Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Brazilian vocalist Paula Santoro and guitar virtuoso Ian Faquini release Metal na Madeira (Metal on Wood)

Once you've heard the luminous voice of Paula Santoro and the enthralling guitar virtuosity of Ian Faquini, their sound will become permanently etched into your heart. Metal na Madeira (Metal on Wood), their new collaborative album, takes inspiration from Xylography, a traditional art form from Northeastern Brazil in which the artist develops an image by engraving wood with a metal object. Likewise, Faquini and Santoro create their intoxicating music from the way in which the metallic harmonics of her voice affect and enrich the woody tones of his guitar.

The image that ultimately emerges from Metal na Madeira is more than a portrait of two artists creating together. It also conjures the timeless landscape of the Brazilian Northeast, from which both artists originally hail. Into that space, Faquini and Santoro invite an all-star cast of collaborators, including Brazilian saxophone great Spok, leader of Recife's Spok Frevo Orquestra; Bay Area multi-reedist Harvey Wainapel; trombonist Jeff Cressman; keyboardist and accordion player Vitor Gonçalves; bassist Scott Thompson; drummer/percussionist Rafael Barata; and pandeiro player Sergio Krakowski.

The album consists of nine original compositions by Faquini and presents a fresh take on traditional Northeastern rhythms such as Maracatu, Frevo, Baião, Xote, and Toada. Faquini's music keeps one foot firmly planted in the past while stepping briskly towards the future with modern harmonic and melodic structures. The songs' lyrics describe the exuberance and poverty of that region of Brazil -the joy, colors and natural beauty, but also sadness, drought and longing of a people who are accustomed to living with extremes. Their stories are movingly and compellingly expressed through Santoro's gift for storytelling and painting with words.

Ian Faquini was born in Brasília and has lived in Berkeley, California since he the age of eight. He graduated from the California Jazz Conservatory and was immediately invited to join the faculty, teaching guitar and Brazilian music. Influences include Guinga and Marcus Tardelli, with whom Ian studied for six years.

Paula Santoro was born in Minas Gerais, where she began her career as part of the local vocal group Nós & Voz and toured the country as lead singer of the progressive rock band Sagrado Coração da Terra. Her enticing blend of jazz and Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) has since become well known through her recordings and frequent TV appearances. She won the Troféu Faísca Award, the Visa Award and was nominated for the Rival Petrobrás Music Award, all as best vocalist.  Santoro has performed with a range of luminaries including Edu Lobo, Yamandú Costa, Mário Adnet, Monica Salmaso, Renato Braz and the Muiza Adnet releasing the álbum Mario Adnet - a look on Villa-Lobos nominated for Best Classical Album in the Latin Grammy Awards.  She has earned wide critical acclaim in Brazil and Europe, and released numerous albums including Mar do meu Mundo on the Borandá label with special guests including UAKTI, and Paula Santoro, released by Biscoito Fino label, featuring special guests Chico Buarque, Toninho Horta and Jaques Morelenbaum.

Paula and Ian were introduced in 2007 by the influential Brazilian composer Guinga in Rio when Paula was collaborating with Guinga on a recording and tour. Ian had met Guinga at the age of 16, an encounter that changed his life and music. Hearing and falling in love with Guinga's music led Ian to devote himself to exploring his own Brazilian roots through music. Paula and Ian came together musically in 2014 when both were part of the faculty at California Brazil Camp, a performing arts camp focused on Brazilian music and dance. Their mutual admiration sparked a desire to work together, resulting in Metal na Madeira, recorded at the famous Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA in September of 2015.

Eraldo Bernocchi Joins Hindustani Lap Steel Guitarist Prakash Sontakke On Sublimely Beautiful New Release - Invisible Strings

On his latest RareNoise release, the one-time Italian punk guitarist and current experimental musician-producer-sound designer Eraldo Bernocchi joins Indian slide guitar master Prakash Sontakke for a rare encounter on the sublimely beautiful Invisible Strings. A melding of East and West, Bernocchi plays sparse guitar lines behind the Hindustani lap steel virtuoso on this evocative collaboration between the two. From "The Last Emperor Walked Alone" to "Sublime Skies," "Bangalor Electric" and "The Unsaid," Bernocchi and Sontakke strike an uncommon accord on this meeting of the spirits.
"The first time I heard about Prakash was in a project with Eivind Aarset where he played guitar. His name popped out again from a journalist who suggested I should do something with him because we could really get along. He actually was right. Prakash is such a sensitive person, able to adapt to any style or sound environment. And he has an amazing way of mixing Hindustani classical music with new technologies as well lap steel guitar."
In shaping a sonic environment for Prakash to play in, Bernocchi was mindful of letting things flow in the studio as the music took shape. "It's difficult for me to start with a sound concept," he says, "as sound lives by itself and blooms according to what's surrounding it. I was intrigued by the idea of working with another guitar player, especially one coming from a different tradition who was confronting himself with a more western instrument. I have loved Indian and Asian music since I was a teenager and for me to work with someone so skilled, so amazingly dynamic has been a kind of dream fulfilled."
Bernocchi acknowledges that Brian Eno's 1983 ambient music project Apollo (which utilized lap steel guitar) was a seed for his own work on the Invisible Strings project. "I own Apollo on vinyl, CD and tape, "he says. "It is one of my favourite records of all time. It's very likely that in a silent way, when I had the chance to play with someone who eventually reminded me of those moments, my brain reacted to it with a big smile."
Add the fact that Prakash is Indian and Bernocchi professes a special love for that place and its music, and you have the makings of magical outing. Bernocchi, who co-founded RareNoise Records in 2008 with Giacomo Bruzzo, has recorded with the bands Obake, Metallic Taste of Blood and Owls and also collaborated with minimalist pianist-composer Harold Budd for the London-based label. For Invisible Strings, he saw his role as a guitarist from a couple of different points of view.
"The first approach was creating atmospheres around Prakash's guitar magic. I used a lot of pedals and I completely reshaped the sound of the guitar as we know it," he explains. "On the record there are a lot of sounds that are made with guitar but they sound like from other instruments. I've always been interested in using the guitar as a tool, as something that could create sounds out of space or nowhere. There are pads, drones, keys that are coming from my guitars. I mainly used baritone guitars, especially a custom- made aluminum one built for me by Nude Guitars from Italy. They're amazing instruments with such a sustain that sometimes you think there's compression applied but it's just the aluminum neck dialoguing with the wood body.The second phase was duetting with Prakash, creating something that could be a sort of dialogue. This was much more risky as he is such a skilled player and so sensitive that I was worried to spoil the magic of his melodies. But I think in the end it worked well and everything was natural."
Bernocchi explains the process of carving out the evocative soundscapes heard behind Sontakke throughout Invisible Strings. "Every track starts with a melody, a harmony, a loop of something I had in mind that I was sending to Prakash to record on. He was then sending me back his guitar parts or his ideas for melodies and harmonies, and from that point I was starting to build tracks. So every groove, beat, bass line or my guitar parts are always dialoguing with what he was sending me. Sometimes we reversed the process with me sending over themes, like on 'The Unsaid' for example. It's a time-consuming process, especially because I'm a studio maniac and I'm never satisfied. So ultimately it took one and a half years of sessions to complete this project.
"It is a very emotional album," Bernocchi continues, "as during the process of composing and recording it, we exchanged a lot of personal stories, impressions, memories. A lot of small stories surfaced during the making of Invisible Strings -- some happy, some melancholic, some really sad. Prakash is one of those persons with whom I could fully open my heart to emotions. I can't wait to play live with him."
Invisible Strings, Bernocchi's most genuinely heartfelt and strikingly evocative recording to date, will be released on RareNoise Records in November.

