Wednesday, January 17, 2018

GRAMMY-NOMINATED JAMISON ROSS DELIVERS ALL FOR ONE ON JANUARY 26, 2018

Whereas Jamison Ross’ GRAMMY®-nominated, vocal-heavy 2015 debut disc, Jamison shocked some listeners who knew him primarily as a drummer, especially after he won the 2012 Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Drum Competition, his sophomore disc, All For One, scheduled for release on January 26, 2018 via Concord Jazz, will surely solidify his reputation as one his generation’s brightest vocalists and drummers. WBGO.org has the track premiere for “Don’t Go to Strangers” here.

All For One boasts a cast of musicians of whom Ross has developed a strong rapport from touring – pianist Chris Pattishall, guitarist Rick Lollar (both of whom played on the 2015 debut), bassist Barry Stephenson, and Cory Irvin on Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes. Ross is particularly enthusiastic with the addition of Irvin on the organ because he likens that instrument to an orchestra that would accompany jazz singers like Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday. “When I first added the organ in my band, I was inspired by Marvin Gaye’s 1964 LP, When I’m Alone I Cry,” Ross explains. “[On that album] he sings jazz standards with a full orchestra. The organ is like my orchestra. The way I use the organ is a very calculated form. It produces the atmosphere throughout the record. And that parallels with how I grew up in church. The organist pulls the emotion out of every tune.”

The disc perfects the intoxicating chemistry of the 29-year-old’s debut, which intermingled blues, jazz, R&B and soul effortlessly. “All For One is literally the second chapter,” Ross explains after comparing the success of his debut and the world tour in support of that album as a “whirlwind of smiles and gratitude.” “There’s no deep way to view All For One other than it being the second chapter of me revealing myself as a man who loves as a father, husband, friend, and brother and as an artist who brings that love to other people while receiving love from my audience.”

For sure, love is a recurring theme on All For One as the material touches on both the romantic kind and the socio-political aspect of love that calls for unity among a diverse and, at times, a divisive community. The album also finds the Jacksonville, Florida born and now New Orleans-based Ross plowing into the rarefied areas of blues and R&B that seldom gets investigated by his peers.

Ross begins the disc with mighty shout out to the Crescent City’s R&B legacy with the vivacious make of “A Mellow Time,” a 1966 tune written by Allen Toussaint and made famous by Lee Dorsey. “I’m the biggest Lee Dorsey fan and I’m a huge Allen Toussaint fan,” Ross enthuses. “A lot of tunes like this taught me how to write. I want to write songs that have stories inspired by love.

The title track – “All For One” – is another Big Easy-based song; it’s a rare groover written and recorded in 1993 by Wilson Turbinton, better known as Willie Tee. The lyrics’ plead for love takes on both amorous and socio-political overtones that spills over to other songs on the album, such as Ross’ splendid rendition of Mose Allison’s 1968 classic, “Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy.” “It’s a rough time in America. It’s that simple,” Ross explains. “I know a lot of Mose Allison’s music. I like the way that he could talk the blues. He didn’t sing the blues; he talked the blues. That song has such a pivotal message for where we are right now as a nation.”

Fats Waller’s 1936’s “Let’s Sing Again,” which closes All For One is another old-school gem. On Ross’ makeover, his sanguine singing soars atop of Irvin’s churchy organ accompaniment – a strategic move that tips its hat pays to Waller’s church roots in New York as well as Ross’ background in Jacksonville, Florida, where he grew up singing in his grandfather’s church.

Ross also delves into jazz standards on All For One with his haunting reading of “Don’t Go to Strangers,” a ballad written by Arthur Kent and Dave Mann and made famous in 1960 by Etta Jones, and his alluring version of Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill’s 1941 classic, “My Ship,” which gains a subtle country vibe thanks for Lollar’s guitar yawns. “I don’t do a lot of jazz standards. The covers that I do come more from the obscure blues realm,” Ross says. “But I honestly love singing ‘Don’t Go to Strangers.’ I sang it at NPR’s Jazz Night in America tribute to Rudy Van Gelder Concert. That song taught me a lot about phrasing, which I used on ‘My Ship.’”

All For One contains some exquisite originals too. The gentle, blues-tinted ballad “Unspoken” is a song Ross penned for his wife, Adrienne, to express his enduring love for her while he’s on the road. The jaunty “Call Me” is another original written with Ross’ wife in mind. The backstory of “Call Me” involves his wife phoning him while he was in the middle of crafting an infectious boogaloo drum groove. Instead of getting frustrated by the interruption, Ross allows the phone call from his wife to become an inspirational force. Ross dedicates the melancholy “Away” to his daughter, Jazz Aubrielle as he conveys missing her while he’s constantly on the road and reminding her that his love for her is unending.

The soothing bossa nova, “Safe in Arms of Love,” co-written with Lollar and Joshua Starkman, and the somber, wordless vocalese ballad “Tears and Questions” find Ross turning his attention back to more socio-political issues. Both songs were written while he was touring Australia with Nicholas Payton then receiving news of the 2016 police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge.  Ross’ soul-infused “Keep On” offers encouraging balm in the face of tragic upheaval.

Besides the wordless “Tears and Questions,” All For One contains no instrumentals like its predecessor; nor does it explicitly showcases Ross’ virtuosity as a drummer. “I started touring and playing on a constant basis with my band. That didn’t happen before I made my first record,” Ross explains. “So playing instrumentals was part of my development then. I feel now, I don’t have to prove that I can play instrumentals anymore nor do I have to prove my drumming skills. Recording instrumentals is not indicative to what my artistic concept has grown into.  This album is a result of a personal revelation that we all have the capacity to love with empathy in a deeper way.  The love you need comes from me and the love I need comes from you.  All for one, one for all.”


NEW RELEASES: ALICE SOYER – SKY ON EARTH; RUBY RUSHTON – TRUDI’S SONGBOOK VOLUME 1; SHARON MUSGRAVE - SHA’S ARCHIVES

ALICE SOYER – SKY ON EARTH

The remarkable French singer, composer and pianist Alice Soyer may be new to Smooth Jazz audiences, but two legends of the genre – Bob James and David Sanborn – help her make a seamless, sensual and soulful arrival on her English language debut SKY ON EARTH. A few years ago, James loved her French song “Geste Humain” and chose to record an instrumental version with Sanborn on their dual album Quartette Humaine. The famed musicians put their familiar stamps on a few songs, but the focus is on Soyer’s exquisitely expressive vocals on a mix of vibrant up-tempo originals and lush ballads influenced by her background as a classical pianist and love for jazz and pop. Listening to Sky On EarthKY ON EARTH will make your heart soar! ~ smoothjazz.com

RUBY RUSHTON – TRUDI’S SONGBOOK VOLUME 1

Ruby Rushton is the name of the group, not an individual member – and it's also a name that's sure to be at the top of your list once you hear this incredible debut! The album's got this fantastic blend of funky and spiritual grooves – all played with a quality that's soulful, but effortless – almost vintage, but never trying to sound forced or copycat at all – just this easy-flowing groove that's incredible, and which kind of gives the record an instant classic sound from the very first note! Edward Cawthorne is the ersatz leader – as he wrote and arranged the whole set – but his work on flute and saxes is just one part of the album's wonderful groove, which also includes trumpet from Nick Walters, keyboards from Aidan Shepherd, bass from Fergus Ireland, drums from Eddie Hick, and percussion from Joseph Deenmamode – a lineup who seem to be tied together in soul and spirit right from the start. The London-based group are rock-solid throughout – hitting territory that's maybe more soulful than some of the spiritual currents of the Gondwana Records scene a few years before, but with an equal sort of depth. Titles include "Trudi's Mood", "Moonlight Woman", "Prayer For Yusef", "Where Are You Now", "Elephant & Castle", and "The Camel's Back". ~ Dusty Groove

