Thursday, April 30, 2015


Miles Davis' 20-year association as an artist at impresario George Wein's renowned Newport Jazz Festival is a thriving tradition that will be celebrated with the release of MILES DAVIS AT NEWPORT 1955-1975: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 4.  The four-CD box set, comprised of live performances by Miles' stellar band lineups in 1955, 1958, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1973, and 1975, in Newport, Rhode Island, New York City, Berlin, and Switzerland, will be the lynchpin for a 60th anniversary commemorative weekend of events at this summer's annual Newport Jazz Festival (July 31, August 1 & 2).  Ahead of the festival, MILES DAVIS AT NEWPORT 1955-1975 will be available everywhere on Friday, July 17 -- 60 years to the date since Davis' breakthrough performance at Newport in 1955 -- through Columbia/Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment.

The newest entry in Columbia/Legacy Recordings' critically-acclaimed Miles Davis Bootleg Series, NEWPORT 1955-1975 clocks in at 296 minutes, nearly four hours of which is previously unreleased.  From Miles' debut performance at NJF in 1955 (a hastily arranged jam session featuring Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan, that immediately led to the trumpeter's Columbia signing), to his final public perform­ance of the '70s in 1975 (at Lincoln Center during NJF-NY, the singular "Mtume" named for Miles' favored percussion­ist of that decade), the box set traces the ascendance of Miles' music as the ne plus ultra of jazz.  The full-length concert performances alone of Miles' famed "Kind Of Blue" Sextet (with Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb), and 'second great quintet in '66 and '67 (with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams) represent templates that reverberate in jazz and popular music to this day. 

In that spirit, George Wein, who at age 89 still guides the Newport Jazz Festival, will preside over this summer's Miles-centric gathering, July 31, August 1 & 2.  The lineup includes a cadre of bands led by trumpet stars Ambrose Akinmusire, Chris Botti, Peter Evans, Jon Faddis, Tom Harrell, Arturo Sandoval, and Bria Skonberg.  In a rare, historic tribute, Botti, Evans, Faddis, Harrell, Sandoval and Skonberg will perform one Miles Davis number during their sets. 

The festival weekend will feature a number of exciting panel discussions focusing on Miles Davis, created in conjunction with the Miles Davis Estate and curated by Grammy Award®-winning music historian Ashley Kahn. Highlights include an interview with George Wein conducted by New York Times critic Nate Chinen (co-author of Wein's autobiographyMyself Among Others: A Life In Music); a celebration of Miles and the St. Louis trumpet tradition with excerpts from the Clark Terry documentary Keep On Keepin' On (produced by Quincy Jones); and a discussion of Miles's romance with electric guitars. There will also be a playback of music from the new Columbia/Legacy Recordings box set MILES DAVIS AT NEWPORT 1955-1975: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 4, with co-producer of the collection-Grammy Award®-winning producer Steve Berkowitz and consultant Nell Mulderry-and Miles's nephew, drummer Vince Wilburn, Jr. Kahn penned the liner notes to this set, noting how Miles's historic performances at the Newport Jazz Festival never failed to "show the trumpeter repeatedly rising to the occasion, delivering groundbreaking music every time he hit the Newport stage." 

In this symbiosis, George Wein employed Miles to make Newport great, and Miles obliged by bringing some of the post-modern jazz era's paramount musicians to the festival stage in his bands.  The Newport Jazz Festival (and starting in 1959, Wein's Newport Folk Festival) enabled audiences of 10,000 to dig the music in a surprisingly intimate setting, where you really could hear a pin drop. "When Miles played his solo on 'Round Midnight'," Wein remembers of that breakout 1955 jam, "he put his horn right up to the microphone, which trumpet players didn't do.  Normally they like to get some air and play a little bit away from the mic but he put the bell of his horn right up against it, and it came through clear as a bell."  In that moment, with that simple move, Wein states, "That's when he became the star of the festival and later [Columbia Records A&R man] George Avakian went up and signed him."

With his "ecumenical" music mix in these five- and six-hour programs - from traditional to bop, hard bop, and re-bop, from cool, modern and post-modern to jazz-rock, rock-jazz, blues and R&B - the contemporary music festival was sired by George Wein.  As Kahn affirms, Wein "swayed generations of festival producers and impresarios - from groundbreaking one-offs like the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969, all the way up to today's genre-blending annuals like Coachella and Bonnaroo, [and in Europe] Glastonbury and Montreux." 

Intrinsically and inextricably linked at the hip were Miles Davis and George Wein, from the first conversation Wein recalls with the trumpeter in 1952, at a little club in New Haven, "when [Miles] was playing with a band that Symphony Sid had put together with Percy Heath and Milt Jackson," Wein clearly recalls.  Twenty years or so later, he memorably amped up the 1969 NJF program with Led Zeppelin, the Mothers of Invention, Jeff Beck, Sly and the Family Stone, and others.  Miles was just six weeks away from recording the principal sessions for his all-time game-changing Bitches Brew, and his live band had replaced Hancock, Carter and Williams with Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette. 

With more electronic instrumentation, and broader drum patterns, Miles was quickly moving beyond the very jazz styles he had helped to create and popularize.  Into the '70s, rock and R&B-rooted musicians like guitarists Pete Cosey and Reggie Lucas, electric bassist Michael Henderson, Mtume on percussion, plus jazz drummer Al Foster and a rotating cast of saxophonists came aboard.  As Miles' scope expanded, Wein's festival became a week-long affair in Manhattan, then across Europe. 

But to eyewitnesses, Newport Jazz Festival 1969 was ground zero, the big bang that informed Bitches Brew.  "I remember that Miles always came to Newport and left as fast as he could," Wein told Kahn.  "In '66, he came up in a boat and got to the stage in time to play, and was back on the boat and got the hell out of there.  In '69, he stayed from the first day to the last, standing right by my shoulder... He watched every group and watched the response of the audience, who got the most applause, what music they were playing.  He was studying.  And that affected all the last years of his career." 

MILES DAVIS AT NEWPORT 1955-1975: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 4 was produced for release by the multiple Grammy Award®-winning trio of Richard Seidel and Michael Cuscuna; with co-producer Steve Berkowitz.  Executive producers for the Miles Davis Estate were Cheryl Davis, Erin Davis and Vince Wilburn, Jr.  The music was mastered by Mark Wilder and Maria Triana at Battery Studios in New York City.  All original concerts were produced by George Wein. 

Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams, and Al Foster Join Forces as HEADS OF STATE to Release SEARCH FOR PEACE

Gary Bartz, Larry Willis, Buster Williams and Al Foster--four of today's most important and influential jazz artists--have joined forces as a collaborative group for the first time in their storied careers and the result is a quartet for the ages.

