Thursday, June 22, 2017

NEW MUSIC RELEASES: STEVE DAVIS - THINK AHEAD; COLIN STEELE QUARTET - DIVING FOR PEARLS; MISHA MULLOY-ABBADO - NEW ANSONIA

STEVE DAVIS - THINK AHEAD

Trombonist and composer Steve Davis offers a master class on his new release, Think Ahead, in art of reacting to the unpredictable with an elite group of jazz all-stars whose ability to create spontaneously borders on the clairvoyant. For this album, Davis focuses on his original writing and arranging; it s hardly a secret that Davis is one of the most talented composers on the modern jazz scene. To render these new compositions, Davis assembled a stellar group of masters: the trombonist is joined by saxophonists Steve Wilson and Jimmy Greene, pianist Larry Willis, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash, each deserving the title of 'jazz giant' in their own right. In fact, it was this precise ensemble that Davis had in mind when he sat down to write several months before the session. He shares with every member of the ensemble a long and deep history, so he knew that he would have the makings of a truly profound, flawlessly swinging, flat-out burning set of music. In addition to Davis originals, Think Ahead also includes two beloved standards, 'Polka Dots and Moonbeams' and 'Love Walked In,' as well as two jazz classics by departed giants Tony Williams and Bobby Hutcherson, 'Warrior' and 'Little B s Poem,' respectively. 'I ve been deeply involved with everyone in this band on not only a professional level but as friends for decades,' Davis says. 'So it was more than an honor to have this group together.' The resulting record is an inspired set of straight-ahead jazz that will be a favorite for years to come.

COLIN STEELE QUARTET - DIVING FOR PEARLS

Steele has a long association with The Pearl fishers since he appeared as a studio musician on many of their albums. Steele: "I'd played on many sessions with The Pearl fishers before, and have a similar taste in music with David Scott, with our shared love of Burt Bacharach, Beatles and Beach Boys. I was impressed by the depth of the beautiful melodies and could immediately hear my own voice playing these melodies - specifically using the 'Miles Davis sound' of the Harmon mute." The results are simply gorgeous. The album kick-starts with the joyous blast of "The Bluebells" - a song that originally appeared on the Pearl fishers album "Up With The Larks". Colin Steele makes it swing and rise just beautifully. His warm, melodic playing and tone is also a perfect match for the wonderful "Everything Works Out", one of Scott's most enduring songs. "The Vampires Of Camelon" rides on a great piano riff reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi - brilliantly played by Dave Milligan, Steele's long-time collaborator, who also arranged the album. Quite fabulously so.


MISHA MULLOY-ABBADO - NEW ANSONIA

New Ansonia is the debut album from bassist and composer Misha Mullov-Abbado, winner of the 2014 Kenny Wheeler Music Prize. Son of the late, great Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and Russian violinist Viktoria Mullova, British-born Mullov-Abbado grew up in a powerfully musical environment, a unique upbringing that has inspired Misha to create his own musical identity and tell his own compelling story. This, his debut album, demonstrates gifts that are uniquely his own and is full of unusual colours, leaps of imagination and a strong sense of character. New Ansonia clearly defines the path Misha intends to follow both as a composer and performer of exceptional ability. As Kenny Wheeler Music Prize judge Evan Parker put it, this is the beginning of a journey of an outstanding individual . To achieve his musical goals Misha has brought together a wealth of young talent from the vibrant and creative London jazz scene with a front line of alto saxophonist Matthew Herd and trombonist Tom Green and alongside him in the rhythm section YouTube sensation & Quincy Jones protégé Jacob Collier on keys and drummer Scott Chapman. With a strong sense of song, evolving with dramatic twists, shifting dynamics and moods, New Ansonia is an exceptional debut - colourful, bursting with character, grooves, melody and inventive soloing.


BUDDY GRECO RELEASES 65TH ALBUM "IT'S MAGIC"

BUDDY GRECO – IT’S MAGIC
Few can match the lifelong extraordinary talent of Buddy Greco. His peers have called him a singer's singer and a musician's musician. He is internationally recognized year after year as one of the top Jazz pianists and vocalists of our time. He appears at top night clubs, concert halls and symphonies. 

He has been a guest on every major television show in the United States and throughout the world. By order of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Buddy performed at a Command Performance which also featured the Beatles He began playing the piano at the age of four. As a child radio personality and gifted pianist, he was a performing veteran by the age of 16 when Benny Goodman 'discovered' him. Buddy traveled the world with the Benny Goodman Band for four years as pianist, singer/arranger. 

Since then, Buddy has sold millions of records and received gold records for hits such as, "Oh Look At Her Ain't She Pretty," "The Lady Is A Tramp" and "Around The World". He recently celebrated the completion of his 65th recorded album and boasts some 100 singles ranging in style from Jazz to Country/Western to modern Pop. A particular favorite is the album he made with the London Symphony Orchestra in which he arranged, conducted and played piano. Buddy was recently inducted into the Philadelphia Music Alliance's "Walk of Fame." He can also be found in the Encyclopedia Of Great Musicians and the Encyclopedia of Great Jazz Singers and Musicians.

Buddy has never stopped his relentless drive to stay on top. In 1993 he toured again with the 'Salute to The Benny Goodman Band,' this time to headline, star and conduct. The tour encompassed 72 cities drawing capacity crowds and standing ovations. Up to his death in 2017, in between stints at Trump's Plaza, the Desert Inn, the Cafe Royale and various world tours, Buddy continued to write music, record albums, scores, film and televsion shows and play a little golf. This CD contains classics such as Me And Mrs Jones , Touch Me In The Morning , It’s Magic and Movin On.


NEW MUSIC RELEASES: TOM BROWNE - BROTHER, BROTHER: THE GRP / ARISTA ANTHOLOGY; ERIC GALE - THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION; JOEY NEGRO – PRODUCED WITH LOVE

TOM BROWNE - BROTHER, BROTHER: THE GRP / ARISTA ANTHOLOGY

SoulMusic Records pesents "Brother, Brother: The GRP/Arista Anthology," a musically superb anthology by renowned trumpeter, musician and songwriter Tom Browne, covering his five-year tenure (1979-1984), firstly with GRP Records then with Arista Records. . From Jamaica, Queens, NY, Tom grew up in a creatively-fertile environment among other budding musicians including drummer Omar Hakim, bassist Marcus Miller, keyboardist Bernard Wright, drummer Lenny White and songwriter/musician Lesette Wilson. After being courted by several labels, Tom opted to sign with the then-fledgling GRP label, created by top jazz production team of Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen. . Following the critically-acclaimed "Browne Sugar" LP, Tom experienced his biggest commercial breakthrough with 1980's "Love Approach" which included the massive global hit, the now-timeless funk groove, 'Funkin' For Jamaica (N.Y.)', a No. 1 R&B US hit. This 29-track, 2-CD set also includes two 1991 remixes of the classic cut by the UK's Driza Bone. . Tom's third album, "Magic" kept the momentum going with charted hits, 'Let's Dance', 'Thighs High (Grip Your Hips And Move)' and 'Fungi Mama/Bebopafunkadiscolypo', are all featured here along with later hits, 'Bye Gones', 'Rockin' Radio' (produced by Maurice Starr and Michael Jonzun), 'Cruisin'', and 'Secret Fantasy' (featuring Siedah Garrett).