SHARON MUSGRAVE - SHA’S ARCHIVES

Sharon Musgrave waited a number of years between records, but that time really seems to be well-spent – as the singer comes across here with a mature, focused sound that's even deeper than the last time around! The groove is mostly mellow – never too forced, and with just the right acoustic currents in the music to match the warmth of Sharon's vocals – in a way that makes the songs slide along very well together, and makes the album a nicely cohesive whole. Drummer Peter Grimmer co-wrote and produced the album with Musgrave – and titles include "Drag Me", "Pull It Up A Notch", "Triumph Of Brian", "Favourite", "Blue Nile", "Sha's Archive", and "New Horizon". ~ Dusty Groove


Trombonist James Hall Weaves Together Diverse Styles and Inspirations To Form the Intricate and Stirring Lattice

Intricately weaving together voices, melodies, ideas and genres, Lattice is the alluring and inventive sophomore release from trombonist/composer James Hall. Due out February 9, 2018 from Outside In Music, the album is built around the harmonious combination of Hall's dexterous trombone and the virtuosic flute playing of Jamie Baum, a study in contrasts that proves remarkably pliable and expressive through Hall's inspired vision.

Lattice follows Hall's acclaimed debut, Soon We Will Not Be Here, in which he and his Thousand Rooms Quartet set the work of contemporary New York City-based poets to Third Stream-inspired music that struck a delicate balance between modern jazz and contemporary classical music. Lattice eschews the vocals of its predecessor and veers in a more recognizably jazz direction, though Hall's richly detailed writing maintains the sophisticated architecture of chamber music without forsaking the passion and propulsion of the best modern jazz.

To achieve those ends, Hall enlisted a skilled band with an elusive chemistry to breathe life into his compositions. In addition to Baum, he's joined by keyboardist Deanna Witkowski (Donny McCaslin), bassist Tom DiCarlo (Claudio Roditi, Sean Jones), and drummer Allan Mednard (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Aaron Parks). On two tracks the band is supplemented by in-demand saxophonist Sharel Cassity (Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis), whose fiery alto adds a new flavor to the often more contemplative styles of Hall and Baum.

A lattice necessarily begins with two pieces crossing, and for Hall that second piece was his now-wife, Kristen, to whom Lattice is dedicated. Their romance, engagement and marriage provided the spark that inspired him to begin writing this music. "I wanted to compose a project for two voices," Hall explains. "The idea of two voices in close counterpoint seemed like a nice parallel to the love story that was happening in my life at the time. It all came together with the interweaving of melody lines reflecting the interweaving of two lives."

More direct musical inspiration came from a few sources that Hall had long admired. One was legendary trombonist/composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer's writing for two voices, exemplified by his work with Stan Getz and Jim Hall. Another was the interplay of bass trombone and flute on Herbie Hancock's classic album Speak Like a Child. Baum shared Hall's love for that album, and their bonding over it was key to her signing on for the project.

Two strands are not enough to make a latticework, however, and as a number of pieces intersect to form a pattern, so Hall's project expanded to encompass other voices and inspirations. He crossed paths with Mednard while both were touring with the retro-pop ensemble Postmodern Jukebox, while DiCarlo was suggested by Baum. Witkowski was introduced to Hall at the release concert for Soon We Will Not Be Here, and her interest in his music was matched by her gifts for interpreting it on both piano and Rhodes.

The scale of Hall's concerns expanded and intersected as well. While a new love - not to mention wedding planning - can be all consuming, eventually the outside world intrudes. Never has that been more true than in recent years, as a project conceived on an intimate personal scale inevitably took on a broader scope as harsh realities came to light. The injustices brought to light by the Black Lives Matter movement and the divisive aftermath of the 2016 presidential election forced Hall to widen his perspective. Again, Herbie Hancock proved inspirational; Speak Like a Child was released in the politically tumultuous year of 1968, its hopeful call for a more childlike and loving perspective a conscious refutation of the day's clashing ideologies.

"It's a pretty album produced at an ugly time," Hall says. "So as the world was sliding into an abyss and I was working on what for me was 'pretty' music, I was thinking of Herbie as a precedent."

The lilting melody of "Shoy" opens the album, tipping its hat to another form of interweaving - the hybridization of grapes to create new wine varietals. While living in Germany more than a decade ago, Hall worked on a vineyard that specialized in the Sheurebe grape - the title is a transliterated shortening of the name - which is a cross between Riesling and Silvaner. Cassity's supple alto kicks off Joe Henderson's familiar "Black Narcissus," which floats on Witkowski's airy Rhodes while being driven by Mednard's subtly roiling rhythm.

The title track is patient about bringing its divergent voices together, finally melding into a hopefully melodious theme at the song's halfway point. The simmering swing of "Brittle Stitch" muses on the fragility of any relationship and the care and attention they require, while "Gaillardia" does some of that work by hinting at Hall's wife's maiden name in the form of a flower. The elegiac "Traveler" is dedicated to the composer's great-uncle, whose passion for roaming the world and unconventional pairing with Hall's great-aunt both offered models to emulate. "Kind Folk" is one of a few gorgeous Kenny Wheeler tunes that entered Hall's songbook after the late trumpet great served as artist-in-residence during Hall's time at Lawrence University, while the bluesy "Terrace," featuring the full-throated moan of Hall's muted trombone, closes the album with a portrait of his adopted neighborhood in Brooklyn.

"A lattice is made up of many intersecting parts," Hall concludes. "As this project matured, even if I composed a piece thinking about myself and my wife, the lattice grew to incorporate everyone I met, everyone I engaged with. It touches on the question of where I sit in the lattice that is New York City, or on a larger scale, that is America in the 21st century. I take heart in the fact that there can be as many strands and intersections in a lattice as there are people or relationships in my life. Maybe it starts with me and my life or my family, but it doesn't have to end there."

A trombonist and composer from Nebraska based in New York City, James Hall is a versatile musician and composer whose projects have spanned jazz, classical, Latin, and popular music. As a composer and bandleader, James was named a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition, won three ASCAPlus Awards for composition, and was a featured performer/composer at the 2012 Chelsea Music Festival. He has appeared on several recordings with Postmodern Jukebox, with whom he has toured Europe and the United States. His first CD as a composer/bandleader, Soon We Will Not Be Here, was released in October 2013 and featured his Thousand Rooms Quartet. James holds degrees from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin and Aaron Copland School of Music in New York. His teachers have included Luis Bonilla, Hal Crook, Michael Dease, Nick Keelan, Ed Neumeister, and Fred Sturm.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

NEW RELEASES: GÉBERT-ULBERT PROJECT – HEALING HANDS; NEW FACES – STRAIGHT FORWARD; HUW – MUSIC FROM THE MULTIUNIVERSE

GÉBERT-ULBERT PROJECT – HEALING HANDS

Growing up in Hungary, classically trained pianist Attila Gebert and guitarist Ferenc Ulbert were inspired by everyone from Eric Clapton to Joe Pass. In leading their four-piece ensemble the Gebert-Ulbert Project, they draw upon those influences and other adventurous retro-vibes like prog-rock and classic jazz fusion. HEALING HANDS, a live performance follow-up to their studio debut Happy Pills, is a high energy, freewheeling romp all over the stylistic map – sometimes within the same song! They bring elements of pop, rock, blues, and trippy synthesized music. Ulbert’s guitar dynamic ranges from dreamy jazz to Americana-oriented rock/blues, while vocalists Andras Ferency and Agnes Szasz add beautiful, subtle touches of soul. HEALING HANDS… an uplifting remedy to enriching your playlist. ~ smoothjazz.com

