Monday, August 21, 2017


Craft Recordings is proud to announce the forthcoming release of The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976), chronicling the ascension of one of the most influential creative talents in music history, Isaac Hayes, who would have turned 75 this year. Due out September 22nd, the four-cd collection examines the various avenues of Hayes’ prolific career; each disc offering an in-depth look at his distinct musical contributions to both Memphis-based Stax Records and to the world at large: from his foundational presence as a songwriter and producer at Stax, to his artistic metamorphosis and subsequent rise to stardom. The set also includes a wide range of previously-unreleased material, as well as a replica 7” vinyl single of the artist’s first commercially-released recordings. Housed in a 60-page hardcover book, the retrospective incorporates a wealth of archival photos and ephemera, as well as an essay by author Robert Gordon (Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion) which includes new interviews with Stax luminaries Deanie Parker and Jim Stewart. Contributions from Floyd Newman, Mickey Gregory, Sam Moore (Sam & Dave), and compilation producer Joe McEwen round out the package. 

From his humble beginnings as an orphaned sharecropper to his rise as a session musician, house songwriter, and producer for Stax Records, to his arrival as a star in his own right, Isaac Hayes (1942-2008) became a symbol of what was possible for Black America. Dubbed “Black Moses” during the height of his popularity, Hayes revolutionized soul music, leading it out of the era of the three-minute single and into new territory: that of the fully-orchestrated concept album, complete with extended cuts that, in some cases, spanned nearly the entire side of an LP. The artist also broke barriers in the film industry, scoring the 1971 film Shaft. The soundtrack became Hayes’ fourth consecutive platinum LP, and also earned him an Academy Award® for Best Original Song (“Theme From Shaft”). The musician became the first African American to win the Oscar in a non-acting category, and was also the first recipient of the Best Original Song category to both write and perform the winning track. Hayes’ success opened the door for other artists and composers, like Curtis Mayfield and Norman Whitfield, to score music for the screen. 

Each disc of The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) examines a different facet of Hayes’ career. Disc one covers his early work as a songwriter and producer at Stax, including many of his legendary collaborations with David Porter, such as Carla Thomas’ “B-A-B-Y” recently featured in the hit film Baby Driver, and Sam & Dave’s “Soul Man,” which celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year.

Disc two spotlights Isaac Hayes as a solo artist, featuring his singles recorded for the Volt and Enterprise imprints; from his breakthrough track “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” off Hot Buttered Soul, to his subsequent chartbusters, including “Never Can Say Goodbye,” “Do Your Thing” and the iconic, ubiquitous chart-topping hit, “Theme from Shaft.”

The third disc, aptly titled “Cover Man,” examines Isaac’s uncanny ability to transform tunes by songwriting greats such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David and make them entirely his own. This disc also includes previously unreleased material, including a studio version of “Windows of the World” and live covers of “Stormy Monday,” “I Stand Accused,” and “The Ten Commandments of Love,” all recorded at a 1972 concert in Chicago.

The final disc, entitled “Jam Master,” offers fans a seat in the studio with Isaac Hayes, showcasing extended jams from his classic LPs, including a full, 33-minute freeform psychedelic Bar-Kays jam on “Do Your Thing.” This disc also includes unreleased work-in-progress versions of “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” the Bill Withers-penned classic “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and a never-before-heard composition from the Shaft soundtrack entitled “Black Militant’s Place.” 

This collection marks a cornerstone in a year-long initiative celebrating Stax Records’ 60th anniversary and comes on the heels of a recent digital release of Hayes’ Enterprise albums re-mastered from the original analog tapes by renowned engineer Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters earlier this year. LP reissues cut from these new masters, including the best-selling Hot Buttered Soul, Black Moses, and Shaft will be available later this year. 

The cross-label collaboration between Concord Music Group and Rhino Entertainment has highlighted the hits, deep cuts and rare tracks from the Memphis label’s heyday of the '60s and ‘70s. Indeed, Isaac Hayes was an integral part of “The Memphis Sound,” and helped to not only shape the sound of a genre, but also helped it explode into mainstream pop culture. 75 years after Hayes’ birth, and nearly a decade after his passing, his music, style and influence still live on today. Many of the most recognizable Hip-Hop beats and drops have been born from Hayes’ original tracks and a collaboration with launching in connection with the release of the box set will showcase his lasting effect on popular music.

The Spirit of Memphis (1962-1976) “is an attempt to frame a career that doesn’t always fit neatly together. This box set is a little idiosyncratic, like its subject and the desire is to tell a story, put together in chapters,” writes box set producer Joe McEwen in his Producer’s Note, “hopefully to give context to a visionary talent who came of age in Memphis, Tennessee among a generational eruption of musicians that moved mountains…” 

 *Denotes previously unreleased material
Soul Songwriter, Soul Producer
1. Floyd Newman – Sassy
2. David Porter – Can’t See You When I Want To
3. Carla Thomas – How Do You Quit (Someone You Love)
4. Booker T and the MGs – Boot-leg
5. The Astors – Candy
6. Danny White – Can’t Do Nothing Without You
7. Johnnie Taylor – I Had A Dream
8. Sam & Dave – Hold On! I’m A Comin’
9. Ruby Johnson – I’ll Run Your Hurt Away
10. Carla Thomas – Let Me Be Good To You
11. Mable John – Your Good Thing (Is About To End)
12. Homer Banks – Fighting To Win
13. Carla Thomas – B-A-B-Y
14. William Bell – Never Like This Before
15. The Mad Lads – Patch My Heart
16. Johnnie Taylor – Little Bluebird
17. Charlie Rich – When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
18. Charlie Rich – Love Is After Me
19. Judy Clay – You Can’t Run Away From Your Heart
20. Sam & Dave – Soul Man
21. The Charmels – As Long As I’ve Got You
22. Sam & Dave – I Thank You
23. The Soul Children – The Sweeter He Is (Parts I & II)
24. Billy Eckstine – Stormy
25. David Porter – Can’t See You When I Want To
26. The Emotions – Show Me How