ERIC GALE - THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION

This Definitive Double CD Collection is the first-time Eric Gale's CTI, Columbia & Warner Brothers repertoire has compiled together on one package. . Eric Gale has put his stamp on over 500 recordings, working with a who's who of Pop, Soul & Jazz from Jimi Hendrix to Aretha Franklin. . Eric Gale recorded eleven solo albums, and was the pivotal player in the Jazz Funk super group Stuff, two tracks of which are featured on this package. This collection includes four tracks from his only CTI Records album "Forecast" which featured Jazz heavyweights Bob James on Piano, Idris Muhammad on Drums & Hubert Laws on Flute. . After the CTI album Eric signed with Columbia and released two of his greatest albums "Ginseng Woman" and "Multiplication". 'Sara Smile', the Hall & Oates classic is given the Gale treatment on the "Ginseng Woman" album and creates his own Reggae influenced Jazz classic. After leaving Columbia Eric signed with Warner Brothers and released the albums "Blue Horizon" and "Island Breeze" and tracks from those albums are featured on this package. . Also check out Lois Wilson's sleeve-notes, which gives you a great insight to the guitar legend that is Eric Gale.

JOEY NEGRO – PRODUCED WITH LOVE

Produced With Love is the extraordinary new album from UK legend Joey Negro: a buoyant, life-affirming, disco-inspired album that offers welcome relief from the grey-faced march of modern club music. “I was 13 when I first heard “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave on a children’s TV show called Multicoloured SwapShop and it started a love affair with disco music that has lasted all my life. There’s so much to love in disco. 40 years later I still hear plenty of sample tracks based around disco records but what I don’t come across much of is actual original new material made to the disco blueprint.” - Joey Negro It’s hard to find enough superlatives to describe just how influential and prolific Dave Lee, aka Joey Negro, has been over the last three decades. One of music’s major proponents of soulful, disco-tinged, vocal records and without question instrumental is its development and popularisation, no-one treats a loop, groove or hook with as much care and attention as Joey Negro. Includes tracks featuring Linda Clifford, Melba Moore, Gwen Guthrie, The Fatback Band, Angela Johnson, Peven Everett, and the O’Jays.


NEW MUSIC RELEASES: WARREN BAKER – MUSIC FOR HEAVENLY BODIES; TOMMY SMITH QUARTET – EMBODYING THE LIGHT: A DEDICATION TO JOHN COLTRANE; ROCKY MIZELL – ROCKY MIZELL & THE SUGAR ROCK BAND


TOMMY SMITH QUARTET – EMBODYING THE LIGHT: A DEDICATION TO JOHN COLTRANE

In April 2017, Smith and his new quartet went into the studio to record his first acoustic quartet album since 2005. Entitled 'Embodying the Light', the album will mark Smith's 50th birthday and the 50th anniversary of the death of one of his greatest inspirations, John Coltrane. It features Coltrane compositions including "Naima", "Dear Lord" and "Resolution" and music associated with Coltrane alongside Smith compositions written in homage to Coltrane. The group features Smith alongside one of the UK's leading young piano talents, Peter Johnstone, a former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year and winner, with the group Square One, of the 2015 Peter Whittingham Jazz Prize. Bassist Calum Gourlay is a young veteran of gigs with Sheila Jordan, Scott Hamilton and The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and Sebastiaan de Krom has been the drumming powerhouse behind Herbie Hancock and Jamie Cullum. Smith has been a presence on the world jazz scene since his teenage years. At the age of nineteen he was touring internationally with Gary Burton's Whiz Kids quintet and three years later he signed to the legendary jazz label Blue Note. He has since gone on to establish and direct the internationally acclaimed Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and he regularly tours the world with Norwegian bass master Arild Andersen's trio, widely regarded as one of the premier groups working in jazz today.

ROCKY MIZELL – ROCKY MIZELL & THE SUGAR ROCK BAND

Massive Miami grooves from Robert "Rocky" Mizell – not one of the Mizell brothers from the west coast, but a Florida artist with a sound that's equally nice! The album's the only one we've ever seen from Rocky, and it's got a sweet TK Records groove all the way through – rhythms that are definitely on the funkier side of Miami soul, arranged by Rocky himself, and produced to perfection by Willie Clarke! The tunes are all originals – mostly collaborations between Mizell and Clarke – and the album's got a great way of sounding smooth while still keeping things funky – that perfect Miami balance that would soon disappear when things got a bit more commercial. Titles include "Shake Your Body Down", "This Must Be Love", "Never Never Girl", "Hey Sexy Dancer", "Take It Easy Babe", and "Come To Me".  ~ Dusty Groove

WARREN BAKER – MUSIC FOR HEAVENLY BODIES

There's two sorts of heavenly bodies on the cover – but the real charms of the record lie inside, as the set's overflowing with incredible early theremin recordings! The album features spacey orchestral settings arranged by Warren Baker, and conducted by Andre Montero – plus fantastic work on the "electro theremin" by Paul Tanner – a different variation on the incredible post-war electronic instrument! The "electro theremin" was Tanner's own creation, and it works on a cool sliding principle that creates a lot of weird spacey dipping, turning, and soaring effects. The album's packaged in a lovingly heavy cover, with a nude "heavenly body" floating in space amidst a sea of bright colors! Titles include "Misty Moon Blues", "Out Of This World", "Holiday On Saturn", "20th Century Venus", and "Up To Jupiter".  ~ Dusty Groove



NEW MUSIC RELEASES: TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME – EMERGENCY; WILLIAM PARKER QUARTETS – MEDITATION / RESURRECTION; DAVID S. WARE – LIVE IN NEW YORK, 2010

TONY WILLIAMS LIFETIME – EMERGENCY

A seminal jazz rock statement from drummer Tony Williams – one that has him stepping out quite far from his original "new thing" recordings of the mid 60s! The album's got a genre-forming sound that's incredibly fierce – a power trio churning of Williams drums, John McLaughlin's guitar, and Larry Young's free-thinking work on organ. The tunes are long and jamming, but also have a tight rhythmic focus that never gets too sloppy – and which virtually set the stage for a whole generation of 70s fusion players in years to come! Young and McLaughling are especially great – working here with Williams to pound out sheets of sound in a cosmic trippy maze of riffs and grooves, certainly enough to inspire the most addled rocker to head over to the jazz section! CD features the full 8 track original set – with titles that include "Sangria For Three", "Something Spiritual", "Spectrum", "Via The Spectrum Road", "Emergency", "Beyond Games", "Where" and "Vashkar".  ~ Dusty Groove

WILLIAM PARKER QUARTETS – MEDITATION / RESURRECTION

Bassist William Parker in two different settings, but both served up here with a very unified feel! The material was all recorded on a single day, with a core trio that features Parker on bass, Hamid Drake on drums, and Rob Brown on alto – a group whose energy you can really feel building up right from the core, especially in the interplay between Parker and Drake, a pair who only seem to get better together over the years! The first half features trumpeter Jalalu Kalvert Nelson – whose soaring sense of pride really adds a new dimension to the music – this righteous quality that opens up new channels of beauty when he steps in. The second half features pianist Cooper-Moore, instead of the trumpeter – and his tones are maybe more introspective, and produce a similar shift in the music, especially in the way Parker shapes his notes. This change really deepens our understanding of the trio on both sides – and shows just how adaptive they are to each other. Titles include "Horace Silver Part 2", "Things Falling Apart", "Give Me Back My Drum", "Rodney's Resurrection", "Urban Disruption", and "Orange Winter Flower".  ~ Dusty Groove

