Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Frank Kimbrough's Quartet spotlights the audacious pianist and composer and his handpicked band mates: Steve Wilson, Lewis Nash and Jay Anderson

A genuine artist follows the strict demands of his muse rather than any set of conventional expectations. If, thirty-plus years into his celebrated career, the pianist and composer Frank Kimbrough decided to record his first album featuring the traditional jazz instrumentation of piano, horn, bass, and drums, there had to be a good reason. Quartet (Palmetto Records, PM2173), featuring alto and soprano saxophonist Steve Wilson, drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Jay Anderson, proves that for a relentlessly creative musician such as Kimbrough, following one's instincts offers up the best results.

Despite the surface familiarity of its ensemble format, Quartet (Kimbrough's 12th album as a leader and 7th for Palmetto) displays the pianist and his handpicked team at their most adventurous, creating music that revels in improvisational freedom while making fruitful use of the still profitable tools of the jazz tradition. Seven characteristically personal Kimbrough originals share space with exceptional reinterpretations of Kurt Weill's "Trouble Man," Rodgers and Hart's "It Never Entered My Mind" and John Lewis's  "Afternoon In Paris."

The exemplary balance of introspective lyricism and spiky, open form improvising that has marked Kimbrough's musical approach in his acclaimed work with, among many others, Maria Schneider, Ben Allison, Ted Nash and Noah Preminger, lends Quartet its distinguishing yin/yang atmosphere of ease and daring. "The Call," "Blue Smoke," "Kudzu,"  "Herbivore" and "Ode" slip, slide and swing, evading strict time and rigid harmonic forms, inspiring telepathic group interplay and biting solos, while the original ballads "November" and "Beginning" offer stunningly unpredictable melodic statements from Kimbrough and Wilson and sensitively prodding support from Nash and Anderson. And while "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Trouble Man" demonstrate that Kimbrough and company admire the exquisite compositional architecture of the masters, the quartet's take on "Afternoon In Paris" offers up a loose and stimulating deconstruction of John Lewis's standard. As Kimbrough devotees might note, "Ode" previously appeared on his Lullabluebye album, while "Beginning" debuted on Play, which featured the iconic drummer Paul Motian. "Herbivore" was written in the 1990s for Kimbrough's Noumena band but went unheard until this recording.

Kimbrough's exceptional playing throughout Quartet fully demonstrates the maturity of a seasoned musician who, having fully assimilated such signal influences as Paul Bley, Andrew Hill and Shirley Horn, is able to express himself organically in his own, now distinctive, instrumental voice. "As I've grown over the years, I find that I want to move listeners, not impress them," Kimbrough states. "By now the piano is who I am. I don't want technique to be a liability - I want to be able to convey what's in the moment. To be honest, to be vulnerable in my playing is what I'm most interested in."

"I chose the musicians on this recording because I trust their judgment. From the first note they play you can feel the depth, the lyricism, the respect for musical space they all have. Between us there's over two hundred years of experience - you have to trust that. I've found as a leader that the more freedom you give players to be themselves, the more of themselves they will put into the music."

The roots of Quartet extend back to the late 1970s when Kimbrough and Nash met as students at Arizona State University. Three decades passed until Kimbrough and the now-omnipresent drummer reunited as players in Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project. Steve Wilson and Jay Anderson - both men A-list jazz figures - also participated as members of that ensemble, continuing associations with Kimbrough that included working together in the acclaimed Maria Schneider Orchestra. As a linchpin in the pianist's various trios, Anderson has been a close associate of Kimbrough for over twenty years.

Frank Kimbrough has recorded twelve albums as a leader and has co-led recordings with duet partner Joe Locke and with the Herbie Nichols Project. He has appeared on over sixty-five albums with other artists, including Maria Schneider's 2013 Grammy-winning Winter Morning Walks. Kimbrough has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School of Music since 2008.

Saxophonist Nir Naaman Releases "Independence" / The breakthrough debut features George Cables, Gregory Hutchinson and Marcus Printup

An artistic tradition is no longer valid when it fails to inspire burgeoning artists. Judging from Independence, the debut album by saxophonist Nir Naaman, the jazz tradition is still very much alive and capable of inspiring exciting new creations. A forthright instrumentalist and composer who draws from the wellsprings of Postwar jazz styles, Naaman has carved out his own distinctive voice on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, and devises tunes that are as shrewd as they are inviting to hear. 

Employing such first rate musicians as the iconic pianist George Cables, the drummer Gregory Hutchinson, the bassist Dezron Douglas and the trumpeter Marcus Printup, Naaman demonstrates that seeds extracted from bebop, hard bop and Coltrane-inspired sources continue to yield succulent fruit. As the album titles states, Naaman, after working with celebrated artists including Eddie Marshall, Terri Lynne Carrington, Joanne Brackeen, Dave Samuels and Winard Harper, is ready to stake his own claim as a maturing musician. Born and raised in Israel, Naaman is now living and working in the country from which the music he's enraptured with was itself born.

Although Independence does feature a pair of evocative readings of standards - a spirited group turn on "The Very Thought Of You" and an expressive duet between the leader and Cables on "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" - the other eight tunes are Naaman originals. This finely crafted work displays Naaman's sure hand as a composer, and, as each piece was specially crafted to feature a different horn, allows the listener to bask in his individuality and confidence as a multifarious player. As befits a saxophonist attuned to the majestic tones of such masters as John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon and Joe Henderson, Naaman exhibits his command of the tenor horn on "Ohali Blues," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and "Independence," each a shining example of his surity and brio in work of varying tempos and moods. Of particular interest is another tenor feature, "Eshal Elohai/ Shalom Shabazi," an adaptation of Yemenite Jewish songs that Naaman has been familiar with since he was a child.

As George Cables (who, in addition to his superb keyboard contributions, also acted as the album's producer) states in his liner notes, " One of the most important things about jazz is that it is a living music which offers an open invitation for musicians to incorporate their own musical and cultural influences, whatever they may be. Nir's inclusion of  "Eshal Elohai," which is part of his tradition is a fantastic case in point." And, as Naaman points out, the contributions of Cables, Hutchinson and Douglas - each finding a way into the Middle Eastern idiom through his own idiomatic instrumental voice - adds yet more varied and personal flavor to the polyglot performance.

Naaman's ace may be his ability to wield two other horns with equal dexterity and individuality. His fine soprano work can be heard on two of his most lyrical pieces, "Winter Sun" and Dream," while his creative and commanding work on alto is exhibited on  "Fall," "Dilemma" and "The Very Thought Of You." The album concludes with another spotlighted alto performance, "New Orleans Twist," Naaman's jaunty second line groove salute to the spiritual birthplace of jazz. Throughout the album, the featured saxophonist receives rousing and sensitive support from all involved. (In addition to Cables, Hutchinson, Douglas and Printup, Naaman is joined by the pianist Roy Assaf and the drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. on a handful of performances.)

"Making this album gave me a chance to explore different sides of my musical personality," Naaman states. "I wanted to explore different moods and textures, yet never lose the overall coherence of the project. Working with these great musicians gave me that chance."

