Thursday, May 19, 2016

Universal Music Group Forms Verve Label Group; Danny Bennett Named President & CEO

Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, today announced the formation of the Verve Label Group and appointed veteran industry executive Danny Bennett, a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning music, film and television producer, and long-time manager of his father, legendary singer Tony Bennett, as the label group's President & CEO, effective immediately.

The Verve Label Group will be comprised of Verve and UMG's U.S. classical music labels including Deutsche Grammophon, Decca Records, Decca Classics, Mercury Classics, and distributed label ECM. The new structure marks UMG's continued investment in jazz and classical music and the company's unwavering commitment to building upon its rich history in both genres, while also opening up new opportunities, developing global cross-over artists and delivering innovative jazz and classical experiences to fans.  The jazz and classical labels will maintain distinct A&R, marketing and promotions teams, while also leveraging UMG's global reach to provide artists with deep resources and expertise to develop their careers.

Under Bennett's leadership, Verve will relocate to New York, where the label was originally founded 60 years ago as home to jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Stan Getz and Billie Holiday. With his proven strategic marketing skills, Bennett will expand the awareness and reach of UMG's historic jazz and classical catalogue, and develop and promote emerging artists on a global scale.

Bennett will report to Michele Anthony, Executive Vice President of UMG. Bennett and Dickon Stainer, President and CEO of Global Classics for Universal Music Group, will announce shortly a President of Verve Label Group's classical music labels.

David Foster, one of the most successful record producers in history, who led the Verve label since 2012, has decided to return full-time to producing, and will continue to work closely with UMG's labels and artists. Foster is currently producing albums for UMG artists Carla Bruni and Jordan Smith. 

In making the announcement, Michele Anthony said, "By forming the Verve Label Group and attracting an industry veteran of Danny's stature and expertise, Universal Music is making a strong statement about the high value we place on building on our robust jazz and classical repertoire. We are committed to growing our presence in these genres even further and creating crossover successes that deliver artists to new audiences around the world. I want to thank David for the immense creative impact he had at Verve. On behalf of everyone here at UMG, we look forward to recording many more hit records with David for years to come."

Bennett said, "Universal Music is home to the largest and most historically relevant jazz and classical recordings. It's a tremendous honor, and I am humbled to be chosen to lead the newly formed Verve Label Group. I'm indebted to David Foster for leading the iconic Verve label and I look forward to working with him on many future productions. Additionally, I offer my profound appreciation to Lucian Grange and Michele Anthony for this amazing opportunity."

Foster said, "I have loved every minute working with Verve's incredibly talented roster of artists and staff. At the same time, during the last few months, as I thought about where I'm happiest, it's in the recording studio working closely with artists on developing new material. I'm thrilled Danny is now at the helm of the Verve. The label couldn't be in better hands and I'm looking forward to working on many more projects together."

Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, Verve is Universal Music Group's American contemporary label with an active artist roster that includes Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Mark Knopfler, Sarah McLachlan and Barry Manilow. The label was founded in 1956 and quickly made a name as the home of jazz legends. Verve also oversees the catalog of the legendary Impulse! Records with an artist roster that includes John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and many more.

Danny Bennett is a veteran manager and a Grammy and Emmy Award-winning music, film and television producer. Bennett founded RPM Productions in 1979, an artist management and strategic marketing company. He is most known for using progressive marketing skills to redefine the career of his father, Tony Bennett, prompting Advertising Age to name him one of the Top 100 Marketers. Bennett has been profiled in a variety of publications including Time Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes and Billboard. Bennett has also represented recording artists from diverse musical genres including Elvis Costello and Jamiroquai and spearheaded innovative and multi-faceted strategic marketing campaigns for Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, and John Legend to name a few.

Bennett has managed his father's career for over 35 years, a period that includes 17 Grammy awards; the release of Duets: An American Classic, Tony's best-selling album of performances with artists including Paul McCartney, Elton John, Barbra Streisand and Bono; the Rob Marshall-directed television special Tony Bennett: An American Classic, which won seven Emmys and was the most-honored program at the 2007 Emmy Awards; the release of Duets II featuring performances with Amy Winehouse, Michael Bublé, Aretha Franklin, Josh Groban, Lady Gaga and John Mayer; as well as the #1, Grammy-award winning album Cheek To Cheek with Lady Gaga.

In addition to his management and strategic marketing endeavors, Bennett has produced a variety of feature documentary and broadcast productions, including Tony Bennett: An American Classic, the Emmy Award-winning PBS American Masters documentary in association with Clint Eastwood, Tony Bennett: The Music Never Ends, and the Emmy Award-winning live music series Live By Request, 36 shows that ran for 9 seasons on the A&E Network showcasing such artists as David Bowie, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Don Henley and the Bee Gees. Live By Request's unique interactive concept was developed by Tony and Danny Bennett and went on to become the longest-running live music performance special on U.S. television. Bennett also collaborated with Academy Award-winner T-Bone Burnett on The Words and Music of Cold Mountain, a live multimedia event and DVD for Miramax Films. Most recently, Danny created, produced and directed in partnership with Netflix, the critically acclaimed documentary film, The Zen Of Bennett, which was theatrically released and is available on Netflix.

Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries.  Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world.  Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans.

Five composer-performers join forces on the leading edge of classical and jazz as Alchemy Sound Project

Ensemble's debut release explores the common ground between two diverse traditions, giving rise to innovative, breathtaking new sounds. Works by Erica Lindsay, Sumi Tonooka, Samantha Boshnack, David Arend, and Salim Washington, composers brought together by Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute

"Alchemy Sound Project is speaking with confidence, creating art that is bold, art that speaks from the soul. Here, in this collective approach, these musicians share in musical discovery and hear their own ideas expertly executed. What jumps out and above the powerful, nuanced performances is the fresh writing." - Music Documentary Producer Steve Rowland

Medieval alchemists were known to have sought a way to turn lead into gold, but the actual purpose of their experiments was to transform the very soul of the alchemist. Alchemy Sound Project follows a similar course, experimenting with combinations and distillations of jazz, African traditions and Western classical music in an effort to transform themselves and their audience. On Further Explorations, the band's debut due out May 27, 2016 on Artists Recording Collective, five composer-musicians and their invited guests find a way to meld their distinctive approaches and voices to create a unique sound with the lushness and intricacy of a symphony orchestra combined with the spontaneity and interplay of a small jazz group. Alchemy, indeed.

