Thursday, August 21, 2014


World-renowned Cuban tres and guitar virtuoso Benjamin Lapidus and his new group Kari-B3 release his long awaited 7th Latin jazz recording and 8th as a bandleader. The album features heavyweights from the Latin and jazz worlds such as Pedrito Martínez, NEA Jazzmaster Cándido Camero, 7-time Grammy nominee Bobby Sanabria, Jared Gold (organ), Frank Anderson (organ), saxophonist Paul Carlon, NYTimes bestselling author T.J. English, trumpet sensation Greg Glassman, vocalist Bobby Harden, organist Frank Anderson, reed legend Walter "Gene" Jefferson, vocalists Enid Lowe and Hiram Remón, Latin-Grammy nominee Charlie Sepúlveda (trumpet), trombonist and vocalist Elizabeth Frascoia, and Chicago R&B session guitar ace Aaron Weistrop. 

"This project was born out of everything that I love in music (Caribbean rhythms, folklore, Jazz, and the inspired imaginings of musicians in conversation with each other) and of my obsession with the Hammond B3 organ, which included hours of listening to Jazz organ combo recordings.  Often, these recordings feature a great conga player who is confined to playing a tumbao on a backbeat. I love the sound of the Hammond B3, but the conga drum on the backbeat only hinted at the possibilities of these two worlds meeting. What would it sound like if that conga in the organ combo was front and center? More practical questions followed: What would the repertoire be? Who would play it? What would it sound like? Wouldn't it be great to have the concept turned inside out with the organist playing the bass tumbao and the whole band swinging in clave? Shirley Scott and the Latin Quintet got into some of this and the great Panamanian organist, Avelino Muñoz did as well, but could we push the envelope? If jazz drummers play mambo patterns in their solos to "get house" in straight-ahead performances, why not play Latin standards in swing? Kari-B3 and "Ochosi Blues" are the result of these musings and truly, we are only beginning to answer the questions above." - Benjamin Lapidus
Latin music's cutting-edge musician/scholar returns with Ochosi Blues, a swinging and ear-pleasing recording that is inspired by the vast musical traditions of the Spanish Caribbean and the equally deep tradition of the jazz organ combo with a sprinkling of West Indian flavor. The result is a powerful and joyous listening experience that offers a truly unique take on the organ combo. When asked to label Benjamin Lapidus' music, critics and fans agree that it is Latin Jazz in the truest sense of the term, as Lapidus continues to explore different ways of mixing Jazz and Spanish-Caribbean music, while making the music accessible, organic, and logical. This is the direct result of the New York musicians involved, who are completely bi-and even tri-cultural, a benefit of being residents of the largest Caribbean city in the United States.  Active in the New York Latin scene since 1995, Lapidus has made a name for himself among the elders as the go to player for long-established bands and new live and recording projects such as The Buena Vista Social Club, Jerry and Andy González, Típica 73, Larry Harlow, and many more.

Critics and fans agree that Benjamin Lapidus' music is unique in its cutting-edge approach without sacrificing accessibility or the traditions of Spanish-Caribbean music.  With Ochosi Blues, Lapidus continues his dynamic vision of bringing Spanish-Caribbean music and jazz together as equals while charting new ground and creatively altering conventions of both worlds. He started on this path in his previous five releases (1998-2005) as the leader of the world-renowned Latin jazz phenomenon Sonido Isleño, and continued with his pan-Latin jazz interpretation of the Brazilian songbook with Kaori Fujii on Garota de Ipanema for RCA Victor Japan (2007). In 2008, he released Herencia Judía a critically acclaimed Afro-Latin Jewish recording project.

For Ochosi Blues, Lapidus assembled an A-list of performers and friends with whom he has frequently toured and recorded: Pedrito Martínez, charismatic percussionist, vocalist, and bandleader, Cándido Camero NEA Jazzmaster and conga legend, Bobby Sanabria 7-time Grammy nominee, bandleader and educator, rising organ star Jared Gold, Hammond organ elder and legend of studio and Broadway orchestras Frank Anderson, Elder statesman of reeds and Caribbean music Gene Jefferson, as well as tough tenor Paul Carlon and trumpeter Greg Glassman. Special guests include: two-time Latin Grammy nominee trumpeter Charlie Sepúlveda (Eddie Palmieri and Batacumbele), Veteran big band singer Enid Lowe (Jan Garber). Original Blues Brothers vocalist Bobby Harden, Colombian vocalist Hiram Remón, Trombonist Elizabeth Frascoia, Chicago session ace, Gospel and R&B guitarist Aaron Weistrop, and a songwriting contribution by New York Times bestselling author T.J. English (Savage City and Paddywhacked).  Lapidus joins them on guitar and tres, the quintessential Cuban instrument with three pairs of strings on its small guitar-like body.  Its unique tuning provides the skilled player with infinite range while its playing technique is at once percussive, harmonic, and melodic.

Pedrito Martínezopens the album singing and playing batá drums for Ochosi, the Yoruba god of the hunt and swift justice on Ochosi Blues (1), and closes it by singing and drumming for Yemayá, the goddess of the sea on Yemayá's Changes (15). These two pieces serve as bookends for the project and they offer two possiblilities of marrying Cuban folklore with jazz in the organ combo context. Lapidus and Martínez have collaborated on numerous recordings and live performances since Martínez's arrival in New York in the late 1990s most recently on Paul Carlon's La Rumba is a Lovesome Thing. Organist Jared Gold is comfortable in a variety of musical settings and he adds a solid jazz and blues feel to these two prayers, which are traditionally sung only with drum accompaniment. I'll see you on Moonday, Wendell (2) is dedicated to the late Dr. Wendell Logan, who was Lapidus' advisor, mentor and role model at Oberlin College.  He taught and inspired many musicians at Oberlin who have subsequently spread his teachings and philosophy through their own teaching, writing, and playing. Wendell did not believe in hierarchies that separated musical styles and he drew from the blues, whether writing for symphonic orchestras or for big bands. Trumpeter Greg Glassman, another Oberlin alum and student of Wendell's, plays the first solo on the track. A collaborator and friend for the last 16 years, saxophonist Paul Carlon is also featured on this track.

But Beautiful(3) features Frank Anderson and Enid Lowe, two wonderful Panamanian musicians that have been collaborating together for many years in Panama and New York. Lapidus first met Enid, Frank, and Gene Jefferson through Bobby Sanabria. Bobby is a complete musician, a showman, a scholar, and a friend and frequent collaborator of Lapidus' who has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. He has spent over 30 years working with Gene, Enid, and Frank. Historically, Panamanian musicians have been fluent in Spanish and English Caribbean music as well as jazz due to their geographic location at the crossroads of the Americas. For Lapidus, these are the perfect musicians to explore the Caribbean organ combo concept because they can do it all and have done it all. Enid worked regularly at the El Panama Hotel and with artists like Jan Garber and others in the 1950s. Here in New York, she and her husband Gene Jefferson, along with Frank, continue to perform throughout the city. Frank Andersonis a virtuoso pianist and organist who has recorded and performed with the best of the best in Panama, New York and the world.

