Tuesday, December 06, 2016



One of the best albums we've ever heard from this legendary Brazilian singer – at least within the past decade or so – a fantastic reunion with pianist/arranger Geraldo Flach, who gives the music a jazzy flow that's totally wonderful! Both Ivan Lins and Geraldo play piano and keyboards – so most tracks have a keys-heavy sound that's great, with mostly acoustic underpinning the music – creating waves of sound, even on the mellow cuts, which seem to unlock the jazziest side of the singer's vocals! The whole thing almost feels more like some lost live date from the 70s than a 21st Century performance – and is a reminder of that special sophistication that some of the true geniuses in Brazilian music can give us. Titles include 'Novo Tempo", "Ultimo Desejo", "O Mapa Da Cidade", "As Pastorinhas", "O Voo Da Aguia", "Estrela Guia", and "Lembra De Mim". ~ Dusty Groove


Actor and vocalist Karl Bynes waxes his debut single with an inviting gospel, R&B, and jazz flair on the holiday classic, “Christmas Time is Here.” For those YouTube devotees, Karl Bynes is a regular contributor with several videos filmed at intimate New York establishments and an audition for Adult Simba in The Lion King. Theater goers may have also noticed his acting chops with the sketch comedy, Satire Off Broadway, depicting life in the Big Apple. Yet his true heart leans towards his flexible tenor voice, who currently makes his theatrical acting debut as a lead choir vocalist in the holiday comedy, Almost Christmas. Besides his debut movie appearance, the Florida native also marked his recording debut, accompanied by his regular pianist, Densen Curwin, to share a deeply personal holiday favorites, “Christmas Time is Here,” one of the musical highlights from the 1965 holiday chestnut, A Charlie Brown Christmas. As a veteran vocalist, Bynes enjoys injecting jazz phrasing, one case in point being “Grateful” by Hezekiah Walker & L.F.C., anchored by influences such as Frank McComb (who accompanied him at the piano for “Knocks Me Off My Feet”), gospel legend Daryl Coley and contemporary jazz icon, Anita Baker. The same applies with “Christmas Time is Here,” with an interpretation spotlighting all of Bynes’ extensive range and vocal colors. ~ Peggy Oliver/The Urban Music Scene


Sharon Lewis has plenty of Texas fire here – but she's also got a good Chicago mix of blues and soul – almost a west side vibe, but with a contemporary approach – and a level of grit that makes her one of the strongest blues talent in the current Delmark Records roster! Lewis can really put a lot of growl into her vocals, but also never gets too fixated on that mode either – and instead can come across with almost a deep soul vibe on some numbers, especially when the band isn't bluesing it up too much. The core combo features Roosevelt Purifoy on piano and organ, and Steve Bramer on guitar – and guests include Sugar Blue on harmonica and Hank Ford on tenor sax – on titles that include "Chicago Woman", "Can't Do It Like We Do", "Hell Yeah", "Old Man's Baby", "High Road", "Soul Shine", and "Freedom".  Dusty Groove

Brazilian-born guitarist/composer Ricardo Grilli explores personal, musical and cosmic history on 1954

Past and future necessarily collide in the work of any jazz musician. On his second album 1954, São Paulo-born, New York-based guitarist/composer Ricardo Grilli takes stock of his own history - both personal and musical - while also imagining how the modern day and its art would look from the perspective of the past. To realize that time-traveling vision he's enlisted an all-star band of deeply-rooted yet forward-thinking contemporaries: pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Eric Harland.

The title of 1954 (Tone Rogue Records) comes from the year in which Grilli's father was born - one possible beginning point for his own story. It also falls at the dawning of the Space Age, a time when people were looking optimistically forward to a future full of innovation and exploration. Significantly for the music contained within, it was also a time when jazz - bebop in particular - was thriving in Grilli's adopted home of New York City, ghosts of which he can't help but encounter as he walks through the city today.

"It gets a little mystical as you imagine it in your head how things were back then," Grilli says. "I wonder if those musicians ever thought that the music they were shaping would evolve to become the way it is now. The concepts we use in today's jazz still very much use the format of the bebop and hard bop era, even though they have more modern harmonies and meters."

No matter how much he engages in a dialogue with the past, Grilli's music is decidedly of the moment, replete with sleek, captivating melodies over tense, balance-challenging rhythms, combined in intricate but emotionally engaging structures. His compositions reveal the influence of modern masters like Kurt Rosenwinkel and Mark Turner alongside adventurous pop experimentalists like Radiohead and Sigur Ros, with a relaxed but expressive melodicism imbued by a youth spent absorbing the tropical sounds of Jobim and Elis Regina.

Grilli's 2013 debut, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, captured the guitarist in a transitional moment. It documented not only his move from Brazil to Boston and then New York, but also his emergence onto the jazz scene after graduating from Berklee College of Music. Having picked up the guitar for the first time at the relatively advanced age of 20 and starting school at 23, five years later than most of his classmates, he recorded the album feeling like an underdog facing an uphill struggle.

That notion is left behind on 1954, which finds a more mature, self-assured Grilli in sophisticated communication with some of modern jazz's most renowned musicians. "For the longest time I felt like I had missed the start of the race and had to catch up to the competition," he says. "However, I have been very lucky to be able to play with so many of my heroes, and this record is, hopefully, a statement of my acceptance of my own playing and thinking myself worthy of playing with the musicians on it."

 Long fascinated with astronomy and the cosmos (Stephen Hawking sits on his bookshelf beside the likes of Italo Calvino, the surrealist author who lent both If On a Winter's Night a Traveler and the current album's "Vertigo" their titles), Grilli weaves interstellar concepts throughout the tunes on 1954. Opening track "Arcturus" is named for the brightest star in the eastern celestial hemisphere, its gradual build in intensity (thanks to Harland's subtly insistent rhythms) suggesting the massive star's gravitational pull. "Cosmonauts," meanwhile, was inspired by the story of "phantom cosmonauts," an unconfirmed theory suggesting that Yuri Gagarin's successful flight may have been preceded by other ill-fated attempts.

"It's a terrifying story," Grilli says. "I imagined the fear of going into the unknown and not coming back. Jazz has a bit of that feeling, but not in the deadly sense. So I wanted to write an eerie, sad song, something a little somber, dark and mysterious."
That combination of the cosmic and the intimate is echoed throughout 1954. Especially poignant is the lovely, ethereal "Rings," which suggests the celestial rings surrounding Saturn and other planets as well as being a musical analog for the rings that symbolize union between people. The simmering, atmospheric "Radiance," partially inspired by Brian Blade's soulful Fellowship Band, evokes the far-off glow of heavenly bodies while pondering the loss of loved ones. "Breathe," essentially a cha cha cha with modern contours, provides a respite from the frantic "Arcturus," replicating the moment that a shuddering spacecraft breaks through the atmosphere into weightlessness.
Grilli also pays homage to some of his peers and mentors on 1954. "Pogo56" was written for trumpeter and Berklee professor Jason Palmer, while "Far Away Shores" is an homage to pianist Julian Shore, a close friend and collaborator. The album closes with "Pulse," a final word on the idea of looking backward to look forward: a modernist bop tune that swings hard over contemporary harmonic movement.

