Thursday, May 10, 2018
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
If you missed them at Maureen's Jazz Cellar in April, you can hear them again for one night only at MEZZRO!
Mike Longo, Piano / Paul West, Bass
Thursday, May 24
Mezzrow Jazz Listening Room
163 West 10th Street-Basement, NYC
$20 music charge; $10 for students.
Two shows at 8:00 and 9:30 pm.
Call 646-476-4346 for Reservations & Information
Or go to the website:
Sunday, May 6, 2018
Yes Today was previewed yesterday, at Nublu, located in New York's Lower East Side, as part of Freelance's monthly residency, which has been playing to sold-out rooms throughout the city for the past several months. On May 10, the group will return to Nublu to celebrate Yes Today's official release.
Freelance features an all-star lineup of musicians that regularly accompany Grammy Award winning artists such as Robert Glasper, Solange, Estelle, Esperanza Spalding, Terence Blanchard, Bilal, Terrace Martin, Lalah Hathaway, and more. Comprised of founding leaders Smithsoneon (vocals) and Ausar the Ambassador (keyboards) along with Craig Hill (saxophone), Yasser Tejeda (guitar) and David "Dj" Ginyard (bass) and Justin Tyson (drums), Freelance's sound is born from the sonic footprints of Mint Condition, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, and Robert Glasper.
Also featured on a number of tracks is harpist Brandee Younger, organist Mitch Henry and acclaimed trumpeter (and band mentor) Darren Barrett who is highlighted on "Band Plays On", among others. The album was mixed by world-class producer and drummer Charles Haynes aka Chally Mikes.
Yes Today is a collection of songs that speak to the evolution of Freelance and their myriad influences. The genre-defying collective lend their ideals and polychromatic musical aesthetic to the tasks of speaking truth to power, pushing the envelope with forward production and capturing the energy of their live shows on record. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign and revenue generated by the band, Yes Today found Freelance returning to their undergraduate stomping ground to record at the Herd Studio in Boston.
Their first full album of original music, the wide-ranging project is a demonstration of the band's versatility that combines feather light arpeggios, booming percussive statements and triumphant fanfares with ease. Yes Today is their multifaceted contribution to the trap and pop dominant lexicon of millennial black music. With it they challenge the popular narrative and travels leagues toward realizing their goal of making people "fall in love with the idea of a band again."
The energy of Yes Today is perhaps best exemplified in the album's lead single, "Band Plays On". Premiered on March 30th via Revive.com, "Band Plays On" pulls music cues from Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall" while speaking to the feeling we all experience when our favorite song magically alleviates the worries of everyday life. On the infectious single, which was mixed by Grammy-award winning engineer Ben Kane, each member of Freelance is highlighted; Smithsoneon's powerful vocals and Ginyard's carefully placed bass fills and provide an anchor while Ausar the Ambassador's synth patches add lush textures.
Tejeda's steady guitar work and Tyson's distinctive drum groove compliment the EWF-esque gorns led by Hill. Other standout tracks include the post-punk empowerment anthem "Why Wait", which channels a J Dilla join and Michael Jackson's "They Don't Really Care About Us", and the album's eighth offering "What We Fear", which is Freelance's response to extrajudicial violence.
The release of Yes Today marks REVIVE Music's launch of its independent label division. "...To launch this venture with such brilliant musicians and songwriters is exactly the path to take the REVIVE Music Group to places unimagined. We are so proud to be a part of bringing this great project to the world via our platforms." says industry veteran and EVP of REVIVE Music Guy Routte.
To date, REVIVE has released three albums under its imprint with Blue Note Records which has featured an astonishing array of featured artists which include Otis Brown III, Bilal, Gretchen Parleto, Derrick Hodge, Marcus Strickland, Meshell N'Degeocello, Keyon Harrold, Brandee Younger, Casey Benjamin, Raymond Angry, Justin Brown and many more. Their 2015 RCA Nina Simone Revisited partnered release produced by Robert Glasper featured artists Lauryn Hill, Usher, Mary J Blige, Gregory Porter, Common, Alice Smith, and more.
Freelance · Yes Today REVIVE Music · Release Date: May 11, 2018
Pre Order the Album: http://smarturl.it/9ds0kn
Listen to "Band Plays On" Single: https://soundcloud.com/livefreelance/band-plays-on
About REVIVE Music Group
Revive Music launched in 2006 as a boutique live music agency that specializes in producing genre-bending, creative-concept live music shows that tour worldwide with the purpose of educating and inspiring audiences about artistic and authentic forms of music. In effort further provide an advocacy platform for musicians, Revive launched the leading online journal for the burgeoning jazz community dedicated to their musicianship, artistry and creative expression as a part of Okayplayer.com in 2010 and in 2013 launched their label imprint on Blue Note Records, signing some of today's most gifted and progressive jazz artists.
For additional media information, please visit www.revive-music.com, or contact:
Meghan Stabile firstname.lastname@example.org
Guy Routte · email@example.com
Hannah Beaumont · firstname.lastname@example.org
Itai Kriss will celebrate the release of Telavana at Smalls Jazz Club, located at 183 W 10th St, New York on Saturday, July 7th.
"Telavana is really a synthesis of my own musical identity, as it is a manifestation of my different cultural roots. As a Jazz musician born and raised in Israel, and coming of age in the Latin music scene in New York City, it feels natural to express where I came from, what I've been doing and the things I'm inspired by in a single band, and this is it," he says.
The flutist, praised by Jazzwax as "one of the most exciting new flutist-composers" on the scene grew up in Israel and was exposed to its many musical traditions ranging from Morocco to the Balkans, Yemen to Turkey, Egypt to Russia. Upon pursuing his childhood dream of moving to New York City to study jazz, Kriss was naturally drawn to the enticing sounds of salsa, Afro-Cuban music and Latin jazz and was "adopted" by Puerto-Rican and Cuban musicians who became important mentors. Now, after spending the past fifteen years working at the forefront of New York City's Jazz scene while performing, recording and touring with some of the world's top Afro-Cuban, Latin and salsa artists, the virtuoso fuses the sounds of his native Israel with those of his adopted homelands in the Americas to bring you Telavana.
Stand out tracks from the album include "Sahadi's Serenade", a dedication to Kriss' favorite Middle Eastern grocery in Brooklyn and "Shabazi", a festive tune titled for one of his beloved neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, which is notably featured in a music video starring dancer Elena Nayiri. While "Para Venezuela" combines elements of Merengue Venezolano (traditional Venezuelan folk music) with classical, jazz and Cuban elements, "Azules", literally translating to 'blues', is a Spanish/flamenco inspired composition with a form that's based on the blues and melodies drawn from the Andalusian traditions of southern Spain. "Rak Beinatayim", an arrangement Kriss created to a song by prolific Israeli songwriter Nurit Hirsh in the style of a Cuban danzón, is the only song on the album not composed by the band leader.
