Word released Takuya’s highly-revered previous two albums, ‘Fly Moon Die Soon’ (2020) and ‘Midnight Crisp’ (2022). 

For those that don’t know, Takuya Kuroda is a Kobe-born, Brooklyn-based trumpeter and musician, who was also a longtime player for Akoya Afrobeat as well as DJ Premier’s BADDER band. Initially playing on the Japanese circuit with his trombonist brother, Takuya went on to relocate to New York City, where he has largely remained to this day, becoming a prominent player in the jazz scene there.

The original album featured several Roy Ayers covers, including the all-time classic ‘Everybody Loves The Sunshine’, and this 2024 pressing also includes a brand new remix of the track from keys player & producer, Joe Armon-Jones. Joe is hugely-acclaimed in his own right as a solo artist, as well as his recent collaborations with Mala (who has a track named after him on this very project, as Takuya was influenced heavily by his 2012 Brownswood album ‘Mala in Cuba’), and as an integral member of the legendary Ezra Collective, winners of the 2023 Mercury Music Prize in the UK.

Flitting between the genres of jazz fusion, soul, r&b, hip hop and afrobeat, the album was predominantly produced by a previous Takuya collaborator, vocalist José James, while also featuring phenomenal accompaniment from Nate Smith (drums), Solomon Dorsey (bass), Corey King (trombone) and Kris Bowers (keys).

In the words of José James, “no one sounds like Takuya. His tone, warmth and most of all his storytelling have inspired me for years. His writing is soulful, modern, and effortlessly bridges the gap between jazz and soul, and between history and tomorrow.”

Previous reviews and accolades for Takuya’s third album ‘Rising Son’ include AllMusic’s Best of 2014, NPR Music, Jazz Weekly, Leo Weekly, All About Jazz, Icon, Relix, Pop Matters, Jay Z’s Life + Times, WBGO, Upscale, The Revivalist, East Bay Express and The Jazz Line, to name just a few. 


Vocalist Hilary Gardner releases "On the Trail with The Lonesome Pines"

Alaska-raised, New York City-based vocalist Hilary Gardner’s new album, On the Trail with The Lonesome Pines, transports listeners to the nostalgic heart of the American West. The music paints soundscapes of the archetypal cowboy’s life on the trail—of pale dawns, purple hills, and the high lonesome feeling of camping out beneath a vast, star-filled sky. The seeds for the project were sown during the early months of the pandemic, when Gardner, from the confines of her Brooklyn apartment, found herself dreaming of wide-open spaces.

Gardner’s jazz bona fides belie her rustic upbringing: she grew up in rural Alaska surrounded by vintage country music, and her first gigs as a teenager were performing Patsy Cline tunes in dive bars. “I learned so much about singing from Patsy Cline,” Gardner says. “She was a powerful musical storyteller, she was in total command of her instrument, and her time was great—Patsy could really swing.” Since moving to New York City in 2003, Gardner has released three albums as a leader; played Frank Sinatra’s vocal counterpart in Twyla Tharp’s hit Broadway production, Come Fly Away; and is a founding member of the award-winning close harmony trio Duchess, with whom she has released three full-length albums and a holiday EP, performed live (including at Monterey Jazz Festival), and earned Vocal Group of the Year in the 2021 and 2022 JJA awards.

In a return to her roots, Gardner began delving into repertoire from the “singing cowboy” era of the 1930s-40s, discovering a treasure trove of material ranging from atmospheric ballads tinged with melancholy to swing with a sense of humor. “I love seeking out ‘hidden gem’ tunes—songs that, for whatever reason, didn’t become as well known as they should have,” she says. “These ‘trail songs’ have been neglected for decades because they can’t be easily classified as jazz or country or pop or Americana—they're a combination of all those genres, and they inhabit a sonic landscape uniquely their own, too.”

Guided by her belief that no corner of the Great American Songbook should go unexplored, Gardner teamed up with Justin Poindexter (guitars, vocals), Noah Garabedian (bass), and Aaron Thurston (drums), and The Lonesome Pines were born. “The first time we all played together, it was magic,” she recalls. “Musical chemistry is this wonderfully intangible, unpredictable thing, and when the stars align, it’s such a gift. The songs came to life organically as we explored the music as a band.” 

After sold-out shows at iconic Greenwich Village venues 55 bar and Mezzrow, the quartet convened at Figure 8 Recording in Brooklyn, with Grammy-winning producer Eli Wolf (Norah Jones, Willie Nelson, Cassandra Wilson) at the helm. “In addition to being a first-rate producer with incredible ears, Eli is my husband, and we love working together,” says Gardner.