Grilli's scintillating quartet combines four artists who are bandleaders in their own rights and who all approach the creative process in similar, equally enthralling fashion. "When I write a song," Grilli explains, "I'm trying to write a soundtrack to a different world. I hope when people listen to it they get taken to a different place, and these guys are all amazing at that. You can give them any piece of music and they'll create new worlds and stories out of it."

GUITARIST/COMPOSER YOTAM SILBERSTEIN Announces The Release of His Fifth Recording As a Leader: THE VILLAGE Yotam Silberstein (guitar), Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass) & Gregory Hutchinson (drums)

Upon arriving in NYC in 2005 from his native Tel-Aviv on a full scholarship to The New School, word spread like wildfire that an exciting new player, guitarist Yotam Silberstein, had arrived on the scene. None other than the legendary James Moody took him under his wing (providing an instant endorsement of his prowess with jazz and all of its off-shoots/sub-genres), and he quickly bonded with musicians such as Antonio Hart and Roy Hargrove. His early success in NYC wasn't without precedent however, with Silberstein winning the coveted "Israeli Jazz Player of The Year" award at age 21, and quickly following that up with a critically-acclaimed debut album, a performance at the prestigious Umbria Jazz Festival, and an extensive tour of Europe and the Middle East. But having the nod from Moody raised his profile to the extent that within six years of settling in the Big Apple, Silberstein had been called upon to work with such luminaries as The Heath Brothers, Paquito D' Rivera, Monty Alexander, Hargrove, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars and others. Most recently, Silberstein has been in the studio with the great John Patitucci, laying down tracks for the bassist/composer's new trio recording, Irmãos de Fé. 
Now, Silberstein, along with guitarists such as Lage Lund, Peter Bernstein and his fellow countryman Gilad Hekselman, represents one of the inspiring and influential forces of jazz, and guitar, in NYC and around the world. Following up four recordings as a leader (The Arrival  - 2003, Next Page - 2009, Resonance - 2010 and Brasil - 2011), and dozens of recordings as a sideman, Silberstein is quite proud and happy to present his new recording, The Village, to the world. It is by far his finest work, in that Silberstein was able to bring together many influences that are meaningful to him, including music from the Middle East, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Uruguay and of course jazz and blues, all fully absorbed and forged into a unique and coherent voice. The Village will be released on the jazz & people label on January 27, 2017 (released in Europe on December 2). 

For the recording of The Village Silberstein surrounded himself with close friends,
Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Greg Hutchinson (drums), who collectively could only be described as a world-class, dream-team rhythm section, allowing the grandeur of the guitarist's mastery to shine through unadulterated. "I was so happy in the studio looking around and seeing my band members who are each virtuosos on their instruments, and dear friends; they understand and support my musical vision, and play my music as if they wrote it!," said Silberstein.

Yotam Silberstein and The Village offer additional, unequivocal proof that Israel is a promised land for jazz musicians, and testimony that the art form of jazz guitar, and the harmonic language of jazz, brought to life by Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Lennie Tristano and many others, is alive and evolving in the music of Yotam Silberstein. 
More about the music on  The Village with Yotam Silberstein:
1. Parabens - "Congrats" in Portuguese. I wrote this little blues two years ago on my birthday, and because of that, and because the rhythm is "baião" from northern Brazil, I decided to name it "Parabens".

2. Milonga Gris.  The first time I heard this haunting piece, composed by one of my biggest influences, the great Carlos "Negro" Aguirre, I was completely blown away. I wanted to do something different with it, later I got to play it with my dear friend and incredible musician Andrès Beeuwsaert, who also contributed this arrangement.

3. Nocturno is a little lullaby, a night song. I first recorded this tune on my album Brasil with Roy Hargrove and Toninho Horta, but I felt the need to do something different with it, and I really like this quartet's version of it.

4. The Village is dedicated to Greenwich Village, NYC, which is a very important place for me. Musically and spiritually, it is the vibrant center of jazz scene and this song reflects that, to me. It also refers to the fact that the world has become one global village, with easy access through the Internet and social media to different styles of music and musicians from all over the planet.

5. Stav - "Autumn" in Hebrew. I originally wrote this for a film soundtrack (the film never came out), so I decided to keep it for this album. Originally I wrote the melody for cello, but Reuben Rogers plays it more beautifully than I could have imagined.

6. Fuzz is dedicated to my friend and great tenor player Asaf Yuria. The guys are swinging really hard on this one!

7. I wrote Albayzin after a very inspiring visit to the beautiful city of Granada, Spain. After the death of the great Paco de Lucia, I decided to dedicate this one to his memory.

8. Changes - meaning chords/harmony, and this song has a lot of them!

9. O Voo da mosca - "the flight of the fly" in Portuguese, was written by one of my favorite musicians and biggest influences, Jacob do Bandolim, from Brasil. This song was so difficult to translate from mandolin to guitar, that it took me about two years to work on it, but I'm very happy with the result.

10. October was written on a beautiful Fall day in October. I was sitting in Prospect Park in Brooklyn with my guitar and felt very inspired to write this.

11. Lennie Bird was composed by another one of my major influences, the great Lennie Tristano. It's based on the chord changes of the standard, "How High the Moon."

Upcoming Tour Dates in Celebration of The Village:
December 29 - Bar Next Door, NYC - Duet with Peter Bernstein
January 16 - 12 on 14 - Warsaw, Poland
January 18 - Unterfahrt - Munich, Germany
January 20 - Jazz Club Lustenau - Lustenau, Austria
January 21 - Zigzag, Berlin, Germany
January 26 - Sunset/Sunside Jazz Club - Paris, France
February 8 - The Jazz Standard - NYC CD RELEASE CELEBRATION!
W/Glenn Zaleski, Matt Penman & Eric Harland
February 20-26 - Velenje Workshop, Slovenia
March 5 - Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, Georgia
March 18 - Copernic - Paris, France

NEC Jazz Studies Chair, composer and bandleader Ken Schaphorst bids farewell to mentors on new big band release How To Say Goodbye

Composer and bandleader Ken Schaphorst, chair of the Jazz Studies Department at New England Conservatory since 2001, pays tribute to some of his most profound influences on his fourth big band release, How To Say Goodbye. The deeply moving and wide-ranging album includes homages written in honor of jazz and education visionaries Bob Brookmeyer and Herb Pomeroy, both of whom went from mentors to NEC colleagues during Schaphorst's tenure at the Conservatory. Those compositions join an emotional ode to another formative influence, Schaphorst's late grandmother, in a richly diverse set that draws on influences from Ellington and Gerry Mulligan to African mbira music.

