Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Saxophonist/Composer Darryl Yokley Collaborates with Painter Dave Emmanuel Noel for Visual Companion Pieces Supporting Each Song on New Album, Pictures at an African Exhibition

Picture yourself strolling through the doors of an art gallery or into the marble halls of an art museum. The walls are lined with bold, colorful images, some vivid abstracts, many assertively figurative. As you take in the striking landscapes and strong faces, a story emerges -- no less a story than the history of humankind, but also a story that resonates with today's headlines, a story still unfolding. Now what would that sound like?

Saxophonist/composer Darry Yokley has created the soundtrack to just such a gallery of images on his new album, Pictures at an African Exhibition. The album, due out April 20 via Truth Revolution Records, was created in collaboration with British-born artist David Emmanuel Noel, who painted pieces to accompany each of Yokley's 13 new compositions. The music supplements Yokley's band Sound Reformation -- pianist Zaccai Curtis, bassist Luques Curtis, and drummer Wayne Smith Jr. -- alongside special guest drummer Nasheet Waits and a 12-piece wind ensemble, assembling a group with a sound palette vast enough to match Noel's visual one.

The album's title points to its clear inspiration, Modest Mussorgsky's famed "Pictures at an Exhibition." But where Mussorgsky penned music inspired by the artwork of his friend Viktor Hartmann, Yokley decided to write his suite first and ask his friend Noel to create the exhibition to match. The ambitious suite begins with the dawn of the human species and traces an alternately triumphant and tragic tale of migration and enslavement, celebration and warfare, ending on a cautiously optimistic hope for the future.

"I wanted to explore themes that were universal," Yokley explains. "I based the story on Africa, because as far as we know that's where the human species was born, but I wanted to explore themes that everyone in every culture worldwide could relate to."

The album thus opens with the joyous melody of "First Sunrise," which shows the influence of African song and American gospel. Noel's accompanying painting collages bright colors to depict a pregnant woman and her partner looking to the sun on the horizon and its accompanying promise. Still celebratory but built on a more tumultuous rhythm, "Migration" is an anthem for the ancestors who braved the unknown to venture out to new lands, with Noel's illustration of a stark but troubling black and white image of a black man, his head bowed, bounded by an Egyptian pyramid and a Manhattan skyscraper.

"Ubuntu," paralleled by Noel's swirling abstract painting, takes its name from an African philosophy that means "I am who I am because of who we are," an emphasis on group identity that Yokley grasps in his stunning arrangements for this ensemble. He's led Sound Reformation since 2010, but the addition of a wind ensemble, inspired by his classical studies at Duquesne and Michigan State Universities, provides the opportunity for sweeping drama and surging power, reflective of his arrangements for Orrin Evans' Captain Black Big Band. Waits, the inventive drummer known for his work with Jason Moran and Fred Hersch among many others, adds rhythmic complexity in tandem with Smith's muscular swing.

"I've always wanted to work with Nasheet Waits, but Wayne is such a great drummer for the group," Yokley says. "Then it dawned on me that I could use two drummers because the drum is the predominant instrument in Africa. It ended up working out wonderfully because the rhythms they produced together provide a plethora of inspiration for the musicians to improvise to as well as being a representation of African culture."

The influence of African percussion is at its most emphatic on the gentle "Stories from the Village Elder," which honors the tradition of oral history before things begin to take a darker turn with "Ominous Nightfall." Reprising the theme from "First Sunrise" with foreboding harmonies, the piece begins a series of reflections on tribulations that continues with the ambiguously titled "Hunting Natives," whose tense rhythms suggest both the search for food and the danger of life in the jungle -- both literal and figurative.

Smith marks time with a set of chains on "The Birth of Swing," which traces the roots of jazz back to the clanking of slaves' irons on ships' decks. "Echoes of Ancient Sahara" is a ghost story of lost civilizations that reveals John Coltrane's imprint on Yokley's sound, while "Genocide March" is a martial ode to atrocities in Rwanda and Sierra Leone in particular, though acknowledging the fact of many more such tragedies across the globe. The blood diamond trade is referenced in the mournful "Mines of Diamonds, Crimson and Gold."

Things begin to take a turn with "Cry, the Beloved Country," which borrows the title of Alan Paton's 1948 title for a stirring ballad of revolution and resistance. "Blessings From the Bennu" refers to an Egyptian deity, a bird used as a symbol of rebirth that was the likely inspiration for the Greek myth of the phoenix. The "First Sunrise" theme emerges again to segue into "New Sunrise," which finds the composer finding hope despite the echoes of these past troubles in our current divisive times.

"The last two tracks are a vision for the future," Yokley concludes. "They express my hope that we can get past all the turmoil and inner conflict that we bring upon each other and unite. That's the arc of the story."

Darryl Yokley · Pictures at an African Exhibition
Truth Revolution Records · Release Date: April 20, 2018


"Oscar Peterson Plays" Collects For First Time Famed Jazz Pianist's Historic Sessions Paying Tribute To Great American Composers Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Jerome Kern And Others On Comprehensive 5-Disc Collection

For the first time, famed jazz pianist Oscar Peterson's historic 1952-'54 series, Oscar Peterson Plays, has been assembled in total, collecting 10 albums across a five-disc, 113-song digitally remastered collection. Containing many of Peterson's most important recordings as a leader, these albums explore the canons of songwriters Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Jerome Kern, Jimmy McHugh, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Harry Warren and Vincent Youmans—in the setting of the Oscar Peterson Trio. Oscar Peterson Plays, which has been digitally remastered, is available now via Verve Records/UMe. 