Historically, Anderson is one of the only people who has played Hammond organ within this context and he brings to the studio his years of playing with Vicentico Valdés, Marcelino Guerra, Arsenio Rodríguez, his own Pan-American big band, and countless Broadway shows since the 1940s. Frank shows his swing chops on Bilongo (4), which also features Gene Jefferson and Cándido Camero as the band swings a Cuban standard.  Cándido Camero is perhaps the most recorded conga player in history, having arrived in NYC in 1946.  Besides playing tres in Arsenio Rodríguez's second band in Cuba and working as a bassist in the son genre, he worked with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie among so many others. Check out Candido's straight ahead conga solo on Bilongo! When the power supply went out on the mixing board during the recording sessions, he asked Enid and Frank to play and sing standards to pass the time.  After each one, he would talk about how he had recorded and performed with the singers that made each song famous, like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan and more. Bobby Sanabria and Cándido are the rhythmic anchors of this project. Gene Jefferson recorded and toured with many important artists including Tito Rodríguez, Arsenio Rodríguez, and many others both in his native Panama, New York and abroad. He was also in the house band of the Apollo Theater for many years and he brings a positive feeling to the session as well as the ability to swing in calypso, jazz, guaracha, and anything else!
T.J. Englishis a New York Times bestselling author, a good friend, and a regular dinner guest in Lapidus' home. During one of these dinners, after dessert had been served and too much rum had been imbibed, the guests were discussing the color of roux and how it darkens depending on how long it cooks. This led to Lapidus and English collaborating on The Sweeter the Lovin', The Darker the Roux (5). Bobby Harden, who has sung with the Original Blues Brothers Band, and Aaron Weistrop, a close friend of Lapidus' for 23 years and a guitar player who is at home with jazz, gospel, r&b, blues, and rock, bring the Roux recipe to life. Often, one meets the right people at the right time, and such serendipity led Lapidus to the multi-talented Elizabeth Frascoia, who plays an appropriately greasy trombone on the Roux song right when it was needed.

Tú, mi delirio/Here's That Rainy Day(6) features Enid Lowe with Colombian vocalist, Hiram Remón, who brings his extensive experience and repertoire, beautiful vocal renditions, and virtuosic maraca playing with him. The Latin Side of Your Mama (7), a boogaloo meant to poke fun at jazz albums that try on the "Latin side", features Jared Gold.  Guajira Orgánica (8) pairs Lapidus' tres with Frank Anderson's organ in a guaracha context.  Habla Cándido (9) is a snippet of the master with his drum; what a treasure to have on this record! Charlie Sepúlveda, a prolific trumpeter based in Puerto Rico, joins Lapidus on this duo version of the Cuban classic El Manisero (10), capturing a deep feeling of simpático. Close your eyes and imagine sitting on the beach every time it plays. The groove was so intense, that nobody wanted to stop playing Have You Met Ms. Jones? (11), which features Frank Anderson, Gene Jefferson, Bobby Sanabria, Cándido, and Lapidus on tres. Ernesto Duarte's Como Fue (12) is Lapidus' wedding song and is dedicated to his wife, Teresita Levy on their tenth wedding anniversary. No Brooklyn-based recording would be complete without recognizing the vibrant West Indian community and its musical contributions to the soundtrack of New York City.  Frank Anderson and Gene Jefferson have been playing The Five Year Plan (13), a calypso song sung by Atila the Hun, for ages but calling it "Workers," which is why you hear Gene's whistle and shout to get back to work. Stella by Starlight (14) features Enid's vocals and another tres/organ pairing that travels between funk, bolero, swing, and chachachá.

Finally, Dennis Mario, an award-winning visual artist and musician based in Puerto Rico, generously contributed his incredible painting, "Congo Blue y Changó" (1995), to reflect the musical duality and beauty of this record. Check out his art at and stay tuned for the forthcoming recording, Dueto Libre by Lapidus and Mario.

In addition to Ochosi Blues, Lapidus has been busy performing on tres with Típica 73, the legendary salsa band co-led by Sonny Bravo and Johnny "Dandy" Rodríguez. He is also performing with Larry Harlow and Michael Stuart at Lincoln Center for the salsa opera, Hommy. Lapidus sings and plays on Paul Carlon's album, La Rumba is a Lovesome Thing: A Tribute to Billy Strayhorn. This exciting nonet has been performing throughout New York City before and after the release of the album and regularly at the Zinc Bar. In addition, Lapidus' catalogue of compositions is being championed by Cuban jazz innovator Pablo Menéndez and Mezcla as his 1998 piece "¿Quién Tiene Ritmo?" appears on the band's 30th anniversary DVD. Singer songwriter José Conde also recorded Lapidus' "Bizcocho" for his forthcoming release. In 2014, Lapidus performed and recorded with master musician, Andy González in support of the forthcoming Truth Revolution Records album to be released in December 2014.

Trumpeter Avishai Cohen Presents Dark Nights, the Much-Anticipated Third Album from his Electrifying Trio Triveni with Bassist Omer Avital & Drummer Nasheet Waits

Trumpeter Avishai Cohen presents Dark Nights - the third album from his electrifying trio Triveni with bassist Omer Avital and drummer Nasheet Waits - on October 28, 2014, via Anzic Records. Cohen, voted a Rising Star in the DownBeat Critics Poll two years running, is joined on the album not only by his powerhouse rhythm mates but also by three special guests: superstar clarinetist Anat Cohen (Avishai's sister and band mate in The 3 Cohens); Grammy-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton; and hit-making French-Israeli vocalist Keren Ann. Avishai has worked with Keren Ann for more than a decade; the two shared their love of Chet Baker by performing "I Fall in Love Too Easily," a standard long associated with the legendary singer-trumpeter.   But the purview of Dark Nights is wide, from intimate lyricism to electrifying virtuosity, from jazz classics to progressive originals. The evergreen balladry of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and Charles Mingus's "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" rubs shoulders with compositions from Avishai's pen that groove hard and burn slow, by turns. There's a deep-blue wail ("Betray," featuring Anat's clarinet) and a free-minded tribute to Ornette Coleman ("The OC"), as well as numbers accented by Avishai's electronic effects,including his emotion-rich title track and the grooving "Old Soul" (with both Anat and Clayton). Throughout, Avishai's playing has never been more expressive, underscoring The New York Times description of him as "an extravagantly skilled trumpeter, relaxed and soulful. . . deftly combining sensitivity and flair." 