Born and raised in Israel where he served as a lead alto saxophonist in the Israeli Air Force Band, Naaman moved to the U.S. in 2004 and went on to graduate from the Berklee College of Music, furthering his studies at Purchase College where he received a master's degree in Jazz Studies. In the spring of 2010, Naaman took part in the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center For the Arts in Washington, D.C. where his mentors included Dr. Billy Taylor, Nathan Davis, Curtis Fuller and George Cables. Naaman has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Israel and Japan with various ensembles. He leads a New York-based quartet and splits his time between New York City and Boston where he is enrolled in the Doctor of Musical Arts program at New England Conservatory.

Branford Marsalis To Release "In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral" Available October 21

Branford Marsalis continues to prove that there is no context too large or small to contain his gifts. A reigning master of the jazz quartet format, dedicated champion of the duo setting, in-demand soloist of classical ensembles both chamber and orchestral, and session-enhancing special guest on an array of rock, roots and pop performances over the course of his career, his ever-broadening creativity and instrumental command have created the profile of a multi-dimensional musician with few peers among contemporary performers.

One setting notably absent from Marsalis' resume until now has been the unaccompanied solo concert. This most daunting of formats poses particular challenges that were met with his signature blend of serious intent, technical rigor and emotional directness when Marsalis brought his soprano, alto and tenor saxophones to Grace Cathedral on October 5, 2012. This San Francisco landmark, the site of Duke Ellington's Sacred Concerts in the Sixties and, since 1983, home to recitals at the centerpiece of the annual San Francisco Jazz Festival, proved an ideal setting for a program spanning early and post-bop jazz, baroque and contemporary classical music and spontaneous improvisation. The results can be heard on In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral, the new album that Marsalis is releasing on his Marsalis Music via OKeh Records imprint on October 21, 2014.

As might be expected from someone with such a refined appreciation of musical excellence, Marsalis prepared by listening to solo recordings by a range of preferred artists, including Sonny Rollins, Steve Lacy and Sam Newsome from the jazz world as well as Anner Blysma, Angela Hewitt and Arno Bornkamp among classical players. He also committed himself to a program that transcended blatant displays of virtuosity. "From my time playing r&b and rock and roll, I can listen like a casual listener," he notes, "but the challenge for 80% of any audience, for any kind of music, is hearing melody and improvisation based on melody. Playing a lot of notes can be impressive at first, but will quickly make every song sound similar. So everything I played at Grace Cathedral was based on songs with great melodies, not being too `notey,' and utilizing the feeling in the room."

Getting the most out of the moment may be illustrated most clearly on "Improvisation No. 3," where Marsalis' tenor saxophone engages in conversation with a passing siren, while each of the 11 tracks reflects his appreciation of the vast cathedral space. "Every room has a sound of its own," Marsalis emphasizes. "There's a difference between playing in the Village Vanguard, and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and Royal Festival Hall in London; and there is definitely a difference playing in Grace Cathedral, with its seven-second delay. Playing solo interludes in other rooms where my quartet performs was not going to prepare me. I had to hear that Grace
Cathedral sound in my head."

The melodies Marsalis chose for inspiration include two of his own, "The Moment I Recall Your Face" and "Blues for One," Hoagy Carmichael's uberstandard "Stardust," Steve Lacy's "Who Needs It?", a movement from a baroque sonata by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together," the closing theme of Carol Burnett's classic television show. One of the biggest challenges and clearest signs of Marsalis's evolving mastery is his interpretation on alto saxophone of "MAI," a through-composed piece by Japan's Ryo Noda that tests the mettle of the most accomplished recital-hall saxophonists. "This is a great piece, with multiphonics and other fingerings not typical for the saxophone, that captures the spirit of the shakuhachi, the bamboo flute on which a purely Japanese form of music has been created. While I was in Japan recently, a friend gave me a tour of sorts in which I heard the instrument played in a variety of settings, which helped me to appreciate that patience, rather than getting to the point as quickly as possible, is everything. I wanted to honor the original intent of Noda's music, and I knew that the audience would relate to the sound of the piece in Grace Cathedral."

Marsalis also determined to balance the program with four improvisations, each of which sustains the mood of deep feeling and melodic coherence. "Musical spontaneity, like spontaneity in any language, has to be within a context to be meaningful," he emphasizes, "and the more music you know, the more spontaneous you can be. So I went out on stage with spaces intentionally left in the program, where I could create improvisations clearly based both on what I had just played and the feeling of the room and the audience."

Regardless of its starting point, each track confirms that, whether playing soprano, alto or tenor saxophone, Marsalis possesses one of the warmest, most direct and expressive sounds of any instrumentalist. "My main concern has been eliminating any shakes in my tone, and classical practice helps a lot with that," he says, "but otherwise I don't think about creating something people will think of as my sound. When it's time to play the gig, I just let it happen."

"Playing a solo concert is just hard," Marsalis admits. "After a gig, I'm usually happy to spend time with friends, but after the Grace Cathedral concert I just wanted to go to sleep. After all, if I have an off night with my band, Joey [Calderazzo], Eric [Revis] and Justin [Faulkner] will pick up the slack. But this was just me."

Yet no reinforcements were required. In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral is both intensely introspective and accessible without compromise, a singular achievement in the singular career of Branford Marsalis.

Branford Marsalis has stayed the course. From his early acclaim as a saxophonist bringing new energy and new audiences to the jazz art, he has refined and expanded his talents and his horizons as a musician, composer, bandleader and educator - a 21st Century mainstay of artistic excellence.

Growing up in the rich environment of New Orleans as the oldest son of pianist and educator Ellis Marsalis, Branford was drawn to music along with siblings Wynton, Delfeayo and Jason. His first instrument, the clarinet, gave way to the alto and then the tenor and soprano saxophones when the teenage Branford began working in local bands. A growing fascination with jazz as he entered college gave him the basic tools to obtain his first major jobs, with trumpet legend Clark Terry and alongside Wynton in Art Blakey's legendary Jazz Messengers. When the brothers left to form the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, the world of uncompromising acoustic jazz was invigorated. Branford formed his own quartet in 1986 and, with a few minor interruptions in the early years, has sustained the unit as his primary means of expression.

Branford has not confined his music to the quartet context. In addition to guest turns with a legion of giants including Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock and Sonny Rollins, he has excelled in duets with several major pianists, including his boyhood friend Harry Connick, Jr. and the longtime pianist in his quartet, Joey Calderazzo. Branford's first solo concert, at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, is documented on his latest recording, In My Solitude. Branford has also shared his knowledge as an educator, forming extended teaching relationships at Michigan State, San Francisco State and North Carolina Central Universities and conducting workshops at sites throughout the United States and the world.

Classical music inhabits a growing portion of Branford's musical universe. With a repertoire including works by Copland, Debussy, Glazunov, Ibert, Mahler, Milhaud, Rorem, Vaughn Williams, Villa-Lobos and Sally Beamish, Branford is frequently heard with leading symphony orchestras including those in Chicago, Detroit, Dusseldorf and North Carolina as well as the New York Philharmonic. He also served as Creative Director for the Cincinnati Symphony's Ascent series in 2012-13.