Few piano giants in jazz history, if any, scaled the heights of technical brilliance as Oscar Peterson (1925-2007). He was a ten-fingered player whose speed, execution, imagination and harmonic brilliance left other keyboardists with their mouths open. Peterson's prolific trios—with guitarists Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis and bassist Ray Brown — set a longtime standard for ensemble interaction and excellence. As his biographer Gene Lees said: "Oscar Peterson is an astonishing example of what the human body and mind can be self-disciplined to achieve."
  
Peterson was a virtuoso but he was also an extraordinarily versatile accompanist and ensemble pianist. He recorded nearly 200 albums as a leader, as well as with Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Nat 'King' Cole, Roy Eldridge, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, just to name a few. Whether it was on the Jazz at the Philharmonic tours or the multitude of studio dates for the Verve and Pablo labels, Peterson was truly the bedrock of Norman Granz's success as the most successful impresario in jazz history.

Granz knew that Peterson had a seemingly bottomless well of creativity, and that he could be counted on to bring something special to each of his composer-themed albums. Yet Peterson was assiduously faithful to the themes of the various composers—he improvised without altering the intended melodic lines. And while Kessel, Ellis and Brown may not take a lot of solos, listen for the melodic content that they invest into their roles as rhythm section players.      

Disc: 1
Oscar Peterson Plays Cole Porter

1. What Is This Thing Called Love?
2. Begin The Beguine
3. I've Got You Under My Skin
4. Love For Sale
5. Let's Do It
6. I Love You
7. So Near And Yet So Far
8. Just One Of Those Things
9. In The Still Of The Night
10. Night And Day
11. Every Time We Say Goodbye
12. Anything Goes

Oscar Peterson Plays Irving Berlin 

13. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm
14. Isn't This A Lovely Day
15. Easter Parade
16. How Deep Is The Ocean (How High Is The Sky)
17. Remember
18. The Song Is Ended
19. Blue Skies
20. If I Had You
21. Cheek To Cheek
22. Alexander's Ragtime Band
23. Say It Isn't So
24. Always

Disc: 2
Oscar Peterson Plays George Gershwin

1. The Man I Love
2. Fascinating Rhythm
3. It Ain't Necessarily So
4. Somebody Loves Me
5. Strike Up The Band
6. I've Got A Crush On You
7. I Was Doing All Right
8. 'S Wonderful - The Oscar Peterson Trio
9. Oh Lady Be Good
10. I Got Rhythm
11. A Foggy Day
12. Love Walked In

Oscar Peterson Plays Duke Ellington

13. John Hardy's Wife
14. Sophisticated Lady
15. Things Ain't What They Used To Be
16. Just A-Sittin' And A-Rockin'
17. In A Mellow Tone
18. I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
19. Prelude To A Kiss
20. Cotton Tail
21. Don't Get Around Much Anymore
22. Take The "A" Train
23. Rockin' In Rhythm
24. Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me

Disc: 3
Oscar Peterson Plays Jerome Kern

1. The Way You Look Tonight
2.  Pick Yourself Up
3. Yesterdays
4. I Won't Dance
5. Long Ago And Far Away
6. Lovely To Look At
7. A Fine Romance
8. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
9. Ol Man River
10. Bill
11. The Song Is You
12. Can't Help Loving That Man

Oscar Peterson Plays Richard Rodgers

13. This Can't Be Love
14. It Might As Well Be Spring
15. Bewitched
16. Johnny One Note
17. Surrey With The Fringe On Top
18. The Lady Is A Tramp
19. Blue Moon
20. Thou Swell
21. Isn't It Romantic
22. Manhattan
23. Lover

Disc: 4
Oscar Peterson Plays Vincent Youmans

1. Tea For Two
2. Time On My Hands
3. I Know That You Know
4. Sometimes I'm Happy
5. Great Day
6. More Than You Know
7. Hallelujah!
8. Carioca
9. Without A Song
10. I Want To Be Happy

Oscar Peterson Plays Harry Warren

11. Nagasaki
12. Serenade In Blue
13. Lullaby Of Broadway
14. I Found A Million Dollar Baby In A Five And Ten Cent Store
15. Would You Like To Take A Walk
16. I'll String Along With You
17. I Only Have Eyes For You
18. You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby
19. You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me
20. Chattanooga Choo Choo
21. You're My Everything

Disc: 5
Oscar Peterson Plays Harold Arlen

1. As Long As I Live
2. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues
3. Come Rain Or Come Shine
4. Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive
5. Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea
6. I've Got The World On A String
7. It's Only A Paper Moon
8. That Old Black Magic
9. Let's Fall In Love
10. Stormy Weather
11. Blues In The Night
12. Over the Rainbow

Oscar Peterson Plays Jimmy McHugh

13. When My Sugar Walks Down The Street
14. I Can't Believe You're In Love With Me
15. On The Sunny Side Of The Street
16. Don't Blame Me
17. I'm In The Mood For Love
18. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
19. I Couldn't Sleep A Wink Last Night
20. Digga Digga Do
21. You're A Sweetheart

 

Vocalist Allan Harris Pays Heartfelt Tribute to Iconic Singer and Innovator of Vocalese with The Genius of Eddie Jefferson

With his gruff, gravelly voice, his penchant for hep cat diction, and the serpentine bebop turns of his vocalese creations, the late Eddie Jefferson might not seem the ideal match for a classic romantic crooner like Allan Harris. The Brooklyn-born singer has previously paid homage to the songs of Billy Strayhorn and Nat King Cole, repertoire that seems like a more ideal fit.