DAVID S. WARE – LIVE IN NEW YORK, 2010

Gigantic genius from the late David S Ware – heard here in an unreleased performance from the final years of his time – at a time when his saxophone greatness was still very much in full flower! The group is a trio – with William Parker on bass and Warren Smith on drums – and Ware really dominates on both tenor and a Buchler straight alto sax, which he plays with an amazing sound – really spinning out these incredible solos that are full of soul and imagination, with that special quality that first made us fall in love with his music many decades back. At his best – as he is here – Ware can improvise freely, yet still find this spiritual core to guide him forward – which is very much the case on the two long performances included in this double-length package!  ~ Dusty Groove


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

NEW MUSIC RELEASES: MIKE CITY – THE FEEL GOOD AGENDA VOLUME 1; SIMON LAW - LOOK TO THE SKY; LIZ AKU - ANKHOR

MIKE CITY – THE FEEL GOOD AGENDA VOLUME 1

Featuring a host of luminaries from the world of Soul & R&B, chart-topping songwriter and award winning producer Mike City presents new album ‘The Feel Good Agenda Vol.1’. Earning his big break back in the year 2000 as writer and producer of a #1 hit in the form of ‘I Wish’ performed by Carl Thomas, Mike went on to work with Brandy, Rihanna, Angie Stone and Jamie Foxx as well as penning Sunshine Anderson’s smash hit ‘Heard It All Before’. Renowned for his deeply rooted, melodic production style and distinctive vocal arrangements, Mike City consistently finds himself in-demand from A-list hip hop, R&B and pop artists, as well as finding favor in dance music circles during recent years. Features performances by Dwele, Carl Thomas, Faith Evans, Teedra Moses, Maysa, Crystal Johnson, Terri Walker, Junior, and Lalah Hathaway.

SIMON LAW - LOOK TO THE SKY

On his debut solo album 'Look To The Sky' Simon reunites with Caron Wheeler - on the up-lifting lead single "Morning Love" - as well as Jazzie B, Chante Moore and Maxi Priest, whose "Sunshine Girl" is the second single. His main writing collaborator, who sings lead vocals on the hooky "Rocket Ship" and a number of other tracks, is Lain Gray, originally a member of UK vocal group Nu Colours. Jamaican singer Nadine Sutherland, a Bob Marley discovery who was the first signing to his Tuff Gong label at the age of 11, turns in an outstanding performance on "Love Comes Back To You". An album that is at turns funky, ethereal, majestic, with a strong rhythmic groove. Here’s the full tracklist: Look To The Sky feat. Jazzie B and Lain Gray; Morning Love feat. Caron Wheeler; Rocket Ship feat. Lain Gray; Sunshine Girl feat. Maxi Priest, Lain Gray and Ruinz Ason; Love Comes Back To You feat. Nadine Sutherland; Higher feat. Chante Moore; Message Of Love feat. Lain Gray; Fire On Fire feat. Lain Gray; Outrageous feat. Lain Gray; When You Love Someone feat. Maxi Priest; Heart Of The Beast feat. Jennifer Schaffer; Your Light; Precious Child feat. Lain Gray; My Heart Is Ready feat. Joanna Law; She Walks At Dawn; and Heart Of God.


LIZ AKU - ANKHOR

It's the utmost honor for Sonar Kollektiv to be in the position to introduce “Ankhor”, the brand new album by Liz Aku. Having recorded all sorts of music with different outfits as well as solo projects over the last fifteen years the Belgian soul singer and highly gifted songwriter definitely earned her stripes and is anything but a newcomer to this game. She seems to have found her own, distinctive voice, after traveling to New Zealand and a far-reaching encounter with Mara TK from Electric Wire Hustle. Includes: The Drum Major Instinct feat. Mara TK;  Slowly; Deceive The Mind; Seasons Change; Secrets Die; Flight & Fall; Just What I Need; Ashamed; Hiding Alone; Ankhor feat. Zulu Moon; Hunger; and Breathing Underwater feat. Mara TK.


NEW MUSIC RELEASES: LATIMORE – TASTE OF ME: GREAT AMERICAN SONGS; MAX ROACH – AWARD WINNING DRUMMER; THE JIMMY CASTOR BUNCH – LET IT OUT

LATIMORE – TASTE OF ME: GREAT AMERICAN SONGS

Latimore looks surprisingly great after all these years – and he sounds surprisingly great, too – still very much possessed of that fantastically deep voice that made his 70s soul records so wonderful – but turned here towards a more jazz-based setting! We'll be honest in saying that we're always super suspicious of any record with "great", "American", and "songs" or "songbook" in the title – but this album's something very different than the rest – a way of finding one of the great soul voices of his generation find a way to hit newly mature work, and maybe re-launch his career in a wonderful way! There's plenty of bluesy phrasing in Latimore's vocals, and backing is by a small group that features lots of guitar work from Ish Ledesma, who also produced the record – acting as another old soul star finding a new path. Titles include "Dig A Little Deeper", "The Very Thought Of You", "A Taste Of Me", "At Last", "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know", "You Are So Beautiful", "Let's Straighten It Out", and "Cry Me A River".  ~ Dusty Groove

MAX ROACH – AWARD WINNING DRUMMER

An obscure set from Max Roach – but right up there with his best work of the late 50s on Mercury and other labels! The album features the "award winning" drummer in a quintet with Booker Little on trumpet, Ray Draper on tuba, George Coleman on tenor, and Art Davis on bass – a cool piano-less group that hits some really unusual notes! Draper's horn provides a deep bottom to the record, mixing with Davis' exotic tones nicely – and the album represents Roach's increasing penchant for experimentation in the post Clifford Brown years – tunes with an offbeat edge that's really great. Titles include "Pies Of Quincy", "Tuba De Nod", "Milano", and "Sadiga".  ~ Dusty Groove

THE JIMMY CASTOR BUNCH – LET IT OUT

Jimmy Castor's a cat who's tried many styles in music – and handled them all surprisingly well – from sweet soul to heavy funk, to Latin grooves, and even the funky club style of this late 70s album for TK Records! The set has Jimmy giving a nod to the disco generation – no surprise, given that TK was a disco powerhouse – but the overall approach is maybe tied more to his mid 70s records for Atlantic – with all the warm humor and funk of those albums! On some tracks, it almost feels like Castor's trying to be a one man answer to the P-Funk army – but other tracks are more personal overall. Titles include "Time", "The Mystery Of Me", "Sweetooth", "The Real McCoy", "Future Place", "Let It Out", and "Bertha Butt Encounters Vadar".  ~ Dusty Groove


Pianist Bill Cunliffe Revels in the Melding of Classical and Jazz on New Big Band Album

BACHanalia turns classics by Bach, Prokofiev and Manuel de Falla into briskly swinging jazz featuring Denise Donatelli, Terell Stafford, Joe La Barbera and Bob Sheppard

"Bravo, Bill Cunliffe! You successfully blend your love for the classical world with everything else you embrace. The result is a collection of colors that draw me in from the downbeat to the last fermata." - John Clayton

"Bill Cunliffe is an incredible pianist and unique big band composer/arranger. He combines varied elements in a way that gives his music a sound and feel all its own.Š He is one of the main voices in the big band genre today." - Bob Mintzer

When composer Gunther Schuller began hybridizing jazz and classical music 60 years ago, he famously coined the term "Third Stream" to describe the results. In 2010, pianist, composer and Grammy-winning arranger Bill Cunliffe wrote a Grammy-nominated concerto for trumpet and orchestra that put his own twist on the merger, calling it fourth streamŠLa Banda. Now, with his newest album, BACHanalia, Cunliffe boldly crosses the streams, mashing together classical repertoire and big band jazz with swinging abandon and irreverent glee.