Broadway has also welcomed Branford's contributions. His initial effort, original music for a revival of August Wilson's Fences, garnered a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music in a Play and a Tony nomination for Best Original Score Written for the Theater. Branford also provided music for The Mountaintop, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, and served as musical curator for the 2014 revival of A Raisin in the Sun.

Some might gauge Branford Marsalis's success by his numerous awards, including three Grammys and (together with his father and brothers) his citation as a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts. To Branford, however, these are only way stations along what continues to be one of the most fascinating and rewarding journeys in the world of music.

Upcoming Branford Marsalis Tour Dates: all dates are with the Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra unless otherwise noted

September 27 / SUNY Purchase Concert Hall (with Quartet) / Purchase, NY
October 4 / Meany Hall @ University of Washington / Seattle, WA
October 5 / Mount Baker Theatre / Bellingham, WA
October 8 / Van Duzer Theatre at Humboldt State / Arcata, CA
October 9 / Laxson Auditorium at CA State University / Chico, CA
October 11 & 12 / Three Stages at Folson Lake College / Folsom, CA
October 15 / Sidney Harman Hall / San Luis Obispo, CA
October 16 / Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts / Beverly Hills, CA
October 17 / Sherwood Auditorium / San Diego, CA
October 18 / UNLV Performing Arts Center / Las Vegas, CA
October 19 / Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts / Scottsdale, CA
October 21 / Oxford Performing Arts Center / Oxford, AL
October 22 / Legacy Hall at River Center for the Arts / Columbus, GA
October 23 / Charleston Music Hall / Charleston, SC
October 24 / Dale F. Halton Theater / Charlotte, NC
October 25 / Virginia Tech center for the Arts / Blacksburg, VA
October 26 / Otis A. Singletary Center for the Arts / Lexington, KY
October 28 / Osterhout Concert Theater / Binghamton, NY
November 1 / Kean University / Hillside, NJ
November 2 / State Theatre Regional Arts Center / New Brunswick, NJ
December 31 / Terrace Theater @ Kennedy Center (with Quartet) / Washington, DC

Bette Midler Announces New Album "It's The Girls" Scheduled For Release In November

Grammy Award winning singer and legendary performer Bette Midler returns to the studio to release ‘It’s The Girls!’, a stunning new album that pays tribute to girl groups through the ages. ‘It’s The Girls!’ is a jaunty and celebratory collection of some of the greatest harmonies performed by girl groups such as The Ronettes, The Boswell Sisters, The Andrew Sisters, The Chiffons as well as Motown acts like Martha Reeves and The Vandellas, and The Marvelettes, among others. The album is due out on Warner Bros. Records November 4th, 2014 and East West Records / Warner Music UK on November 17th, 2014.

“A long time ago I fell in love with voices in harmony,” said Midler. “In particular, the sound of female voices singing together. There were so many great girl groups in those days, I still listen as avidly as I ever did. This record is a small attempt to honor them for all the joy they brought to me and the world.”‘It’s The Girls!’ reunites Bette Midler with long-time collaborator and Award-winning composer Marc Shaiman who produced the album. ‘It’s The Girls!’ features 15 songs that span time from The Andrews Sisters’ original performance of Bei Mir Bist Du Schön in 1937 to R&B group TLC’s 1994 hit song, Waterfalls. On the title track, Midler offers a brilliant rendition of The Boswell Sisters (known for their unpredictable harmonies and key changes) tempo-shifting pop classic It’s The Girl. The album effortlessly showcases Midler’s distinctive and versatile vocal range while honoring timeless classic melodic harmonies.

One of the world's best-loved and most versatile entertainers, Bette Midler has garnered accolades in all quarters of show business. She's earned four Grammy Awards including Song of the Year (1989: Wind Beneath My Wings; 1990: From A Distance) and Record of the Year (1989: Wind Beneath My Wings); two Academy Award nominations, three Emmy Awards, one Tony Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and nine American Comedy Awards. Bette Midler has recorded 13 studio albums and has gone on to sell over 30 million albums worldwide.
Details for Bette Midler’s forthcoming tour will be announced soon.

The songs on the album ‘It’s The Girls!’ are as follows:

01 / BE MY BABY Originally performed by The Ronettes
02 / ONE FINE DAY Originally performed by The Chiffons
03 / BEI MIR BIST DU SCHÖN Originally performed by The Andrews Sisters
All Vocals by Bette Midler
04 / BABY IT'S YOU Originally performed by The Shirelles
All Vocals by Bette Midler
05 / TELL HIM Originally performed by The Exciters
06 / HE'S SURE THE BOY I LOVE (duet with Darlene Love) Originally performed by The Crystals
07 / MR. SANDMAN Originally performed by The Chordettes
08 / COME AND GET THESE MEMORIES Originally performed by Martha & The Vandellas
09 / TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA Originally performed by The Marvelettes
10 / TEACH ME TONIGHT Originally performed by The DeCastro Sisters
11 / WATERFALLS Originally performed by TLC
12 / YOU CAN'T HURRY LOVE Originally performed by The Supremes
13 / GIVE HIM A GREAT BIG KISS Originally performed by The Shangri-Las
14 / WILL YOU STILL LOVE ME TOMORROW Originally performed by The Shirelles
15 / IT'S THE GIRL Originally performed by The Boswell Sisters
All Vocals by Bette Midler

Friday, September 19, 2014



Waldo was a studio band put together by super producers, Willie Lester & Rodney Browne. The duo produced for R&B greats such as Bobby Thurston, Gayle Adamas, Khemistry, The Modulations, Al Johnson, Esther Williams, Evelyn King, Sharron Redd to name a few. The super producers only recorded this one magical album which was disappointing that they released any more gems. Love Don t Grow On Trees is a mixture of uptempo funky grooves with a couple of delicious soulful mid tempo tracks that showcase the producers natural talents, not forgetting a tight and infectious production. Love Don t Grow On Trees for quite simply, the music speaks for itself. This timeless album sounds as good now as it did back in the day. Enjoy the magic! Overall Sun Goddess is a great title for jazz lovers or anyone who wants to slip back down memory lane and relax in the mid 70 s. Go ahead and put those platforms, bell bottoms, sunglasses and apple caps!! ~ Amazon


Silhouette is the new album from Ali Campbell, the legendary voice of UB40, reunited with Astro & Mickey. Recorded in London's renowned RAK Studios, the album is an inspired mix of freshly-minted new songs and sparkling, reggae-fied cover versions of classics by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Chi-Lites, and others. The title track, Silhouette, was originally a 1957 hit for American doo-wop group The Rays, though this new, yearning take owes more to an early 1970s version by the crown prince of reggae, the late Dennis Brown.  As founding members of UB40, Ali, Mickey, and Astro helped to define reggae music for a generation. The iconic Birmingham reggae troupe topped the UK singles chart on three occasions, and sold 70 million records as they took their smooth yet rootsy musical blend to all corners of the globe. Campbell left the band in 2008, after 29 years, and has since released four reggae-themed solo collections with Mickey, who left UB40 soon after Ali, joining him on keys. Astro remained with the band until November 2013, when he left to team up again with Ali and Mickey.  Ali's voice remains as strong as ever: rich, melodic, and instantly recognizable. He s a genius in the way he can work a set of lyrics around a great melody, says Mickey. Any song he sings could easily be a UB40 tune. ~ Amazon