The album opens with the loping, lap-steel inflected “Along the Navajo Trail,” a 1945 composition that Gardner says “encompasses everything this project is about: the freedom to roam and the wistfulness that plays at the edges of solitude. I love the song’s metaphor of nature-as-music: I love to lie and listen to the music / when the wind is strummin’ a sagebrush guitar.” 

“One of the things I love most about this material is that the lines between genres were blurrier back then,” says Gardner. “Many of these songs were written not only by singing cowboys, but also by composers and lyricists that we now associate with jazz standards. It wasn’t unusual for a song to debut in a Western film starring Roy Rogers or Gene Autry, only to be recorded later by a big band or the original hip cowboy, Bing Crosby.”

The tender ballad “Silver on the Sage” is one such example, combining the musical architecture of jazz with an unmistakably Western lyric, in which a cowboy serenades his herd of dogies (motherless calves), exhorting them to sleep and dream of “a range far away.” Originally recorded in 1938 by Crosby, the song was written by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger, co-composers of the jazz standards “Easy Living” and “Thanks for the Memory.” Gardner’s version features Poindexter's filigree mandolin stylings and warm vocal harmonies.

The rollicking “Jingle Jangle Jingle (I Got Spurs)” was written by Frank Loesser (best known for writing the hit musical Guys and Dolls as well as a host of beloved standards), and Joseph J. Lilley, a revered orchestrator and composer for Paramount Pictures. “Justin, Noah, and Aaron really cook on this tune,” says Gardner. “You can hear the smile in my voice.”

“Under Fiesta Stars,” written in 1941 by Gene Autry and Fred Rose, features Thurston’s tasteful brushwork and atmospheric accordion accompaniment by special guest Sasha Papernik. Gardner and Poindexter’s plaintive harmonies sing of a love found—and lost—south of the border: The night spoke of splendor / the lanterns were low / I had to surrender / the thrill seemed to grow / The music was playing / we danced until dawn / My thoughts began straying / And then he was gone. 

The Southwest mecca of Santa Fe features prominently on the album. “I’ve spent some time in New Mexico and was gobsmacked by the beauty and grandeur of the scenery,” says Gardner. “You can’t help but fall in love with the place—it’s no wonder so many great songs have been written about Santa Fe.” The foursome put a sweetly sentimental spin on the seldom-heard “Lights of Old Santa Fe,” first performed by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans in the eponymous 1944 film. “Along the Santa Fe Trail,” with its easygoing swing feel, is a musical love letter to both a sweetheart and New Mexico vistas. “Cow Cow Boogie” celebrates a cattle-herding cowboy “out on the plains, down near Santa Fe'' who possesses a “knocked-out Western accent with a Harlem touch.”

While most of the album’s twelve tracks were new discoveries for Gardner, one song was an old friend. She first encountered Johnny Mercer’s 1936 tongue-in-cheek paean to urban cowboys, “I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande),” on Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks’ 1972 release, Striking It Rich, which her parents owned on vinyl. “When I heard the Hot Licks’ version of ‘Cowhand’ I was probably about ten years old,” says Gardner. “I didn’t know—or even think about—whether I was listening to jazz or country or pop music. I just dug it—I still do. Our version was recorded in one take at the end of a long recording session, so it’s got a relaxed, late-night vibe.”

Lovelorn cowboys have their say, too: the band reimagines Jimmy Wakely’s “Song of the Sierras,” adding stacked vocal harmonies, dynamic percussion, and high-energy electric and lap-steel guitar solos. “Call of the Canyon,” a Billy Hill song made famous by Frank Sinatra in 1942 with the Tommy Dorsey band, features Garabedian’s supportive bass and a graceful acoustic guitar solo by Poindexter. And Gardner’s elegant vocal infuses the pensive campfire soliloquy, “Cowboy Serenade (While I’m Smokin’ My Last Cigarette),'' juxtaposing the song’s lush melody with the quintessential cowboy call of “Yippee-ki-yay.” 

The album closes with “Twilight on the Trail,” a 1936 composition that’s been interpreted by Bing Crosby, Nat “King” Cole, Sam Cooke, and Dean Martin, among others. “A lot of these songs celebrate saddling up and wandering,” says Gardner, “but ‘Twilight on the Trail’ embraces the idea of sunset—a contemplation of peaceful rest for the night or, as in the final A section, for eternity: When it’s twilight on the trail / and my voice is still / please plant this heart of mine / underneath the lonesome pine on the hill.”

On the Trail with The Lonesome Pines evokes all the romantic mythology of the American West. Says Gardner, “These songs remind us that the answers to many of life’s big questions can be found in contemplative solitude, the beauty of the natural world, and the arms of a loved one.”