BACHanalia, released June 2 on Cunliffe's own Metre Records label, obviously tips its hat to a towering figure in the history of music, Johann Sebastian Bach. But it also suggests that audiences are in for a musical bacchanal, an evening of merrymaking and revelry (level of debauchery left to the listener's discretion) that would be temperamentally suited to Cunliffe's raucous, gleam-in-the-eye style. The arrangements spotlight the pianist's gift for transforming a wide range of material into rollicking charts that are as bracingly fun to listen to as they are packed with creative ideas and sparkling wit - all skills learned through working with such legends as Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and James Moody.

"I was always a wannabe classical pianist," says Cunliffe, modestly downplaying the years of classical training that preceded his college-age immersion in jazz, inspired by hearing Oscar Peterson for the first time. "These days, stylistic differences aren't viewed in quite the same way they used to be. Big band jazz is more intricately written, so it's moving toward European music; and modern classical music uses more indeterminacy, like jazz. And players now can do everything."

Taking a classic big band approach to such revered classical masters as Bach, Sergei Prokofiev and Manuel de Falla, an arranger could get weighed down shouldering the burden of two immense traditions. But Cunliffe's approach is never less than buoyant, juggling those traditions with agile spontaneity and a luxuriant sonic palette. The album, which commingles those reimagined classical pieces with jazz standards and a Latin-tinged original composition, is made even more compelling by the invigorating musicianship of a stellar large ensemble that teams virtuosic L.A. veterans with enthusiastic and skilled younger players, striking an ideal balance of technical excellence and infectious energy.

In addition, Cunliffe invites special guests to enliven the proceedings: Three-time Grammy nominee Denise Donatelli adds evocative wordless vocals to several tracks as well as a seductive interpretation of a Cole Porter classic; trumpeter Terell Stafford, who has played with the bandleader in the Clayton Brothers band and taught alongside him at Philadelphia's Temple University, takes a breathtakingly vulnerable solo turn on "Blame It On My Youth"; saxophonist Bob Sheppard offers a thrilling soprano workout on Cunliffe's "Afluencia"; and the incomparable drummer Joe La Barbera anchors the band throughout with the exhilarating propulsion that Cunliffe insists is central to any music he makes.
"It's got to swing," he states simply. "That rhythmic engine is so important. It brings people together. The structures of classical music lend themselves extremely well to large group jazz improvisation, but you've got to find rhythms that are readily translatable. Bach has always had that pulse. The Russian stuff - Shostakovich, Prokofiev - always feels like bebop to me."

The sound of La Barbera's brushes opens the album, setting the gentle but upbeat tone for "Sleepers Wake." Cunliffe's take on the beloved Bach cantata lets Donatelli's glowing vocalise carry the melody, joined at times by sax, guitar, trumpet, or Cunliffe's piano. A similar setting is given to the Baroque melodic twists and turns of "Solfeggietto," by the great composer's son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Donatelli's voice blends into the surging swells of Falla's "The Three-Cornered Hat," which Cunliffe originally arranged at the behest of legendary "Tonight Show" bandleader Doc Severinsen.

An orchestral din leads into the sultry Cuban accents of Cunliffe's own "Afluencia," originally written for and recorded by his Latin band, Imaginación. Sheppard reprises his soloist role from the group's self-titled 2005 recording. Besides that piece, the album deviates from the classical theme on the overcast version of "Blame It On My Youth" and, to close, "I've Got You Under My Skin."

The rich, complex harmonies of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto caught Cunliffe's ear from the first time he heard the piece. Here he transforms it into a lively samba highlighted by his own adventurous solo as well as a hypnotic run by saxophonist Rob Lockart, a former Eastman School of Music classmate. The final classically inspired piece is "Goldberg Contraption," which uses Glenn Gould's acclaimed recordings of Bach's Goldberg Variations as a touchstone before veering off in some wild and eclectic directions. The title pays winking homage to cartoonist Rube Goldberg, whose whimsical devices went to ridiculous extremes to achieve simple goals, using a hodgepodge of found items. Cunliffe approached the composition similarly, patchworking a parodic fugue with New Orleans brass and simmering bebop, with the tongues that aren't playing instruments planted firmly in cheeks.

"I think music should be, among other things, funny," Cunliffe says. "I think that musicians - and people in general - who don't laugh at themselves are missing the boat." More often, though, the fun of Cunliffe's music comes from the joy of the players and from the pianist himself, who exults in recomposing his pieces on the bandstand. "I love being able to conduct the ensemble and break things apart at times. It's never the same twice."



Experimental Guitarist Rex Shepherd To Release New Album “Never Buy My Self Volume III”

Guitarist and composer Rex Shepherd will be releasing the third installment of the “Never Buy My Self” series digitally on June 29th. The first two volumes, released in 2014, featured Shepherd playing solo and in various duets, and volume three continues the series with a new set of all solo music consisting of both improvised and composed pieces. The new release features four new compositions and ten more improvised tunes that demonstrate Shepherd's musical range from thoughtfully written jazz ballads to fuzzed out guitar mayhem including one piece in which Shepherd again uses the Theremin for self accompaniment.

Says Rex, “I released a solo set in 2016 called 'Meditations,' and doing a new solo thing runs the risk of repetition but 'Meditations' was done in just a few sessions and was textural and harmonically focused and the new stuff returns to my tendency to play and write in a linear melodic way and the music on 'Never Buy My Self, Volume III' reflects that way of thinking, and it's also different in that it was recorded over a span of about two years and, like volume I, it includes one particular composition that is very personal and is only for me to play. I have aspirations for new projects with larger ensembles and to return to the No End of Now jazz rock thing too so this will probably be the last solo thing I do for a good while, and given the current socio-emotional environment these days I don't want to come off as a narcissistic anti-social type. So I hope people enjoy and connect with this music and, as always, much peace, happiness, and music to all people, everywhere.”

Guitarist Rex Shepherd also recently released three albums digitally: “Ohio”, “Sonority” and “Duets”. Combining elements of jazz improvisation and harmony with an approach to guitar playing heavily influenced by diverse players such as Jim Hall, Robin Trower, Fred Frith, and sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar, Rex Shepherd has forged a niche for himself with original music that typically lies somewhere just outside the usual genre labels but is still music that is approachable.

Says Rex, “This new music was recorded in my personal studio, much of it with other musicians in duets, and at various times throughout the last few years. The past several years have delivered to me a greater understanding of the fleeting nature of this lifetime, so I decided to release much of what I had accumulated, in part to satisfy my own need to communicate musically with the world outside of my little sphere of existence, but also I wanted to honor the musicians who played this music with me. It is these musical and personal relationships that are at the heart of creating music, whether composed or improvised, and for the people who listen to it I hope it also creates a connection between us. Much peace and music to all people, everywhere.”

Having been described as “Robin Trower meets Miles Davis”, Shepherd's music spans from full on instrumental jazz rock tunes to traditional jazz compositions with a good dose of free improvisation and sound experimentation using “prepared” and effected guitar sounds and instruments such as the “oceanharp” and the Theremin.

