Thursday, July 13, 2017

NEW MUSIC: RUSSELL MALONE – TIME FOR THE DANCERS; MERIDIAN TRIO - TRIANGULUM; ROB MAZUREK – ROME

RUSSELL MALONE – TIME FOR THE DANCERS

Jazz guitar isn't normally a mode you'd expect to be linked with dancers – but this great album from Russell Malone has a very rhythmic core that makes things pretty darn groovy overall! Drummer Willie Jones III is part of the group – and we always love his work – and bassist Luke Sellick really rounds out the sound in a great way too, providing depth even in the more gentle moments – which also seem to be some of the times when pianist Rick Germanson is at his most lyrical. Malone is always great, no matter what the setting – we've always loved his round, warm tones – and this album really lives up to our faith in his music. Apart from the few mellow cuts, it's the upbeat numbers that really grab us here – on titles that include "Time For The Dancers", "Leave It To Lonnie", "Pocket Watch", and really great takes on "Chico & The Man" and "Little B's Poem".  ~ Dusty Groove

MERIDIAN TRIO - TRIANGULUM

Triangulum – a great title for the wonderful energy of this group – which swings perfectly between the three sharp points of Nick Mazzarella on alto, Matt Ulery on bass, and Jeremy Cunningham on drums! These guys are freewheeling, but always soulful – not just because of Nick's well-shaped sense of tone – which can be arch-modern, yet with a surprisingly warm core – but also because the bass of Ulery has this completely rapt (wrapped?) approach – almost like some deep force watching over the whole proceedings, which then seems to set Cunningham free on drums. The group represents an amazing third (or fourth?) wave in the contemporary avant scene in Chicago – the kind of joyous expression that continues to make us proud to live in a city that can create music this wonderful. Titles include "Ringdown", "Reminiscing", "Witch Hazel", "Rhododendron", "Strange", and "Inflection Point".  ~ Dusty Groove

ROB MAZUREK – ROME

An incredible solo record from Rob Mazurek – a wonderful change from some of his larger group and collaborative projects – even though we love those a heck of a lot too! This set's a great reminder of the core improvisational genius that Rob's always had, but which sometimes is overshadowed by the group activity on his other records. Here, Mazurek blows cornet alone, and also plays both standard and prepared piano – and colors things with just a dash of his great electronics – often used in more sparing and subtle ways than some of his group efforts. A really beautiful set from a musician who continues to reward us over the years – with titles that include "Twombly At New Church", "Gazing Through Walls", "King Of Rome", and "Sweet Life In Disrepair".  ~ Dusty Groove

 

Saxophonist Maceo Parker Promises to Make It Funky at the Newport Jazz Festival on Friday, August 4

What does it mean when the master of funk, the legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker and his impeccably tight band take over the Fort Stage at the Newport Jazz Festival® presented by Natixis Global Asset Management on Friday August 4? It means Newport will definitely get funked up.

Festival goers, Fort Adams and perhaps all of Newport Harbor will erupt with the rhythms that Parker is known to lay down during his electric-fueled concerts. After all, Maceo is the man both the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and pop idol Prince famously instructed to "BLOW."

Parker's prolific career began in Kinston, North Carolina, where he still lives when not on tour. Now 74, he started playing in local clubs with his brothers at age six, and joined James Brown on tour in the 1960s. It was in Brown's early hit, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," that the famous command to "blow" was first heard. In the 1970s Parker hooked up with George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic and explored a range of genres from soul to funk and R&B. By the 1990s, Parker was ready to lead his own band with whom he released the masterful album "Roots Revisited." It spent weeks at the top of Billboard's Jazz charts and is on track to be re-released soon. The veteran horn man also toured with Prince and the New Power Generation and appeared as a sideman alongside scores of artists from Ani DeFranco to Keith Richards.

Blowing may be Maceo's thing, but he is also a fine singer (check out his vocal prowess on "Sing a Simple Song") and a dynamic showman.

Festival Founder George Wein is a fan. An admirer of Parker's showmanship, Wein said, "This veteran will bring memories of the indomitable funk of James Brown. Maceo always kicks hard and creates an exciting audience response."

Newport Jazz continues to highlight the leading artists of the day. Parker is no exception, although he hasn't played Newport since 1992. He is also one of the most sampled musicians in the world in every genre. He continues to reach new audiences through touring and social media.

"Maceo is one of my 10 biggest musical heroes ever," said the Festival's Artistic Director Christian McBride. "Much of what I play and improvise, certainly the way I phrase, comes from Maceo. He is the closest person I can think of who has been able to capture the same energy, soul and spirit of James Brown and he does all that through his horn."

Festival attendees will no doubt be glad that Parker's message to his fans follows the advice of one of his best songs - "Make it Funky!"

Joining Maceo Parker in Newport will be Greg Boyer, trombone; Will Boulware, keyboards; Bruno Speight, guitar; Rodney "Skeet" Curtis, bass; Pete Maclean, drums; Darliene Parker, vocals; and Corey Parker, vocals.

The 2017 Newport Jazz Festival presented by Natixis Global Asset Management takes place August 4 - 6 at Fort Adams State Park and the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino. Artists include The Roots; Béla Fleck & The Flecktones; Snarky Puppy; Andra Day; Leslie Odom, Jr.; Branford Marsalis Quartet; Christian McBride Big Band with Special Guests; Cécile McLorin Salvant; Maria Schneider Orchestra; Hudson: Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski & John Scofield; Trombone Shorty, Rhiannon Giddens; Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith and many more. 



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

GUITAR GREAT MIKE STERN RETURNS FROM SERIOUS INJURY WITH CELEBRATED CHOPS INTACT ON POTENT ALL-STAR OUTING ON "HEADS UP"

Heads Up set to release Trip on September 8, 2017

On July 3, 2016, the world changed forever for Mike Stern. The multiple Grammy-nominated guitarist, a former member of Miles Davis’ band during the early 1980s and subsequent member of Steps Ahead, Jaco Pastorius’ Word of Mouth and The Brecker Brothers, was hailing a cab outside his apartment in Manhattan when he tripped over some hidden construction debris left in the street. He broke both his arms in the fall and the cab he was hailing ended up taking him to the hospital. This horrific accident happened on the day he was supposed to leave town for a European tour, which was promptly cancelled. Not only did Stern fracture both humerus bones (the long bones that run from the shoulder to the elbow), he was left with significant nerve damage in his right hand that prevented him from doing the simplest tasks, including holding a pick. Following his initial surgery, Stern was back on scene in late October, guesting with Chick Corea in a celebration of Miles Davis’ music during Corea’s two-month residency at the Blue Note in Manhattan. For that gig, he had to play seated while wearing a black glove outfitted with velcro to help him hold onto his velcro-fitted pick. In November, Stern hit the road for a European tour, co-leading a band with longtime friend and collaborator, drummer Dave Weckl.