Volt & Enterprise Singles
1. Sir Isaac and The Do-Dads – The Big Dipper
2. Sir Isaac and The Do-Dads – Blue Groove
3. Isaac Hayes – Precious, Precious
4. Isaac Hayes – By The Time I Get To Phoenix
5. Isaac Hayes – The Mistletoe & Me
6. Isaac Hayes – Winter Snow
7. Isaac Hayes – I Stand Accused
8. Isaac Hayes – The Look Of Love
9. Isaac Hayes – Never Can Say Goodbye
10. Isaac Hayes – Theme From “Shaft”
11. Isaac Hayes – Do Your Thing
12. Isaac Hayes – Let’s Stay Together
13. Isaac Hayes and David Porter – Ain’t That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)
14. Isaac Hayes and David Porter – Baby I’m-A Want You
15. Isaac Hayes – Theme From “The Men”
16. Isaac Hayes – Rolling Down A Mountainside
17. Isaac Hayes – Joy (Part 1)
18. Isaac Hayes – Wonderful
19. Isaac Hayes – Someone Made You For Me
20. Isaac Hayes – Title Theme (From “Three Tough Guys”)
21. Radio Spot – “You Gotta Have It To Really Be In”
22. Radio Spot – “The Rapper Is Back”

Cover Man
1. Isaac Hayes – When I Fall In Love
2. Isaac Hayes – Walk On By
3. Isaac Hayes – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
4. Isaac Hayes – Man’s Temptation
5. Isaac Hayes – Never Gonna Give You Up
6. Isaac Hayes – Windows Of The World*
7. Isaac Hayes – The Ten Commandments of Love*
8. Isaac Hayes – Just Want To Make Love To You / Rock Me Baby*
9. Isaac Hayes – Stormy Monday*
10. Isaac Hayes – I Stand Accused*
11. Isaac Hayes – If Loving You Is Wrong
12. Isaac Hayes – His Eye Is On The Sparrow

Jam Master
1. Isaac Hayes – Ike’s Mood I
2. Isaac Hayes – You’ve Made Me So Very Happy*
3. Isaac Hayes – Black Militant’s Place*
4. Isaac Hayes – Ain’t No Sunshine*
5. Isaac Hayes – Hung Up On My Baby* (Extended Jam)
6. Isaac Hayes – Groove-A-Thon* (Extended Jam)
7. Isaac Hayes – Do Your Thing (Extended Jam)

7” Single
Laura, We’re On Our Last Go-Round
C.C. Rider



Chris Standring's new album is Live In London and was recorded earlier this year at Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. The album includes soul superstar Mica Paris along with an eight piece string orchestra and a world class London rhythm section. The album was recorded in one sitting. The official release is September 15th, but the album is now available to pre order. You can pre order it direct from Chris Standring here, where he will personally sign it for you. Also, when you order this album, you can stream the entire 90 minute concert in HD video. Look for a link in the CD jacket when it arrives.


Amazing music from one of the coolest vocal groups of the 70s – a hip New York trio who never hit the heights of the Jackson 5 or Chi-Lites, but who are maybe even more important to our ears overall! Black Ivory started young – with a harmony style that was incredible for their age, and which was perfect for both funky numbers and late nite ballads, in a way that was similar to The Whatnauts – and as the 70s moved on, they also grew up and found a style that worked well for clubbier material – which they crafted in a way that was surprisingly strong, and far different from any of the disco cliches of the period. Even in the early 80s, they could hang around the farther reaches of the soul scene – keeping an indie harmony vibe strong when others were losing steam. All the best aspects of the group's sound are collected here – in an overstuffed, double-length package that includes the cuts "Walking Downtown", "Big Apple Rock", "Surrender", "I Keep Asking Questions", "Just Leave Me Some", "Wishful Thinking", "You & I", "Don't Turn Around", "Find The One Who Loves You", "I'll Find A Way", "Spinning Around", "We Made It", "Love Won't You Stay", "Mainline", "White Wind", and "You Are My Lover". CD also features "I Got My Eye On You (ext 12" version)", the 1984 version of "You & I", "Longer Ride", "No One Else", "What Goes Around", and "Our Future". ~ Dusty Groove


Combining his roots in blues and jazz with a crossover pop rock sensibility, Carlton's unmistakable sound is marked by his signature warm tone, bright melodies and soulful guitar solos. Four time Grammy winner, Titan of Tone award recipient and legendary guitar great, Larry Carlton is one of the most influential, prolific and original guitarists in the industry Carlton established himself from his first recording, A Little Help From My Friends. His studio credits include musicians and groups like Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Bobby Bland, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and literally dozens of others. For the past 60 years the 17 members of the SWR Big Band have thrilled audiences throughout Europe with a hugely varied repertoire and consistently excellent quality of music. It is indisputable that they are one of the best big bands in the world. Since 2002, they have received four Grammy nominations, which is credited to the outstanding soloists of the band, the extraordinary interplay of the musicians and great arrangements of new and classic songs alike.

City Parks Foundation announces 25th Anniversary Charlie Parker Jazz Festival Presented by Capital One Bank August 23 - August 27

City Parks Foundation is proud to announce the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival. The festival is New York City's annual salute to the legendary late saxophonist, featuring storied veteran players as well as young jazz musicians who continue to shape and drive the art form. This year's festival runs August 23 through August 27 at parks and venues around Manhattan and will include free concerts, artist discussions, a film screening, and for the first time in the festival's history, a dedicated evening of dance.

"We are thrilled to celebrate 25 years of the beloved Charlie Parker Jazz Festival," said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. "In honor of this milestone we have expanded the program to 5 days, partnered with local institutions on family jazz events and open jam sessions, and are presenting a full evening of dance on the lineup for the first time. We hope all New Yorkers, young and old, jazz aficionados and new fans alike will join us in honoring the legacy of Charlie Parker and jazz in New York City."

The festival kicks off on Wednesday, August 23 at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music with "Bird With Strings," a tribute performance featuring an ensemble of students and veteran jazz players honoring Parker's 1950 recording, Charlie Parker With Strings.

On Thursday, August 24, the festival heads uptown to Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem for Jason Samuels Smith's Chasin' The Bird Remixed, an added evening of programming in honor of the 25th Anniversary, and the first full evening of dance in the festival's history. Emmy award-winning tap dance virtuoso, Jason Samuels Smith, and Broadway veterans, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Derick K. Grant, bring Parker's music to life through dance in this special performance featuring live music.

The festival continues in Marcus Garvey Park on Friday, August 25 with world-renowned clarinet player & saxophonist Anat Cohen, who will lead a consortium of strings, horns, percussion, and keyboards with her jazz-folk troupe, and Camille Thurman, a multi-talented saxophonist, flutist and vocalist.

On Saturday afternoon, veteran alto-saxophonist player Lee Konitz, a contemporary of Charlie Parker when bebop came on the scene, will perform with his quartet in Marcus Garvey Park joined by drumming prodigy and pioneering female percussionist Terri Lyne Carrington, one of the most recorded jazz drummers of all time Louis Hayes (who has played with the likes of John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Cannonball Adderley), and rising vocalist Charenee Wade, a brave new voice on the modern jazz frontier intent on using her gift to address social change.