Somewhat surprisingly after a half-century of working together in various combinations, these four masters had never performed together as a quartet until last fall at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club in New York City. They electrified the packed house during that run and knew immediately that they had something special. As Williams remembers, "Larry called me the next week, and said, 'What do you think about us keeping this band together?' I said, 'I like the idea; let me talk to Al and Gary.'" They agreed and the rest was history in the making.

They were billed for those first performances as the Larry Willis All-Stars, and their purpose was to pay tribute to NEA Jazz Master McCoy Tyner. For artists of this stature to come together with a unified focus upon another master, that individual needs to be one of enormous significance; McCoy Tyner is certainly that. Bartz, Williams and Foster have all played and recorded with the legendary pianist going back to the '60s and '70s and there's no one more fitting than Willis to capture both the explosive drive and filigreed subtlety of the master.

After another sold-out run in January 2015, the band headed into the studio. What had originally been intended to be a one-time thing has blossomed into Heads of State, a stunning new ensemble powerfully manifested by their debut album on Smoke Sessions Records, Search for Peace.

The Tyner concept provides the core for this brilliant recording, not only titled for his majestic hymnal ballad, but also containing four other pieces associated with his prolific legacy--two pieces he performed with the unparalleled Classic John Coltrane Quartet, and two Bartz originals from Tyner albums on which Bartz participated as a sideman.

Although Bartz still plays in Tyner's groups on occasion--a relationship dating back into the late '60s--he has been a renowned leader for nearly as long. All four of these gentlemen are highly respected in their own right and have shared the stage with nearly every jazz legend and heavyweight musician of the entire modern era. Combining that wealth of history and their individual virtuosity into a synergy and spirit that provides a visceral group identity makes Heads of State as formidable an ensemble as any on today's scene. Bartz's fluently articulate and always inventive alto and soprano saxes are perfectly framed by the rhythm section, with Willis comping mightily or embellishing subtly as demanded by the music; Williams' vibrant wood and potent pulse; and Foster's inspired and sensitively dynamic drumming.

From the opening strains of Coltrane's classic "Impressions," it's eminently clear that the vitality and urgent creativity of the era that spawned these four giants will be on full display; not only in the fire and energy of this piece and Bartz's "Soulstice," but also in the relaxed swing and beautiful balladry that comprises the rest of the album. Of the former, "Search for Peace" is a lengthy exploration of the classic paean that is simply exquisite, and Sigman & Russell's "Crazy She Calls Me" is deeply emotive and poignantly lovely.

There are unexpected surprises as well. Billy Strayhorn's heartbreakingly beautiful "Lotus Blossom" is re-imagined in medium swing on an infectious bass ostinato without losing any of its haunting eloquence. Warren & Gordon's "I Wish I Knew"--which Tyner buoyed so appealingly on Trane's Ballads album--is in an easy groove over a distinctly Tyner-ish vamp.

Sparkling swing in mid-tempo variations are the order for Jackie McLean's nicely grooving "Capuchin Swing," airily jaunty on Benny Carter's Summer "Serenade," and playfully whimsical on Bartz's delectably Monk-ish "Uncle Bubba."

This configuration of elder statesmen serves as a salient reminder of what makes jazz such a powerful and poignant art form. Search for Peace is a compelling beginning for this group, leaving all in anticipation of what is to come from this newly conceived partnership. As pianist Ethan Iverson wrote on his blog, Do the Math, "Larry Willis, Gary Bartz, Buster Williams, Al Foster at Smoke. Jazz like this still exists? Apparently they are playing McCoy Tyner tunes. Fine. Whatever gets them on the bandstand together." Yes, jazz like this is alive and well with Heads of State at the helm.

"Search for Peace" was recorded live in New York at Sear Sound's Studio C
on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to ½" analog tape
using a Studer mastering deck. Available in audiophile HD format.

Heads of State · Search for Peace
Smoke Sessions Records  ·  Release Date: July 17, 2015
Release Performances: July 24 - 26 @ Smoke Jazz Club



An island of groove from reedman Alessandro Scala – a player who mostly leads a core trio on the set, but also gets help on half the record from trumpeter Flavio Boltro! We're well-known for our love of Boltro – so we'll just take that as a given – and instead focus on the tight work of the group, which includes loads of great lines on Hammond, plus a bit of Fender Rhodes, from keyboardist Leo Corradi – and just the right kind of short, sharp, focused work on drums from Stefano Paolini – who can give things a soul jazz punch when needed, but also open up in a modal groove too. Scala plays tenor, soprano, and baritone sax – and titles include "Hello & Goodbye", "Viaggio Stellare", "Game Over", "Sottospra", "Minghe", and "The Belin".  ~ Dusty Groove


Melbourne, Australia may not instantly come to mind as a center of soul music – but in recent years the city's seen a huge growth in its deep funk scene – which has also produced lots of great soul singers as well! This great package is a strong overview of the female soul going down in the city right now – vocalists who are very much in the vein of other contemporary funk singers – like Alice Russell or Sharon Jones – only one of whom, Kylie Auldist, we've ever heard before! There's a core band to the project – and all cuts are exclusive to this set, with the singers swapping out from track to track while the funky combo grooves on. Titles include "Beautifully Broken Heart" by Candice Monique, "More Than A Mouthful" by Kylie Auldist, "Who Told You" by Chelsea Wilson, "Love Connection" by May Johnston, "I Need A Man" by Rita Satch, "Accelerate" by Lisa Faithful, "What We Had Back Then" by Candice Monique & Chelsea Wilson, and the long "Women Got Soul" track, with all the singers in the collection, and more!  ~ Dusty Groove


A wonderfully sensitive record from Italian piano legend Guido Manusardi – a record that still has a swing at all the right moments, but which also has these darker currents we especially love! The trio here really seems to follow Guido's lead – and sometimes the pianist is working around the moody corners of a song, the bursts out more strongly – other times almost seems to elliptically shade in the tune with these flowing colors that are especially marvelous! The group features Marco Vaggi on bass and Luigi Bonafede on drums – and titles include "Gea", "Autumn Promenade", "Chrysalis", "This Was Tomorrow", "Missing Her", and "Phrases".  ~ Dusty Groove

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jazz Pianist and Leader Ahmad Jamal to receive NEC 2015 Honorary Degree

Celebrated pianist-composer Ahmad Jamal continues his performance schedule at home in the U.S. and around the world, as he has for the last seven decades. Noted for his outstanding technical command and identifiable sound as a piano stylist, Jamal was born on July 2, 1930, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A child prodigy who began to play the piano at the age of three, he began formal studies at age seven. While in high school, he completed the equivalent of college master classes under the noted African-American concert singer and teacher Mary Cardwell Dawson and pianist James Miller. He joined the musicians’ union at the age of 14, and he began touring upon graduation from Westinghouse High School at the age of 17, drawing critical acclaim for his solos. In 1951 he formed his first trio, The Three Strings. Record Producer John Hammond “discovered” The Three Strings performing at New York’s The Embers Club, and signed them to Okeh Records when this imprint was revived as a base for jazz and R&B releases under the Columbia (now Sony) umbrella.