DownBeat Magazine raved over 2012's Triveni II. The magazine's review - which gave the album four and a half stars - called the trumpeter "a versatile, modern master" while adding: "Cohen and company improvise together so wonderfully that they often sound shocked at their collective inventions." The New York City Jazz Record lauded Triveni II at length: "Cohen proves himself a versatile and virtuosic trumpeter on the diverse playlist, able to handle just about anything, whether it's free or traditional, quiet or loud, fast or slow. Avital, a longtime colleague and fellow member of Third World Love, has an uncanny rapport with the trumpeter, while Waits, who has played in trios with the likes of Jason Moran and Fred Hersch, provides energetic drum work throughout. The absence of a piano here affords the trio added harmonic freedom and they take advantage of it with some soaring, adventurous improvising." All About Jazz echoed the praise, characterizing the album as "a quantum leap" in Cohen's artistry and adding about the Triveni trio: "When these three men match wits, barbs and quips, the results are stunning." 

Cohen's Triveni partners - Avital big-toned, funky and melodic à la Mingus, Waits as dizzyingly inventive as he is swinging - could hardly be more attuned to the trumpeter's sensibility. "I've been playing with Omer for so long that we have total rapport," Cohen says. "We can hear where each other is going harmonically and vibe-wise, and our feel for time is hand in glove. He's an incredible bassist and musician, almost like a second horn player he's so melodic. Nasheet is still a mystery to me in a good way - always surprising. He's such a force, an incredible drummer who never plays anything but the music itself, no 'licks'." 

For their third album as Triveni, the three musicians convened in Brooklyn's Bunker Studios without having toured the music or even rehearsed it beforehand. The trio recorded in the same room together, as with their prior sessions, with no separation and without headphones, helping impart a vital sense of intimacy to the music-making. "With just a single day in the studio, and a whole lot of music to learn and record on the spot, we set the rule of the day: 'No more than two takes per song'," Cohen explains. "That focused the process, giving the session a sense of movement, of flow. Just letting the music be, and relaxing into that feeling - this enabled us to embrace the unknown, to seek the right vibe above all. Even the electronic effects overdubs on this record were made in a 'first take' manner - listening to the track and just reacting to the music, trusting my instincts. All of this helped impart a big sense of spontaneity to this session, particularly in the shaping of the music. My tunes were new to Omer and Nasheet, and I didn't tell them what to play, or even what I heard as their parts. When it came to the standards, their parts were a more obvious call, of course, but their interpretations of the songs stayed their own - which makes this album as much theirs as it is mine."

Even having the first-ever guests to appear on a Triveni album was a spontaneous touch. Anat and Clayton were traveling together back to New York from a West Coast gig, and they came straight from the airport to join Triveni in the studio after a call from Avishai. Anat - whom Avishai calls "not just my sister but one of my favorite musicians in the world" - launched into "Betray" just minutes after entering the studio, yet the first take was the master. With Anat again on clarinet and Clayton on electric piano, the impromptu quintet recorded "Old Soul," a tune Avishai wrote about his son. As for Keren Ann's inclusion, Avishai says: "I always call her the 'voice of an angel.' She has something that always blows me away: this fragile, simple yet haunting voice, with a special way of phrasing. She and I were touring together right before the session, so it felt right for her to join Triveni in the studio, too. We gave Omer and Nasheet a break while the two of us went over 'I Fall in Love Too Easily' with Gerald on piano - but we never ended up recording a full band version. When we listened back to the run through, it sounded complete with just the three of us."

Summing up his aims, Cohen says: "Whether we're playing with guests or on our own as a trio, my approach to Triveni has been to challenge ourselves to balance freedom with self-restraint, to always stay lyrical and true."

Avishai Cohen, born and raised in Tel Aviv, Israel, but resident in New York City for more than a decade, played his own headlining set at the 2011 Newport Jazz Festival, and he tours the world as part of the prestigious SF Jazz Collective and with The 3 Cohens Sextet, his hit family band with his sister, clarinetist-saxophonist Anat, and brother, saxophonist Yuval. With his elder siblings, Avishai has performed at Carnegie's Zankel Hall and twice played a headline run at the Village Vanguard, and the three Cohens shared the January 2012 cover of DownBeat magazine. Avishai was named Rising Star - Trumpet in the DownBeat Critics Poll of 2013 and 2012. As a co-leader, he tours and records with Third World Love, his longtime collaborative venture with bassist Omer Avital, pianist Yonatan Avishai and drummer Daniel Freedman. International Music Network represents Cohen for booking and tour management. 

Cohen's discography includes seven albums as a leader: The Trumpet Player (Fresh Sounds New Talent, 2002), After The Big Rain (Anzic, 2007), Flood (Anzic, 2008), Seven (Anzic, 2008), Introducing Triveni (Anzic, 2010), Triveni II (Anzic, 2012) and Dark Nights (2014). He has also recorded four albums as co-leader with The 3 Cohens Sextet and five with Third World Love, along with being featured on several albums with the SF Jazz Collective. As a sideman, he has appeared on recordings by Mark Turner, Anat Cohen, Yuval Cohen, Jason Lindner and singer-songwriter Keren Ann, among others. His music-making can also be heard on such soundtracks as American Gangster and Soul Man. 

Cohen began performing in public in 1988 at age 10, eventually touring with the Young Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston on a full scholarship, and in 1997, he established his international reputation by placing third in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Trumpet Competition. Cohen came of age as a jazz musician as part of the fertile scene at Smalls, the storied club in New York's West Village, where he developed his artistic vision alongside such friends and colleagues as pianist Jason Lindner and bassist Omer Avital. All of his diverse work as a leader, co-leader and sideman is informed by the fresh, broad-minded legacy of this scene. Recently, Cohen has toured as a member of top bands led by Mark Turner and Kenny Werner, and he appears on Turner's upcoming ECM quartet album. Hot House Jazz magazine justly called Avishai Cohen "one of the most exciting voices on the horn to arrive in this century." 

1. "Dark Nights, Darker Days" (Avishai Cohen)
2. "You in All Directions" (Avishai Cohen)
3. "Betray" (Avishai Cohen)
4. "Pablo" (Avishai Cohen)              
5. "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" (Charles Mingus)
6. "The OC" (Avishai Cohen)
7. "Shiny Stockings" (Frank Foster) 
8. "Lush Life" (Billy Strayhorn)          
9. "Old Soul" (Avishai Cohen) 
10. "I Fall in Love Too Easily" (Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn) 



Hard Proof, the award-winning Austin ten-piece collective are the sole purveyors of African funk in the state of Texas. They don’t just play Afrobeat or world music, but funk and jazz music inspired by the whole sub-Saharan African continent. Hard Proof was formed in 2008 from members of Black Joe Lewis, The Calm Blue Sea, Cougar, Ocote Soul Sounds, Spanish Gold, the Echocentrics, and several other notable Austin acts.