Until embarking on the project that became The Genius of Eddie Jefferson, Harris would have agreed wholeheartedly with that assessment. "In my wildest dreams I never imagined I'd tackle Eddie Jefferson's material," he admits. "But once I started to sit down with his material and delve into what he was singing, it blew all of my stereotypes and prejudices out the window. How wrong I had been over the years not to give this incredible genius credit."

Not only did Harris discover the depth of Jefferson's estimable talents and innovations, but he found his own way into Jefferson's idiosyncratic takes on the classic solos of jazz giants like Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. The Genius of Eddie Jefferson, due out April 27 on Resilience Music Alliance, is an ideal blend of Harris' rich, beguiling baritone and Jefferson's bantering cool. The album follows Harris into adventurous new territory, at once embracing the challenge and making these bop classics as embracing and celebratory as his takes on jazz standards and swooning ballads.

Harris didn't take the plunge alone. Though he'd previously covered Jefferson's most famous piece, "Moody's Mood For Love," he needed to plunge deeply into the singer's catalogue and methodology. Harris worked closely with pianist Eric Reed (Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride) and GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Brian Bacchus (Gregory Porter) to immerse himself in the tricky contours of Jefferson's work. "It was daunting," Harris says. "Sometimes it seemed like I was taking a master class at MIT. But I wanted to grow as a jazz vocalist -- I've done the American Songbook. No one has really tackled a full project of Eddie Jefferson's with the type of voice that I have, and I wanted to get it exact."

It helps to have a band that can provide the ebullient swing and fierce chops that can drive the tunes that Jefferson built his creations upon, and Reed assembled an ideal one: bassist George DeLancey (Houston Person, Tia Fuller), drummer Willie Jones III (Roy Hargrove, Arturo Sandoval), and tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore (Kevin Eubanks, Freddie Hubbard). The band is joined by special guest saxophonist Richie Cole, who worked closely with Jefferson in the singer's final years, up to the night of his tragic death outside Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit.

"To have Richie Cole there was a blessing from above," says Harris. "His knowledge of what Eddie was doing was paramount because he was right there beside him. He not only gave me a pat on the back that was sorely needed, but he gave me a few pointers and a kind of permission to open things up a little bit to what I'm about."

In his liner notes, writer and musician Greg Tate compares Jefferson to such pioneering hip-hop lyricists as KRS One and Public Enemy's Chuck D, poets of the vernacular who could combine urban jargon and socially pointed messages. Harris agrees, saying, "Eddie Jefferson used the guise of his street language to create some really wonderful English literature on that stuff. Because his voice was so streetwise and rough, until you really listen to him in depth you don't understand that he was very erudite in his lyrical value. He didn't just rely on nursery rhyme rhythms and prose. He really dealt in some really hip street stuff."

He also celebrated the jazz musicians whose work he was repurposing, often painting musical portraits of these legends through his lyrics, as on the album's opening track, "So What." Following the lines of Davis' classic solo, he recounts a famous incident in which both the trumpeter and then-sideman John Coltrane left the stage mid-performance, deciding they needed a bit of extra rehearsal before resuming the show. Harris' rendition is soulful and warm, vividly capturing the vintage nightclub atmosphere.

For all his protestations, Harris has no problem with bringing the grit and funky edge to Horace Silver's "Sister Sadie" and "Filthy McNasty," or tearing his way through a blistering Lester Young solo on "Lester's Trip to the Moon." At the same time, he brings a heartbreaking tenderness to the classic "Body and Soul" and a down-home blues to "Memphis." He courses along with bop vitality on Dexter Gordon's lively "Dexter Digs In" and Charlie Parker's gymnastic runs on "Billy's Bounce." His romantic soul emerges on Duke Pearson's lament "Jeannine," while Cole's "Waltz for a Rainy Bebop Evening" is a wistful reflection on the music's rich legacy.

Despite his initial reluctance, taking on Jefferson's oeuvre has made an indelible mark on Harris as a singer. "This has tainted me," he says. "This feels so good, like reaching a high. Doing Eddie Jefferson's music has taken me out of the arena of being just the guy singing jazz standards in front of a smoking band, to feeling like a part of the band. It would be hard now for me to turn back."

Upcoming Allan Harris U.S. Performances:
April 27 - 29 | Smoke Jazz Club (Album Release w/ Cyrus Chestnut Trio) | New York, NY
May 11 - 12 | The Jazz Forum (w/ Helen Sung Trio) | Tarrytown, NY
May 19 | Arts Garage | Delray Beach, FL
May 22 | Blue Bamboo | Orlando, FL
May 25 - 26 | The Jazz Corner | Hilton Head, SC
August 10 - 11 | JAS Cafe | Aspen, CO

Allan Harris · The Genius of Eddie Jefferson
Resilience Music Alliance · Release Date: April 27, 2018


Monday, February 26, 2018

Smooth Jazz Sensation NILS Returns With New CD PLAY

Walk into the studio of most famous guitarists and you’ll feel like you’re at Guitar Center, spotting a massive collection of axes, each of which offers the right sound for their latest projects. Nils has gleefully defied that collector stereotype, scoring hit after contemporary urban jazz radio hit since his breakthrough 2005 single “Pacific Coast Highway” by modulating the sound of a single, trusty musical companion – the Custom Valley Arts guitar he bought shortly after moving to Los Angeles from his native Munich in the mid-80’s. On his latest BAJA/TSR album Play, he celebrates yet another opportunity to do what he does best on that instrument, with longtime musical friends who happen to be among the genre’s most renowned artists.