Following a second surgery, the guitarist gained more control of his nerve-damaged picking hand and subsequently devised a scheme where he literally glues his right-hand fingers to the pick, which strengthened his grip, allowing him to more fully realize his signature speed, precision and fluidity informed mainly by bebop and the blues. Feeling sufficiently fortified, Stern and his stellar crew of sidemen — many of whom go back with him to the ‘80s — went into Spin Studio in Long Island City between January and March of 2017 to record his 17th album as a leader. The guitarist’s sly, self-deprecating sense of humor comes across in the title of the album, Trip, as well as on individual tracks like “Screws” (he initially had 11 screws put into his arm following his first surgery) and “Scotch Tape and Glue” (his current method for holding onto the pick).

A powerhouse outing, Trip, set for release on September 8, 2017 via Heads Up, a division of Concord Music Group, features such longstanding colleagues as trumpeters Randy Brecker and Wallace Roney, saxophonists Bob Franceschini and Bill Evans, the latter a bandmate in Miles Davis’ ‘comeback band’ of 1981, bassists Victor Wooten and Tom Kennedy and drummers Dave Weckl, Dennis Chambers and Lenny White. Produced by pianist-keyboardist Jim Beard, Stern’s frequent producer going back to 1991’s Odds or Evens, Trip is a brilliant showcase of what the acclaimed guitarist does best — riffing on post-Miles funk-fusion (“Trip,” “Screws,” “Watchacallit”), urgent swingers (“Half Crazy,” “Scotch Tape and Glue,” “B Train”) and lyrical ballads (“Emilia,” “I Believe You”). His wife Leni Stern guests on two tracks, playing the n’goni (a three-stringed African instrument) on the buoyant “Emilia,” which also features Gio Moratti on backup vocals, and the uplifting ballad “I Believe You.” Other  performers on Trip include percussionists Arto Tuncboyaciyan and Elhadji Alioune Faye, Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun and bassists Teymur Phell and Edmond Gilmore, both of whom currently work with Stern on his regular Monday and Wednesday night residency at the 55 Bar in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Says Stern of the whole arduous journey that led to this triumphant comeback album: “Sometimes you have some bad stuff that’ll happen to you, but you kind of get through it and you realize that everybody has this stuff — good trips and bad trips. But you just gotta keep trying, you gotta get up and keep going as soon as you can, which I was able to do. I had to figure out a way to play. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t play music. If you really want something bad enough, sometimes you have to fight for it; you find a way to make it happen. And now I have friends who I trust who tell me that they wouldn’t have noticed any difference in my playing if I hadn’t told them what happened to me.”

Indeed. From his scorched-earth distortion laced licks on “Trip” and “Screws” to his fleet-fingered burn on the three swingers paced by Lenny White — the Rhythm Changes number “Half Crazy,” “Scotch Tape and Glue” (based on the changes to “On Green Dolphin Street”) and “B Train” (his quirky contrafact on “Take the A Train”), Stern’s celebrated chops are intact on Trip. Elsewhere on this all-star outing, he shows rare sensitivity on his tender nylon string acoustic ballad “Gone” and on “Emilia,” which marks his second appearance on record as a vocalist (his first was on the lyrical tune “Wishing Well” from Electric, his 2014 collaboration with fellow guitar hero Eric Johnson). “Singing is kind of second nature for me,” says Stern. “I sometimes sing the melody when I’m writing a tune. I’ll be playing chords on the guitar and I’ll start singing a melody and then write it down. I got the nerve to do it from that record I did with Eric Johnson and I’m doing it more on the gig too. And it’s cool because I’ve always tried to get that more vocal sound on the electric guitar. So the two go hand-in-hand.”

Whether he’s throwing down some burning, high velocity lines on “Trip,” “Screws” or “Scotch Tape and Glue,” or conjuring up a more buoyant vibe, as on “Hope for That” or the uplifting “I Believe You,” Stern is definitely back on top of his game after months of struggle and uncertainty. And in typically humble fashion, he defers to his bandmates on this all-star session. “Everybody played their asses off on this record,” he says of Trip. “I was really happy with how it came out, because everybody just put so much love and energy into it. When I get to play with the caliber of musicians on this recording, I'm just glad to be part of the band.”


Dangerous Dames, Dark Alleys, and Smoke-Filled Gin Joints Inspire Guitarist/Composer Brent Laidler’s Cinematic Tale No Matter Where Noir

You know these rain-slicked streets, these shadow-shrouded alleyways, all-night diners streaked by flickering neon and basement bars hazy with cumulous clouds of exhaled smoke. Close your eyes and you can hear the plaintive saxophone, the insinuating bass line, the brushes caressing the snare drum as a jazz combo supplies the score for a harrowing journey into the dark urban underbelly. For Indiana guitarist Brent Laidler, the voluptuous imagery and convoluted plotlines of film noir served as a seductive muse, inspiring the sensuously cinematic concept album No Matter Where Noir. Scheduled for Spring/Summer 2017 release, the album delivers a lyrically charged sojourn into a realm populated by femmes fatales, tough guy private eyes and shady characters looking for an edge.

Featuring a septet made up of some of the finest players in the Indianapolis area, Laidler’s band interprets his finely wrought tunes with poise and swinging authority. Possessing an enviably warm and pliable tone, the guitarist says the album’s storyline flowed out of a rueful noir ballad that became the project’s title track.
Laidler isn’t writing programmatic material. Each song stands confidently on its own. But there’s an irrepressible narrative flow, from the joint-is-jumping swing of “Jamie’s Joynt” and the Blue Note swagger of “Sixth Sense” (a fedora hat tip to the great Lee Morgan) to the suave, killer groove of “Heavy Memphis Jones” (with the sly quote from “Have You Met Miss Jones”) and the existential kiss off “Keep Me In Mind.”

Part of what gives the ensemble its distinctive sound is Mitch Shiner’s vibes, which adds a bright timbre on unison lines with the horns. Ned Boyd’s cool-toned alto, lithe, sinewy and rhythmically supple, blends beautifully with Mark Buselli’s burnished trumpet and flugelhorn. Propelled by the crisp rhythm section featuring ace bassist Scott Pazera, top-shelf pianist Jamie Newman, and either Richard “Sleepy” Floyd or Kenny Phelps on drums, Laidler’s band brings just the right emotional pitch to the noir material, deadly serious and seriously playful!

Always game for new musical adventures, Laidler takes a thrilling trip down a dark alley with No Matter Where Noir, an album that makes an incontrovertible case for the enduring allure of the dark side.


Scores of jazz fans planning a summer fling in Cancun for star-studded lineup

With more than a decade of planning music vacation experiences in alluring locales on land and at sea around the world, it should come as no surprise that in his second full year at the helm, Warren Hill has already doubled the number of festivalgoers preparing to end summer with a trek to his Cancun Jazz Festival at the five-star Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico over Labor Day Weekend (August 31-September 3, 2017).

The chart-topping saxophonist knows that his crowd covets value and all-inclusive packages just as much as they value the names on the marquee, that the location really does matter, that posh accommodations and amenities are a must, that most of the performers should be jazz artists if you bill the event as a jazz festival, and that sound, lighting and production values are not to be skimped upon.