NEW FACES – STRAIGHT FORWARD

The faces here aren't totally new – as some of them are already great leaders on their own, with strong recordings for the Posi-Tone label – but the group has the talents coming together in a wonderfully sharp setting – almost to their scene what the All For One combo was to a generation before! The lineup here is great – and includes Behn Gillece on vibes, Josh Lawrence on trumpet, Roxy Coss on tenor, Theo Hill on piano, Peter Brendler on bass, and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums – moving with that sort of sharp sense of arrangement we've really come to expect from their scene, but always with plenty of room for the solo voices to ring out loud and clear! As you'll know from these pages, we really love the vibes of Gillece, which sound excellent here next to Hill's piano – on titles that include "Happy Juice", "West Village", "Hush Puppy", "Vortex", "King Cobra", "Follow Suit", "Preachin'", and "I'm OK". ~ Dusty Groove

HUW – MUSIC FROM THE MULTIUNIVERSE

The cover's got a couple of monkeys playing the music – but the sound here actually comes from bothers Mike and Aaron Dolton – the first of whom plays the drums, the latter who seems to handle just about everything else! Their music is a blend of jazz and soul – sometimes with the kind of future elements you'd guess from the image, sometimes more understated – in a good fit with the more sensitive lyrics of the album's range of different singers – who include Jube (Julie Clarkson), Bennett Holland, Sid M, and Jamie Paul. A few tracks are instrumental – with more of a focus on the sax and drums – and titles include "Baskerville", "Last Minute", "Already Home", "Midnight", "Foot Down", "Flow State", and "Thank You". ~ Dusty Groove


Contemporary Jazz Keyboard Recording Artist and Host of "NewUrbanJazz" Celebrates 10 Years as Radio Host, 30 years as Recording Artist

In 2010, the AAPRC Network was delighted to offer "NewUrbanJazz", hosted by Baldwin to public radio stations nationwide. After initially focusing exclusively on News/Talk shows, "NewUrbanJazz" became the very first music program distributed by the AAPRC. Prior to that however, he launched the program on WVSU, WJAB, WFSK, WVAS and WNAA on October 1, 2008, and with that, this will mark his 10th year on the air.

On January 8, 1988, he released his first disc, "I've Got a Long Way To Go" on the now defunct Malaco Jazz label, and 22 additional cd's later, he still goes on strong.

The native New Yorker made clear his enthusiasm about joining a network providing African-American content to public media. The success of his show opened the door for the many music shows we now distribute.

"NewUrbanJazz" is a fusion of Contemporary Jazz mixed with Brazilian and Urban flavors. Baldwin uses his knowledge of music and his experience as a touring jazz artist to share his back-office personal anecdotes about his fellow musicians in the U.S. and abroad, his celebration of jazz trailblazers, and his excitement about the new music being produced today.

As a radio host, Bob Baldwin is quite a unique blend of someone who has worked in both the music business and the media for decades.  He learned about jazz music when in kindergarten from his father, Robert Baldwin, so it's been in his blood since his childhood.  "Learning about legends like Oscar Peterson and Herbie Hancock at age 5 almost blew my "kiddie" mind, but I think it actually strengthened my mathematical development." But he was bitten by the radio bug as a young adult, and it's been an important part of his life ever since.

After cutting his radio teeth at his college radio station, Bob became an intern at Inner City Broadcasting (New York City) in 1981, where he was mentored by the legendary Frankie Crocker (WBLS) in music program hosting, and Pat Prescott (WLIB) in producing the news. Following that, he worked for three years at New York's news station, WINS.
  
But music was calling him, and he set out to launch his recording career in earnest.  His first CD, "I've Got a Long Way to Go" was recorded in 1988, and released on Malaco Records in 1989.  The CD won first place in the Sony Innovators Award competition that year, handpicked by Roberta Flack.  His music career was off and running.  But radio was not done with him.

Between 1999 and 2007 Bob worked at AAPRC member station WCLK-FM in Atlanta, and commercial  stations WJSJ in Jacksonville, FL, and Radio One's WJZZ, also in Atlanta.  During this period he witnessed first hand the demise of smooth jazz stations in commercial radio, not only as a broadcaster but as one of the many jazz artists impacted.  Like many aficionados of the genre, Bob cites the "dummying down" of smooth jazz playlists by broadcasting conglomerates for its commercial demise.     

Hence in 2008, Bob took constructive action; He created his own Contemporary Jazz music show, "NewUrbanJazz", described by Baldwin as  "... our own diverse brand of jazz, as diverse as the crowds we play for all over the world." He continues, "While super-radio conglomerates are falling by the wayside... the universe is looking for something substantial from creative people, something we are all capable of delivering, that is, if we just push the envelope just a little harder, deeper and further into other media arenas, in some of which we are clearly overlooked."

Prior to joining the AAPRC Network, "NewUrbanJazz" originally launched on five public radio stations: WJAB (Huntsville, AL), WFSK (Nashville, TN), WNAA (Greensboro, NC), WVAS (Montgomery, AL) and WVSU (Birmingham, AL).  Since becoming a show in the AAPRC line-up in 2010, carriage has increased to over 30 stations nationwide.

This week, Bob celebrated 30 years as a recording artist (January 8th). He'll continue
 celebrating thislandmark throughout his 2018 touring season. He also plans to release

several re-mixed/re-mastered recordings, starting with "Never Can Say Goodbye", A Tribute to Michael Jackson, which debuted in Billboard's top-20 jazz releases in 2017.  Still, he finds time to listen to new music, and produce new show episodes week after week.

Through his partnership with the AAPRC, Baldwin hopes to continue to share with audiences,"... the multi-faceted sides of jazz that so many commercial stations have either neglected or failed to acknowledge". For listeners, that means a sophisticated palette of contemporary music that reflects the diverse culture we live in today.


Jamie Saft's First Solo Album in 25 Years as a Recording Artist: SOLO A GENOVA

One of the most prolific artists on the RareNoise roster, pianist Jamie Saft has appeared on recordings by such groups as Metallic Taste of Blood, Slobber Pup, Plymouth, Red Hill, The Spanish Donkey and Berserk! as well as on collaborations with Steve Swallow and Bobby Previte (New Standard / Loneliness Road), which also featured Iggy Pop, Bill Brovold (Serenity Knolls), Roswell Rudd (Strength & Power) and his own New Zion album (Sunshine Seas). His sprawling discography, which includes prodigious sideman work with John Zorn, numbers over 160 albums. And yet, over all those sessions he has never recorded a solo piano album. "I've incorporated some solo piano pieces into other records of mine before, but this is something unique for me," says the ubiquitous keyboardist. "This is my first proper full length solo piano album in 25 years of making records."

Solo a Genova is Saft's highly emotive take on jazz standards and other uniquely American compositions. "I first conceived of this recital of music back in 2007," he explains. "I was asked by my good friend Giuseppe Vigna to give a solo piano recital in Florence, Italy. At that moment in time, the United States was in a rough patch politically, so I wanted to present American music as an example of positive, forward thinking art - art that made a difference in the world, art that resisted hatred and negativity, art that promoted a positive path forward for mankind. I chose songs from artists that were dear to me: Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Joni Mitchell, Curtis Mayfield, Charles Ives. Who better to represent the transformative powers of music than these brilliant writers?