Working as the “house trio” at Chicago’s Pershing Hotel in 1958, Jamal, with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernell Fournier, made an on-location recording for Argo (Chess) Records entitled But Not For Me. The resulting hit single and album, which also included Poinciana—now Jamal’s trademark—remained on the Top 10 Best-Selling charts for an unprecedented 108 weeks. The resulting financial success enabled Jamal to realize a dream, and he opened a restaurant/club, The Alhambra, in Chicago. Here the trio was able to perform while limiting their touring schedule.

Although Jamal performs in many configurations and with many other jazz artists, the solo and trio formats form the core of his work. Following his Crosby/Fournier configuration, his trio with bassist Jamil Nasser and drummer Frank Gant dominated his large recorded output, as well as concert dates, from the mid-1960s to the mid-'70s. His current quartet is with bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley, and percussionist Manolo Badrena.

Considering his trio “an orchestra,” Jamal not only achieves a unified sound, but subtly inserts independent roles for the bass and drums. The hallmarks of Jamal’s style are rhythmic innovations, colorful harmonic perceptions, especially left hand harmonic and melodic figures, plus parallel and contrary motion lines in and out of chordal substitutions and alterations and pedal point ostinato interludes in tasteful dynamics. He also incorporates a unique sense of space in his music, and his musical concepts are exciting without being loud in volume. Augmented by a selection of unusual standards and his own compositions, Jamal would notably impress and influence, among others, trumpeter Miles Davis.

In 1970, Jamal performed "M.A.S.H. Theme (Suicide Is Painless)," the title composition by Johnny Mandel for the soundtrack of the film M*A*S*H and in 1995, two tracks from his smash album But Not For Me—Music, Music, Music, and Poinciana were featured in the Clint Eastwood film The Bridges of Madison County.

In 1994, Jamal received the American Jazz Masters fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The same year he was named a Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale University, where he performed commissioned works with the Assai String Quartet.

In June of 2007 the French Government inducted Jamal into the prestigious l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Former recipients being William Faulkner, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jackson Pollock, Ella Fitzgerald, Alan Ginsberg and Toni Morrison.

Ahmad Jamal's music remains youthful, fresh, imaginative and always influential. His most recent recording, from 2014, is a two-CD-plus-DVD live set with flutist Yusef Lateef from the Olympia theatre in Paris. His 2008 recording It’s Magic hit the charts at No. 13 immediately after its release in the U.S., being touted as one of his finest works yet to date. Hailed by critics as a career highlight, the album graced the Billboard Top Jazz Albums chart, the iTunes Jazz Top 10, and peaked at No. 2 on the Jazz Week Radio Chart In France. Jamal was awarded Best International Album (Album International de Production Francaise) by Les Victoires du Jazz, the French equivalent of the Grammys. The album also garnered Record of the Year from Jazz Man magazine.

New England Conservatory (NEC) will bestow honorary Doctor of Music (hon. D.M.) degree to Ahmad Jamal at its 144th annual Commencement Exercises, Sunday, May 17 at 3 p.m. in NEC’s Jordan Hall. 

Vintage Reggae Revivalists THE EXPANDERS To Release New Album HUSTING CULTURE

Los Angeles-based vintage reggae revivalists The Expanders have been crafting their signature sound around classic 70's and early 80’s style reggae with three-part harmonies for the better half of the past decade.  Press accolades have stated, “This exciting young band has mastered the sound of classic roots” (KPFK) and “Never has a sound so old felt so fresh” (Rudeboy Reggae).  Currently the four-piece band is preparing to release their third full-length album on indie reggae powerhouse label Easy Star Records.  The new record, Hustling Culture, will be released June 16, 2015.  Pre-order begins April 28 on iTunes and via the band’s website. Pre-orders will get an instant download of the track “World Of Happiness” to get a taste of the new release.

Comprised of John Asher (Drums, Vocals), John Butcher (Guitar, Vocals), Chiquis Lozoya (Bass, Vocals), and Devin Morrison (Guitar, Vocals), The Expanders’ music emphasizes lush three-part vocal harmonies with strong and conscious songwriting rooted in the era of 70's to early 80’s style reggae, but with modern sensibilities. Their sound has made the group a favorite as a backing band for legendary Jamaican singers traveling through California such as Alton Ellis, The Maytones, and The Wailing Souls.  The band is part of a burgeoning Los Angeles reggae scene that sprang in large part from The Blue Beat Lounge (the longest running weekly ska night that happened at the Knitting Factory) and LA’s longtime premier weekly reggae night Dub Club held at the Echoplex.

Hustling Culture is the band’s third studio album, but for the band members feels like their first proper album as a cohesive unit.  Asher explains, “Our first album was a collection of music from good friends making a record together.  Our second album was a great covers album, but Hustling Culture is the band coming into its own with our songwriting and musicianship.”

For The Expanders, having their album released with a leading label like Easy Star Records further legitimizes their music to the reggae world as a whole. With influences like Ethiopians, Gladiators, Mighty Diamonds, Culture, Sound Dimension, Aggrovators, and Roots Radics much of the group’s early reggae digging came from listening to Easy Star compilations like Sugar Minott's Hidden Treasures and Can't Stop Us Now: Linval Thompson Productions. Signing with the label has brought their love for reggae full circle. As Morrison enthusiastically states, “We are honored to sign with Easy Star Records.  No other label in reggae has the reputation for putting out such high quality releases with the deep understanding of the entire genre.  Easy Star has become the first label you think of when it comes to diverse and timeless reggae.”

For Easy Star Records, having The Expanders on the roster showcases how the label’s roots continue to influence a new generation of musicians and reggae enthusiasts.  “The Expanders are carving out their own lane in the current reggae scene rooted in a vintage Jamaican sound,” says Easy Star CEO Eric Smith.  “While we are honored that our label's past releases have inspired The Expanders, the truly wonderful thing is that their music, in turn, has inspired us as well.  And we have no doubt that this release will be an inspiration for generations of musicians to come.”

In addition to being influenced by early Easy Star compilations, The Expanders grew up listening to famed reggae archivist Roger Steffens’ deep reggae collection. Morrison and Butcher grew up spending time with Steffens’ son and credit much of their knowledge to the accessibility and education of those experiences.

In support of the new album, The Expanders will be on tour leading up to the release and following it throughout the summer. A pre-order of the record is set to go live April 28.