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

New Music Releases: Rod Stewart & Jools Holland; Losi Deloatch; Rubim de Toldeo; and Andrea Superstein

Rod Stewart With Jools Holland - Swing Fever

Sir Rod Stewart and Jools Holland with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra present the exquisite Swing Fever – a 13-track sparkling salute to the timeless songs of the big band years, reignited by two true giants of their craft – out on Friday 23rd February 2024 on Warner Music. For the first time, Britain's new partners in swing have united on record to share their peerless dexterity on a tribute to such truly great songs as Ain't Misbehavin', Frankie And Johnny, Sentimental Journey and Lullaby Of Broadway – recorded at Jools' own studio in Greenwich. The first track to be released is a superb working of show tunes Almost Being In Love – written by Frederick Loewe, and made famous by Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. Other tracks include: Oh Marie; Pennies From Heaven; Night Train; Love Is The Sweetest Thing; Them There Eyes; Good Rockin' Tonight; Walkin' My Baby Back Home; Almost Like Being In Love; and Tennessee Waltz.

Lois Deloatch - Love Always

Vocalist and songwriter Lois Deloatch marks thirty years in music with her new recording, Love Always. Recognized internationally for her rich contralto voice, thought-provoking lyrics, and distinctive blend of jazz, folk, blues, and spirituals, Deloatch has shared the stage with Ellis Marsalis, Arturo Sandoval, and Dr. Billy Taylor, among other luminaries. Her limited-edition release, Hymn to Freedom: Homage to Oscar Peterson, was selected as one of the Top 10 CDs of 2008 by JazzTimes Magazine’s music critic Owen Cordle. With this, her sixth recording as leader, Deloatch says, “I’m offering music I hope will resonate, inspire and unify. I want listeners to feel our connectedness and shared humanity.” Music reviewer, Joe Vanderford, says, “Deloatch’s voice is thick and wide. She and the rhythm section signed a pact to be equal partners. She is a vocalist cast as an instrumentalist, another improviser contributing to the whole.” Love Always was produced by and features pianist Ernest Turner, along with bassist John Brown and drummer Donovan Cheatham. The title track and Deloatch’s other original compositions, “Occasional Brilliance,” “Souls Remember,” “Forty First Cousins,” “In My Bones,” and “Friendly Fire” reflect her rural, Southern upbringing and expansive world view, while “Where We Find Ourselves offers listeners a textured, contemplative gem. Exuberant renditions of “Amazing Grace” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” round out this bold, stellar collection of music.

Rubim de Toledo – The Drip

Award-winning bassist, composer, and bandleader Rubim de Toledo continues to expand his fertile  catalogue of original music with his exciting new release The Drip. On this beautiful new record, the Brazilian-Canadian musician delves deeper into his tropical roots, exploring sounds from Brazil, Cuba, the Caribbean, as well as Afrobeat, funk, and jazz music. De Toledo – a winner of multiple Western Canadian Music Awards (Jazz Artist of the Year 2018, Instrumental Artist of the Year 2021) – began his professional career in Edmonton, Alberta at the age of 17, performing with Albertan jazz legends Tommy Banks, PJ Perry and Clarence “Big” Miller. Since then, he has become a sought-after sideman and bandleader, releasing seven full-length recordings of original music and securing a position as one of Western Canada’s most celebrated musical artists. As a bassist, de Toledo has shared the stage with a long list of international jazz stars, including the likes of Mulgrew Miller, Terrell Stafford, Dick Oatts, Wycliffe Gordon, Peter Bernstein, Sean Jones, Jason Marsalis, Bob Mintzer, Ralph Bowen, and John Riley. For The Drip, Rubim has invited Edmonton-based songstress Karimah to join him as a collaborator on three songs alongside an all-star lineup of Western Canadian jazz stalwarts. The album features nine original world jazz pieces, each with its own unique story to tell. 

Andrea Superstein – Oh Mother

Oh Mother was inspired by Vancouver vocalist and composer Andrea Superstein’s own experience as a mother. Between the trauma of birthing a baby and all of the physical changes a mother goes through, coupled with balancing a job, feeling out your new role and your place within the world: contrary to popular belief, mothering can be a very isolating experience.  These dark times spurred a lot of questions that Superstein started asking. She wanted to know if the struggles she endured were universal: were they a sign of the times or just hers alone? Superstein interviewed close to 100 mothers to get at the root of motherhood. What were the common experiences, and why were people so afraid or unable to speak their truth? Based on these conversations she wrote music: some songs are one person’s story, others are of the collective consciousness. Some a stark look at loss, others describe the heart-exploding feeling a parent can have towards their child. The album represents how all of these opposing feelings can coexist and shines a true light on the complicated, delicate, beautiful, traumatic and messy journey that is motherhood. As a singer “redefining jazz,” Andrea is one of the most versatile voices in music today. Oh Mother is an ambitious tour de force highlighting her ever growing creativity and sensitivity as a songwriter and arranger.  Expect powerful vocals, evoking the gentle and the strong, lithely navigating the colours of the emotional spectrum

Craft Recordings Reissues: Cannnonball Adderley & Bill Evans’ Know What I Mean?, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers’ Caravan, and Ron Carter’s Where?