The star power Hill has assembled to perform at this year’s Cancun Jazz Festival rivals or eclipses the lineup at any event on land or at sea and is comprised of smooth and contemporary jazz legends and royalty - from the seminal George Benson and Kenny G to charismatic crossover artist Chris Botti. Smooth R&B singer-songwriter Brian McKnight will be featured along with instrumental luminaries Rick Braun, Norman Brown, Jesse Cook, Candy Dulfer, Richard Elliot, Euge Groove, Keiko Matsui, Paul Taylor and Peter White. Fan favorites Eric Darius, Michael Lington, Brian Simpson and Elliott Yamin complete the bill.        
   
“I really wanted to keep the artists close to the format. I believe that if you are a core fan of smooth and/or contemporary jazz, this is the festival for you. I even feel that Brian McKnight has a tremendous amount of jazz influences in his music. He can riff and improvise as well as any jazz musician I have ever heard. And for those who want to stretch their musical boundaries even further, we have virtuosos such as Chris Botti, Jesse Cook and Keiko Matsui to keep you on the edge of your seat,” said Hill.

Along with the four-night festival package, new for 2017 is the seven-night Stay & Play option. In addition to four nights of concerts, Stay & Play (August 28-30) adds three days of excursions to Cozumel, Tulum Mayan ruins, Cenotes cave pools and shopping in Playa del Carmen along with a Cirque du Soleil performance to the front end of the vacation. Both packages are all-inclusive and cover reserved concert seating, casual meals and a la carte dining, beverages (including alcohol), access to all festival events and after parties, and resort credits that can be applied to a variety of amenities such as golf, spa treatments and tours.

“The best part of this event is that you have an all-inclusive package. Your wallet never has to leave your room. And there is a very relaxed atmosphere. You have the days to spend at your own leisure - either exploring Mexico or just chilling on the private white sand beach,” said Hill, who co-promotes Rock Getaway at the same location October 26-November 1 headlining Don Henley, Santana, Steve Miller Band, Roger Daltrey, Bad Company, Foreigner,  REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Cheap Trick and many more.  

In addition to his award-winning recording career, Hill has been producing first-class music vacation experiences ever since he launched the first smooth jazz cruise in 2004. “There weren’t very many options for musical vacations back then. Now there are multiple cruises and destinations. But I feel the Cancun Jazz Festival overshadows all the other options in terms of the experience. The festival is growing every year as people begin to understand the incredible value that the event has to offer.”

As a world-class performer himself, Hill understands the importance of presenting the talent in the finest settings with premier production values. “Our production quality is second to none. Staging, sound, lights and venues are all top notch. Even though the festival takes place south of the border, we procure some of the best production on the continent. As an artist who has performed in every type of venue - from small clubs to The Hollywood Bowl - this is as good as it gets. And why stop at just great production? Last year’s closing ceremony featured Mayan dancers and fireworks. We put the ‘Can’ in Cancun, baby!”


Jan Daley’s Smooth Jazz album “The Way of A Woman” has hit the Top 10 on 2 Billboard Album

-  “Hot Shot Debut” in #6 position on the Billboard Jazz album chart
-   Entered Billboard’s Traditional Jazz Album chart at #5

Standing between Jan and the #1 chart positions are less than 5 other artists’ releases, most notably Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Thelonious Monk and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  This is quite an accomplishment and a well deserved one at that; for this Independent Artist whose career has spanned over 5 decades. She started off as the “singing canary” in her early twenties on Bob Hope’s USO Tour and has performed with countless huge names in both the acting and singing world.  Additionally, she also wore the crown as Miss California (yes, it was “Miss” back then!) while attending college.

Greatness can be defined many ways but with Jan Daley you easily define it as the mastery of dynamic vocal range. Jan delivers the songwriter's lyrics in crisp, clear tones while moving along the scales with the utmost of ease. You do not listen to a Jan Daley song, she expresses it in such a manner that you feel the message that the song writer wishes to convey. There are many renditions of great songs but rarely does one come across a marriage of orchestration and vocal delivery matched with perfect phrasing so much so that it stops you in your tracks.

"The Way Of A Woman" is such a release. The title track is a perfect example of a highly sought after collaborative effort. You feel the song as the story line is presented in a delicate, fragile manner that is expressing the intimate, personal life of two people. The lyrics are touching and I am rather certain that only Jan Daley could bring this track to such masterful heights.

Truly, the story comes to life as the listener is swept up in anticipation as Jan fully embraces each note and the listener embarks on the heart touching journey with her. Bravo Ms. Daley! I might add that it's even harder to envision someone loving a song so much so that when they perform a well known pop song such as "God Bless The Child" it's as if it is brand new all over again. But Jan does just that on the entire album.

There are eleven tracks on this new release and while the strings, the brass, and the rhythm section are present they never over power the artist. Michael has added just enough presence to augment the right places, places within each tune that allow your mind to capture Jan's marvelous vocals and never once does the orchestration pull you away from the songwriter's central theme. In closing, six of the eleven songs on this compilation are songs that Jan personally wrote. They are noted below with an asterisk beside each title. Overall, "The Way Of A Woman" is a marvelous new release that listeners are sure to enjoy over and over again.


NEW MUSIC: GARY WILLIAMS – AT THE MOVIES; STANLEY COWELL – NO ILLUSIONS; ESTRADA ORCHESTRA - JAZZBEATJAATIS

GARY WILLIAMS – AT THE MOVIES

At The Movies celebrates five decades of Hollywood classics, including hits from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Love Actually, Toy Story, Saturday Night Fever and Jungle Book. Dipping into jazz, bossa nova, pop and swing there are four lesser known gems from Elvis Presley movies and original takes on standards from Joni Mitchell, Fred Astaire and The Bee Gees. Hot on the heals of last year’s Christmas album Big Band Wonderland, AT THE MOVIES features some of the UK’s finest musicians: Matt Regan (piano), Joe Pettitt (bass) and Elliot Henshaw (drums) with original arrangements from Phil Steel, Paul Campbell and New York’s Caleb Collins. Marking a departure for Gary, who made his name singing the songs of Frank Sinatra, you'll hear hints of Michael Franks, Nora Jones and Michael Bublé on this contemporary classic. Gary made his name as a soloist with big bands and concert orchestras, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Melbourne Symphony, the BBC Concert Orchestra, Ireland’s RTE and the Lahti Sinfonia Finland. He’s performed for The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace, the LA Jazz Institute and Ronnie Scott’s. As a broadcaster he’s presented for BBC Radio 2, Jazz FM and The Wireless. Playbill called his book ‘Cabaret Secrets’ “an invaluable guide”. He’s recorded 15 albums, including 3 at Abbey Road and a Jazz FM album of the week.