The Expanders U.S Tour Dates
April 30 @ SOL Venue - Carson, CA
May 01 @ Elements Venue - Bakersfield, CA
May 16 @ Discovery Ventura - Ventura, CA *
May 17 @ Fat Cat Music House and Lounge - Modesto, CA *
May 18 @ Mcnear’s Mystic Theatre - Petaluma, CA *
May 19 @ Catalyst Atrium - Santa Cruz, CA
May 20 @ Blue Lamp - Sacramento, CA
May 21 @ Miners Foundry - Nevada City, CA *
May 22 @ Mateel Community Center - Redway, CA *
July 11 @ Chalice Festival - San Bernardino, CA
July 25 @ Reggae on the Mountain - Topanga, CA
Additional Dates TBA

* With Collie Buddz

South Florida JAZZ Presents Cécile McLorin Salvant in Concert May 9th

South Florida JAZZ, the area’s premier modern jazz organization, is thrilled to present Cécile McLorin Salvant on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 8:00 PM. This concert will take place at the Rose & Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center on the Nova Southeastern University campus, 3100 Ray Ferrero, Jr Blvd, Davie 33314. 

Cécile McLorin Salvant is making an eagerly awaited South Florida JAZZ debut. When she competed in the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, she was the youngest finalist ever. After taking first-place in the jazz world’s most prestigious contest, the buzz began and steadily intensified in the months leading up to the launch of her Mack Avenue Records debut, WomanChild, in 2013. DownBeat Magazine named it Best Jazz Album of the Year in its 2014 critics poll along with Best Female Vocalist and Rising Star Female Vocalist; and placed her photo on the cover of that issue. The jazz world eagerly awaits what this sophisticated and ebullient young artist will do next.

Cécile McLorin Salvant was born and raised in Miami, Florida of a French mother and a Haitian father. She started classical piano studies at five, and began singing in the Miami Choral Society at eight. Early on, she developed an interest in classical voice, began studying with private instructors, and later with Edward Walker, vocal teacher at the University of Miami.

In 2007, Cécile moved to Aix-en-Provence, France, to study law as well as classical and baroque voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory. It was in Aix-en-Provence, with reedist and teacher Jean-François Bonnel that she delved into instrumental and vocal repertoire ranging from Bessie Smith and the improvisation beyond of Betty Carter, Carmen McRae and Abbey Lincoln. She also began to sing with a band. In 2009, after a series of concerts in Paris, she recorded her first album, Cécile, with Jean-François Bonnel's Paris Quintet. Just a year later, a star was born as Cécile emerged and captured first-place in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition.

Cécile enjoys performing unique interpretations of little known and scarcely recorded jazz and blues compositions. She also focuses on a theatrical portrayal of the jazz standard and composes music and lyrics, which she also sings in French, her native language, as well as in Spanish. She is enjoying accelerating popularity in Europe and in the United States, performing in clubs, concert halls, and festivals, accompanied by renowned European and American musicians. After signing with Mack Avenue Records, Cécile recorded WomanChild, which was nominated for a Grammy® for Best Jazz Album in 2014. Downbeat Magazine Critics Poll named it Best Jazz Album of the year while also voting her Best Female Vocalist and Rising Star Female Vocalist. Her photo graced that August 2014 edition of Downbeat.

In addition to touring with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Cécile has a busy concert and festival schedule with her band that takes her throughout Europe, North and South America and beyond. Cécile's WomanChild recording, her first on Mack Avenue Records, was named Best Jazz Album by Downbeat Critics Poll and nominated for the 2014 Grammy.

Cécile McLorin Salvant – vocals
Aaron Diehl – piano
Paul Sikizie - double bass
Lawrence Leathers – drums

Bobby McFerrin to Headline the Duke Ellington School of the Arts 8th Annual Performance Series of Legends Benefit Concert

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is excited to announce that 10-time Grammy award winner Bobby McFerrin will headline Duke Ellington School of the Arts' 8th annual Performance Series of Legends benefit concert on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 7:30pm at the Warner Theatre.

Multi-faceted and multi-talented Bobby McFerrin has blurred the distinction between pop music and fine art, exploring uncharted vocal territory, inspiring a whole new generation of a cappella singers and the beatbox movement and dazzling audiences all over the world. He singlehandedly redefined the role of the human voice with his a cappella hit "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Bobby McFerrin promotes an extraordinary experience through spontaneous performance, engaging audiences with creative energy.

Its signature fundraising benefit concert, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts' Performance Series of Legends has previously featured Dave Chappelle; Denyce Graves; Stevie Wonder; Earth Wind & Fire; Smokey Robinson; Patti Labelle; Sting and Paul Simon. Featured artists help to raise money for the school and also contribute to the artistic enrichment of students that work with them in performance or master classes. Last year, Sting noted "I've agreed to work with schools before and you always think 'oh well they're kids', but this was of a higher order -- the singing and the playing and just the commitment. And it was absolutely inspiring for us. I'm blown away!" The Duke Ellington School of the Arts has taken an innovative, entrepreneurial approach to fundraising in order to support its dual arts and academic curriculum, and continue the vision of its co-founders Peggy Cooper Cafritz and the late Mike Malone.

Tickets ($50 - $150 each) are currently on sale at VIP Tickets ($250 each) and Sponsorship Opportunities ($1,000 - $75,000) are available through The Ellington Fund at 202-299-5663 or Sponsorships include invitation to a pre-performance master class and open sound check with Bobby McFerrin.

Since its inception in 1974, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts has upheld its mission of providing an exemplary arts and academic education to talented youth who may not otherwise have that opportunity. An independently operated public school in partnership with the Ellington Fund, George Washington University, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and DC Public Schools, it serves over 500 students from all wards of the District, Maryland and Virginia. At Ellington, students specialize in dance, literary media and communications, museum studies, instrumental and vocal music, theatre, technical design and production, and visual arts. With a graduation and college acceptance rate averaging 95%, Ellington is proof of what it means to successfully educate young people for the 21st century -- in and through the arts.

NEAL SCHON To Release VORTEX, New CD Embraces Elements of Jazz, Classical, World & Rock

Guitarist Neal Schon has announced the release of Vortex on June 23.  The 2-CD all-instrumental album utilizes rock as its foundation, while also embracing elements of jazz, classical and world music in an 18-track stunning, sonically explosive collection of original compositions.  The release is dedicated to Schon's best friend and wife, who serves as his true inspiration every day (Both "Lady M" and "Triumph of Love" were written for her, the latter of which he performed at their wedding on December 15, 2013).  Schon shares, "This is an evolutionary album for me.  I've always aspired to be a better player and push musical boundaries. And sure, I've sold 80-million records with Journey, and I'm proud of that, but this album is really me — all based on my guitar, which is my 'voice.' It's bold. There's love, and there's definitely fire and an element of danger. And the energy level is off the hook."