How To Say Goodbye, due out December 2 on JCA Recordings, features an all-star lineup, many of whom can trace their relationships with Schaphorst back to his earliest large ensemble efforts 30 years ago. Veterans of the composer's True Colors Big Band like tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, trumpeter John Carlson, trombonist Curtis Hasselbring and percussionist Jerry Leake sit alongside rising stars like saxophonists Brian Landrus, Jeremy Udden and Michael Thomas who studied with Schaphorst at NEC and played some of these pieces in student ensembles during that time.

The ensemble is also studded with current and past colleagues from the NEC faculty, including McCaslin, Leake, trombonist Luis Bonilla, guitarist Brad Shepik and trumpeter Ralph Alessi, as well as alumni including Hasselbring, trumpeter Tony Kadleck and bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton. More than just a source for collaborators, Schaphorst says that his time at New England Conservatory has played a fundamental role in shaping his compositional voice. "These pieces have been profoundly influenced by my interactions withŠ many tremendously talented students," he writes in the liner notes.

Of course, Schaphorst's music can't help but be impacted by the many long-lasting musical relationships represented on the album, many of which date back decades. "I've worked with almost every member of this band many, many times," he explains, "and all that history is imprinted on me. I've learned so much over the years from hearing these guys, and I think they've been influenced by hearing and playing my music. As I get older I realize how important and irreplaceable that is."

The results of such deeply-rooted and intimate knowledge is evident from the outset of How To Say Goodbye, which opens with the title track that Schaphorst wrote to feature trumpeter John Carlson. The composer describes the piece's constant changes and shifts as tracing an autobiographical tale, with fellow trumpeter Carlson playing a surrogate narrator. The varying tempos and moods play out as the up-and-down chapters of a relationship, and while the title becomes more sentimental over the course of a full album containing loving farewells to lost loved ones, in this case the abrupt and somewhat discordant finale suggests another, less polite way of saying goodbye. "It's not a happy ending," Schaphorst says with a laugh.

The lush Ellingtonia of "Blues for Herb" was penned in tribute to influential trumpeter and educator Herb Pomeroy. Schaphorst first encountered Pomeroy in a summer jazz studies program in 1979, beginning a musical relationship that would last for the remainder of Pomeroy's life. "I was blown away by him on a human level," Schaphorst recalls. "He was an amazing educator and a very musical, sincere, lyrical player. I learned so much from him, and he was always very supportive of me and my music." During his final years, Pomeroy coached jazz ensembles at NEC at Schaphorst's request. "Blues for Herb" is a showcase for the boundless tenor playing of Donny McCaslin, whose talents have been crucial to music by everyone from Maria Schneider to David Bowie. McCaslin was also a student of Pomeroy's, a personal connection that shines through in his jaw-dropping, virtuosic solo.

The folksy shuffle of "Take Back the Country" is Schaphorst's homage to legendary trombonist/arranger Bob Brookmeyer, whom Schaphorst came to know quite well through their work together at NEC until Brookmeyer's passing in 2011. If the rhetoric of the title sounds over-familiar in this presidential election year, that's no accident - it's the composer's acknowledgement of Brookmeyer's outspoken political views, which found him actually buying property in Canada following the 2000 election (though he never ultimately made the threatened move). The folk-jazz inflections reflect music that Brookmeyer made with both Gerry Mulligan and Jimmy Giuffre.

The swaying rhythm of "Amnesia" is inspired by Argentinean tango master Astor Piazzolla, but more importantly serves to memorialize Schaphorst's grandmother, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 90. Her memory was fading, the composer recalls, but she still loved to dance. A similar, if less mournful mood is summoned by "Float," a ballad whose name is self-explanatory as soon as one hears Matt Wilson's weightless rhythms and the soaring horn lines.

Schaphorst essays a solo Rhodes intro to the first of two "Mbira" pieces on the album, both influenced by the characteristic rhythms of the African thumb piano. Integral to both is the percussion mastery of Jerry Leake, a colleague at NEC throughout Schaphorst's tenure and a crucial influence on the composer's integration of West African and Indian traditions into his music. Leake's tabla playing also adds an intoxicating texture to the album's closing tune, "Descent," offering an exotic atmosphere for Ralph Alessi's bold trumpet solo to explore.

The gentle swing of "Green City" is a cheerful celebration of Boston, the city that Schaphorst has called home for much of his life - first through most of the 1980s and then, following a decade-long stint at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, since 2001 and his assumption of the Jazz Studies chair at NEC. Finally, the impressionistic "Global Sweat" is meant less as a comment on global warming, though Schaphorst has no problem with that interpretation, than as a vivid sonic depiction of a swelling storm, which finally breaks into a torrential group improvisation.

With ten vivid, memorable pieces and an abundance of outstanding musicianship, How To Say Goodbye ends by suggesting one more way - leave 'em wanting more, and keep the door wide open for those we'll be happy to see again.

Multi-Genre Songtress Alyson Williams Releases First-Ever Christmas Song

Celebrating over 25 years in music and entertainment, multi-genre songtress Alyson Williams releases her first Christmas single, “Happy Holiday” and her first recording in ten years. Written by Williams and produced with longtime collaborator Herb Middleton, the single also features acclaimed saxophonist Dean James. “I’ve always wanted to do a Christmas album, but was never able to record it,” says Williams. “With all the acrimony, vitriol, and hateful messaging during this Election season, we decided to release a single for the holiday and follow-up with an album next year,” explains Williams. She was inspired to write “Happy Holiday” on Election Night, Tuesday, November 8th. “After an extremely rough night of watching and waiting with the rest of the world, I realized that before I dozed off to sleep I had to compose a song,” says Williams. During that night, she heard the gentle voice of her mentor, Dr. Maya Angelou saying ‘Baby, use your words, find my words,’ which prompted her to use excerpts of Dr. Maya Angelou’s poem, ‘Amazing Peace’ in the spoken word portion of ‘Happy Holiday.’ “When I looked closely at the lyrics, I realized that I had written a song that had all of the makings of a modern day holiday classic.” With “Happy Holiday,” Williams’ R&B and jazzy vocals reflect the traditional sounds of a Christmas classic: Gathered round the table family is everything/Jingle bells familiar smells all the things the season brings/Shiny lights red, green, blue and white Moma’s sweet potato pie/These are the things the holiday brings, things that make your spirit sing. “In a world full of turmoil and strife, true beauty will always find a way to rise above and show us a ray of hope,” Williams continues. “We must all spread love throughout this holiday season and beyond and continue to be inspired. What the world needs now is love, peace, and understanding. I feel doubly blessed to be able to see the creative process work in real time.”

