lunes, 25 de septiembre de 2017

Chessex / Noble / Edwards – 12.12.16 (2017)

Composer, saxophonist and sound artist Antoine Chessex is usually known for playing through distorting stacks of guitar amplifiers to create monolithic walls of noise and texture, but on 12.12.16 he teamed up with free music giants John Edwards and Steve Noble to play an all acoustic trio – an attempt to deconstruct the ‘classic’ formula of the tenor sax, bass and drums. Right off the bat Chessex’s extended technique reaches combustable energy levels, and Edwards and Noble push pace and space to a taut intensity. Recorded live at Cafe OTO by Shaun Crook on Sunday 12th December, 2016. Mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Photo by Dawid Laskowski.

Antoine Chessex is a composer, saxophonist and sound artist whose works assume a wide diversity of forms, crossing the boundaries between noise, modern composition, improvisation and electronic music. His live performances are characterized by textural density and microtonal tensions often resulting in sound masses exploring the physical dimensions of spaces. Chessex presents his works worldwide and has collaborated extensively with Zbigniew Karkowski, Valerio Tricoli, Apartment House and Jérôme Noetinger among others. He is a founding member of the noise band Monno.
Steve Noble is London’s leading drummer, a fearless and constantly inventive improviser whose super-precise, ultra-propulsive and hyper-detailed playing has galvanized encounters with Derek Bailey, Matthew Shipp, Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith, Stephen O’Malley, Joe McPhee, Alex Ward, Rhodri Davies and many, many more.

In the early eighties, Noble played with the Nigerian master drummer Elkan Ogunde, Rip Rig and Panic, Brion Gysin and the Bow Gamelan Ensemble, before going on to work with the pianist Alex Maguire and with Derek Bailey (including Company Weeks 1987, 89 and 90). He was featured in the Bailey’s excellent TV series on Improvisation for Channel 4 based on his book ‘Improvisation; its nature and practise’. He has toured and performed throughout Europe, Africa and America and currently leads the groups N.E.W (with John Edwards and Alex Ward) and DECOY (with John Edwards and Alexander Hawkins).

John Edwards is a true virtuoso whose staggering range of techniques and boundless musical imagination have redefined the possibility of the double bass and dramatically expanded its role, whether playing solo or with others. Perpetually in demand, he has played with Evan Parker, Sunny Murray, Derek Bailey, Joe McPhee, Lol Coxhill, Peter Brötzmann, Mulatu Astatke and many others.

Nathan Hubbard / Vinny Golia - Hunter's Moon (CASTOR & POLLUX MUSIC LABEL 2017)

1. What Are You Looking For? Oh, Two Doors Down . . . 01:10:18

Vinny Golia - Alto Flute, Alto, Sopranino & G Mezzo Soprano Saxophones, Tubax (Contrabass Saxophone), Eb, Bb Clarinets & Basset Horn 
Nathan Hubbard - Percussion, Field Recordings/Samples/Sound Design

Recorded under the Hunter's Moon Saturday October 15th 2016 
Bread and Salt San Diego CA 
Nathan Hubbard - recording and mix engineer 
Field recordings recorded CA/AZ/Baja MX 2011-2016 Nathan Hubbard - engineer 
Rafter Roberts - mastering

Kamasi Washington – Harmony of Difference (2017)

Kamasi Washington will release a new EP in September. It’s called Harmony Of Difference, and it follows 2015’s monumental full-length The Epic. The new EP premiered as part of the Whitney Museum Of American Art’s biennial alongside a film by A.G. Rojas and the work of Washington’s sister Amani. A press release describes Harmony Of Difference as a “six part suite that explores the philosophical possibilities of the musical technique known as ‘counterpoint,’ which Washington defines as ‘the art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony between separate melodies.'” Washington also shared his motivations behind the project: “My hope is that witnessing the beautiful harmony created by merging different musical melodies will help people realize the beauty in our own differences.”

01 “Desire”
02 “Humility”
03 “Knowledge”
04 “Perspective”
05 “Integrity”
06 “Truth”

Kamasi Washington tour dates:

11/07 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
11/08 Madison, WI @ Majestic Theatre
11/09 Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
11/10 Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
11/11 Cleveland, OH @ Agora Ballroom
11/14 Urbana, IL @ Canopy Club
11/15 Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theatre
11/16 Toronto, ON @ Danforth
11/17 Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
11/18 Northhampton, MA @ Calvin Theatre
11/20 Boston, MA @ Royale
11/22 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
11/24 Washington, D.C. @ MGM National Harbor
11/25 Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
11/27 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre
11/28 Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre
11/30 Charlottesville, VA @ Jefferson Theater
12/01 Richmond, VA @ The National
12/02 Raleigh, NC @ Duke Energy Center
12/03 Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
12/05 Birmingham, AL @ Saturn
12/06 Athens, GA @ Georgia Theatre
12/08 Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
12/09 Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
12/10 Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall
12/11 Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theatre

Dee Dee Bridgewater - Memphis ...Yes, I'm Ready (2017)

Every picture tells a story; every journey begins differently. The story of Dee Dee Bridgewater's stunning new album, Memphis...Yes, I'm Ready, begins in that city, where she was born at Collins Chapel Hospital, located not far from where the album was recorded at Producer Willie Mitchell's historic Royal Studios. Dee Dee's father, a trumpet player affectionately known as "Matt the Platter Cat" was a DJ at WDIA, the top Memphis radio station, and even when the family moved to neighboring Flint, Michigan, the young Dee Dee continued to listen to the great sounds of the Memphis music scene by tuning-in late night from across state lines. And oh what a music scene it was!