That's evident from the first, mysterious-sounding measures of "Miles Beyond," the scalding tribute to jazz genius Miles Davis' pioneering fusion recordings that opens the album. The tune blends Schon's soaring leads, tectonic plates of grinding rhythm and brilliantly layered melodies within an arrangement that embraces Middle Eastern flourishes plus flashes of African drumming by Steve Smith. "Schon & Hammer Now" is a furious jam between the guitarist and his longtime friend and creative foil, Grammy-winning keyboardist Jan Hammer, whose many accomplishments include charter membership in the groundbreaking Mahavishnu Orchestra.  And the two match their brilliant technique and relentless invention throughout, sparring with the grace and speed of a young Mohammad Ali.  Schon reveals, "Jan is all over this album. I wrote the material to give Jan room to stretch.  There are not many three-minute ditties. It's all huge, epic, bombastic…futuristic."  After hearing the completed album for the first time, Hammer made a succinct observation, "This is f****** amazing."

"Airliner NS910" is further proof. It's all speed and swagger, with Schon skywriting the song's sweetly singing theme in the indelible vapor trail of the instantly recognizable operatic tones of his signature model Paul Reed Smith guitars. He reflects, "Since Vortex is a two-record set, it's both my ninth and tenth solo albums.  That's where the 'NS910' comes from."

The music of Vortex originated in the hard drives that Schon is constantly filling with ideas for riffs, melodies and chord progressions at home. But they came to life at Berkeley's Fantasy Studios, his preferred spot for recording since Journey cut the 10-times-platinum number-one album Escape there in 1981. Schon states, "It's my home away from home.  I spend so much time there that they've given me my own locker."

Schon produced and played bass on Vortex, too, and was joined in the studio by Smith and keyboardist Igor Len. Hammer and Len also appeared on Schon's seventh solo album, The Calling, which was followed by the blues-inspired hard rock album So U.  He offers, "Igor and Jan complement each other, and me, beautifully."  And Vortex's "Eternal Love" is a testament to Len's creativity. The song, a richly emotional ballad, features Len alone on piano. The guitarist observes, "He sat down and played the tune spontaneously, and it was so gorgeous and deep that I had to have it on my album." Schon offers his own reflective solo performance on Vortex with the sparsely arranged acoustic guitar meditation "Mom," dedicated to his mother, Barbara Schon. He reveals, "Like most of the performances on this album, it wasn't premeditated.  I'd just pick up a guitar and tell my engineer Jesse Nichols to hit ProTools."

The intensely creative guitar giant has always had a seemingly innate ability to make glorious music. He began playing at age five and was inspired by soul vocalists like Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, and blues and jazz guitarists ranging from B.B. King, Albert King and Eric Clapton to Wes Montgomery. When Schon was just 15 years old, Carlos Santana invited him to join his band. Schon's recording debut was on the classic 1971 album Santana III. He played the solo on the LP's hit single "Everybody's Everything." Recently Schon has been working with Carlos Santana on a new album, co-writing songs and playing key performances including homecoming Santana concerts in Guadalajara and Mexico City that included Journey as the opening band.

Schon formed Journey in 1973 and has led the band through its astonishing 42-year history. Along the way Journey has sold well over 80 million albums, amongst which the band's Greatest Hits release was certified Diamond by the RIAA for sales in excess of 10 million copies.  To date sales now exceed 15 million copies.  Eight other Journey album releases have been certified multi-platinum.  Neal Schon co-wrote the timeless hit "Don't Stop Believin,'" which now holds the title as the most digitally downloaded song in history.  Seventeen additional Journey singles were Top 40 hits.  Schon has received multiple Grammy award nominations for both his work with Journey and his solo recordings, and Journey has been nominated for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Besides solo albums and tours and his historic work with Journey, Schon has an extensive history of blue-ribbon collaborations. These include co-founding the supergroup Bad English and forming bands with vocalists Paul Rodgers and Sammy Hagar. He released two collaboration albums with Jan Hammer, Untold Passion and Here To Stay, while also performing on releases from Michael Bolton, Return to Forever's Lenny White and many others. 

One thing he's never done is considered resting on his laurels. Schon reflects, "I feel more aware and alive now than I've ever been.  Part of that is the sobriety I've had for the last seven years. I've also evolved as a person and a player though understanding the value of being in the moment – letting things happen and not thinking too much. There's an old blues saying: 'If you're thinkin', you're stinkin'.  When you stop thinking and just play from the heart, you discover your own voice. That's the real thing, and that's what Vortex is about for me."

With Acclaimed Musician Jamie Cullum at the Helm, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts Launches ‘Jazz Legends at St. Regis’ Series

From The St. Regis Washington, DC., Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Inc. has kicked off the ‘Jazz Legends at St. Regis’ series, an intimate set of jazz performances scheduled to take place at St. Regis properties around the world. The series will celebrate contemporary jazz as well as bring a modern interpretation to beloved jazz tunes played at the brand’s flagship hotel in New York in the 1930s and 1940s.

Throughout the Jazz Age, the Rooftop Ballroom at the iconic St. Regis New York played host to some of the finest jazz musicians in history with unforgettable performances from greats like Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Buddy Rich; it is this rich musical legacy that makes jazz the soundtrack of the St. Regis brand even today.

In celebration of the brand’s authentic tie to jazz, the quintessential American music genre, The ‘Jazz Legends at St. Regis’ series provides a platform for guests, residents and the local community to enjoy exclusive jazz performances by both celebrated musicians and emerging talent alike, curated together with Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC), the non-profit organization whose mission it is to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for jazz.

“Jazz is an innate part of the St. Regis legacy, and it is exciting to see today’s global travellers passionate about the social and cultural tradition,” says Daphne Sipos, Global Brand Director, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. “With the launch of the ‘Jazz Legends at St. Regis’ series, we are thrilled to entertain jazz aficionados and novices alike with innovative jazz programming, modern performances and beyond expectation experiences.”

“Jazz is woven into the fabric of our culture, evolving throughout history: respecting tradition, but also reinterpreting it,” states Jamie Cullum. “I am honored to be a part of the ‘Jazz Legends at St. Regis’ series and follow in the footsteps of some of the finest musicians that have played at St. Regis.”

The series formally launches tonight with a performance by acclaimed jazz musician and singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum at The St. Regis Washington D.C. followed by marquee events at The St. Regis Mexico City, The St. Regis Bangkok and The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort to name a few.

This performance follows on the heels of an exclusive jazz event with Jamie Cullum at the recently opened St. Regis Istanbul earlier this month; an intimate jazz performance with Jonathan Batiste at The St. Regis Deer Valley; and before that, The Vault at the iconic St. Regis New York was transformed by event designer Bronson van Wyck into a twenties-era jazz club, which was the setting for a lively and much talked about performance by Jamie Cullum to celebrate the debut of his newest album Interlude.