1.    The Last Emperor Walked Alone
2.    Will You Stay
3.    From Star To Star
4.    The Invisible Ferry
5.    Sublime Skies
6.    Bangalor Electric
7.    Purple Yellow
8.    Walking Backwards Again
9.    The Unsaid

BOBBY PREVITE'S MASS: Monumental Work Blends Early Music And Metal

As widely renowned for his unerring, intuitive grooves behind the kit as he is for his inventiveness as a composer and bandleader, Bobby Previte stretches into some totally new musical terrain on Mass, his RareNoise debut as a leader and followup to 2014's cooperative trio project The New Standard with bassist Steve Swallow and keyboardist Jamie Saft. A modernist re-imagining of the choral epic Missa Sancti Jacobi by 15th century composer Guillaume Dufay, Previte's Mass prominently features the imposing sound of cathedral pipe organ along with an acclaimed early music chamber vocal group, the 11-voice Rose Ensemble conducted by Jordan Sramek, and a slamming core group consisting of Previte on drums, Marco Benevento on pipe organ and Rheem organ, Don McGreevy, Stephen O'Malley, Mike Gamble and Jamie Saft on electric guitars and Reed Mathis on electric bass. A kind of heavy metal requiem mass, full of thrashing feedback guitars and grinding power chords, hellacious fuzz bass, thunderous beats and the glorious sound of a Medieval vocal choir, Mass is unlike anything Previte has done before in his extensive discography, which covers recordings by his bands Weather Clear Track Fast, Latin for Travelers, The Coalition of the Willing, Bump and the Beta Popes.
"I've been thinking about this idea for at least 12 or 13 years now," says thed rummer-composer. "In fact, I scored a version of it in the early 2000s that I toured Europe with. Then when when I got home, I decided it wasn't right and threw it all in the trash. It wasn't powerful enough. So I went back to the drawing board."

Previte first encountered composer Guillaume Dufay in his Early Music class in college. "You have to remember, when Dufay wrote his music it was performed at a time in which there were no loud man-made sounds -- no amplifiers, airplanes, bombs, etc. Performed in a hard-walled stone church, the sound racing around the walls and bouncing off the ceiling, it had to have been an overwhelming  experience. Now it feels quiet, meditative, but in the context of its time I believe it was a powerful, soul-shaking, transportive, otherworldly music. And I needed to match that power, so I had to go with Metal -- a reviled music that somehow still keeps coming."
Previte and his wife, the writer and choreographer Andrea Kleine, presented the piece in 2007 as a full-blown theater production at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. "She wrote the book and directed it," he explains. "It was then that I met the Rose Ensemble. They specialize in Early Music, which was essential to me. It's a very different discipline than other vocal music. And for them to have the courage and the openness to do a project like this, where I asked them to sing in a different tempo, key and time signature while the crushing metal band was playing -- that was truly inspiring."
The players involved in Mass are old cohorts of Previte. Organist Benevento and bassist Reed played in his The Coalition of the Willing. Saft played in Previte's Latin for Travelers band and is also a key member of 2014's The New Standard on RareNoise. Guitarist Gamble has been a longstanding collaborator and is also a member of Previte's current working quartet, Bobby Previte and the Visitors. Guitarists O'Malley and McGreevy are members of the Seattle-based drone and doom metal bands Sunn O))) and Earth, respectively. "O'Malley in particular used a gigantic wall of amps in the studio," says Previte. "If you want that sound, you can't use a little stomp box, you have to actually move all that air. It was exhilarating to watch."
Twelve years in the making, Mass is the culmination of a long road for Previte. "I am super happy with how it turned out, as it is extremely difficult music to perform," he says. "Each of the three pillars of the piece -- choir, metal trio, and pipe organ -- are operating within their own algorithms, their own keys, time and tempo. And the piece is written for them to be on parallel tracks but making a different fourth thing, dovetailing together on the cadences. Eventually we all began to be able to hear how it all worked, what notes the choir should be singing when you, as the guitarist, were on your third beat of your bar number 15, a 4/4 bar, at quarter note = 60, as they were in their 33rd bar of 6/8 in a completely different tempo. It sounds crazy. Well, it is crazy! But the design worked eventually, which is a testament to the musicians and their resilience."

Previte adds about his latest opus, "It has probably the greatest cover art I have ever had on any of my records. Astonishing work by, and all respect to, the artist, Hadi Nasiri."

Audio Fidelity To Release Two Jazz-Fusion Classics on Hybrid SACD By Weather Report and Return To Forever

Marshall Blonstein's Audio Fidelity will be releasing Weather Report, “Tale Spinnin'” and Return to Forever, “Musicmagic” on Hybrid SACD. Both recordings are considered essentials from the jazz fusion era of the mid-'70s.

Recorded in early 1975, “Tale Spinnin'”, Weather Report's fifth studio album is filled with sunny textures of Latin and African flavors. The album stands with anything recorded during the period for the range of fresh, intriguing originals by the band's co-founders and principle composers, the keyboardist Joe Zawinul and the saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Zawinul's pioneering interest in world music is in full evidence with the exotic percussion, wordless vocals, sandy sound effects and Middle Eastern and North African musical spices. His synthesizer sophistication is growing along with the available technology of the day. Wayne Shorter's work on soprano sax is more animated than on their previous albums and Alphonso Johnson puts his melodic bass more to the fore.

“Musicmagic” is Return to Forever's final studio album and one of the best jazz recordings released in the fusion genre. The album contains the final line-up of the band with only founders Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke returning from the earlier recordings. This 1977 release was the first Return to Forever album in five years to contain vocals, performed here by Gayle Moran and Stanley Clarke. This album also marked the return of original member Joe Farrell on saxophone and flute, along with several new members making up a killer five-piece horn section.

The sound is remarkably more orchestral than anything the group had previously done, a cross between fusion, jazz vocals, big band and grassroots accoustic jazz. Musicmagic celebrates the pure joy of music.

Both releases are mastered by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and the SACD Authoring was done by Stephen Marsh at Marsh Mastering.