On Saturday, September 27, 2014, the band will release a Cassingle titled “Soul Thing” b/w “Lake Tana” during the 2nd annual Cassette Store Day.  The Cassingle was recorded, mixed and mastered at The Bubble in Austin, TX by Chris “Frenchie” Smith, co-produced by Hard Proof and mastered by Alex Lyon.

The first track “Soul Thing” was written by Joe Woullard (Baritone Sax/Flute) and was inspired by “late night pursuits.”  Woullard explains, “the name was created very early in the song’s life and just always felt appropriate.”  The second track “Lake Tana” was written by Jason Frey (Tenor Sax) after being inspired from a show’s infectious upbeat vibe and love of Mulatu Asteke’s music.  Frey details, “The title of the track is taken from the largest lake in Ethiopia, which feeds into the Blue Nile.  The largest musical influence from Ethiopia for me is Mulatu Asteke and his ‘freaky Ethio-Jazz sound.’  So just as the lake feeds the river, his music was the spring of inspiration for me on this track.”

In 2014, some may wonder why a band would release new music on cassette.  Stephen Bidwell (Drums) enthusiastically states, “We were scheduling a tour around the time of Cassette Store Day, and a few of us had thought about doing a cassette for a while, so the timing made sense.  Most of us grew up before file sharing or burnable CDs, so tapes were a huge part of our musical upbringing and discovery. Mixtapes sure had more of a personal touch than a Spotify playlist.  Also putting it out as a cassingle reminds me of the golden age of hip hop when we consumed singles on tape and had to flip sides to hear more.  You had to work harder to discover new music.”

To celebrate the release of their Cassingle, the band will be touring the East Coast starting September 24th with stops in Atlanta, Asheville, Washington DC, New York, Morgantown, and Pittsburgh, before making their debut at the world-renowned Austin City Limits Festival!  More details listed below.

While their releases are always well received, there seems to be universal agreement that their live shows are something not to be missed. Austin taste-maker Laurie Gallardo of KUTX may have put it best: “This local nine-piece ensemble always puts on an electrifying live show, an absolute blowout of non-stop percussion action and blasting brass, bringing the best of both worlds to the stage by mixing classic styles and plenty of their personal panache to own the show.”

Tour Dates:
09/24 @ 529 – Atlanta, GA
09/25 @ The One Stop – Asheville, NC
09/26 @ Tropicalia – Washington, DC
09/27 @ Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) – New York, NY
09/28 @ Wine & Jazz Fest – Morgantown, WV
09/28 @ Thunderbird Café – Pittsburgh, PA
10/05 @ Austin City Limits Festival – Austin, TX

Wednesday, August 20, 2014



New release from composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith is The Great Lakes Suites. Joining Smith are three extraordinary musicians - saxophonist/flutist Henry Threadgill, drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist John Lindberg - all of whom were born or spent their youths in cities near the Great Lakes.  Smith himself lived in Chicago for several personally crucial years in the late 1960s and played with Threadgill and DeJohnette during the early days of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).  Lindberg has been a frequent collaborator in various ensembles particularly in the past decade. "My inspiration for composing the music on The Great Lakes Suites is centered around the idea of the Great Lakes being located in the uppermost part of the Northern hemisphere and the fact that it took a long time for them to develop and form as a large body of water. My score reflects the idea of the flatness of the lakes´ surfaces. The lakes´ flatness does not, however, imply for me stasis or inactivity. What I wish to express compositionally is the simultaneous notions of the lakes being flat and their volatility as the fundamental characteristics of the Great Lakes. Restrained, yet explosive," says Wadada Leo Smith. "The other quality I wanted to express in the compositions was multiple sectional forms, ideally, thinking of each composition as being a suite or set of multiple pieces."


On their third release, Kalle Kalima & K-18 continue on in the world of cinema. While the group's previous two albums featured compositions by guitarist Kalima that had been inspired by the films of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, Buñuel de Jour features his impressions of certain key works by the legendary Spanish director Luis Buñuel, such as Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Tristana and Un Chien Andalou.
The CD features Kalima on electric guitars, Mikko Innanen on alto saxophone, xaphoon, whistles, hornpipe, Veli Kujala on quarter-tone accordion, and Teppo Hauta-aho on double bass and percussion.


The long-awaited If The Rain Comes represents the return as a solo artist of Jim Pembroke, who first became more broadly known as the frontman of the highly influential Finnish progressive rock group Wigwam. It is his first new release after more than three decades since his last solo album and almost ten years since Wigwam's last recording. The album includes 11 new tracks, all with music and lyrics written by Jim Pembroke, which reflect both today's world and Pembroke's roots in Wigwam, a founding member of which he was 45 years ago.
Born in London, Pembroke now lives in Kansas City in the United States. For the band on the new record he chose both old and new acquaintances. The former include keyboardist Pedro Hietanen, a bandmate in Wigwam since the 1970s, and guitarist Jukka Orma from Pembroke’s Jimbo group in the 1980s. New acquaintances to Pembroke include two of Finland's leading jazz musicians, bassist Ulf Krokfors and drummer Mika Kallio. The recording also features guest artists, such as saxophonist Manuel Dunkel and organist Jukka Gustavson. If The Rain Comes is dedicated to its producer, the trumpeter, composer and producer Henrik Otto Donner, who already worked with Pembroke on the only recording of Blues Section in 1967 and the earliest recordings of Wigwam as well as on several of his solo recordings. As Donner passed away when the record was being finalized for release in June 2013, it also became the last production of his long career. Donner was also responsible for the string and wind arrangements on the record. The album was mainly recorded at the LA-Audio Studios in Olathe, Kansas. Trackslisting: If The Rain Comes; Gone With The Song; Columbus In India; Love Is Easier; Forever Kinda; The DNA Club; A Former Army; Doo-Wah; My Time Again; The Birds Of Summer; and Midnight In Abbey Road.