“This album is all about the love I have for playing my instrument and the love I felt from all the wonderful friends who stepped up when I reached out to them and helped me take this new music to the next level,” Nils says. “The wonderful result is that we put together a bigger band with a lot more horns than ever before, and a collection that stylistically allowed me to stretch out into different areas. In the spirit of capturing the meaning behind the album title, I wanted to show a richer spectrum of what I can do musically and have a lot of fun playing.”

Jazz Gems: The Best of Nils, his 2014 retrospective set compiling all of the artist’s airplay hits to date (“Pacific Coast Highway,” “Let’s Bounce,” “Jump Start,” “Ready to Play,” “Catnap,” et al), rolls like a master class not only in hit instrumental songwriting but also in the art of collaborating. Extending that spirit powerfully into Play, Nils complements his longtime core band of Clydene Jackson (keyboards, vocals), percussionist Oliver C. Brown and bassist Darryl Williams with drummers Gorden Campbell, Tony Moore and Eric Valentine, pianists Gail Jhonson and Mitchel Forman, bassist Roberto Vally, keyboardists Philippe Saisse and Nate Harasim and saxophonists Steve Cole (solo), Brandon Willis (solo), Charley Langer (horn section) and Mike Parlett (horn section).

Nils continues to cultivate an incredible creative chemistry with his pal and neighbor Johnny Britt, who, the guitarist says, “sings and plays keyboards and horns, three things I don’t do!” Britt infuses Play with his multitude of talents, from playing keys on the sparkling funk opener “Coast To Coast” and Rhodes, trumpet swells and a trumpet solo on the sensual, old school soul ballad “Sway” to adding a dynamic vocal scat to the jamming, high octane first single “Straight Down the Line” and vocals (with Jackson) on a passionate tribute to George Michael’s “Careless Whisper.” Britt also brings his sizzling horn textures (via the J-Jam Horns) to a total of six tracks, including “Coast To Coast,” the infectious and danceable, gospel influenced anthem “We Got Love,” the fiery, top down party funk explosion “California” and the powerhouse old school, James Brown influenced “So Get On Up.”

Full tracklist:
1. Coast to Coast                                              
2. We Got Love                                    
3. Straight Down The Line                                            
4. Sway                                    
5. Play It                                              
6. Goldfinger                                        
7. California                                         
8. So Get On Up                                    
9. Careless Whisper                                          
10. Off To The Races                                        
11. Voices In The Dark                                      
12. Fire Of My Heart                                         

Nils is the first to admit that he sometimes overstocks albums like his most recent project Alley Cat (2015) with so many in the pocket, potential airplay hits that some are inevitably overlooked; “Two of a Kind” and the title track were both Billboard Top 20 airplay hits from that recording. For Play, he took a more streamlined compositional approach, balancing upbeat “trademark” radio ready gems with fresh stylistic excursions that find Nils exploring a deeper personal artistry and the more colorful sonic possibilities of his axe.

To that end, “Goldfinger” is not the James Bond theme, but a stripped down, laid back ballad featuring the interaction of uniquely modulated rhythm and lead guitar lines. He named the track after the Bogner Goldfinger amp he uses for the lead (he used a Fender amp for the rhythm part). Another colorful departure is the trippy, mystical closer “Fire of My Heart,” which includes a symphonic, new agey intro, a reverb melody section, offbeat machine generated vocals and a build towards an exuberant gospel choir crescendo.

On Play, I really feel that I am able to communicate the pure joy of me playing guitar. As always, I only stopped the recording process when the sound was up where it needed to be, with all solid and engaging material brought to life by these great musicians who blessed me with their time and talents.” – by Jonathan Widran


Friday, February 23, 2018

NEW RELEASES: FEMI KUTI – ONE PEOPLE ONE WORLD; THE STYLISTICS – SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE (BONUS TRACKS); MATS GUSTAFSSON & DIDI KERN - MARVEL MOTOR

FEMI KUTI – ONE PEOPLE ONE WORLD

The title of the first track here really gets the spirit of the album right – "Africa Will Be Great Again" – which stands at the start as one of the most declarative moments on record from Femi Kuti, and really sets the tone for the rest of the record! There's definitely some older Afro Funk currents in place here – but the presentation and performance feels even fresher than ever, and really has a forward-thinking, future-moving vibe! Femi's in the lead on vocals, organ, trumpet, and tenor – really pulling the large group along with him through a series of tunes that are as uplifting as they are funky. Titles include "Best To Live On The Good Side", "Dem Don Come Again", "The Way Our Lives Go", "One People One World", "How Many", "Equal Opportunity", and "Africa Will Be Great Again".  ~ Dusty Groove

THE STYLISTICS – SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE (BONUS TRACKS)