On Sunday, August 27, the festival travels back downtown to the place where it all began, Tompkins Square Park, home to the inaugural Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in 1993, and located just blocks away from Charlie Parker's home in the East Village. Joshua Redman, one of the most important contemporary horn players and widely considered to be the top sax man of his generation, will make his Charlie Parker Jazz Festival debut. NEA Jazz Master Lou Donaldson, revered by many as one the greatest alto saxophonists of all time; saxophone virtuosa Tia Fuller, one of the world's best jazz multi-instrumentalists, full-time professor and one-time member of the all-female band that toured with Beyoncé; and vocalist Alicia Olatuja, who performed with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir at President Obama's second inauguration and has been in high demand ever since, will also perform to close out the final day of the festival.

In honor of the 25th Anniversary, City Parks Foundation has also partnered with local institutions to present free and open-to-the-public jazz events around the city. Events include an all ages Family Jazz Party with Festival performer Charenee Wade and a "Harlem Speaks" interview with Lee Konitz at The National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a screening at The New School of the 2016 film, I Called Him Morgan, about the life and tragic death of jazz musician Lee Morgan, live jazz in the gardens at The Harlem Rose Garden and 6BC Botanical Garden, and jam sessions at Gin Fizz Harlem and Ginny's Supper Club.

The complete Charlie Parker Jazz Festival schedule follows or can be found on the City Parks Foundation website here: Charlie Parker Jazz Festival

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City Parks Foundation (CPF) is the only independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to offer programs in public parks throughout the five boroughs of New York City. At CPF, we are dedicated to invigorating and transforming parks into dynamic, vibrant centers of urban life through sports, arts, community development and education programs for all New Yorkers. Our programs and community building initiatives — located in more than 350 parks, recreation centers and public schools across New York City — reach 425,000 people each year. Our ethos is simple: we believe thriving parks mean thriving communities.

Israeli-born, New York-based Saxophonist Uri Gurvich Proudly Announces the Release of His 3rd album, KINSHIP

Uri Gurvich's new album,  Kinship (now available for pre-order, and available in its entirety on September 8 on the Jazz Family label), presents original work influenced by Gurvich's multicultural heritage as the son of Argentinian immigrants in Israel, and by his global quartet featuring musicians from around the world. A celebration of many traditions,Kinship deals with tribal and familial connections between different cultures and individuals, representing "kinship" in various forms.

The quartet, which has been performing together for the past decade, features some of the most prominent voices on the international jazz scene: Argentinian pianist Leo Genovese, known for his work with Esperanza Spalding; Bulgarian bassist Peter Slavov, a member of Joe Lovano's Us Five; and the Cuban drummer Francisco Mela, who holds the much-coveted drum chair in the McCoy Tyner's trio.

On the song "El Chubut," Gurvich invited Bernardo Palombo, an Argentinian folklore master and torchbearer of Latin culture and arts in New York City since the 70's, who has worked with Mercedes Sosa, Phillip Glass and Pete Seeger, among others, to sing and write lyrics to Gurvich's theme.

This album finds the quartet recording at its peak after performing at venues such as the Village Vanguard, Town Hall and numerous festivals in the U.S. and abroad, sharing their message of global unity.

The music on the albumdeals with the different meanings of "kinship", whether celebrating family and folkloric traditions ("Song for Kate", "Im Tirzti", "Kinship", "Ha'im Ha'im") or reflecting on various aspects of kin relations ("El Chubut"). In addition, the music deals with differences, divisions or uniqueness in society due to belonging to a certain group or tribe ("Dance of the Nanigos", "Twelve Tribes", "Go Down Moses", "Blue Nomad").

Song for Kate- the album opener, and a song that Gurvich wrote for his wife celebrating marriage and the bond between two people.

Dance of the Ñañigos- A song dedicated to Cuban culture influenced also by Gurvich's drummer, Francisco Mela. The ñañigos are members of the secret Afro-Cuban Abakuá society. Ñañigos was also a word used to describe the street dancers of the society. The Abakuá was a secret and hermetic society for 160 years till some of their secrets were revealed in the 19th century.

El Chubut - "I wrote this composition for my grandmothers who were born in Argentina and immigrated to Israel in the 70's. Chubut is a desert province in southern Argentina," said Gurvich. Chubut was also the home to one of the most famous prisons for political prisoners during the dictatorship (late 70's-mid 80's). The poem, 'Vamos Andando' (meaning - "we keep going") starting the song is written by one of the prisoners and was found in a notebook that was smuggled out by a visitor. Additional lyrics were written and sung by special guest Bernardo Palumbo.

Twelve Tribes- is a Middle Eastern and Balkan influenced composition inspired by Gurvich's bassist, Peter Slavov. Humans have come together to form tribes since the ancient past, celebrating common lineage, traditions, language, way of life, etc. The name comes from the twelve tribes of Israel.

Im Tirtzi- a love song by one's of Israel most important folk composers, Sasha Argov. (Translation - 'if you would like an orange', or 'can I offer you an orange?'). "Im Tirtzi" is a well-known song in Israel, especially popular during the 70's-80's. "For me, it is an optimistic song I grew up hearing on the radio and TV and celebrates bonding with family," commented Gurvich.

Go Down Moses- "a song celebrating multiple traditions," said Gurvich. "First off as an African-American spiritual describing the struggle from slavery to freedom, and also for me it's a song sung during Passover telling the story of the Israelites in the land of Egypt, from slavery to freedom. I found common ground in these two histories, dealing with oppression and division based on race and religion. Of course this story is very relevant in today's society as well."

Kinship- the title track of the album explores a play on major and minor keys, dealing with both ends of the emotional spectrum associated with kin relationships - happy/sad, bright/dark, positive/negative, etc. - but ultimately prioritizing the warmth and calmness one feels once they're part of a family, tribe, etc.

Blue Nomad- the melody is influenced by Middle Eastern modes while the groove is influenced by Latin rhythms. Gurvich explains, "I was trying to connect these cultures that are both central to my own identity. In addition, the form is based on the Blues, so ultimately I was trying to create an affinity between these three different worlds."

Hermetos- influenced by the music of Brazil's Hermeto Pascoal, who among other great national composers captures the sound of their culture/region (similar to Sasha Argov). "I think that these composers are able to beautifully transmit the connections between music and their local culture/heritage in their compositions," said Gurvich.