Recorded at the beautiful Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, Italy in an acoustically marvellous space, Solo a Genova showcases Saft on a 9-foot Steinway Model D piano in the service of these beguiling tunes. "My primary influences for solo piano are actually the very same influences for playing the piano in any situation: Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk and Garth Hudson of The Band. Each has a uniquely personal approach to solo piano stylings. Each of these masters incorporates the entire history of modern music within their piano worlds. Their music IS American classical music."

The album opens with a pure expression of happiness on Curtis Mayfield's "The Makings Of You" and is followed by an interpretation of Jimmy Jam-Terry Lewis' "Human" which melds beautifully to Saft's own "Gates." Says Saft, "Those are both brilliant examples of the complexities of human beings. Each of these tunes is trance-like and transformative and swiftly transports the listener. The harmonic approaches of each of these songs is deeply fundamental and helps propel the message of the song perfectly. 
  
Saft takes Coltrane's meditative ballad "Naima" to some new places in an expressive solo interpretation. As he explains, "'Naima' is of primary importance in my musical development. I've been working on that tune for more than 30 years. There's an entire universe of harmonic possibilities proposed within this piece. Coltrane spent years pushing the boundaries of modern music within this one piece of music, so certainly my interpretation is deeply personal. His highly impressionistic take on ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" is imbued with daring improvisations and dramatic twists. "That was improvised entirely in the moment," he explains. "I always try to take a radically different approach to covering something like a piece by ZZ Top each time I perform it. Some pieces of music require a simple, straight-forward rendering. This piece begged for something deeper. ZZ Top's music for me has always been about resonances. Power chords on the guitar sustain in truly unique ways. I've tried to look for these same resonances inside this giant concert Steinway Model D piano: literally inside the piano! This arrangement just happened this way. This was the beginning of the second half of the concert portion of the evening, so I really tried to transform this piece into something with a more classical approach. He next turns in a faithful rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Says Saft, "With this Stevie Wonder's song there is such a strong and deep architecture already in place, so I felt no need to transform this piece at all. I wanted to retain all the positivity and hopefulness of the original so there was really nothing to change. It's just a respectful and humble performance of a great masterpiece of modern popular music."

"Po' Boy," a later period Bob Dylan tune, speaks of another time and place both lyrically and musically. "This is a perfect vehicle for me to try and relax into some nice stride styles with a big nod to Thelonious Monk in my approach. A simple song can often have complex structures hidden within it. 'Po' Boy' is a great example of this. Little twists and odd numbers of beats can be found within this piece. It creates a sonic world that is both relaxed, familiar, and yet not really at rest at all. It's also the rare piece of music written in C Major that resonates with me."

Two Saft originals, "The New Standard" and "Pinkus," are both very soulful expressions that were previously recorded by the keyboardist - "The New Standard" is the title track from a recent RareNoise album he made with Steve Swallow and Bobby Previte while "Pinkus" appears on his New Zion Trio album Chaliwa as well as on Loneliness Road. Saft's rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Blue Room Motel" is even more melancholy than the original. "That tune, for me, has always been the essential expression of the traveling musician's path," he says. "It's the ultimate elucidation of the melancholic path. In fact, the word 'Hejira,' the album from which it originates, is said by Joni to mean 'leaving the dream no blame.'

Shifting gears, Saft next tackles Charles Ives' "The Housatonic at Stockbridge." Says the pianist, "I've worked on that piece for decades and still have barely scratched the surface. As a student of the great composer and clarinetist Joe Maneri in the late 1980's in Boston, I was tasked with learning to sing and accompany myself on classical 'lieder' - things like Schumann and Schubert. I attempted to learn to sing and accompany myself on these composers but their music didn't really speak to me in the same way as Ives' did. So I began trying to accomplish this play and sing idea with Ives' music instead. Ives' harmonic explorations were revolutionary. He incorporated 12-tone serialist concepts in his music years before Schoenberg. Ives explored microtones, harmonic dissonances, rhythmic confusion and multiple musical threads coexisting together on the same plane. Ives' nod towards aleatory music pre-dated John Cage by decades. He stands as one of the greatest composers of all time, in my opinion. His music is steeped in European classical forms but with a deep understanding of a uniquely American perspective on sound manipulation. Presented here in my solo piano version, I tried to draw out the essential harmonic and melodic paths of this piece while improvising within Ives' harmonic world".  

Saft delivers a precious version of "Blue In Green," the gentle Bill Evans composition which appeared on the 1959 Miles Davis classic, Kind of Blue. "'Blue In Green', like 'Naima,' was one of the first pieces of music I learned from the jazz universe," The final piece on Solo a Genova is an interpretation of an early Bob Dylan tune, "Restless Farewell." Says Saft, a noted Dylanphile, "This tune absolutely looks to higher states of consciousness. It speaks of a man looking back and taking stock of his life. Bob Dylan lovingly sang this song to Frank Sinatra on Sinatra's 80th birthday.

The rare, emotional outpouring and transformative power of Saft's piano is in evidence throughout Solo a Genova, his brilliant solo piano debut.

TRACKS
1. The Makings Of You
2. Human Gates
3. Naima
4. Sharp Dressed
5. Overjoyed
6. Po' Boy
7. The New Standard
8. Blue Motel Room
9. The Housatonic At Stockbridge
10. Blue In Green
11. Restless Farewell

 


DECADE, the new album by the Dr.Dre and JayZ-sampled CrimeFunk Cult combo Calibro 35

Preceded by the first single “SuperStudio”, out next 26Jan and already featured on international radios such as KCRW and BBC6, Record Kicks is proud to present “DECADE”, the new album by the Italian CrimeFunk band CALIBRO 35, which will hit the streets worldwide on February the 9th 2018.

“DECADE” marks 10 years of Calibro 35’s releases and it’s the very first album recorded by the band with an orchestral-inspired enlarged line-up that features horns, strings and percussions. Mixed and recorded by CALIBRO’s usual suspect and Grammy Award winner for Muse's "Drone" album Tommaso Colliva, “DECADE” is CALIBRO 35’s “time capsule” and it is as rare and complex as a timeless work.

Musically CALIBRO 35’s inner influences like Ennio Morricone, listen for instance to the epic journey of the album’s end credits “Travelers”, Luis Bacalov and David Axelrod are still there but are now mixed with elements from afrobeat or cosmic jazz. “Psycheground” sounds like Tony Allen involved in writing a score for a vintage Hollywood production while Sun Ra lurks on “Modo”. Everything is mixed up with new influences from modern musical languages. References to Jaga Jazzist, Budos Band or Alternative Jazz and Alternative Hip Hop new acts such as Makaya McCraven, Yussef Kamaal, Oddisee can all be found on the album. In tracks such as “Modulor“ you realize that DECADE is certainly not a point of arrival and expresses the ambition of the band to look further and evolve. All classic Calibro’s vintage instruments such as clavinet, eco, analog synths, fuzz guitars are now supported by new ones such as Dan Bau, Balafon and Waterphone ("Polymeri") in the band’s new wall of sound. Thanks to the enlarged line-up and the orchestrated parts involved, which pushed the band to experiment new methods of composition, Calibro 35 on “DECADE” sound strong, full and tight as never before.