STANLEY COWELL – NO ILLUSIONS

A nicely fresh setting for pianist Stanley Cowell – a record that moves past his more frequent trio format, to feature the longstanding genius in a quartet with Bruce Williams on alto and flute! Williams has a laidback, lyrical tone that seems to bring out a different side in Cowell's music – especially as the album mostly features the pianist's own compositions – a way of building up his sound slowly, with a more quiet-burning version of the spiritual energy of Stanley's youth – yet still with end results that are equally redemptive, and very beautiful overall. The rest of the group features Jay Anderson on bass and Billy Drummond on drums – and Cowell also plays a bit of thumb piano and kyma too. Titles include "Celestial Women", "No Illusions", "Miss TE & O", "Sunlight Shifting", "B Minor Folksong", and "Nostalgia For Homelands". ~ Dusty Groove

ESTRADA ORCHESTRA - JAZZBEATJAATIS

A fantastic full album from this ultra-cool group – a funky combo from contemporary Estonia – with ties to the Misha Panfilov Sound Combo that you might know from a sweet selection of recent 45s! Misha's in this group on bass, and also produced the record – with a raw sound that makes the whole thing a fantastic criss-crossing of deep funk and some freer jazz energy – all at a level that makes the whole thing completely fresh, and one of the hippest underground records we've heard in a while! These guys aren't really spiritual jazz, but they clearly get that energy – and although they play hard, they're not straight funk either – as they spin out on longer tracks and really know how to take solos – serving up excellent sounds on flute, tenor, alto, and a range of great keyboards – all set to nicely heavy drums, on titles that include "Nite City", "Envelope", "Garden Of Pleasures", "Queens", and "Troubled Mind". (Limited edition of 500!)  ~ Dusty Groove


MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST VALENTI FUNK RELEASES PHYSICAL EDITION OF DEBUT ALBUM, VALENTI, OUT NOW

Well known around Texas for his contributions with the award-winning group The Effinays and funk-disco up-and-comer Ronnie Heart, multi-talented instrumentalist, composer, and producer Valenti Funk is determined to introduce his unparalleled brand of funk-fusion to the masses. Valenti, whose name is inspired by his Valentine’s Day birthday, has released newly remastered physical copies of Valenti on his own record label, Clear Zebra.

The June 7th release date was decided in honor of the birthday of the late Prince, who Valenti recognizes as a major influence, even going as far as getting “The Love Symbol” tattooed on his body. Having already performed alongside industry legends Snoop Dogg (Lion), Grupo Fantasma and Ozomatli during his time with the Effinays, Valenti Funk shows himself as a fully-capable one-man rhythm section in his solo-debut, Valenti. Funk’s techniques (including the ability to play drums and keys at the same time) and arrangements lay the perfect foundation for the inclusion of equally impressive guest features. Album features include the likes of Effinays front man Big Spook, the soulful voice of LaLa Johnson, a dose of introspective lyricism of Zach Pohl, Kevin Snearley, Keyln Crapp, Aisha Mars, and the hip-hop delivery of Versatile.

The elegantly titled Valenti was recorded at various studios around the DFW Metroplex as far back as 2010. Coordinating recording schedules between juggling touring gigs across the nation induced a slow-but-steady approach to crafting the finished product. Studios used include Session Work Studios (Hurst, TX), The Track Studio (Plano, TX) with the bulk of the work being done by longtime Effinays producer Rev. Rudd at The House of Rudd in Euless, TX, providing a well-developed chemistry.

The genre-bending album brings something for everyone to appreciate while gravitating around a consistently funky backbone. “Irving/Bear Creek, Texas,” an instrumental homage to his hometown sets the tone for the entire album. “Party Fiesta” delivers go-go music to the spotlight with vocal support from Effinays bandmate Big Spook. “More Light” gives a smooth walking bassline to a conscious reggae theme. “Some Mo” combines soul and disco with a modern club feel composition. “Side to Side” brings a taste of dance-friendly chillwave, while “Stank” adds a blusey rock edge to the album. Valenti is capped off with “Chill On the Couch,” a track destined for romantic date-night playlists, and “Parking Spot,” a shout out to car enthusiasts everywhere that creates a hip-hop changeup to the album.

With the release of Valenti, Funk steps out from his usual role of drums and keys into the spotlight as a proficient, well-rounded composer ready to make an impact on the world. Complex rhythmic play and soulful melodies shine over the persistent pocket of Valenti Funk. Top-tier musicianship combined with a little help from his friends should put Valenti’s arrangements on the radar of vocalists nationwide. 


Cécile McLorin Salvant Announces Third Album, Dreams And Daggers, 2-CD Set, Deluxe 3-LP 180 Gram Vinyl Set

GRAMMY® Award-winning vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant has had a remarkable rise to stardom in her professional career, and she's taking another big leap forward with Dreams and Daggers, her third album for Mack Avenue Records. More information on the release, which will be available September 29th, is forthcoming.

McLorin Salvant first made waves in the jazz world when, at the urging of her mother, she entered the most prestigious jazz vocal competition in the world. Having nearly missed the submission deadline, she made it to the finals as their youngest performer and was selected by an illustrious panel of judges -- Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Kurt Elling, Patti Austin, and Al Jarreau -- as the 2010 Thelonious Monk Competition winner. While she had bypassed the traditional U.S. conservatories and jazz schools, McLorin Salvant studied at France's Aix-en-Provence before returning for the competition's semi-finals, the judges noted her remarkable voice and striking ability to inhabit the emotional space of every song she heard and turn it into a compelling statement.

In 2013, McLorin Salvant made her Mack Avenue Records debut with WomanChild, garnering a GRAMMY® Award-nomination, NPR Music's pick for "Best Jazz Vocal Album of the Year," and three placements in DownBeat's critic's poll as "Jazz Album of the Year," "Top Female Vocalist," and "Best Female Jazz Up and Coming Artist of the Year," among many other accolades. Her 2015 follow up release, For One To Love, won the GRAMMY® Award for "Best Jazz Vocal Album."

McLorin Salvant's music has been featured in multiple Chanel "Chance" campaigns and is included in the soundtrack for HBO's acclaimed film, Bessie. New York Times Magazine included her recording of "Trolley Song" as one of "25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going," The New Yorker profiled her at age 27, Vanity Fair featured her in their "Millennials That Are Shaking Up The Jazz World" piece, Essence Magazine noted her as one of "13 Emerging Black Women in Music," and Gilles Peterson included her as an "Artist to Watch" in The Atlantic. Learn more about McLorin Salvant on NPR's "All Things Considered" and "Fresh Air," New York Times' "Close at Hand," or watch her perform on BBC's "Later... with Jools Holland" and PBS' "The Tavis Smiley Show."
  