An overlooked later moment from The Stylistics – proof that a great vocal group never gets old! The set has the quartet reinventing themselves for a new generation – recording for Arthur Baker's Streetwise Records, and getting production and arrangements from Maurice Starr – who has this great way of creating an 80s take on the mellow modes that always suited the group's vocals so well – the kind of late nite harmony numbers The Stylistics virtually helped invent! There's a few more electro soul numbers, too – and even these sound pretty great, given that there's an honesty to the vocals that's very different than a stiffer singer of the vocoder generation. Titles include "Give A Little Love For Love", "The Girl In Yellow", "Love Is Not The Answer", "Just The Two Of Us", and "Some Things Never Change". CD features 2 bonus tracks – "Give A Little Love For Love (12" acapella)" and "Give A Little Love For Love (12" piano & vocal)".  ~ Dusty Groove

MATS GUSTAFSSON & DIDI KERN - MARVEL MOTOR

A very different album than usual for saxophone genius Mats Gustafsson – as it actually has him playing with electronics a lot more than reeds – although still using that sound source with the same amazing sense of texture, shape, and tone! Gustafsson's partner here is drummer Didi Kern – who's got a completely unbridled way of handling the drums – almost arrhythmic overall, with this blistering intensity that must be something to witness – as must the match of ferocity that Mats brings to his own instrumentation – a matched power that often had us running over to the turntable, to make sure we hadn't set the album on 45rpm! Titles include "Cold Start", "Fun Generator", "Marvel Motor 2", "Besenkammer", and "Enhancement". (Hand-numbered limited edition of 137 – in screenprinted sleeves with varied colors – with download!) ~ Dusty Groove


Discogs Shares 2017 Data & Sales Trends Via State Of Discogs 2017 Year-end Report

Discogs reports unparalleled growth within the world's most extensive physical music Database alongside sales data reflecting 2017 trends from the world's largest Marketplace. The worldwide upward trend of the buying and selling of Vinyl continues to parallel the unmatched growth of physical music data in The Discogs 2017 Year-End Report.

2017 was a record-breaking year for Discogs, sales in the Discogs Marketplace topped 10,000,000 releases sold highlighted by two Most Expensive Releases Sold in the 7" single format with The Beatles 'Love Me Do' selling for $14,757.00 followed by Sex Pistols' 'God Save The Queen' selling for a whopping $14,690.00.

Additional sales trends include Cassettes showing the most substantial format growth at 29.54% with CDs not far behind at 28.39% despite recent news of Best Buy and Target abandoning the format. Most Collected genre trends include Classical showing the most significant increase at 42.36% followed by the Latin genre at 38.33%. Just a few highlights on format and genre included in The Discogs 2017 Year-End Report.

Discogs is the user-built database of music; with a catalog of more than 9,500,000 recordings and 5,000,000 artists, Discogs is the largest physical music database in the world. Discogs connects buyers and sellers across the globe. With more than 39 million items available, 4.7 million active registered users, and thousands of sellers, this is the premier spot for new releases to hard to find gems.


NEW RELEASES: FAR OUT MONSTER DISCO ORCHESTRA – BLACK SUN; MICHAEL FORSTER – PIANO CHILL; THE OBERHAMER BROTHERS- TOGETHER AGAIN

FAR OUT MONSTER DISCO ORCHESTRA – BLACK SUN

Far Out Monster Disco Orchestra returns with Black Sun, its second full-length album of 100% original, unadulterated disco sophistication, featuring all three original members of pioneering Brazilian jazz-funk trio Azymuth; a full orchestra with arrangements split between Arthur Verocai and Azymuth’s late maestro Jose Roberto Bertrami; plus members of the legendary Rio funk group Banda Black Rio. Since its critically acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2014, the FOMDO imprint has released a string of remixes by some all-time greats of dance music, including John Morales, Theo Parrish, Mark Pritchard, Marcellus Pittman, Andres, Dego, Volcov, Kirk Degiorgio and Al Kent. To huge effect in clubs and festivals around the globe, some of the more recent remixes teased the new album material, which for the first time, is presented in its original, soul-heavy incarnation, alongside instrumental versions highlighting the album’s stunning arrangements and compositional brilliance. Far from a throw-back – with disco music firmly entrenched in the modern club vernacular – Black Sun is ecstatic dance music at its finest.

MICHAEL FORSTER – PIANO CHILL

Piano Chill is a series of newly recorded and unique piano and piano + cello versions of the latest pop hits and the most popular neo-classical works. Unique piano / piano + cello covers of popular songs by Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Sia, Tom Odell, Harry Styles, John Legend and Passenger. Unique versions of the most popular neo-classical piano tracks by Max Richter, Ludovico Einaudi, Olafur Arnalds, Johann Johannsson, Thomas Newman or Lambert. Unique piano + cello version of Hans Zimmer’s “Cornfield Chase”. High quality sound recording: Steinway D-piano and acoustic production in high-end studio.



THE OBERHAMER BROTHERS- TOGETHER AGAIN

The third single from power duo The Oberhamer Brothers, “There Is Love” is a melody-driven tune that has you dancing along – a sultry start to a night out on the town! Both musical experts in their own right, brothers Brandon and Doug Oberhamer have come together to create their debut smooth jazz album, “Together Again!” Multi-instrumentalist Doug is a Musical Director on Broadway in New York City. You can hear his stylings on Flugelhorn, piano, guitar and drums/keys tracking. Doug also mixed and mastered the album. Saxophonist Brandon is a big band leader, instructor and freelancer in Calgary, Alberta. ~ www.smoothjazz.com.