Take a Listen: “Happy Holiday”

Bay Area Vocalist Sandy Cressman Reaffirms Her Deep Connections with Brazilian Music on New CD "Entre Amigos"

As founder and leader of the group Homenagem Brasileira, San Francisco-based vocalist/ educator Sandy Cressman has had many opportunities over the last 20-plus years to forge creative partnerships with like-minded musicians from the Bay to Brazil. Her entrancing new album, Entre Amigos, which will be released on February 3 by her Cressman Music imprint, marks the culmination of these relationships and is a celebration of her own deep history with the music and the players.

Though the new CD is her first new recording since 2005's Brasil--Sempre no Coração, a project devoted to definitive songs by masters of MPB (música popular brasileira), Cressman never stepped away from music. As an educator and linchpin of a bustling creative family including her husband, former longtime Santana trombonist and recording engineer Jeff Cressman; their older daughter, New York trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman; and their younger daughter, Los Angeles dancer Julianna Cressman, she's maintained enduring musical ties with some of the region's finest musicians. There's nothing quite like being massively overscheduled to concentrate one's attention, and Cressman came up with an enthralling set of answers to the self-searching question, "What do I really want to do with this music?"

"For a long while I concentrated on mining the treasures in the existing Brazilian music repertoire," says Cressman. "But at a certain point I started writing and asking people to collaborate, and Entre Amigos collects many of these amazing connections."

Among the collaborators on the new CD are rising Brazilian-American guitarist Ian Faquini ("Nossa História," "Deixa a Amor Florescer"), pianist/composer Jovino Santos Neto ("Para Hermeto"), Brazilian jazz master Antonio Adolfo ("Eu Vou Lembrar"), and São Paulo-based samba-jazzistas Dani and Debora Gurgel ("Como Eu Quero Cantar"). Significantly, Entre Amigos opens a new chapter for Cressman as a tunesmith; she contributed lyrics, in both Portuguese and English, for every track on the album, and also wrote both music and lyrics for "Ela É," recorded in Germany with the 2010 Santana rhythm section, including Dennis Chambers, and for "Não Me Acorde Não," which tells the story of her and her husband's participation in Carnaval 2015 in Recife with renowned Pernambuco frevo composer/bandleader Spok and his Spok Frevo Big Band.

That performance, and her return to Recife to record with Spok earlier this year, led to an intriguing invitation. When the director of music at the Paço do Frevo (Frevo Museum) learned of her recording project, he proposed a cultural exchange with local frevo musicians: the Cressmans will do a concert and some master classes at the Paço do Frevo the week preceding Carnaval 2017, and then they will perform at Carnaval with the Spok Frevo Orquestra. 

Sandy continues to work with Homenagem Brasileira, as well as Mistura Fina, a more recent Latin jazz combo led by guitarist Ray Obiedo (a longtime musical partner with whom she co-wrote Entre Amigos' "Eu Mais Você"). In recent months she's collaborated with the acclaimed 17-piece Electric Squeezebox Orchestra led by trumpeter Erik Jekabson, performed with world jazz pioneer Jai Uttal, and celebrated the music of Guinga with Faquini and flutist Rebecca Kleinmann. Somehow, every path seems to lead her back to Brazil.

"I'm thrilled that my musical horizons are widening," she says. "For many years I was very Rio-centric, focused on bossa nova, samba, and Brazilian jazz. This record has São Paulo samba jazz, Northeastern rhythms frevo and maracatu. I keep meeting these people who have different areas of expertise and knowledge, and it's so inspiring and invigorating to be involved in the creation of these songs."
CD Release Shows for Entre Amigos:

Feb 16 Freight and Salvage, Berkeley, CA
Feb 18-Mar 1 Carnaval/Various Shows and Master Classes, Recife, Brazil
Mar 19 Café Pink House, Saratoga, CA
Mar 25 Armando's, Martinez, CA
Apr 7 Sound Room, Oakland, CA
Apr 12 Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3, New York, NY
May 7 Blue Note, Napa, CA
May 19 California Jazz Conservatory, Berkeley, CA
Jul 2 Piedmont Piano Company, Oakland, CA
Jul 20 Crocker Art Museum Jazz Night Series, Sacramento, CA

CODE NOIR, the new album from vocalist/composer CARMEN LUNDY, due for release on February 24, 2017

CODE NOIR, the stunning new CD from critically-lauded vocalist Carmen Lundy, is slated for release February 24th via Afrasia Productions.  Never one to limit her creative journeys, Lundy explores the realms of Jazz, Blues, Brazilian Samba and Pop with a multitude of messages that reflect not only the complexities of her own mindset, but the disparity of the world at large.  Poignant, heartfelt, joyous, shocked, saddened and impassioned are just a few of the emotions conveyed by this wonderfully evocative singer on CODE NOIR in a highly personal musical voyage. 

"These songs encompass the musical and artistic influences from the African diaspora and its influence on jazz and other musical genres – the bossa nova, the blues, swing, funk, the exploration into the avant-garde," says Carmen.  "Yet they also encompass the many emotions that are prevalent in this country right now.  We are going through tough times with a country that is sorely divided and many of these tracks reflect the feelings that we as human beings are going through on an individual level.  CODE NOIR actually refers to the first law ever written by a person in power of a sovereign nation/empire - the King of France Louis XIV - the first law to disallow and make illegal the integration of the African race into white European society." 

Having written or co-written all twelve tracks on the album, Carmen envelops her listeners from the start with the questioning opening song, "Another Chance" - a thought-provoking title truly pertinent in the world today.  "Live Out Loud" encourages us to do just that while "Black And Blues" is about our present affairs, "the legacy of the black experience in America,” says Carmen.  “The unplanned fallout and result of legislating and legalizing systemic racism."  She adds,  "The electric guitar in the song illustrates its contribution to all things defining American culture through song.” 

On another heartfelt level the glories of love at first - and second - sight are explored on "Second Sight" while "The Island, The Sea and You," a song Carmen wrote while on a trip to Hawaii, is an ode to the love of Lundy's life.  The infectious "Have A Little Faith" explores the rhythms born of the African experience and originating from the African continent which the singer has always loved - and as an African American, has always identified with - while the lyrics of "Whatever It Takes" implore us to be strong in the face of this imperfect world. 