The five core members of Alchemy Sound Project were brought together by the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, a program initiated by the American Composers Orchestra and the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University to encourage jazz composers to explore writing music for the symphony orchestra. Directed by composer, trombonist, and educator George Lewis, JCOI selects 38 jazz composers at various stages of their careers, chosen from a competitive national pool of applicants, for a one-week summer intensive with leading composers, conductors and performers.

Tenor saxophonist Erica Lindsay attended the first JCOI session in 2010; at her encouragement, both pianist Sumi Tonooka (a frequent collaborator) and trumpet player Samantha Boshnack (a former student of Lindsay's at Bard College) enrolled in the second round in 2012. There, Tonooka and Boshnack met and bonded with bassist David Arend and multi-reedist Salim Washington. By day they studied aspects of music history and the orchestral palette, while by night they shared inspiration over dinners and walks around the UCLA campus. A year later, the five reconnected at Tonooka's behest to further explore the ideas they'd studied in the program.

"It was a very intense experience," Tonooka says of JCOI. "It got me really excited about being able to apply my own experiences to the instrument that is the orchestra."

For their debut release, each composer was encouraged to bring in two new pieces for the group, supplemented for the recording by trombonist Willem de Koch and drummer Max Wood. The result is an artful and boundary-stretching amalgam of jazz and classical ideas that shows off the chemistry formed during the bandmates' brief but enlightening time studying together. "The JCOI concept is about blurring
these lines, hybridizing jazz elements with classical music," Arend says. "It's up to us to figure out what that means, but the synergy of the band is awesome - we're inspiring each other, teaching each other, pushing each other, and it feels like new territory even though we're drawing on centuries-old traditions."

The connection between the Alchemy participants is exemplified by Washington's "Charcoal, Clear, Beautiful All Over," which opens the album. The title is taken from the English translation of the Japanese name "Sumi," while the piece itself was penned to spotlight the bass clarinet, Tonooka's favorite instrument. Washington, a Professor of Music at South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal and a collaborator with jazz visionaries like the late Fred Ho, also contributed the closing track, "The Call." The tune was written in tribute to Solodeen Muhammad, whom the composer calls "one of the hipsters of my father's generation. This piece is in his honor and in appreciation of the psychic and spiritual support, the cultural continuity that he represents in my life as a musician. It attempts to channel the hipness and the energy that this streetwise, musically savvy father figure has passed on to me."

Lindsay, an artist-in-residence and teacher at Bard College who has performed and recorded with artists ranging from McCoy Tyner and Oliver Lake to Frank Zappa and Melba Liston, says that her piece "Further Explorations" is intended to "connote a journey of discovery" that parallels the creative act. The richly-hued piece, which slowly builds from a tense alto flute theme over a bass/drum pulse to accumulating horns, contrasts moments of free improvisation with lush composed sections. The piece, Lindsay explains, "explores the balance and necessary tension between the unknown and the known that exist within the creative mind. As one sets out to leave the known world and fall into unknown territory, there is a certain wonder and innocence involved as well as the courage to let go of the known." Lindsay's second piece, the sprightly "Beta," is more through-composed, though it carries the playful dodge-and-weave energy of the written lines into its solo sections.

"I was listening to a lot of orchestral works as I was writing," says Boshnack, "and trying to incorporate and highlight classical counterpoint and grandeur in my music. I was listening to and inspired by the music of my colleagues and trying to give them a space in which to shine." A mainstay of the Seattle jazz scene with her own B'Shnorkestra and as co-leader of Reptet. Boshnack begins her first piece, "Alchemical," with a fanfare of classical counterpoint for the horns and drums before bursting into a heavy groove, prompting intense solos from Tonooka and Lindsay. "Divergency" sets up a tension between light and dark, with airy melodies and starker rhythms. Both reflect the hybrid nature of the ensemble in their apt mash-up titles, combining alchemy and chemistry in the first, diversity and urgency in the second.

Tonooka, a Philadelphia native now based in Seattle who has written symphonic and chamber works and film soundtracks in addition to working with jazz greats from Philly Joe Jones to Rufus Reid, set out to write two entirely different compositions for the band. The stunning, crystalline-then-jarring "Waiting" was born from a difficult personal situation, while the celebratory "Joie de Vivre" combines the composer's love of Malian music and the contrapuntal approach of composers like Bach.

The most classically-oriented member of the ensemble, Arend is a longtime member of the Oakland Symphony as well as a composer and performer in jazz, electronic, avant-garde, and singer-songwriter contexts. He adapted "Her Name Is Love" from a piano piece by Czech composer Leo_ Janá_ek, reharmonized with piano removed from the equation entirely. The title of Arend's second contribution to this recording, "Archetype," refers to one of the most archetypal formats in jazz, the big band, the sound of which Arend recreates with the band's seven pieces.

Each of these pieces is striking in its own right, but together Alchemy Sound Project provides thrilling new avenues for exploration - which its members are eager and committed to explore. "You could think of it like a dinner," Tonooka muses. "Everybody brings different dishes to the table and we're all enjoying and tasting and delving in and creating something new out of it. That makes it fun for us and interesting to the listener because it's not just one flavor. It's all of us."

Todd Clouser Joins Forces With Members Of Abraxas On Magnet Animals: Butterfly Killer

On the heels of his genre-defying A Love Electric trilogy and subsequent song project, Man With No Country, guitarist-composer-poet-lyricist C Todd Clouser joins forces with drummer Jorge Servin and the potent one-two punch of Abraxas guitarist Eyal Maoz and bassist Shanir Blumenkranz in forming Magnet Animals. Their slamming and startlingly unique debut, Butterfly Killer -- full of skronking noise guitars of blast furnace intensity and stream of conscious raps over righteous riffs and humungous backbeats -- stands as one of the most strangely compelling outings in the extensive and wildly eclectic catalog of London-based RareNoiseRecords.