"Even as a young girl the music moved me, inspired me, made me dance with joy and cry with emotion. My life journey may have started in Mali, West Africa, as a descendent of the Peul tribe and the Fulani of Nigeria (explored on her 2007 recording, "Red Earth" recorded in Mali) but it certainly was nurtured by my childhood in the South and all of the amazing music that I was being exposed to."

To Memphis and her roots, the 2017 NEA Jazz Master, three-time Grammy and Tony award winner, NPR host and UN Ambassador for the Food And Agriculture Organization knew that she would have to come back home to do it right. The album was co-produced by Memphis native and Grammy-winning musician Kirk Whalum, and Willie Mitchell's grandson - Grammy-winning Engineer Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell. It was recorded at Royal Studios in Fall 2016 after multiple visits by Bridgewater to Memphis over a period of several years, during which time she absorbed as much of the music, culture, heart and soul of the city as she could possibly consume.

"Working in Memphis at Royal Studios is like magic," says Bridgewater. "There's so much history that has been recorded in those walls. I just felt I could take this journey in that city with Kirk and Boo. They are my two kingpins and the two helped me realize this project and bring it to fruition."

Dee Dee was determined to recapture the same magic and history of the Blues, R&B and Soul classics in the recordings that were originally made in or associated with Memphis. "I wanted people to be able to recall the original versions, but I also wanted them to have a more modern feeling while respecting those originals. I'm doing B.B. King's 'Thrill Is Gone,' Bobby Blue Bland's 'Going Down Slow', Otis Redding's 'Try A Little Tenderness,' Al Green's 'Can't Get Next To You,' Ann Peebles' 'I Can't Stand The Rain' and The Staple Singers' 'Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)' - it just doesn't get any better than this in terms of material. The opportunity to make them my own was an opportunity and a challenge I felt honored to take on."

In reality, Bridgewater even prayed her project was on the right path. She said her prayers were answered when, out of the blue, Memphis' own Stax Records singing legend Carla Thomas dropped by Royal Studios just after Dee Dee had finished mixing Thomas' hit, "B.A.B.Y."

"Being able to play 'B.A.B.Y.' for Carla and listening to her share stories about my father playing with her father, Rufus Thomas, and talking about life in Memphis in general was the final affirmation that I needed for the projectthe icing on the cake."

The result of this recording is an album that sounds like Memphis and feels like Memphis but also, sounds and feels as only a Dee Dee Bridgewater album can, imbibed with her own fierce passion, originality and incredibly dynamic take on the tracks.

"I want to honor Memphis, which we call Soulsville, because it has brought joy to so many people around the world," says Bridgewater. "It has always been a part of me. The more I come back, the more at home I feel. I will eventually move back here. Much of my heart and soul are here."

The release of Memphis...Yes, I'm Ready will be accompanied by tour dates worldwide - visit for information. Watch Dee Dee talk about the making of the project here: Grammy, Tony Award winner Dee Dee Bridgewater returns home to Memphis to record new album.

Yes, I'm Ready
Giving Up
I Can't Get Next To You
Going Down Slow
Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)
Thrill Is Gone
The Sweeter He Is
Can't Stand The Rain
Don't Be Cruel
Hound Dog
Try A Little Tenderness
(Take My Hand) Precious Lord

Buy or Stream the new album MemphisYes, I'm Ready here:

domingo, 24 de septiembre de 2017

Mark Zaleski Band - Days Months Years (2017)

The Mark Zaleski Band Returns After Nearly a Decade With Its Wide-Ranging, Hard-Swinging Second Album, Days, Months, Years

Bandleader/composer Zaleski pulls off the impressive feat of playing both saxophone and bass on the album, which features his long-running ensemble

CD Release Concerts
Thursday, October 5 - Scullers Jazz Club, Boston, MA 
Friday, October 6 - Smalls, NYC  
Saturday, October 7 - The Side Door, Old Lyme, CT

Sparks can fly from an initial meeting, but true chemistry only comes with time. That's true in jazz as it is in life, as can be heard by listening to the evolution of the music's great bands as they grow and evolve over time. Nearly a decade after their debut release, the Mark Zaleski Band returns with the fruits of their own long tenure together. On Days, Months, Years, due out October 6, 2017, the quintet (and sometime sextet) reveals the fruits that come from putting in the time, year after year, gig after gig.

While the Mark Zaleski Band has been together for 11 years, the relationships between the bandleader and some of his collaborators reach back even further - nearly a lifetime in the case of keyboardist Glenn Zaleski, Mark's younger brother and a gifted composer/bandleader in his own right. Tenor saxophonist Jon Bean has been Zaleski's best friend since the two met as students at Boston's New England Conservatory 12 years ago. Both guitarist Mark Cocheo and bassist Danny Weller (who is a regular part of the live band and appears on one track here) first crossed paths with Zaleski at that prestigious institution as well. In that company drummer Oscar Suchenek is the relative newcomer, joining four years ago after meeting Zaleski in the ranks of the acclaimed Either/Orchestra.

It takes the kind of telepathic communication that only comes with such longevity and chemistry to manage the album's most impressive feat. Zaleski does double duty in the band's line-up, part of both his namesake band's frontline, playing alto and soprano saxophone, as well as its rhythm section, playing bass on five of the six tracks. A lot of planning and some complicated logistics (not to mention a bit of studio acrobatics) were required, though as with the best magic the effort never shows in the final product. The music on Days, Months, Years is as lively, swinging and robust as if a sixth member - Zaleski clone or not - was playing along with them.

"Playing bass and saxophone for a jazz record is obviously kind of tricky," Zaleski admits. "I don't think I'd be able to pull it off with just any group of musicians. It requires the real life bond that everybody in this band has with each other."