The tracks "I Got Your Number," "I Keep Falling" and "You Came Into My Life" are keen observations on the state of the modern-day romantic relationship in all its various stages. The CD closes with the inspired "Kumbaya," originally spoken as ‘Come By Here’ in the south, "perhaps in the Gullah language of slaves from Angola brought to the Carolinas, to my understanding,” says Carmen. “It’s a song to my family. A plea to humanity." 

Masterfully accompanying Carmen on the new album is Patrice Rushen on piano who once again joins Carmen on this outing, Ben Williams on acoustic and electric bass, Jeff Parker on electric guitar, Kendrick Scott on drums and percussion and Elisabeth Oei on background vocals.  In addition to vocals, Lundy also plays keyboards and guitar and arranged all the songs.

The release of CODE NOIR will be accompanied by tour dates both here in the US and abroad.  For additional information please visit www.CarmenLundy.com. 

Friday, December 02, 2016



Johnny Bristol first got his start at Motown – where both his songwriting skills and studio talents graced an excellent range of singles and album tracks in the late 60s – but as the 70s moved in, Bristol really became a strong singer on his own – with a fantastic sound that we'd rank right up there with the best of the period, even though Johnny never fully got his due! In a way, Bristol was a bit like Lamont Dozier – another background talent who turned out an equally fine range of records as a solo star – and like Dozier, Johnny always remained his own man throughout his solo years – never giving into easy commercial tricks, or overdone disco cliches. Instead, the man was pure class, all the way through – with an especially strong ability to hit a mellow soul groove that's maybe rivaled only by Leroy Hutson or a rare few others. This package collects together all the best of those solo cuts, most of them sweet midtempo steppers or warm mellow numbers – with titles that include "Lusty Lady", "Go On & Dream", "Memories Don't Leave Like People Do", "Have Yourself A Good Time", "She's So Amazing", "I'm Waiting On Love", "Strangers In The Dark Corners", "Love No Longer Has A Hold On Me", "Take Me Down", "Till I See You Again", "I'm So Proud Of You", "Hold ON To Love", "Do It To My Mind", and "Woman Woman".  ~ Dusty Groove


A fantastic album from trumpeter Kenny Wellington – one that shows us that the 70s spirit of artists like Roy Ayers and the Mizell Brothers is alive and well – as long as you know where to look! The record's contemporary, but has a really classic blend of jazz and soul – one that still allows plenty of space for Kenny's soaring solo work, but also has a wonderful focus on sharp rhythms and a righteous overall sound! The balance is no surprise – given that Kenny's got a legacy that goes back to classic work in the groups Central Line, Light Of The World, and Beggar & Co – but this album's way deeper and more powerful than anything Wellington gave us back in the day – and features some especially nice work on vocals, by a quartet that's headed up by Augie Johnson, who brings in a vibe that's similar to his music with Side Effect and the LA Boppers. The whole thing's wonderful – righter than most folks sound when they go for a groove like this – and titles include "Heading Home", "Dreaming Of Futures Bright", "Fat Cherry", "Kings For A Day Masters Of The Night", "You Can Run", "E3 Symphony", and "Miles 2 Go". ~ Dusty Groove


One of the headiest Peter Brotzmann albums we've heard in years, thanks to the sound of the Black Bombaim group from Portugal – who play with a guitar-heavy drive that almost takes us back to Brotzmann's Last Exit recordings of the 80s! The group play with a forward energy that takes off right from the start – heavy drums and full-on fuzzy guitar, plus some deep electric bass as well – all of which puts the reedman in a different setting than most of his recent projects, and one that reminds us just how well-suited he can be for such an experience! Some of the performances here really blow our minds all over again – with a tone that's strong, and incredibly clear – sometimes even more focused than on some of Brotzmann's other recent records, but still very free and sharp-edged overall. The album was recorded live in the studio, with a very jamming vibe – and the CD seems to have one more track than the vinyl LP. ~ Dusty Groove




The most amazing and groundbreaking American musical phenomenon in ages gets some love from the hip hop and neo soul community that inspired it – spearheaded by Hamilton driving force Lin-Manuel Miranda and the mighty Questlove of The Roots! Much like the musical itself, there's a grounding current of hip hop and soul, but the sounds are as boundless and inventive as the contributing players – which includes Common, Chance The Rapper, Jill Scott, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Wiz Khalifa, Busta Rhymes,Ashanti, Sia, Miguel, Nas, Usher, Aloe Blacc and many more. Titles include "No John Trumbull (Intro)" by The Roots, "My Shot (Rise Up Remix)" by The Roots feat Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess, "Wrote My Way Out" by Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc, "Wait For It" by Usher, "Burn" by Andra Day, "Say Yes To This" by Jill Scott, "History Has Its Eye On You" by John Legend, "Who Tells Your Story" by The Roots with Common & Ingrid Michaelson, "Dearl Theodosia (Reprise)" by Chance The Rapper & Francis & The Light and more. ~ Dusty Groove


Heston's wearing a cowboy hat on the cover, but he's no country crooner at all – and instead really steps forward with a sound that could win him the Neo Soul crown! We've been following Heston for over a decade, and he's always had a fantastic voice – one that can instantly reference classic soul expression, but never in any sort of easy retro way at all – with a personal sort of rasp that always lets you know that Heston's his own man! And this time around, he seems to have this new sort of confidence and maturity that really sends the tunes home – this way of being nonchalant, but totally right on the money with his approach – infusing the tunes with an energy that we didn't always find on his earlier records. Titles include "Mind Body Soul", "Contradiction", "Every Time I Look Around Here", "Mind Body Soul", "Lost In Amsterdam", and "Dangerous". ~ Dusty Groove


The Kay-Gees' greatest LP – and far and away better than anything else they ever did! Grabbing up this one is like finding a lost Kool & The Gang LP from the early years –which is no surprise, since Ronald Bell of the group produced it and wrote a lot of the songs with the group. The band are incredibly tight instrumentally – with lots of hard drums, choppy guitar, and the rolling party feel that made Kool & The Gang so great during their best years. There's some great horns that blast in and out, sounding very off-beat at the best moments – like the classic "Who's the Man With the Master Plan", sampled by YZ many years ago – or other funky cuts like "Ain't No Time", "Get Down", and "You've Got to Keep on Bumpin".  ~ Dusty Groove