Telavana is presented by a group that aptly mirrors the serene amalgamation of these diverse musical cultures. Representing the sounds of the East is Israeli bassist Or Bareket, Jerusalem-born drummer Dan Aran and special guest qanun player and Turkish-native Tamer Pinarbasi. Kriss completes this multi-regional line-up with Puerto Rican percussionist Marcos López, Cuban pianist César Orozco, New York jazz trumpeter Michael Rodriguez, and world renowned multi-instrumentalist and Cuban-native Yosvany Terry (who on this occasion lends his talents on shekere).
Each of these accomplished musicians bring their own individual, distinct cultural backgrounds and flair to this nine track opus. Kriss is thrilled to have these particular musicians bring his vision to life as each of them truly bring the flavours from their own lands to his music. Although each member of the band hails from various corners of the world, this ensemble showcases the ease of communicating through and with music.
For Kriss, this music evokes the feeling of being in a world that isn't actually so big as people think. While geographically the Middle East and the Caribbean are distant, the people of both lands channel a range of musical similarities with each other. Undoubtedly, both regions share a strong and congruent passion for rhythm and music and Kriss hopes that his listeners immediately hear this connection on Telavana.
Itai Kriss commands a variety of musical genres with an eclectic style infused with Jazz, Latin and Middle Eastern sounds. According to DownBeat magazine, there is a "tangy, exotic flavor" to the New York musician's style, which can be heard on his first album, The Shark. Growing up in Tel Aviv, Kriss was surrounded by a range of musical and cultural stylings; From Moroccan to Balkan, Yemeni to Turkish. Beginning his jazz education at Thelma Yellin High School for the Arts, Israel, Kriss moved to New York to continue his jazz journey at the age of 22.
While jazz was what primarily lured Kriss to the city, the accomplished musician found himself particularly exposed to the music of Cuba, Puerto Rico and Latin America. Playing with Salsa and Cuban groups, he naturally developed his knowledge of the sounds and stylings of the Caribbean. With so many musical styles and traditions in his ear, Kriss never had to make a conscious effort to blend each of his influences, but rather does so fluently and intuitively.
During his time in NYC, Kriss has had the fortune to be a part of several bands with long-running weekly dance parties where the sound of the band would be honed and deepened by weekly interactions with dancers who became regular patrons. The dance aspect is very important to Kriss because all Latin and Caribbean music is essentially dance music and it always has a strong pulse which is like its heartbeat.
Kriss is a vital member of the New York Jazz, Latin Jazz and Salsa music scenes. He can be heard performing, touring and recording with his own ensembles and some of the most exciting Jazz and Latin musicians in town, including Los Hacheros, Dafnis Prieto, Elio Villafranca, Edmar Castañeda, Jorge Glem, Yemen Blues, Gregory Hutchinson, Burning Spear, Pedrito Martinez, Jerry Gonzalez, Omer Avital, Yosvany Terry, Avishai Cohen, Eric McPherson and Aaron Goldberg, to name a few. When not touring, Kriss performs regularly at premiere New York music venues including The Blue Note, Birdland, S.O.B.'s, Jazz at Lincoln Center and The Copacabana.
Friday, May 4, 2018
Goldings, Bernstein and Stewart possess a special place within the rich history of organ trios; with their adventurous eclecticism, they progress beyond the bop-influenced soul jazz of the likes of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff and Shirley Scott and into their own singular musical realm. "Toy Tunes" marks the trio's twelfth album since their first release in 1991, and their second recording with the German label Pirouet.
Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein and Bill Stewart possess a special place within the rich history of organ trios; with their adventurous eclecticism, they progress beyond the bop-influenced soul jazz of the likes of Jimmy Smith, Brother Jack McDuff and Shirley Scott and into their own singular musical realm. Larry Goldings has collaborated with the "who's who" of soul, pop and jazz, from Maceo Parker, Tracy Chapman, and James Taylor to Jim Hall, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, and Charlie Haden, and is in demand as a composer for film and TV. Peter Bernstein has been called "the most universally respected and admired jazz guitarist of his generation", and his work with such greats as Sonny Rollins, Jim Hall, Joshua Redman, and Brad Mehldau backs up the claim. Known for his melodicism and polyrhythmic complexity, drummer Bill Stewart has played with Joe Lovano, Dave Holland, and, like Goldings, Maceo Parker, and has had a long-time collaboration with John Scofield. All three are recognized composers.
Goldings' relaxed, lyrical "Fagen" was named for Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, whose records "introduced me to a whole new world of harmony and song structure." Larry comments that Stewart's "Don't Ever Call Me Again" possesses "Bill's unmistakable combination of craftiness and wit." The piece sports a funky fusion feel, and the three keep the communication going as they converse with Stewart's talkative drums. Bernstein wrote the dreamy "Lullaby For B" for his oldest son. Goldings says it "unravels like a novella, and, due to its rich harmonies and unexpected structure, is a joy to play."
The standard "I'm In The Mood For Love" is a variation on the arrangement Goldings wrote almost 25 years ago for the great Jim Hall. "The three of us knew and loved Jim, and he inevitably pops into our consciousness when we play this." Goldings calls "And Now the Queen," by genius composer & arranger Carla Bley, "a gem of a composition. I still can't fathom how she can say so much in four bars. Carla's pieces invite the interpreter to dive right in and explore. She gave us her own handwritten chart from which to work!"
As for "Toy Tune," Goldings says that improvising on Wayne Shorter's pieces "is akin to playing with a Rubik's Cube." The trio takes a slightly more relaxed stance than Shorter's original version, playing delightful games over the changes, with Stewart wailing over the fading riff at the end. Bernstein's Calm is a beautiful mood piece with a serene church-like quality, and with Maybe, Goldings recounts that, "When I was in elementary school my mom took me on a train from Boston to New York to see my first Broadway musical, Annie. Charles Strouse wrote the music, and his song "Maybe" has always stuck with me. With its timeless melody and shifting key centers, it seemed like a natural fit for us to interpret." Depth, lyricism, complexity - it's all here, as three of the strongest musical personalities of their generation, join hands to play music that is pure joy.
Thursday, May 3, 2018
Possessing a galvanizing sound and a lyrically-charged compositional vision, Denson has earned recognition over the past 15 years as one of his generation's definitive bassists. "Outside My Window" recalibrates his already expansive array of creative outlets by giving equal weight to his vocals. Working with a stellar international quartet - with saxophonist Dayna Stephens, Finnish pianist/keyboardist Kari Ikonen, and Israeli drummer/percussionist Ronen Itzik - Denson delivers an emotionally taut program weaving together striking interpretations of iconic songs and deeply felt originals.
- May 24 - The Sound Room, Oakland, CA
- May 25 & 26- Moody's Bistro, Bar & Beats, Truckee, CA
- May 27 - 30 - Black Cat, San Francisco, CA
- May 31 - SoHo Restaurant & Music Club, Santa Barbara, CA
- June 1 - Dizzy's, San Diego, CA
- June 2 - Alvas Showroom, Los Angeles/San Pedro, CA
- June 3 - D'Anbino Vineyards & Cellars, Paso Robles, CA
- August 11 San Jose Jazz Festival, San Jose, CA
- September 7 & 8 - The Velvet Note, Atlanta, GA
- October 12 - Atlas Performing Arts Center, Washington, DC
- October 13 - An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
- October 26 - California Jazz Conservatory, Berkeley, CA
- October 27 - North Coast Brewery, Fort Bragg, CA
At first glance bassist Jeff Denson appears to reinvent himself on every album, and his 12th release as leader or co-leader, "Outside My Window," might seem like his biggest departure yet.