In Singing the Blues, Freddy Cole pays tribute to the people, places and performing spaces that shaped his life and career. Revisiting some of brother Nat's forays into the blues, Cole also offers a few surprises such as "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men" and Steve Allen's "An Old Piano Plays the Blues." You can always expect something fresh and unique from master song stylist Freddy Cole even when you thought you already knew everything about the blues.  Includes: Muddy Water Blues, This Time I'm Gone For Good, Another Way To Feel,  Goin' Down Slow, Meet Me At No Special Place, All We Need Is a Place, My Mother Told Me,  Singing the Blues, The Ballad of the Sad Young Men, Pretending, and  An Old Piano Plays the Blues. ~ Amazon


American jazz pianist and composer Ahmed Jamal was born in July 1930. He began playing at the age of three, at seven he started lessons and at 14 he was playing professionally. At this point he was already recognized as a ""coming great"" by no less a talent than Art Tatum. Jamal began touring with George Hudson's Orchestra after graduating from High School in 1948 before moving to Chicago in 1950. He made his first records as 78 RPM discs in 1951 for the Okeh label with The Three Strings (later called the Ahmad Jamal Trio) alongside guitarist Ray Crawford and a succession of bassists. The Three Strings arranged an extended engagement at Chicago's Blue Note, but leapt to fame after performing at the Embers in New York where John Hammond saw the band play and signed them to Okeh. Jamal subsequently recorded for Parrot(1953-55) and Epic(1955) using the piano-guitar-bass lineup. The trio's sound changed significantly when Crawford was replaced with drummer Vernel Fournier in 1957, and the trio released the live album But Not for Me which stayed on the ten best-selling charts for 108 weeks and included Jamal's well known song ""Poinciana"". This four disc compilation brings together all the music Ahmad Jamal released during his first seven years as a recording artist, covering the period 1951 - 1958. Including the sides he made for Okeh, his one album for Parrott, his earliest albums for Epic and several records made for Chess offshoot Argo. Trained in both traditional jazz and European classical style, Ahmad Jamal has been praised as one of the greatest jazz innovators. Following bebop greats like Parker and Gillespie, Jamal entered the world of jazz at a time when speed and virtuosic improvisation were central to the success of jazz musicians as artists. Jamal, however, took steps in the direction of a new movement, later coined ""cool jazz"". He emphasized space and time in his musical compositions and interpretations instead of focusing on the blinding speed of bebop. 

Ahmad Jamal was able to tour North Africa at the start of 1959 following the success of his Live at the Pershing: But Not For Me album, a trip he had wanted to make since converting to Islam in his early 20s. Born of Baptist parents, he was only introduced to Islam while touring Detroit in the 1950s. On returning to the USA his wealth also allowed him to purchase a restaurant and club called The Alhambra in Chicago. The club however lasted for a little more than a year. Much of Jamal's output between the years of 1959 and 1962 were recorded live at a variety of clubs and venues in Chicago and other US cities. One of his stand-out records from this period was the marvelous collection titled 'Ahmed Jamal's Alhambra', released in 1961 and containing performances recorded at his own club that same year, shortly before it closed. The album went on to be one of the trios most successful records. The follow up, another live set this time recorded in San Francisco, 'Ahmad Jamal at The Blackhawk', was equally well received and included his version of Irving Berlin's The Best Thing For You which became a live favorite thereafter. In 1962 The Three Strings disbanded and Jamal moved to New York City where, at the age of 32, he took a three year hiatus. He resumed touring in 1964 when he began playing with bassist Jamil Nasser with whom he performed and recorded until 1972. Now in his eighties, Ahmad Jamal has continued to play numerous tours and release numerous recordings. His most recently released album is Saturday Morning from 2012. This collection contains all of this jazz legend's recorded output as released between 1959 and 1962, featuring both live and studio recordings it is the perfect accompaniment to this label's earlier release 'The Complete Collection 1951 - 1958'. Together these compilations provide the most complete set of recordings by Ahmad Jamal yet to emerge, containing as they do every track released during the first decade of this true master's career. ~ Amazon


Rhino presents a retrospective boxed set with seven CDs that focus on Cooder s work in the Eighties and early Nineties: The Long Riders, Alamo Bay, Paris, Texas, Blue City, Crossroads, Johnny Handsome and Trespass. RY COODER: SOUNDTRACKS will be available on September 29th. A digital version will also be available. The music is presented in a clamshell box that features new artwork by Tornado Design, the group behind the distinctive look found on several of Cooder s recent studio albums, as well as Rhino s 2008 anthology, The UFO Has Landed. After Cooder worked on soundtracks for Watermelon Man and Performance (starring Mick Jagger), he began producing soundtracks on his own. He started in 1980 with The Long Riders. It was the first of many soundtracks that Cooder would record for the film s director, Walter Hill. Many of them are included in this set: Crossroads, Johnny Handsome, Trespass, and Blue City, a film Hill produced. Cooder enjoyed a prolific two-year period between 1985-86 when he reeled off more than half of the soundtracks in this collection, including Alamo Bay, Blue City, Crossroads, and Paris, Texas, the Wim Wenders film that won the prestigious Palme d Or in 1984 at the Cannes Film Festival.  The soundtracks vary widely in terms of style, even as the group of musicians who performed on them remained remarkably consistent. In fact, some combination of drummer Jim Keltner, Memphis legend Jim Dickinson, guitarist David Lindley, and composer Van Dyke Parks can be heard on every soundtrack included in this set. In addition to those core musicians, the albums also boasts some fantastic guest performances by Cesar Rosas and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos on Alamo Bay, keyboardist Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers on Blue City, and harmonica player Sonny Terry on Crossroads. ~ Amazon



On Nostalgia, Annie Lennox pays tribute to some of the greatest artists of the 20th century – including Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Billie Holiday and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – and interprets compositions that have moved her, stripping them down to their emotional and musical core and making them her own. This beautiful deluxe package (created by Lennox herself and exclusive to Amazon) includes a 36-page bound book with photos and detailed notes on the songs created and lyrics as well as a DVD that features Annie discussing the album and a video of Lennox performing “I Put A Spell On You” live. "To have been given the opportunity to record these classic, timeless songs on such a significant label as Blue Note, representing 75 years of legendary jazz history, is truly a privilege for me," said Annie Lennox. ~ Amazon


The monster of the B3 is back with his ninth recording! Heralded as one of the best B3 players in the world, the incredible Tony Monaco presents a recording of all-new music, this time joined by critically acclaimed guitarist Fareed Haque! First studio recording in over two years. Features the great Fareed Haque on guitar. Also features the mesmerizing piano of Asako Itoh. Voted Best World Guitarist by readers of Guitar Player magazine, Fareed helps establish this as the most unique Tony Monaco recording yet. ~ Amazon