Shepherd's band, sometimes going under the name No End of Now, employs a revolving cast of the most creative players he can find who are willing to take part in a project that is often arranged while playing and with no limitations on the players' expression of the music. The compositions are also a blend of influences, from Wayne Shorter to John Cage, and most often are directly inspired by people, literature and other art forms, and experiences that hold significant meaning in Shepherd's life.

Previously released albums:

“Ohio”: With the exception of “Desire”, a ballad Rex wrote several years ago, the music on this recording is all improvised. The songs consist of duet recordings captured in his studio after he had returned home to Ohio for a short time. https://rexshepherd.bandcamp.com/album/ohio

“Sonority”: This recent recording features a set of improvised tunes that were arrived at after John and Rex conducted their usual pre-roll discussions about the state of current affairs in the U.S. https://rexshepherd.bandcamp.com/album/sonority

“Duets”: Except for the improvisations “Etude #2” and “April 9th”, this release features compositions by Rex that have existed anywhere from 15 years, in the case of “In the Shade”, to just two days before being recorded like “Happy Little Trees”. https://rexshepherd.bandcamp.com/album/duets

To purchase Rex Shepherd's “Never Buy My Self Volume III”: https://rexshepherd.bandcamp.com/album/never-buy-my-self-vol-iii

For more information:
Website: https://rexshep.com/


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

John Tropea's latest CD, Gotcha Rhythm Right Here is a return to R & B and Funk

John Tropea's latest CD, his eleventh solo release, is Gotcha Rhythm Right Here is a return to R & B and Funk for the veteran session guitarist. On the 13 song disc Tropea and his longtime friend/writing and arranging partner Chris Palmaro have created a groovin' collection of music that's a fun-filled showcase of some of the finest musicians on the scene.

From the pulsating bass saxes of “Soul Surfin’” to the finely-crafted pop genius of “Boulevard Strut”,from the sexy horns of “Bikini Beach” and rhythmic drive of “Chili Wa Man” to the ingenious jazz funk of Steve Gadd on “Hip To The Hips”, Gotcha Rhythm Right Here is going to grab you and not let go. Along with Tropea's inventive solos, the CD also features solos by Randy Brecker, "Blue" Lou Marini, Dave Mann, Chris Palmaro and Hannah Rubinstein. Each with their own unique style and intensity.

John Tropea is one of the most admired and highly regarded guitar players of his generation., a musician’s musician who attracts the finest players for his own projects. Tropea has written for and played with major recording artists from around the world and contributed to other artist’s successes such as his solo work with Deodato, (2001 theme), projects with Laura Nyro, Harry Chapin (Cat’s in the Cradle), Paul Simon (Fifty Ways), Alice Cooper (Goes to Hell), Eric Clapton (Journey Man), Dr. John, and many others. He is also a composer, arranger, and producer.

Tropea began guitar studies at the age of 12. His musical education continued at Berklee School of Music in Boston, where he studied jazz guitar, harmony, composition, and big band arranging. Immediately after arriving in Boston, Tropea began playing live R & B and jazz gigs with many different bands in the area, including The Three Degrees and was nfluenced by Wes Montgomery, Johnny Smith, Louis Bonfa, Pat Martino, and George Benson.

After Berklee, Tropea recorded and toured with Deodato. Moving to New York in 1967, Tropea quickly became one of the most sought after session players, soon becoming a peer among New York’s finest studio musicians. As well as world touring, Tropea wrote and produced three critically acclaimed solo albums with TK records.

His first solo album “Tropea,” was released in 1975, followed by “Short Trip to Space,” and “To Touch You Again.” With those early recordings and other projects, Tropea formed close musical alliances with other great New York musicians including: David Spinozza, Warren Bernhardt, David Sanborn, Randy and Michael Brecker, Steve Gadd, Anthony Jackson, Don Grolnick, and Richard Tee (Tropea played in The Richard Tee band).

During this time Tropea also wrote and arranged music for film and broadcast advertising. With his frequent co-producer and friend Will Lee, Tropea went on to release “Simple Way to say ‘I Love You,’ and “Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blues” Live gigs from that era by The Tropea Band at Mikell’s, in New York City, remain legendary.


NEW MUSIC RELEASES: ELLA FITZGERALD – AT MISTER KELLY’S 1958; RUSTY BRYANT – FIRE EATER; GAL COSTA - INDIA

ELLA FITZGERALD – AT MISTER KELLY’S 1958

Includes a 12-page booklet with rare photos from the concert and updated liner notes. This release presents Ella Fitzgerald's 1958 performances at the iconic Chicago club Mister Kelly's. For thirty years, before it closed on August 25, 1975, it was a springboard to fame for countless entertainers. As reported in the Chicago Tribune,''It was a supernova in the local and national nightlife firmament.'' Ella is backed on these sets by a trio consisting of Lou Levy on piano, Max Bennett on bass, and Gus Johnson on drums. She performs a nice collection of well-known standards, as well as some tunes she rarely sang, such as the opening ''Your Red Wagon'' and ''Across the Alley from the Alamo.'' Three rare radio broadcasts, which also showcase Ella singing at small clubs have been added here as a bonus. Includes: Your Red Wagon; Nice Work If You Can Get It; I'm Glad There Is You; How Long Has This Been Going On?;  Across the Alley from the Alamo; Perdido; The Lady Is a Tramp; Bewitched; Summertime; In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning; St. Louis Blues; Witchcraft; Love Me or Leave Me; Joe Williams' Blues; Porgy & Bess Medley: I Loves You Porgy/Porgy, I's Your Woman Now (Bess, You Is My Woman Now); How High the Moon; Exactly Like You; Come Rain or Come Shine; Stardust; 's Wonderful; You Don't Know What Love Is; My Funny Valentine; Anything Goes; Why Don't You Do Right?; Mean to Me; I Can't Get Started; Later; and That Old Black Magic.

RUSTY BRYANT – FIRE EATER

An unsung monster in the pantheon of exceptional soul-jazz outings from the Prestige catalog, Fire Eater finds Rusty Bryant grooving hard in a combo that featured Idris Muhammad on drums, Wilbert Longmire on guitar, and both Bill Mason and Leon Spencer Jr. on organ. Included in this stretched-out, funky set of four originals is the title track, “Fire Eater,” which was sampled for “Swing Set” by Jurassic 5 (2000) and appeared on the 1999 collaboration between DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, Brainfreeze. While not as instantly recognizable by name as other greats of the tenor saxophone such as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, Bryant’s fiery and athletic approach on this set sets him apart from his peers as a force to be reckoned with. In the strident groove and funky underpinnings of Fire Eater is the blueprint for generations of future groovers and funkateers. Track Listing: Fire Eater (9:36); Free At Last (8:37); The Hooker (9:31); Mister S.(7:36). Personnel: Rusty Bryant (tenor saxophone); Idris Muhammad (drums); Wilbert Longmire (guitar); Bill Mason (organ); and Leon Spencer Jr. (organ).

GAL COSTA - INDIA

Digitally remastered edition of this 1973 album housed in replica of the original gatefold including the cover that was banned by the Brazilian military government in 1973 during the brutal dictatorship. India is a post-Tropicalia masterpiece from one of the movements key figures and true legends of Brazilian music, Gal Costa. Features a stellar line up of musicians including Gilberto Gil, Arthur Verocai, Dominguinhos, and Tenorio Jr. Amongst others. India includes the incredible 'Pontos de Luz' as sampled by Kaytranada on 'Lite Spots' - one of our favorite Brazilian songs of all time. A wonderful album from start to finish, touching on MPB, folk, jazz, funk and rock with strong Tropicalia and Nordestino influences throughout. Also includes "Índia," "Volta," and "Desafinado".