Active since 2008 CALIBRO 35 enjoys a worldwide reputation as one of the coolest independent band around. During their ten years career, they have been sampled by Dr. Dre on his Compton album and Jay-Z, they shared stages worldwide with the likes of Roy Ayers, Muse, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sharon Jones, Thundercat, Headhunters and as unique musicians they've collaborated with, amongst others PJ Harvey, Mike Patton, John Parish and Stewart Copeland and Nic Cester (Jet).

Described by Rolling Stone magazine's as "the most fascinating, retro-maniac and genuine thing that happened to Italy in the last years", Calibro 35 now count on a number of aficionados worldwide which includes VIP’s fans such as Dj Food (Ninja Tune), Mr Scruff and Huey Morgan (Fun Lovin’ Criminals).

 

Ben Wendel - The Seasons - ON TOUR & Upcoming Album Release in the Fall, 2018

In 2015, Grammy nominated and award-winning saxophonist, bassoonist, composer Ben Wendel released a music-video art project entitled The Seasons - inspired by a set of twelve piano pieces written and release each month by Tchaikovsky in 1876. Wendel's modern take on the idea was to compose and release twelve original jazz chamber duets in video format on YouTube with modern luminaries Joshua Redman, Luciana Souza, Eric Harland, Julian Lage, and Ambrose Akinmusire, among others. As the videos garnered acclaim among social networks, the project became an unexpected word of mouth success and was featured prominently in The New York Times (Best of 2015), NPR's All Things Considered, and The CBC.

In 2016, after viewing an expressionist painting by Lee Krasner at The Whitney Museum entitled "The Seasons," Wendel decided to expand upon the original duets project by reimagining the arrangements for a five-piece ensemble comprised of musicians and dear friends from The Seasons - Aaron Parks (piano), Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Matt Brewer (bass) and Eric Harland (drums).

The Seasons band will be launching a string of tour dates with Wendel's debut as a leader at the legendary Village Vanguard (2/27-3/4), followed by the recording session for The Seasons album (to be released in the Fall of 2018), and tour dates in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Cambridge, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Chicago, Winter Park and Tallahassee. "The uniqueness of this tour, and upcoming recording, is that this music was never played live or released as a traditional album. So this is the premiere of an exciting new chapter in the Seasons project!", said Wendel.

GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist Ben Wendel was born in Vancouver, Canada and raised in Los Angeles. Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, he has enjoyed a varied career as a performer, composer and producer. Highlights include multiple domestic and international tours with artists such as Ignacio Berroa, Tigran Hamasyan, Antonio Sanchez, Gerald Clayton, Eric Harland, Taylor Eigsti, Snoop Dogg and the artist formerly known as Prince. Wendel is a founding member of the GRAMMY-nominated group Kneebody, currently signed with Concord Records and Brainfeeder Music.

As a composer, he has received an ASCAP Jazz Composer Award, the 2008 and 2011 Chamber Music America "New Works Grant" and most recently was awarded the Victor Lynch-Staunton award by the Canada Council For The Arts. He also co-wrote the score for John Krasinski's adaptation of David Foster Wallace's "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men." 

Wendel's recent work includes producing and playing in jazz and many other genres, including the GRAMMY-nominated album "Life Forum" for pianist Gerald Clayton on Concord Records, the new Kneedelus album (Kneebody + Daedelus), released on Brainfeeder and given a rave 8.0 review from Pitchfork, appearing on Julia Holter's new film score, and collaborating with her on a new non-jazz album he is co-creating with Daedelus (the album will feature artists such as Terrace Martin, Knower and Mark Guiliana), producing an album for Folk/Americana artist Darryl Holter (a BMI Woody Guthrie Fellowship Recipient), playing on Jimmy Chamberlin's (drummer from Smashing Pumpkins) new instrumental album, and producing live concerts at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, CA from 2008-2015, with the help of Quincy Jones and his production team. He also recently worked with conductor Kent Nagano in producing a series of concerts for the Festspiel Plus in Munich, Germany.

Wendel is a former Adjunct Professor of Jazz Studies at USC and a current Adjunct at the New School in NYC. Educational outreach has been a constant in his career with over 250 masterclasses at various colleges, universities, high schools, and previous work with the LA Philharmonic Artist Program.

Wendel has recorded for Sunnyside Records, Concord Records and Brainfeeder, with two solo albums under his belt, Simple Song (2009) and Frame (2012), a duo project with French-American pianist Dan Tepfer entitled Small Constructions (2013) and multiple Kneebody albums. His music video project, The Seasons, inspired by Tchaikovsky's works of the same name, was released throughout 2015. Wendel's critically acclaimed third solo album What We Bring was released in the Fall of 2016 on Motema Music. The Seasons recording will be released in the Fall of 2018! 

UPCOMING APPEARANCES:
2/27-3/4 - New York, NY - The Village Vanguard*
(Wendel's leader debut at the legendary Village Vanguard)
3/8 - Washington, DC - Blues Alley**
3/9 - Philadelphia, PA - Chris Jazz Café**
3/10 - Cambridge, MA - Sanders Theatre**
3/15 - St, Louis, MO - The Ready Room***
3/16 - Indianapolis, IN - Jazz Kitchen***
3/17 - Chicago, IL - Constellation***
3/18 - Winter Park, FL - Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts***
3/19 - Tallahassee, FL - Opperman Music Hall***

Ben Wendel - Tenor Saxophone, Gilad Hekselman - Guitar, Aaron Parks - Piano, Matt Brewer - Bass, *Eric Harland, **Henry Cole, ***Kendrick Scott - Drums

 

Multi-Grammy Award nominated singer/songwriter Calvin Richardson releases "All Or Nothing"

Affectionately dubbed "The Soul Prince," Multi-Grammy Award nominated singer and songwriter Calvin Richardson has been delighting fans with his straight-shooting no holds barred southern Soul and driving women mad for close to two decades. USA Today declares, Richardson is "influenced by vintage R&B  and his gritty vocals set him apart from his smoother contemporaries with fresh vibes from a singer who respects and values his roots."  Calvin Richardson's newest CD All Or Nothing is at heart a classic soul album featuring all originals. Calvin Richardson has written songs for many artists including Charlie Wilson, Angie Stone, Joe and Raphael Saadiq. Willie Clayton, who as an artist himself had a run of Southern R&B hits in the 2000's, produced All Or Nothing. "This album touches on everything - soul, R&B and pop," shares Calvin. "It has something for everyone - love, laughter, sex, dance and romance. Best one yet!"


Calvin Richardson came by his soulful style honestly. Born in Monroe, North Carolina, the fifth of nine children, Calvin had a strong musical upbringing. His mother sang in the local gospel group, The Willing Wonders, and he sang with them as a youth but he was able to listen to secular soul music and funk and was particularly inspired by Bobby Womack, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Donny Hathaway. Singing on the gospel circuit, he met and became friends with Cedric "K-Ci" Hailey and Joel "Jo Jo" Hailey, who went on to form the hit-making group Jodeci in the early Nineties. Calvin was inspired by their success to form the urban contemporary vocal group Undacova, whose song "Love Slave" was included in the New Jersey Drive soundtrack in 1995. When Undacova folded, Calvin launched a solo career that resulted in his debut solo album, Country Boy,  on Uptown/Universal Records in 1999. The album included a great cover of Bobby Womack's "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much." While Calvin was working on this follow-up, Angie Stone heard a demo of his song "More Than A Woman" and invited him to duet with her on a version of the song for her album Mahogany Soul. In 2003, Calvin's album 2:35PM, named after the time one of his children was born, was released by Hollywood Records. 