His mid-career emergence as a supple and engaging singer isn't coming from left field. On 2012's critically hailed "Secret World," his first release under his own name, Denson included vocals on two original pieces and has continued in that fashion on most of his solo releases. On last year's Sgt. Pepper tribute "May I Introduce to You" with the collective San Francisco String Trio, his vocal interpretation of "Fixing a Hole" was one of the album's highlights. Denson's music covers a lot of stylistic territory, "but my voice is a thread running through each one, whether I'm singing or not," he says. "I was a singer before I was a bass player. Going into the jazz world I put my voice away for a long time. But this is a logical step for me, in that I'm using my voice more and more every year. This is the first time I'm singing throughout an entire album, and these songs are a direct continuation of the music I've been writing and arranging."
Denson's arrangements of four songs by other artists don't reimagine the pieces as much as filter them through his subtle sonic palette, starting with a gorgeous, lapidary version of "Grace," a piece inspired by the Negative Press Project album he produced last year for Ridgeway Records, Eternal Life: Jeff Buckley Songs and Sounds. He delivers a sparse, intensely poignant rendition of Abbey Lincoln's "Bird Alone," a re-harmonized 6/8 version of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" and a riveting arrangement of "Fell On Black Days" by Chris Cornell, a piece that serves as a tribute to Soundgarden's vocalist, who's music served a high school soundtrack for Denson.
"In my mind, he's arguably the best voice of that rock/grunge generation," Denson says. "I wanted to pay tribute to him and his artistry. And Abbey is one of my favorite jazz vocalists. I've always loved the way she sings, how she pulls on the time like Billie Holiday. She sings with such a full, intense, large sound, and this song of hers always moved me. I wanted to see what I could do with it."
Denson's four original pieces stand up impressively next to his interpretations, from the Beatlesque optimism of "For A Brand New Day" to the clangy prepared-piano accompaniment of the anguished "Have We Really Gone This Far?" On a melancholic piece that feels like it beamed in from a universe neighboring Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way," Denson contributes an atmospheric wordless vocal on "Through the Mist," a tune he's radically rearranged since the collective trio Minsarah introduced it in 2006. The closing title track is a wistful invitation into Denson's verdant musical world.
The album is built on some of his deepest musical relationships. Denson and Dayna Stephens met at Berklee and have played together in various contexts ever since. Israeli-born drummer Ronen Itzik is also a Berklee alum, and he and Denson bonded as part of the rhythm section for Joe Lovano's 21st Century Ensemble. They went on to get graduate degrees at Florida State University, where they played together daily and recorded three albums in two years with pianist Bill Peterson and one with vocalist Inga Swearingen. Kari Ikonen, one of Finland's most highly regarded jazz musicians, is a much more recent addition to Denson's musical world, but he's quickly become indispensable. In need of a pianist for a tour with legendary alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, he hired Ikonen and "it was joyously apparent to me that along with Ronen, this was my trio. It felt easy and inspiring and the next few tours I did with Lee Konitz were with them."
Konitz played a crucial role in encouraging the reemergence of Denson's vocals after hearing his singing on Secret World. Performing together at the Bimhaus in Amsterdam, the altoist made an impromptu announcement in the middle of a standard that "Jeff is going to sing," he recalls. "There wasn't even a microphone set up, but I started singing the melody. I booked a West Coast tour with him after that and we'd spontaneously sing together every night. It felt great, playing the standard jazz repertoire and being able to sing on stage with him. But at the same time, I knew that I wanted to do my own music and sing the way I sing, without having to filter anything."
While studying at Northern Virginia Community College Denson supported himself freelancing around DC, playing jazz, orchestral music, rock covers, and leading his own funk combo as a bassist and vocalist. Earning a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, he quickly fell in with German pianist Florian Weber and Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz, fellow students with whom he formed Minsarah. The collective trio released its debut album in 2003 on Hubermusic, and followed up in 2006 with a critically hailed eponymous album on Enja Records. Despite touring internationally with the group Denson managed to maintain a rigorous academic career.
Recruited by Florida State University, he graduated Magna Cum Laude an MM in Jazz Studies on a full scholarship and discovered an affinity for teaching. A conversation with bass giant Mark Dresser, who had just been hired as a professor at UC San Diego, brought Denson to UCSD on another full scholarship, leading to a doctorate in contemporary music performance with an emphasis in composition. Throughout his San Diego sojourn, Denson continued to tour widely with Minsarah, and it was during a spate of 2006 concerts in Germany that Lee Konitz first heard the band, "the start of a great adventure," Denson says.
With Minsarah serving as his band, the critically hailed Lee Konitz New Quartet debuted on 2007's "Deep Lee" and followed up with 2009's "Lee Konitz New Quartet: Live at the Village Vanguard," Jazzman Magazine's 2010 Album of the Year Award, and 2014's "Standards Live: At the Village Vanguard" (all on Enja). Denson made his debut as a bandleader with 2012's "Secret World," and went on to demonstrate his versatility with simultaneous duo releases, radically reconceiving American hymns and spirituals with San Diego pianist Joshua White on "I'll Fly Away" and exploring freely improvised dialogues with Swiss clarinet virtuoso Claudio Puntin on "Two."
Since relocating to the East Bay in 2011 to take on a full professorship at the California Jazz Conservatory, Denson has forged ties with some of the Bay Area's top players, including bassoonist Paul Hanson, clarinetist Ben Goldberg, guitarist Mimi Fox and violinist Mads Tolling (his partners in the San Francisco String Trio). A prolific composer and arranger, he's written music for an array of jazz settings, as well as for string ensembles, solo bass, and chamber opera.
He's brought his many pursuits under one umbrella with the recent unveiling of Ridgeway Arts, a non-profit designed to enhance and fortify the Bay Area scene, and to make a strong contribution to the national landscape of jazz and the arts in general, through a four-pronged plan of expression, education, presenting and documentation. He introduced the initiative with The Jeff Denson Trio + Lee Konitz, and followed up with Arctic by drummer Alan Hall's critically hailed electro-acoustic ensemble, Ratatet. The label has become an essential conduit to an international cast of musicians, and the portal to Denson's multifarious musical imagination.
"Artists are always dreaming up what we're doing," he says. "My goal has always been very clearly to create my own musical world."
Pianist Yoko Miwa and her trio celebrate recent CD Pathways with a concert at the Atlanta Jazz Festival on Saturday, May 26. Pathways earning wide critical acclaim CD in Top 10 of JazzWeek's national radio charts for 4 weeks; in top 40 for 10+ weeks!