While saxophone has been Zaleski's primary instrument since he first picked one up at 9 years old, he's maintained a lifelong flirtation with the bass. Growing up listening to classic and modern rock, the guitar loomed larger in his imagination than the clarinet that he played in the school band, which seemed to have little to do with the music of Led Zeppelin or Metallica. Even as he shifted his focus to jazz, Zaleski would sneak away from his sax shedding to play around with a friend's upright bass while studying at the Dave Brubeck Institute or NEC.

Seven or eight years ago, that tinkering became a little more serious as Zaleski finally invested in a bass of his own and quickly found himself in demand for gigs and recording sessions as a bassist. "What I thought was going to be a fun little hobby suddenly blew up," he recalls. "I always felt this organic connection to the bass, but it's now become a real part of my life that I couldn't let go of. Though it was kind of crazy, it seemed like the most accurate representation of myself as an artist had to do with bass playing as well as saxophone playing."

Days, Months, Years kicks off with the anthemic "Mark in the Park," which has become something of a theme song for the band. Over the course of its ten minutes, the band gets to show off nearly every facet of its sound, from bracing swing to lilting groove, modern jazz angularity and a rocking, funky backbeat. The first solo belongs to Zaleski's alto, over his own thick, Ray Brown-influenced bass line. Pulling that off required a bit of in-studio juggling and after-the-fact tracking, but the seams never show. "I didn't want anything to seem overproduced," Zaleski says. "I wanted to maintain the organic quality of the improvisational sections."

"Cerina," named for the street where the band used to practice in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood (not far from the park where "Mark in the Park" was written), begins with an unaccompanied duo improvisation between the two saxophonists that offers a glimpse of the deep friendship and understanding that Zaleski and Bean share. The rest of the band kicks in with a fiery, Latin-tinged rhythm, which later gives way to a more atmospheric section for Cocheo's entrancing solo.

The title track was penned by a younger Zaleski in a moment of career anxiety, its simmering intensity revealing of his frustration, though the song ultimately ends on a hopeful note, one that has since been paid off with the composer's success as both a musician and an educator. A funky arrangement of Thelonious Monk's "Epistrophy" follows, offering a glimpse of a well-known piece reimagined through Zaleski's own singular voice.

An elegiac ballad showcasing Zaleski's soprano playing, "Katie's Song" is a dedication to a close childhood friend who was killed far too young in a tragic car accident. Finally, the swaggering "Big Foot" offers a glimpse of the live Mark Zaleski Band experience, with regular bassist Danny Weller (who was busy attending to the birth of his child when the rest of the album was recorded) joining the fold. Zaleski's arrangement of the lesser-known Charlie Parker tune melds the original bebop sound with a burly blues feel.

A native of Boylston, Massachusetts, Zaleski has enjoyed a diverse career, playing with jazz greats like Christian McBride, Dave Brubeck, Antonio Sanchez and Dave Liebman, among others, while also working with singer Connie Francis and touring with rock legends Jethro Tull. At just 31, he's become one of the most in-demand educators in Boston, serving as chair of the Woodwind and Brass departments at Bard College's Longy School of Music and harmony professor at Berklee College of Music, and teaching ear training, lessons and ensembles at his alma mater, New England Conservatory. In addition to leading his own band, he's currently a member (on electric bass) of the long-running Either/Orchestra and Planet Radio, a funk/soul band that he co-founded.

Cowboys and Frenchmen (produced by Ryan Truesdell) - Bluer Than You Think (October 13, 2017)

Bluer Than You Think

New album by Cowboys & Frenchmen

Available October 13, 2017 on Outside in Music

Eight-city album release tour October 17-27, 2017
October 17 - An Die Musik, Baltimore, MD
October 18 - Blues Alley, Washington D.C. 
October 20 - Radio Bean, Burlington, VT
October 21 - Three Heads Brewing, Rochester, NY 
October 22 - Cliff Bell's, Detroit, MI
October 24 - Alphabet City, Pittsburgh, PA 
October 26 - High Rock Outfitters, Lexington, NC
October 27 - Sharp 9 Gallery, Durham, NC

"[Cowboys & Frenchmen] are masters of mood and atmosphere, with the ability to coordinate colour and structure to a rare degree. Bluer Than You Think consistently reveals their exceptional versatility and resourcefulness...."
- Raul da Gama, Jazz Global Media

Outside In Music will release the sophomore album by the innovative quintet Cowboys & Frenchmen on Friday, October 13, 2017.  For this album, the band joined forces with Grammy award winning producer Ryan Truesdell and the result is an album that "consistently reveals their exceptional versatility and resourcefulness," says Raul da Gama of Jazz Global Media.  The album is the ideal vehicle for co-leaders/saxophonists/composers Owen Broder and Ethan Helm to further explore their individuality within the context of the ensemble.  The group celebrates the album with a eight-city US tour October 17-27, 2017.  

Following the success of their widely praised 2015 debut recording Rodeo, which JazzTimes called "innovative as well as inspiring . . . electric and emotional," Cowboys & Frenchmen were featured presenters at the 2016 North American Saxophone Alliance Conference, and guests at both the D.C. Jazz Festival and the Umbria Jazz Festival's Conad Jazz Contest. Over the two years since their debut, the band - which along with Broder and Helm includes Chris Ziemba (piano), Ethan O'Reilly (bass), and Matt Honor (drums) - has honed and solidified their vision and conceptual direction, deftly weaving ideas from a broad spectrum of influence into their sound.

"There is no one tune that encapsulates our sound, and that's what we like about the band. When looking for inspiration, we are not reaching beyond ourselves to create some sort of postmodern stylistic collage, but reaching within ourselves to access the multitudes we contain as artists and human beings," says Helm about their genre-bending aesthetic.