Fuel's FUNKY NEW ORLEANS series of releases really define the unique sound of New Orleans. New Orleans long musical journey begins at Congo Square with the creation of jazz, the original Creole culture clash of African heritage and European instrumentation. The syncopated beat of the second line jazz parade bands, the secret language and dances of the Mardi Gras Indians, the mambo and Latin rhythms of Professor Longhair, and the joyous funeral processions all help make New Orleans a unique musical melting pot. In the 1960s and early 1970s the creative powerhouses of Allen Toussaint, The Meters, Lee Dorsey and others made New Orleans the birthplace of the original sound of Funk. Here a seemingly endless line of amazing singers - Lee Dorsey, Aaron Neville, Willie West and Eldridge Holmes, amongst many others - released a constant stream of stunning 45s, backed by the super funky Meters and produced by Allen Toussaint. In the 1960s and early 70s, limited local record distribution meant that many of these artists' releases remained unknown outside of the city borders and, as a consequence, many of these records are serious collector's items today. Amazon


The Jazz Crusaders second album for Pacific Jazz, Lookin Ahead features the core four members of the group (Joe Sample, Wayne Henderson, Wilton Felder and Stix Hooper), with bassist Jimmy Bond rounding out the sound. Lookin Ahead showcases what was already a signature sound for the group, with the tenor saxophone and trombone leading many of the songs, although Joe Samples piano playing holds much of the material together. The group wrote seven of the albums nine cuts, including The Young Rabbits, which would become something of a staple for the Jazz Crusaders during the 1960s, being much revered at their live shows. The two covers include Tonight, from the musical West Side Story, and Song Of India, a classical piece by Rimsky-Korsakov arranged by Joe Sample. Along with their debut album Freedom Sound (also available on Hallmark as 713822) the Jazz Crusaders were at the forefront of the soul jazz scene in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. Their relevance and importance continued to grow throughout the rest of the decade. ~ Amazon


This is the first solo album from Peter Bernstein, hailed by Downbeat as one of the 15 Best Jazz Guitarists in the World. Recorded over two nights in October, 2012, the album highlights Bernstein's arrangements of Porter, Monk, Coltrane, Vernon Duke and more. Discovered early in his career by Lou Donaldson, Bernstein has performed and recorded with Brad Mehldau, Christian McBride, Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz and Gregory Hutchinson. ~ Amazon


Camera Soul is a powerful jazz-funk ensemble, produced by Mr. Marco Rossi of Azzurra Music (Verona) and released in the United States and Canada by Kathryn Ballard Shut of TIMKAT Entertainment (Denver, Colorado). Inspired by legendary horn line, soul, R&B, and jazz-fusion artists such as Earth, Wind and Fire, The Commodores, Tower of Power, and Stevie Wonder, as well as neo-soul grooves by Erykah Badu and Jamiroquai, the group is based out of southern Italy (Bari), and led by veteran composer-arrangers, brothers Piero and Pippo Lombardo. Camera Soul’s distinctive sound was first defined by the smoky and soulful voice of lead vocalist, Serena Brancale, on the group's first two albums ('Words Don't Speak' in 2011 and 'Not For Ordinary People' in 2013), and currently by Maria Enrica Lotesoriere (live concerts & new album 'Dress Code', to be released in 2014).

The group features a world-class lineup of studio and live performance musicians, including Pippo Lombardo (piano), Beppe Sequestro (bass), Francesco Palmitessa (lead guitar), Gianluca Cardellichio (rhythm guitar), Liviana Ferri (percussion), Fabio Delle Foglie (drums, 2014) / Mimmo Campanale (drums, 2011-2013), Daniele Scannapieco and Bruno Tassone (saxes), Gianfranco Campagnoli (trumpet and flugelhorn); Elio Arcieri and Piero Dotti (background vocals). On album 'Not For Ordinary People', the Brothers Lombardo also led a stellar global songwriting team; together with their compositions, they welcomed original music and lyrics from Serena Brancale and Denver-based jazz pianist and ASCAP composer, Kathryn Ballard Shut.

The group has released two albums – 'Words Don’t Speak' (2011) and 'Not For Ordinary People' (2013). Whereas 'Words Don’t Speak' reached previous critical acclaim as a “chill” or “smooth” effort, 'Not For Ordinary People' counts on powerful horn lines, deep funk, complex arranging, impassioned writing, and superb engineering, culminating in a stronger effort than the debut. The album is currently at #1 in Italy.

In 2013, "Not For Ordinary People" was submitted in a stunning 11 categories in 4 major fields to the prestigious Recording Academy ("Grammy") and several selections from the album topped several United Kingdom radio show countdowns as one of the "Best of 2013". The album also reached #2 on the UK Soul Chart ( and remained there for two weeks, unable to top the legendary Earth, Wind, and Fire, who had just released 'Now, Then, and Forever' during the same period. 'Not For Ordinary People' nevertheless remained on the Top 30 for 15 weeks and continues in rotation on quality Internet radio stations worldwide.



The son of legendary bluesman Muddy Waters, Mud Morganfield and Fabulous Thunderbird front man Kim Wilson come together for this tribute release, packaged in Digipak format. For Pops (A Tribute To Muddy Waters) represents some of Mud's favorite songs from his father including the iconic I Just Want to Make Love to You plus Blow Wind Blow and Just to Be With You. When you hear Mud belt out his version of the classic My Dog Can't Bark it's clear that the apple truly doesn't fall far from the tree. Kim Wilson lives up to his reputation as the finest purveyor of the 'Little Walter' harmonica style by laying down some of his best work to date. Backing them is the crack team of Billy Flynn and Rusty Zinn (guitars), Barrelhouse Chuck (Piano), Steve Gomes (bass) and Robb Stupka (drums). For Pops only scratches the surface of the impressive catalog left by the master bluesman, but this collection is a must for Blues fans everywhere. We're certain 'Pops' is proud of his boy. ~ Amazon


Successful R&B singer, songwriter and actor Eric Benét released his sixth studio album The One in 2012. The album marked a positive transition in Eric s life, both personally and professionally. The lyrics spoke of the new beginnings and the fresh starts that Eric was experiencing in his career and family life. The One was the first release on Eric s label, Jordon House Records and reached #5 in the US R&B chart. Now, the four time Grammy Award nominated Eric Benét is set to unleash his latest offering could raise a few eyebrows among his regular fans. An excitingly unexpected piece of music, that while staying true to Eric s soulful roots, pushes the boundaries of the listener s expectations. The Other One is an alternative approach of Eric s 2012 album The One". The Other One is a departure from Eric s familiar sleek R&B roots, offering instead an innovative sound journey that is anything but typical. Electro Soul fused with Drum n bass influences, ambient atmospherics and of course the sublime vocals of Eric Benét make this album a must for all music and lifestyle connoisseurs. ~ Amazon