"Impressive technique and a tuneful lyricism that combines an Oscar Peterson-ish hard swing with Bill Evans-like introspection." - Jon Garelick, DownBeat, September 2017 feature article
"Pathways is bright and accessible...Miwa's technical chops are evident, yet she's anything but showy; she prizes space in her sound, and leaves room for the deep interplay her group has honed over the years." - Jeremy Goodwin, Boston Globe
4 stars "This is Yoko Miwa at her extroverted best...her finest recording to date." - Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz
Internationally acclaimed pianist Yoko Miwa and her trio continue to celebrate their recent recording Pathways with a concert on Saturday, May 26, 1 p.m. at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Legends Stage, Piedmont Park, Atlanta. Admission is free. Joining Miwa will be bassist Will Slater and drummer Scott Goulding. Saturday's lineup is particularly special, featuring exclusively groups led by women. Other scheduled artists include Dianne Reeves, Jazzmeia Horn, Terri Lyne Carrington, and Linda May Han Oh. For information visit http://atlantafestivals.com/line-up/saturday/.
Miwa is quickly becoming known as one of the most powerful and compelling performers on the scene today. Her trio - with its remarkable telepathy and infectious energy - has brought audiences to their feet worldwide.
For the past decade the Kobe, Japan native has honed one of the most musical and lyrical trio sounds around. Miwa's band, which has been heralded for their almost telepathic interplay, performs regularly at major jazz clubs worldwide including New York City's Blue Note Jazz Club and Jazz at Lincoln Center where Miwa was chosen to play on "Marian McPartland & Friends" as part of the Coca Cola Generations in Jazz Festival.
She has performed and/or recorded with a wide range of jazz greats including Sheila Jordan, Slide Hampton, Arturo Sandoval, George Garzone, Jon Faddis, Jerry Bergonzi, Esperanza Spalding, Terri Lyne Carrington, Kevin Mahogany, John Lockwood and Johnathan Blake among others. A Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll winner, Miwa is on faculty at Berklee College of Music and earned two 2017 nominations in the Boston Music Awards: Best Jazz Artist and Best International Artist.
This concert celebrates the success of Miwa's 2017 recording Pathways - her seventh as a leader -which spent 4 weeks on the Jazz Week top 10 radio charts and is earning wide critical acclaim. Since first appearing on Jazz Week charts in June, Pathways was in the top 10 for four weeks running and has consistently remained in the Top 40, peaking at #6. Miwa was the subject of a feature article in the September 2017 issue of DownBeat that referenced her "impressive technique and a tuneful lyricism that combines an Oscar Peterson-ish hard swing with Bill Evans-like introspection." Gordon Marshall of Flash Boston says, "...what makes her new album remarkable, and remarkably innovative, is the racing, playful interplay of the instruments of the trio: drums, piano, and bass. Each has an equal part, with none dominating, but sharing, democratically, endless, intriguing dialogues." Dick Metcalf of Improvijazzation Nation writes, "Yoko's ability to create moods, or bring them back to mind, is simply astounding...most highly recommended."
The recording, released May 12, 2017 on Ocean Blue Tear Music, features Miwa with bassist Will Slater (with Brad Barrett stepping in for one track) and drummer Scott Goulding. The remarkable telepathy they share has been developed over 15 years and countless hours logged on the bandstand, not to mention the accompanying personal bonds (Miwa and Goulding are married, after all).
"When we play together, it comes out as one sound," Miwa says. "That's the best part of working together all the time. I'm very comfortable with these guys because they know my playing and I know them very well."
It's been nearly five years since the release of Miwa's last album, Act Naturally (JVC Victor), but she's been far from inactive in the interim. On the contrary, she's one of the busiest artists on the thriving Boston jazz scene, playing regularly at renowned local venues the Regattabar and Scullers as well as venues worldwide. Locally, the trio is a constant presence with three area residencies that keep them busy every weekend they're at home. On Fridays they can be found at the Central Square sushi bar and jazz club Thelonious Monkfish, where Goulding serves as music director and Miwa helped select the stunning Yamaha piano. Saturdays they play at the wine bar Les Zygomates, as they have for the last 12 years, while their Sundaybrunch gig at Cambridge BBQ joint Ryles dates back even further.
That impressive calendar means that the trio has had plenty of time not only to try out new material but to explore each piece over time. "We play each song a little bit differently every time," Miwa says. "It really helps develop the music. If we only did concerts once a month in front of big audiences, I don't think we'd feel the same way or that I'd play the same way that I do now."
The repertoire that Miwa traverses on Pathways ranges widely, from the classic songs of The Beatles and Joni Mitchell to a pair of rarely (if ever) reprised pieces by legendary Bill Evans Trio bassist Marc Johnson, originally recorded solo. The album's highlights, though, are Miwa's gorgeous originals, which combine lively melodies, a delicate touch, and lush harmonies - the same qualities that she brings to her improvisations.
Integral to capturing the heartfelt communication forged by the trio was Miwa's insistence that they play together in the studio, not divided into isolation booths. Their spontaneity and spark found an ideal setting at Wellspring Sound Studios in Acton, Massachusetts, where they worked closely with engineer Matt Hayes. "It's almost like a live recording," Miwa says proudly. "I feel really uncomfortable separated into different rooms where you can't really see each other. Of course you can't go back and fix things, but I love the feeling of playing in the same room and our energy together."
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Produced by Charles Carlini.
Tickets: $25 advance / $30 day of show
2 sets: 8pm and 10:30pm
João Donato: "A Mad Donato" (Discobertas) 2018
Executive Producer: Marcelo Froes
Co-Producers: Ivone Belem & Diogo Caldas
Mastered by Ricardo Carvalheira
Artwork: Bady Cartier
Cover Photo: Robert Feinberg
4-CD box set including the albums "Raridades Anos 70," "Gozando A Existência," "Naquela Base" and "Janela da Urca." All tracks previously unreleased.
Cuarteto Oriental: "Sin Corbata" (PAI)
Produced by Cuarteto Oriental
Executive Producer: Marcelo Crespo
Recorded @ SoundRec (Buenos Aires, Argentina) by Ricardo Sanz
Mixed @ Sondor Estudios (Montevideo, Uruguay) by Gustavo de León & Hugo Fattoruso
Mastered Gustavo de León
Artwork: Mili Rabasa
Featuring: Hugo Fattoruso (piano, keyboards), Leonardo Amuedo (guitar), Daniel Maza (electric bass), Fabián Miodownik (drums)
Thursday, April 5, 2018
Due for release on April 15, "People and Places" features the Sam Javitch Quartet with special guest saxophonist Rich Perry. This album represents the enormous gratitude Javitch has for the many people and places that have shaped him into the musician and person he is today. Javitch will celebrate the release of "People and Places" at Joe's Pub, NYC on April 15.
A consummate piano prodigy, Javitch first came to the instrument at age 3 after discovering that he had perfect pitch. A natural improviser, Javitch was drawn to jazz at an early age and has established himself as a unique and distinctive voice on the contemporary jazz scene. This is evidenced by his phenomenal debut solo piano effort "Train to Nowhere" (2014), by his many performances at renowned locales such as Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music Hall, 55 Bar, the Jazz Room at William Paterson University, and now, by the release of "People and Places."