Ha'im Ha'im- another song by Sasha Argov. This is a classic song of the 'old Israel'. Gurvich elaborated, "I tried to give it a twist influenced by the John Coltrane composition, 'Spiritual'. I find some of Argov's music to have the same folk, blues and gospel sensibilities of the music that Coltrane was influenced by during the early 60's."

Uri Gurvich's Other Upcoming Tour Dates:
September 11, 2017 @ B-Flat, Berlin
Uri Gurvich Quartet

September 14th, 2017 @ Jaffa Jazz Festival, Jaffa, Israel
with Billy Cobham Ensemble

October 21st, 2017 @ Puffin Cultural Forum, Teaneck, NJ
Uri Gurvich Quartet

October 25th - November 5th, 2017 - European Tour
With Kenneth Dhal Knudsen's Téte
Oct. 25th - Zmiana Klimatu, Bialystok, Poland
Oct. 26th - 12on14, Warsaw, Poland
Oct. 27th - B-flat, Berlin, Germany
Oct. 28th - Jazztochowa, Czestochowa, Poland
Oct. 30th - Drewsens, Silkeborg, Denmark
Oct. 31st - Utzon Center, Aalborg, Denmark
Nov. 1st - Master class, Koge, Denmark
Nov. 2nd - Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Nov. 3rd - Pashkevich Jazzclub, Riga, Latvia
Nov. 4th - The Jazz Cellar, Vilnius, Latvia
Nov. 5th - Recording - Republica, Lubzka, Poland
November 7th, 2017 @ Sunset/Sunside, Paris, France
Uri Gurvich Quartet - Parisian CD release celebration!

January 9th - 14th, 2018 @ The Stone
Uri Gurvich's Residency at The Stone, feat. various bands

Guitarist Rez Abbasi Melds Jazz and South Indian Music with a Bold, Original Vision on Unfiltered Universe

It seems natural to refer to the music of Rez Abbasi as a hybrid, given the guitarist/composer's penchant for combining the traditions of South Asian music with his own modern jazz voice. That description ceases to fit as soon as one hears the music, however. In Abbasi's singular approach, this merging of influences feels less like a chimera, a patchwork of distinctive yet still identifiable parts; it is instead an evolution, a wholly new creature that bears distinctive traces of its antecedents yet has a form and beauty all its own.

Such is the case with Abbasi's 12th album, Unfiltered Universe (due out October 6, 2017 on Whirlwind Recordings), the third album in a trilogy exploring different South Asian musics with his stellar quintet Invocation. The band brings together five leading voices in forward-looking jazz, all of whom have extensively studied diverse South Asian traditions, often in collaboration with one another: Abbasi, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist Johannes Weidenmueller, and drummer Dan Weiss.

Where Invocation's 2008 debut Things To Come highlighted the influences of North Indian Hindustani music with guest vocalist Kiran Ahluwalia, and their 2011 follow-up Suno Suno, the Qawwali music of Abbasi's native Pakistan, Unfiltered Universe takes as its point of departure the Carnatic music of South India. Abbasi's experience with Carnatic music can be traced back at least to Mahanthappa's 2008 release Kinsmen, a collaboration with South Indian saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath that merged jazz and Carnatic musicians, and continued through a 2015 project with the Indian-American Ragamala Dance Company. His studies and listening have persisted throughout the intervening years, allowing him to absorb its influence and create new music under its sway that is far from a literal interpretation of its surface qualities.

The title Unfiltered Universe refers to the way in which a lifetime of globe-spanning influences were allowed to emerge directly from Abbasi's subconscious into his music. "The idea was to operate from my intuition first while creating these compositions and then later use the thought process to manipulate the music, he says. "It's unprocessed and unfiltered, shining a light on the universe within me. It really brought the fruits of my experiences to the forefront."

Such an intuitive approach to composition was a fresh experience for the guitarist, who likens the approach to Jackson Pollock's action painting. "I wanted to let the influences hit the empty canvas and allow that to speak to me as opposed to having a foundational idea of what I was going to create," Abbasi explains. "I didn't want to impose preconceived rhythms or ideas; I wanted to get the essence and energy of what I've taken away from playing with Carnatic musicians and dancers, and to tie that in with everything I've done previously."

To realize the music Abbasi reconvened his quintet Invocation, a supergroup of innovative jazz artists who have explored similar territory in disparate ways in their own work. Both American-born musicians of Indian descent, Mahanthappa and Iyer have both delved into South Asian traditions with highly acclaimed results. Weiss has brought intensive tabla studies to his inventive approach to the drum kit, while Weidenmueller has co-authored books on metric modulation via his studies in Carnatic percussion.

It's a rare group of musicians whose experiences and collaborations have made them uniquely prepared to seize on every nuance of Abbasi's compositions. "I chose these individuals because I knew that whatever I bring to the table, it's going to be supplemented by the wide-ranging history that each carries. With this group, that history contains a fortified education in Indian music and so we don't need to discuss anything Indian, per se - it's already there. For instance, if Dan plays a particular rhythmic idea from his tabla studies, all of us will be able to grab onto it intuitively. That's one reason why the communication is so stimulating within the ensemble."

Throughout Unfiltered Universe, the music surges with a uniquely propulsive groove, with sinuous melodies that follow surprising, exotic contours. The title track morphs from meditative to frenetic, while opener "Propensity" bristles with a darting, angular energy. "Thin-King" earns its play on words by managing to juggle the cerebral and the playful, while the 12-minute "Turn of Events" gathers from the abstract to the urgent and disintegrates back again, "Disagree to Agree" captures the tenor of discourse in our current moment in its teeth-gritting tension, and "Dance Number" closes the album with a buoyantly erratic groove that both tempts and challenges the listener to move.

The end result of these converging lifetimes of experience, creation, collaboration and study, (un)filtered through the lens of Abbasi's intuitive writing approach, is a strikingly individual voice that never explicitly references its influences but instead evokes the atmospheres and feelings inherent to them. "As a jazz listener you may not necessarily hear the Carnatic influence," Abbasi says, "but you'll definitely hear something different, and ultimately that's what counts."

Abbasi has received multiple composition grants in recent years. Unfiltered Universe was supported in part by a New Jazz Works grant from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Foundation. It is the 2nd CMA grant he has received for his group Invocation. Most recently he was commissioned by the NY Guitar Festival to compose and perform a live score to the 1929 Indian silent film, A Throw of Dice. The premiere took place in NYC in May with a reprise performance scheduled for September 16th at the Ellnora Guitar Festival in Urbana, IL.