Each composition on Bluer Than You Think has been thoughtfully conceived and conceptualized to draw out the individual personalities within the whole of the ensemble. The album begins in a state of harmonic openness with Broder's "Wayfarer," which hovers somewhere between major and minor, the melody symbolic of a traveler wandering the world, open to its mysteries, eventually weaving itself into a dance of merging ideas and tonalities. Helm's "Beasts" is embodied by different tiny, circulating, interwoven melodies, underpinned and united by repeating rhythms and patterns like an otherworldly creature DNA.

Playing with the theme of independence within interdependence is Broder's "Companion Plan," with individual hemiolic patterns in each part, creating an interlocking complexity that would be incomplete without each element. "Lilies Under the Bridge" (Helm's sequel to his "A Bridge Inside My Mind" from Rodeo), evokes the impressionist floral imagery of Monet with the lush serenity in the piano, while acerbic microtonal melody lines in the reeds render the daring color palettes of later Pissarro or Seurat. "We were seeking to elicit a wide variety of expression with these compositions," said Broder. "We feel it arises primarily for us from the intellect, body, and soul, and in this recording, it coalesced in dynamic and interactive performances in service to an inclusive vision of both music and the humans that make it."

The title track, "Bluer Than You Think," is an unusual blues with a quirky melody that starts out groovy and quickly unwinds, in a microcosm of Cowboys & Frenchmen's aesthetic: rooted in the conventional forms of jazz, but transformed beyond the boundaries of tradition. "One of my more technical goals for this band," Helm says, "is to find ways to package esoteric musical concepts in a way that is not alienating to jazz listeners. This album has quarter tones, mixed and odd meter, and some very quirky ideas about harmony, melody and form. My hope is that the listener will appreciate these aspects, because as a band we still groove, interact, and emote." 

The remaining three compositions on the new album - "Clear Head" by Chris Misch-Bloxdorf (the only composition from an outside source and the result of a "composition trade" between Helm and Misch-Bloxdorf), Helm's "C&F Jam," (inspired by the dueling car stereos on the streets of NYC), and Broder's "Uncommon Sense" with a push and pull of uncommon phrase structures beneath the flowing melody - round out an album that is a veritable map of Cowboy's & Frenchmen's diverse musical palette, and a promise of this inventive quintet's musical exploration to come. 


Dálava, the fascinating musical endeavor from guitarist Aram Bajakian and vocalist Julia Ulehla, has been winning over critics across the globe since their release of The Book of Transfigurations this past Spring. The project, which filters 100-year-old Moravian (Czech) folk songs through the lens of 21st century creative jazz and post-rock, also features a band of critically lauded improvisers, including cellist Peggy Lee, Colin Cowan on bass, pianist Tyson Naylor on piano/organ/accordion, and Dylan van der Schyff on drums and percussion. The album was recorded in Vancouver,where Julia is currently writing her PhD dissertation on this music.

On The Book of Tranfigurations, Dálava transcends what could have been merely an academic exploration into Moravian folk music. Inspired by her years in Italy as an actress and singer at the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, Ulehla animates the traditional affecting melodies and archetypal story lines through an improvisational yet ritual approach to performance. The results, both on record and live, have moved critics across the globe to wax enthusiastically. Here's what they've had to say.

"Every now and then an album appears that is so overwhelming and so intense that it is hard to put into any category. Such is the case with The Book Of Transfigurations, the second release by Dálava...Saying that The Book Of Transfigurations is a masterpiece is not an exaggeration.” fRoots, August 2017

"The album is not so much a fusion, more an exciting collision of tradition with experimentation, one that will equally appeal to fans of folk, avantgarde improv and jazz." Songlines Magazine, July 2017

"Whether the arrangements are delicate or punishing, though, the beauty of the songs comes through powerfully." Chicago Reader, July 2017

"In concert, in either band or duo format, Bajakian and Ulehla create a sound that is achingly intimate. Their love for the music and for each other is beautifully evident, and not in any kind of saccharine fashion: it’s as if they share a mutual incandescence." Musicworks #128, Summer/Fall 2017

"It’s an album that manages to be thoroughly rooted in its Moravian past while still pushing ahead into the 21st Century, a complete, radical reinvention of Moravian music. Ulehla is the linchpin, with a voice that can seduce like Lorelei on the rocks one moment, then turn strident and martial, passionate and sinuous; while guitarist Aram Bajakian, whose credits include working with John Zorn, offers an instrumental counterpoint. The rest of the six-piece band deserve equal billing, not just for their playing, but also for their invention. These are songs to disturb and to lull, of past and family. Mysterious, yes, but also filled with a curious beauty." fRoots, July 2017

"As Bajakian masterfully crafts an ancient sound-world where ghostly folk and proggy finger-picking wizardry nod to his avant-garde and free-improv roots, Ulehla takes center stage with soaring and meditative pipes that run the gamut from arresting whispers to operatic howls." The Observer, The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2017 So Far, June 2017

"Somehow, the old songs retain their deep connection to the landscape that produced them, even when recast in expansive new avant-jazz and prog-folk trappings." The Georgia Straight, 50 Albums That Shaped Vancouver, May 2017

"It’s astonishing music and the story behind its creation is emblematic of how Old World traditions can be born again, thousands of miles and several generations away from their roots." The Georgia Straight, March 2017

"Úlehla’s voice is haunting, there is a compressed urgency and a folksiness that doesn’t quite settle into, or leave, your ears... Such contrasts of old and new, and stylistic juxtapositions make the album compelling, while the language leaves many listeners simply hanging onto the expressive emotion of Úlehla’s voice rather than the meaning - the translations, invoking timeless themes, are
provided within the accompanying booklet." The Freejazz Collective, May 2017