Joel Sarakula 'In Trouble' is the first single from Joel Sarakula’s long awaited third studio album ‘Love Club’

Co-written with Michele Stodart of The Magic Numbers, ‘In Trouble’ is the best example for Joel Sarakula’s unique, and honest approach to making music. It’s a whirlwind of up-tempo 70s-styled soul replete with horn section trying to make sense of today's world. From the first words of 'Down on the street where the picket lines meet they pretend they're free' to the chorus hook of “Can we slow this down? Now that we're In Trouble”, it provokes more questions than it answers.

Joel Sarakula is an AUS/UK artist who writes, produces and sings Soulful Pop, gazing out at his 60's and 70's tinged world through vintage glasses... imagine Ray Manzarek fronting a 70's soul band. Born in Sydney and now based in London, he has racked up generous plays across BBC Radio 2, BBC 6, BBC London, Radio X and has been play-listed nationally in Europe. He is a regular fixture on the festival and club circuit in the UK, Europe including appearances at SXSW, Primavera, The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Scala London, Tallinn Music Week, V-ROX and Reeperbahn.

Sarakula is a songwriter who has travelled the world in search of his muse, experiencing everything from being a victim of Caribbean carjackings to performing in the remote fishing villages of Norway, via the dive bars of Europe and the US. It was the hodge-podge musical tapestry of England’s capital that finally drew him to a settling point, in the wake of seemingly never ending run of shows. With personal tastes that span from the more avant-garde to soul and pop greats like Sly Stone, Todd Rundgren and Hall and Oates, there are clear nods to contemporaries like Unkown Mortal Orchestra, Erlend ye and Toro Y Moi in terms of ambition and style.

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Spin Cycle Further Refines Its Adventuresome Sound on Sophomore Album "Assorted Colors"

Spin Cycle Assorted Colors One of the freshest sounding bands to emerge on the jazz scene in this or any decade, Spin Cycle follows up its critically acclaimed eponymous debut from 2016 with the release on April 6 of Assorted Colors (Sound Footing Records). The new recording, coming after two years of intensive touring that further refined their distinctive take on jazz, sustains the praise bestowed by DownBeat's Ed Enright in his rave review of their first album that hailed the band as "a cohesive unit that commands an exceptional stylistic range and exhibits a go-for-broke attitude."
 
On their sophomore release, the piano-less quartet delivers more of the "bright melodic lines, deep-seated grooves, catchy rhythmic devices and sophisticated harmony" cited by Enright, who praised them for "improvisations run wild, as soloists embrace aggressive and daring ideas from the realms of modal jazz, free-jazz, second-line and soul, not to mention good old-fashioned swing."

Founded in 2014 and co-led by drummer Scott Neumann and saxophonist Tom Christensen, who have known and played with each other in various settings for well over 25 years, Spin Cycle is rounded out by guitarist Pete McCann and bassist Phil Palombi. The four musicians are mainstays of the New York jazz scene.

The title Assorted Colors alludes in part to the broad and eclectic stylistic palettes Christensen and Neumann each draw upon while crafting the compositions that define Spin Cycle's musical direction. (Christensen contributed six tunes to the session, Neumann five.) "One of our aims was to develop the songs not by adding sections but by building on the form itself via solos or concepts," Neumann says. "We wrote things that got to the heart of the matter, but also were vehicles that allowed us to stretch," Christensen adds.

Spin Cycle's decision to use a guitar rather than a piano in the band enables the creation of unusual blends of airy textures that are a trademark of the band's tonal tapestries. "Guitar chords are more sparse than piano chords, they're more open sounding," says Christensen.

Among the Christensen tunes on Assorted Colors are the arresting minor-key "Possum Dark," in his words a "swaggering bad ass blues" named after the enforcer in the post-apocalyptic novella Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus, and the stripped-down, minimalism-streaked "Two Pan Man," on which he lets it rip on tenor while guitarist McCann, according to the composer, "sounds almost like a second wind player."

Neumann's compositions include the sharp-angled, Monk-inspired "Break Tune," whose infectious swing and sense of fun provide a spirited introduction to the album. Neumann, who spent a week in Cuba in 2017 studying with Cuban drummers, also composed "To the Puente," an intriguing blend of the son montuno and modern mambo accents à la Chick Corea. "Affirmation" has a cool, rolling vibe recalling some of Pat Metheny's classic recordings.

Scott Neumann Tom ChristensenTom Christensen (b. 1961, Ventura, California; at right in photo) studied classical music and jazz at both undergraduate and graduate levels at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and moved to New York in 1989. For eight years, he was a member of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, appearing on five of their albums. He also has played on such notable recordings as Joe Lovano's Celebrating Sinatra, Rufus Reid's Quiet Pride, and the David Liebman Big Band's Tribute to Wayne Shorter. His 2000 debut, Gualala, and 2002 effort, Paths, team him with multi-reedist Charles Pillow. His other recordings include Americana (2003) and Kailash (2007), on which he joins the Kailash Trio.

Scott Neumann (b. 1962, Bartlesville, Oklahoma; at left in photo above) attended North Texas State and, before moving to New York in 1988, played with the Woody Herman Orchestra for a year. On his 2006 album, Osage County, he led a quartet including pianist David Berkman and saxophonist Sam Newsome; he recorded Blessed in 2014 as part of the Neu3 Trio, with Michael Blake and Mark Helias. A busy player on the New York scene who has collaborated with such luminaries as Kenny Barron and Ben Allison, Neumann has also accrued impressive credits as a vocal accompanist, a Broadway musician, and educator (he directs the drum studies program at Lehigh University).