Craft Recordings announces the latest batch of reissues for the acclaimed Original Jazz Classics series, championed by both collectors and critics. The latest reissues include Cannonball Adderley & Bill Evans’ Know What I Mean?, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers’ Caravan and Ron Carter’s Where?,

These new reissues feature lacquers cut from the original tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, 180-gram vinyl pressed at RTI and tip-on jackets, replicating the original artwork. All titles will also be released digitally in 192/24 HD audio. Original Jazz Classics was created in 1982 (under Fantasy Records) and relaunched in 2023. Since its inception, the audiophile series has reissued 850+ jazz albums, drawing from its unmatched jazz catalog, which had grown to include thousands of acclaimed titles from Prestige, Galaxy, Milestone, Riverside, Debut, Contemporary, Jazzland and Pablo.

Craft Recordings will continue to expand on its Original Jazz Classics series this year, granting collectors the opportunity to add audiophile reissues of even more out-of-print titles to their vinyl collections.

Since OJC was relaunched last year, releases in the series have received critical acclaim. Speaking to the reissue of Bill Evans’ Sunday at the Village Vanguard, PopMatters raved, “The bright, inventive performances are captured perfectly in these new vinyl releases, and listening to them is an exciting, riveting, and perhaps bittersweet experience, as they caught a unique, influential group of musicians at their peak,” and Clash declared the reissue to be “a must-have.” Discussing Mal Waldron’s Mal/2, Analog Planet said, “even better than those hard-to-find originals from the 1950s. . . . trust me, you’ll want this.” On Bill Evans’ Waltz for Debby, Tracking Angle shared in a perfect score review, “The best-sounding of all the pressings . . . the whole line will be worth watching and buying quickly before they sell out,” and All About Jazz echoed, “Without hyperbole, it can be stated that this is the best sounding version yet of a beloved album.

Cannonball Adderly & Bill Evans – Know What I Mean? (Available March 1, 2024)

2024 kicks off with the reissue of Cannonball Adderley & Bill Evans’ Know What I Mean? dropping on March 1. Adderley and Evans were famed for being part of the Miles Davis Sextet. But they also worked together on a series of albums, with Know What I Mean? from 1960 being their last and most meaningful collaboration. Cannonball—his nickname a twist on “cannibal,” a nod to his healthy appetite—was so compelling as an alto sax that many considered him the next Charlie Parker. Meanwhile, Davis once commented that Evans’ piano abilities were a “quiet fire . . . like crystal notes or sparkling water cascading down from some clear waterfall.”

Together, marveled AllMusic, their output on Know What I Mean? is nothing short of “marvelous,” adding, “It’s hard to imagine any fan of mainstream jazz not finding much to love.” (Not surprisingly, both are DownBeat Jazz Hall of Famers.) Critics have been hard-pressed to pick a standout here, but you won’t regret starting with the feather-light “Waltz for Debby” and the dexterous, upbeat Gershwin cover, “Who Cares?”

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers – Caravan (Available March 1, 2024)

Also releasing on March 1 is the long-awaited rerelease of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers’ Caravan. “Slick, fluid, professional . . . This is the kind of reissue that gives jazz a good name,” the BBC once gushed about this 1963 album. As a bandleader for four decades, Blakey was a drummer’s drummer, adored for his pioneering solos, many referencing African rhythms. The Pittsburgh native, recognized by the Smithsonian, would go on to mentor everyone from Lee Morgan to Wynton Marsalis.

Caravan opens with one such percussive drive in its title track (a Duke Ellington co-write) and spreads out from there to spectacular effect. Greedy listeners won’t regret bee-lining to the nuanced yet invigorating “This Is for Albert,” where Blakey’s drums entwine effortlessly with Cedar Walton’s keys. The song contrasts satisfyingly with the balladic, honeyed song that precedes it, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” previously popularized by Frank Sinatra.

Ron Carter – Where? (Available March 29, 2024)

Following on March 29 is a reissue of Ron Carter’s Where?, recorded in 1961. Carter’s discography is a sprawling one: The three-time GRAMMY® winner is famously the most recorded jazz bassist of all time. And for good reason. The Michigan native started out playing with Thelonious Monk, went on to join Herbie Hancock in the Miles Davis Quintet and was even sampled by A Tribe Called Quest on their seminal album The Low End Theory.