A huge array of groovy genius from the mighty Lalo Schifrin – the South America jazzman who first rose to fame in the group of Dizzy Gillespie, the moved on to give us some of the coolest film scores of the 60s! This set brings together eight of Lalo's best albums from that period, plus a full concert from later years too – all in an overstuffed box that still has plenty to offer, even if you already own a few of the records inside! The set begins with four famous soundtrack albums by Lalo – Mission Impossible, More Mission Impossible, Mannix, and The Cincinnati Kid – but it then moves onto include two other albums that have never been on CD – the ultra-groovy Once A Thief & Other Great Themes, full of jazzy greatness – and the early 70s Rock Requiem – which features a sweet array of funk and psych! The set also features standalone CD albums There's A Whole Lalo Schifrin Goin On and Schifrin Sade – both of which demonstrate Lalo's instrumental talents away from the screen – and CD5 features the complete Jules Verne Festival Concert – recorded in 2007 by Lalo in Paris, as a special concert performance of film themes and jazz titles. CDs also features some bonus tracks – like the single "Dirty Harry" and "Latin Soul" – plus Jimmy Smith instrumentals, and other rare gems! ~ Dusty Groove


Not an actual meeting of Sun Ra and Merzbow – although given the jazzman's rise to fame in his late life, that's not actually impossible – and instead, the record features a very unique concept – the music of Ra's "Strange Strings" and "The Magic City" – used as core materials which are then reworked into a huge new, noisy mix – with lots of additional instrumentation from Merzbow! Masami Akita adds in all the extra bits – which includes a fair bit of electronics – using Ra's organic originals as the inspiration for the noise generation – at a level that maybe pushes the early electronic moments of the Arkestra way way out into the far reaches of the cosmos. The notes refer to the work as a "deformed mix" – which seems appropriate – and the album features two long tracks, "Livid Sun Loop" and "Granular Jazz (part 2)". ~ Dusty Groove


UK DJ Craig Charles is looking a bit more disco than usual on the cover here – and maybe sounding a bit more on the music, as well – although the set's still pretty darn funky overall, and definitely lives up to the solid soul of other great volumes in this series! Through his work at the BBC, Charles has become one of the key supporters of the funky underground around the globe – and he's got a great ear for picking the best tracks from contemporary groups, and mixing them with key tracks from way back – which he does wonderfully on this set! The package features 19 tracks in all – some we might have missed otherwise, and all of which really sound great together in this array. Titles include "Hey Mister" by The Fantastics, "Reach Out" by Flevans, "You Could've Been A Lady" by Smoove & Turrell, "Beef Frinder" by Lexoul Dancemachine, "White Lines" by The Traffic, "The Rain" by Lisa Stansfield, "Black Cat" by Brian Auger & The Trinity, "Take You Home" by Lack Of Afro with Joss Stone, "Young People" by Fulton Street, "Next Time" by The Tibbs, "Talking About My Baby" by John Heartsman & Circles, "Bang Bang Boogaloo" by Joe Tatton Trio, "Taj Mahal" by Sunlightsquare with Josue Ferreira, "Futebol De Bar" by The Manuel Azevedo Quartet, and "I Can't Get Satisfied" by Telmo Fernandez Trio. ~ Dusty Groove

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Paisley Park Sets Date for Historic Celebration, Four Days to Honor and Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Prince Rogers Nelson

Prince’s Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota has announced dates for a four-day special event, CELEBRATION 2017, which will honor and celebrate the life and legacy of Prince, as the world marks the first anniversary of his passing. Fans worldwide are expected to attend this exclusive event, which will be held April 20 through 23, 2017 at Paisley Park, Prince’s legendary production complex. Bringing together musicians, creative personnel, special guests and friends who worked closest with Prince and knew him best, these four days will feature live music, panel discussions and presentations on Prince’s tremendous talent, influence and importance as a composer, musician, producer, live performer and filmmaker.

Four-day VIP and General Admission Passes are now available while supply lasts at the Paisley Park website, OfficialPaisleyPark.com. General Admission Passes include up to five hours of event programming each day on all four days, including access to four exclusive concert events. VIP Passes are bundled with added benefits including VIP concert seating, on-site parking, photo and autograph opportunities with special guests, exclusive merchandise and a meal pass. Individual day passes are not available at this time.

Bands scheduled to perform include The Revolution, Morris Day and The Time, and members of the New Power Generation and 3RDEYEGIRL. Programming details and additional special guests will be announced in the coming weeks. For the latest updates on the event lineup and special guest announcements, visit OfficialPaisleyPark.com and sign up for the email updates from Paisley Park.

Celebration 2017 will reflect the spirit of the inaugural Prince: A Celebration event, hosted by Prince and held at Paisley Park between June 7-13, 2000. This event welcomed fans from around the world into an immersive Prince experience that showcased Paisley Park, many of Prince’s rarely seen stage wardrobe and instruments, alongside special events and exclusive music performances. In subsequent years, Prince hosted similar immersive fan experiences, first in 2001 with Prince: A Celebration “The Rainbow Children” and in 2002 with Xenophobia. Celebration 2017 will carry on in this spirit of community and connection, welcoming Prince fans from everywhere into a truly unique and celebratory experience that will highlight the life, unique achievements and enduring legacy of Prince Rogers Nelson.

Paisley Park opened for public tours last month, providing fans worldwide with an unprecedented opportunity to experience first-hand what it was like for Prince to create, produce and perform inside this private sanctuary and remarkable production complex. Visitors can see artifacts from Prince’s personal archives, including iconic concert wardrobe, awards, musical instruments, artwork, rare music and video recordings and motorcycles. The reception and reviews from fans and media who took the tour during its opening month have been tremendous, with visitors calling it an incredible, must-see experience.

On December 1, 2016, Paisley Park will expand and enhance its tour of the legendary production complex by offering new, themed fan experience packages, in addition to the current General Admission and VIP tours. These new tour options will offer fans and visitors from around the world an even more in-depth, fully-dimensional Paisley Park experience with dance parties, dining experiences, recording opportunities, concert films and movies – evoking the activities and special events that Prince would often host at Paisley and bring to his fans. For details and to purchase tickets, visit OfficialPaisleyPark.com.

Prince sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He won seven GRAMMY® Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award® for the film “Purple Rain,” all of which are displayed at Paisley Park. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year of his eligibility. Prince was born in Minneapolis and resided in the Minneapolis area throughout his life.

Paisley Park is located at 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen, Minnesota, approximately 30 minutes outside of Minneapolis. For more information about Paisley Park, visit OfficialPaisleyPark.com.

Paisley Park, Prince’s private estate and production compound in Chanhassen offers fans of the late music icon the unprecedented opportunity to tour the legendary, 65,000-square-foot complex that served as the center of Prince’s creative universe. Operated by PPark Management, guided tours take visitors throughout the extensive main floor of Paisley Park, including recording and mixing studios where Prince recorded, produced and mixed most of his biggest hits, exhibit spaces that chronicle films such as Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge, Prince’s private NPG Music Club, and a massive soundstage and concert hall where Prince rehearsed for concert tours and held exclusive, private events and concerts. The tour also features thousands of artifacts from Prince’s personal archives, including iconic concert wardrobe, awards, musical instruments and concert memorabilia. Paisley Park is located at 7801 Audubon Road, Chanhassen, Minnesota, approximately 20 minutes from Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport. For more information about Paisley Park, visit OfficialPaisleyPark.com.