From the opening salvo of "Headphone Girls" to the jarring punk-funk of "Martha Fever," the eerie Ennio Morricone-styled spaghetti western vibe of "I Give Up And Love Somebody" and the sinister title track, Butterfly Killer sidesteps convention at every turn while boldly stepping to a different kind of muse. Throw in a B-52s-styled '80s dance party number ("Igual, Pero Peor"), a throbbing jam with a haunting, an evangelist preacher styled incantation ("Little John The Liar") and an ode to a late junkie author/hipster ("Bill Burroughs") and you have one of the most daring, fully self-realized creations of the current year.

Credit Clouser with creating the vehicle for such a powerful statement to take place. "The Magnet Animals record is very impulsive," explains the auteur. "With the A Love Electric records, we write, re-write, edit, produce, cut tunes in half and tour together on 120 dates a year. With Magnet Animals, I wanted to get back to just a creative impulse, honoring that, expressing, and moving on. I wrote the tunes in one weekend in a cabin a week before we had the tour planned. We played a week's worth of shows, recorded on the last day in about an 8-hour session. I took the sessions to Minneapolis to mix, and that was it. I wanted it to be fast, a reflection of the personalities of the players and their instincts, and not think myself out of what I needed to say, and what this group was on its first impulse, instinctively."

Regarding his role as principal wordsmith and narrator of the vivid imagery conjured up throughout Butterfly Killer, Clouser says, "I like lyrics that can survive as poetry -- just on the page. I'm not sure if I am a poet or a lyricist but words are important to me. If I am going to use them, I want them to have purpose. Sometimes it's in humor, like on 'Headphone Girls.' I travel a lot and there are all these thousands of headphones they sell all over airports now -- every color and size and sales pitch, and its a trip! So I wrote that 'look at me listening' little line when I was in the Atlanta airport on A Love Electric tour and thought it was fun to sing, or talk. Other times, like on 'Atayde,' there is this tremendous nostalgia and some kind of sadness to the words. Atayde is the name of a family circus in Mexico City and their circus tent was just ripped down, It was giant, big and blue, with a ball that looked like a clown's shoe on top. It's like a whole block long and it's located right where all the hookers hangout on paydays, on Tlalpan. There's so much absurdity there that somehow there is beauty and calm in it, like complete resignation to our human instincts, failures, all of it. So that was an easy and kind of emotional song to write. That's really more of a spoken piece. In the end, I think it's just about observing and trying to find the humanity, the emotion, in whatever I want to write about."

Clouser details his connection to the three other intrepid improvisers and skilled musicians who comprise Magnet Animals. "Eyal and I have talked about playing together for years and when I was on tour with A Love Electric I visited his apartment a couple times and we just set up and improvised. He is so fearless and himself. He kind of plays how Mexico City sounds to me. I played with Shanir Blumenkranz at the John Lurie tribute show at NYC Town Hall with Billy Martin and John Medeski. We played Marvin Pontiac songs from that Lurie record (1999's The Legendary marvin Pontiac: Greatest Hits). Shanir is so scouted when he plays and his feel is so warm. We got along well and talked about doing something together at some point. I have played now with a lot of the 'Downtown scene' heroes, including John Zorn, Cyro Baptista, Medeski Martin & Wood, and always crossed paths with Shanir. It seemed like it was time to play together."

Though Clouser wrote all of the songs on Butterfly Killer, he says the recording is very much a product of everyone's contributions. "With other players, this could be a corny fusion record, the way the tunes are written. It had to be a crew of guys willing to get into the dirt. Much of what we did and what we captured on record is about the energy of the performance, the risk, knowing we are reading tunes but we are free to abandon them in dramatic ways. Shanir had a big hand in arranging the tunes and working out feels. He's so good at that. Eyal has such a strong and unique voice, it's like having an electric piano player, theremin player and jazz guitarist all at once."

And while modernists may point to the influence of guitar shredders like Sonny Sharrock or Nels Cline or Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore in the skronking metallic interplay heard on harsh tunes like "Headphone Girls," "Martha Fever" and "State of My Face," Clouser explains that the influence actually goes back much further. "A lot of it, honestly, is old Delta blues, the voices as much as the guitars. Listening to Skip James sing, going back to a lot of the Alan Lomax recordings of prison song, field song, gospel...that raw feel is all there. That being said, I grew up in the late 90's, so Sonic Youth was an influence as well as a lot of the NYC downtown stuff I started to listen to. I liked the personality and personalities of it. People there had something to say that I related to. I have spent a lot of time with old blues records and psych rock records, some of the Brazilian psych rock stuff and Os Mutantes, and then, of course, hip-hop.But I have a background in jazz, knowledge of these harmonies, and spent time playing Thelonious Monk music, so some of that creeps in as well."

Clouser also explains that the sparse, lonely, vaguely Americana feel that comes across on tunes like "Atayde" and "I Give Up And Love Somebody" comes from his Midwestern upbringing. "I was born in Kansas City and grew up in Minneapolis. Though I live in Mexico City now, I can only run so far from driving up and down highway 35 through the cornfields, Flying J travel centers, and listening to unreasoned preachers and minor league baseball games on the radio. I did so many van tours up and down that highway, you have time to write. I would write for hours if I wasn't driving, just looking around and being romantic about something so many people are so dismissive of. You find romance, resignation there in the simple. The Coen Brothers are great at putting that to story and film. I love that kind of Americana when it sounds in music."

As for the kind of evangelical fervor that he takes on in his spoken word rants on "Little John the Liar" and the title track, Clouser explains that it comes from the deepest recesses of his childhood. "It's just a character, but I do think I am perhaps unhealthily drawn to talking about religion, Jesus and preaching in my music. My parents, who I love so much, sent me to Sunday school when I was kid, which I hated so much. It was horrible. I knew they were lying to me and I was stand-offish. So I think sometimes I still haven't gotten over that, and gotten over this whole disillusioned idea of a savior who makes you right even when you are wrong. So maybe I lash out in music, or in what I write, or how I sing it. Sometimes the lash is to caricature-ize the 'preacher.' I also think having listened to a lot of spiritual music, a lot of gospel, early jazz, Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite, these types of records, I am drawn to this sort of prophetic voice, and emoting that way."