Spin Cycle will be performing a CD release show at Smalls, NYC, on Friday 4/13. They've also scheduled several appearances in Ohio, including a concert and master class at Youngstown State (Bliss Hall), in Youngstown, 1-4pm on 4/5; concert at Andrews House, Delaware, OH 4/6; concert with Denison University Jazz Band, Granville, 8pm on 4/7; and the Bop Stop in Cleveland, 4/7.

 


Al Di Meola releases his brand new studio album “OPUS”

Al Di Meola is a pioneer of blending world music, rock and jazz. His ongoing fascination for complex rhythmic syncopation, combined with provocative lyrical melodies and sophisticated harmony, has been the heart of his music throughout a celebrated career that has spanned over four decades.

The Grammy award winner achieved worldwide fame for both, being a solo artist and for his collaborations with Frank Zappa, Jimmy Page, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Paco De Lucia, John McLaughlin, Jean-Luc Ponty, Stanley Clarke, Luciano Pavarotti, Paul Simon, Phil Collins, Santana, Steve Winwood, Herbie Hancock, and many more. Al Di Meola holds the highest amount of Guitar awards in different categories from Guitar Player magazine (US).

With a curriculum vitae rich of exciting musical moments and incredible works, Al Di Meola is still challenging himself pushing his music towards new boundaries but with a more relaxed way to see things. Over the last few years he has in fact literally started all over, reinventing himself in both, his private life and music.

“With OPUS I wanted to further my compositional skills as I think that the evolution of this part of my persona has labelled me more composer/guitarist than guitarist/composer” - says Di Meola – “at the same time this record also marks a new era in my life. For the first time in my life, I have written music being happy, I’m in a wonderful relationship with my wife, I have a baby girl and a beautiful family that inspires me every day. I believe it shows in the music.”

Track listing
1. Milonga Noctiva: Wandering in the Dark (feat. Kemuel Roig)
2. Broken Heart
3. Ava's Dream Sequence Lullaby
4. Cerreto Sannita (feat. Kemuel Roig)
5. Notorious
6. Frozen In Time
7. Escapado
8. Pomp
9. Left unsaid
10. Insieme
11. Rebels (feat. Kemuel Roig)

Al Di Meola’s commentary on the songs:

Milonga Noctiva: Wandering in the Dark
“The inspiration derived from the more emotional side of Nuevo Tango.”

Broken Heart
“A piece I had originally written for orchestra in a less rhythmic way. This new version represents a more lyrical approach with electric guitar as its main voice combining the original feeling with enhanced rhythm.”

Ava’s Dream Sequence Lullaby
“As I watched my baby daughter moving to music, I naturally came up with this very lullaby-like melody. And what started out as a simple lullaby turned into a suite-like composition.”

Cerreto Sannita
“Named after my grandfather’s village in the region of Campania, Italy. Last year in June, my wife surprised me with a trip to the village and the places my grandfather had frequented. I also received the honorary citizenship of the town. It was one of the most emotional moments in my life. I hadn't expected such a warm welcome and meeting so many “Di Meolas” I had never known before.”

Notorious
“When I was writing this piece, I was thinking of Led Zeppelin meets Al Di Meola.”

Frozen in Time
“This song I wrote at 5 AM and it just poured out of me so effortlessly that I realized I shouldn't lose the opportunity to write it down. The offset lyrical melody against the 5/4 arpeggiated harmonic movement makes this piece for me very special.”

Escapado
“Here’s a piece that was directly influenced by the Tango movement. During the recording, this piece went through the most changes of all. The end result is just something I can’t describe in words. I think each listener will come back with a different vibe from this particular piece.”

Pomp
“Pomp is a duet that reminds me of an avantgarde procession featuring Moroccan master percussionist Rhani Krija.”

Left unsaid
“This is a piece that I wrote late at night in Miami where I do a lot of my writing while my wife and baby daughter were asleep in the next room. It represents a very peaceful and happy time that cannot be put into words.”

Insieme
“A more complex, highly syncopated multi-part composition with more intricate counterpoint.”

Rebels
“Walking from the Hippie era incense vibe of St. Marks Place over to the Fillmore East, changing to a Motor Cycle on Fourth Street in the East Village where the Hells Angels held court, arriving in Little Havana in Miami.”


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sy Smith - Sometimes A Rose Will Grow in Concrete

Sometimes A Rose Will Grow In Concrete” (SRWGC) is fifth studio album by critically-acclaimed progressive soul artist Sy Smith. Often called the “Queen Of Underground Soul”, her previous works include “The Syberspace Social” (named in the top 10 albums of 2005 by The Boston Globe), “Psykosoul Plus” (2007) “Conflict” (2008, with charting radio singles “Fly Away With Me” and “The Art Of You”), and “Fast And Curious” (called “one of the best releases by a female” of 2012 by Soultracks.com). SRWGC is the first album completely written and produced by this multi-talented singer/songwriter/musician and features her slick synth bass playing and lithe fingering on piano/keys along with her incomparable soprano voice and signature harmonies/vocal arrangements. Sy Smith is finally having her singer/songwriter moment (think a 21st century Roberta Flack) - this album flourishes with compelling musical/vocal arrangements, thoughtful lyrics and Sy’s voice sounding better than ever.

As a producer, Sy displays an expected but not-before seen maturity on SRWGC. When she does play keys and synth bass, she does both effortlessly; but she brings in some of the top sidemen when the songs call for a different touch. Sy enjoys international acclaim having toured/recorded with some of the best-known recording artists including Whitney Houston and Meshell Ndegeocello. She’s currently a featured special guest on tour with Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti and is featured on his Grammy-nominated DVD “Live In Boston”. SRWGC features many of these previous/current bandmates including legendary percussionist Sheila E. (with whom Sy has toured/recorded) and violinist Lucia Micarelli (bka Annie on HBO’s Treme). 