2008 saw the release of Calvin's Shanachie Entertainment/Numo Records album When Love Comes, with its single "Sang No More" hitting the Urban AC charts. 2009 brought success via Charlie Wilson's hit rendition of Calvin's co-write with Babyface, "There Goes My Baby." The same year Richardson paid homage to one of his greatest influences with Facts Of Life, his powerful live-in-the-studio tribute to Bobby Womack that garnered two Grammy nominations, one of which was for his duet with Sounds Of Blackness powerhouse Ann Nesby.  2010 saw the release of America's Most Wanted and I Am Calvin followed in 2014. With the release of All Or Nothing it is clear that pure soul music is alive and well and the Soul Prince is carrying it forward to where it needs to be.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

MATISYAHU ANNOUNCES SPRING 2018 FOREST OF FAITH TOUR

The GRAMMY-nominated, King without a Crown Matisyahu has announced his 2018 Forest of Faith Tour. While he wraps up the Broken Crowns Tour with Common Kings, Matisyahu continues to keep his eyes firmly on the horizon as he tours in support of his critically-acclaimed sixth studio album Undercurrent.

Matisyahu has created his own space in reggae music, developing a loyal following that has driven singles such as “One Day” and “King Without a Crown” to international recognition. His newest album, Undercurrent, was released earlier this year via Thirty Tigers and Matisyahu’s own imprint, Fallen Sparks. The album embodies a collaborative and freeform spirit as Matisyahu and his band seamlessly merge instrumental improvisation sessions with lyrics and vocals. The synergistic energy of the album is especially apparent onstage, where Matisyahu and guitarist Aaron Dugan, bassist Stu Brooks, drummer Joe Tomino and keyboardist Big Yuki bring their creative dynamic to life.

Matisyahu had this to say about the significance of his upcoming tour – “Forest of Faith means entering into the unknown of the music and creating unique musical experiences born out of the immediate here and now. This requires faith.  Faith in the musicians, the fans or listeners, faith in the process, and the innate holy quality of music made out of such a pure process. Much like the innate beauty and purity of the untouched forest. I am looking forward to starting out 2018 dancing, listening, singing, and making music together with you who allow me the opportunity in the forest of Faith tour this February and March in a town near you. Blessings and love.”

The boundary-breaking artist has been busy on tour, recently dropping a 3-part video series on the making of Undercurrent and taking time to speak to Billboard and the Huffington Post about it. He took time at his show in Austin to record LIVE AT STUBB’S VOL IV., capturing the freeform essence of his set at the historic venue.  Don’t miss Matisyahu at a city near you and stay tuned for the release of LIVE AT STUBB’S VOL. IV.

2018 Tour Dates:

2/10 – Long Beach, CA @ The Queen Mary [One Love Cali Reggae Fest]
2/11 – Long Beach, CA @ The Queen Mary [One Love Cali Reggae Fest]
2/13 – Berkeley, CA @ Cornerstone
2/14 – Redway, CA @ Mateel Community Center
2/15 – Bend, OR @ The Domino Room
2/16 – Bellingham, WA @ Wild Buffalo
2/18 – Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
2/21 – Spokane, WA @ The Knitting Factory
2/22 – Missoula, MT @ The Wilma
2/23 – Park City, UT @ Park City Live
2/24 – Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
2/25 – Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
2/28 – Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s
3/01 – Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom
3/02 – North Kansas City, MO @ Jannus Live
3/03 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
3/04 – Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
3/05 – Atlanta, GA @ City Winery
3/07 – Atlanta, GA @ City Winery
3/08 – Macon, Georgia @ Cox Capitol Theatre
3/09 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
3/10 – Mobile, AL @ Soul Kitchen
3/13 – Chattanooga, TN @ The Signal
3/14 – Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater
3/15 – Newport News, VA @ Boathouse Live
3/16 – Matthews, NC @ The Fillmore Charlotte
3/17 – St. Petersburg, FL @ Reggae Rise Up Festival
3/18 – North Myrtle Beach, FL @ House of Blues


NEW RELEASES: JEMAL RODRIGUEZ – AFRICAN SKIES; BRIT FUNK ASSOCIATION – FULL CIRCLE; HRISTO VITCHEV QUARTET - OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS

JEMAL RODRIGUEZ – AFRICAN SKIES

A killer record from Cali drummer Jemal Ramirez – maybe his greatest set so far as a leader, and a record that features a top-shelf lineup that really captures his vision! We'll be honest in saying that it was vibist Warren Wolf who first caught our attention here – as we love anything that Warren does, and especially value his contribution as a sideman – where he seems to bring the same sort of soulful flow to a group that Bobby Hutcherson could back in the 70s! That's definitely the case here, as Wolf's bold colors work perfectly with the rich lines on piano and Fender Rhodes from Matthew Clark – and are given a soaring spirit when reed work from Howard Riley kicks in – as the player handles alto, tenor, and soprano sax on the set. Mike Olmos plays trumpet on half the album, John Shifflett handles bass throughout, and it's definitely the case that Ramirez's rock-solid drumming and leadership are what really keep the album moving. Titles include Jemal's originals "On The Move", "A Long Way Home", "Where Are They", "No Time Left", and "Stasia" – and other titles include "African Skies", "It Always Is", "A Good Time", "Sister Cheryl", and "Episode From A Village Dance". (180 gram vinyl pressed at RTI! Includes download with 4 bonus tracks!) ~ Dusty Groove

BRIT FUNK ASSOCIATION – FULL CIRCLE

An all star section of the Brit funky soul scene comes Full Circle – with members of Beggar & Co, Incognito, Hi Tension, Central Line and more – on a sweet batch tunes with an upbeat, jazzy groove, too! The opening "BFA Theme (Let The Music Blow Your Mind)" kicks the set off with a theme of togetherness that holds strong throughout, with lead vocals that are often shared by the group in harmony. Kenny Wellington & Paul McLean handle a lot of the songwriting & production, sharing vocals with sax player Patrick McLean, guitar player Breeze McKrieth, sax & flute player David Baptiste, and trombone player Jerome Harper. The Association also includes Steve Salvari & Peter Hinds on keys, Billy Osborne on percussion, and Ernie McKone on bass – with guests Simon Law, Toby Barker and others. Titles include "I've Found Someone To Love", "We Love The Sunshine On Our Face", "Stand Strong, Stand Tall", "Paradigm Shift", "Seventeen", "The First People", "Make It Funky", "Let's All Work It Out", "Shine" and "Get Up". ~ Dusty Groove
  
HRISTO VITCHEV QUARTET - OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS

The highly anticipated new album by the Hristo Vitchev Quartet has been officially released worldwide! "Of Light and Shadows" marks Hristo's 9th album as a leader and catalogues the evolution and creative development of the internationally award wining quartet through its most adventurous and exploratory chapter yet. "Of Light and Shadows" which consists of 2 parts - the first part is the main musical work and the 2nd part "Behind the Shadows: freely improvised stories" is a free jazz album that shares thematic material from the main compositions but was played and recorded in a completely free manner. 