"Tender and haunting..., The Book of Transfigurations is an intimate and elegant paean to Ulehla's ancestral heritage. It is far from a mere retelling of a historic cultural expression destined for museums. On the contrary, what makes the album unique is its vivid and soulful rendition of this slice of popular art, thus preserving it by exposing its enduring relevance." All About Jazz, May 2017

"An utterly captivating and addictive recording." The Vancouver Sun, April 2017

"A blend of the exotic with the familiar is always an interesting idea but doesn’t always make for interesting music. The first Dálava went beyond merely interesting, it was fully captivating. Even without the benefit of no expectations this time around, Julia Úlehla and Aram Bajakian’s The Book of Transfigurations manages to captivate, too." SomethingElse! Reviews, April 2017

"The Book of Transfigurations is full of songs of moving beauty. Singer Úlehla sparkles and each song gets a fitting, tasteful and exciting musical performance...a unique and beautiful album." Opduvel, May 2017 (translated from Dutch)

"Ulehla provides beautiful vocalization, and while all the lyrics are in Czech, the inflection of her voice exudes emotion. Her singing portrays shades of sadness and happiness that flow with the instrumentals…Throughout the record, the guitar emits everything from wavy distortions, to low dreamy tones. Reflecting at times off the drumming, Dálava toss in jazzy progressions, or turn up with rock intensity...Dálava have created a unique work that captures a sense of culture and history that is intriguing. Its range of instruments and radiant singing generate an intimate reaction to the music, connecting the listener into the atmosphere. It is a work that presents just enough to guide one on a journey to learn more about the magic found in other parts of the world." New Noise Magazine, April 2017

For more information, visit There's an interview with Aram and Julia here. Dálava's website is

Mikkel Ploug Will Release Alleviations on Songlines on October 27

Equilibrium Co-Leader's Solo Guitar Album Was Inspired by a Vintage Gibson Guitar

“Danish guitarist Mikkel Ploug is on his way into the champions league of contemporary jazz. His guitar playing is among the most stylish in the genre.” – Alex Schmitz, Jazz Podium (Germany)

Solo jazz guitar records are not that common, solo acoustic guitar records perhaps even less so outside of the classical and folk/world traditions. Apart from Ralph Towner, Earl Klugh and Gene Bertoncini it’s hard to think of many guitarists in jazz today primarily making music on an unamplified acoustic instrument. But Ploug (co-leader and main composer of the avant chamber jazz trio Equilibrium, with three releases on Songlines) is a jazz guitarist with interests in folk, world and classical music. And the guitar that inspired him to create and record this program is neither a classical guitar nor some ordinary folk/blues/bluegrass guitar.

The background to the record is almost as interesting as the music on it. On tour last year in the U.S., Mikkel chanced upon a well-worn but rare mahogany-top Gibson Banner LG-2 in New York. (The story of the Banners, made during the war by a primarily female work force, is told in John Thomas’s book and film Kalamazoo Gals.) Right away he loved the sound, and eventually he got the guitar to Copenhagen. He spent the next four months playing it every day, generating and refining ideas for pieces. Then it was into the studio (ribbon mics in a warm wooden room) to record the ones he liked best.

He had never really considered himself an acoustic guitar player – his main ax for the last ten years has been a Gibson ES-330 hollow body. “But then I found this old Banner…Part of its warm sound has to do with the mahogany body and top – most Gibson guitars from that time [around 1945] were with spruce tops which have more high end, but this guitar produces a subtle beautiful high end too. To me it sounded like no other guitar I had played before, I would describe the sound as warm, ringing and very balanced from top to bottom. It’s clear to me that the wood has settled beautifully, and the guitar has lots of character…It’s not necessarily easy to play, and certain passages on the tune ‘Arabesque’ for example were next to unplayable for me until just before or actually on the recording date. But that was part of the excitement!”
The composing process was different too. “The guitar would push me around stylistically – sometimes ask me to include less notes in a voicing or more open strings, and just opened up new fields of inspiration. Some of the beauty of it to me was that a very simple chord would just sound so good and so rich that often it would feel like it was enough as a starting point to spur a composition. I explored various concepts, whether it was a certain playing style or technique like on ‘Arabesque’ [his own favourite], ‘Alleviation’ and ‘Florescence’ or a melodic or harmonic concept like on ‘Couleurs d’Olivier’, a composition based on Messiaen’s modes of limited transposition. ‘Circle Wind’ is written with Steve Reich’s repetitive work in mind and ‘Luminous’ is my Ben Monder tribute piece.”

He fingerpicks about half the tunes here: “The world of fingerpicking I find fascinating but my inspiration doesn’t come from any particular style, I think more of how a grand piano can resonate when lots of keys are pressed down simultaneously and try to achieve a similar effect with a fast, continuous vibration of the strings on the guitar, like on ‘Florescence’.”

Ploug has already recorded a duet record with longtime collaborator Mark Turner using this guitar, and is organizing solo concert tours for next year. For collectors the record is also being released on limited edition 180g vinyl.