He further explains that "Bill Burroughs" was an homage to someone he greatly admired and felt a kinship with. "I never met him. I didn't share much time on Earth with him but I live about a mile away from where he did when he was in Mexico City. I love his writing. His story is tragic and heroic and offensive and teaching. I almost died from being an addict and I am gay. That's two big ones. From there on, its pretty easy to relate."
Of his current place of residence, Clouser couldn't be happier. "In Mexico City I fell into a great thing. I had no plans to live there but I met two musicians, Hernan Hecht and Aaron Cruz, and that became our group A Love Electric. This was about three years ago. We all had the same impetus, to go out and share our music wherever we could but in the most human, non-pretentious way possible. For example, we just got a grant from he US Embassy some months ago. We had offers to take it and go to a couple big festivals for free or a reduced rate. We decided to go to Honduras, Nicaragua and South Mexico and play in community centers and bars instead. And I would do that again in a second, and these two guys are the same way.

"There are songs everywhere in this city. I have been assaulted by way too many ideas since I moved here that I am still trying to sort through and make records or bands or whatever might be next. There is an energy here that I am attracted to, a chaos, but at the same time something very human. Because at some point you have to help each other out or the whole thing is going to blow up and the city will drown in itself. And now touring a lot in Mexico, going to places like Oaxaca up in the mountains to work with traditional wind musicians, or on the Yucatan to a town where Maya is the only language spoken, these things are fascinating, invigorating, exciting. I am able to learn by living all day long, and when that is happening there is no escape from inspiration."

It takes an inspired person to come up with something as audacious and uncompromising as Butterfly Killer. Clouser and his Magnet Animals crew deliver goods on this provocative new release on RareNoise Records.

Headphone Girls
Martha Fever
Baby Gods
Butterfly Killer
I Give Up And Love Somebody
State Of My Face
Bill Borroughs
Little John The Liar

Igual, Pero Peor

Chat Noir Re-Imagines the Piano Trio On New Outing "Nine Thoughts For One Word"

The adventurous trio Chat Noir has for the past 12 years defied easy categorization with its organic mix of ambient music, electronic textures as well as chamber music and jazz. Their singular approach to the piano trio, cinematic in scope and startlingly beautiful, has garnered critical raves throughout Europe. On Nine Thoughts for One Word, their sixth recording overall and second for London-based RareNoise Records, the two founding members, pianist Michele Cavallari and bassist Luca Fogagnolo, are joined in their further explorations by electronic, ambient music composer and producer Jan Peter Schwalm (Brian Eno, Eivind Aarset).

Together they make a conceptual leap on what a piano trio can be, with the invaluable input of Schwalm's studio magic.

This delicate balance of electronic experimentalism with acoustic piano and acoustic bass has been evolving gradually from the group's initial release in 2006, Adoption, and continued on 2007's Decoupage through 2008's Difficult to See You. 2011's Weather 

Forecasting Stone and 2014's Elec3Cities. Their collective experimentation continues on the evocative Nine Thoughts for One Word. "Experimentation has always been a fundamental part of our work," says bassist Fogagnolo. "We would describe our journey as a ship adrift. If jazz was our starting point we've always felt free to explore different languages."

From the dramatic peaks of "Eternally Tranquil Light," grounded by the resonant, woody tones of Fogagnolo's upright bass, to the lyrical delicacy of Cavallari's piano on "Fundamental Mind," from the throbbing techno vibe of "Blinking Neon" to the Indonesian gamelan flavored introspection of "Detuning Leaves" and the mesmerizing trip-hop of "Uneven" and "Soft Ground," Chat Noir explores myriad musical languages on Nine Thoughts for One Word. They also offer a very pleasing vocal number, "Momentarily Continual," which is underscored by the pure, resonant tones of Fogagnolo's upright bass, and they close out the program on a gentle note with Cavallari's sparse piano work on the hymn-like "Crystallized Flow."

"This album has more spatial sound and compositions, which in turn may sound (paradoxically) more 'acoustic'," Cavallari explains. "'Crystallized Flow' is pointing towards this different, more spacious dimension, which is also linked to the new lineup and to the role that J. Peter in particular had in our project."

Though Schwalm trained as a drummer, he is now playing mainly electronic instruments and music. "We met him at a festival in Norway (Punkt 2008) and immediately fell in love with his style," Cavallari recalls. "As we rearranged our lineup about one year ago, we decided to ask him for collaboration. For Luca and I, it was a natural choice to abandon the classic piano-bass-drums format and try something different, but in line with the evolution of our style, which incorporated more and more electronic textures over the years. Peter brought in his experience with sound processing and treatments, as well as his personal taste as co-producer of the album. Given his strong background in ambient music, his participation in the project sound-wise contributed to the very spacious dimension of the album, in line with the already ethereal vibe of the compositions."

As for his longstanding musical relationship with Fogagnolo, Cavallari says, "Luca and I are good old pals. Our friendship and music collaboration informs one another. On the one hand, music made our friendship even stronger. On the other hand, we can rely on shared ideas about music, and even more generally about life, when playing together. It's a constant dialog of spoken as well as unspoken words.

"We often have similar taste for music," he continues. "But more importantly, when coming from different musical references and preferences, Luca and I have contributed even more to each other's musical ideas and ways to perform."     
Cavallari adds that his method of playing and recording together with Fogagnolo changed radically four years ago when the two Italians relocated to different countries -- Michele to the United States and Luca to Germany. "Our rehearsal room changed from being a shared space, where we used to physically meet quite often, to a virtual place. Nine Thoughts for One Word is our second album recorded through cloud-based sharing of music ideas and sessions. This wouldn't have been possible without a long-term relationship. But somehow the distance helped to develop even more our personal taste, before sharing ideas for new tunes as we've always done. In the process of developing new tunes, we can count on a strong shared basis, established throughout our long collaboration, as well as on a naïve attitude and openness towards different ideas, and potentially surprises."

He further describes the group's modus operandi on Nine Thoughts for One Word: "Our approach is to try to understand where the composition is pointing to and to give meaningful contribution to it, by either contrasting or corroborating the original idea. Basically, the process we follow to compose and play together is grounded in the root of two essential and mutually reinforcing aspects: friendship and freedom."                                                                                 

Cavallari also explains that he and Fogagnolo have joint experience working on soundtrack recordings, which may explain why so much of their music has such a cinematic quality. "We did work on movie soundtracks in the past. Some of our tunes were featured in Cristina Comencini's films - Don't Tell (nominated for best foreign language film category at the 78th Academy Awards) and Black and White - as well as Francesca Comencini's documentary In Fabrica. Our music has often been associated with cinematic features. Rather than thinking visually when composing, I guess we approach compositions in away that has similarities with film direction. We try to develop 'stories' and 'plots' through melodic lines and sometimes more abstract parts that overall follow a dynamically organized flow.