This twofer captures the end of one era for Eydie, and the beginning of another, as 1970 s Tonight I ll Say a Prayer was the last album she recorded for RCA, and 1971 s It Was a Good Time was the first she recorded for MGM! Tonight pairs Eydie with her favorite arranger, Don Costa, for a smartly chosen set of songs by Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams and Roger Nichols, Burt Bacharach and Hal David and Charles Aznavour among others. Good Time, meanwhile, is exactly that: Eydie interprets more contemporary fare like Bread s if, Carole King and Gerry Goffin s Goin Back, and James Taylor s Fire and Rain with great skill and sensitivity, and Mr. Costa once again arranges. Two gorgeous pop albums from the late, great Eydie Gorme. ~ Amazon


Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans, one of the stars of the vibrant and highly creative Dutch jazz scene, has been described as having ".... a melodic style evocative of late-period Miles Davis." (Nate Chinen, New York Times).  He returns to the US with his new project Oliver's Cinema, a trio featuring Belgian accordionist Tuur Florizoone and German cellist Jörg Brinkmann. The trio formed when Vloeimans "decided to tackle his aversion to the accordion" and found his way to Florizoone. After a series of duo concerts in 2012, Vloeimans added cellist Brinkmann. They did their first trio gig after only two hours of rehearsal and it was such a success that the new group was formed. Oliver's Cinema (an anagram of Vloeimans' name) released a self-titled debut CD in 2013, music written for film as well as music with a cinematic quality, ranging from Ennio Morricone soundtracks to new compositions for imaginary films.

He's colorful, versatile, engaging, friendlyŠ.and one hell of a trumpet player. Eric Vloeimans (Huizen, b. 1963) is is regarded as one of Europe's best performers with an extraordinary talent for playing original music with outstanding quality. Not bound by one particular style, he has managed to create an evocative, harmonic language of his own. His writing is fresh and creative, with feeling and respect for tradition, having mastered the complete range of the trumpet, from the energy laden high notes to the soft, velvety, almost wooden sounds. Is that a siren? A clarinet? A flute? A shakuhache?  No, it's Eric Vloeimans.

His talent and expressive power have won him many awards, among which four Edisons, the Elly Ameling Prize of the City of Rotterdam, the Boy Edgar Prize and the prestigious Bird Award of the North Sea Jazz Festival. Eric has been active in a wide variety of ensembles all over the years. His current bands are "Oliver's Cinema" with accordeonist Tuur Florizoone and cellist Jörg Brinkmann. The music is cinematic and evocative, leading listeners into a voyage of active imagination and reminiscence.  Plus, it's fun.

Vloeimans turns on the heat with electronic special effects in his electric band "Gatecrash."  Featuring Jeroen van Vliet on Fender Rhodes and keyboards, Gulli Gudmundsson on bass, and Jasper van Hulten on drums, Gatecrash is a darling of many jazz and pop festivals worldwide.

Vloeimans also performs and has recorded with the Holland Baroque Society, the reed quintet
Calefax, and in duo with classical pianist Florian Weber, with clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, with flamenco guitarist Eric Vaarzon Morel, with the Dutch Royal Marine Band, with the Matangi String Quartet, and many others - he is a complete musical animal. Lately he's been a popular soloist with symphony orchestras such as the Limburg Symphony Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic.  He performed and recorded his own trumpet concerto "Evensong" with the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra in 2012. In 2013 he was named musical director of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. He has also ventured into film music, writing (with Fons Merkies) and performing the music for the feature film "Majesteit" (premiered in September 2010), as well as for the award-winning animation "Audition" (with Martin Fondse), and for the documentary "Enkeltje Hemel"  (2014).

Eric has released some 23 albums on the Challenge label, and has performed all over Europe, Indonesia, China, the Middle East, North America, South Africa and Japan. He's always been influenced by his travels and encounters, and one can hear this in many of his compositions.

Eric Vloeimans plays from the heart - his warmth and easygoing nature has endeared him to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.  His music needs no translation, it comes from beyond and goes straight to the heart.

Vloeimans is returning to the U.S.or a 13-city tour, October 10 - 25, with Oliver's Cinema featuring Vloeimans with accordionist Tuur Florizoone and cellist Jörg Brinkmann. 

Tour Dates::

October 10 @ Moody's Bistro, Truckee, CA
October 11 @ House Concert at Chez Robert, Soquel, CA
October 13 @ Duende, Oakland, CA
October 14 @ Calvary Presbyterian Church, Portland, OR
October 15 @ Earshot Jazz Festival, Seattle, WA
October 16 @ Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque, NM
October 17 @ UCCS Centennial Hall, Colorado Springs, CO
October 19 @ The Promontory,  Chicago, IL
October 20 @ Blue Note, NewYork, NY
October 21 @ Hallwalls, Buffalo, NY
October 23 @ Caspe Terrace, Waukee, IA
October 24 @ Brooks Hall, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
October 25 @ Miami Dade County Auditorium, Miami, FL



A pair of 70s classics from this mighty fusion ensemble – back to back in a single collection! First up is Between Nothingness & Eternity – and although there's a pretty big space between nothingness & eternity – but Mahavishnu Orchestra manage to fill most of it up with their hard-jamming approach! The style here is a bit different than the group's initial albums – as the record's a live one, and features some very long tracks that stretch out with possibly a bit more spiritual influence than before – still rockish at times, but also with freer floating energy as well. Billy Cobham's drums are worth the price of admission alone – and other group members include the mighty John McLaughlin on guitar and Jan Hammer on electric piano, synth, and moog. Titles include the "Thrilogy" suite, plus "Sister Andrea" and "Dreams". Visions Of The Emerald Beyond is very spacey work from Mahavishnu Orchestra – a set that continues the change in sound explored by the second incarnation of the group – one that's much more spacious than the first! The group here is somewhat large, but often comes off with a good sense of leanness at times – less of the notes-on-notes jams of rockish fusion, and more stretched-out spiritual modes, mixed with a slight dose of funk at just the right moments! John McLaughlin's in the lead on guitar, and other players include Gayle Moran on keyboards, Jean-Luc Ponty on electric violin, and Narada Michael Waldon on drums, percussion, clavinet, and vocals. Titles include "Eternity's Breath", "Lile's Dance", "Can't Stand Your Funk", "Earth Ship", "Be Happy", "Opus 1", and "Pegasus".  ~, Dusty Groove


Maybe the coolest record we've ever heard from this mod British combo – a set that gets way past the easy retro references of previous albums, and goes for a vibe that's quite complicated, but still pretty darn groovy! The set's got the look and feel of the best jazzy soundtracks of the 60s – and these guys bring in a nice range of styles to match – from jaunty groovers to more complicated sonic explorations – served up on a blend of Hammond, Fender Rhodes, mellotron, timbales, tablas, electric sitar, and more – all with a feel that's maybe somewhere in the best territory of Roy Budd during his Get Carter years! The whole thing's wonderful – a great evolution from before – and titles include "Trans Adonis", "Theme From Last Man On Earth", "Aardvark", "Blow Your Own", "Hail Caesar", and "Changing Faces" – and although most of the set is instrumental, three tracks feature some guest vocals too.  ~ Dusty Groove