Featuring Adrian Moring on bass, Matt Niedbaski on drums, and the renowned Rich Perry, known for his association with Maria Schneider and George Mraz, on tenor saxophone, "People and Places" represents the enormous gratitude Javitch has for the many people and places that have shaped him into the musician and person he is today. The CD serves as the perfect outlet for the Manhattan School of Music graduate, who has studied with Mulgrew Miller, James Weidman, Harold Mabern, and Cecil Bridgewater, to express his sincere appreciation.
"I learned how much effort and perseverance it takes to turn a musical idea into a reality. There isn't some button you can push or a lever to pull, but when it's done, it is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world," says Javitch.
"People and Places," featuring seven original compositions, opens with "The Pitch To Rich". Upon hearing Rich Perry play, Javitch envisioned the tenor saxophonist playing his compositions. When Perry agreed to appear on the album, the title to this song was born! Another stand-out track is "Honin Myo"; an ode to Javitch's dear friend and practicing Buddhist, Sasha Ono. "Honin Myo" is a phrase that means "from this moment on". This song speaks to the hope of starting anew each day no matter what adversity one may have faced before. "Parallel Modalites for Parallel Realities" speaks to all the choices we make in life that can lead to completely different paths. People and Places also includes "Lifted: a Song for Grew and Those Who Knew", a tribute to his late mentor Mulgrew Miller, the great jazz pianist.
Javitch is truly honored to bring each of these tracks to life with Moring, Niedbaski and Perry. Each of these talented individuals, together in quartet form, truly brought their hearts, souls, and fire into every song on this album. He also expresses utmost appreciation to Cotton Coulson, the late award-winning National Geographic photographer responsible for the album cover. Javitch met Coulson on a trip to the Arctic, where the photograph which graces this album's cover was captured. For Javitch, this significant image truly captures the intent of this album: "people and the journey we are all on together."
Sam Javitch says: "I humbly invite you to take this journey with us into my world. If you're ready, let's go."
MORE ABOUT SAM JAVITCH
Sam Javitch is a New York City based jazz pianist and composer who began improvising at age 3 and has been performing jazz since age 11. Sam regularly performs with various ensembles in and around New York City. He has studied with Mulgrew Miller, Garry Dial, James Weidman, Harold Mabern, Cecil Bridgewater, Russ Lossing, Andy Milne, Gerald Cleaver and Tony Malaby. He is a graduate of both William Paterson University and the Manhattan School of Music. He has performed at a number of highly respected venues including Dizzy's Jazz Club Coca-Cola, Joe's Pub, Rockwood Music Hall, The Jazz Room at William Paterson University, 55 Bar, and others. He has opened for Lou Donaldson, and has played with Roy Hargrove, the New York Voices, Rhoda Scott, Oscar Hernandez, among others.
Sunday, April 1, 2018
Stephanie Lottermoser: "This Time" (Initiative Music/Motor Entertainment) 2018
Produced & Mixed by Steve Greenwell
Recorded @ Les Studios Saint Germain (Paris, France) and Steve Greenwell's Asbury Park (New York, USA)
Mastered by Götz-Matthias Rieth @ Eastside Mastering Studios (Berlin, Germany)
Photos: Jan Scheffner
Featuring: Stephanie Lottermoser (vocals, tenor sax), François Faure (keyboards), Timothée Robert (bass), Julien Sérié (drums), Benjamin Delarue (guitar)
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
The Maguire Twins' mastery of their craft as jazz instrumentalists and composers is in sparkling evidence throughout their U.S. debut recording, "Seeking Higher Ground," which will be released by Three Tree Records on March 30. Drummer Carl Seitaro Maguire and bassist Alan Shutaro Maguire, who'll turn 22 on March 19, take their place in the lineage of jazz brothers that includes such illustrious last names as Heath, Farmer, Montgomery, Mangione, Brecker, and Marsalis.
Produced by Donald Brown, the CD finds the twins living up to its title by more than holding their own in the heady company of saxophonist Gregory Tardy, trumpeter Bill Mobley, and pianist Aaron Goldberg. The Maguires contribute two originals each to the program, which includes songs by their bandmates and producer. And without sacrificing cohesiveness, the songs are stylistically diverse.
Tardy's "Theodicy" is a timely commentary on misguided religion. He plays tenor with his usual Coltrane-like intensity and, says Carl, "I try to somewhat embody Elvin Jones, who is one of my heroes." Brown's tricky "The Early Bird Gets the Short End of the Stick" boasts sudden time shifts and dramatic swoops that both twins laughingly said they were greatly relieved to have handled after numerous attempts.
Carl's "Machi no Michi" (translation: "The Road of the Town") is an elegant tribute to his Japanese origins, as reflected in the Japanese scale in the bassline and the traditional taiko drum feel in the composer's playing. "I love the taiko drum's huge sound and the commanding way it is played," says Carl, who tunes his snares tightly to highlight the melody.
Goldberg's composition, "Shed," was the first modern jazz tune the Maguires learned to play, having heard the pianist play it as both sideman and leader. "It has been one of our favorites for the longest time," says Carl. "Just watching Aaron count off his tunes helped me internalize time, made my time stronger," says Alan.
They learned to improvise listening to musicians at jazz clubs. "The music just took us over," says Carl. "When I heard a bassist, I would tell Alan about it. When he heard a drummer, he would make suggestions to me based on what he saw and heard. We helped each other out.
Maguire Twins "We were open to criticism from each other as well as ideas," he adds. "Friends don't want to be too harsh, but we can criticize each other as much as we want."
Saxophonist Kirk Whalum, then artist in residence at Stax, had much to do with their development as did Donald Brown, whom they met when he came to scout students as a faculty member at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. They went on to study there with him, Gregory Tardy, and bassist Jon Hamar, who composed one of the new album's heartfelt ballads, "Clarity."
"It all goes back to Donald," says Alan. "He has kept us motivated. He's always giving us something new to work on, new CDs to check out, keeps us listening to all kinds of music and encourages us to get as many lessons from as many people as we can."
When the Maguire family made its annual visit to Japan to visit the twins' maternal grandmother in the inland town of Kitaakita City, the boys performed in various spots, building a following among local musicians as well as fans. Requests for CDs led them to record, at 18, "The Sound of Music," a demo-style album released in 2014.
With each tour of Japan and Hong Kong, where they began performing on an annual basis in 2013, their Asian following has grown. So has the talent pool they draw from over there. The twins have performed with artists such as guitarist Yosuke Onuma, trombonist Shigeharu Mukai, pianist Yuichi Inoue, and saxophonist Yosuke Sato in Japan as well as pianist Ted Lo in Hong Kong.
"Now when we go back to Japan," says Carl, "where jazz has been really important to a lot of people for a long time, we do so as individuals who really appreciate this music. It's been quite an awakening for us, and it keeps getting more fun."