Guitarist and composer Rez Abbasi is an artist who continually pushes new boundaries. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, and raised in Southern California, he studied at the USC and the Manhattan School of Music in jazz and classical music, supplemented by a pilgrimage in India under the tutelage of master percussionist Ustad Alla Rakha. Abbasi's music is a vivid synthesis of all the above stated influences and genres. Voted #1 "Rising-Star Guitarist" in 2013's DownBeat Critics Poll and placed in the "Top-Ten Guitarists" in 2015 & 2016, guitarist and composer Rez Abbasi has become one of the most significant musicians on the current scene. Making New York home for the past 25 years, Abbasi has created a unique sound that is stimulated by his jazz pedigree and Indian-Pakistani upbringing. With twelve albums, multiple awards and composition commissions, Rez Abbasi continues to find creative ways to enrich diverse audiences with his musical projects.

Grammy Award-Winning Trumpeter Keyon Harrold's Upcoming Album 'The Mugician' Set for Release on September 29th

Grammy Award winner, Keyon Harrold, one of the world's most sought-after genre-bending trumpeters, will release 'The Mugician' on September 29th via Legacy Recordings/Mass Appeal Records.

Long known as the artist's artist – he has worked with Maxwell, Common, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Eminem and a long list of the world's top musical icons – The New York-based musician now takes center stage with a captivating LP that ponders the fears and frustrations of a divided country while yearning for justice and peace.

As the word "Mugician" is an impromptu hybrid of words, this album is an accumulation of Keyon's eclectic tastes, with stylistic twists and turns everywhere taking cues from jazz, hip-hop, blues, rock, reggae, and rap. The new LP features an all-star list of collaborators, including Gary Clark Jr., Big K.R.I.T., Bilal, Pharoahe Monch and Robert Glasper. From spiritual chants and soulful singing to bombastic expressions of frustration and melodic pleas for understanding, Keyon's arrangements color the different ways to hear the world in 2017.

If there are echoes of Miles Davis in Keyon's style and sound, it's no mere coincidence; Keyon played the trumpet sound of Don Cheadle playing Davis in his 2015 biopic Miles Ahead and on its Grammy-winning soundtrack.  Don reflects on this and the birth of "The Mugician", the nickname that came from that project, in the liner notes, which he contributed to the album.

Ferguson holds a large presence throughout 'The Mugician.' The instrumental "MB Lament" is a tribute to Michael Brown as strings echo a smoking gun while the bass line repeats over and over, reminiscent of the frequency of gun violence and systemic police brutality. "When Will It Stop" answers the calling of "MB Lament" as actor and comedian Guy Torry, also from the St. Louis area, uses humor to confront bigotry, sexism, racism, and more while Keyon leads a driving groove. And on "Circus Show," Keyon and Gary Clark Jr. trade verses and hooks while trying to make sense of America's "Broken" newscast over the repeated phrase "What's going on?."

Themes of home and family loom large on 'The Mugician.' With nine brothers and seven sisters, several of whom are also accomplished musicians, Keyon considers family essential; the album opener "Voicemail" features Keyon's own mother encouraging her son to stay true to himself and to never give up in the face of trials and tribulations. 'The Mugician' is Keyon upholding his mother's wisdom.

Keyon Harrold has become one of the most sought-after trumpeters in the world having been featured on nearly 100 albums spanning jazz, R&B, pop, gospel, blues, and hip-hop. Harrold has recorded with the world's leading artists from Maxwell to Keith Richards and has toured with music's most bold-faced names including Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Common, Maxwell, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, D'Angelo and the Vanguard, and more. In 2016, Keyon released "Running (Refugee Song)" in collaboration with songwriting partner Andrea Pizziconi as part of their initiative Compositions for a Cause. The song, also featuring Grammy Award-winning rapper Common and Grammy Award-winning singer Gregory Porter was included on Billboard's list of "6 Songs Offering Hope & Perspective During Immigration Ban" this past January.   

Legacy Recordings and Mass Appeal have combined their creative and marketing resources in a first-of-its-kind collaboration on behalf of Keyon Harrold's 'The Mugician.' "We couldn't be more proud of signing Keyon Harrold and of the album he's made," said Adam Block, President of Legacy Recordings."We're especially excited by the record's range of repertoire and the broadness of Keyon's appeal. Working with Mass Appeal, who've long been champions of Keyon's, exponentially expands our ability to reach fans with Key's music and the creativity and channels with which we'll do that."

'The Mugician' track list:
1. Voicemail (ft. Shirley Harrold)
2. The Mugician (ft. Josh David Barrett)
3. MB Lament
4. When Will It Stop? (ft. Guy Torry)
5. Wayfaring Traveler (ft. Jermaine Holmes, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Robert Glasper)
6. Stay This Way (ft. Bilal and Big K.R.I.T.)
7. Lullaby
8. Her Beauty Through My Eyes (ft. Pharoahe Monch)
9. Ethereal Souls
10. Broken News (ft. Andrea Pizziconi)
11. Circus Show (ft. Gary Clark Jr.)
12. Bubba Rides Again


The past few months have been a blur for CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA, who is currently touring and performing with her husband Carlos Santana, is featured as a vocalist, drummer, and songwriter on “Power of Peace,” the new Santana/Isley Brothers collaboration, and has been busy touring with her own band and recording tracks in the studio with the legendary producer NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN. Together through Walden's Tarpan Records label they will release the new single “FUN, PARTY, SPLASH” featuring Carlos Santana on all digital platforms on August 25, 2017.

CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA is a virtuoso drummer whose artistry spans the realms of jazz and rock. As a bandleader and as a musician, Cindy is a sound innovator with a passion for pushing creative boundaries and exploring movement and change. She is as known for the nuances and colors she brings to her beats and fills as she is for the sheer power of her soulful playing. “Some drummers act, some react. Some keep time, others create it. CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA is among the few who can,” writes Mike Zwerin of the International Herald Tribune.
Among a handful of the most innovative, original and influential artists of our time, NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN'S stature as an authentic musical renaissance man is a matter of record. Producing hits for Artists as diverse as Aretha Franklin (including the platinum “Freeway of Love”), Steve Winwood, Ray Charles, Sting, Elton John, Whitney Houston, George Michael, Mariah Carey, Barbara Streisand, Lionel Ritchie, Lisa Fischer, Stevie Wonder, Tom Jones, Gladys Knight, and The Temptations, the EMMY and multi-GRAMMY winner (Producer, Album and Song of The Year) has been at the helm of hit music that spans decades.

CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA has been creating magnificent musical time and space since the beginning of her career as a busking street performer in New York City in the '80s through the present day, touring the globe and making albums at the top of her game—including the critically acclaimed Another Lifetime (2010). In addition to collaborating onstage and in-studio with her own group—also known as Another Lifetime—she has toured and recorded with artists including Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson, Bill Laswell, Joss Stone, Joe Henderson, Al B. Sure, Buckethead, Don Pullen, Hugh Masakela, Buster Williams, and Angela Bofill. Cindy was part of the Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Band called Spectrum Road with Jack Bruce, Vernon Reid, and John Medeski. From 1992 to 2007 and again in 2014 & 2015 she was the drummer in Lenny Kravitz's band, performing through multiple world tours and hit albums. In 2010, she was part of the all-star line-up performing “Bitches Brew,” a tribute to Miles Davis' seminal album staged at the San Francisco Jazz Festival and NYC Winter JazzFest.

More recently, Cindy has become the regular touring drummer for Santana. Having met several years earlier at a festival in Europe while she was touring with Kravitz, Cindy first played with Santana in spring 2010, when drummer Dennis Chambers had a previous commitment. “They have a great band vibe. It's nice to play with people who have grown together, built a sound together, and stayed together,” she says. “When that happens, you can create so many different levels of communication. That's what they've done, and I love reacting with it and being a part of it.”

Electricity onstage generated chemistry offstage—Carlos proposed to Cindy during a July 2010 concert, and they married in December. Looking ahead, they will collaborate artistically as well, on projects that will no doubt reflect their shared passion for improvisation, and belief in the transcendent nature of music. Cindy was an integral part of the new Santana/Isley Brothers release Power of Peace, featuring the song “I Remember,” which she wrote and sings. “To me,” she says, “music is completely spiritual, it's the way you connect with your higher self, with the universe. It's also a way to share light with millions of people. They don’t need to speak your language, have your beliefs, or be in the same place you are. The music speaks, it channels good energy, and makes a difference in people's lives. Carlos and I are both conscious of doing that.”

NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN started his storied career as a drummer with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Narada's music flows freely from pop, rock and soul, to the rarified realms of jazz, fusion, and world music. With Jeff Beck, Narada wrote and played drums on the seminal album Wired that earned them both their first Gold Album. Walden was an integral part of introducing Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey to millions of fans worldwide, producing and writing their breakthrough hits. Billboard Magazine honored him as one of the Top Ten Producers of all time.

In 2016, Cindy connected with her fellow drummer and world-class producer NARADA MICHAEL WALDEN, and together the two have been working on new material ever since. CINDY BLACKMAN SANTANA continues to build a body of work and artistic legacy that make her one of the finest drummers and recording artists of this or any generation.

Sax-vocalist Michael J. Thomas is “Driven” to compete with an upbeat and diverse passion project

No sophomore slump for contemporary jazz-pop artist Michael J. Thomas, who released his second album, “Driven,” on Friday on the Harbor Breeze Records imprint. The ten-song set burst out of the gate jolted by a wave of national airplay for the first single, “Baby Coffee,” earning Billboard most-added honors in its debut week followed by an add at SiriusXM’s Watercolors, leading the saxophonist-vocalist to sign a distribution deal for the project with Perry Music Group/Sony Music.           

It’s been seven years since Thomas issued his instrumental debut album, “City Beat,” and six years since he made his vocal debut with the infectious standalone single “I Think About Amy,” which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard chart after a remix by two-time Grammy winner Paul Brown. “Driven” is his first collection to combine sax-led soul-jazz instrumentals and R&B-pop vocal tunes that showcase a voice that programmers and reviewers have compared to Michael Jackson and George Michael. It’s a varied, exhilarating session written and produced by Thomas and longtime collaborator Shannon Wallace with additional tracks produced by Oli Silk, Trammell Starks and Music Man Dre Forbes.  

"I got the bug to record a new album in 2014. I hadn’t written anything new in a while and all of these melodies and lyrics were hitting me. However, the songs didn’t all fit into one genre, but I recorded them anyway. I decided that this would be a passion project for me more than trying to write music that fits the traditional model,” said the Destin, Florida-based Thomas, who is submitting “Driven” for Grammy nomination consideration. “I titled the album after one of the pop-oriented songs I wrote that has to do with staying driven and motivated to compete.”

While “Baby Coffee” has all the makings of a late summer instrumental hit –percolating groove, stimulating funk beats and energizing horn-powered harmonies – Thomas opens the disc with the shimmering and slick “My Love,” one of four vocal numbers. An empowering vocal drop adds street cred to “In America, You Can Do It!,” an instrumental inspired by Thomas’s alto sax and Gino Rosaria’s glistening keyboards. “You Know You Got This” is another confidence-building instrumental. A Minneapolis-style old-school funk party meets disco vibe breaks out on “Girls Got Moves,” a dance floor filler vocal tune that also closes the album in instrumental form. The percussive instrumental “Make Me Crazy” is an aggressive agitator that showcases Thomas trading barbs during an extended improvisational breakdown with trumpeter Paul Scurto. A congenial “Get Your Smooth On” benefits from a luminous anthemic chorus. Thomas caresses on the intimate “Say Goodbye” with a mix of heartbreak vocals and a tender soprano sax solo followed by the reassuring Quiet Storm instrumental affirmation “Never Gonna Leave You.” The title track offers a take-no-prisoners attack on raw ambition as kinetic beats, incendiary horn and synth blasts, and a screaming electric guitar solo from Mark Jaimes (Simply Red) ignite this scorching vocal number.

Underneath the invigorating instrumental veneer and the pure power pop panache that make “Driven” a bright, vibrant and an assured listen, there is a vulnerable artist who struggled to overcome an intense personal crisis to complete the record.  

“‘Driven’ is very personal and represents a particularly sensitive and difficult period that I endured emotionally. I started writing it in the midst of a romantic relationship. Tragically, she passed away and I didn’t know if I could finish the album after dealing with depression in the aftermath. But I did and I continue to push forward. That’s what I want the takeaway to be from this album.” 

The “Driven” album contains the following songs:

“My Love”
“Baby Coffee”
“In America, You Can Do It!”
“You Know You Got This”
“Girls Got Moves”
“Make Me Crazy”
“Get Your Smooth On”
“Say Goodbye”
“Never Gonna Leave You”
“Girls Got Moves” (instrumental)

Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Sextet Showcases Their Unique Fusion of Jazz & Afro-Peruvian Music on "Diablo en Brooklyn"

Gabriel Alegria Diablo en BrooklynGabriel Alegria has dedicated his life to introducing audiences to jazz-infused interpretations of traditional music from his Peruvian homeland, Afro-Peruvian arrangements of works from the Great American Songbook, and original compositions inspired by both styles. On Diablo en Brooklyn, the sixth recording by Alegría's Afro-Peruvian Sextet, the ensemble presents what is without a doubt their most fully realized and boldest album to date. It is also the first to be made entirely in Peru and, most notably, at Lima's legendary IEMPSA Studios-a landmark in the production and distribution of Afro-Peruvian music that was founded in 1942. The new CD will be released by Saponegro Records on September 22.