"As to the our way to approach compositions, either one of us usually 'plants the seed' of a new tune on his own. Then, from the original basic idea, we let the other totally express himself without limitations. Sometimes we go through multiple iterations of sending music ideas back and forth between us, as additional contributions can inspire new direction of the tune. It never happens that we don't like what the other brought in terms of contribution to the song. In this sense we are totally connected."

It is easy to see how such kindred spirits continue to collaborate and thrive, even when living on separate continents. And together with ambient mixmaster Schwalm, they travel to some wholly new musical territory on Nine Thoughts for One Word, the most transcendent Chat Noir release to date.

"Chat Noir is definitely one of the most refreshing forces in the current European new jazz / modern hybrid music movement." -- Igloo Magazine

Eternally Tranquil Light
Fundamental Mind
Momentary Continual
Blinking Neon
Detuning Leaves
Soft Ground

Crystallized Flow

Guitarist/Vocalist Michael Blum Pays Tribute to Oscar Peterson on Chasin' Oscar

The legendary Oscar Peterson has inspired countless musicians, but his singular artistry sparked a particularly strong desire in Michael Blum.

"I wanted to learn to play guitar like Oscar Peterson played the piano," Blum recalls-a daunting prospect for even veteran performers, but especially ambitious for a guitarist in his early 20s.
Blum proves to be up to the challenge, as evident on his third CD, Chasin' Oscar: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson, due out June 17, 2016. Blum's quartet revisits seven classics associated with Peterson, alongside two pieces written by the guitarist's mentor, bassist Jim Stinnett.

"I chose some of my favorite Peterson songs and a few that really tested me," Blum says.
A long car ride provides an ideal opportunity for uninterrupted listening, and it was on his weekly three-hour drives to Stinnett's home that Blum really connected with Peterson's music. The pianist's 1964 trio album, We Get Requests, with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Ed Thigpen, became the soundtrack for these treks, fueling Blum's passion for Peterson's unique combination of profound emotion and boundless virtuosity.

"One of the things I really love about Oscar is his ability to do anything on his instrument," Blum says. "He could play fast or slow, hard or soft, pretty or nasty, bebop or blues-but he only played those elements that were perfect in the moment. He's sorrowful and sometimes joyous; invigorating and sometimes solemn. Listening to him is always interesting, and I wanted to emulate his emotional range in my musical homage."

Blum presented his idea to Stinnett, and while many teachers would balk at such an outsized objective, Stinnett simply nodded and began work with his young protégé. They first started collaborating three years ago, while Blum was a student at Dartmouth College.

"When I met Jim, he saw something in me that I don't think anyone had before," Blum recalls. "He recognized that I had all this passion and raw talent, but I didn't know how to hone or channel it. Working with Jim has been a growing experience technically, emotionally and mentally because he always believes that I can do anything, even before I believe it. Having him around gives me the confidence to pursue my goals. Without him, I'd probably be aiming lower."

Stinnett began by recommending Peterson's 1970 Tristeza on Piano, instructing Blum to learn the title track's solo note for note. Blum spent the next 18 months practicing it, as well as several other Peterson solos, for six to eight hours a day, learning the pieces by ear instead of transcribing them.

Several of the tracks on Chasin' Oscar feature Blum performing faithful re-creations of Peterson's original solos.

"Each of Oscar's solos is a work of art unto itself," he explains. "Like a Beethoven symphony, these tracks warrant the same kind of attention and study. I thought there would be no better way to pay tribute to Oscar than to play Oscar."

The album opens with one of its most challenging pieces, the Peterson original "Nightingale." Also from Tristeza on Piano, it features jaw-dropping, breakneck runs that highlight Blum's ability to keep pace with the famously fleet-fingered master. His bluesy soulfulness is on display in Gershwin's "I Loves You, Porgy," while "You Look Good to Me" takes a turn into vigorous swing and "The Girl from Ipanema" grooves as a laid-back bossa nova.

"East of the Sun (And West of the Moon)" and "Tenderly" spotlight Blum as crooner, featuring his tasteful, unvarnished vocals. The album ends with Stinnett's fitting, yet contrasting, contributions: the relaxed stroll of "Pine" and the twilit finale, "Whisper."

A native of Great Neck, NY, Blum's parents inspired him to study guitar. His father is a classically trained guitarist with a passion for jazz, while his mother enjoys singing. By age 21, Blum had already released his debut album, Initiation, accompanied by the same quartet that appears in Chasin' Oscar. Stinnett was integral in assembling the band of veteran players and educators: Stinnett on bass, pianist Brad Smith and drummer Dom Moio. Blum followed Initiation with his vocal debut, Commitment, in 2015.

Though young, Blum's style is deeply rooted in the jazz tradition. With his next release, Expansion, he'll venture farther into jazz fusion. Ultimately, he's interested less in the genre of music he performs and more in the emotion it elicits.

"At the end of the day, my goal is to make music that reaches people," he says.

Bass Legend Stu Hamm To Embark On “Solo Bass Songs and Stories Tour 2016”

Bass legend Stu Hamm will be embarking on his “Solo Bass Songs and Stories Tour 2016” first of June! Having stunned audiences across the world with his innovative playing, Stu Hamm - the only bassist to win Guitar Player magazine's readers award for both best rock bassist AND best jazz bassist in the same year! - has made a name as the go to bass player for the world’s great musicians. His time spent playing with Steve Vai and Joe Satriani cemented his place among the greats and gave Stu the platform to display his pioneering bass techniques to adoring crowds worldwide.

Now promoting the release of his newest solo album “The Book Of Lies,” Hamm takes to the road with new music, including his petite suite for solo bass, and a host of stories and anecdotes for musicians and non-musicians alike. A gut rumbling mix of new and old hits mixed with Stu’s trademark humor and story-telling make for a unique show like no other.

Says Stu, “I promise an entertaining evening of music and stories from my 43 years of playing bass with some of our generation's' greatest musicians!”