Weather Report “Tale Spinnin'” 
Produced by Wayne Shorter, Josef Zawinul

1-Man in the Green Shirt
3-Between the Thighs
5-Freezing Fire
6-Five Short Stories

Return To Forever “Musicmagic”
Produced by Chick Corea - Co-produced by Stanley Clarke

1-The Musician
2-Hello Again
4-So Long Mickey Mouse
5-Do You Ever
6-The Endless Night

Singer Songwriter Stephen Parker Releases New Pop Jazz Album on iTunes - One Step Closer to the Blue

Veteran musician Stephen Parker has just released his latest pop-jazz album “One Step Closer to the Blue".   The album is the brand new aural sojourn by Parker that presents a profound musical tapestry of emotional and spiritual wandering and fulfillment. A travelogue which takes the listener from the French countryside to the dusty plains of Wyoming, from a twilight tango in California to the mountains of western North Carolina, and to the idyllic fishing village of Alyki on the Greek island of Paros!

The album has created quite the buzz since its release earlier this Summer. News of the release has been picked up by popular websites such as BlogHer, TrendingToday and (which powers many email browsers like AOL and Yahoo!).  He was also featured as a part of the Community News in The Chicago Tribune and on the  RetroMix 107.9 website as well.

The album was also picked up by The Deuce Radio Show in the UK which is broadcast on over 40 radio stations worldwide. They have put Stephen’s song “Carry The One (Love)” in regular rotation on numerous shows.

Without a doubt, Stephen Parker recorded something quite magical at Spectra Sound Recording Studio, in Nazareth, PA with veteran engineer/producer Jim McGee. Stephen beckons listeners to open their hearts and bring their ears on a journey. Fans can purchase “One Step Closer to the Blue” on iTunes and CD Baby as well as on his engaging new website

Stephen’s original material and capacity for exquisite story-telling lyrics began to surface and take shape, culminating in the release of his first solo album, "Cheyenne Autumn" in 1979. Following his debut LP, Stephen released a string of 6 CD releases starting with “The Gathering Storm” in 1990 which featured the rocking single "High Horse".

Stephen moved more towards an acoustic music focus in 1999. This acoustic band phase eventually culminated in the release of "Joined in Progress" in 2003 which featured an amazing live concert at the newly opened Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, PA. After this acoustic phase, Stephen moved into yet another new type of format leading to the creation and release of his delightful 2008 jazz/pop album, "What Goes Around."   After recording the exquisite last track "Tabula Rasa" with the Eric Mintel Jazz Quartet, the door was left open to reconvene at some point and explore recording more material with his changing and evolving sound. The result of that reunion is the magnificent new release “One Step Closer to the Blue”

Acclaimed Jazz Trumpeter TERELL STAFFORD Releases FORGIVE AND FORGET

Trumpeter Terell Stafford has a new release and it called “Forgive And Forget” and it’s the second installment in a series of recordings dubbed “Jazzmasters Unlimited”.  A master trumpeter with over 20 years of experience on the jazz scene, Terell has been hailed as “one of the great players of our time, a fabulous trumpet player” by McCoy Tyner.  

A powerful with a finely honed sense of swing, and the ability to croon lilting balladry and great beauty, Terell can play modern, uptempo or groovy in the pocket.  The Terell Stafford Quintet, which includes Tim Warfield-saxes, Bruce Barth-piano, Peter Washington-bass, and Dana Hall-drums, is an acclaimed ensemble which plays major festivals and clubs around the country and has issued fine recordings like “Brotherlee Love” which topped the prestigious Jazzweek charts for two non-consecutive weeks in 2015 and as nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and ‘This Side of Strayhorn” which was a Downbeat Magazine Editors pick in 2011.

As a soloist, Terell is constantly in demand and has performed with a who’s who of jazz luminaries including Bobby Watson, McCoy Tyner, Benny Gibson, Kenny Barron, Jimmy Heath Big Band, Matt Wilson Arts & Crafts, the Clayton Brothers, and the Grammy Award winning Village Vanguard Orchestra.Stafford can be heard performing on over 130 albums; a sampling is included here. Stafford with the Hamilton-Clayton Jazz Orchestra, performed on Diana Krall’s GRAMMY nominated From this Moment On (2006). John Clayton invited Stafford to perform with the Clayton Brothers Quintet, Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and to teach for the prestigious Vail Jazz Foundation. In celebration of Jimmy Heath’s 80th birthday, Stafford recorded with the Jimmy Heath Big Band for the album Turn Up the Heath (2006). As a member of drummer Matt Wilson’s group Arts and Crafts, Stafford is featured on the album Scenic Route (2007). Stafford performed on Alvin Queen and the Organic’s album I Ain’t Lookin’ at You (2006).

Stafford was a member of the GRAMMY nominated Bobby Watson’s Tailor Made Big Band for their album Tailor Made. Stafford is a member of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and they were awarded a GRAMMY in 2009 for Best Large Ensemble, Live at the Village Vanguard. Stafford had the privilege of performing solo trumpet with the Temple University Symphony Orchestra for the premiere performance of Fourth Stream…La Banda. This commissioned piece for orchestra, jazz combo and solo trumpet, was written by GRAMMY winning composer Bill Cunliffe, former Boyer College faculty member. It was recorded on the university’s music label, BCM&D, and subsequently nominated for a GRAMMY in 2010 for Best Instrumental Composition. He is a member of the GRAMMY nominated Clayton Brothers Quintet for Best Instrumental Composition, Brother to Brother 2010 and New Song and Dance 2011. Another Temple University commissioned piece, Overture; Waltz & Rondo was nominated for a GRAMMY in 2013.

With over 130 album appearances to his credit, Forgive And Foret is Stafford's ninth overall as a leader and features the following tracks: No, No, No (That Ain't the Way It Go); A Two-Per to Fill; Forgive and Forget; The Owl Express; The Tint Train; Please Rest My Soul; No, No, No (That Ain't the Way It Go) [Take 2]; The Owl Local (No Passengers!); and Some Many Second Chances.