Photography: Jamie Harmon
(Helio Alves & Duduka Da Fonseca)
Thursday-Sunday, March 8 - 11 - Sets at 7:30 and 9:30 pm
Dizzy's Club Coca Cola - Frederick P. Rose Hall @ Jazz at Lincoln Center (Broadway at 60th Street, 5th Floor)
Reservations: 212-258-9595 or -9795.
Online reservations: www.jalc.org
WITH: BILLY DREWES - REEDS & FLUTE, ROMERO LUBAMBO - GUITARS, HANS GLAWISCHNIG - BASS, MAUCHA ADNET - VOCALS. HELIO ALVES - PIANO, DUDUKA DA FONSECA - DRUMS
“Duduka is a fantastic drummer, he has worked with me and I love the way he plays.”
Antonio Carlos Jobim, Rio de Janeiro, Spring 94
"Duduka Da Fonseca is one of the very few drummers, or perhaps the only drummer, who has found his own unique voice by combining the two traditions. His command of Brazilian and American rhythms and his ability to integrate them so seamlessly is truly innovative.
With music in mind, Sincerely,"
“Da Fonseca divulgues a keen awareness of where Brazilian Jazz has been and where it’s headed”
Todd Jenkins, DownBeat Magazine
"[Alves has] subtlety, musicianship and extraordinary improvisational facility..." "...outstanding capabilities as a melodic improviser..."
Robert L. Doerschuk, DownBeat Magazine
"Alves plays with a gravity and a stylistic flair that's truly impressive."
Phillip Van Vleck, Billboard Magazine
"Alves executes his feats with unhurried grace, even at very fast tempos. There is an aptitude that, if not exclusive of Brazil, has reached its highest expression there: the communication of a subtle energy embodying a life- affirming message that life is transitory."
Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times Magazine
- Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
“Maucha and I have travelled the world with the Banda Nova since 1984. She is a marvelous singer. Her voice is deep, rich, mysterious. It makes me long for the Brazilian forest. Maucha is intelligent and comes from a very musical family. She is a good girl, wonderful woman, a great artist”
Kiss from your fan,
Antonio Carlos Jobim
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
"Gaslight" is another swinging, melodic, memorable Pearson tune. Jazz Lines has added it to the rest of the charts they have published from this great record in a specially-priced five chart set at nearly 25% off of retail. Look for more Duke Pearson charts to be released soon: "Wahoo," "E.S.P.," "Empathy," and small group versions of "Amanda" and "Bedouin."
Working closely for nearly a decade with Duke's son Anthony, Jazz Lines now publish over two dozen of his fantastic charts, both from his original source materials and from Jazz Lines Publications' transcribing staff, all with Anthony's full and very generous cooperation.
Click here to order:
Friday, March 2, 2018
Cecilia S. Cohen Recital Hall,
Fine and Performing Arts Building, East Stroudsburg University
7 pm - A Tribute to Al and Zoot: David Liebman, Dave Leonhardt, Paul Rostock, Bill Goodwin
8 pm - Music from the Benny Carter recording: "Further Definitions" featuring Nelson Hill, Neil Wetzel, Dave Demsey, Craig Yaremko, Jay Rattman
Admission: $30 General / $10 Student
Deer Head Inn Jam Session starting at 9 p.m. – No charge
200 Prospect Street
East Stroudsburg, PA 18301- 2999
A relaxed evening of music, mirth and remembrance to benefit the Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection at ESU
Tix and infos:
Thursday, March 1, 2018
With publication coinciding with Mark Murphy's birthday on March 14, Equinox is proud to announce "This is Hip: The Life of Mark Murphy" by jazz singer and journalist Peter Jones.
When my much missed friend Mark Murphy died in October 2015, the world lost one of the greatest jazz singers in history. Murphy was the last of his kind, a hipster of the Kerouac generation, who rejected the straight life of prosperity and numb consumerism. With a catalog of more than 40 albums under his own name (for such labels as Decca, Riverside, Milestone, Muse, Verve and HighNote), Mark Murphy was a consummate improviser, who never sang a song the same way twice.
He could have enjoyed a successful mainstream career in the vein of Andy Williams, Johnny Matthis or Jack Jones. But his ambition was greater – to be a jazz artist, to rebel against the commercial music industry and to carry the jazz vocal flame wherever it led him. Among the sidemen on his albums were Bill Evans, Art Farmer, Larry Coryell, David Matthews, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, David Sanborn, Bill Mays, Frank Morgan, Claudio Roditi, Vince Lateano, Mark Egan, Gerry Niewood, Gene Bertoncini, Tom Harrell, Jim Hall, Wynton Kelly, Urbie Green, Al Cohn, Clark Terry, Till Bronner, Nan Schwartz and the brazilian fusion trio Azymuth.
Murphy was a master of scat and vocalese, of songwriting and the spoken word. He expanded the jazz singing repertoire, adding his own lyrics to instrumentals like John Coltrane’s "Naima," Freddie Hubbard’s "Red Clay," and Oliver Nelson’s "Stolen Moments." Unrivaled as an interpreter of ballads, he was able to express longing and regret to a degree lacking in any other jazz singer.
For years he roamed the world, playing thousands of gigs. Rediscovered in the Eighties by a new audience of jazz dancers, and again in the 21st century by a digital generation who invited him to guest on their recordings, he remains a crucial though unjustly neglected figure in vocal jazz.
I had the honor to be his friend for over three decades. Mark used to stay in my house in Rio de Janeiro when he toured Brazil in the 80s, sometimes taking his touring band with him. And everytime I visited California, he took me to have dinner in his huge apartment in San Francisco, where he lived till moving to NY in the mid-90s.
"This Is Hip" is more than a biography: it also explores Murphy’s innovative approaches both to singing and to the teaching of singers. Based on numerous interviews with those who knew him best, the book delves into a performing and recording career that spanned 60 years and earned him five Grammy nominations.
Peter Jones is a jazz singer and journalist based in London. During the making of his first album, One Way Ticket to Palookaville, he developed a serious interest in the work of Mark Murphy, which has continued ever since. He reviews concerts and CDs and conducts interviews for London Jazz News. His second album Utopia was released in 2016 and his third Under the Setting Sun in 2017.
(Arnaldo DeSouteiro and Mark Murphy @ Arnaldo's house)
Carlos Franzetti and Allison Brewster Franzetti with City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra: "Buenos Aires Noir" (Amapola Records AR 9817) 2018
Rating: ***** (music performance & sonic quality)
Release Date: February 1st, 2018
Produced by James Fitzpatrick
Recording Engineer: Jan Holzner @ Smecky Music Studio (Prague, Czech Republic) on September 15, 2016
Mixed & Mastered by Gareth Williams
Composed & Conducted by Carlos Franzetti
Piano: Allison Brewster Franzetti
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Orchestra Contractor: Tadlow Music Ltd.
Concertmaster: Lucie Svehlova
Assistant to Conductor: Stania Vomackova
A sublime three-movement symphonic poem for piano and orchestra. Franzetti reaches his peak as a classical composer, a master in the same level of Brouwer, Scriabin, Delius and Ogerman, while his wife Allison displays her virtuosistic talents as one of the world's greatest pianists.