Trumpeter, composer, bandleader, and educator Alegría has long committed himself to being the standard-bearer of Afro-Peruvian jazz in the U.S. and, over the past 12 years, has brought this music to American audiences through both recordings and concerts. Diablo en Brooklyn was loosely inspired by the Peruvian "Son de los Diablos" tradition going back to colonial days and featuring a parade of mock devils down the city streets of Lima. Alegría, who has lived in Coney Island for the last decade, got the idea to musically transport that tradition to his Brooklyn neighborhood after being exposed to the diverse sounds emanating from the "speakers on wheels" residents roll out to street corners every summer along with their barbecue pits.

"You can't really hear anything but bass," he says. "But over the months, on my way to pick up my daughter from daycare, I would hear bass lines that I really liked." They show up integrated into the Peruvian panalivio and festejo grooves at the heart of his fourt-part "Brooklyn Suite."

In an intriguing departure from standard sequencing, the four movements of the studio-recorded suite are interspersed among four live tracks: three originals featured on previous albums and a 12-minute version of "Summertime," the "hit single" from the band's 2008 debut recording Nuevo Mundo.
That the musicians in the Afro-Peruvian Sextet have been playing together for years is evident from their finely-meshed performances and the facility with which the players blend traditional Peruvian rhythms and American jazz. Saxophonist Laura Andrea Leguía, master percussionist Freddy "Huevito" Lobatón, bassist Mario Cuba, drummer Hugo Alcázar, and acoustic guitarist Yuri Juárez tackle the challenges of the polyrhythmic grooves with an energy that is infectious.

Alegría and company celebrated their decade together in 2015 by inviting a stellar cast of guest artists including Ron Carter, Arturo O'Farrill, and Yellowjacket Russell Ferrante to play on their last release, 10. Alegría explains that on Diablo en Brooklyn "we went back to the essence of the sextet. The six core members. This album represents what Afro-Peruvian jazz music and a bicultural ensemble can contribute to the world."

Gabriel Alegria was born in Lima on June 11, 1970. His grandfather, Ciro Alegría, was a famous, politically involved novelist (Broad and Alien Is the World) who spent half his life in exile in Cuba and Chile because of his political views. Gabriel's father, Alonso Alegría, is a prominent playwright (Crossing Niagara) and theater director. Rebelling from the predominantly classical music tastes of his father, Gabriel got into rock and pop via albums by the likes of the Police and Genesis, but when it came time to choose an instrument for the school band, he picked the trumpet. It was in the band that he discovered jazz.

Alegría attended high school in Ohio, where his father was a visiting professor at Kenyon College, and then studied at the National Conservatory in Lima. He returned to Ohio to attend Kenyon College, after which he moved to New York, earning an M.A. in jazz studies at City College under the tutelage of Ron Carter. He subsequently moved back to Peru to play with the Lima Philharmonic. During his five years with the orchestra, and in side gigs in jazz and rock bands, Gabriel started to develop his concept of Afro-Peruvian jazz. In 2005, while completing a PhD in jazz studies at USC, he formed his sextet. Its first album, Nuevo Mundo (2008), recorded for his own label Saponegro ("black frog"), was produced by one of his mentors, trumpet great Bobby Shew.

Moving back to New York he got a major boost from Arturo O'Farrill, who contacted him about writing for his Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. The Afro-Peruvian Sextet recorded its second album, Pucusana (2010), followed by the live Afro-Peruvian Jazz Secrets (2012), Ciudad de Los Reyes (2013), and then its tenth-anniversary disc 10 (2015). That year the band won Hot House magazine's "New York City Ensemble of the Year" award.

Gabriel Alegria y Diablos   
The Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Sextet is set to perform an ambitious CD release concert (10/21-22) at Roulette in Brooklyn with special guest Arturo O'Farrill and, direct from Lima, dancers Graciela Bramon, Javier Barrera, and Wendy Cotito, with choreography by Antonio Vilchez. The sextet + dancers will also perform two nights (10/25-26) at DePauw University, Greencastle, IN. Sextet only appears Fri. 10/27, Merriman's Playhouse, South Bend, IN; Sat. 10/28 at the Bop Stop, Cleveland; and Sun. 10/29 at Erie (PA) Art Museum.  


Tuesday, August 15, 2017



Stunning sounds from drummer Tony Williams – a rare live date from the end of the 60s, and one that's even more freewheeling than the performance on his classic Emergency album! The group here is the same as that one – the famous trio with John McLaughlin on guitar and Larry Young on organ – both players who could spiritual modes when they want, but who here are pretty darn noisy at most moments – effortlessly blending rock into jazz, and helping to create the sound of fusion in the process! Tracks are long, and completely unbridled – and titles include "A Famous Blues", "Something Spiritual", "Emergency", and "To Whom It May Concern".  ~ Dusty Groove


Some of the best tracks ever from the pair of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson – some of most righteous, authoritative and thematically heavy soul music ever created – compiled in one incredible set! Messianic, emotive vocals from Gil and stunningly restrained, magical soul jazz arrangements from Brian – words can't express how dynamic these tunes are! Great stuff from classic LPs such as Winter In America, It's Your World, First Minute Of A New Day, Secrets and more! 15 tracks in all: "The Bottle", "It's Your World", "Johannesburg", "Winter In America", "The Liberation (Red, Black & Green)", "Home Is Where The Hatred Is (Live)", "We Almost Lost Detroit", "Angel Dust", "Show Bizness", "Madison Avenue", "Shut 'Em Down", "Alien (Hold On To Your Dreams)".  ~ Dusty Groove


Over the past ten years, Smooth Jazz fans who like to get a groove on with infectious keyboard melodies have enjoyed being “Fritzenized," that is, having their hearts, souls and dancing shoes infused with the Billboard and Chart-topping recording artist’s blend of lush ballads and all-out party jams. The multi-faceted, Swedish American composer and keyboardist’s sixth album BALLADS showcases the gentle, graceful side of his musical personality. On a mission to “bring calm, clarity and the rejuvenation of both mind and soul,” to a challenged world, he complements his gorgeous piano and keyboard melodies with artful touches of electric guitar, exotic percussion, sweeping synth textures and special guest violinist, Péter Ferencz (Peet Project). Fritzen’s original BALLADS will bring peace to your days and love to your nights! ~ smoothjazz. com