A fantastic album from deep soul singer Paulette Reeves – one of the most unique talents of her generation, and an artist who's never fully gotten her due! Paulette's got a southern soul range in her vocals, and works here with Miami TK arrangements from Clarence Reid – but she also has these more sophisticated modern soul currents in her music – at a level that makes us think of her more along the lines of singers like Jean Carn or Phyllis Hyman! The set's quite different than some of the other TK Records material of the time – and was quite possibly overlooked at the time, due to its release within their disco-heavy catalog – whereas Reeves is a singer who really would have gotten strong attention on a label like Philadelphia International. The whole thing's great – and the album includes her classic midtempo number "Let Me Wrap You In My Love", plus other nice ones – like "Secret Lover", "There's Fire Down Below", and "If You Don't See Me Again". ~ Dusty Groove


Great work from one of the freshest funk combos going today – a group who really grabbed our ears with their initial singles and debut album – but who seem here to be heading into even hipper territory overall! There's a brilliant blend of sharp-edged instrumentation and more exotic touches – particularly some East African inflections on the horns, which gives them a vibe that's a nice change from usual funk phrasing, but without any sort of easy Afro-styled cliches as well. At times, the music also has some great southern Cali elements that fit the title and the cover – laidback rhythms that are never sloppy, but maybe just have a cool, kicked-back approach that furthers their unique groove. Titles include "Baja Norte", "Tche", "Jeannie's Getdown", "Out On The Coast", "Pig's Feet", "Volcano Vapes", "Face 1", "Balboa Park", and "Rise Of The East". ~ Dusty Groove


Rob Mazurek's Sao Paulo Underground group just keeps on getting better and better – and opening up with new ideas we never would have expected in their music just a few years before! The group's been an important springboard for a newly emotional, spiritual side of Mazurek's music – but they've also gelled together so wonderfully, they've hit some really tremendous territory as a unit – and on this set, they almost re-embrace some of the electronics of Rob's more abstract years, but find a way to create sounds that live up to their emotional range on previous records. The balance is wonderful – we can't imagine anyone else pulling it off this well – and although the songs might still have some jazz aspects, they also maybe function more as paintings in sound – with Rob on cornet, moog, Mellotron, percussion, and a modular synth – with Mauricio Takara on drums, cavaquino, and more electronics; Guilherme Grando on keyboards and electronics; and Thomas Roher on flutes, soprano sax, rabeca, electronics, and percussion. The sound of the music is as dense as the image on the cover – and maybe as cosmic, too – and titles include "Fire & Chime", "Violent Orchid Parade", "Cambodian Street Carnival", "Estrada Para A Oeste", "Of Golden Summer", and "Falling Down From The Sky Like Some Damned Ghost". ~ Dusty Groove



One of the most soulful albums in years from trumpeter Dave Douglas – quite a surprise, given that the whole thing is a dedication to the dada movement! There's a very deep sound to the record – thanks in part to tremendous drum work from Clarence Penn, and equally strong bass from Matt Brewer – who set up this chunky bottom of the record that almost feels like it's got roots in some sort of New Orleans heritage, but very abstracted, and taken into the right sort of modern territory for Dave's expressions. The piano work of Frank Woeste is also great – especially when he picks up a bit of Fender Rhodes – and it's maybe his conception of chunky blocks of sound that give the whole album its great spirit. Titles include "Mains Libres", "Oedipe", "Longings & Illusions", "Danger Dancer", and "Noire Et Blanche". ~ Dusty Groove


A very hip singer, and one of the most righteous jazz vocal albums we've heard in while! Diane Witherspoon has family ties to Jimmy Witherspoon, but her style here is completely different – in that mode of jazz singing that's way past torch, way past standards, and in much hipper territory that really relates the vocals to the instrumental complexity of the music – at a level we'd match with the best work of singers like Dee Dee Bridgewater or Carmen Lundy! And like both of them, the song choices here are very hip – vocal versions of tunes penned by Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, Teddy Edwards, Sweets Edison, and others – the kind of unusual material that really gives the album a lot of personality, right from the start. Diane sings with a core piano trio, but the sound is far more dynamic than you'd expect – which makes for a wonderful album all the way through! Titles include "LA After Dark", "Even Steven", "Child's Play", "Night Flight", "Don't Touch Me", "Sway", "Centerpiece", "Sweet Sounds In THe Night", and "The Maestro". ~ Dusty Groove


These guys really live up to the "future" in their name – and serve up a wonderfully soulful version of funky jazz – one that's brimming over with youthful energy, and a strong vision that should guide the group for years to come! The music is almost a reworked version of old school electric jazz funk – but as if the music had taken a trip into space, got its mind blown, then was trying to find a way to live life as normal back at home! Things are straight at first, but often open up into these cosmic corners ones things get going – never in a flashy sort of broken beat way, but just with a new energy that really moves past any sort of stock funk or fusion modes. The group hails from Richmond, and they've got a unique approach that's all their own – and one that's pretty wonderful, too – served up with lots of warm keyboards, bold trumpet lines, and soulful alto and soprano sax – mostly instrumental, but with vocals from Frankie James on one track. Titles include "Dahlia", "Hub", "Almost Gone", "MJ 2.0", "Vibin", "Closer", "First Attempt", and "The Journey" ~ Dusty Groove

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Verve Celebrates Christmas with Two Releases: Joyful Jazz! Christmas with Verve, Vol. 1: The Vocalists & Joyful Jazz! Christmas with Verve, Vol. 2: The Instrumentals

Verve is proud to celebrate the holidays with two heartwarming Christmas releases - Joyful Jazz! Christmas with Verve, Vol. 1: The Vocalists, and Joyful Jazz! Christmas with Verve, Vol. 2: The Instrumentals, as part of their 60(th) Anniversary. Both releases, which feature tracks across five decades from some of the finest vocalists and instrumentalists from Universal Music's family of labels including Verve, Blue Note, Impulse!, Decca, GRP, Cadet, Argo, and more, will be available separately on CD and digitally on October 21.

Christmas is deeply rooted in tradition, and one staple of that tradition is carolers traveling door-to-door, crooning quintessential Christmas songs. The Vocalists features some of the most illustrious singers performing their favorite holiday tracks. You'll hear Willie Nelson and Norah Jones' take on "Baby, It's Cold Outside," as well as Diana Krall's rendition of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,"Ella Fitzgerald performing "White Christmas," and Dinah Washington on "Silent Night," previously a rare single-only release. The album also boasts spirited tracks from Mel Tormé, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Patti Austin, Peggy Lee, Shirley Horn, Diane Schuur, Betty Carter and Judy Holliday.

The instrumental tunes are just as entrenched in these traditions - it seems like every classic holiday film features a family gathering with a loved one at the piano playing Christmas standards. Here, The Instrumentals portray exciting takes on songs like "Silver Bells" from Kevin Eubanks, "Frosty The Snowman" as interpreted by Roy Hargrove and Christian McBride, "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" performed by the Bill Evans Trio, Stanley Jordan's version of "Silent Night" and Kenny Burrell's take on "The Little Drummer Boy." Don't miss other standout performances by the Ramsey Lewis Trio, Mark Whitfield, Tom Scott, who contributes "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," a song originally created for the four-time Academy Award-nominated film Meet Me in St. Louis' soundtrack, as well as Nelson Rangell, Jimmy Smith, the Lionel Hampton Sextet, and Eliane Elias. Two additional tracks stand out on The Instrumentals release. Oscar Peterson's "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" is previously unreleased and available here for the first time; it was recorded with Buddy Bregman and his orchestra in 1957 during Peterson's sessions for his Verve album, Soft Sands. The collection also includes a rare alternate version of John Coltrane Quartet's "Greensleeves," which previously had only been available on the Deluxe Edition of Trane's album, Ballads.