STAX RECORDS REISSUES MELVIN VAN PEEBLES’ GROUNDBREAKING SOUNDTRACK SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG

Stax Records, an imprint of Concord Music Group and its Catalog Division, Craft Recordings, is pleased to announce the reissue of one of its most provocative titles: Melvin Van Peebles’  Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Consistently hailed as a landmark, genre-defining album, this 1971 soundtrack -- performed by a then-unknown Earth, Wind & Fire with contributions by Van Peebles -- will be made available on May 26th for the very first time in high-res and standard digital formats. The vinyl edition features audio remastered from the original analog tapes and cut on the original Stax lathe at Memphis’ Ardent studios, then pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Memphis Record Pressing. The remastered LP also includes new liner notes from author, journalist and music critic Jeff Weiss, as well as from Melvin’s son Mario Van Peebles, director of New Jack City (1991) and 2003’s Baadasssss!, which chronicles the making of his father’s landmark film. 

Trailblazing writer, director, actor and composer Melvin Van Peebles was financially and creatively responsible for the entire production of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. Van Peebles not only directed, scripted, and edited the film, but also wrote the score and directed the marketing campaign. The film, which in the end grossed more than $10 million (the highest ever for an independent film at the time), was acclaimed for its political resonance with the black struggle. In his liner notes, Jeff Weiss notes, “For all the resistance mounting in the streets, no black director had yet made a film that captured the spirit of rebellion, frustration and the refusal to accept injustice. Van Peebles alchemized Malcolm X, Iceberg Slim and Soul on Ice with Huey Newton, Gil-Scott Heron and the French New Wave. Badass cinema was born.” The Black Panthers made the film required viewing. And despite the fact that few theaters would screen the X-rated film, the soundtrack helped to market the film to the masses, through radio waves and word of mouth. The success of the film proved to be a genre-defining moment, giving birth to Blaxploitation, and opening the doors for films like Shaft and Super Fly.

The soundtrack features a combination of hymn-based vocalization and jazz rhythms, capturing the funky, gritty and soulful spirit of the time, and foreshadowing the use of sampling that would occur in hip hop music, some 20 years later. Weiss adds, “The soundtrack operates like a surrealist Mobius strip comprised of call-and-response chants against the man…It’s as avant-garde as the film’s kinetic mix of psychedelic jump cuts and dream-like sequences. The music becomes a character itself, unseen but forcefully heard.” 

The reissue of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song is part of a wider, year-long initiative, celebrating Stax Records’ 60th anniversary. The cross-label collaboration between Concord Music Group and Rhino Entertainment will highlight the hits, deep cuts and rare tracks from the Memphis label’s heyday of the '60s and ‘70s.

The 60th anniversary of the legendary soul label Stax Records commemorates its extraordinary legacy as an international hit-making machine and its indispensable chapter in American musical history as an integrated company in the heart of the Civil Rights movement. The Stax 60 celebration will highlight the hits, deep cuts and rare tracks from the Memphis label’s heyday of the '60s and ‘70s, including the many legendary artists who jointly created the world-renown “Stax sound," - Otis Redding, Booker T & the MGs, Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Sam & Dave, The Dramatics and many more. The Stax 60 campaign will honor the music from Soulsville USA through curated collections, deluxe box sets, hi-resolution audio, streaming playlists and unique vinyl initiatives.

Track listing:
A1. Sweetback Losing His Cherry
A2. Sweetback Getting It Uptight And Preaching It So Hard The Bourgeois Reggin Angels In Heaven Turn Around
A3. Come On Feet
A4. Sweetback’s Theme
B1. Hoppin’ John
B2. Mojo Woman
B3. Sanra Z.
B4. Reggins Hanging On In There As Best They Can
B5. Wont Bleed Me
B6. The Man Tries Running His Usual Game But Sweetback’s Jones Is So Strong He Wastes The Hounds (Yeah! Yeah! And Besides That Will Be Coming Back Takin Names & Collecting Dues)


Bassist David Pastorius and Local 518 'Sense of Urgency '

David, the nephew of the late, great bassist Jaco Pastorius, may share the same last name and instrument of choice as his uncle, but that’s where the similarities end. As bass players go, David’s roots match his edgier, more progressive rock sound. “I mean, obviously, now I listen to Jaco and, yeah, he’s definitely an influence now. But originally it was guys like Flea, Robert Trujillo, Les Claypool, Steve Harris... more from the rock element.”

As the nephew of legendary jazz fusion bassist Jaco Pastorius, David has carried the torch in a way that even he probably could not have anticipated. David’s first album, the self titled David Pastorius and Local 518 was released on the P-Vine label in Japan in 2007, with great success there. It is on this album that many listeners got their first glimpse of David’s unique approach to bass – and particularly his slap style – which he’s clearly advanced since, gaining him recognition wherever he plays.

The follow-up to the first release is Sense of Urgency. After a couple of listens, it is clear this is a big leap from the first one, from the compositions to the performance. David credits this with having both a plan as well as more experience in recording an album. David wrote or co-wrote all of the music on Sense of Urgency. He says that his writing often times starts on the bass, but on some of the tracks, they came using a unique instrument.

See video below David’s bass remix of Tech N9ne’s seminal track “Questions”, we knew something special had just landed in our laps. Fast forward nearly a year and the master of four strings is headed out on the road with Tech N9ne’s Band Of Psychos Tour.

“When I stumbled across a video on Facebook of David Pastorius I found myself stunned in my tracks.  You can definitely sense the ‘Pastorius DNA’ yet there is a clear path that David has carved out on his own in the shadows of his uncle Jaco.  I had to immediately contact him to tell him that he astounded me with his talent.  I believe he is perfect for our NOT JUST JAZZ campaign for his artistry speaks for itself with all the colors and flavors integrating with each other and especially jazz” says Jaijai Jackson of The Jazz Network Worldwide.  David is currently looking for bookings on music festivals worldwide.

“I am completely honored and grateful to be featured by The Jazz Network Worldwides’s NOT JUST JAZZ campaign. It’s an amazing platform for many artists such as myself that don't totally fit into the straight ahead jazz genre. I'm hoping that this feature will help bring some attention to artists like myself and others out there so we can support ourselves and our families doing what we love and were intended to do.   I also want to give a huge thank you to Jaijai Jackson for all her help and everything she did to make this opportunity a possibility for me.”

Visit THE JAZZ NETWORK WORLDWIDE "A GREAT PLACE TO HANG" at: http://www.thejazznetworkworldwide.com/?xg_source=msg_mes_network

Serbian born and Barcelona Spain based guitarist DUSAN JEVTOVIC releases NO ANSWER

MoonJune Records has announced the new release of one of the most extraordinary musicians on the MoonJune label's roster, Serbian born and Barcelona Spain based guitarist extraordinaire Dusan Jevtovic. Already on his 5 participation  on extended MoonJune's family of similarly minded musos, No Answer is Dusan's third solo album and the second solo album on the label, and his next studio work was already recorded last month again at the magic La Casa Murada in Spain, with Gary Husband, Markus Reuter and Bernat Hernandez, will be released in the first trimester of 2018. 