PIANIST LESLIE PINTCHIK RELEASES YOU EAT MY FOOD, YOU DRINK MY WINE, YOU STEAL MY GIRL! WITH STELLAR BAND

Pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik found the title for her new album in one of those "only in New York" moments. While crossing Canal Street at West Broadway in the SoHo section of Manhattan, she heard a voice behind her yell, "You eat my food, you drink my wine, you steal my girl!" As it happened, she'd just completed writing a new composition, and at that very moment she knew she'd found its title. It was a perfect fit for the sharp-elbows vibe of the piece, with its samba-funk groove, understated humor and fender-bender of an ending. So with one gruff shout, serendipity handed her a bold, spunky title, for a bold, spunky tune.
With its implied but elusive narrative and personality to spare, the outburst also turned out to be a perfect title for Pintchik's new recording, which features six of her original tunes and two standards. As on her five previous albums, Pintchik has penned a collection of songs overflowing with warmth, humor, tenderness, depth and smarts - without forsaking her razor-sharp edge. Pintchik is unique in combining a brisk energy and drive with a gift for accessible, infectious melodies - like that overheard accusation, her music strikes a unique balance between the sharp-edged and the charming. You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! will be released February 23, 2018 via Pintch Hard Records.

In his liner notes for the CD, Allen Morrison writes "As a composer, [Pintchik is] like a novelist, unspooling each song like a good story with twists and turns, and with a story-teller's patience and sense of form. And, like a good novel, her songs appeal to both the head and the heart; they are subtle, sometimes wry, sometimes somber. I think they're not-so-buried treasures, waiting to be discovered by other jazz artists." In addition, the wide range of grooves (samba-funk with a touch of partido alto, swing, bolero, traditional samba, straight-eighths, and ballads-all played with exceptional skill and pizzazz by Leslie and her top-notch band members) is a great added pleasure.

For this outing, Pintchik returns once again with the musicians with whom she has played and recorded for many years: Steve Wilson on alto sax, Ron Horton on trumpet and flugelhorn, Scott Hardy on bass and guitar, drummer Michael Sarin, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. On accordion, Shoko Nagai is the newcomer, and a wonderfully intriguing addition to the mix. Recalling the recording session, Pintchik said "I had the time of my life playing with these extraordinary musicians and people, all gems and superb players."
"You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!" is not the only mouthful of a title on the album. It's topped by "Your call will be answered by our next available representative, in the order in which it was received. Please stay on the line; your call is important to us," which should instantly raise the blood pressure of anyone who's ever wasted hours of their life on hold to fix - or at least attempt to - a problem that's already wasted too much time. Fueled by that all-too-common experience, the tune swings hard with a fervor born of equal parts frustration and an antic comic spirit. Special kudos to the rhythm section for its drive amidst the unexpected stops and starts.

From the playful to the poignant: Pintchik's ballad "Mortal" was written, she says, "to express a sense of life's fragility, beauty, and especially shortness." A highlight of the set, "Mortal" showcases a fearless use of space and silence, and gorgeous heart-on-the-sleeve solos from Pintchik, Wilson, Horton and Hardy. (Of particular note is Horton's flugelhorn solo, which is both beautiful and wrenching.) On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, "Happy Dog," as its name suggests, is a cheerful tune. Shoko Nagai plays the melody in unison with Pintchik, and the samba-based rhythm provides a simpatico backdrop for the wonderfully frisky solos of Pintchik, Hardy and Takeishi.

Like Pintchik's tunes, Edward Hopper's paintings are renowned for suggesting stories not quite told in full within the confines of their canvases. A tune with a straight eighths time feel that features Shoko Nagai on accordion, "Hopperesque" was inspired by the iconic artist's work, especially those paintings that depict people in the kind of threshold moments that provoke the viewer to wonder what happened before, and what might come after, the scene we're presented with. "I've tried," Pintchik says, "to capture that feeling of mystery."

One of the earliest tunes written for the album, "A Simpler Time" was inspired by the composer's trip to the Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts, where she was touched by the rare adult cradles that she saw, used to soothe the elderly and infirm. Pintchik characterizes the piece as "an adult lullaby." In his liner notes, Morrison writes "There's an emotional maturity to it that seems to acknowledge that life itself is not simple, that we are often overwhelmed with hard choices and mixed emotions, and we have a universal need for kindness. As with so many of Leslie's songs, the melody is memorable, but not simple."

Approaching the album's standards with the same unique perspective and wry insight that she brings to her own tunes, Pintchik plays the jazz and pop standard "I'm Glad There Is You" as a bolero, which affords the melody of this love song a lot of breathing room. In his liner notes to the CD, Allen Morrison writes "It's one of the most tender readings of this great song (by Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Madeira) that I've ever heard." The Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach chestnut "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" is played as a samba, with an added catchy rhythmic hook that bookends the melody. This version features a wonderfully relaxed rhythm section that, in the ending tag, builds up a strong head of caffeinated Brazilian steam, before the rhythmic hook returns, and it's over and out.

Before embarking on a career in jazz, Leslie Pintchik was a teaching assistant in English literature at Columbia University, where she also received her Master of Philosophy degree in seventeenth-century English literature. She first surfaced on the Manhattan scene in a trio with legendary bassist Red Mitchell at Bradley's, and in the ensuing years Pintchik formed her own trio which performs regularly at New York City jazz venues. Pintchik's debut CD So Glad To Be Here was released in June 2004, followed by Quartets in 2007. About So Glad To Be Here, Ken Micallef wrote in DownBeat "Pintchik's music is fresh, full of light and instantly invigorating (4 stars)." In the fall of 2010, she released her third CD We're Here To Listen, as well as a DVD Leslie Pintchik Quartet Live In Concert.  Jim Wilke, creator of the nationally syndicated "Jazz After Hours" radio show included We're Here To Listen on his "Best CDs of 2010" list, and the jazz journalist and scholar W. Royal Stokes included both projects in his "Best of 2010" list. Pintchik's fourth CD In The Nature Of Things was released on March, 2014. Steve Futterman, in The New Yorker magazine, called it "...one of the more captivating recordings to come out so far this year...", and Gary Walker of WBGO jazz radio called it "...a gorgeous display of the trio." In his review of Pintchik's fifth CD True North-released in March, 2016-Dan Bilawsky in AllAboutJazz.com wrote "Leslie Pintchik's music has a magical draw to itŠ Getting lost in this music is simply a joy. If 2016 has a more pleasurable listen to offer than True North, this writer hasn't heard it yet. (4 1/2 stars)"

In addition to composing the music for her band, Leslie has also written the liner notes for some notable recent jazz CDs, including Duologue by saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash (on the MCG label), and Daybreak by pianist Bruce Barth (on the Savant label).


Belgian pianist, keyboardist, composer and music educator DOMINIQUE VANTOMME and his project VANTOMME "Vegir"

Dominique Vantomme of VANTOMME, is a pianist, keyboardist, composer, band leader, music educator and producer, equally well known for his work with many European pop and rock acts as for being the jazz piano instructor at the Music Conservatory in Kortrijk, Belgium. This album was born from his nomadic adventures: traveling in 2016 to see Stick Men, in Holland, and meeting up with old pal, MoonJune's Leonardo Pavkovic; and shortly thereafter befriending the legendary bassist/stickist Tony Levin of the King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and Stick Men hall of fame. In the studio session which shortly followed, Dom and Tony were joined by veteran MoonJune artist, also from Belgium, Michel Delville (The Wrong Object; douBt; Machine Mass), who was recruited on guitar, and another Belgian musician, Maxime Lenssens, tasked with holding down the timekeeping duties. 