After a three-year wait that has seemed like eternity for devotees of the boogie, Cool Million returns in 2015 with their long-awaited fourth album, Sumthin´Like This . But don´t be fooled by the modest title: chances are you´ve never heard anything like it! The hard-workling duo of Hardt and Ryle continue to expand their parameters as producers utilizing top-tier programming and instrumentation to deliver a uniquely faithful update of the celestial sounds found on the best of early- 80s electro funk and boogie records. Glenn Jones, Michael Jeffries, Marc Sadane, Gavin Christopher, and Atlantic Starr´s Porter Carroll are a few of the sought-after purveyors of fine soul who lend their one-of-a-kind talents to Sumthin Like This not to mention Tim Owens, who leads off the album with the irresistible title cut, an instant floor-filler that will get folks out of their seats whether they´re at the club or working on their PC. Additional contributors to Sumthin' Like This include classy singer-songwriter DJ Laura Jackson, who has appeared on every Cool Million album to date and now appears as part of the group´s touring line-up; newcomer Farina Miss; and internationally renown soulful house maestro Marc Evans, who fronts the new CD´s leadoff single, Dontcha Wanna Dance . Sumthin Like This is a feel-good, booty-shaking musica journey that will keep the party going day or night, from start to finish. ~ Amazon


Four decades since their professional debut, Third World remain one of the most popular Jamaican acts in the world, effortlessly mixing Reggae, Funk and Soul to create a distinct sound of own. The success of the debut LP provided the platform upon which Third World continued to grow artistically, yet despite its significance, 'Third World' remained strangely elusive on CD, with its only issue on the format being a limited US-only pressing, released in 1999. Fortunately, for Reggae fans the world over, that oversight has finally been addressed and at long last the album has not only been made available on compact disc once more, but it has also been given the attention such a popular and ground-breaking collection undoubtedly deserves. Featured alongside the LP's original track listing are eight bonus tracks from the album sessions, with their number including alternate takes to 'Slavery Days' and 'Got To Get Along' and a trio of killer Dub cuts, all of which were previously unavailable on CD.~ Amazon


One of Eydie Gorme's outstanding attributes was her versatility and on this compilation album featuring twenty-five songs she recorded in the early 1960s, you will find several excellent examples of this. Some tracks are appearing here on CD for the first time - "Sonny Boy" and "Before Your Time". Digitally re-mastered. She moves from favourite standards such as "You'll Never Know" and "The Nearness of You", to the exciting Latin beat of "Granada" and "Frenesi", to Broadway's "Where is Love" and finally to her fun-filled take on "Never on Sunday" renamed "I Love to Dance (But Never on Sunday)". ~ Amazon

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Composer-Arranger Oded Lev-Ari - Producer of Anat Cohen, Marty Ehrlich, Duchess and More - Makes Leader Debut with Inspired Chamber Jazz of Threading

Composer-arranger-producer Oded Lev-Ari has crafted acclaimed albums by the likes of hit band 3 Cohens, clarinet icon Anat Cohen and woodwind sage Marty Ehrlich, as well as rising-star singers Amy Cervini, Melissa Stylianou and vocal trio Duchess. Now the Tel Aviv-born, New York-based Lev-Ari steps out with the first recording under his own name: Threading, available today, April 28, 2015, on Anzic Records . The album presents six inspired Lev-Ari compositions - instrumental and vocal - performed by an all-star 11-piece New York band that includes Anat Cohen and the ace Matt Wilson on drums, as well as guest vocalists Alan Hampton and Jo Lawry. Along with Lev-Ari's own pieces, the disc includes his artful instrumental and vocal arrangements of songwriter Gordon Jenkins' classic "Goodbye." The chamber-jazz sound of Threading - which features not only winds, trumpet and a textured rhythm section but also three cellos - hints at varied sonic worlds, from jazz sound painters Gil Evans and Maria Schneider to tango nuevo king Astor Piazzolla and contemporary classical composers. Ultimately, though, Lev-Ari has his own, individual soundprint, one of cinematic richness and open-hearted lyricism. 

Lev-Ari, a student of the great composer-arranger Bob Brookmeyer, says what he appreciated most about his teacher was his intrepid musical sensibility. "I love Bob's music, even if mine doesn't really sound anything like his," Lev-Ari says. "He was such an inspiring figure, particularly how courageous he was in the kind of music he let himself make. He was a keen admirer of contemporary classical, and he let that into his work, unafraid to incorporate new sounds into the big-band palette. That sort of open mind and ear is something to aspire to." 

With Threading, "space and personality" were bywords in the studio for Lev-Ari and his engineering partner, James Farber. "James and I had worked before on several albums together, and he really knows the studio we used, Sear Sound in Manhattan," Lev-Ari explains. "We're on the same page in terms of quality of sound, with space around the instruments being key. We also share a production credo, in that it's not about perfection - it's about expression, telling a story in music. The goal is capturing the essence of the music, especially in those moments where it builds organically to an emotional impact. We had a band of amazing musicians, who naturally invest personality into everything they play - and that's what makes music come alive, off the page and into the air."

The title track of Threading opens the album with irresistible shades of Piazzolla in the writing for strings and piano; then there's Anat Cohen's dynamic clarinet, her solo building to a peak as it traces lines with Nadje Noorduis's trumpet. There are indigo echoes of Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" in "Lost and Found," with cool-toned solos from Will Vinson's alto sax and Brian Landrus's baritone. "Voices," incorporating a titular and textural homage to contemporary Latvian composer Peteris Vasks, resonates with a dark lyricism, the collective soloing in its middle section a priceless instance of session spontaneity; the bridge of the piece, with the composer voicing a minimalist melody on piano as winds trace arabesques above, is one of the album's most ravishing passages. There's more Vasks-esque writing for the three cellos in "Black Crow," as well as an evocation of Oded's Israeli roots. Lev-Ari's kindred-spirit connection with Anat Cohen - they have been friends and collaborators since high school in Tel Aviv - is mirrored in her Eastern European-tinged lines. "Black Crow" also features a characteristically musical drum solo by Matt Wilson. 

"E and A," the title referencing the first initials of Lev-Ari's two children (with singer Amy Cervini), brims with pastoral loveliness, as well as a mix of Old World and New World influences. A melody-rich highlight of Threading comes with "The Dance," a vocal piece for which Lev-Ari wrote both music and lyrics; the gorgeous vocal combination of Alan Hampton (a collaborator with Gretchen Parlato, among others) and Jo Lawry (Sting's go-to backing singer) sees their voices twining around each other to tell an emotional story. Then there are the two versions of "Goodbye," the Gordon Jenkins song made famous by Frank Sinatra on his LP Only the Lonely. Cohen's clarinet takes a vocal role in the instrumental, after a limpid introduction by guitarist Gilad Hekselman. And if Lev-Ari's subtle arrangement is both earthier and airier than the vintage treatment Nelson Riddle made for Sinatra, Hampton's singing is less theatrical, more conversational. Lev-Ari says: "It's an intimate piece of music that I love, and Alan has this quality to his voice that makes it seem as if he were singing just to you, revealing something very personal." 