Not the usual film themes of the late 50s and early 60s – no James Bond numbers or Henry Mancini hits – and instead, a very cool, very well-selected batch of tracks that really opens up this cinematic generation! All of the numbers stand very well on their own – and the set mixes jazzy groovers with vocal themes and other standout moments from more obscure movies of the time – all to make a really playful, really groovy package that's filled with surprise after surprise all the way through! The music is from both British and American sources – and titles include "No Love For Johnnie" by Gerry Beckles, "A Kind Of Loving" by Ron Grainer, "Live Now Pay Later" by Doug Sheldon, "Payroll" by Reg Owen, "Take A Giant Step" by Ernest Maxin, "I'm A Lonely Man" by Hardy Kruger, "Look For A Star" by Gary Mills, "I'm All Right Jack" by Al Saxon, and "Duet From 16" by John Dankworth. ~ Dusty Groove

Norah Jones Added to the Sunrise Senior Living Jazz Festival Along With Dianne Reeves, Joe Lovano, Ravi Coltrane, Chucho Valdes & Many More

Norah Jones
Artists Performing Include Joe Lovano,
Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés, Ravi Coltrane, Bill Charlap, Rene Rosnes and Many More

A Portion of the Proceeds Will Go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Which Is Dedicated to Finding a Cure for Parkinson's Disease

The celebrated 9-time Grammy® Award-winning singer, songwriter, and Blue Note Records recording artist Norah Jones has been added to the Sunrise Senior Living Jazz Festival, set for this Sunday, August 24 from 2:00 - 8:00PM; this one time only experience is open to the general public. Other confirmed headliners include Joe Lovano, Dianne
Joe Lovano
Reeves, Chuco Valdés, Ravi Coltrane, Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes, Javon Jackson, and more. For more information, tune in to WBGO on Friday, August 22 at 2:00PM to hear Joe Lovano discuss the festival with host Bill Daughtry.

Lundvall, who has become disabled because of Parkinson's disease, has moved into a full-time senior assisted living community, Brighton Gardens of Saddle River, not far from his home in New Jersey. "After falling down three times and having to call the police to put me back in bed, I realized moving me off of the floor was like moving a beached whale. My wife Kay and I decided it would be best for our mutual sanity if I move to a managed care facility," he says. "Thanks to
Dianne Reeves
Don Was and Hank Forsyth, I'm still vitally involved with Blue Note."

A lifelong champion of jazz, Lundvall had been president of the legendary jazz label Blue Note since 1984, and had previously been president of Columbia Records and Elektra Records, where he founded the jazz-oriented Elektra Musician imprint. During his career, he not only signed standout talent but also staged unlikely events, including the renowned three-day Havana Jam festival featuring Columbia's top pop and jazz artists as well as superb Cuban artists in Cuba's capital 35 years ago. He also celebrated the re-launching of the formerly dormant Blue Note Records in 1984 by staging a "miraculous" all-star jazz concert in New York's Town Hall. 

The top-tier cast of stars that Lundvall has assembled is quite impressive. Saxophonist Joe Lovano will be leading his nonet (which includes vocalist Judi Silvano), Dianne Reeves will sing, and Chucho Valdés, one of jazz's greatest pianists, will be performing solo. One of the highlights of the afternoon will be pianist Bill Charlap's interpretations of Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein compositions and piano duets with his wife Renee Rosnes. Charlap will be joined by Javon Jackson, Ravi Coltrane, and the great rhythm section of Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. Special festival guest will be local jazz guitar great Bucky Pizzarelli who will perform with his longtime duo mate, guitarist Ed Loeb.

All artists performing are playing pro bono, with proceeds from ticket sales going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson's disease. General admission tickets are available for $79.67. A special VIP ticket is available for $158.34 and will include VIP seating at the concert, meet and greet with musicians after the show, cocktails and an autographed copy of the biography, Bruce Lundvall: Playing by Ear.

A raffle for autographed photos of celebrities will also take place. Complimentary beer and wine will be served. At intermission, there will be a complimentary hour-long tapas party for concertgoers.

Bolivian Vocalist GIAN-CARLA TISERA Showcases Operatic Roots and Creates Latin American Folklore and Jazz Inspired Album, Nora la Bella

Any true fusion in music represents a delicate negotiation. It requires both respect for the different genres in play, their traditions and codes and a 'why not?' attitude.  Cutting-and-pasting is one thing, translating the approach, technique and sensibility of one tradition to another demands a special talent and commitment. 

On Nora La Bella, her debut recording, New York-based Bolivian soprano Gian-Carla Tisera makes bold, daring crossings between opera, jazz and Latin American folk music, art song and political song, experimentation and roots music.

Throughout the recording, she sings in English, Spanish, Italian and Quechua. Co-produced by Tisera and Grammy-nominated Cuban pianist Elio Villafranca, Nora La Bella includes original songs, provocative versions of two works from the classical vocal repertoire and several pieces from the Latin American songbook, including a couple from the socially committed Nueva Canción.
But this is not a lab project. Rather, it's an expression of her experience and her personal search.

"I had this idea for a new kind of opera, something different, accessible and fresh," says Tisera. "I love opera and that's my training, and while I am not a jazz singer or a traditional folk singer, both genres have been an integral part of my life and my musical experience. And I also thought: how can I express my immigrant experience? How can I speak of my perspective as a Bolivian woman, as an American woman looking back at my country from a distance? All of that came into play when working on Nora La Bella."
Accompanied by a quartet featuring Villafranca at the piano and guest artists such as trumpeter Diego Urcola and five-time Grammy Award-winning bassist John Benitez, Tisera's music includes nods to Bolivian folklore, opera and Latin jazz. 

Tisera will celebrate the release of Nora la Bella tomorrow night (Thursday, August 21) at Joe's Pub in New York at 7:30 PM. Accompanying the vocalist for the performance are pianist Elio Villafranca, bassist Carlos Mena, drummer Franco Pinna and percussionist Paulo Stagnaro. The performance will also feature guest trumpeter Manuel Jr. Romero.

Born to a Bolivian mother and Italo-Argentine father, Tisera was raised in Cochabamba, a city surrounded by mountains located in the center of Bolivia. She studied at the Instituto Eduardo Laredo, in Cochabamba, and later moved to Los Angeles, CA, where she completed her Masters Degree in Opera Performance at the University of Southern California. 

She worked in the United States and Bolivia, performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra of Bolivia and the Pasadena Symphony, among others, and for five years she toured with the Bolivian Baroque Project, performing 17th century music found in the Jesuit missions of the Bolivian jungle - a project that showcased her voice on the world's greatest concert halls. But once in New York, Tisera also started collaborating with visual artists and dipping her toes in the murky waters of jam sessions. 