For more music to get you in the mood for the holiday season, UMe has you covered with their "Christmas" playlist. The 70-song collection features some of the biggest songs and artists in the holiday canon and pairs timeless classics from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Burl Ives, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Vince Guaraldi Trio with modern staples from Michael Bublé, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, Diana Krall, Dave Koz, Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Mary J. Blige and many others for an eclectic and festive playlist sure to be the perfect soundtrack for your holidays. Stream via Spotify here:

Joyful Jazz! Christmas with Verve, Vol 1: The Vocalists
Track Listing
1.   The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) - Mel Tormé
2.   Baby, It's Cold Outside - Willie Nelson featuring Norah Jones
3.   Christmas Time Is Here - Patti Austin
4.   Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Diana Krall with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra
5.   It Must Be Christmas - Judy Holliday with the Gerry Mulligan Orchestra
6.   Peace On Earth - Peggy Lee
7.   (There Is No Place Like) Home For The Holidays - Betty Carter
8.   I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm - Billie Holiday
9.   I'll Be Home For Christmas - Diane Schuur
10. Peace - Norah Jones
11. White Christmas - Ella Fitzgerald
12. 'Zat You, Santa Claus? - Louis Armstrong & The Commanders
13. Winter Wonderland - Shirley Horn
14. Silent Night - Dinah Washington

Joyful Jazz! Christmas With Verve, Vol 2: The Instrumentals
Track Listing
1.   Here Comes Santa Claus - Ramsey Lewis Trio
2.   Those Soulful Jingle Bells - Mark Whitfield
3.   Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Tom Scott
4.   The Little Drummer Boy - Kenny Burrell
5.   I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm* - Oscar Peterson Quartet w/ Buddy Bregman and his orchestra
6.   Silver Bells - Kevin Eubanks
7.   Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Nelson Rangell
8.   God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Jimmy Smith
9.   Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - The Bill Evans Trio
10. Frosty The Snowman - Roy Hargrove and Christian McBride
11. Swingle Jingle - Lionel Hampton Sextet
12. Silent Night - Stanley Jordan
13. I'll Be Home For Christmas/Sleigh Ride - Eliane Elias
14. Greensleeves - The John Coltrane Quartet
 * Previously unreleased



Grover Washington Jr is one of the most soulful soloists to ever pick up a saxophone – and he's really given his full due here – in a fantastic extended collection that not only spans labels to bring together his best tracks, but also includes some important performances on other folks' records too! Grover on his own is great enough – but when he steps in on tenor or soprano sax with another singer, or a jazz musician, he can really make magic – as you'll hear on the 24 tracks within – including "Inner City Blues", "No Tears In The End", "Knucklehead", "A Secret Place", "Black Frost", "Mister Magic", "Winelight", "Let It Flow", "Strawberry Moon", "Soulful Strut", "Time Out Of Mind", "Jammin", "East River Drive", "Come Morning", and "It Feels So Good" – all by Grover – plus "Loran's Dance" with Idris Muhammad, "Morning Glory" with Eric Gale, "Just The Two Of Us" with Bill Withers, "Brighton By The Sea" with Bob James, "Asphalt Canyon Blues" with Kenny Burrell, and "The Best Is Yet To Come" with Patti Labelle. ~ Dusty Groove


A really unusual group, with a sound that's certainly the sum of its wonderful parts – but also different in ways you might not expect! The lineup is excellent – the legendary Dave Holland on bass, Lionel Loueke on guitar, Chris Potter on tenor and soprano sax, and Eric Harland on drums – all working together in these very groovy styles that seem to have Holland pulling a lot more bold basslines than usual – almost as if he's using an electric version of the instrument, although it appears to just be an acoustic with a pickup! There's a soulful vibe to the record that you might not expect – shades of color and tone that are maybe closest to Loueke's music, but also very different than his own records – and Potter's really great in this setting, and blows with these open lines that are still as angular and sharp as usual, but maybe a bit warmer too. Titles include "Blue Sufi", "Aziza Dance", "Summer 15", "Walkin’ The Walk", and "Finding The Light". ~ Dusty Groove


A stunner! If what you're looking for is the most personal and boldy creative I Ced effort to date, well, this is that and more – delivering boisterous modern funk beats and atmosphere underneath his soulful, spiritually-heightened vocals – probably his best ever! Those traits carry the vibe throughout, and leave plenty of room for adventurous stylistic exploration – from tight funk, to looser spacey soul and beyond. I Ced handles a lot of the vocal, instrumental and production work himself here, but there's an impressive guest list, too – including Om'Mas Keith, Thundercat, Jimetta Rose and others. Includes "What Are Looking For?", "Things We Like To Do", "Run Run", "Go Hard", "Wildest Dreams", "I Am Love" with Jimetta Rose and Erik Rico, "Forever", "Not A Farewell", "Sign Signed Signal" (plus a bonus alternate version with Quelle Chris, "Percu", "Baya" and more. ~ Dusty Groove

Diana Krall's Classic Holiday Album "Christmas Songs," Featuring The Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, Released Back On Vinyl

Diana Krall's beloved holiday album, Christmas Songs, is now available back on vinyl as of today, Friday, October 14 via Verve/UMe. Originally released to wide spread critical acclaim in 2005, the album featuring the GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist/singer backed by the Clayton/Hamilton Jazz Orchestra was the #1 Jazz and #1 Holiday record in the U.S. upon release, and #17 in the Top 200. 

Christmas Songs follows the vinyl release of eight essential Krall albums this past summer as part of Verve's ongoing 60(th) anniversary celebration. On July 15, Krall's acclaimed records - All For You, Love Scenes, When I Look In Your Eyes, The Look Of Love, Live In Paris, The Girl In The Other Room, From This Moment On and Quiet Nights - were released as 180-gram double LPs.

Christmas Songs was co-produced by longtime friend and fellow GRAMMY® Award-winner Tommy LiPuma, and features the talents of renowned bassist/arranger John Clayton (Count Basie, Duke Ellington), guitarist Anthony Wilson (Chris Botti, Michael Bublé), drummer Jeff Hamilton (Rosemary Clooney, Natalie Cole) and bassist Bob Hurst (The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live). The Clayton/Hamilton Orchestra accompanies Krall for season standards including "Let It Snow," "I'll Be Home For Christmas," "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town," and "Jingle Bells," while legendary composer Johnny Mandel contributes a string arrangement to "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep." Rounding out the album are perennial favorites "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "Christmas Time Is Here" with a band that includes guitarist Russell Malone.

"I feel that this recording has allowed me to do something I have always wanted to do, in the tradition of the great singers who recorded with the likes of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billy May, and, of course, Johnny Mandel, who arranged some of the songs on this album," she noted before originally releasing the album over a decade ago.

"Ray Brown told me once that you should feel like dancing when you hear this music. I hope people do," she adds. "Christmas has always been about music, coming home and gathering together with family and friends to sing and celebrate this joyous time of year. This recording represents the incredible joy that Christmas means to me."