For more information please visit The interview is linked from the Songlines release page.

sábado, 23 de septiembre de 2017

Free Radicals Celebrate New CD “Outside the Comfort Zone" Houston 9/23 Austin 9/30

Free Radicals
Celebrate The Release of Their New CD 
“Outside the Comfort Zone"

Saturday, September 23rd
10:00 pm - midnight
Last Concert Cafe Houston
1403 Nance St
Houston, TX 77002
(713) 226-8563

Saturday, September 30th
10:00 pm to 11:30 pm
Sahara Lounge
1413 Webberville Rd
Austin, TX 78721
(512) 927-0700

Artist: Free Radicals
Title: Outside The Comfort Zone
Catalog Number: RWE017
Artist Website:
Release Date: SEPT 15, 2017
UPC Code: 654483001728

Musicians & Songwriters:

Pete Sullivan: bari sax
Jason Jackson: alto sax
Aaron Varnell: tenor sax
Tom VandenBoom: trombone
Matt Serice: trumpet & keys
Nick Cooper: drums & perc.
Al Bear: guitar
Jacob Breier: bass
Nick Gonzalez: sousaphone

About The Music

1. The Legals Have a Lunch
Free Rads originally recorded this track to be included on their all-breakbeat CD "Freedom of Movement.” Havikoro, the b-boy collective executive producing the 2015 CD felt the tune sounded too goofy for breakdancing. However, goofy was exactly what Free Rads was going for, so they kept the tune in the vault. Featured are solos and arrangements by Jason Jackson on alto sax, Tom VandenBoom on trombone, and Aaron Varnell on tenor sax. Long time collaborators jump in on the jam -- Harry Sheppard on vibes, Al Pagliuso on percussion, Pelayo Parlade on piano, Theo Bijarro on bass, and  Nelson Mills III on trumpet. Nelson played trumpet on the Tighten Up, a Houston funk tune that was the number one hit in the nation the week drummer / producer Nick Cooper was born.

‘The Legals Have a Lunch’ is an alternate title for this new CD, with its cover art showing a family of descendants of European immigrants in a diner, eating a feast and looking at their phones, oblivious to the apartheid system right outside.

2. Doomsday Clock
  ‘Doomsday Clock’ is a ska tune by drummer Nick Cooper featuring solos by Tom VandenBoom on trombone, Matt Serice on trumpet, Aaron Varnell on tenor, and Al Bear on guitar. Guest musicians Lynn Bechtold on violin, and Harry on the vibes all join in.

Since 1947, the Doomsday Clock has been updated by the members of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to represent the likelihood of a human-caused global catastrophe. 'Make America Great Again' has been a pathological escapist cultural response to a world with looming climate, military, pollution, and ecosystem collapses. Free Radicals plays ‘Doomsday Clock’ as a rejection of anti-scientific political posturing and as a tribute to the scientists who do their best to bring attention to things that really matter.

3. Chicha Revolución
Bass player Jacob Breier wrote this tune recalling 1970s Peruvian Chicha music. It starts off with a guitar solo by Al Bear and features solos by Pete Sullivan on baritone sax, Aaron Varnell on tenor, and a bridge featuring Matt Serice and Henry Darragh on keys, and Pelayo Parlade on piano.

4. Carry Me To My Grave
Trumpeter Doug Falk wrote this tune during a month when the band was playing a lot of funerals. Doug moved to New Orleans soon after writing the song, handing off the baton to trombonist Tom VandenBoom. The recording was done in a living room, and features solos by Aaron, Al B., Harry, Matt, Jason, Harry, and Tom.

Over the 21 years of Free Radicals music, ten of their musical collaborators have died (Ramesh Mishra, Greg Harbar, Zin, Little Joe Washington, Folasayo Dele-Ogunrinde, Carl Adams, Jeff Wells, Niyi, Stefan Schultz, and Joseph Jackson). With a huge extended family of musicians in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and up to Harry Sheppard at 89 years old, the Free Rads know the next funeral they play might be for one of their own.

5. Screaming
Free Radicals often tracks solos and arrangements over loops made from recordings of live improvs. Most of the material on Free Rads' 3rd CD, "Aerial Bombardment," was recorded in this manner. 'Screaming' is a hybrid mix of recordings from Sound Arts Recording Studio and two shows at at Avant Garden, the late night Houston hang-out that’s been around as long as Free Radicals (21 years). It features solos by Aaron and Al B., and percussion by Charlie Perez.

There has been a lot to scream about in the last year. ‘Screaming’ is an expression of the band’s frustration.

6. Dadaab
Though this song by bassist Jacob Breier references music from the Horn of Africa, when Subhendu Chakraborty came up with a great tabla part for it, producer Nick Cooper gladly recorded it (the band has never sought purity). It also features Muhammad Jafari on doumbec, solos by Tom, Jason, Aaron, Pete, and Nick C. on drum set, clavinet, and talking drums. Dadaab is the world's largest refugee camp, and Free Radicals has benefited musically, personally, and professionally from Houston's large and vibrant refugee population. Free Radicals musicians have no patience for anti refugee rhetoric, and are proud to have refugees in their group, as well as among their students, friends, coworkers, and spouses.

7. Freedom of Consumption
This breakbeat came out of an improv studio session with help from Henry Darragh on piano, Robert Chadwick on flutes, Al P. on congas, and Subhendu on tablas.

8. Angola 3
Nick Gonzalez, the Free Rads’ sousaphone player wrote this one. It’s been played at protests, weddings, funerals, and every other type of gathering the band performs. It features all the horns jamming, with Harry on vibes, and Matt on organ.

The Angola 3 (Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace) were long-time political prisoners in Louisiana's Angola Prison. A long modal piece, ‘Angola 3’ is a tribute to these former prisoners and anyone who has sat in a cell for years deprived of human contact and music.

9. Manifest Dust Bunny
Pete Sullivan, the baritone sax player, wrote this piece and it immediately clicked with a recently expanded 5 person horn section. With quick alternating punk, ska, and funk parts and no solos, it is intended as an overture of music the Free Rads musicians have listened to since high school.

Unfortunately, Manifest Destiny is a worldview that is still around, clogging up Turtle Island from Immokalee to Arizona to Cleveland to Standing Rock. Free Radicals looks forward to seeing it vacuumed up once and for all.