For those who see her approach as avant-garde, Tisera says she is "pushing the vanguard but to bring audiences to experience the greatness of opera as it relates to modern themes of love, politics and culture. I long to present opera not like an old, precious form but instead, as a vibrant, contemporary style that speaks to our concerns now. That's why there are operatic moments in Nora La Bella - but they might include improvisation, or the musical treatment might include Bolivian or Afro-Latin rhythms, and elements of Rock or Spoken Word. I remember during the recording we were listening to the second take of 'Ernesto in the Tomb,' with its Afro-Cuban groove and my operatic voice soaring above the music. The musicians heard it and said 'Wow, it works!' and I had to laugh. 'Yes guys, of course it works'."

Upcoming New York City Performances:
August 21 @ Joe's Pub - 7:30 PM
(w/ Elio Villafranca, piano; Carlos Mena, bass; Franco Pinna, drums;
Paulo Stagnaro, percussion; w/ guest trumpeter Manuel Jr. Romero)

September 30 @ Americas Society - 7:00 PM
featuring Bolivian Folklore Dancers
(w/ Elio Villafranca, piano; Carlos Mena, bass;
Franco Pinna, drums; Reinaldo de Jesus, percussion)


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pierre Bensusan's 3-CD Retrospective Collection 'Encore' Wins the "Live Performance Album" Category at the 2014 Independent Music Awards

World-renowned as the "Mozart of Guitar" for his 40-plus years of live performances and critically-acclaimed recordings, Pierre Bensusan ( has received yet another accolade for Encore, an ambitious and expansive retrospective collection celebrating his 40 years as a globetrotting concert performer. The 3-CD set won in the Live Performance Album category at the 2014 Independent Music Awards.

The set was nominated early in the year and through votes from the listening public, Benusan has been awarded the prize of "Vox Pop Winner," receiving more votes for Encore than any other artist in any other category.

The Independent Music Awards (IMAs) is an international program that honors top ranked independent artists and releases in more than 80 Album, Song, EP, Producer, Music Video and Design categories. The IMAs were created in 1999 by Music Resource Group (MRG). The program receives submissions from previous major-label artists as well as self-released and indie label talent from more than 70 countries on six continents.

In a statement, Martin Folkman, Director, The Independent Music Awards, said, "On behalf of The Independent Music Awards and passionate music fans everywhere, it is our pleasure to congratulate Pierre Bensusan on winning in the Live Performance Album category for Encore in The IMA 13 Vox Pop poll, the fan-determined portion of The IMAs.

"Your nominated work was up against some of the year's best independent artists and releases. It's a great honor to support such exceptional talent."

Bensusan said, "I am humbled and thrilled by this honor. I see it as a positive, encouraging statement, a little light of recognition that contents the heart and can be the drive for more music creation to come!"

Bensusan recently wrapped a 55-date North American and European 40th Anniversary tour, which doubled as a celebration of a dynamic 35-year association with his longtime guitar maker Lowden Guitars (

Upcoming, the guitarist will be performing August 30 at the La Finestra Sul Lago Festival in Italy, September 6 at the International Guitar Night in Koblenz, Germany and October 3 at the Ards Guitar Festival in Ireland before launching a fall tour in Germany and Switzerland.

Leonard Cohen Releases 'Popular Problems' - A Dynamic Studio Album Of New Songs

In Popular Problems, his thrilling new studio album, Leonard Cohen gets down into the avenues of our dreams and sets a new tone and speed of hope and despair, grief and joy.  Cohen here is an astonished lover rocking to the human condition as "the soul unfolds in the chambers of its longing."  His legendary basso resonates as never before with a presence and urgency that arises from the very depths of the heart.  The clarity and strength of these nine hypnotic songs will have us singing them over and over. 

In collaboration with co-writer Patrick Leonard, Popular Problems is a masterpiece from the ever-fresh imagination of a musical legend whose songs continue to captivate new listeners and devoted fans.

"Yet again, Leonard Cohen has broken musical boundaries with new creative inspiration," says Rob Stringer, Chairman/CEO of Columbia Records. "These nine new songs are simply sublime and innovative with a unique spirit. We're absolutely thrilled and honored to celebrate this milestone with him." 

Popular Problems is Cohen's 13th studio album and will be released on September 23rd, two days after his 80th birthday.  Popular Problems is available for pre-order everywhere today. Those who pre-order Popular Problems digitally ( will receive an instant download of his new song, "Almost Like The Blues."  Click here to listen.

To celebrate his milestone 80th birthday (September 21), Cohen's endless poetic energy and legacy can be revisited with a new artist page on iTunes (, which features Popular Problems and includes all 12 prior studio albums Mastered For iTunes.

Popular Problems was produced by Patrick Leonard, mastered at Marcussen Mastering and was recorded and mixed by Jesse E. String with additional mixing by Bill Bottrell.

Popular Problems Tracklisting:
2.Almost Like The Blues
3.Samson In New Orleans
4.A Street
5.Did I Ever Love You
6.My Oh My
8.Born In Chains
9.You Got Me Singing

Leonard Cohen is a master songwriter, musician, poet, novelist and visual artist whose stunning body of original work has touched the lives of millions with a career spanning six decades.

His explorations of spiritual, interpersonal, romantic and political themes have impacted countless contemporary recording artists and writers. He has sold over 23 million albums, worldwide and published 12 books, the most recent of which was 2006's 'Book of Longing', a collection of poetry, prose and drawings, which reached #1 on the Top 10 Hardcover Fiction Books in Canada.

Cohen's influence on musical and theatrical artists the world over is inestimable. In fact, when Cohen was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in March 2008, the revered Lou Reed singled out Leonard as one of the "highest and most influential echelon of songwriters." Cohen's songbook has been covered by hundreds of recording artists including Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Johnny Cash, Lou Reed, Tori Amos, Nick Cave, Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, Rufus Wainwright and the Civil Wars. Tribute albums have been released in Cohen's honor in France, Norway, Canada, Spain, Swedish, Czech Republic, South Africa and the United States. In 2008 Cohen's "Hallelujah" became the fastest-selling digital single in European history when three separate versions of the song appeared simultaneously on the UK singles chart - Cohen's own original recording, a version from Jeff Buckley and another from X Factor winner Alexandra Burke. Additionally, Leonard's songs have been frequently selected to illustrate the emotion of motion pictures and television programs and have been heard in Watchmen, The Passion of The Christ, Natural Born Killers, The Wonder Boys, Pump Up The Volume, Secretary, The West Wing, The O.C. and many others.

Leonard Cohen has been honored as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient (2010), inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame (2008), the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame (2006), the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2006) and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame (2010). He has received the prestigious Principe de Asturias Prize – the highest literary award in Spain (Spain, 2011) as well as the Glenn Gould Prize, awarded to an individual for a unique lifetime contribution that has enriched the human condition through the arts (Canada, 2011). The Canadian native has earned his country's highest civilian honors - Officer of the Order of Canada (1991), Companion to the Order of Canada (2003), Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec (2008).