Krall's swinging rendition of "Let It Snow" is featured on UMe's holiday playlist simply titled "Christmas." The 70-song playlist features some of the biggest songs and artists in the holiday canon and pairs timeless classics from Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, The Ronettes, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and The Carpenters with modern staples from Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Sam Smith, Mary J. Blige and many others for an eclectic and festive playlist sure to be the perfect soundtrack for your holidays. Stream via Spotify here:

Joan Armatrading Readying The Release Of "Me Myself I World Tour" DVD And CD Set For Release

Joan Armatrading, legendary songstress and purveyor of finely tuned, emotionally charged music, is back with a new release, "Me Myself I World Tour"--a concert DVD and CD release documenting  her 2014/2015 solo world tour which was billed as both her first world tour and "the last major tour" of her career.  The tour album--written, arranged and performed by Armatrading-- was recorded in October of 2015 at The Barns at Wolf Trap, the intimate concert space of the world renowned DC area venue, and contains her biggest hits spanning her entire career.  In addition, Joan is readying "The Tempest Songs"--a digital album of music composed for the Domar Warehouse's upcoming run of "The Tempest."  "Me Myself I World Tour" will be released on November 11(th) on 429 Records and "The Tempest Songs" is available now on iTunes.

Long recognized as a pioneering creative force with a career spanning four decades, the Saint Kitts born Joan Armatrading has maintained an acclaimed and storied career and fanbase.  In 2014 she embarked on an 18-month tour of the world--a solo tour with only her piano and guitar in tow.  Classics such as the title track, "Drop the Pilot" and "Willow" are all performed with a heightened sense of intimacy.  "Me Myself I World Tour" captures that magic in her performance at Wolf Trap.  Joan has reassured fans that she has not retired and will continue to perform, just not on this scale.  In fact, she'll be performing "The Tempest Songs" at Domar Warehouse, one of the UK's leading producing theatres located in Covent Garden.

The three times Grammy nominated British artist has garnered countless accolades which include Top 10 albums and singles ("Love and Affection," "Willow," "Drop the Pilot," are but a few), not to mention a #1 debut atop the Billboard Blues chart in 2007 (a first for a female artist from the UK).  She has made VH1's list of the 100 Most Influential Women in Rock, has been nominated for a Brit Award, gave a command performance for Nelson Mandela on his 70(th) birthday at Wembley Stadium and received an Honorary Degree from Birmingham University.

"Me Myself I World Tour" Track Listing:

1)  All the Way From America
2)  Mama Mercy
3)  My Baby's Gone
4)  Down To Zero
5)  In These Times
6)  Steppin' Out
7)  Kissin' and A Huggin'
8)  The Weakness in Me
9)  Empty Highway
10) Woncha Come On Home
11) Love and Affection
12) Rosie
13) My Myself I
14) Drop the Pilot
15) Willow

"The Tempest Songs" Track Listing:

1)  Come unto these yellow sands--Ariel
2)  Full fathom five thy father lies--Ariel
3)  I shall no more to sea--Stephano
4)  The mother, the swabber, the boatswain and I--Stephano
5)  No more dams I'll make for fish--Caliban
6)  Flout 'em and scout 'em (round)--Trinculo, Stephano, Caliban
7)  Flout 'em and scout 'em (round)--trumpet, flute, steel pans
8)  Marvelous and sweet music (dream banquet)--open music with pans
9)  Thunder and lightning (dream banquet vanishes)--angular music
10) Bride's fanfare
11) Juno 'honour, riches, marriage blessing
12) Ceres 'earth's increase, foison plenty'
13) The wedding dance
14) Where the bee sucks there suck i--Ariel
15) The drone--Ariel

Legendary composer and trumpeter WADADA LEO SMITH creates a new masterwork inspired by the country's most stunning landscapes - AMERICA'S NATIONAL PARKS

With America's National Parks, visionary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith offers his latest epic collection, a six-movement suite inspired by the scenic splendor, historic legacy, and political controversies of the country's public landscapes. Writing for his newly expanded Golden Quintet, Smith crafts six extended works that explore, confront and question the preserved natural resources that are considered the most hallowed ground in the U.S. – and some that should be.

The two-CD America's National Parks will be released on October 14 on Cuneiform Records, shortly before Smith's 75th birthday in December. It arrives, coincidentally, in the midst of celebrations for the centennial of the National Park Service, which was created by an act of Congress on August 25, 1916. The spark for the project, however, came from two places: Smith's own research into the National Park system, beginning with Yellowstone, the world's first national park; and Ken Burns' 12-hour documentary series The National Parks: America's Best Idea.

"The idea that Ken Burns explored in that documentary was that the grandeur of nature was like a religion or a cathedral," Smith says. "I reject that image because the natural phenomenon in creation, just like man and stars and light and water, is all one thing, just a diffusion of energy. My focus is on the spiritual and psychological dimensions of the idea of setting aside reserves for common property of the American citizens."

His 28-page score for America's National Parks was penned for his Golden Quintet, a fresh reconfiguration of the quartet that's been a keystone of his expression for the last 16 years. Pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Pheeroan akLaff are joined by cellist Ashley Walters, affording the composer and bandleader new melodic and coloristic possibilities. "The cello as a lead voice with the trumpet is magnificent," Smith says, "but when you look at the possibilities for melodic formation with the trumpet, the cello, the piano and the bass, that's paradise for a composer and for a performer. My intent was to prolong or enhance the vitality of the ensemble to live longer."

That's an enticing prospect given the vigor and daring on bold display throughout America's National Parks. Where many composers would be seduced into romantic excess by the sweeping vistas and majestic panoramas of Yellowstone's grand waterfalls or Kings Canyon's towering redwoods, Smith takes a far more investigative and expansive view, with inventive and complex scores that prompt stunning improvisations from his ensemble. In fact, he has yet to visit many of the parks paid homage in the pieces, opting instead for thorough historical research.

"You don't really need to visit a park to write about a park," Smith insists. "Debussy wrote 'La Mer,' which is about the sea, and he wasn't a seafaring person. I would defend his right to do that, and I would contend that 'La Mer' is a masterpiece that clearly reflects his psychological connection with the idea of the sea."

The idea of the parks, rather than their physical and geographical beauty, is central to Smith's conception for this music. In its marrying of natural landmarks and political challenges it can be traced back to both of the composer's most recent epic masterpieces, The Great Lakes and especially Ten Freedom Summers. "It became a political issue for me because the people that they set up to control and regulate the parks were politicians," Smith says. "My feeling is that the parks should be independent of Congress and organized around an independent source who has no political need to be reelected. So it's a spiritual/psychological investigation mixed with the political dynamics."

Smith's suite also takes inventive liberties with the definition of a "national park;" half of its inspirations aren't, technically speaking, considered as such. The album opens with "New Orleans: The National Culture Park," which argues that the entire Crescent City deserves to be recognized for its influential contributions to American history and culture. "New Orleans was the first cultural center in America and therefore it produced the first authentic American music," Smith says.