Maybe one of the most vibrant musical performances ever from the Ballister trio – for reasons that are recorded in the notes on the album – a stunning collaboration between Dave Rempis on alto and tenor, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and electronics, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums and percussion! The players have a great way of swinging between sound and space – really letting things out to create the right sort of suspense, then bounding back in with the sort of bold energy that really feeds their fire – almost with a sensitivity that's surprising, given the situation! The album features one long live performance – divided up into "Front" and "Back" passages. (Yellow vinyl pressing, too!)  ~ Dusty Groove


With his new album, Ezra Weiss demonstrates why he was listed as a Rising Star Arranger in the 2012 and 2013 DownBeat Critics Polls, reaffirming his status as one of today's preeminent young jazz pianists and composers.  With an all-star band that includes some of today's top young talent, the Ezra Weiss Sextet plays modern, original compositions and arrangements, all deeply rooted in jazz tradition, with emotional energy and artistic drive.  In this band, trumpeter Farnell Newton (Jill Scott, Bootsy Collins), alto saxophonist John Nastos (Diane Schurr, Chuck Israels), tenor saxophonist Devin Phillips (Wynton Marsalis, Los Hombres Calientes), bassist Jon Shaw (Blue Cranes, Javier Nero), and drummer Christopher Brown (Roy Hargrove, Benny Golson) join forces to bring Weiss' heartfelt and imaginative compositions to life.

The album, Ezra Weiss Sextet: Before You Know It [Live in Portland], out September 9 on the Roark Records label, is his seventh album as a leader, but marks Weiss' first venture into live recording.  "I wanted to bring the energy of our live shows to the album, so that you could listen to it and feel like you were sitting there at the club."  Beautifully recorded by Rick Gordon and artfully mixed by Katsuhiko Naito, this album perfectly achieves Weiss' goal.

Weiss has earned wide critical acclaim for his previous CDs: 5 A. M. Strut (2003), Persephone (2005), Get Happy (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2009), The Shirley Horn Suite (2011), and Our Path To This Moment (2012).

Perhaps more than any other composer of his generation, Ezra Weiss consistently writes memorable melodies, which he creatively brings to the forefront with his thoughtful orchestration.  While his sextet obviously pays homage to Horace Silver and Art Blakey's bands, Weiss brings the spaciousness of Shirley Horn and the structural development of Maria Schneider to his music.  These influences clearly emerge on the opening track, "Winter Machine," winner of the 2006 ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award.  "There's a lot that stands out for me about this performance of 'Winter Machine,'" says Weiss.  "Chris Brown's modern take on the drumming, Farnell Newton's heavy blues, and especially John Nastos' alto sound - it's so virtuosic and still so musical."

The sextet then takes off on "The Crusher," a fast burner that brings to mind both the intensity of Woody Shaw and the dynamic excitement of Charles Mingus.  Then in a sudden change of pace, the band follows this with "Don't Need No Ticket," a soulful ballad that takes its title from a Curtis Mayfield lyric.  Perhaps this slow funk is the arena where this band stands out the most, bringing together the sensitivity of the Stylistics with the intensity of John Coltrane.

Again changing things up, the sextet jumps into their modern take on the classic Gershwin "A Foggy Day."  Weiss' arranging skills are obvious here, as he completely reimagines this great standard.  And in this live setting, the band is able to stretch out, everyone finding new directions for improvisational exploration.  The band continues with "Jessie's Song," a 7-minute masterpiece written for Weiss' wife. The ensemble playing here is truly extraordinary, showcasing the group's dynamics, intonation, and collective phrasing.

"The Five A.M. Strut" was originally recorded on Weiss' debut album of the same name.  While that studio version was only four minutes long, this performance is over fifteen minutes.  Again, the live setting allows the band to stretch out on the solos, making everyone's personalities shine through.  For instance, Devin Phillips' New Orleans background comes out loud and clear.  "This was the first tune I wrote when I moved to Portland," says Weiss.  "I had a gig that started at two in the morning.  This tune is about playing a gig like that, and then somehow having to figure out how to get home."

"Alabama" was originally composed by John Coltrane after the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in which four girls were killed.  Weiss says, "After the shootings at Sandy Hook, I was looking for some healing music to help me cope.  I thought about John Coltrane, and then thought of 'Alabama,' and suddenly felt very scared to listen to it.  That's when I decided I needed to arrange it."  This arrangement, which treats Coltrane's melody as a canon and features an extended solo by Devin Phillips, is dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.

The band closes out the set with "Before You Know It," a soulful piece Weiss wrote for his first son before he was born.  Again, the sextet shines on this funky ballad with beautiful solos by all of the horn players.

By the end of the album, we feel as though we've been there in the club, taken on an epic journey with these stellar musicians.

Recently listed in the 2012 and 2013 DownBeat Critics Polls and three-time winner of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, composer/pianist Ezra Weiss has led bands in many of the country's greatest clubs including Dizzy's Club Coca-Coca in NYC, the Triple Door in Seattle, and Catalina's in Los Angeles.  He holds a bachelor's degree in Jazz Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory and a master's degree in Jazz Piano from Queens College.  His recordings include The Five A.M. Strut, Persephone, Get Happy, Alice in Wonderland, The Shirley Horn Suite, and Our Path To This Moment, all of which have garnered significant international acclaim from press and radio. While living in New York, Weiss worked as arranger and pianist for legendary drummer Billy Hart. He currently lives with his wife and two sons in Portland, Oregon, where he teaches at Portland State University.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pianist/Composer JOHN CHIN Celebrates The Release of UNDERCOVER With Concerts In Los Angeles & NYC

Pianist/composer John Chin's sophomore album, Undercover, boasts a unique approach to music that his working band, with Orlando le Fleming (bass) and Dan Rieser (drums), has cultivated over many years of gigs. Recorded live in one room in Brooklyn, with no preconceived arrangements and no edits, Undercover features original compositions from Chin, plus rhythmic, elastic, and ultimately singular takes on music from Ellington ("Caravan"), Shorter ("Edda" & "Fall"), Chaplin ("Smile") and Coltrane ("Countdown"). Chin explains, "All of the tunes began with some kernel that one of us came up with and we would just run with it. It really is a snapshot of the continuing evolution of the arrangements of songs that we had been playing over several years, and it struck me as being important to document what the trio had been working on. Undercover is all about instinct, the moment, just like our live performances. Every tune, even the original compositions are treated as frameworks for improvisation. 