Paisley Park online:

Official website - http://officialpaisleypark.com

Moroccan-dosed dub-jazz collective Club d'Elf releases Live at Club Helsinki

New double album featuring John Medeski, Brahim Fribgane, Duke Levine,
Mister Rourke, Mike Rivard and Dean Johnston available January 10, 2017

Boston-based, Moroccan-dosed dub-jazz collective Club d'Elf celebrates the release of Live At Club Helsinki, an epic double album that showcases the band's genre-leaping improvisational acumen, performing at one of its favorite venues for an ecstatic crowd. Featuring keyboard wizard John Medeski (employing an arsenal of analog instruments including a vintage Mellotron) the music visits touchstones as disparate as Studio One, John Cage, Gnawa and drum'n'bass. The band's association with Club Helsinki dates back to 2001, and a combination of superb sound, intimate environment and an audience tuned into the band's every nuance helped create one of those magical nights. Live At Club Helsinki captures the excitement of two complete continuous sets of no-holds-barred improvisations and classic D'Elf tunes.  Street date: January 10, 2017 on Face Pelt Records.

Disc one starts with the free jazz opening of "Mogador" (featuring a volcanic Medeski solo on grand piano), and segues seamlessly into a cover of The Gaylads "Africa" (driven by Duke Levine's rootsy Telecaster), the music shape-shifting in a way that is free-flowing and never contrived. "The Booloolu" is based around a Moroccan 12/8 cha'abi groove, which the band has absorbed to such a degree that it elicits a rousing response whenever native Moroccans are in the audience. Brahim Fribgane shines on South American cajon, before switching to oud for his composition "Hegaz", based on a traditional Arabic scale. The band's music has been called "the music of dreams" (Boston Globe), and here the dream continues its inevitable flow, as the band moves into the prepared-bass-driven hip-hop of "Secret Atom." This track showcases the wizardry of Mister Rourke, whose rock steady beat-matching and ability to pitch samples into the key of the song, set him apart from ordinary DJs. The band closes the first set with "Berber Song", derived from the Amazigh people of Morocco. Blistering solos from Levine and Medeski on B3 take the band into an Allman Brothers-go-to-North Africa zone, closing with a sample from one of the band's major inspirations, neo-psychedelic avatar Terence McKenna.

Derived from ancient sources, trance forms the central core of the Club d'Elf aesthetic, unifying the various genres the band has absorbed. That influence - notably the Moroccan variety - is evident on disc two, beginning with a tribute to the late Maalem Mahmoud Guinia. On tour in Morocco in 2009, Rivard befriended the maalem, who was one of the most revered of the Gnawa, a mystical brotherhood of trance-healers. He taught Rivard the Gnawa song, "Zeed Al Maal", with the version played here driven by Fribgane's vocals, and Rivard's commanding playing of the Moroccan sintir, a camel-skin-covered bass lute. "Power Plant" follows, with Levine adding a James Bond-esque melody over a sintir-propelled rhythm. Rourke drops another McKenna sample, and the band flows into "Salvia" and "Green Screen", dance-floor-filling electro-jams fueled by Medeski's funky clavinet. Fribgane's oud and vocals are featured on the last tune, "Sidi Rabi", which closes the set on a spiritual note.

Formed in 1998, Club d'Elf's music draws from a startlingly wide spectrum of styles, including jazz, Moroccan Gnawa, hip hop, psychedelia, electronica, avant garde and dub. Circling about bassist/composer Mike Rivard (Morphine/Either-Orchestra/Boston Pops Orchestra) and drummer Dean Johnston, each Club d'Elf performance features a different line-up, drawn from a constellation of some of the most creative improvisors from the jazz, DJ, rock & world music scenes of Boston and NYC, creating a unique experience for audience and musicians alike.

Informed as much by sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick's ideas of shifting reality and parallel universes as by Miles Davis & Fela Kuti, the band draws inspiration from many sources, including the avant comedy of Firesign Theater and Mr. Show. Guitars, turntables, Fender Rhodes, laptops, horns, tablas and all manner of exotic instruments flow in and out of the mix, along with guests including Marco Benevento, Billy Martin, Ryan Montbleau, DJ Logic, Mark Sandman (Morphine), Hassan Hakmoun, Marc Ribot and Skerik. The band is equally at home playing late-night festival sets for the rave/Burning Man crowd as it is for a predominately Arabic audience in traditional garb as boundaries melt away and all are drawn into the intoxicating power of the D'Elf groove. The group's bi-weekly residency at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA is the stuff of legend and provided a laboratory for its improvisational style to emerge and develop. Its latest studio CD, Electric Moroccoland/So Below, drew glowing reviews from PRI's The World, Voice Of America, and Afropop Worldwide for its bold synthesis of Moroccan traditional music and electronic, dubbed-out funk, rising to #1 on the Relix chart. The band made its debut in South America this year, performing at Ecuador Jazz 2016.

See Club d'Elf Live:
o Friday, January 13, 2017: Columbus Theater, Providence, RI (w/ John Medeski & Duke Levine)
o Saturday, January 14, 2017: Club Helsinki, Hudson, NY (w/ John Medeski & Duke Levine)
o Friday, January 20, 2017: Roulette, Brooklyn, NY (w/ Hassan Hakmoun & Mat Maneri)
o Friday, January 27, 2017: Red Room at Café 939 (Berklee), Boston, MA (w/ David Tronzo)

Video links:
Club d'Elf w/ John Medeski: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTE-rg_UED4

Tuesday, November 29, 2016



A stunner of a solo set from Edna Wright – once the lead singer for Honey Cone, but almost even better on this smooth soul masterpiece from the 70s! The album's got an immediately recognizeable moment in the leadoff cut "Oops Here I Go" – sampled famously by De La Soul and others – but the whole thing's amazing, a killer bit of warm, modern soul put together by the legendary Greg Perry – who makes the whole thing shine every bit as much as his own great Smokin album of the time! Edna's vocals are wonderful – more mature than before, and really stepping out with a proud, sophisticated sort of groove – almost in territory of Jean Carn or Gloria Scott, particularly the latter on some of the album's more grooving cuts. In addition to "Oops Here I Go", other cuts include "Come On Down", "You Can't See the Forest", "Nothing Comes to a Sleeper", "If The Price Is Right", and "Spend the Nights With Me". ~ Dusty Groove