Vocally, Sy’s soprano soars effortlessly; she shows off a sure-footed whistle tone (a la Minnie Riperton), confident jazz chops (Sy has been featured with numerous orchestras in tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, including at Carnegie Hall & Kennedy Center), a full-out commanding belt in her upper register - but usually her whimsical, conversational tone is utilized to tell the stories on this project. Still carrying a strong pen, Sy reveals victories won and battles still being fought as she allows her listeners into the most intimate spaces she’s ever exposed. The title track is a powerful, if haunting, ode to people (especially Black women in this case) who come through the harshest of trials and still bloom as beautifully as roses. Sy is that defiant rose throughout this entire project.


Toronto-based jazz quartet, Peripheral Vision releasing new CD, More Songs About Error And Shame

From March 2nd to 11th, JUNO-nominated Canadian jazz quartet, Peripheral Vision is launching their fourth album, More Songs About Error And Shame, with a tour of Western Canada and the Yukon.  Following the tour, they will have their Toronto CD release concert on April 3rd.  Full tour details can be found below.

"A rules-breaking quartet made up of some of the best modern players around. Fast-paced, intricate, and inventive" (CBC), Peripheral Vision extends their no-holds-barred performance aesthetic into the production concept on this album.  Once again, they have teamed up with mad-scientist engineer, Jean Martin (Barnyard Records) to orchestrate a bigger sound for the record, adding layers of overdubs and studio treatments to the live-off-the-floor recordings.  Peripheral Vision has always been a live show band, and the seven new Herring and Scott originals on More Songs About Error And Shame show what can be gained from years of touring, including three recent tours throughout Europe as well as many trips across Canada.

Co-leaders Michael Herring (bass) and Don Scott (guitar) delve into their own neurotic psyches, finding inspiration not only in music, but also in art, literature and standup comedy.  The album title is a reference to the iconic album by famously neurotic band, Talking Heads, and this cross genre nod is indicative of how they like to mix genres and themes, blending classic and modern jazz, the rock music of their youth, and non-musical influences such as the Catalonian artist Miró, and British comedian Stewart Lee.

This is a working band with a long-time rapport - Herring and Scott have been joined by drummer Nick Fraser and tenor saxophonist Trevor Hogg since the band's inception in 2008.  Peripheral Vision is fuelled by this long-time musical friendship, bringing years of tour van talks about music and life to the stage and studio, and this dynamic group interaction creates the provocative sound of More Songs About Error And Shame.

Peripheral Vision is:
Trevor Hogg – tenor saxophone
Don Scott – guitar
Michael Herring – bass
Nick Fraser – drums

Canadian Tour Dates
March 2nd – Yardbird Suite (Edmonton, AB)
March 3rd – The Bassment (Saskatoon, SK)
March 5th – Bushwakker (Regina, SK)
March 6th – Mardi Jazz @ CCFM (Winnipeg, MB)
March 7th – China Cloud (Vancouver, BC)
March 8th – Avalanche Bar & Grill (Courtenay, BC)
March 11th – Yukon Arts Centre (Whitehorse, YK)
April 3rd – Tranzac Club (Toronto)


GIZELLE SMITH - RUTHLESS DAY

When Gizelle Smith stormed from relative obscurity onto the funk scene in 2008 as the front woman of Hamburg-based band The Mighty Mocambos, critics and music lovers alike immediately hailed her as “the golden girl of funk”. Mention the name Gizelle Smith in funk-knowing circles and ears will immediately prick up with curiosity and tangible excitement, eagerly ready to hear more.

Born and raised in Manchester, the love child of a Seychellois mother and an Afro-American father who was a band member of legendary Motown group The Four Tops, Gizelle has a multicultural upbringing steeped in soulful music. Gizelle‘s first single “Working Woman” with The Mighty Mocambos became an overnight smash and a prime-time club favorite of funk & soul DJs worldwide, leading legendary producer and Grammy nominee Kenny Dope (Masters at Work / Bucketheads) to remix the song for his own Kay Dee Records. The album that followed, “This is Gizelle Smith and the Mighty Mocambos” on Mocambo, Légère and Soulbeats was released in 2009 and sold nearly 10,000 copies in spite of the ongoing music industry crisis. Follow-up solo singles “June” released on Record Kicks in 2009 and “Johnny” on Mocambo in 2012 sold-out in record time and are now both highly collectible 45s.

In the wake of her breakthrough releases Gizelle has enjoyed extensive radioplay on national stations such as BBC 2 and BBC 6 (UK), Radio Nova (FR), Radio 3 (SP), Rai 2 (IT) and more, and has performed far and wide, from London to Manchester, Paris to Marseille, Frankfurt to Berlin, Milan to Oslo, solidifying her reputation as a highly energetic, dynamic and incredibly charming performer. After a hiatus from gigging to work on her debut solo album, in February 2017 the London funk scene was raving about Gizelle Smith‘s performance on stage with the mighty LeRoy Hutson, and once again tongues were ablaze with excited talks of her vocal talent and upcoming projects, setting the scene for the launch of what will no doubt be Gizelle Smith‘s most significant work to date: her debut solo album “Ruthless Day”.


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