Where? is a collection of unpredictable, almost cerebral tracks, such as the explosive “Rally,” and in contrast, the twangy, minimal “Bass Duet.” (“Carter’s skill is undeniable,” notes AllMusic.) His work here with Eric Dolphy—his buddy from Chico Hamilton’s group—on sax, flute and clarinet delivers on cuts such as the sprightly, levitating “Saucer Eyes.” Where? is Carter’s debut album as a band leader and presages the visionary musician’s long and influential career.

London Afrobeat Collective - Freedom

London Afrobeat Collective is a 9-piece afro-funk noise bomb that is fast becoming a household name in every European town who claims to know anything about a good party. Their live show can be a truly extraordinary experience for the audience who is ready to let go and surrender to the unstoppable force of the groove, and people leave feeling they’ve run a marathon and had a spiritual awakening at the same time. The band is a guaranteed party-starter – any stage, anywhere, delivering afrolicious party music born of their truly global DNA.

At the heart of LAC is a tight, funky, rhythm section, beating as hard and as fast as the music demands. Bassist John Matthews, guitarists Alex Farrell and Alex Szyjanowicz, conga player Lee Crisp and drummer Giuliano Osella form a powerful quintet. With such a strong and savvy rhythm section in place, the horns — Andy Watts on trumpet, Edmund Swinburn and Klibens Michelet on tenor and baritone saxophones — need to be confident and assertive. Collectively and individually, they are. As a section, the trio bursts out with immediately catchy riffs: the occasional solos are crisp and melodic. Vocalist Juanita Euka has a strong personality and an equally strong voice. They enable her to stamp her authority on the songs, delivering the strident and direct lyrics with conviction and with a vocal power that heightens the impact of the music laid down by her bandmates.

Collectively, LAC has risen the ranks to become a regular feature at many of the major UK festivals such as Glastonbury, Bestival, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Secret Garden Party, Boomtown Fair, Green Man, Standon Calling, Wilderness, Shambala, as well as festivals and clubs across Europe. They even made it to Africa, having garnered a participation at Felabration, Nigeria’s annual festival to celebrate the legacy of Fela Kuti – the pinnacle of LAC’s 2015 tour there being a landmark performance at the New Africa Shrine in Lagos State to over 10,000 people.

But London Afrobeat Collective are not just an incredible live show. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2012, which they produced and published independently. The band was still very much in the building process and only beginning to realize there was some potential. Fast forward to 2015 and follow-up “Food Chain” is released, once again entirely self-produced. Full of dancefloor-filling beats and politically-aware lyrics, this album put London Afrobeat Collective firmly on the global musical map as a formation to look out for. “Food Chain” received widespread radio support on stations such as BBC 6 Music, Radio X and BBC Radio 2, as well as glowing reviews in The Sunday Times, London Evening Standard, Blues & Soul and Songlines Magazine to name just a few.

In 2019 the band celebrated 10 years of existence by releasing their third album “Humans“, which channels the energy of their incendiary live show and captures the wide range of influences that make up their unique sound. Bringing Fela Kuti, Parliament-Funkadelic and Frank Zappa into the 21st century is their mission, and one that will keep them writing and developing their sound for many years yet!

Bill Anschell | "Improbable Solutions"

Pianist Bill Anschell’s new album (his tenth over a 40 year career), Improbable Solutions, reaffirms that, one, the jazz scene in the U.S. is a coast-to-coast affair (with the music flourishing in great hands, East, West and in between), and two, that adventurous, restless, uber-creative artists, like Anschell, often make sudden turns and bestow upon their fans, old and new, a stylistic departure, a creative rare-bird, that has the potential to surprise and delight.

Improbable Solutions is just that sort of work, an unexpected turn for a (usually) straight-ahead jazz pianist, albeit one who has traversed many trails during his life entrenched in jazz. In essence, the album is piano trio, aided and abetted by multiple layers of electronics, creating unique soundscapes. Anschell explains, “jazz trio plus electronic sound design is the best description that comes to mind. It’s different from other jazz projects that incorporate electronics in that I spent a lot of time adding multiple effects in post-production. Although not usually in the listener’s face, there are often ten or more effects in a given song, closely fitted to the trio’s notes.”

The album is also a return to the synth-driven progressive rock and electronic sounds that captivated Anschell in his youth. He explains, “I grew up listening to pop music – especially The Beatles – and first taught myself piano by figuring out how to play those songs by ear. Then in high school, when I heard synth-driven progressive rock for the first time, I suffered what felt like a musical epiphany. That led me to study analog electronic music at Oberlin, where I also played piano and Mini Moog in a rock band. Finally, at 19, I had my first actual piano lessons; the focus happened to be jazz, and I never looked back – until just a few years ago. Forty years into a jazz career, I returned to electronic sounds and began looking for new ways to combine them with acoustic jazz. And, that is what this project is really about; incorporating electronic sounds which never mimic acoustic instruments. Challenging myself to make them belong in the more traditional context of piano, bass and drums.”