Cécile McLorin Salvant  ·  Dreams and Daggers
Mack Avenue Records  ·  Release Date: September 29, 2017


WITH AGRIMA, ALTO SAXOPHONIST RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA REUNITES THE INDO-PAK COALITION FEATURING GUITARIST REZ ABBASI, DRUMMER/PERCUSSIONIST DAN WEISS

Rudresh Mahanthappa's Indo-Pak Coalition has been hailed by The New York Times as
"a trio equally grounded in folk tradition and jazz improvisation, propos[ing] a social pact as well as a musical ideal."  The ensemble's three formidable talents – Mahanthappa on alto saxophone, Rez Abbasi on guitar, and Dan Weiss on tabla – first documented their group conception in 2008 with Apti, which won praise from The Guardian for its "irresistible urgency."

Agrima, the long-awaited follow-up, finds Mahanthappa and the group expanding aesthetic horizons: adding a modified drumset, incorporating effects and electronics, and working with a broader audio canvas overall. The core of the band's sound, the vibrant presence of Indian rhythmic and melodic elements in a charged, modern improvisational framework born of the New York jazz scene, remains firmly in place.

According to Mahanthappa, "Agrima" in Sanskrit simply means "next" or "following." It comes at a propitious time for all three members: Mahanthappa has enjoyed great success with his Bird Calls quintet and recently became Director of Jazz Studies at Princeton University. Abbasi, born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in California, has revealed a rare mastery of guitar in a range of settings including his own RAAQ acoustic quartet and his heavily electric project, Junction. Weiss, a voraciously eclectic drummer with interests ranging from classical tabla performance to metal, has garnered acclaim for his work ranging from solo drums to trio to large ensemble.

"I wanted everyone to think about Agrima as if we were making a rock album," Mahanthappa declares. "Apti is almost 10 years old and I think the way that the three of us conceive of non-Western or Indian music sonically and technically has really evolved. So I didn't want us to be concerned with having an overt Indian sound. I wanted to highlight our interactions, which we've developed since 2005 when the band premiered at New York City's Joe's Pub."

From all three instruments we hear a heightening of expressive nuance and possibility. Mahanthappa's alto is transformed in places by software-driven effects to create strange processed timbres, echoes, decays and soundscapes. "Working with electronics is like learning a new instrument," Mahanthappa says. "It takes a bit of thought to figure out how to have a voice in that realm. I ended up doing some work with Neil Leonard [from the Berklee College of Music's program in Electronic Production and Design]. He's also an alto player. He wrote a piece for the two of us, just two altos and our laptops, and he made all these patches for me, allowing me to use them however I wanted. I was always interested in electronics but my initial foray was not until Samdhi, (2011). That was really kind of a more instinctive approach but in the end it turned out really cool and I got what I wanted. Electronics was something I always wanted to get back to."

Abbasi's guitar, clean-toned and fluid (at times even acoustic) on Apti, becomes something bigger and more foreboding on Agrima: there's an edge and growl to the tone, a looming presence and sustain in the low notes, and more atmosphere thanks to an array of pedal effects that complement Mahanthappa's electronics at every turn. But perhaps the most pronounced shift from the previous record is Weiss's hybrid setup, melding tabla with drum set. "A while back we had a gig coming up in Montreal," Mahanthappa recalls, "and Dan asked what I thought about having him still be seated playing tabla but also with pieces of the drum set around him. We didn't even rehearse it, we just got to that sound check a half-hour early and Dan threw this thing together that ended up being amazing. That's how we've played ever since. On some tunes Dan only plays drum set, in fact. It all stems from our shared experience and our relationship to Indian music and jazz, which transcends the instrumentation."

In January 2017 the Indo-Pak Coalition premiered the new set of music that would become Agrima at globalFEST in New York. The energy of that encounter carried forward into the studio, from the eerie rubato incantation of "Alap" to the spiky lines and bracing tempo of "Snap," from the looping synthesized patterns, fractured beats and sunny temperament of "Agrima" to the simpler, moodier medium groove of "Showcase." The band is in peak form, executing tough thematic material, attending to fine dynamic contrasts, shifting tempos with spellbinding ease, and of course improvising with depth and ferocity.

There are riveting musical stories to be heard within "Rasikapriya" and "Revati," ambitious works with ever-shifting rhythmic foundations, gamboling between hyper-precision and pure abstraction. Between the slow and measured legato of "Can-Did" and the agitated esprit of "Take-Turns" we hear the play of extremes, of the unexpected, a many-sided adventurousness that is the Indo-Pak Coalition's reason for being. Inimitably rendered by three of the most mature and compelling players of our time, Agrima is an album likely to resonate through the years.

Few musicians share the ability of alto saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa to embody the expansive possibilities of his music with his culture. What has materialized is a sound that hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form that reflects Mahanthappa's own experience growing up a second-generation Indian-American.

Hailed by the New York Times as possessing "a roving intellect and a bladelike articulation," Mahanthappa has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and commissions from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, Chamber Music America and the American Composers Forum. He has been named alto saxophonist of the year for six of seven years running in Downbeat Magazine's International Critics' Polls (2011-2013, 2015-2017), and for five consecutive years by the Jazz Journalists' Association (2009-2013) and again in 2016. He won alto saxophonist of the year in the 2016 JazzTimes Magazine Critics' Poll. In April 2013, he received a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, one of the most prominent arts awards in the world. In 2015, he was named a United States Artists Fellow. In 2016, he was named the Director of Jazz and the Associate Director of the Program in Musical Performance at Princeton University.

Mahanthappa is a Yamaha artist and uses Vandoren reeds exclusively.



Thursday, July 06, 2017

Cleveland’s own Odyssey and Company are riding high on the radio airwaves

Cleveland’s own Odyssey and Company has been impressing music lovers for over 26 years with their soulful approach to Rhythm and Blues and Jazz.

Mike Harris, Randall Priest, Randell McShepard and Anthony Rice are responsible for the electrifying vocals that the group is known for at their live performances. Tight harmonies, skillful choreography and debonair stage apparel has been a signature of the group since its inception in the 1980’s as a high school doo-wop quartet. The group’s professionalism and solid reputation as a “show band” over the years has led to many opportunities to open for major recording artists including Levert, After 7, Take Six, The Manhattans, Troop and The SOS Band, to name a few.

The group has released many singles that received significant airplay in several cities throughout the Midwest, the East Coast and the South, including “Young Girl”, “She’s Perfect”, and “A Whisper Away” (Produced by William Howard of the Dramatics). In the mid 1990’s, the group recorded an album under the tutelage of the O’Jays’ lead producer, Dwayne Mitchell. Each of the vocalists has also recorded extensively with other groups and on other projects.

Another claim to fame for the group has been its extensive travel and ability to win over fans in cities including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Yokohama, Japan; Toronto, Canada, New York City and throughout the State of Ohio. The group also performed on the national talent search television show, Big Break, which was hosted by Natalie Cole. The NBC show was televised in 120 U.S. cities.

The group attributes its longevity and staying power to a “deep respect for the history of Rhythm and Blues and Jazz and the entertainers of yesteryear.” The group believes that crooning, choreography and showmanship is a dying art that needs to be highlighted and celebrated for current and future generations.