Even with such moments of magic, Lev-Ari called the album Threading to evoke the sense of craftsmanship that goes into making music. "A work of art really is a magical thing, and people don't always want to know how the trick is done," he explains. "But writing, arranging and recording can be exacting, almost physical work, like sewing or weaving. That's something that always comes to mind when I'm writing, particularly for a larger ensemble. I wanted to hint at the tradesman-like craft of the work, those aspects of loving, hard-won detail that you hope add up to something beautiful." 

Oded Lev-Ari: Threading

1. "Threading" 2. "Lost and Found" 3. "Goodbye" (vocal version) 4. "Voices" 5. "Black Crow" 6. "E and A" 7. "The Dance" 8. "Goodbye" (instrumental version). All compositions by Oded Lev-Ari, except for "Goodbye" (by Gordon Jenkins)

Anat Cohen: clarinet; Will Vinson: alto & soprano saxophone; Brian Landrus: baritone saxophone & bass clarinet; Nadje Noordhuis: trumpet & flugelhorn; Alex Waterman, Yoed Nir & Noah Hoffeld: cello; Oded Lev-Ari: piano; Gilad Hekselman: guitar; Joe Martin: double-bass; Matt Wilson: drums; Alan Hampton: voice (3, 7); Jo Lawry: voice (7)



Stellar Hammond from one of the best contemporary talents on the instrument – and one of the few who can really make the organ cook in a stripped-down setting like this! Gold has a tone and touch that's somewhere between Don Patterson and Larry Young – the free flights of the latter in his Blue Note years, mixed with the inherent sense of rhythm that Patterson brought to his Prestige classics in the 60s – that ability to open up, yet never lose the groove – even as Gold holds down both the long solo lines with his fingers, and also the basslines with his feet! The trio's got the loose, open vibe of a Patterson group – with Dave Stryker on guitar and Kush Abadey on drums – but Jared's also very much his own man, with a flurry of creative phrasing, and a very individual sense of time as well. Titles include the originals "Homenagem", "Check In", and "In A Daze" – plus "Maybe I'm Amazed", "Let's Call This", "Risco", and "God Has Smiled On Me".  ~ Dusty 


The Unspoken Warrior expresses Blue Soul Ten’s approach to life, and aims to leave listeners with a positive vibe that transcends
superficial, short‐lived music. The album is the result of a fusion between soul, lounge, R&B and jazz – common Blue Soul Ten influences. The lead single, Music Box is a chill track driven by pulsing drums, soulful guitar licks, ambient backgrounds, and a lead sax solo that tops the musical bed of sound. Meant to resurrect vintage music boxes, and with a respectful nod to hip hop classics, Music Box takes the listener through 4 minute ride, narrated by the voice of the box itself. Blue Soul Ten is the stage name for Greenehouse Music’s owner and primary producer Claye Greene. After producing for several independent acts, Claye decided to work on a series of solo albums that draws upon all of his musical influences. The Unspoken Warrior is the first of a threealbum series that will tie together similar vibes, and tell a story across a related set of musical works.Blue Soul Ten has been garnering favorable initial reviews, and will be featured on several blogs and independent radio stations. Worldwide release is set for May 26th, 2015.


Hungary may be a small country but it punches above its weight when it comes to the funk! Formerly of the Eastern bloc, the cultural and musical heritage of this part of Europe is every bit as rich the likes of West Africa and as such it is a melting pot bubbling with rhythms and influences. Now imagine, if you will, some of this Eastern European brew sprinkled with a little bit of afro spice and then blended with a massive dose of classic heavyweight Stateside funk and you'll have some idea of what Dokkerman & The Turkeying Fellaz (D&TTF) are all about. The nine piece band, lead by keyboard player Tamas Michelberger (aka Dokkerman), contains a tight rhythm section, a tight horn section and the ability to lay down a bad-ass groove - which collectively results in a raw and dirty old-school sound that recalls the funky golden era of the '60s and '70s. And yet the band also has that which differentiates it from the likes of Ikebe Shakedown or the Menahan Street Band in singer Gabor "The Flame" Hoffer whose chants offer added Magyar rawness. In short, D&TTF breathe new life into vintage funk and trashy garage rock underpinning everything with afro-funk rhythms in a unique addition to the contemporary scene that's guaranteed to make you move. In fact it's so danceable it should be made illegal.

Detroit Jazz Festival Announces Lineup for 36th Annual Event

Danili Perez / Maria Schneider / Anat Cohen
The Detroit Jazz Festival announces a diverse lineup of headlining acts for the 36th annual Labor Day Weekend Festival, set to take place September 4-7. The lineup is the culmination of the Festival's commitment to bringing an eclectic and unique group of jazz musicians to downtown Detroit, while delivering a collection of performances that includes a Homecoming Series with Detroit natives, exciting new artists, legends, and student groups all connected around musical experiences that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. 

"Detroit is a place filled with soul, culture and creativity, and we have a great legacy of jazz here. Our Festival-the world's largest free jazz festival-truly showcases what makes our city special," said Gretchen Valade, chair of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation's Board of Directors. "Being part of the Festival since its inception, it has been rewarding to watch it grow and become an event that is woven into the fabric of the Detroit and Jazz communities. We're looking to add to its legacy with another collection of unforgettable performances this year." 

In his fourth year as artistic director, Chris Collins has once again curated a world-class lineup that is truly representative of the genre in all its facets. Launching this vision is 2015 Artist in Residence Pat Metheny, presented by Absopure, who will grace all four stages throughout the weekend with sets including:

