Thursday, August 08, 2013



Pianist John Funkhouser's fourth album Still, ranges from progressive originals to inspired Monk and a reinvented "House of the Rising Sun."  To be released September 12, the CD features Funkhouser's Trio with with bassist Greg Loughman and drummer Mike Connors, plus two kindred-spirit guests: guitarist Phil Sargent and vocalist Aubrey Johnson. A native of the Boston area currently living in Needham, MA, multi-instrumentalist and composer John Funkhouser was educated at Cornell University and New England Conservatory. After living in New York, he returned to Boston in 2001 to teach at the Berklee College of Music. Besides leading his trio, Funkhouser is in demand as both a pianist and a bassist, having shared the stage with luminaries from Grammy-nominated vocalists Luciana Souza and Tierney Sutton to piano icon Ran Blake and Afro-Cuban drummer Francisco Mela to South Indian percussionist Trichy Sankaran and the world-jazz group Natraj. He has been featured as a bass soloist with New England Philharmonic Orchestra and with the MIT Wind Ensemble. Along with participating in the recording of more than 60 albums, Funkhouser has performed in venues from New York's Blue Note, Birdland and Dizzy's to the New Orleans Jazz Festival and Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center. International tours have taken him to Paris, Singapore, Aruba, Zurich, South Africa and Montreal. He has appeared on Lifetime Television, ABC's 20/20, NBC's Today Show and NPR. He is currently an associate professor at Berklee, teaching bass, piano, ear training, and ensembles.


Born in London to South African parents and then raised in South Africa after age 5, the 27-year-old, New York-based Schrire grew up playing saxophone in big bands, and arranged the music for all of the songs on Space and Time, just as she did for her debut album, Freedom Flight - which All About Jazz called one of the best albums of 2012, saying: "In the crowded world of jazz vocals, it helps to have a distinctive voice or a distinctive repertoire. Schrire scores on both counts." Space and Time presents a unity in diversity: Schrire not only puts a fresh spin on standards by the Gershwins ("Someone to Watch Over Me") and Irving Berlin ("Say It Isn't So"); she reaches beyond the usual jazz songbook to reinterpret numbers by the Beatles ("Here Comes the Sun"), British trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack ("Teardrop) and French star Charles Trenet ("I Wish You Love").  Space and Time also includes her take on the late South African bassist-composer Victor Ntoni's "Seliyana." Then there are four of Schrire's own, touching original songs, which draw on a wide world of influences.


British-born singer-songwriter Piers Faccini's fifth solo studio album, Between Dogs and Wolves, is an intimate suite of songs focusing on the themes of love and desire, Between Dogs and Wolves depicts the unknowable and indefinable spaces between these themes, spirit and animal, between the wild and the tamed. With several albums already behind him, Faccini felt a strong calling to take his music to new places as yet unexplored. "I tried to work with several different aspects of the immense subject of love," he explains. "Some songs deal with the search for love or the quest for unity that we play out seeking a lover, other songs concern nostalgia and memory in the context of desire. I wanted to create a large, existential tableau around the subject of love, relationships, sexuality and desire." The journey is a reflective one, a collection of soulful meditations. Faccini's low-key vocal performances -- described as "a whisper of grand mysteries" by The New York Times -- are front and center in the mix, accompanied variously by double bass, guitar, cello, harmonium, dulcimer, kora and echoes of analog electronica -- all acoustic. Faccini played and recorded all of the instruments himself, except the bass, which was played by longtime collaborator Jules Bikoko, and the cello, contributed by Dom la Nena (Faccini co-produced la Nena's latest album Ela, now out on Six Degrees Records). Both musicians also supply harmony vocals.

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