Fantastic funk from Sonny Knight & The Lakers – one of the few cases where an older soul singer can really find a fresh new vibe with a younger group! Knight may well be on his way to hitting the same sort of heights that Lee Fields has reached in recent years – and he definitely works in a Daptone-like groove here with the younger instrumentalists – a sharp combo who give Sonny a perfect blend of deep funk and deeper soul – with more than enough Memphis currents to make things sound a lot more classic than you might expect. Production is right on the money – handled by the same Secret Stash folks who've given us reissues of so much old school soul music – and titles include "Sooner Or Later", "It's Over", "The Cry", "It Had To Change", "Oh Mary", "I Could Never Get Tired", and "Help Me". ~ Dusty Groove


One of the coolest new groups we've heard on Daptone in a long time – an instrumental combo that's definitely funky, but which has some of the exotic touches you might expect from their name! There's a nice current of strings that slide in alongside more familiar funk instrumentation – some violins, cellos, and even a harp – used to give the groove this expansive vibe that's partly blacksploitation soundtrack, but much more than that as well! Both Leon Michels and Neal Sugarman are in the group on tenor sax – but the real brainchild here seems to be Toby Panzer, who produced and arranged, and who plays a range of sublime sounds on organ, clavinet, harpsichord, vibes, and percussion! Titles include "Sirens Of Jupiter", "Saturn", "Pluto's Lament", "Mercury's Odyssey", "Europa & The Bull", "Sagittarius By Moonlight", "Neptune", "Mars", and "Diana By My Side". ~ Dusty Groove

Chick Corea Elektric Band + Béla Fleck & The Flecktones Announce Summer 2017 Tour

There isn't a more elite pairing in music than BÉLA FLECK and CHICK COREA, and the two will join forces for a North American tour with their respective groups - The Flecktones & Elektric Band -  August 5 - 21, 2017.

Booked by The Kurland Agency (thekurlandagency.com), these shows will feature the original lineups of both bands on a co-headline billing that will be a can't-miss for fans all across the country. And rumor has it the show encore will be a jam for the ages.

BÉLA FLECK & THE FLECKTONES have been a household name for over a three decades. Béla has reunited the original lineup of his band: Wooten brothers Victor (Bass) and Roy, aka Furture Man (Drumitar), as well as Howard Levy (harmonica and keyboard). This reunion tour promises to be a major event and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for their fans.

The genre-defying CHICK COREA ELEKTRIC BAND has no bounds regarding musical forms or experimentation. Led by one of the premier jazz keyboardists of all time, the Elektric Band delivers an awe-inspiring stage performance that is simply mind-blowing, reaching transcendent height. The entire classic quintet will be on stage: John Patitucci (Bass), Frank Gambale (Guitar), Eric Marienthal (Saxophone), and Dave Weckl (Drums).

For a short three week period in August 2017, these two titans of American music will be touring their groups together for the first time ever.

Tour dates To Be Announced.

Monday, November 28, 2016

NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston To Release New 2-CD Set, "The African Nubian Suite," On His African Rhythms Label January 20

Randy Weston The African Nubian Suite NEA Jazz Master, iconic pianist and composer, and still-vital jazz elder Randy Weston, at 90, remains a powerful force in jazz. Currently serving as artist-in-residence at Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York; celebrated earlier this month at Harvard University, which has acquired his archive; and named a United States Artists (USA) Fellow last week, Weston is now preparing to release a new recording on his African Rhythms label. The 2-CD set, The African Nubian Suite, captures a concert presented at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts by the Institute of African American Affairs on Easter Sunday 2012 and will be released by African Rhythms on January 20, 2017.

The African Nubian Suite lays out the history of the human race in music and words. Weston and narrator Wayne Chandler trace it back to Ardi, a woman who walked upright 4.4 million years ago in Nubia, a region along the Nile River that straddles parts of what are today Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

"In one single work," Robin D.G. Kelley writes in the booklet notes, "Weston manages to pay tribute to the ancient tombs of Sidi Bilal in Aswan, the sufi tradition, the holy city of Touba in Senegal, China's great Shang Dynasty, African folk music, the timeless history of the blues, and the unity of humankind."

Weston was joined in a circle at the sold-out concert by a remarkably diverse, truly international cast of performers. A few played without accompaniment, others as duos, trios, and larger ensembles. They include trumpeter Cecil Bridgewater, trombonist Robert Trowers, tuba player Howard Johnson, saxophonist-flutist T.K. Blue, tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, bassist Alex Blake, drummer Lewis Nash, conguero Candido (who, at 94, is four years older than Weston), nefer player Ayodele Maakheru, guimbry player Lhoussine Bouhamidy from Morocco, kora player and vocalist Saliou Souso from Gambia, balafon player Martin Kwaku Obeng from Ghana, pipa player and vocalist Min Xiao-Fen from China, singer Tanpani Demda Cissoko from Mali, African-American percussionists Neil Clarke and Ayanda Clarke, and the late poet Jayne Cortez.

"The suite is saying, 'Let's start with our first mama,'" Weston explains. "The whole idea is that we're all so different on this planet, but in reality, we all look alike. If you look at the flowers and look at the insects, Mother Nature paints all the colors of her subjects. One is brown. This one is black. Whatever. We've got one nose, one mouth. The whole idea is we all come from the same place. We all come from Africa. It's scientifically true, culturally true."

Weston adds: "I feel that this is the kind of work that should be in the schools, in the churches, in the cultural centers, the kind of work for all people to listen to and read about, because it will give us a better understanding of Mother Africa."

Today, the Brooklyn resident continues to tour throughout the United States and overseas. He holds honorary Doctor of Music degrees from Colby College, Brooklyn College, and the New England Conservatory of Music; was artist-in-residence at NYU, the New School earlier this year, and currently at Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York. In 2010 Duke University Press published African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston, composed by Randy Weston and arranged by Willard Jenkins. Weston is a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation and a Grant recipient of the Doris Duke Foundation; he was honored by King Mohammed VI of Morocco, and his decades of work -- including scores, correspondence, photographs, and recordings -- are now archived at Harvard University as the Randy Weston Collection. In 2016 Weston was voted into the Down Beat Hall of Fame.

Weston's African Rhythms Trio will perform at Aimé Césaire Performance Hall in Martinique on Friday 11/25. Weston conducts an African Rhythms Masterclass ("A Spiritual Awakening"), featuring Eddie Palmieri, at Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, NY, 11/29. The Randy Weston African Rhythms Quintet appears at Dizzy's, NYC, Friday through Sunday 12/2-4. A CD release show for The African Nubian Suite in New York City is in the works.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...