Cohen's recent return to live performance was met with extraordinary and unanimous accolades as he performed around the world from 2008 through 2013. Cohen's mesmerizing recent performances, deemed "a spiritual experience" by all accounts, totaled 470 shows in 31 countries attended by four million fans.

Soulful Los Angeles by-way-of Louisiana Singer RORY PARTIN Releases new self-titled album

Featuring an all-star Big Band made up of legendary performers who played with Tommy Dorsey, Bobby Darin, and Harry James as well as a guest appearance by Opry/Cajun music hero Jimmy C Newman, Rory Partin takes listeners on a journey through American music history. From swing standards including “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” to contemporary classics like “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me”, the new album displays Partin's ability to build on a foundation of legends while also "adding his own unique twist to his music" (Confront Magazine) thanks to "a sharp sense of humor and a dash of gospel grit" (Popdose).

At a time when many classic tunes from the Great American Songbook are facing extinction, powerhouse of blue-eyed soul Rory Partin and His All Star 18-piece Big Band are not only keeping musical history alive on their forthcoming fan-funded LP (out 8/19/14), they’re infusing it with fresh new energy courtesy of Partin’s “sharp sense of humor and a dash of gospel grit” (Popdose). Poised to take his place among artists like Michael Bublé and Harry Connick, Jr., “Partin separates himself from his colleagues, offering a contrasting timbre and amplifying the soul...his beautiful upper register coupled with the hard-swinging big band arrangement gives you chills listening” (Brent Music Reviews).

A multi-instrumentalist who has lived in and taken influences from several of America's great musical centers (including New Orleans, Nasvhille, and Los Angeles), Partin has toured internationally with five-time Grammy winner Larnelle Harris and performed with his own All Star Big Band at George W. Bush’s Inaugural Ball and The National Symphony Ball at the Kennedy Center. Featuring Opry/Cajun music legend Jimmy C Newman and Partin’s signature “glass-smooth voice curled with a Louisiana accent” (Hollywood Progressive), Partin's latest album takes listeners on a heartfelt journey through time that stretches from swing-era standards like “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” to contemporary classics like “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me”.

1. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
2. Tender Trap (Love is The)
3. I've Got You Under My Skin
4. Everybody's Got Somebody But Me
5. Fly Me to the Moon
6. Orange Colored Sky
7. I Get a Kick Out of You (feat. Alexa James)
8. Night and Day
9. Georgia on My Mind
10. Jambalaya (On the Bayou) (feat. Jimmy C. Newman)
11. What a Wonderful World

New neosoul artist, ALMA has ambitious medium and message on her upcoming album, Tactics

While the rest of Chicago was rocking out at Lollapalooza for the weekend, Alma, Chicago-based pop/soul vocalist, managed to record every track of her upcoming album Tactics. Tactics, Alma’s first full-length project, will be released October 17.

“Recording an entire album in one weekend was ambitious! The whole project came together in a few months’ time and I credit the organization, consistency & initiative of Chris Thigpen, my bassist & creative producer,” shared Alma.

Alma, a newcomer to the Midwest music scene, would consider the title of communicator as vital as singer or songwriter to her art. Her new project, Tactics, is a calculated attempt to provoke thought about the human condition, supported by her neosoul sensibilities.

“I write and perform to inspire conversation about the things that matter,” says Alma. “Performing is fun, but my passion is the message, not the medium.”

Alma is quickly becoming a pro at both the medium and the message. Characterizing her medium, it’s hard to confine her to one genre. Neosoul comes closest, but her music has elements of jazz, pop, R&B and gospel. She performs regularly in Chicago and other venues around the Midwest, including Wisconsin music festivals Brat Fest and Lifest in the summer of 2014. In 2013, she toured the East Coast with Philly-based artist Kwesi K.

Drawing from her personal faith journey, the tracks on Tactics explore human nature with themes like jealousy in “Blind Side,” gluttony in “Honey,” as well as hope in “New Nation.”
Tactics’ sound showcases Alma’s skill in songwriting with eight original tracks that encompass a style reminiscent of Joss Stone or Jill Scott. Alma says, “In late 2012 neosoul stole my heart—and since then I've been sorting out how I want that to affect my own songwriting.”

In 2012, she released a demo Pass it On, with a more stripped down singer/songwriter sound than the upcoming Tactics. Her 2014 single, “For A Poet” gives a stronger foreshadowing as to what to expect from her new album. Alma graduated with a BA in Vocal Performance from Columbia College in Chicago in 2013.



Every new album from Angela Johnson turns out to be a treasure – but this set may well be one of the best she's done in years – and a really strong step forward for the singer! The music has this full, rich style that almost feels like classic soul at times – not a retro 60s vibe, but a really powerful use of rhythms and instrumentation to push Johnson's sublime vocals at a level we've never heard before – a really fresh mode that's completely current, yet very aware of the best sounds of decades past as well! We might liken the approach to Swing Out Sister at their recent best – even though the record's nothing like theirs at all – and our hats are off to Angela for continuing to win us over and over again after all these years – especially when she could have just been sitting back and doing the same old thing. Titles include "To Love Again", "Deja Vu", "Black Boy Lullaby", "Handz", "Music's My Religion", and "A Beautiful Place". ~ Dusty Groove


A really wonderful singer, with a very unique style – one that's rooted in jazz, but has an acoustic soul as well – set up perfectly here in these laidback arrangements that really let Kosi soar strongly on her own! The music is mostly jazz at the core – with wonderfully clean, clear guitar lines, rich acoustic bass, and occasional work on trumpet and tenor – but Kosi's vocals are clearly center stage, and have this slow-burning power that's undeniable – able to inflect, twist, and turn like a jazz vocalist – yet delivering original, very personal lyrics that are filled with soul. Most tunes are originals – including "Brianna", "I Already Know", "Valerie", "Your Angel", and "Hoboken Blues" – but the album also features great versions of "Wild Is The Wind" and "The Star Crossed Lovers". ~ Dusty Groove


One of the most beautiful groups that John Zorn's been working with in recent years – a heavenly trio that features Bill Frisell on guitar, Kenny Wollesen on vibes, and Carol Emanuel on harp – all working together with a very unique sound! The mix of instruments is wonderful throughout – unlike anything else we've ever heard (save the previous records by the trio) – with the vibes ringing out in bold, chromatic hues – echoed by Frisell's guitar, and then given these gentler plucked undercurrents by the harp – all at a level that's jazzier than some of John Zorn's other compositional projects, but still with a unique style of its own. The music draws inspiration from The Song Of Solomon, but only at a very spiritual level – and titles include "Tappuha", "Berotim", "Otyah", "Sammatek", and "Alamot". ~ Dusty Groove


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