Songs & Stories Tour 2016

June 2, 2016 – US – New Hope, PA – Havana
June 3, 2016 – US – Schenectady, NY – The Van Dyck
June 4, 2016 – US – New York, NY – Spectrum (Masterclass at 2pm)
June 5, 2016 – US – New York, NY – Spectrum (Shows at 6PM & 8PM)
June 6, 2016 – US – Asbury Park, NH – The Saint
June 7, 2016 – US – Dunellen, NJ – Roxy & Dukes (Presented by NJ ProgHouse)
June 8, 2016 – US – Buffalo, NY – Sportsmens Tavern
June 9, 2016 – CA – Ottawa, ON – Brass Monkey
June 10, 2016 – CA – London, ON – London Music Club
June 12, 2016 – US – Detroit, MI – The Token Lounge
June 13, 2016 – US – Newport, KY – The Southgate House Revival
June 14, 2016 – US – Cleveland, OH – Nighttown
June 16, 2016 – US – Charleston, WV – The Empty Glass
June 17, 2016 – US – Pittsburgh, PA – PGH Winery

Born in New Orleans, Hamm spent his childhood and youth in Champaign, Illinois, where he studied bass and piano, played in the stage band at Champaign Central High School, and was selected to the Illinois All-State Band. Hamm graduated from Hanover High in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1978 while living in Norwich, Vermont. Following high school, he attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he met guitarist Steve Vai and, through him, met Joe Satriani. Hamm played bass on Vai's debut solo album, Flex-Able, which was released in 1984. In 1990 Hamm was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Degree from his Alma Mater.

Hamm has performed and recorded with Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Michael Shenker, Frank Gambale, and many other well-respected guitarists. It was playing live on tour with Satriani that brought Hamm's skills to national attention. Subsequent recordings with Satriani and other rock/fusion artists, along with the release of his own solo recordings (featuring keyboard player Tommy Mars, guitarists Alan Holdsworth and Robert Fripp, drummers Steve Smith and Tommy Lee), solidified his reputation as a bassist and performer.

Hamm has traveled the world from Berklee to Belfast to Budapest to Bali to Berlin. He's performed in a 19th century circus tent with Joan Baez, and recorded a duet of “Do Right Woman” with her. He's performed with Mick Jagger, played sold out shows at Royal Albert Hall and in front of 120,000 people in Mexico City with a Mexican Rock Band...he's also played cruise ships, weddings and put on a tux and played Christmas Songs at department stores and in between the airport transfers, hotel suite check-outs, backstage room dinners, and concert hall performances, has collected countless stories and anecdotes from his travels across the globe.

“Chaos and calm were the order of the day at Yoshi’s on this fine Martin Luther King Jr. holiday evening in Oakland, courtesy of the Stu Hamm Band. Hamm the extraordinary bass player who has performed and recorded with some of the most fabled guitarists in the world (Joe Satriani, Michael Schenker, Steve Vai) brought his band to Yoshi’s to support his latest solo offering “The Book Of Lies” (his seventh solo record). Stu Hamm Hamm, who has played some of the largest festivals in the world, showed he is very comfortable in an intimate club setting, as he easily bantered with the audience telling stories and cracking jokes between fits of musical wizardry.” - SF Sonic

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The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) today announced the five jazz organizations and related festivals receiving grants totaling $1 million through the Leadership Grants Program for Jazz. This new initiative offers flexible funding over two years to support the self-defined, long-term goals of organizations that have demonstrated excellence in and sustained commitment to the field of jazz. The overall objective of these grants is to support the foundation's long-standing goal to buoy the vibrancy of the jazz field by bolstering the long-term viability of its most critical organizations.

While this year's grantees differ in their geographic locations, revenue streams, partnership models and methods of operation, all were selected for their leadership in and importance to the robustness of the jazz field. The foundation's 2016 Leadership Grants Program for Jazz acknowledges the value of these festivals to the field and therefore aims to support them as they promote both the larger public interest in and artistic vitality of jazz artists and their presenters.

"Safeguarding the continued vibrancy of jazz means ensuring there are venues for artists to connect with audiences," said Maurine Knighton, program director for the Arts at DDCF. "These festivals, which attract thousands of concertgoers, are an important link that help imbue America's musical landscape with jazz's energy and excitement."

The Leadership Grants for Jazz will go to: 

  • City Parks Foundation of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in New York, N.Y., with $75,000 to investigate ways to digitally record the audio and visuals of the performances for present and future audiences; and research options for the development of local and affordable rehearsal or informal performance spaces, in support of the artists' artistic exploration.
  • Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation of the Detroit Jazz Festival in Detroit, Mich., with $200,000 to develop and implement DJFLIVE, an app designed to extend the stage experience; increase visitors' access to other media by the artists; support the artists by giving them greater public exposure; and continue to connect with the festival's existing audience across North America and beyond.Jazz Institute of Chicago of the
  • Chicago Jazz Festival in Chicago, Ill., with $225,000 to support staff dedicated to developing long-term streams of corporate and philanthropic support; forge collaborations with new local communities, including youth involved in spoken word and hip-hop; and advance the strategic use of technology to streamline organizational processes
  • Monterey Jazz Festival in Monterey, Calif., with $400,000 to connect with younger and more ethnically diverse communities; invest in efforts to evaluate and understand the impact of its decades-long educational programming; and develop new nonprofit and corporate relationships that can help support the festival's future
  • Newport Festivals Foundation of the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, R.I., with $100,000 to reinforce the festival's capacity to maintain strong, ongoing relationships with artists as well as to invite emerging artists to perform; encourage musicians to create their own compositions by commissioning new music; and exploring ways to strengthen the long-term careers of artists who debut at the festival.