That challenge and the process of creating Improbable Solutions were long and personal for Anschell, as he had no model for how to put it all together. The pianist/composer’s previous recording took three hours to record, and Improbable Solutions took three-and-a-half years. He began by composing over twenty electro-acoustic pieces. He then brought the music to life electronically, programming the bass, drums, and all the other sounds; from there he was able to pick the pieces he was to move ahead with. “Eventually, in a two-day live studio session, Chris Symer and Jose Martinez replaced all the bass and drum parts-for the better-and I replaced some of the keyboard parts with acoustic piano. Then the prolonged final stage: I mixed the project myself so I could adjust the electronic parts to the new acoustic tracks-replacing some electronic sounds, refining others. None of the electronic sounds came straight out of the box; I enjoyed getting into their innards and surgically tweaking them to fit the songs. It was all seemingly endless, until I forced myself to declare an ending. I'm lucky to have worked with great guest artists: Brian Monroney on guitar, Jeff Busch on percussion, and, on the final track, KJ Sawka on drums. Creating this music has been an extended journey, and very much DIY!”

Seattle native Bill Anschell returned to the Emerald City in 2002 after spending 25 years studying, composing, and performing across the country and around the world. Anschell left Seattle after high school, studying for two years at Oberlin College (Ohio), then transferring to Wesleyan University (Connecticut), where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Music. At Wesleyan, Anschell worked closely with saxophone great Bill Barron. He also studied semi-privately with South Indian mridangum master T Ranganathan, kindling a passion for rhythmic experimentation that has driven Anschell’s music ever since.

After leading the life of a jazz vagabond for several years, Anschell settled in Atlanta in 1989. He was initially drawn there by the opportunity to serve as Jazz Coordinator for the Southern Arts Federation (SAF). Firing up SAF’s jazz department virtually from scratch, Anschell launched a host of high-profile programs, published a book on grant-writing, and created JazzSouth, a syndicated radio show heard on more than 200 stations around the world. At night he dove headlong into the city’s thriving jazz scene, working as a sideman with various groups and leading his own trio.

By 1992, Anschell’s performing itinerary had grown to the point where it demanded his full attention. He left the SAF post, continuing to produce JazzSouth out of his home while focusing on playing and composing. Over the next ten years, Anschell ascended the jazz ranks in Atlanta, leading his trio at major festivals and becoming a first-call accompanist for visiting jazz greats. His trio’s highlights included the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, the Montreux Atlanta Festival and four extensive tours of South America. During the same period, Anschell enjoyed a lengthy association with vocalist Nnenna Freelon, including several world tours. Anschell’s piano work and arrangements were featured throughout Freelon’s 1996 Concord release Shaking Free, which was nominated for a Grammy as the year’s best jazz vocal recording. Anschell has also performed and/or recorded with countless jazz greats including Ernestine Anderson, Ron Carter, Russell Malone, Matt Wilson, Tierney Sutton, Julian Priester, Kevin Mahogany, and Wes Anderson.”

Anschell’s own CDs have earned critical acclaim and widespread exposure, with several making Jazzweek’s national “Top 50” chart for radio airplay. Anschell’s 1998 release, a different note all together, was selected by United Press International (UPI) as one of the “10 Best” jazz releases of the year. His 2006 CD, More to the Ear than Meets the Eye, was chosen by numerous critics and radio stations across the country for their “10 Best of 2006” lists. His 2009 duo CD of spontaneous improvisations with saxophonist Brent Jensen was described by Cadence as “startlingly beautiful, surprising, and powerful…a transforming experience.” And his 2011 solo piano release, Figments, was called “magical” in Thomas Conrad’s JazzTimes review. His 2013 CD, Impulses, took him into new territory, featuring twelve tracks of original electronica. Most recently, his 2017 release, Rumbler, earned four stars in DownBeat, along with rave reviews in JazzTimes and on allaboutjazz.com.


In 2001, Anschell was selected by the American Composers Forum for its Composer-in-the-Schools program; his residency included a commissioned piece for chamber orchestra. Since 2003, his original compositions have received widespread cable and network exposure, with more than 70 placements including NBC’s The West Wing, NCIS: LA, HBO’s acclaimed series The Wire, HBO’s Bessie Smith biopic, Bessie, and Paramount’s Yellowstone.

In 2008, Anschell's Atlanta trio reunited for a fifth South American tour, visiting the Colombian cities of Medellin, Pereira and Manizales; in 2012 the trio made its fourth visit to Peru, and in 2014 its third trip to Paraguay.