The second piece, "Eileen Jackson Southern, 1920-2002: A Literary National Park," takes an even broader view, suggesting that the African-American musicologist, author and founder of the journal The Black Perspective in Music, to which Smith has contributed, should be honored for her efforts to document a musical common ground shared by all Americans. Another piece represents the "Deep and Dark Dreams" of the Mississippi River, which Smith calls "a memorial site which was used as a dumping place for black bodies by hostile forces in Mississippi. I use the word 'dark' to show that these things are buried or hidden, but the body itself doesn't stay hidden; it floats up."

The other three pieces are based on more conventionally recognized national parks: Yellowstone, which became the first place in the world so designated in 1872; Sequoia & Kings Canyon, whose trees Smith marvels at as some of the largest and oldest living things on the planet; and Yosemite, which contains striking glaciers and some of the deepest lakes in the world.

America's National Parks arrives at a time of prolific imagination and universal renown for the composer. Earlier this year Smith, part of the first generation of musicians to come out of Chicago's AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Music), was the recipient of a 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award and an honorary doctorate from CalArts. He also received the Hammer Museum's 2016 Mohn Award for Career Achievement "honoring brilliance and resilience" after his Ankhrasmation scores were featured in an exhibition at the museum. The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presented the first comprehensive exhibition of these scores in 2015. In March 2016 ECM released a cosmic rhythm with each stroke, a duo recording with pianist Vijay Iyer.

While these preserved landscapes offer the inspiration of powerful natural beauty, Smith's always open-minded view of the world leads him to find that same inspiration wherever he is. "Every concrete house is from nature," he says. "Every plastic airplane that flies 300 people across the ocean comes out of nature. Every air conditioner conditions a natural piece of air. I think that the human being is constantly enfolded in organic nature and constructed nature, so I'm constantly inspired, inside the house or outside the house."


Featuring the poetry of the late Paula Tatarunis set to Katz's music and performed by OddSong with vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton; saxophonists Phil Scarff, Melanie Howell Brooks, Jim Hobbs and Rick Stone; marimba player Vessela Stoyanova; violinist Helen Sherrah-Davies; JCA Winds, and the JCA Orchestra with special guest Oliver Lake.

 "Katz has synthesized a wide range of influences including modern classical, folk/blues traditions, and the entire jazz legacy into a mature and personal compositional style." Ø Boston Phoenix

With Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks, jazz composer Darrell Katz introduces his latest ensemble, OddSong, an unusual and perfectly balanced group featuring four saxophones, violin, vibraphone/marimba, and voice. Listeners familiar with Katz's work with the Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra (JCA Orchestra) will recognize many of the compositions. But Katz, who has consistently striven to push himself as a composer, has reimagined them for the more intimate setting of OddSong. Katz, a strikingly original compositional voice for more than 30 years, once again finds new orchestral colors, new moments of beauty, and new ways to inspire the improvisers in his band to great heights.

Many of the album's new arrangements, as well as five new compositions, are settings of the poetry of the late poet Paula Tatarunis, whose words have inspired some of Katz's best work, and her spirit permeates the album. She provided the name of the ensemble in a poem in which she addressed Katz, her husband, as "Oddsong." And she was very much on the mind of everyone in the studio as the album was recorded while she was in critical condition in the hospital. "This album was not originally conceived as an homage to Paula; I just wanted to present the new group," Katz says. "But it became an unintended tribute to her when she tragically died four months later. She will always be part of my life, and in my heart forever."

From the beginning of the project, Katz was primarily interested in exploring the sonic potential of his new ensemble. "One of the challenges of a group like this is to find a way to keep the momentum going without drums and bass," Katz says. "Since I've composed for and recorded with the JCA Sax Quartet (I'm Me and You're Not, 1998), I already had some ideas. The additional instruments gave me more voices, colors, and textures to work with. And I knew they would blend really well."
Indeed, Katz consistently finds new ways to drive the music. There's Melanie Howell Brooks's thundering baritone sax line that both anchors and drives the title track. The steady pulse of Vessela Stoyanova's marimba provides a smoothly rolling base for the lurching, zig-zag saxophones on "Tell Time," pitting regular and irregular rhythms against each other. And on "Red Blue" Katz's riffs and supporting motifs generate swinging forward motion.

Without drums, Katz is also free to explore subtle timbres and dynamics and he often breaks the ensemble down into smaller subgroupings to keep the sound varied. The result is a shifting sonic tapestry on "Lemmings" as duo and trio combinations of instruments take turns accompanying Shrimpton. On "Squirrel" and "Gone Now," instrumental commentary combining classical, jazz, and blues inflections can be dark and dense or bright and airy, comical or serious.

Katz excels at composing music that mirrors the tone of the words and in wedding poetic cadences to musical ones. The near indivisibility of words and music on "Like a Wind," from the novel, Winesburg, Ohio, by Sherwood Anderson, and Tatarunis's darkly humorous "Lemmings" are good examples. Once again, as she has on many previous JCA Orchestra albums, vocalist Rebecca Shrimpton brings the words to glorious life with her crystalline voice and sensitive attention to each poem's meaning.

Katz is also a composer dedicated to unleashing improvisers to do their thing. "Nothing pleases me more then to let creative musicians loose on a pathway that I've been able to open for them," he says. Highlights include a scorching solo by Jim Hobbs and a beautiful alto duet between Phil Scarff and Rick Stone on "Jailhouse Doc with Holes in her Socks," Scarff's elegant soprano solo on Sherrah-Davies's arrangement of Astor Piazzolla's "LLAP Libertango," and a rollicking solo by special guest Oliver Lake on a live performance of "The Red Blues/Red Blue" with the JCA Orchestra. Violinist Helen Sherrah-Davies projects great sadness and dignity during her solo on "Libertango." There are several passages of collective improvisation throughout the album, most notably the completely improvised "Prayer," which opens the disc.

The Boston Phoenix called musician-composer-bandleader-educator Darrell Katz "one of Boston's most ambitious and provocative jazz composers." The paper could just as easily have said one of the entire jazz world's most ambitious and provocative composers. His work with the JCA Orchestra, as documented on 10 previous CDs, shows a composer of uncommon range and broad vision, able to weave influences from every musical sphere into his own unique voice. His 2015 release, Why Do You Ride?, includes "Wheelworks," a setting of quotations that Albert Einstein may or may not have said. In a 4-star DownBeat review, Ken Micallef called it, "rich, swinging and often surprising Š Why Do You Ride? balances modern music with timeless intellectual pursuits (and humor)." Jazz de Gama described it as "pure and mad Š Borges-like and sublime Š a breathtaking eight-part invention that delights as much as it mystifies and dazzles at the same time."