10. Water Beats Rock
Alto sax player Jason Jackson wrote this slow jam in tribute to 70s Bruce Lee movies. The title is a reference to Rock, Paper, Scissors, cinematic boat scenes, and the taoist principle of becoming like water. It features solos by Jason, Tom, Pete, Aaron, and Al B. and alternating bass lines by Jacob and sousaphone by Nick Gonzalez.

11. Solidaridad de la Sierra
Pete Sullivan wrote this one, featuring Robert Chadwick on flutes, Al P. on triangle, and solos by Matt, Tom, Pete, and Jason. Free Rads dedicates this song to mountains and indigenous people who live on them, and intends it as a protest against the mining companies that put entire mountain ecosystems into a grinder for one-time mineral profits.

12. Audacity of Drones
This song features loops from live recordings of a show in which all three sax players brought out baritones, and something terrifying came out.

Like most US presidents, Barack Obama has a legacy of killing innocent civilians and opening up wars on new fronts should land him in front of a war crimes tribunal. The Free Radicals hopes to honor his innocent victims and to invoke the sounds of death machines whose existence taxpayers finance, and have come to accept as normal.

13. Beyond Vietnam
Jason Jackson wrote this tribute to Southeastern Asian psychedelic music from the 70s. It features solos by Jason and Al B. MLK's ‘Beyond Vietnam’ remains among the most important anti-war speeches in history. Free Radicals musicians find themselves in a weird United States that has failed to learn anything from the crucial message MLK died to deliver.

14. Space Witch
Jacob Breier wrote this reggae tune and invited friend Will Van Horn on the pedal steel. Often, Free Radicals tries to give its songs political titles or associate them with political causes, but this song is simply about a space witch.

15. Scrapple from the DAPL
 Pete Sullivan wrote this one, and it features solos by Harry and Pete. Free Rads Street Band has been honored to stand with the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline (and every other pipeline).

16. New Sanctuary Movement
Jason Jackson's song is a tribute to immigrants and those who protect them, and a middle finger to anyone who tries to demonize the immigrants who have improved our society in so many ways. It features Nick on percussion, and solos by Aaron, Jason, Tom, Pete, and Al.

17. Cabinet For Sale
 Al Bear's quick changing blues-meets-samba tune mocks the oligarchs running our nation after absurd promises to ‘drain the swamp.’ It features Al B. and the horns trading off melodies and Brazilian percussion by Charlie.

18. Stump Stomp
Aaron Varnell wrote this tune after a protest across the street from a Donald Trump fundraiser in Houston’s River Oaks. Donald Trump protests have brought out Muslims, gays, #blacklivesmatter activists, DACA recipients, minimum wage workers, and environmentalists to speak with one common voice. That's one thing for which Free Radicals thanks Trump.

19. Cheeto News Coma
 Where can we hide from the 24-hour media cycle and it's endless portrayals of our hideous president? This breakbeat features Subhendu and the sax players.

20. Survival of the Oblivious
Harry Sheppard's multiple mallet instrument tracks weave in and out of this instrumental reggae tune. It also features Pete, Aaron, Tom, Subhendu, and alternating bass lines by Jacob and sousaphone lines by Nick G..

21. Ambush ICE
Pete Sullivan's frantic tune features Harry, Robert, and Nick G. It’s an attempt to tap into the state of those living in fear of an imminent ICE ambush and chase scene, with a short interlude in a muzak elevator.

22. A Call For All Demons
After many years of playing this 1956 tune by Sun Ra and collaborating with former Sun Ra vibraphonist Damon Choice, Free Rads decided to put them together for this recording done entirely in the musicians’ homes. Damon and Harry play on this tune like little kids, which can make everyone forget that between the two, there are well over 100 years of vibraphone experience. The song features Robert on flutes, Matt on organ, and drummer Nick C. plays a funk breakdown on Brazilian instruments, including a repique he got from Damon.

23. American Food Chain
This was a piece from years ago, featuring Paul Winstanley on bass, that the Free Rads felt would close out the instrumental CD well. Free Radicals usually features vocalists, poets, and rappers, but for this album, the band went all instrumental, intending to make up for this by releasing a lyric-filled CD next.

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Katayoun: love songs for a heartsick world bring the poetry of Rumi to life

We Should: Iranian Poetry, Indian Tunes, and a hint of Jazz Gel on Will You, Love Songs for a Heartsick World

Tune snippets sung over Whatsapp, inspired by translated phrases from a beloved 13th-century poet. Then a studio session, unrehearsed, when all the outpourings of grief, fear, and mad love came to a head.

The close friendship of several culturally diverse musicians is captured on Will You (release date: September 22, 2017 by Tames Records), the latest from Iranian-American vocalist Katayoun Goudarzi, master sitar player Shujaat Khan, highly respected saxophonist Tim Ries (who’s played with jazz greats like Jack DeJohnette and Donald Byrd and rock icons like The Rolling Stones, Donald Fagen, and Rod Stewart), artful pianist Kevin Hays, and tabla player Dibyarka Chatterjee. Together, they have forged an unlikely ensemble that finds striking new settings for Rumi’s centuries-old yet ever-urgent words.

“I come up with the skeleton of the tunes, but that’s really just what we build out from,” notes Khan. “We converse to make this music. It’s never the same interpretation, the same sound, the same song twice.” “The music is not classical Persian music,” adds Goudarzi. “It’s Persian classical poetry sung in Indian idioms, but with a touch of jazz. In that respect, it’s perhaps different than things that have been done in the past.”