Seminal sounds from the earliest years of bossa nova – a big 59 track package that brings together important early recordings by Joao Gilberto, as well as some other key bossa interpreters of his generation too! The set begins with Joao's early recordings of compositions by Antonio Carlos Jobim – the artist/composer whose influence is a huge part of this package, too – as many of the songs here were penned by Jobim, and the set also features a few of his recordings, too – as well as both Brazilian and American interpretations of many bossa classics from the start of the 60s! The 2CD set is overflowing with interesting material – the kind of well-chosen cuts that always make the El Records selections so great – and titles include "O Nosso Amor" and "Este Seu Olhar" by Joao Gilberto, "Por Causa De Voce" by Lucio Alves, "As Praias Desertas" by Lenita Bruno, "Eurydice" by Luiz Bonfa, "Sucedeu Assim"b y Sylvia Telles, "Arpoador" by Radames Gnattali, "Samba De Uma Nota So" by Tamba Trio, "Estrada Do Sol" by Agostinho Dos Santos, "Eu Preciso De Voce" by Norma Benguell, "Desafinado" by Laurindo Almeida, "Chega De Saudade" by Elizeth Cardoso, "Amor Sem Adeus" by Dick Farney, "No More Blues" by Jon Hendricks, "Sem Voice" by Alaide Costa, "O Amor Em Paz" by Os Caroicas, "O Homem" by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius De Moraes, "Eu Nao Existo Sem Voce" by Lucio Alves and Sylvia Telles, and "Samba De Uma Nota So" by Leny Adrade.  ~ Dusty Groove


Reedman Bob Downes definitely got the title right here – as the music's got a very spacey sound at times – as Bob reworked a contrabass flute, in order to create these really weird, textural sort of tones! Downes has been making amazing sounds since the start of the 70s – and even all these decades later, he still hasn't stopped experimenting and creating – as you'll hear here on the album's surprisingly strong array of inventive instrumentals! Some songs are very meditative, but others have a more pointed vibe – and Downes even vocalizes a bit from time to time with his instrument – sometimes through it. Titles include "Supernatural Being", "Him Bin Go", "Going On A Journey", "On The Run", "Predator", "Let Your Mind Space Out", and "Magdalena Jetelova".  ~  Dusty Groove


Not the dodgy record you might expect from the title – but instead a special vinyl-only collection of the best cuts from the past few years of releases from the mighty James Taylor – one of the coolest keyboardists to come along in the past few decades! Taylor first emerged in the UK mod scene of the mid 80s, then soared to new heights with some of the first new Hammond and Fender Rhodes records to rival the sound of the 60s and 70s – and then continued to give us great music for many years to come! Taylor hit some bigger fame in the 90s, but he's actually sounded even better in more recent years, on his own Real Self label – from which most of this work is drawn – an excellent collection of keyboard funk, with plenty of jazz in the mix too – way better than most of the funky imitators who sprung up in James' wake. Titles include "Boot Up", "Closer To The Moon", "Spencer Takes A Trip", "Showdown", "Man From The Moon", "Blacksmith", "Picking Up Where We Left Off", "Rochester Raining", and "The Exorcism".  ~ Dusty Groove

Saxophonist Tim Armacost Announces The Release of Time Being

The origins of this debut Whirlwind release as a leader, from acclaimed saxophonist and composer, and founding member of The New York Standards Quartet (who's sixth album, Sleight Of Hand is out now on Whirlwind) Tim Armacost, tell a fascinating tale. A marquee player on the New York City and Japanese scenes for many years, with an extensive discography and countless live and recorded collaborations to his name in the US, Europe and Asia, the clear direction for Time Being arrived, remarkably, out of the blue.

As Armacost elaborates: "I pictured myself, like a scene from a movie, playing Ornette Coleman's 'Lonely Woman' in the studio with a trio - double bassist Robert Hurst and drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. Tain was, in terms of time signature, out on his own, and Bob and I were communicating with each other independently of what he was playing. But what Tain was doing was so incredibly attractive - so eerie and so beautiful - that we both really wanted to go over and be part of that; yet we already had this melody that we had to play together. That whole idea led to these explorations of creating tension by playing in parallel spaces, and then releasing the tension into a beautifully swinging groove by allowing the parallel spaces to merge. It was something I'd never tried before, and the concept was really exciting. We decided to record in Tain's studio, in an intimate live environment with no separation." "So for my compositions and arrangements, I needed to imagine the ideas happening in real time; and fortunately, with Tain and Bob on board - some of the most swinging musicians on the planet - there was a great willingness for exploration, to make it happen." Joining the trio on selected tracks is pianist David Kikoski, providing elegant, rippling color to numbers such as "The Next 20" and "One and Four." 

Through the dedication of these accomplished artists, this concept evolved into a project that is organic, exploratory and swinging. The three 'Sculptures' on the album are very much an expression of this structured experimentation. "Phase Shift" is modeled on an 'X' formation, as Armacost and Watts converge along the left tempo pathways with Hurst on the right until saxophonist and bassist change places - technical in construction, but an exhilarating listen. On "Tempus Funkit," Armacost independently visits the rhythms of Tain and Hurst; and the particle-like conflict of "All The Things You Could Become In The Large Hadron Collider" (based on "All The Things You Are") is also a playful reference to Charles Mingus', "All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud's Wife Was Your Mother".

"Lonely Woman" - the seed of this album that engendered so many possibilities, features a call-and-response between tenor and bass, initiating their own improvisations until the drums home in on the bassist. So the differing musical tensions are intentionally part of the unplanned dialogue present throughout this recording. On the title track, "Time Being," the trio divides when Armacost moves to a different tempo, with Hurst following, and Watts reaching them later - as Armacost enthuses: "When we all come back together, the pay-off is really delicious!" "53rd Street" is inspired by the blues melody of Thelonious Monk's "52nd Street"; there's a fine, percussively buoyant interpretation of Monk's "Teo"; and the feisty, original composition "Alawain" says so much about this trio's collective, impassioned spirit.

Tim Armacost describes the session as being playful, wild and serious: "It has been a real source of joy for me to see such open musicians willing to make an attempt at something we've never done before; and especially when things got kind of interesting, and we started smiling - that was a really special, even relaxed experience. I hope that, although this has a demanding concept at its roots, listeners can pick up on its lyrical, singing qualities. The audience is very much part of the conversation - we're doing this thing together, and we invite you in to have fun!"



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