The spontaneity and freshness of this sizzling, high-altitude set reflects the equally unpretentious manner in which the session itself came together. Tackling some decidedly hip musical sketches of  Dominique Vantomme, the band is given full artistic liberty – and with all participants in top form, the resulting music weaves and winds its way across paths previously untrodden ... in stunning fashion, and with sure footing! In the truest MoonJune tradition, "Vegir" thumbs its nose at convention and showcases these seasoned veteran musicians at the top of their game: with the skill set, bravery and chutzpah to follow their instincts and, in the process, allow the music to seek out and ultimately capture its own form. It slinks; it growls; it stalks; it devours! It grooves; it stutters; it holds you in suspense, then explodes! (... think 'juggling chainsaws' in the sonic realm.

Dominique Vantomme will appear on the new album of Mark Winggield featuring Yaron Stavi and Asaf Sirkis, as a special guests on three tunes, to be released in May 2018.

Besides being an extraordinary musician, Michel Delville also teaches English literature and comparative literature at the University of Liège, where he directs the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Poetics. He is the author of books pertaining to comparative poetics and interdisciplinary studies. His awards and distinctions include the 1998 SAMLA Book Award, the Choice Outstanding Book Award, the Léon Guérin Prize, the 2001 Alumni Award of the Belgian American Educational Foundation, the rank of Officer of the Order of Leopold (Belgium) (2009), and the 2009 Prix Wernaers pour la recherche et la diffusion des connaissances.


Jazz Innovator David Murray & Acclaimed Actor/Poet Saul Williams Craft Powerful, Political Expression of the Blues on New Album, BLUES FOR MEMO

At Amiri Baraka's funeral in 2014, Saul Williams recited a poem imploring the iconic poet, author and social critic to "get out of the coffin" and continue his important work. Sadly, Baraka was beyond hearing the younger poet's words, but they did reach the ears of one of his closest collaborators: saxophonist David Murray.

Williams' impassioned reading made such an impression on Murray that a day later he was on the phone, proposing a new collaboration. "Saul was one of the most dynamic speakers at the funeral," Murray recalls. "His words were violent, but Baraka used violent words too."

Williams sent several of his works to Murray, mostly pieces that were soon to be published in his politically scathing 2015 collection, US(a.), which powerfully confronts issues of race, class, gender, economics and culture in modern-day America. The saxophonist responded to the poet's words with his trademark vigor, resulting in their new album, Blues for Memo, due out February 2 (digitally). Recorded in Istanbul at the end of a three-week European tour by request of the legendary Turkish producer Ahmet Uluğ, the album features a stellar band - pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and drummer Nasheet Waits - performing road-tested versions of these newly-penned compositions. Trombonist Craig Harris, keyboardist Jason Moran, guitarist (and Murray's son) Mingus Murray, kanun player Aytac Dogan, and vocalist Pervis Evans offer striking contributions as well.

Blues for Memo was commissioned by Ahmet Ulug, of Pozitif music in Istanbul to commemorate his late brother Mehmet Uluğ - affectionately known as "Memo" - who co-founded the music promotion company Pozitif (with a third partner, Cem Yegul), and opened the well-known Istanbul club Babylon. Pozitif opened the doors to experimental jazz in Turkey, and have presented such artists as David Murray, Butch Morris, Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders.  The album is a labor of love from Murray to the Ulug brothers in response to their many years of friendship and support. Saul Williams knew Memo from his shows in Babylon in the late '90s with saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin's Wax Poetics project.

The session also provided an opportunity to pay homage to another longtime Murray collaborator, conduction innovator and cornetist Butch Morris, who lived and taught in Istanbul for several years in the late 1990s. Williams adds his words to "Obe," one of nearly 30 Morris compositions that Murray has recorded over the decades. "We were all really close," Murray says. "So we all put our heads together and ended up making a tribute to Mehmet and Butch Morris at the same time."

The union between Williams and Murray becomes even more meaningful as it allows the two to continue poet Amiri Baraka's mission. "As someone who had grown up extremely familiar with and inspired by the works of Amiri Baraka, I was honored when David asked me to work with him," Williams says. "I stepped into this very much aware of the fact that I was collaborating with someone who had worked with Amiri."                      

When Williams began performing in the mid-90s, as part of the thriving New York slam poetry scene, he consciously avoided working with jazz musicians. He saw the pairing of poetry and jazz at that time as somewhat cliché, especially in light of the thrilling merger of poetry and hip hop then underway. "I was eager to find a way to make sure that my work was not easily connected to some passé idea," Williams says. "I never really wanted to dive too deeply into jazz because it seemed to fit an existing idea."

Two decades later, Williams could count a wealth of experiences stemming from his widely acclaimed work: a half-dozen books, appearances in films including Slam (1998), the lead role in the Tupac Shakur-based Broadway musical Holler If Ya Hear Me, and several albums fusing his poetry with hip hop, rock and electronic music. So with an established reputation, years of distance, and a deep respect for Murray's work, he undertook his first substantial jazz collaboration - and was surprised by what he found.

"As a poet who's very often tied to the page, collaborating with David has freed me up," he says. "What's beautiful about jazz is that it's a celebration of improvisation. It has so much to do with listening, how you hear and what you hear, and how you respond to that. It keeps me fresh, so it's the opposite of what I was afraid of when I was dodging performing with jazz musicians. It has invigorated the creative process."

For Murray, the collaboration with Williams took on a similar form to his work with Baraka and other poets, whether living writers like Ishmael Reed or his adaptations of work by long-dead authors like Alexander Pushkin. "I let a poem just sit on my piano for a week, and the next thing I know it turns into a song," Murray explains. "The words are like water; they find their own way."

The band also takes a few pieces without Williams' words. The title track pays homage to Memo with a blend of blues and classical Turkish music with the addition of Aytac Dogan on the kanun, a zither-like stringed instrument from the Middle East. Murray's "Positive Messages" offers an uplifting yet forceful message, with a laid-back groove fueled by Moran on Rhodes; Sun Ra's "Enlightenment" tips its hat to the Uluğ brothers' love of the cosmic bandleader and the influence of his teachings on Murray's formative years.

At a challenging time, Williams' interpretation is understandably confrontational and incisive. Commissioned by Simon & Schuster upon Williams' return from a four-year sojourn in Paris, US(a.) was intended to be a celebration of being an African-American living in Obama's America, but the string of police shootings that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of Donald Trump led to a much darker tone.

A piece like "Red Summer" is directly inspired by the 2015 mass shooting in a Charleston church. "Citizens (The River Runs Red)" takes an excerpt from "Said the Shotgun to the Head," urging a shift from a patriarchal society to a female perspective. "Cycles and Seasons" draws from Williams' poem "Coltan as Cotton," which parallels the mining of coltan - a precious mineral found in smartphones and other technology - with more traditional forms of mining.

Reflecting on Blues For Memo and their work together, Murray says, "Saul is a very forward-thinking visionary. I've always tried to be very accommodating to poets and their vision of what the world is. I've tried to make it a clearer and truer vision through music."

2018 TOUR DATES
January 30 - February 2 New York (NY) Birdland
February 6  Paris (FR) Sons d'Hiver
February 7  Saint Jean de Védas (FR) Victoire 2
February 8  Zurich (CH) Moods
February 9 Salzburg(AT) Jazzit
February 10 Vienna (AT) Porgy & Bess
February 11 Antwerp (BE) Arenberg Theatre
February 13  Stockholm (SE) Fasching
February 14  Oslo (NO) Victoria
February 15  Helsinki (FI) Selo Hall
February 16  Bergen (NO) Sardinen
February 17  Goteborg (SE) Nefertiti

David Murray featuring Saul Williams· Blues For Memo
Label: Motéma Music · Digital Release Date: February 2, 2018
Physical Release Date: February 16, 2018


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