Pianistically, Chin has been working on polyphonic improvisation of late, broadening his technique in order to improvise several lines at the same time. Chin explains, "when I was a teenager, I got to hang out with the late, great Dorothy Donegan and she would show me what she was doing in spectacular fashion. I've also read about Keith Jarrett talking about this approach, and have heard Brad Mehldau execute it as well. You hear it all over the place in jazz and classical music actually. Art Tatum and Erroll Garner would pull it off all the time with a counter line in the middle of all this other activity and it would always floor me! In Bach, it's built in. And, some of my favorite moments in music have been found in the works of Rachmaninoff and Ravel. I'd been checking out all this stuff trying to soak it in and wanted to integrate it into my own playing. My approach to it is something relatively new and is something that I explore on Undercover."
John Chin, born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Los Angeles, has been a fixture on the New York jazz scene since 1998 and was introduced to the piano at age four. He began studying jazz at California State University, which he attended at the age of fourteen as part of the Early Entrance Program for Gifted Students. Upon receiving his B.A. in Music at nineteen, Chin continued his musical studies at the University of North Texas, before pursuing a Masters of Music degree from Rutgers University (under the tutelage of master pianist and composer Kenny Barron), and an Artist Diploma from the world-renowned Juilliard School. His extensive experience in the classroom would lay the foundation for his own pedagogy; his experience and reputation have led to teaching opportunities the world over, while helping to sustain a New York studio of his own, located in Brooklyn's history-rich Prospect Park. John has performed internationally as a leader and sideman, at many major festivals, as well as some of America's most important and storied jazz rooms. He has shared the stage with Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jaimeo Brown, Alan Ferber, Mark Turner, Marcus & E.J. Strickland, Dayna Stephens, Irvin Mayfield, Terrell Stafford, Donny McCaslin, Joel Frahm, John Ellis, Chris Cheek, Gregory Hutchinson, and Rudy Royston, among many others. Chin is a prolific composer, drawing inspiration from the jazz, pop, and western classical traditions, with two releases as a leader to-date: 2008's Blackout Conception, and his most recent project, 2014's Undercover.  


Having recorded a catalogue of Top 10 albums in a vivid spectrum of jazz hues with topflight musicians for 35 years, Dan Siegel only emerges when he has something engaging to say with his poetic piano and crafty keyboards. Back with his first new statement in five years, Siegel’s DSM record label will release “Indigo” on October 14, a set comprised of ten new compositions that he wrote, arranged and shared production chores with Grammy-nominated bassist Brian Bromberg.   

On his 20th album, Siegel creates right up the spine of the jazz dichotomy allowing the melodies, improvisational soloing and grooves to unfold and flourish unencumbered by restrictive genre borders and polarizing labels. His cerebral compositions traverse the expansive jazz terrain, but do so with heart rendering them instantly accessible. The keyboardist has a gift for writing inviting, emotionally-evocative material that connects soulfully.   

"My tendency is it to overwrite, which can make it challenging for the listener.  I believe the emotional allure of the music on this album (“Indigo”) transcends its compositional complexity," said the Irvine, California-based artist who was born in Seattle, Washington and raised in Eugene, Oregon.
The beating heart and soul heard on “Indigo” in part comes from the live production tracked in the cozy confines of Bromberg’s home studio in the valley just over the hill from Los Angeles. Siegel and Bromberg have an easy rapport and level of trust that dates back several decades from playing and recording together. Bromberg’s 300-year-old acoustic bass provides the rhythmic bottom end on tracks anchored by the deft drum beats from Yellowjackets veteran Will Kennedy. Bob Sheppard plays a prominent role using a variety of saxophones and impassioned play to echo Siegel’s piano and keyboards leads as well as emote his own scholarly theses. Allen Hinds and Mike Miller are afforded ample room to dispense thoughtful guitar riffs and do so with finesse. Lenny Castro’s percussion and Craig Fundyga’s vibraphone embellishments add texture, color and shadow in all the right places while two different horn sections appear on a total of six tracks providing power and depth. The cumulative result of such masterful players animating Siegel’s poignant piano pieces is a warm and plush album that will be serviced for airplay at straight-ahead jazz (full album) and contemporary/smooth jazz outlets (title cut).      

Siegel inked his first record deal in 1979 with Inner City Records, which issued his debut disc,
“Nite Ride,” featuring guitar great Lee Ritenour. Siegel’s sophomore session, “The Hot Shot,” went No. 1 on the Radio & Records chart and spent ten weeks in the Top 10 on the Billboard jazz chart. A couple years later, Siegel moved to Los Angeles to focus on composing film and television scores. Subsequently, he signed with Epic Records and altered his sound from fusion to collections that spanned contemporary jazz, electronic, worldbeat and R&B. Over the years, he has played and recorded with Herbie Hancock, Boney James, Larry Carlton, Joe Sample, Ernie Watts, John Patitucci, Bela Fleck and Ottmar Liebert in instrumental settings; Glenn Frey, Chaka Khan, Berlin and Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind & Fire) in the pop world; and amassed an array of television and film credits that boasts Oscar-winner “The Usual Suspects.” For more information, please visit www.DanSiegelMusic.com.

The songs contained on “Indigo” are:
“To Be Continued”
“By Chance”
“Far and Away”
“If Ever”
“Spur of the Moment”
“First Light”
“Consider This”

Jamie Cullum Celebrates New Relationship With Blue Note Records at Blue Note Jazz Club, September 29

Photo by McVirn Ettiene
Blue Note Jazz Club is presenting celebrated song-writer and musician Jamie Cullum for a special one-night performance on Monday, September 29 (two shows, 8:00PM & 10:30PM). Billed as "Jamie Cullum Interlude...The Jazz Tour," the evening will celebrate his new relationship with Blue Note Records, as the legendary label just announced that it will serve as the new U.S. home for the British jazz star. 

The pair of intimate shows will provide a special sneak preview to Cullum's upcoming album, Interlude. He will play the album in its entirety with his core band augmented by choice local players so not only will the audience see him in much smaller space than usual, but with a much bigger band to boot! 
Interlude marks a rare focus upon largely straight-ahead jazz and a return to interpretation from an artist who has made a habit of bending genres, writing original material and bringing new sounds and new listeners to the music. Inspired by the music and musicians he's featured on his award-winning UK jazz radio show over the last few years and his own crate digging tendencies, the album's twelve tracks avoid cliché with a fistful of less obvious songs from the American songbook along with a couple modern surprises and pair of amazing duet guests in Gregory Porter and Laura Mvula.

Released next month in his native UK via Island Records, the album will be coming in the US from Blue Note Records later this winter and more details will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

Jamie Cullum @ Blue Note Jazz Club, 131 W. 3rd Street, New York, NY / Monday, September 29: Two Shows: 8:00PM and 10:30PM


The formation and success of The Touré-Raichel Collective, the band led by Israeli keyboardist and songwriter Idan Raichel and Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré—icons in their own countries and abroad—is a reminder of the unique power of music to bridge geographic, ethnic, political and religious differences. As a follow up to their acclaimed 2012 debut, The Tel Aviv Session, the group will release a new album, The Paris Session, September 30 on the Cumbancha label. The Touré-Raichel Collective will tour the U.S. this fall; please see below for an itinerary.