As a Seattleite, Anschell had the honor of playing a weekly gig with Northwest jazz legend Floyd Standifer for the two years before Standifer’s passing. In 2013, he played several concerts with the Seattle Symphony.

In 2005, Anschell received a Golden Ear Award as the “Northwest Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year,” and in 2006 his trio was named the “Northwest Acoustic Jazz Ensemble of the year.” In 2010 and 2011 Anschell was again was named “Northwest Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year,” in 2011 his CD Figments was named “Northwest Jazz Recording of the Year”; and in 2016 he was inducted into the Seattle Jazz Hall of Fame. Most recently, Anschell’s trio once again was named “Northwest Acoustic Jazz Ensemble of the Year” in 2022.

In addition to working in jazz music, Anschell creates and records electronic music pieces from his home studio. In 2019, he composed and recorded the score for “Forgotten Prison,” a podcast series produced by NPR affiliate KNKX.

Anschell is also well known as a jazz humorist, writing jazz vignettes and a monthly jazz etiquette column. His satirical essay, “Careers in Jazz,” is the all-time most-read piece on leading jazz website Allaboutjazz with more than 400,000 hits, was prominently featured in a Wall Street Journal story on jazz audiences, and has been posted in translation on websites around the world. In 2014 he was a winner of the inaugural Paul Desmond Award, Allaboutjazz’s celebration of the funniest jazz artists.

John Korbel | "Falling Feels Like Flying"

Jazz is a genre deeply rooted in American culture and John Korbel has emerged as a fresh and vibrant voice. His upcoming album, Falling Feels Like Flying, is a blending of the timeless appeal of Michael Bublé with the sophisticated songwriting reminiscent of legends like Sting, Donald Fagen, and Al Jarreau. Set to release on January 19th, 2024, this album encapsulates a journey that transcends genre boundaries, offering a rich and varied listening experience.

The creation of this album began in April 2022 with the track “First Christmas Loving You.” This marked the start of a creative synergy between Korbel and Mark Falchook, an accomplished session keyboardist and producer. Falchook’s previous collaborations with jazz greats like Bob James and Patti Austin brought a unique depth to the project. The recording sessions, held in a studio owned by a former Disney employee in Orlando, were nothing short of magical, often described as “lightning in a bottle.”

Orlando’s unexpected jazz culture, fueled by talented musicians from Disney, Cirque du Soleil, and Universal Studios, played a crucial role in shaping the album’s sound. This unique environment allowed Korbel to discover his producer and the gifted studio musicians who added a fascinating new dimension to his music.

The ten-track album explores themes like contemporary long-distance romance and flying, showcasing Korbel’s dedication to a classic recording process, including the use of a live drummer. His musical journey, which began in Philadelphia, is marked by a lifelong dedication to the arts, highlighted by performances at events like the 2002 International Song of Peace in Tipperary, Ireland, and opening for renowned acts including Jay Leno and Blood Sweat & Tears.

Korbel’s return to music in 2017, after a two-decade hiatus, signifies his commitment and passion. His 2020 single, “Bourbon Street Taps,” gained significant traction, laying the groundwork for this ambitious album. Falling Feels Like Flying is a collection of songs with a narrative that showcases Korbel’s ability to weave stories through music, highlighted by his unique blend of jazz-pop that appeals to a broad audience.

As the release date approaches, there is a growing sense of excitement and anticipation. John Korbel, along with the exceptional talent he’s surrounded himself with, is set to bring a new flavor to the jazz genre, inviting listeners to experience the transformative power of music. This album, a culmination of perseverance, collaboration, and sheer musicality, is poised to become a landmark in the jazz world, echoing the sentiment that indeed, sometimes, falling does feel like flying.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Jim Self & John Chiodini | "Touch And Go"

JIM SELF is one of the busiest jazz musicians in Los Angeles. Besides being a prolific recording artist, the tuba master is also an in-demand studio musician. He has worked for all the major Hollywood studios since 1974, performing in over 1500motion pictures and hundreds of television shows and records. A favorite of John Williams, Self’s solos have been featured on Williams’ scores to Jurassic Park, Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and Hook. He was also the “Voice of the Mothership” in Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 

Self is now releasing TOUCH AND GO, his 21st album. It follows MY AMERICA 2: Destinations (2023), about which JW Vibe said, “Perhaps a listen or two to the wondrous songs, dynamic mashups and fresh, hipster, sometimes rockin’, often lush and frequently swinging arrangements will serve as a reminder of our common goals and heritage and love for timeless American music.” 