"This work is based on my earlier tango ballet Dante Porteño," says Carlos, "and takes place during the last three nights of Carnaval in the Buenos Aires of the 1970's as the dirty war between the urban guerrillas and military juntas reached its fiercest point."
Lou Lanza: "Scenes From An Italian - The Billy Joel Project"
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)
Produced by Tony Gairo
Engineered by Jim McGee @ SpectraSound Studios
Featuring: Lou Lanza (vocals), Tony Gairo (saxophones, clarinet, flute), Paul Sottile (piano), Matt Parrish (bass), Matt Scarano (drums), Mike Lorenz (guitar)
In the style of his landmark album "Opening Doors," Lou deranged these classic & obscure Billy Joel songs into a straight ahead jazz yet still accessible style. You’ll hear influences of Sinatra, Bennett, Baker, Murphy, Jarreau, & of course Billy Joel.
Carlos Ezequiel: "Circular" (Tratore)
***** (musical performance)
**** (sonic quality)
Produced by Carlos Ezequiel for Engrenagens Prod. Artísticas
Recorded by Carlos KK Akamine @ Estúdio Cachuera (São Paulo, SP, Brazil) on August 18 & September 09, 2014
Assistant Engineer: Helio Pisca
Mixed by Carlos Ezequiel @ Luca Studios (Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil)
Mastered by Dave Darlington @ Bass Hit Studios (New York, NY) in May 2017
Cover Photo: Carlos Ezequiel
Liner Photos: Victor Kobayashi
Graphics: Luciano Murino
Arranged by Carlos Ezequiel & Gustavo Bugni
Featuring: Carlos Ezequiel (drums), David Binney (alto sax), Lage Lund (guitar), Gustavo Bugni (acoustic piano), Gui Duvignau (acoustic bass)
São Paulo-based drummer, composer, arranger and producer Carlos Ezequiel works with Brazilian music and jazz since 1992. Born in Alagoas, in the northeast of Brazil, Carlos performed there actively in the early 90's. In 1996 he won a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music, in Boston, where he got his Bachelor's degree in 1999. In 2014, he got his Master's degree from Universidade Federal da Bahia, presenting a research on Polyrhythms and Odd-Meters applied to Brazilian Rhythms.
His first CD, “Images” (with guitarist Lupa Santiago), was nominated for the Latin Grammy 2002 as “Best Latin Jazz Album”. With group Sinequanon, Carlos recorded four albums: “Sinequanon” (2004), “Telescópio” (2006), “Horizonte Artificial” (2008) and “Ao Vivo no Jazz nos Fundos” (2017). Carlos also plays with renowned Brazilian bassist Sizão Machado, and in the new group of legendary artist Airto Moreira.
As a performer, Carlos has played in Europe, Asia, South America, U.S.A., and all over Brazil. He's been a featured player at the Hong Kong Jazz Festival, Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, Atina Jazz Festival (Italy), Schelde Jazz Festival (Holland), Festival de Jazz de La Plata (Argentina), Cascavel Jazz Festival (Brazil), among many others. He was a member of Finnish sax player Pekka Pylkkanen`s Global Unit group, Irish bassist Ronan Guilfoyle`s group, and the Thomas Walbum & Thomas Maintz Brazilian Quintet in Denmark.
In 2001, Carlos was nominated for the Visa Music Award in Brazil as Best Instrumentalist. He has been a sideman for such jazz artists as Lage Lund, Kurt Rosenwinkel, David Binney, David Liebman, besides many Brazilian jazz artists like Fernando Correa, Nelson Faria, Marcelo Coelho, and Daniel D'Alcântara.
As a producer, Carlos worked on “A Saga da Travessia” (Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz), which won 3 awards at the Premio da Musica Brasileira 2017, including Best Album. He also produced Airto Moreira's new album, “Aluê” (2017), on which he also played drums.
Carlos is a faculty member at Faculdade Souza Lima in São Paulo, and is the author of “Melodic Interpretation for the Drumset”, “Baiao and Northeastern Rhythms”, and “Brazilian Music in Odd-Meters”, all released worldwide by Advance Music.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Lou Caputo, a native of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has been a professional musician for over thirty years. He has done almost every kind of job that a musician can be asked to do. A superb reedman (saxophones, clarinets and flutes), he has performed in show bands with the likes of Lou Rawls, Frankie Valli, Shirley Basey, Jack Jones, Bobby Short, Frankie Avalon, and a host of others. As well as the many of the famous Motown acts like the Temptations and the Four Tops. Aside from this he has performed along side of Salsa legends like Candido, Bobby Sanabria and Lou Perez.
However, playing jazz is really closest to Lou's heart. He has had the opportunity to perform with people like trumpeter Richard Williams, pianists Duke Jordon and Jaki Byard, drummers Walter Perkins and Mousey Alexander (in his short-lived big band), vocalist Joe "BeBop" Carroll and Dakota Staton, bassist Chris White (including a Carnegie Hall appearance). He has spent time in the Glen Miller band under the direction of Clem DeRosa as well as the Harry James Big Band. He has had the good fortune to record with jazz legend Dr. Billy Taylor on guitarist Ray Rivera's album Night Wind.
Lou has had the pleasure of performing in the Richie Cole Octet. Another high point is playing Birdland with the Ellington Band under the direction of Paul Ellington and Jack Jeffers. Through the years Lou has appeared in many of the area's leading jazz clubs as both a leader and side man. He also played for former President Bill Clinton on the occasion of Clinton's 50th birthday.
Admission is 15.00, 10.00 for students.
Tickets will be sold at the door, or call 212-222-5159 for reservations and information.
For more about the NYSAJE and other acts at "Jazz Tuesdays", check out www.jazzbeat.com
Jazz Tuesdays in the John Birks Gillespie Auditorium
The New York Baha'i Center
53 East 11th Street (between University Place & Broadway)
Two shows: 8:00 and 9:30 p.m.
Jazz Tuesdays is funded in part from the Wilbur, Dorothy, and France Rose Davis Family Fund; the Hunt Family Fund; the DeChristopher Family Trust; and Dr. Margie Baker, Jazz Vocalist and Educator.
Lou Caputo (Alto, Soprano & Baritone Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute and Alto Flute)
Geoffry Burke & Virginia Mayhew (Saxophone)
John Eckert & Dave Smith (Trumpet)
Jason Ingram (Trombone)
Dale Turk (Tuba)
Bill Crow (Bass)
Joel Perry (Guitar)
Don Stein (Piano)
Mike Campenni & Rudy Petschauer (Drums)
Warren Smith (Vibraphone)
Eddie Montalvo & Leopoldo Fleming (Percussion)
Monday, February 26, 2018
Laurie Antonioli In Concert - Friday, March 2nd, 8pm
California Jazz Conservatory (2040 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA)
One of the world's greatest jazz vocalists in the contemporary scene, Laurie Antonioli will be joined by Matt Clark, Dan Feiszli, Jason Lewis, Sheldon Brown, Dave MacNab and very special guest CJC Artist-in-Residence Theo Bleckmann!