Odyssey and Company is currently working on a recording project while continuing to perform at live concerts in the Cleveland area and beyond. The project’s first two singles, “Tune It Out,” and “Would You? Could You?” were released in 2016 and received favorable national airplay. Their latest single, “Wait Until Tonight” was released in May of 2017 and is receiving rave reviews for its captivating sound and addictive chorus.

The group is excited to be making quality music again and continuing to satisfy its large following of fans and supporters.


NEW MUSIC: JAMIROQUAI - AUTOMATION; CANDY DULFER – TOGETHER; MARC ANTOINE – LAGUNA BEACH

JAMIROQUAI - AUTOMATION

Global electronic soul funk sensation and international tastemakers, Jamiroquai, announce their 8th studio album – the first piece of new music from the band in seven years. Founded in 1992 by front man Jay Kay, the pioneers of “future funk” have taken the world by storm, establishing themselves as one of the most successful popular acts on the planet. Since the release of their debut album ‘Emergency on Planet Earth’ in 1993, Jamiroquai have completed reinvigorated modern pop music while also paving the way as chief influencers of some of today’s most exciting artists. With famous fans including the likes of Chance the Rapper, Pharrell, Tyler the Creator, Jungle, Redman & The Internet as well as historic performances alongside Stevie Wonder & Diana Ross, Jamiroquai have consistently proved themselves as one of the globe’s most revered and unifying musical innovators of our time. With over seven albums reaching the UK Top 10 (and three reaching #1), the Grammy Award winning band have sold over 26m albums worldwide and hold the Guinness Book of World Records record for best-selling funk album of all time. ‘Automaton’ Vinyl is a double heavyweight vinyl consisting of twelve tracks including singles, ‘Automaton’ and ‘Cloud 9’ and a Sound of Vinyl download card.

CANDY DULFER – TOGETHER

Dutch saxophone player Candy Dulfer again stretches her musical borders with the release of 'Together', her first new solo album in six years. 'Together' sees Candy return to her Funk roots, while the uplifting album is also a melting pot of diverse influences culled from Jazz, Disco, Soul, Dance, and R&B as well as her own interpretation of what's going on in modern Pop music. She created a personal mix, connected to the characteristic sound she is known for worldwide. 'Together' stands for connection; the one she feels with her music but also the unity that needed in the world of today. On this album she also responds for the first time on the passing away of Prince, in a way that she thinks suits best, through music with a special tribute to the musical genius that put her on the map back in 1989 with the famous words "When I want sax, I call Candy". All in all, her fourteenth album is a new chapter in the long running career of the versatile saxophonist and one that will be promoted with live shows throughout Europe, Japan, Mexico and the US.

MARC ANTOINE – LAGUNA BEACH

After 12 years living in Madrid, Spain, Parisian born acoustic guitarist Marc Antoine celebrates his return to Southern California with his highly anticipated Woodward Avenue Records debut Laguna Beach. Keeping his trademark 'classical soul' vibe front and center, he artfully balances crisp sonic production edges with balmy, breezy light funk melodies (as on the infectious title track, also the lead single), brassy energy, cool samba excursions and sensual romance. Produced by Antoine, Laguna Beach features guest spots by keyboardist Philippe Saisse, guitarist and labelmate Paul Brown (who also mixed the project), harmonica master Tim Welvaars and trumpet great Rick Braun.


NEW MUSIC: JOAN OSBORNE – SONGS OF BOB DYLAN; AARON ABERNATHY - MONOLOGUE; KENNY WELLINGTON – FREE SPIRIT

JOAN OSBORNE – SONGS OF BOB DYLAN

Multi-platinum singer and songwriter, Joan Osborne announces the release of her ninth studio album, Songs of Bob Dylan, set for release on September 1, 2017. On Songs of Bob Dylan, Joan Osborne unleashes her sizable gifts as a vocalist and interpreter upon Dylan's celebrated canon with performances honed by Osborne's time spent performing "Joan Osborne Sings The Songs Of Bob Dylan," two critically acclaimed two-week residencies at New York City's Cafe Carlyle in March 2016 and 2017.Osborne felt free to play with the songs' arrangements, a process that was also enabled by the virtuosity of Osborne's collaborators, guitarist Jack Petruzzelli (Patti Smith, The Fab Faux) and keyboardist Keith Cotton (Idina Menzel, Chris Cornell), who performed with her at Cafe Carlyle, and with whom she co-produced the album.

AARON ABERNATHY - MONOLOGUE

Monologue plays out like a novel, where the Abernathy's expand the perception of family over Ab's expansion of the stripped down Soul and R&B music we're used to hearing. Whether he's playing piano, wurlitzer, synths, guitar, programming drums, live drums, or arranging strings and horn lines, Ab's mastery of musicianship is on full display through Monologue's array of colorful, complex compositions, coupled with his rich, layered vocals. The album opens with him honoring his parents on the whimsical, Parliament-influenced selection Son Of Larry, followed by the melodic up-tempo Favorite Girl. On both records, he praises his father and mother and touches on their influence, words of wisdom and bold love. On the groovy Bachelorette, where we’re introduced to Ab's pursuit of his high school love interest, the track gets an assist from long-time collaborators and hip hop heavyweights Phonte and Black Milk. Ab displays his sultry edge on the Prince-inspired soul-pop records I See You and Pretty Kind, which showcase his raw and playful vocal lead. Doubt creeps in on the soulful mid-tempo Play It Cool, where he questions if he should profess his love or take the approach of the track's title. The landmark moment in his story comes from the wisdom in his father's advice to be vulnerable, which leads us into the brilliant composition and standout ballad I Need To Know. Ab delivers his monologue on the title track, where he acknowledges his mistakes and revels in his spirituality and newfound wisdom in love. Monologue is a touching and refreshing album about family, love, purpose and music. Ab has the ability to make listeners feel connected, each song taking audiophiles on a trip back to their childhood and the nostalgic feeling of young love.


KENNY WELLINGTON – FREE SPIRIT

Trumpet player Kenny Wellington was an original founder member of the groups Light Of The World and Beggar & Co and continues to write, arrange, produce and perform. As well as performing and recording with those groups he has recorded, arranged and played live dates with many artists from the different genres of soul, jazz funk, rock and pop. These artists include fine artists such as Tina Turner, Spandau Ballet, Paul Weller, and many others. The inspiration for this album was to really tip the hat to all those great horn players over the years that have entranced us with the beauty of their music, Donald Byrd, Jimmy Owens, Chuck Mangione, Eddie Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Miles of course and so many others, the sound of the tenor voices, the flute, trumpet, flugelhorn, vibraphone a touch of strings all in the mix. Kenny has tried to find the balance within, to be able to listen and enjoy, to dance and to chill, to enjoy.