Goudarzi is a perfectionist who pays meticulous attention to details. She’s constantly experimenting in hopes of honoring the spirit and sense of the poetry she loves. “Don’t”--a plea to save the beloved from arrest and torment--demanded a different vocal approach from Goudarzi. Goudarzi began her vocal career employing traditional recitation of Persian poetry, its sweeping spoken approach. For this album, she decided to return to singing, employing several different vocal styles to heighten the intensity, matched by Khan’s supple, responsive playing.

“That poem was the reason I sang on this album. The lyrics are saying, he’s my life, don’t beat him up, don’t take him away. I had to portray that pain,” muses Goudarzi. “I had to sing those lyrics with all the passion it required. If I couldn't do it right, I wouldn’t touch them. That was one of the inspiring songs that made me think of singing a lot of the album.”

“With Rumi you can find all different kinds of poems, chronicling all different kinds of human experience,” reflects Goudarzi. “Some are wildly romantic. Some are edgier like ‘Don’t.’ Most of the verses we use on the album are love poems. The way I present the lyrics this time, on the title track, is to use three different poems to make sure I’m completing the story.”

Her ensemble-mates expand the story by contributing pieces (Hays’ “Sweet Caroline”) and by weaving their instruments’ voices into Goudarzi’s. Sometimes they respond, as Khan does at the end of “Void,” playing and humming the role of the beloved whom Rumi so often evokes in his poems. Sometimes they set the stage with a dramatic haunting and chilling solo as Ries does skillfully at the beginning of “Don’t.” Sometimes they stop playing entirely and allow Goudarzi to sing solo, heightening the emotional intensity, as at the end of the title track “Will You.”

One of the defining qualities of Rumi’s work is its sustained ability to resonate emotionally, across ages and across cultures. Goudarzi feels this resonance has particular relevance to our day and age. Through the words and music, she and the ensemble want to bring listeners deeper into these varied emotions, feelings universal in nature. “Happiness and sadness. Love and hatred. These are universal feelings, no matter what language we speak, the color of our skin. No matter how you express it, the feelings are the same. We wanted to bring those emotions to the surface.”

In a context of heightened political tensions, when conversation and connection are being abandoned for harsher ways, Goudarzi points to the importance of connecting, of the small symbol the ensemble presents. “Isn’t it something? A diverse group can create things a homogenous group can’t,” reflects Goudarzi. “Each of us interpreted these emotional musical phrases through all our experiences, all different, yet it all gels. Perhaps because at the end of the day, we’re all human. It’s important to remember that.”

Shujaat Husain Khan: Sitar & Vocal
Kevin Hays: Piano
Katayoun Goudarzi: Vocal
Tim Ries: Tenor & Soprano Saxophone, Alto Flue
Dibyarka Chatterjee:  Tabla

Grammy award nominee and Master sitarist Shujaat Husain Khan, Saxophonist Tim Ries (of the The Rolling Stones), award winning Jazz pianist Kevin Hays, Iranian vocalist Katayoun Goudarzi and percussionist Dibyarka Chatterjee create a delicate balance between form, content and creativity in their new album 'Will You?' The band started working together in 2009. Their first album, dawning released by Palmetto records and Tames records was on the top 40 CMJ charts for more than 7 weeks in 2013. Below are what critics have said about their work:

"world music in the truest sense of the world." Rolling Stone

"Katayoun...always tonally luscious" – Songlines

"one of the most fascinating cross-cultural collaborations of the year."  World Music Central

"a band whose work represents the best of a musical union" – Arts Nash

"the quavers and attack in Goudarzi's vocal presentation, while as beautiful as the instruments, add piquancy that sets this music apart. " – Exclaim!

"hypnotic" – New York Music Daily

Malleus Trio - Malleus Trio (2017)

Malleus trio is a high-energy jazz combo; they play through genres, altering traditional sense of form while sneaking across bar lines. The dynamic sound scape is supported by sturdy groove. The group assembles Dominic Conway on tenor sax, Ben Brown on kit and Geordie Hart on upright bass.

1. Salem 04:49
2. Heavyweight 07:07
3. East-Van Holiday 05:01
4. Nets Away 04:49
5. In The Ghost 04:36
6. The Hustler 04:26
7. Throbbing Walrus 06:44

Christian McBride Big Band – Bringin’ It (MACK AVENUE RECORDS 2017)

Iconic bassist Christian McBride has been doing what the title of his upcoming big band album implores for years: Bringin’ It. This highly anticipated release, which follows the Christian McBride Big Band’s 2011 Grammy® Award-winning debut, The Good Feeling,puts his status and skills as an all-around entertainer on full display. With a list of growing accolades including his recent appointment as Artistic Director at the Newport Jazz Festival, hosting shows on SiriusXM (“The Lowdown: Conversations with Christian”) and NPR (“Jazz Night in America,” as well as frequent online contributions to various programs including “All Things Considered”), speaking engagements, and occasional DJ performances under the alias DJ Brother Mister, he’s more than just a bandleader: Christian McBride is transcending that title to something more complete.

Getin' To It
Youthful Bliss
I Thought About You
Upside Dow
Full House
Mr. Bojangles
Used ' Ta
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning

Christian McBride: bass
Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
Todd Bashore: alto saxophone, flute, piccolo
Ron Blake: tenor saxophone, flute
Dan Pratt: tenor saxophone, flute
Carl Maraghi: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Frank Greene: trumpet
Freddie Hendrix: trumpet
Brandon Lee: trumpet
Nabate Isles: trumpet
Steve Davis: trombone (11)
Michael Dease: trombone
Joe McDonough: trombone (1-10)
James Burton: trombone
Douglas Purviance: bass trombone
Xavier Davis: piano
Quincy Phillips: drums
Rodney Jones: guitar
Melissa Walker: vocals (6, 8)
Brandee Younger: harp (10)