Pat Metheny Trio with Antonio Sánchez, Scott Colley & special guest Kenny Garrett
Pat Metheny acoustic duo with Ron Carter
Pat Metheny Reunion with Gary Burton Quartet
Pat Metheny, Scott Colley, Antonio Sánchez, and Danny Gottlieb with the Detroit Jazz Festival Big Band and String Orchestra, Conducted by Alan Broadbent, performing new works including the North American premiere of Metheny's multi-movement/multi-media tribute to Eberhard Weber.
The full 2015 lineup includes (in alphabetical order):
Monty Alexander: Harlem-Kingston Express
Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band
Richard Bona: Mandekan Cubano
Joanne Brackeen Quartet
Ron Carter
Will Calhoun Quartet with Greg Osby
Ron Carter Trio
ANAT COHEN Celebrando Brasil: From Rio to Minas
Eddie Daniels jazz version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons for Detroit with the Detroit Jazz Festival String Orchestra and original narration from Douglas Preston
Dave Douglas Quintet
Paquito D'Rivera Quintet
Kenny Garrett Quintet
Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra: Conductor Carla Bley, Bassist Steve Swallow
Jon Irabagon Quartet
Jungle Funk Trio
Oliver Lake Organ Quartet
Carmen Lundy
Mack Avenue SuperBand
Rudresh Mahanthappa "Bird Calls"
René Marie Experiment in Truth
Ken Peplowski Quartet
Danilo Pérez - World premiere of his commissioned Detroit World Suite
Ester Rada
Arturo Sandoval
Maria Schneider Orchestra
The John Scofield & Joe Lovano Quartet
Tuba Skinny
Christian Scott Sextet
"Benny's Threads" - Inspired by the artistry of Benny Goodman, featuring new compositions by Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, spoken word from author Douglas Preston, and superstar clarinetists featuring Anat Cohen, Eddie Daniels, Paquito D'Rivera and Ken Peplowski
Steve Turre and James Carter: Rahsaan Roland Kirk Birthday Celebration
James "Blood" Ulmer & Black Music Experience featuring Queen Esther
Manuel Valera & Groove Square

To see the full lineup, visit

Bessie: Music From The HBO Film features Queen Latifah, Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven, Cecile McLorin Salvant and others

Legacy Recordings has announced the digital release of Bessie (Music from the HBO Film) on Tuesday, May 12. The official soundtrack for the upcoming HBO film will also be released on CD on Tuesday, June 2. The biographic film Bessie, starring Queen Latifah as blues legend Bessie Smith, premieres on HBO on Saturday, May 16.

An evocative collection combining historic and contemporary recordings, Bessie (Music from the HBO Film) debuts seven new Queen Latifah performances including "Young Woman Blues," "Preachin' The Blues," "Long Old Road," "Down Hearted Blues," "Work House Blues," "Weepin' Woman Blues" (a duet with vocalist Pat Bass) and "Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle Of Beer (2015 Remix)."

Bessie (Music from the HBO Film) premieres "Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle Of Beer (2015 Remix)," a postmodern reworking of Bessie Smith's original recording featuring newly recorded vocals, ad-libs and raucous banter by Queen Latifah set to enhanced instrumentation remixed and produced by Adam Blackstone and Queen Latifah.  "Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle Of Beer (2015 Remix)" is a dream collaboration between the Empress of the Blues and Queen Latifah that exemplifies the brilliance of each of the artists while celebrating the musical soul that unites their eras and generations.

"This is a project that has been close to my heart for many not only star as Bessie Smith but to also produce the film and the soundtrack is a dream for me.  Recording this music was an incredible journey and I am proud to be a part of it all." - Queen Latifah

The album features modern performances of blues, jazz and swing classics including "Prove It On Me," performed by Carmen Twillie; "See See Rider," performed by Tamar-Kali; "Laugh Clown Laugh," performed by Cecile McLorin Salvant; and two new instrumental arrangements from Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks: "I've Got What It Takes (But It Breaks My Heart To Give It Away)" and "Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight."

Legacy Recordings' Bessie (Music from the HBO Film) is rounded out with authentic period recordings from Fats Waller & His Rhythm ("A Good Man Is Hard To Find"), Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra ("[What Did I Do To Be So] Black And Blue"), Sippie Wallace ("I'm A Mighty Tight Woman") and Kid Ory's Creole Orchestra ("Ballin' The Jack").

1) Young Woman's Blues - Queen Latifah
2) Hot Time In The Old Town  - Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks
3) Prove It On Me -  Carmen Twillie
4) Weary Blues - Louis Armstrong & His Hot Seven 
5) Weepin' Woman Blues - Queen Latifah & Pat Bass
6) See See Rider - Tamar-kali
7) Ballin' The Jack - Kid Ory's Creole Jazz Band
8) Down Hearted Blues  -  Queen Latifah
9) A Good Man Is Hard to Find -  Fats Waller & His Rhythm
10) Preachin' The Blues - Queen Latifah
11) I've Got What It Takes (But It Breaks My Heart To Give It Away) - Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks
12) Work House Blues - Queen Latifah
13) I'm a Mighty Tight Woman - Sippie Wallace
14) (What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue - Louis Armstrong And His Orchestra
15) Laugh, Clown, Laugh - Cecile McLorin Salvant  
16) Long Old Road - Queen Latifah
17) Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle of Beer (2015 Remix) - Bessie Smith featuring Queen Latifah      


Monday, April 27, 2015



Initially a member of The Impressions, Jerry Butler was quickly singled out for special attention by Vee Jay Records, a move that didnt exactly please his erstwhile band mates. However, the success of For Your Precious Love, which received a dual credit for both Jerry and The Impressions, was the signal for two successful recording entities to emerge. Jerry Butler Esq is his debut album and one that finds him more of a supper club singer than an out and out R&B singer. This is not intended in any way detrimental to Jerry, for there is no doubt that he can handle the material with ease, including a reworking of For Your Precious Love, September Song and Come Back My Love. ~ Amazon


ESKA is the most talked about, revered singer you've never heard of. Prepare to be let in on one of music's best kept secrets in 2015 when ESKA finally releases her self-titled debut album. Possessing one of the best and most memorable voices in the UK right now, ESKA weaves together diverse musical elements - hints of folk, soul, psychedelia and electronica and pairs them with stirring lyrics, born from burning passion. ESKA has created something pure and timeless which echoes past traditions while at the same time managing to surprise with its stunning originality. In the UK, ESKA's music has already created a buzz; receiving strong radio support from tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson, Lauren Laverne and John Kennedy. Her debut self-released EP, was heralded by global independent community Bandcamp in their 'Best Releases of 2013'. Having built an inimitable reputation as a writer and performer through collaborations with such legends of the game as Grace Jones, Cinematic Orchestra, Zero 7 and Bobby McFerrin together with performances in some of the world's most famous venues and festivals, its time to discover ESKA's own unique sound in full force. The self-titled debut album ESKA hosts production credits from cult British electronic artist Matthew Herbert (known for remixing Björk, R.E.M. and Yoko Ono), Louis 'slipperz' Hackett and Dave Okumu of The Invisible (previous winners of iTunes 'Album Of The Year' in the UK). ~ Amazon


Reissue of two rare Motown solo albums by the legendary songwriter/producer and recording artist Valerie Simpson. Originally issued in 1971 and 1972 respectively, "Exposed" and the self-titled "Valerie Simpson" have been out of print on CD for almost a decade. As part of the creative duo with her husband, the late Nick Ashford, Valerie's work as a songwriter and producer was at the forefront during her tenure with Motown from 1967-1972. Remastering by Alan Wilson of Western Star Studios, artwork by Roger Williams and notes by Charles Waring with additional comments by founder David Nathan, who has been interviewing Valerie since 1972. ~ Amazon


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