The inspired pairing of guitarist Dusan Jevtovic and pianist Vasil Hadzimanov, mobilized by the convincing playing of Asaf Sirkis on drum kit, has resulted in a sound that cross-pollinates the most forward thinking aspects of progressive music with the excitement of post-jazz. Think ECM record label vibe filtered through Radiohead played at an intimate after-hours jazz venue and you’ll catch the vibe. Choosing to work without a bass player opens new dynamic possibilities and allows the guitar and keyboard voicing to dance and weave in a textural ballet. Vasil’s beautiful arpeggiated piano serves as delicate counterpoint to Dusan’s raw textured playing. Asaf alternates between the delicacy of Jon Christensen and the driving power of vintage Billy Cobham. Mini Moog bass brings a powerful bottom end for Jevtovic’ soaring acrobatics and reinforces Sirkis' driving grooves. As with the very best instrumental music, there is a lot of careful listening, creative comping, and building off the other players’ energy, resulting in a music that is at once confident, inspired and original. Dusan Jevtovic' second international release (his third) on the New York progressive jazz label MoonJune might be his groundbreaking work which will intrigue fans of guitarists such as John Abercrombie, John Frusciante, Terje Rypdal, David Torn, Nels Cline, and Jimi Hendrix.

The inspired pairing of guitarist Dusan Jevtovic and pianist Vasil Hadzimanov, mobilized by the convincing playing of Asaf Sirkis on drum kit, has resulted in a sound that cross-pollinates the most forward thinking aspects of progressive music with the excitement of post-jazz. Think ECM record label vibe filtered through Radiohead played at an intimate after-hours jazz venue and you’ll catch the vibe. Choosing to work without a bass player opens new dynamic possibilities and allows the guitar and keyboard voicing to dance and weave in a textural ballet. Vasil’s beautiful arpeggiated piano serves as delicate counterpoint to Dusan’s raw textured playing. Asaf alternates between the delicacy of Jon Christensen and the driving power of vintage Billy Cobham. Mini Moog bass brings a powerful bottom end for Jevtovic’ soaring acrobatics and reinforces Sirkis' driving grooves. As with the very best instrumental music, there is a lot of careful listening, creative comping, and building off the other players’ energy, resulting in a music that is at once confident, inspired and original. Dusan Jevtovic' second international release (his third) on the New York progressive jazz label MoonJune might be his groundbreaking work which will intrigue fans of guitarists such as John Abercrombie, John Frusciante, Terje Rypdal, David Torn, Nels Cline, and Jimi Hendrix.

Dusan Jevtovic is Serbian guitarist based in Barcelona, Spain since 2003, and has released two solo albums: On The Edge" (2009, L'Indi, Spain) and Am I Walking Wrong? (MoonJune, 2013), and has recorded and toured with a vast arrays of International artists such as Xavi Reija, Tony Levin, Gary Husband, Asaf Sirkis, Vasil Hadzimanov, Marko Djordjevic, Xavi Reija, Bernat Hernandez, Markus Reuter, Rafa Pons, Rim Banna.

Vasil Hadzimanov is Serbian pianist/keyboardist based in Belgrade, and son of two iconic pop singers from 60's and 70's, who are still active: Macedonian legend Zafir Hadzimanov, and Senka Velentalic. Alumni of Berklee College of Music, Vasil has recorded and performed with Theodossi Spassov, Marko Djordjevic Dusan Jevtovic, Toni Kitanovski, David Binney, Antonio Sanchez, Matt Garrison, Vlatko Stefanovski, Nigel Kennedy, Vlatko Stefanovski, David Gilmore (jazz guitarist).

Asaf Sirkis is one of the busiest European drummers, performing over 200 shows per year. Based in London, born in Israel, he recorded and performed with Tim Garland, Jacob Collier, Larry Coryell, Gwilym Simcock, John Abercrombie, Jeff Berlin, Kenny Wheeler, Gary Husband, Gilad Atzmon, Andy Sheppard, Bob Sheppard, Mark Egan, John Etheridge, Mark Wingfield, Nicolas Meier, Dwiki Dharmawan, Dewa Budjana, Kamal Musallam, David Binney, Billy Sherwood, Carles Benavent, Nguyên Lê, Jimmy Haslip, Beledo, Mauro Pagani, Soft Machine Legacy, and many more.

 

GREEK-AMERICAN REGGAE ARTIST/ PRODUCER CHRISTOS DC SET TO RELEASE IS FOURTH ALBUM TESSERA ON JULY 28TH

Christos DC (aka Chris Vrenios) is a Greek-American artist, producer, and touring multi-instrumental musician based in Washington, DC. His multicultural sensibility and heart for roots music have been influential in shaping the reggae scene locally and around the world. His own recordings, paired with those released through his homegrown Honest Music label, highlight some of the most well known names in reggae today including Sly & Robbie, Thievery Corporation, Akae Beka, and GRAMMY-nominated icon Don Carlos.

Christos DC’s fourth album release Tessera (the number four in Greek), mines the deepest wells of reggae’s talent pools, while highlighting a diverse range of styles. The heavyweight first single from the album, “Speak the Fire,” features up-and-coming Bulgarian artist Zafayah and the production powerhouse unit The Skankin Monks. It was released in April and the video, which premiered on Reggaeville, was filmed entirely in Goa, India. Christos also teams up with Akae Beka (Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite) on the impassioned tune “What is Happening,” and leads the powerful anthemic collaboration “Communion” with Harrison Stafford, the voice of Groundation, and Kenyatta Hill, son of the legendary Joseph Hill of Culture. Paying homage to musical inspirations and heritage beyond the reggae world, he offers an emotional cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold;” a rocksteady rendition of the obscure Nina Simone gem “The Desperate Ones;” and a roots reggae take on the classic Greek tune “Ρολόι κομπολόι (Watch Rosary)” embellished with epic horn and flute arrangements.

Other standout tracks include the lyrical, bass-rich “Say What You Want” and “Pressure” – both of which were mixed by dub mixologist Tippy I Alfred of I Grade Records and Zion I Kingscollective. The last tune on the album and the only instrumental, “Boots and Tie,” features Christos playing talk box guitar over a rare Sly & Robbie / Taxi Gang track originally recorded at Channel One Studios in 1980.

An open mind, open heart, and broad talent have enabled Christos DC to connect with collaborators and audiences of all ages, colors, and creeds. “Love is the frequency in which the Creator works through one another,” Christos sings. It is in this spirit that he continues to offer Honest Music.

Catch him on tour performing new tunes this summer in Europe with Don Carlos as well as the Washington, DC area.