The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke's properties. The Arts Program of DDCF focuses its support on contemporary dance, jazz and theatre artists, and the organizations that nurture, present and produce them. For more information, please visit



Latin rhythms, Italian lyrics, jazzy solos, and lots more groovy touches – all coming together here in a special set of tracks that evokes the cross-cultural brilliance of London's Soho at the end of the 50s! The set's got a really unique vibe – with songs that mix electric guitars and heavy percussion, swinging vocals and rocking rhythms, jazzy scatting and weird instrumentation – all with the completely great ear for a special tune that we've come to expect from the Croydon Municipal label! If you've dug their other compilations, you'll definitely find plenty here to love – on 25 titles that include "Nicola Bossa Nova" by Bob Leaper, "Ciquo Minuti Ancora" by Peppini Di Capri, "Cappucina" by Ted Heath, "Esso Besso" by Victor Silvester, "Cha Cha Pop Pop" by Tony Scott, "Hot Toddy" by The Swe Danes, "Teenager Blues" by The Kessler Sisters, "Harry Lime Cha Cha" by Edmundo Ros, "Taboo" by Charles Blackwell, "Madison A Saint Tropez" by Tommy Kinsman, "Papa Loves Mambo" by Marino Marini, and "Mambo Inn" by The Modernes.  ~ Dusty Groove


Las Vegas-based jazz vocalist Kris Russell has launched her debut CD, "I Concentrate on You," which follows the much-heralded release of her digital single, "I Concentrate on You." Backed by a full symphony and Richard Rome's lush and beautiful arrangement, Russell vocally expresses her pure, natural voice in her version of this beloved, classic jazz standard. Her aspiration with this song is to be a first-rate version of herself and express herself as an original, but also to blend the early, powerful influences of other great jazz vocalists into her own unique style of singing. Russell says that her singing career has been a labor of love, and the ability to produce and release her own CD represents a great gift. She is looking forward to producing and releasing another new jazz single sometime in 2016.


Were the Jazz Invaders ever this soulful before? We don't seem to remember that – as they come on totally strong and wonderful here – with a groove that might even rival the best previous work by big-name combos like Incognito or Brand New Heavies! Like both those groups, the Jazz Invaders are rooted in classic modes – but they've also picked up a lot more funk than before – putting the jazz off to the side a bit, and focusing on the overall groove – a bit like some of the best artists in the mid 70s run of jazz/funk classics from Fantasy Records! Linda Bloenhard adds some great vocals to a number of cuts – furthering the strong soul vibe here – but even the instrumental numbers are great, and sparkle strongly in a sweet blend of Fender Rhodes, and jazzy riffs on alto, tenor, and trumpet. All tunes are originals – and the writing is great – on tracks that include "Higher On Fire", "Get It Work It", "Get Away", "Disco Fever", "Do It", "Phil's Crossroads", "Discover Disco Lover", and "Much Rosie"  ~ Dusty Groove

Pianist Roberta Piket Releases "One for Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland"

Roberta Piket One for Marian Marian McPartland's creative output as a composer has been quite overshadowed by the late piano legend's decades-long role as a beloved public radio host. Pianist Roberta Piket aims to help put that right with her new album One for Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland, to be released by Thirteenth Note Records on June 10.

"Roberta Piket is an absolutely essential creative voice in modern jazz piano," says Todd Barkan, who produced the new CD. "And Roberta's One for Marian sings and swings to serve as an invaluable celebration of Lady McPartland's unique gifts as one of the most compelling composers of our time."

"Marian always felt regretful that her tunes weren't played more," Piket says. "She felt a little unrecognized in that regard. She wrote so many great tunes."

An uncommonly probing improviser in both free and straight-ahead settings, Piket has garnered considerable attention in recent years with a pair of enthralling solo piano recordings. But on One for Marian she returns to a larger ensemble format. The album's cast couldn't be better equipped to interpret Piket's lush arrangements and McPartland's melodically charged compositions. Featuring Steve Wilson on alto sax and flute, Virginia Mayhew on tenor sax and clarinet, Bill Mobley on trumpet and flugelhorn, bassist Harvie S, and drummer and percussionist Billy Mintz, One for Marian grew out of a concert that Piket performed at the 2014 Wall Street Jazz Festival.

McPartland's "Twilight World," with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, is a feature for guest vocalist Karrin Allyson. "The idea of a special duet between Karrin and myself came from Todd Barkan," Piket told CD annotator Bob Bernotas, "just one of several examples of Todd's wisdom and experience that can be heard on this recording."

 Roberta Piket

The album opens with "Ambiance," a haunting melody full of thick, mysterious harmonies. "In the Days of Our Love," a McPartland tune so lovely that Peggy Lee felt inspired to write lyrics for it, features exquisite solos by Mobley and Mayhew, who croon the bittersweet melody with their horns.

Piket first recorded McPartland's loving portrait of Mary Lou Williams, "Threnody," on her debut album in a trio context, while this quartet version showcases Wilson's expressive flute work.

Piket also offers two pieces of her own in honor of McPartland -- the title track, a briskly swinging number with an intricate melodic line that features some particularly tasty drum work by Mintz, and "Saying Goodbye," an elegiac caress of a farewell. Fittingly, Piket closes the album with her lively arrangement of McPartland's "Kaleidoscope," the theme song for NPR's Piano Jazz, which leaves listeners wanting more while summoning the salty spirit of jazz's grande dame.

One for Marian is something of a departure for Piket as her first album dedicated to the work of another composer. From the early stages of her career, she's distinguished herself as a gifted writer (she placed second in the 1993 Thelonious Monk BMI Composers Competition). Over the years, Piket has performed as a sidewoman with many of jazz's greatest figures, including David Liebman, Rufus Reid, Michael Formanek, Lionel Hampton, Mickey Roker, Eliot Zigmund, Benny Golson, and Ted Curson.

 Roberta Piket Born in Queens, New York (1965), Roberta Piket inherited a passion for music from both of her parents. Her father was the Austrian composer Frederick Piket, who made significant contributions to both the musical liturgy of Reform Judaism and the concert hall with works performed by the New York Philharmonic under conductor Dimitri Metropolis. From her mother, Cynthia, she absorbed the glories of the American Songbook, learning by ear the tunes of Porter, Gershwin, Kern, Rodgers, and Berlin (as well as the accompanying lyrics).

Piket attended the joint five-year double-degree program at Tufts University and New England Conservatory, graduating with a degree in computer science at the former and a degree in jazz piano from the latter. After a year as a software engineer, however, she realized that her calling was music, and she returned to New York, where an NEA grant set her up to study with pianist Richie Beirach.

Marian McPartland heard the young pianist at the Thelonious Monk Composers Competition and invited her to appear as a featured guest on NPR's Piano Jazz, Piket's first of three appearances on the show. Beginning with Piket's first recording under her own name, 1996's Unbroken Line (Criss Cross) with Donny McCaslin and Michael Formanek, she's recorded McPartland's music. With One for Marian, she makes an incontrovertible case for the enduring beauty of McPartland's compositions.