NEW MUSIC: BRENDA HOLLOWAY - SPELLBOUND: RARE AND UNRELEASED MOTOWN GEMS; SAM FLETCHER - SINGS; SOUL UNDERSTATED FEATURING MAVIS "SWAN" POOLE

BRENDA HOLLOWAY - SPELLBOUND: RARE AND UNRELEASED MOTOWN GEMS

SoulMusic Records is releasing a sumptuous 33-track 2-CD set of classic recordings by the legendary Brenda Holloway drawn from Motown's vaults and recorded between 1963 and 19066. Spellbound has been compiled and produced by longtime Motown expert Paul Nixon, responsible for the successful "Cellarful Of Motown" series, who has carefully selected the tracks on this superb compilation by one of Motown's most soulful singers. Included here are nine previously unreleased tracks along with rare cuts that have only been available digitally.  California-born Brenda Holloway became the first West Coast-based artist signed to Motown in 1963; within one year, she achieved US national success with the now-timeless classic, 'Every Little Bit Hurts'; Brenda's five further charted singles included 'When I'm Gone', 'Just Look What You've Done' and 'You've Made Me So Very Happy'. . Although Motown only issued one LP, Brenda recorded prolifically for the label, with literally dozens of tracks remaining in the vast Motown vaults until producer Nixon began including tracks on various reissues. Spellbound features two tracks cut in 1963, 23 in 1964 and eight in 1966. Notes by renowned UK Motown historian and writer Sharon Davis include 2017 quotes from Brenda along with an essay by producer Nixon.

SAM FLETCHER - SINGS

Though Sam Fletcher (1933-1984) began singing as a child in the churches of his native Memphis, Tennessee, it was only in 1959 that he made his recording debut with two singles for M-G-M s subsidiary, Metro. His big baritone voice found favour with critics and audiences and led to several more singles, first for Cub another M-G-M brand and then RCA Victor, and Warner Bros. Signing for Vee-Jay Records in 1964, he made his classic LP Sam Fletcher Sings, I Believe in You. By then, Sam and his family had moved to Los Angeles, and in 1967 he recorded his second and last album, The Look of Love The Sound of Soul, for Vault Records. An eclectic collection of standards and pop tunes arranged and conducted by Harry Betts, it was dramatic verification of Sam s versatility which included a new version of I Believe in You his signature song recorded for RCA in 1961. But in late 1967 he was arrested for heroin possession, and though he eventually cleaned up his act, his career was effectively over. His biggest fans included some of history s greatest vocalists, among them Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin and Nancy Wilson, and he left behind a legacy of music and performing that recalls a bygone era of class and sophistication.

SOUL UNDERSTATED FEATURING MAVIS "SWAN" POOLE

Soul Understated featuring Mavis "Swan" Poole is an exciting new neo,soul and funk group that melds elements of R&B, Jazz, Funk and Hip-Hop into a unique sound. Led by vocalist extraordinaire Mavis "Swan" Poole (Lauryn Hill, Prince, HBO's Vinyl), whose distinctive vocal sound recalls Eryakah Badu and Esther Phillips, and drummer Jeremy "Bean" Clemons (who has performed with Gregory Porter, Burning Spear, Jennifer Holliday and more), Soul Understated delivers a beautifully performed organic sound with stellar musicianship. 'Songs In The Key Of Grease', an E.P. featuring six original compositions, is Soul Understated's first nationally-distributed release. The material ranges from the infectious funk of "Wibble Wobble" to the slinky Badu-esque neo-soul of "The Way I See" to the beautiful balladry of "Fantasy."


NEW MUSIC: COOL HEAT – THE BEST OF CTI RECORDS; KETTY LESTER – LOVE IS FOR EVERYONE; JAY RAYNER QUARTER - A NIGHT OF FOOD AND AGONY

COOL HEAT – THE BEST OF CTI RECORDS (VARIOUS ARTISTS)

CTI Records is one of the coolest Jazz labels ever. Robinsongs brings you perhaps the definitive round up of cool tracks to be released by CTI Records and affiliated label Kudu on a Double CD.  "Cool Heat - The Best Of CTI Records" includes all the full length album versions of the hits by the likes of Deodato 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' better known as 2001 A Space Odyssey, 'Could Heaven Ever Be Like This' by Idris Muhammad, 'What A Difference A Day Makes' by Esther Phillips and 'Jaws' by Lalo Schifrin. Plus, the much sought after George "Bad" Benson single 'Supership'. Plus, great Jazz Funk classics by Bob James' 'Westchester Lady' and Johnny Hammond's 'Breakout'. You will also find some great album cuts by the likes of Kenny Burrell, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Farrell & Stanley Turrentine. Nina Simone's 'Baltimore' the Randy Newman penned Reggae influenced protest song is also included in this fantastic package. . Check out Lonnie Smith's 'Mama Wailer' from his only CTI album of the same name, you won't be disappointed. Also, you get the added bonus of Deodato's disco infused 'Super Strut' and the haunting 'Home Is Where The Hatred Is' by Esther Phillips. This package also includes liner notes from MOJO & Record Collector journalist Charles Waring.

KETTY LESTER – LOVE IS FOR EVERYONE

Ketty Lester's 1962 version of "Love Letters", a song originally composed by Victor Young and Edward Heyman for the motion picture of the same name which starred Jennifer Jones, forever linked her to that exclusive club, "the one-hit wonder". Here Jasmine have put together a charming collection which opens of course with the album "Love Letters" which appears in its entirety along with a selection of bonus singles which include "But Not For Me", "You Can't Fool A Fool" and "This Land is Your Land" which were all minor hits for her. These lovingly remastered tracks prove that along with being a successful actress she was also a superb song stylist and hopefully this collection of 20 tracks goes someway to lift the "one hit-wonder" tag. Includes fully detailed liner notes.


THE JAY RAYNER QUARTER - A NIGHT OF FOOD AND AGONY

Jay, voted the most influential food and drink journalist in Britain by his peers, is notorious for his acerbic wit as a critic both in print and on television. He is the author of ten books, fiction and non-fiction, appears regularly on TV 8722; including on the soon-to-launch Tried and Tasted for Channel 4 8722; and presents The Kitchen Cabinet for BBC Radio 4. Alongside all this he has a career as a jazz pianist, performing with his quartet everywhere from the Bath International Festival and Pizza Express Live in Soho to the world-famous Ronnie Scott's. A Night Of Food And Agony captures the atmosphere of the quartet's live shows as Jay examines the relationship between jazz and two key themes in his life: food and drink; and growing up with mother Claire Rayner, the renowned agony aunt and sex advice columnist. Jay is accompanied on bass by Robert Rickenberg, a formidably inventive player who rose to prominence with the Sheena Davis group and who has accompanied jazz greats such as Will Gaines and Mark Murphy, as well as pop diva Kylie Minogue. On sax is the highly-regarded Dave Lewis whose lyrical breaks power the groove in his own band, 1Up, and have seen him accompany the likes of Lamont Dozier, Bryan Ferry and Eric Clapton. But what completes the show is the compelling vocal performance from the extraordinary Pat Gordon-Smith, who gets right inside every lyric. There's a special chemistry between Pat and Jay too 8722; which isn't surprising given they're married to each other. This isn't mere nepotism; it's good fortune. Pat has been singing longer than Jay has been playing, and has spent time training with the legendary jazz singer Liane Carroll.