As director of the Jazz Composers Alliance (JCA), an organization he helped found in 1985, Katz has been a strong proponent of artist self-empowerment, providing a vehicle for forward-thinking composers to hear their works realized by some of Boston's best musician-improvisers. The artist-run Julius Hemphill Composition Awards (1991-2001), which in its final year received 240 compositions from 28 countries, provided a means of international community building and a way for peers to acknowledge the work of their fellow composers. He has received a Massachusetts Artist Fellowship in composition, three Massachusetts Artist Fellowship finalist awards, a Jazz Fellowship Grant from the NEA, and grants from Meet the Composer, The Aaron Copland Fund, The New England Foundation For The Arts, the Artists Foundation, the National Association of Jazz Educators and three Readers Digest/ Margaret Jory copying grants, as well as a Faculty Fellowship from Berklee College of Music, where he currently teaches.

Jailhouse Doc with Holes in Her Socks is another milestone in the three-decade journey of growth and discovery in the music of composer Darrell Katz.


Bespoke and Outspoken, the Mark Dresser Seven Explores New Compositions on Sedimental You

Featuring an all-star multi-generational cast with flutist Nicole Mitchell, clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, trombonist Michael Dessen, pianist Joshua White, drummer Jim Black,
and newcomer David Morales Boroff on violin.

Mark Dresser makes music in a vast variety of settings and contexts, but the dauntingly prolific bassist always seeks to create space for the unpredictable play between form and freedom. On his new album Sedimental You, slated for release on Clean Feed on November 10, 2016, he's assembled an astonishingly creative cast that embraces the intuitive and emotionally charged nature of his improvisational imperative. Riveting, playful and often revelatory, his compositions emerge out of a shifting matrix of specific musical personalities and the often dismaying swirl of current events.

Working with a supremely gifted septet, Dresser brings together emerging talent and revered veterans from East and West Coast scenes. In many ways, Sedimental You builds directly on orchestrational concepts he's been exploring in smaller ensembles, and relationships he's honed via telematic connections (which enable musicians in different locations to perform live in real time via high speed/high bandwidth links.)

None of the music is programmatic, but the porous nature of the compositions means that the world's joys and woes seep in. Mocking denunciations and ache-filled reveries flow into open-hearted evocations of beloved colleagues, both departed and still very much with us. Dresser notes that he always writes with specific musicians in mind, "and I really had Marty's clarinet sound in my ear. I've had lots of groups with Michael Dessen, who's a virtuoso trombonist and an invaluable collaborator in my groups and telematic projects. And Jim Black is a force of nature, who I worked with most often in New York and on Japanese tours as the rhythm section for Satoko Fujii."

Dresser started working with Nicole Mitchell after she joined the faculty up the road at UC Irvine, a relationship expanded by collaboration via telematics. He's played several high profile concerts in her ensembles, and she's become an important part of his West Coast quintet. "She's a wonderfully open collaborator, a great soloist, with superb musicianship and a buoyant musical spirit." Dresser says.
San Diego pianist Joshua White is a rapidly rising star who's toured internationally with Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls project. With a potent array of influences at his fingertips, from gospel and spirituals to free improvisation, he quickly fell in with Dresser after the bassist moved to town and discovered "an amazing talent with incredible ears and intuition," Dresser says. "He's a fearless improviser whose musical instincts I completely trust."

The album's wild card is violinist David Morales Boroff, the youngest player on the project. In a serendipitous connection, he's the son of esteemed folk guitarist Phil Boroff, who happened to give Dresser's mother guitar lessons back in the 1970s. "David's got a freaky ear," Dresser says. "I'd give him one of my tunes and he'd be at the piano reharmonizing it. He has a beautiful violin sound and a soulful lyricism that belies his age "

The album opens with "Hobby Lobby Horse," a tricky tune built from bass line up with a derisive hitch in the groove. The title track slyly refers to the 1932 Tommy Dorsey hit "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." Drawing on the cadences of the original, he recalibrated the harmony to evoke its sound and mood. The heart of the album is "Will Well (For Roswell Rudd)," a startlingly tender piece that Dresser conceived with the trombone legend (and frequent collaborator) in mind. He first played the tune in a trio with White and drummer Kjell Nordeson, but this extended version brings out everyone's sumptuous lyricism, particularly when Mitchell's throaty alto flute winds around Ehrlich's woody bass clarinet. "It's an incantation of sorts for Roswell," Dresser says.

Dresser's strikingly beautiful tribute "I Can Smell You Listening (for the late Alexandra Montano)" evokes the boundless spirit of the extraordinary mezzo-soprano who contributed memorably on the 2005 Dresser/Denman Maroney album Time Changes (Cryptogramophone). An extended melodic line that rises and falls, fades and reappears, the tune features some of Ehrlich's most ravishing clarinet work. He offers a different kind of lament with "Newtown Char," a piece he created in response to the unfathomable massacres in Connecticut and Charleston, SC. Structurally and emotionally, it's the album's centerpiece, a plaintive unfurling melody keyed to the thick, woody sound of Ehrlich's bass clarinet. The album closes with the brief, elegiac theme "Two Handfuls of Peace (for Daniel Jackson)," a celebration of the revered San Diego tenor saxophonist who died in 2014 at 77.

Amidst a steady flow of recent albums, Sedimental You stands out as Dresser's most ambitious work as a bandleader. April saw the release of The Moscow Improvisations by Jones Jones, a volatile collective trio with Russian percussionist Vladimir Tarasov and ROVA saxophonist Larry Ochs. And in March the talent laden SLM Ensemble released Source (Liminal Music), a large group project co-led and conducted by Sarah Weaver featuring masters such as vocalist Jen Shyu, flutist Robert Dick, percussionist Gerry Hemmingway, and saxophonists Jane Ira Bloom and Marty Ehrlich.

Born in Los Angeles, Dresser has been a creative force since he first started gaining attention in the early '70s with Stanley Crouch's Black Music Infinity, a free jazz ensemble that included Bobby Bradford, Arthur Blythe, James Newton, and David Murray. He earned a BA and MA from UC San Diego studying contrabass with Bertram Turetzky. While on a Fulbright in Italy studying with maestro Franco Petracchi, Dresser was recruited by Anthony Braxton for his celebrated quartet with Gerry Hemingway and pianist Marilyn Crispell. Dresser made the move to New York in 1986 and spent a decade touring and recording with the reed visionary. A ubiquitous force on the Downtown scene, he worked widely with masters such as Ray Anderson, Tim Berne, Anthony Davis, and John Zorn.

A prolific composer and recording artist, Dresser developed many pieces for the Arcado String Trio, and Tambastics, while receiving numerous commissions and recording his original scores for several classic silent films, including The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Since returning to Southern California in 2004 to join the UCSD music faculty he's maintained creative relationships with many of his New York associates, though the move west coincided with his renewed focus on solo bass performance and telematic research. Recommitted to working with larger groups, he's once again the catalyst for a roiling creative community, work that earned him a prestigious Doris Duke Impact Award in 2015. More than impactful, Sedimental You is music to recharge your ears, agitate your soul, and open your mind.


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