Tour Dates:

Jul 08 @ Breaux Vineyard Key West Fest, Purcellville, VA
Jul 28 @ Backstage, Munich, Germany
Jul 30 @ Reggae Jam Festival, Bersenbruck, Germany
Aug 01 @ Rote Fabrik, Zurich, Switzerland
Aug 04 @ Belgrave Hall, Leeds, United Kingdom
Aug 05 @ 02 Academy Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom
Aug 06 @ O2 Academy Islington, London, United Kingdom
Aug 10 @ Melkweg, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Aug 11 @ Afro C Festival, Bredene, Belgium
Aug 12 @ Uppsala Festival, Uppsala, Sweden
Aug 15 @ Rototom Sunsplash, Benicasim, Spain
Aug 17 @ Overjam International Reggae Festival, Tolmin, Slovenia
Aug 18 @ Festa di Radio Onda d´Urto, Brescia, Italy
Aug 19 @ Festijam 2017 – Reggae Mountain Festival, Arrens, France
Aug 20 @ Bilbo Reggae Splash 2017, Bilbao, Spain
Aug 26 @ Jammin Java, Vienna, VA

Videos:: 
Christos DC feat. Zafayah & The Skankin Monks – Speak The Fire [Official Video 2017]
Human Dignity by Christos DC live at Ashkenaz. Berkeley ,CA
Christos DC: Vasilikos Live at Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

 

Internationally acclaimed saxophonist Miguel Zenón tours to Europe and China July 1 - 15, 2017

Acclaimed saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón and his longstanding quartet embark on an international tour from July 1-15 with stops in France, Spain, Poland, Switzerland, and China. The band is the same lineup featured in Zenón's latest release Típico (February 2017 Miel Music): pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Henry Cole.

o Saturday, July 1, Jazz a Oloron, 10 Rue de Revol, Oloron-Sainte-Marie, France.
o Sunday, July 2, Bogui Jazz, Calle de Barquillo, 29, 28004 Madrid, Spain.
o Thursday & Friday, July 6-7, Le Duc des Lombards, 42 Rue des Lombards, Paris, France.
o Saturday, July 8, La Cité du Vin, 134 Quai de Bacalan, Bordeaux, France.
o Sunday, July 9, Summer Jazz Days, Warsaw, Poland.
o Monday, July 10, Musique en été, Geneva, Switzerland.
o Friday & Saturday, July 14-15, Blue Note, Beijing, China.

A multiple Grammy® nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow, Miguel Zenón is one of a select group of musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often-contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. Widely considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, Zenón has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American folkloric music and jazz. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has recorded and toured with a wide variety of musicians including Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, Bobby Hutcherson and Steve Coleman and is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective.

Tipico is above all a celebration of Zenón's longstanding quartet. His past several releases have generally fleshed out that core unit with additional instrumentalists as Zenón has looked outward to explore various aspects of his Puerto Rican heritage. Tipico feels more intimate. Its focus stays closer to home, with nods to Zenón's own personal and professional life as it zeroes in on what makes his band unique.

"I was thinking about what this band and the guys in the band mean to me as I was writing the music," he explains. "I kept going back to this idea of us developing this common language that identifies us as a band."

That language has been developing for more than a decade. Pianist Luis Perdomo and bassist Hans Glawischnig have been with Zenón since the turn of the millennium; Henry Cole joined the band in 2005. Their language is thoroughly fluent modern jazz, with all the instrumental prowess and rhythmic and harmonic complexity that that implies. But the dialect they've created together through the years is distinctive.
Zenón                                                                                                         

"'Típico' refers to something that's customary to a region or a group of people," Zenón says. "Or something that can be related to a specific group of people. And when I was writing the music, I was thinking about music that identified us and this band."

Each of the album's final three tracks, Zenón notes, was composed around a solo or signature rhythmic line that one of the band members had played before. "My approach was more systematic on those three compositions specifically. But the whole record essentially is about representing the sound of the band. The sound of our band."

The album opens with "Academia," a tune inspired by Zenón's teaching at New England Conservatory, where he serves as part of the jazz faculty. "One of the great things about teaching at NEC is that I get the opportunity to create a personalized curriculum for each of my private students, depending on their needs and on what I feel they should be working on. So I find myself having to come up with new exercises constantly, in order to keep our interactions interesting and challenging. This composition is built around various harmonic and rhythmic exercises that I developed with some of my more recent students at the school."

The second track, "Cantor," honors Zenón's friend and frequent collaborator Guillermo Klein. "Gullermo's music has a very personal voice, something very unique. With this piece I was trying to convey some of what I feel are his most interesting qualities as a composer, like the lyrical character of his melodies and the very nuanced harmonic movement of his pieces. He also has very particular way of organizing the 3/4 bar, which he breaks down into three bars of 7/8 and one bar of 3/8. The piece touches on this a bit towards the end, sort of as a way of tipping my hat to a great friend and musician."

The third and fourth tracks both stem from Zenón pondering what gives a particular song a folkloric feel. "Ciclo" emphasizes melody and rhythm, Zenón taking"a melody that is meant to sound very folkloric - a bit simpler harmonically and delineating a very specific beat" and building a complex extended cycle around it using smaller, interlocking rhythmic cells.

"Típico" approaches its folkloric aims harmonically. "There's a harmonic cadence that is very common in Latin American music, especially music in the Caribbean. Something that revolves around a minor key and then slides down, going 'Subdominant Minor - Tonic Minor - Dominant - Tonic Minor.' A very simple cadence, but one that is very unique and effective. It's always caught my ear because I'm always on the lookout for things that serve as sort of musical connecting threads, things that makes me feel that the music from all these different countries and cultural expressions is somehow connected and coming out of the same combination of elements. I built this specific composition around this cadence, and called it "Típico" in reference to this Pan-American idea."

"Sangre Di Me Sangre" is a tune the quartet has been playing for a while now, a balladic tribute to Zenón's 4-year-old daughter, Elena, written before her first birthday. "I was sitting in this park with her," he recalls. "She was playing around and I sat down and sketched out the song on my notepad." Zenón wrote the piece first with lyrics, then orchestrated it for the quartet, featuring Glawischnig's bass both on a sprightly introductory melody played in unison with Perdomo and on a solo meant to convey a singing quality.
Glawischnig is also featured on "Corteza," its melody derived from Zenón's transcription of his bass solo opening the track "Calle Calma" on the 2009 Zenónalbum Esta Plena. It, too, has a balladic feel, with lyrical solos from Zenón and Perdomo leading to a closing uptempo restatement of the theme.

The Perdomo feature "Entre Las Raíces" ("Amongst the Roots") is more fiery, emphasizing two key facets of the pianist's musical personality. The intricate melody he and Zenón whip through together was transcribed from a Perdomo solo on "Street View: Biker," the opening track on Perdomo's album Awareness. But this arrangement opens with Perdomo playing wild and free, and Zenón's alto solo when it comes reveals a free side of his own, veering more toward Ornette Coleman or Albert Ayler.

"The piece is very free in terms of the way we deal with the improvised segments," says Zenón. "Luis always talks about listening to Bud Powell and Cecil Taylor at the same time when he was growing up in Caracas, and always having a foot in this freer, avant-gardish world of jazz. And when you hear him play on that track, it sounds that way. For that piece specifically, he really sounds like he's 100 percent in his element."

Cole's playing is suitably free on "Entre Las Raíces" as well, but his featured track, "Las Ramas" ("The Branches," Cole's own debut album having been titled "Roots Before Branches"), required more discipline. "I wrote the piece around this figure that he has been developing over the last few years and plays all the time," says Zenón. "The piece is very difficult to play - sort of like an etude for the drums, pretty much. And I know he worked very hard on it. Even though the original idea came from him, he worked very hard on making it precise and making it clean, and really sounded amazing on this track."

It's no accident that the final three songs are named for parts of a tree. "I was thinking of the band as a tree," Zenón acknowledges. "And thinking of myself as the watcher. I mean, I'm part of it also. But mostly I'm observing these amazing musicians night after night, and how together they kind of make up this livingorganism."

Zenón is onto something with that metaphor. The spotlight cast by Típico illuminates how alive his quartet's music has always been, while never ceasing to evolve and grow.


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