Roberta Piket will be performing several CD release shows in the NYC area, beginning with 6/4 IBeam Brooklyn (full band from the CD, with Shunzo Ohno replacing Mobley); then 6/10 Trumpets, Montclair, NJ (full band, with Anton Denner replacing Wilson); 7/14 Mezzrow, NYC (duo with Steve Wilson); and 9/8 Smalls, NYC (full band, with alto sax TBD).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016



A real sleeper – and one of the treasures of the Arista Freedom series! The album's a rare meeting between Argentine tenor player Gato Barbieri and South African pianist Dollar Brand – a true global meeting of the jazz minds, and a recording that's stronger than most of the work either player was recording at the time! The format is incredibly spare – just tenor and piano, plus some occasional cello work by Brand – dark and angular, but also filled with small flowers of hope, flowering in the spontaneous presence of these two great minds. Tracks are long, with a free flowing quality that's infused with soul and spirit – and titles include "Hamba Khale", "Aloe & The Wildrose", and "To Elsa". ~ Dusty Groove


The great Chicago soul sound of the early 1970s has seldom been better personified on wax than the recordings of the Independents. Protégés of soul giant Jerry Butler and one of the leading groups of their era, between 1972 and 1975 Chuck, Helen, Maurice, Eric and their (non-performing) fifth member Marvin made some of the best and most beautiful music to come out of the Windy City. They were rewarded for their music efforts by a string of Billboard R&B chart hits, most of which also reached the pop Hot 100 too. Much of the group's catalogue has never been available on CD. The material that has been previously digitised has been deleted for many years, with copies of that CD selling for up to £100. This CD marks the first time all their Wand recordings have appeared in the same collection, including two special remixes by Tom Moulton that were first issued, after the group broke up, on the renowned Disco Gold compilations. Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy went on to produce and write for many soul and pop artists from Yancy's wife Natalie Cole to divas Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston but as you will hear, they saved plenty of their best songs for their own group. ~ Amazon


A seminal 70s session from British modernist John Surman – a record that exposed him to a much wider audience than the one he'd been getting in the avant jazz underground, and a record that's strongly build upon Surman's amazing ability to improvise in long, spiraling lines! The record features 4 long tracks played by a group that also includes Terje Rypdal, John Taylor, Malcolm Griffiths, and John Marshall – all playing loosely and sparely alongside Surman – in a way that's never too overindulgent or domineering. Titles include "Norwegian Soul – Septimus", "Hinc Illae Lacrimae – For Us All", and "Iron Man".  ~ Dusty Groove



20 Track - "Very Best Of" Compilation Sammy Davis Jr. was one of most versatile and talented performers of his generation - a singer with an incredible range as well as an actor, comedian and dancer - he was always the consummate showman. His incredible career was formally recognised in 2001 when he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Unfairly overshadowed during his lifetime by the likes of his great friends Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, his extensive recording legacy nevertheless bears testament to his extraordinary talent. However, since the huge success of the movie 'Ocean's Eleven' and its sequel, 'Ocean's Twelve', interest in The Rat Pack and the great song stylists of the Fifties and Sixties has been rekindled, with two major British TV documentaries about his life further fuelling this spectacular revival. One of Sammy Davis Jr.'s biggest hit singles, "I've Gotta Be Me" is featured in the spectacular year-long advertising campaign for Sky Q - the next generation home entertainment system. It is the lead track in this new 20-song career-spanning CD and download collection. "I've Gotta Be Me - The Very Best of Sammy Davis Jr." is a definitive and unique collection of highlights from the singer's stellar 30-year recording career and features all his big hits, making it the only such compilation currently available featuring his original studio recordings, all newly-remastered. As well as the title track, the hits include "What Kind of Fool Am I?", "Don't Blame The Children", "Something's Gotta Give" and "The Candy Man", his massive number one hit from 1972. Also included are his two hit collaborations with fellow Rat Packers Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, "Sam's Song" and "Me And My Shadow". Over forty years after its original release, "I've Gotta Be Me" has returned to the UK's Official Charts as a single download and has topped the Shazam Chart for Sky Q. It is now delighting a whole new generation of listeners hearing Sammy Davis Jr.'s music for the first time. "Sammy Davis can do everything bar cook spaghetti!" - Frank Sinatra. ~ Amazon


Reissue of an album originally released in 1975 and featuring Booker Evin alongside an all-star group, including pianist Kenny Drew , bassist Nils Henning Orsted Pedesen and Alan Dawson on drums. The album concists of a 1965 concert held in Berlin, the musicians were supposed to only play for 15 minutes. Tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin protested against the restrictive situation by performing the intense and stirring "Blues for You" for 27-and-a-half minutes, tearing down the house. A decade later (after Ervin's 1970 death) the performance was released for the first time and its passion was worth waiting for. Also on this historic album is pianist Horace Parlan's somber solo tribute to Ervin ("Lament for Booker") which was recorded in 1975. Personnel: Booker Ervin (tenor saxophone), Kenny Drew (piano), Nils Henning Orsted Pedesen (bass), Alan Dawson (drums), Horace Parlan (piano). ~ Amazon


Unbridled and in-the-zone Kalevi Louhivuori. The Finnish trumpeter, already in the spotlight with the outstanding Big Blue quartet, is releasing a new, fanciful and ironic project on CAM JAZZ. The concept here is to flirt with famous American standards, which would, so far, be rather conventional. But Louhivuori s brainwave is not about reinterpreting them, more or less faithfully, but picking up on each of them to produce fresh compositions. That s how a 'Take 4', clearly inspired by Paul Desmond s world-famous 'Take 5', or a '6 Steps To Heaven', just one step behind Miles Davis , turned up on this CD. The eight tracks featuring 'Almost American Standards' were recorded with the valuable contribution of an all-Finnish combo: Ville Vannemaa on sax, Mikael Myrskog on piano, Eero Seppä on double bass and Jaska Lukkarinen on drums. Fifty minutes of excellent music, in which the pleasure of listening is combined with that of searching for charm, reference and the refined art of flirting with sources and heading towards fresh, amazing sonic destinations. It s up to the listener to find out which muse is behind each piece and try to trace the original, detecting similarities with and differences in Louhivuori s writing. ~ Amazon


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