Although a collaboration between an Israeli Jew and a Malian Muslim has unavoidable political implications, what inspired Touré and Raichel to work together was not the potential to make a statement; they simply connected as artists and friends seeking to find musical common ground.

They met for the first time by chance, in 2008 at the Berlin airport, where they expressed mutual admiration and a desire to get together and play. Touré’s father, the late great Ali Farka Touré, was one of Raichel's musical heroes and inspirations. Raichel invited Touré to Israel, where they assembled a few musicians and convened an unscripted, improvised jam session. The chemistry between Touré and Raichel was instant and profound. They assumed the name The Touré-Raichel Collective and used the material from that first gathering as the basis for an album, The Tel Aviv Session, which found poignant, musically beautiful common ground between the artists’ cultures.

Since they recorded their first album in Tel Aviv, the plan was to make the follow-up in Bamako. But the latter was deemed too risky at the time, so the artists traveled to France to record. For three days Raichel, who produced, and Touré sequestered themselves at Studio Malambo in the outskirts of Paris where they were joined by a number of special guests. While The Paris Session is the result of the same freeform approach that was used in the first album, this time around they decided to feature more songs with vocals, a wider range of instrumentation, and appearances by musician friends such as Senegalese artist Daby Touré on bass, Israeli trumpeter Niv Toar, Malian singer Seckouba Diabate and others. Touré and Raichel have honed their interplay over the course of multiple tours together, but the album possesses the same spontaneous, heartfelt magic as its predecessor.

Due to popular demand, The Touré-Raichel Collective has undertaken multiple international tours and performed on some of the world's most prestigious stages. In June of this year, Touré returned to Israel to join Raichel's band The Idan Raichel Project in a performance at Masada, an archeological site of immense significance in Jewish history. 

One highlight of the recording is a rendition of the song “Diaraby,” written by Ali Farka Touré and featured on his landmark collaboration with Ry Cooder, Talking Timbuktu. Raichel says that there was a period of six or seven years during which he had listened to the song nearly every day. Upon sharing a stage with Vieux for the first time, Raichel suggested they play the elder Touré’s song together, and doing so brought tears to Raichel’s eyes. He describes feeling “a big, big circle from Ali Farka Touré in Niafunke to me in Tel Aviv, then going back to Ali’s son.”

More broadly Raichel says of his collaboration with Touré, “I’m a musician from Israel, and I will always make Israeli music. And Vieux Farka Touré for me represents the spirit of Mali. I think world music artists by definition are people who reflect the soundtrack of the place they come from. I think that this collaboration between Mali and Israel—and remember we don’t even have diplomatic relations between the two countries—creates a new imaginary island located somewhere between Bamako and Tel Aviv.”

Touré says, “Idan comes from Israel, he’s Jewish. I come from Mali, I'm a Muslim. This project shows the point where there are no real differences between us. Working on these recordings we learn a lot about each other.”

It all works, first and foremost, because Touré, Raichel and their guests manage to make singular music. Reviewing The Tel Aviv Session for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” Banning Eyre wrote, “If Raichel and Touré had planned a collaboration, it's hard to imagine that they could have topped the casual charm of this impromptu encounter.” Hosting the Collective on WNYC’s “Soundcheck,” John Schaefer called the debut recording “one of the year’s most surprising and infectious world music releases.” Wall Street Journal rock and pop music critic Jim Fusilli has described the collaboration as “not so much cross-cultural exercise as an exploration of common ground.”

The Touré-Raichel Collective U.S. Tour Dates

NOV 07 @ The Valley Performing Arts Center – Northridge, CA [LINK]
NOV 08 @ Nourse Theater – San Francisco, CA [LINK]
NOV 09 @ The Center for the Arts – Grass Valley, CA [LINK]
NOV 11 @ Musical Instruments Museum – Phoenix, AZ [LINK]
NOV 12 @ Boulder Theater – Boulder, CO [LINK]
NOV 14 @ Peery’s Egyptian Theater – Ogden, UT [LINK]
NOV 15 @ Meany Hall – Seattle, WA [LINK]
NOV 18 @ Symphony Space – New York, NY [LINK]
NOV 19 @ Weinberg Center for the Arts – Frederick, MD [LINK]
NOV 20 @ Quick Center for the Arts – Fairfield, CT [LINK]
NOV 21 @ Koerner Hall – Toronto, ON [LINK]
NOV 22 @ Swyer Theatre at The Egg – Albany, NY [LINK]
NOV 23 @ Zoellner Arts Center – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania [LINK]

Vieux Farka Touré is often called “The Hendrix of the Sahara.” Despite his father's wishes that he join the army, Vieux taught himself guitar in secret and stubbornly chose to pursue his dream of a career in music and further his father's legacy. After earning his undergraduate degree from Mali's Institute National Des Arts and a graduate degree from The Conservatory of Bamako, Vieux quickly emerged from his father's shadow and established himself as an innovative, world-class musician and activist in his own right. In his young career he has released seven critically acclaimed albums, toured the world many times over and collaborated with some of the world's biggest musical stars, including Dave Matthews, Lauryn Hill, Derek Trucks and Ry Cooder. In 2010 he was invited to represent Mali at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in South Africa, where he performed to a cumulative global audience of over one billion people. In 2013 he released his latest solo album, Mon Pays, as a direct, peaceful and uplifting response to the violent invasion of his homeland by foreign, extremist militants in 2012 and 2013. The album was roundly praised around the world and topped the CMJ World Music Chart for 2013. A tenacious philanthropist throughout his career, Vieux has worked diligently to assist his fellow Malians through his Fight Malaria campaign and by raising money throughout his tours for the refugees of the recent conflict in Northern Mali. Most recently he founded AMAHREC-SAHEL, a charitable organization providing crucial resources and assistance to impoverished children in the Sahel region of West Africa.

Since 2003, when his song “Bo’ee” became an instant crossover hit that catapulted Idan Raichel and his group The Idan Raichel Project to the top of Israel's pop charts, the keyboardist, songwriter and producer has been a household name in his native land. In 2006, the U.S.-based record label Cumbancha released an eponymous collection of songs from the group’s first two albums, bringing the artist even more international renown. The Idan Raichel Project has headlined some of the world’s most prestigious venues, including New York's Central Park Summer Stage, Apollo Theater, Town Hall and Radio City Music Hall, Los Angeles’ Kodak Theater, the Sydney Opera House, Zenith and Bataclan in Paris, London’s Royal Albert Hall and many international festivals. Raichel has toured and recorded with GRAMMY-winner India.Arie, including performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for President Obama and his family on the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day after Obama’s election as well as at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Last year, Raichel perform a private concert for President Obama during his official visit to Israel. In July 2014, Raichel joined Alicia Keys for a special duet during her sold-out concert at Nokia Stadium in Tel Aviv. One month later, Raichel shared the stage with French star Patrick Bruel. Cumbancha released the Idan Raichel Project's latest album, Quarter to Six, in 2013, which featured guest appearances by Portuguese fado singer Ana Moura, Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad, German counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, Colombia’s Marta Gómez, Vieux Farka Touré and some of Israel’s top emerging singers and musicians.


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