On his latest release, Self once again teams up with guitarist JOHN CHIODINI. The two masters have produced three duo jazz albums together and another with the David Angel Jazz Ensemble. Like Self, Chiodini has an extensive resume. Besides his many movie and TV credits, he was a member of the Boston Pops Orchestra under Arthur Fiedler and performed and recorded with a Who’s Who of top jazz artists like Peggy Lee, Buddy DeFranco, Maynard Ferguson, Carl Andersen, Louis Bellson, and Tony Bennett, to name just a few. Each of Self’s recordings have featured different kinds of bands, usually either classical or jazz. For TOUCH AND GO, The Jim Self & John Chiodini Quintet also includes top Los Angeles musicians, including RON STOUT (trumpet), KEN WILD (bass), and KENDALL KAY (drums). Self says, “When Chiodini and I talked about who we wanted for this quintet recording, we chose Ron, Ken and Kendall because of their great jazz playing, impeccable time and (most of all) for their cooperative and friendly manner.” 

Like many of Self’s song and CD titles, he took the title TOUCH AND GO from his 30+ years as a small plane pilot. It is a term that pilots use for practicing take offs and landings where, after touching down, you immediately take off and “go around” the pattern again. 

As always, Self and Chiodini chose songs they knew would work well for a quintet. They enjoy the collaborative aspect of playing jazz, and all the players contributed suggestions, arrangements, or compositions to the project. Self and Chiodini also wrote two originals each. 

The album opens with the title tune, “Touch And Go,” written by Self. It is an exciting, high-energy tune with a 3/4-6/8 hemiola groove. The melody is played on the trumpet and Fluba, which is a tuba-sized flugelhorn invented by Self. Lou Rovner wrote a clever arrangement for Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” The quirky arrangement features 7/4 bars and quotes from“ Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” 

Stout wrote the 8th note/quasi-Latin arrangement for Benny Carter’s “Only Trust Your Heart.” It features an intimate trio setting with tuba, flugelhorn, and guitar. Chiodini wrote “Amber.” The tune is given a post-bop treatment with a funky blues feel and showcases Chiodini’s dense, altered dominant chords.  

Self has recorded other Clare Fischer tunes, and “Ornathardy” had been on his bucket list to record for many years. He finally found the perfect band to record it. Self had often worked with Fischer in the studios and knew he was famous for his complicated jazz writing. Trombonist Joey Sellers, who is also a jazz writer of complicated music, arranged the tune and created a very cool loping jazz waltz version with interesting counter melodies. 

Wild wrote a swinging samba arrangement for J.J. Johnson’s “Lament.” The tune has special resonance for Self, who toured Japan with Mel Torme and the Marty Paich Decktette in 1989. Self relates, “The opening act was the J.J. Johnson Quintet followed by the Ray Brown Trio. Itis my understanding that, on the day of the final concert in Tokyo, J.J.’s wife had just died back in the U.S. He came out and played a beautiful solo trombone ballad version of “Lament” in her memory. It was a very heartfelt and poignant moment.” 

Stout suggested “Susanne” by drummer Kevin Tullius, played as a duo with Self and Chiodini. Self says, “John is the perfect accompanist for me. He always knows how to make me sound good. It’s no wonder so many great vocalists have chosen him for their records.” “Prolepsis” was written by David Angel and arranged by Joey Sellers. A dear friend of Self and Chiodini, they love Angel’s contrapuntal writing and wanted to record one of his originals with this quintet. “Prolepisis,” which is Greek and means knowing something is going to happen before it does, has a kind of “Night in Tunisia” format with a Latin A section and swing bridge. 

“Triangles,” another Self composition, is a medium jazz waltz inspired by a composition he recorded on his Basset Hound Blues album. Self wrote a stretto-like repeat of the head for Stout and himself. Chiodini says, “It has a great 3/4 feel. Jim’s writing is a lesson in composition--melodic lines, counterpoint, and fugues. Hearing it in the context of a jazz waltz is wonderful. And it is being played so effortlessly by Jim and Ron.” 

Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not” is another tune arranged by Joey Sellers. Although most everyone plays it fast, the band plays this well-travelled song in a relaxed manner. Chiodini’s “Restless” is a laid-back slow blues with the feel of a smoky Noir dive bar back in the 1940s. Chiodini’s complicated “guitar-esque” chords with the chorus effect create a “spacey” feeling. The band closes the album with “Dig” by Miles Davis. A bebop jazz standard, tuba and bass play the head in unison with drums in the first half, with the trumpet and guitar added in the second half.

And, of course, all Basset Hound Records end with Stanley the Basset Hound’s mournful howls.

The tuba is most often used in concert by brass and military bands. However, Self elevates the instrument by playing it with great sensitivity and soulfulness. But as the swinging, hip arrangements and original writing on TOUCH AND GO so deftly demonstrate, this entire band - Self, Chiodini, Stout, Wild, and Kay - are all masters of their instruments. 


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