Friday, June 30, 2017

NEW MUSIC: JOE HENDERSON – THE ELEMENTS; GARY BARTZ NTU TROOP – HARLEM BUSH MUSIC UHURU; ROSCOE MITCHELL – BELLS FOR THE SOUTH SIDE

JOE HENDERSON – THE ELEMENTS

The Elements originally released in 1973 on Milestone arrived during a time of discovery for Joe Henderson, a time to set aside the post-bop instrumentation and repertoire he was identified with and branch out into other realms. What transpired is in a league all its own. Present in the four-part improvisation that makes up the album, "Fire", "Air", "Water" and "Earth" are elements of spiritual jazz-fusion and beyond - celestial, cosmic, and trance-inducing in nature. Alice Coltrane’s contributions on harp and piano set the tone as she weaves sublime chordal textures through the layers of improvisation.  Assisting Henderson and Coltrane were a group of sympathetic explorers-- violin original Michael White, bass giant Charlie Haden, and the multifaceted percussionist Kenneth Nash. Latin American, Indian, and Native American strains enter the mix as Henderson applies the heat and mercurial invention of his more conventional work to these open-ended settings. While the music is enhanced with overdubbing in spots, the true magic of The Elements emanates from the musicians' collective genius at listening and responding to each other – a gift of extreme magnitude.  

GARY BARTZ NTU TROOP – HARLEM BUSH MUSIC UHURU

Harlem Bush Music – Uhuru remains extremely relevant. Though the album came at a time when Black Consciousness and Black Pride were coming to the forefront of American culture, current times are such that its message of struggle, love and hope transcends racial categories. That is both a great testament to the power of this music, as well as to the dawning fact in this country that we're all in this together," said All About Jazz.  Joined by the inimitable Andy Bey on vocals, Juini Booth and Ron Carter on bass, Harold White on drums, and Nat Bettis on percussion, Bartz turns in a set of politically relevant, hard-grooving, funky, searching and essential soul-jazz. The centerpiece of the album is the righteously grooving, original seven-minute version of “Celestial Blues” featuring the incredible vocals of John Coltrane’s  favorite vocalist, Andy Bey. 


ROSCOE MITCHELL – BELLS FOR THE SOUTH SIDE

A fantastic program of live recordings – all captured at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago – as part of their 50th Anniversary tribute to the AACM! Roscoe Mitchell works here in a very unusual format – with four different trios, each heard separately – then grouped together in different ways on larger recordings that feature all members in varied formation! The trios feature James Fei on reeds and electronics with William Winant on percussion and vibes; Hugh Ragin on trumpet withTyshawn Sorey on trombone, piano, and percussion; Craig Taborn on piano, organ, and electronics with Kikanju Baku on drums and percussion; and Jribu Shahid on bass and percussion with Tani Tabball on drums and percussion. Mitchell plays a range of reeds and percussion – and some of the percussion used is from the collection of various Art Ensemble Members, being exhibited by the museum. The performances are great – and not only is Mitchell still at the height of his improvisational powers, but he's also got the other musicians working in a spirit that really lives up to the tradition of the AACM!  ~ Dusty Groove


NEW MUSIC: INNERPEACE – RARE SPIRITUAL FUNK AND JAZZ GEMS: THE SUPREME SOUND OF PRODUCER BOB SHAD; TOO SLOW TO DISCO: MORE LATE 70s WEST COAST YACHT POP YOU CAN ALMOST DANCE TO: ART PEPPER / LEE KONITZ – WEST COAST SESSIONS VOLUME 3

INNERPEACE – RARE SPIRITUAL FUNK AND JAZZ GEMS: THE SUPREME SOUND OF PRODUCER BOB SHAD

That's reedman Hadley Caliman on the front cover – looking mighty righteous, and really setting the vibe for the music on the collection – a far-reaching, deeply-soulful batch of tracks from the Mainstream Records label in the early 70s! Mainstream's maybe not as well-remembered as a spiritual jazz outlet as other imprints from the time – like Impulse or Strata East – but this set more than corrects that fact, by showing off some of the hippest, most unbridled cuts on the imprint – work that's different than some of the straighter jazz or more funk-based tracks the label also issued at the time. The presentation makes us give an even greater nod to producer and label owner Bob Shad than before – and you may well do the same, after hearing gems like "In The Back In The Corner In The Dark" by Harold Land, "Cigar Eddie" by Hadley Caliman, "Inner Peace" by Buddy Terry, "Iron Jaws" by Charles Williams, "Requiem For Dusty" by Frank Foster, "Mebakush" by Pete Yellin, "Senyah" by Roy Haynes, "BC" by Dave Hubbard, "Love Song" by Sonny Red, "Libra's Longing" by Lamont Johnson, and "Infinity" by Shelly Manne.  ~ Dusty Groove

TOO SLOW TO DISCO: MORE LATE 70s WEST COAST YACHT POP YOU CAN ALMOST DANCE TO (VARIOUS ARTISTS)

Mellow fusion, jazzy soul, and lots of warm 70s pop currents – all coming together in a great third installment of this wonderful series! The collection goes way past the familiar "yachtpop" material you might expect from the title – less top 40 AOR than the kind of more obscure album cuts that folks on the scene have really been digging up in recent years – often music issued on bigger labels, but which never fully got its due at the time – even though endless studio genius went into the creation of the tracks! Titles include "I Love You" by Weldon Irvine, "Is It You" by Lee Ritenour, "Don't Let Me Fall" by Bob Welch, "Inside You" by Cornelius Bumpus, "Quand Tu Te Laisse Aller" by Dwight Druick, "I Believe In Miracles" by Mark Capanni, "Do The Bossa Nova" by Vapour Trails, "Silky" by David Gates, "Whachersign (ext version)" by Pratt & McClain, "Special Delivery" by Billy Mernit, "Where Did You Come From" by Larry Carlton, and "Cool Breeze" by Jeremy Spencer Band.  ~ Dusty Groove

ART PEPPER / LEE KONITZ – WEST COAST SESSIONS VOLUME 3

A mighty meeting of two modern alto giants – a set cut under the leadership of Lee Konitz, but which also features some great work from Art Pepper too! Both Pepper and Konitz were two of the most distinctive players to emerge in the 50s – both in the generation after Charlie Parker first set the horn on fire with his bebop creations – but both very individual, distinct players who took the music in fresh new directions. That distinctness really comes through here – as both Lee and Art blow together wonderfully, crossing lines and taking off on solos with a gentle swing that comes from the support of Michael Lang on piano, Bob Magnsusson on bass, and John Dentz on drums. Most tracks are very alto-heavy – in a great way – and the session was originally only ever issued in Japan, as part of the Atlas Records "West Coast Today" series. Titles include "Minor Blues In F", "Whims Of Chambers", "The Shadow Of Your Smile", and "This Can't Be Love". CD features two bonus alternate takes, too!  ~ Dusty Groove


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