"Singer Antonioli is a rare talent, too rarely seen beyond the Bay Area." - Don Heckman, The International Review of Music
The release show will be Le Poisson Rouge in NYC on April 4.
Other dates include:
May 25-26 at Yoshi's Oakland, CA
June 21-24 at Dimitrious Jazz Alley, Seattle, WA
June 25 at Vancouver International Jazz Festival
June 26 at Victoria International Jazz Festival
On "Anniversary," the powerhouse 13-piece all-star salsa big band demonstrates why they are the "the leading light of the salsa reconstruction movement" (Newsday) by doing what they do best: hard-hitting, no-holds-barred New York salsa that is both contemporary and reverent to its rich musical history.
Since their inception 15 years ago, Spanish Harlem Orchestra (SHO), under the direction of pianist, composer and arranger Oscar Hernández, has earned its reputation as the true voice of the barrio with intricate arrangements and pulsating rhythms that are steeped in the authentic salsa tradition. Their high-energy performances have delighted audiences across the globe from Asia to Australia, from Latin America to Europe.
Grounded in the past, but with a focused eye on the future, Spanish Harlem Orchestra continues to play an integral role in ensuring salsa dura ("hard salsa") is not just alive, but a thriving musical force. "Over the course of 15 years, the consistent thread in each of our records has been the hardcore rhythm, sophisticated arrangements and a lot of care toward producing quality music with high integrity for our genre," says Hernández.
Each member of Spanish Harlem Orchestra has a significant connection to the authentic salsa tradition. It begins with Hernández, who has long been considered one of the most prominent musicians on the Latin, salsa and Latin-jazz music scene. Hernández's musical legacy can be traced back to the 1970's, a time in which he performed with a who's who of salsa legends including Tito Puente, Machito, Celia Cruz, Ray Barretto, Rubén Blades, Conjunto Libre, and Willie Colon. Later, Hernández went on to become the Musical Director for Paul Simon as well as the orchestrator and arranger for Gloria Estefan.
While SHO's previous album featured jazz greats Chick Corea and Joe Lovano, Anniversary allows the band to speak for themselves over the course of 13 lively tracks. Standout moments include the album opener "Esa Nena", which swings to no end while highlighting SHO's signature sophisticated arrangements, and Hernández's "Goza El Ritmo", which will instantly bring listeners to their feet.
Other noteworthy flashes include three modern arrangements of salsa classics: the bolero "La Media Vuelta" is reworked in a salsa style featuring 3-part harmonies and a simmering brass section, while "Y Deja" (Ruben Blades/Willie Colon) and "Guaracha Y Bembe" (Joe Cuba/Cheo Feliciano) are given contemporary updates with a fresh flair. On all their recordings, SHO includes some Latin Jazz. This time jazz trumpet legend Randy Brecker is a featured guest on Hernández's original song "Somos Uno".
Produced by Hernández and co-produced by SHO trombonist and 2018 GRAMMY® Nominee Doug Beavers, "Anniversary" builds on the dynamic legacy built by their previous five releases, which have garnered four GRAMMY® nominations and two wins (in 2004 for sophomore album "Across 110th Street" and again in 2010 for "Viva La Tradicion"). Considered "virtuosic journeymen who are one of New York's great musical resources" (The New York Times), SHO has expanded greatly from their home turf of Harlem to some of the world's premiere stages including the Sydney Opera House, the Playboy Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, and many others.
To celebrate the release of Anniversary, Spanish Harlem Orchestra will be performing on Wednesday, April 4th, at Le Poisson Rouge located at 158 Bleeker Street in New York City. More information, including booking, can be found at www.spanishharlemorchestra.com.
On the Chicago native's second solo piano endeavor, Clearfield explores his fascination for a compositional approach to improvisation, which is highlighted through the albums distinct and dynamic sonic landscape. "My hope is that some of the music sounds through-composed, some sounds like simple songs, and all of it sounds spontaneous."
Clearfield's compositions have been strongly influenced by his friend and colleague Makaya McCraven, the great Chicago-based drummer whose 2015 double LP "In The Moment" (International Anthem) is comprised of excerpts from live improvised performances. While touring together, Clearfield and Makaya had an in-depth discussion about an intriguing and innovative new approach to composing; improvising complete pieces by focusing more on individual moments.
"If a beginning or ending is slow to arrive, but a fully-formed spontaneous idea is captured in the middle, it's a success!"
This new idea gave way to a renewed sense of freedom, both in the studio and during the editing process by allowing Clearfield to develop a strong ear for the elements of a piece that worked, and to then utilise, edit and produce them to a high standard, regardless of the other parts that didn't make the cut. As a result, two tracks off the album begin with a fade-in, and one ends with a fade-out, highlighting short pieces which were originally inside larger pieces. The prologue and epilogue of the album were also chosen with this unique improvisational production approach at the forefront. Clearfield introduces and closes "Wherever You're Starting From" with two takes of the same song.
Clearfield's progressive and virtuosic compositional skill is rooted in both classical and jazz influences. Since the release of his debut album A Thousand Words in 2009, the established composer spent a considerable amount of time studying the canon of classical piano music, particularly the romantics (Brahms, Chopin, Rachmoninoff) and the impressionists (Ravel, Debussy).
"Their influence, particularly in regards to the textural palette of the piano, is at the forefront of the sound of this record."
This 12-track opus includes two freshly interpreted tracks by two of Clearfield's musical heroes: Johannes Brahms and John Coltrane. The inclusion of their music in this project represents the varied musical traditions Clearfield has spent his life studying: classical and jazz, composition and improvisation, solo piano and group playing, European music and Black-American music. While the Brahms piece is played in a straightforward manner, sans improvisation, Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is only faintly recognizable at first; the melody doesn't enter for several minutes, and the rhythm is stripped away almost completely.
Called "...one of [Chicago's] most enjoyably unpredictable players" by Neil Tesser, Clearfield has taken part in a number of highly creative and genre-bending releases since his emergence on the scene over a decade ago. They including several releases with Matt Ulery (including 2016's Festival, with Ulery's Loom/Large, 2014's In The Ivory, and 2006's Music Box Ballerina, to name just a few), as well as with Dan Bruce (2017's Earthshine), Adam Larson (last year's Second City), and Jon Deitemyer (2016's Tall Tales), among others. Clearfield's previous releases include Islands (2016) on ears&eyes Records, The Long And Short of It (2013), a collaborative EP with Bethany Hamilton The Beauty That We Live In (2010) and his debut A Thousand Words (2009).
With each of his musical endeavours, Clearfield has always strived to be as expressive and as personal as possible. However, Wherever You're Starting From represents a new level of vulnerability and exposure, that until now, Clearfield had not yet experienced with any past venture.
"Ultimately, I came to view this work as an autobiography of sorts. My trio and quintet records are like works of fiction, creating new worlds and characters in my own image. This, on the other hand, is more of a documentary. What you're hearing is who I am, nothing more and nothing less."
In anticipation of the February release, Clearfield is delighted to announce a mid-west Spring tour.