domingo, 26 de febrero de 2017

Jihye Lee Orchestra - April (2017)

Composer/bandleader Jihye Lee Turns Tragedy into Lavish,
Heart-Wrenching Inspiration on Debut Orchestral Album
Written in response to the sinking of the Sewol ferry, April features guest artist Sean Jones and a 20-piece orchestra of Berklee faculty

Available February 24, 2017

"Not your typical big band music It's very original, very beautiful, and very well thought-out, well orchestrated music." - Greg Hopkins

"Jihye Lee is emerging as a strong voice in the next generation of composers for large jazz ensemble. Her music is imaginative and creative, and she's not afraid to take some exciting chances in her writing." - Jim McNeely

On the morning of April 16, 2014, tragedy struck South Korea when the ferry Sewol capsized and sank, killing more than 300 passengers. Half a world away, composer and native Korean Jihye Lee (pronounced Gee Hey) watched on in horror from Boston, where she was studying at Berklee College of Music. As the hours, days, weeks and now years have passed, reactions to the disaster have mingled grief and anger, sorrow and outrage, protest and sympathy as human tragedy collided with political controversy.

Not long before the wreck of the Sewol (pronounced Sae Wal), Lee had written two pieces that came to prove eerily prophetic: "April Wind," which gradually builds from gentle and tender to majestic and powerful; and "Deep Blue Sea," through which Lee's soaring voice wends an emotional, wordless lament before being overwhelmed by swelling tides of sound. "Destiny is a big word," Lee admits, "but maybe I was meant to make this album."

Lee expanded upon those two compositions in the wake of the Sewol disaster, creating the heartfelt six-song suite that comprises her new album, April. Performed by a 20-piece orchestra culled from Berklee faculty and Boston-area musicians, the album (due out February 24, 2017) explores the myriad conflicting emotions that a tragedy like the ferry crash can engender, vividly embodied by an orchestra that can navigate fluidly from visceral force to impressionistic beauty. Lee composes from a wide palette, at one moment lush watercolors, the next bold splashes of action painting.

Being so far away from home as events unfolded, Lee says that the worst feeling was being unable to contribute to rescue and relief efforts. "If I were in Korea I would have done something," she says. "But in Boston there was nothing to do. My mind was so chaotic, I couldn't help but write this music."
"April Wind" opens the album, the calm before the storm that sets the scene for the events of the day to unfold. Alain Mallet's piano solo rides the orchestra's cresting waves, while Shannon LeClaire's alto and Allan Chase's soprano usher in the rising tide. It's followed by "Sewol Ho," named for the ferry itself, which begins with John Lockwood's churning, ominous bass, soon joined by frantic, cross-talking horn lines which build in tension and urgency. "Deep Blue Sea" is an oasis of serenity, seemingly peaceful but perhaps suggesting the stunned silence following unimaginable horror. Rick DiMuzio's tenor offers a soulful elegy.

The brisk, manic rhythms of "Whirlwind" capture the chaos of the sinking's aftermath: the frenzied worry of victim's families, the unanswered questions and political turmoil that persist nearly three years later. "Guilty" is aimed squarely at those whose neglect, greed and politicking led to the tragedy and its staggering death toll, the composer's seething contempt for the deceit and disregard for human life mutedly expressed in the tug of war between Bruce Bartlett's guitar and Rick DiMuzio's soprano. Finally, "You Are Here (Every Time I Think of You)" is Lee's outpouring of sympathy for those lost and those left behind, highlighted by the aching, sweepingly gorgeous flugelhorn of guest soloist Sean Jones.

The band was assembled and the album co-produced by trumpeter and longtime Berklee professor Greg Hopkins. "Greg really believed in me and my music," Lee says. "When I shared my vision he was really supportive." Hopkins also helped Lee set up the Kickstarter campaign that funded the album's recording.

Given the singular vision of Lee's writing for big band, which calls to mind the bold narratives and colors of the Maria Schneider Orchestra along with the intricate arrangements of Jim McNeely, with whom she's now studying at the Manhattan School of Music, it's surprising to learn that Lee arrived in Boston with no intention of leading an orchestra and very little knowledge of jazz in general. She'd worked primarily as a folk and R&B-influenced pop singer-songwriter in Korea but came to Berklee hoping to expand her musical horizons.

"I wanted to see something that I didn't see when I was in Korea," she recalls. "I really loved complexity in harmony and rhythm, but I didn't know what genre I could find it in. I just followed my gut, and my gut said you have to go to Berklee. I got to see a lot of concert jazz orchestra music there, and I was overwhelmed. I was enchanted by the energy and complexity, the richness and diversity that we can mix and use in different ways. That's how I got into jazz big band writing."

One of the most striking elements of Lee's pieces throughout April is the way she interweaves her own voice into the orchestral palette. She doesn't write lyrics, uncomfortable with penning words in English, but doesn't see the lack of them as inhibitive of communicating her messages. "Lyrics are too specific to convey some images or emotions that I cannot really express with words," she says.
The use of voice, though, came naturally from her background as a singer. "It was only natural. I think people are very drawn to the human voice because we're all human, and there's some things that only voice can express."

While she doesn't draw on explicit influences from her native country, Lee says that her essential Korean-ness comes through in every note that she writes. "Korean people are very emotional, very expressive," she explains. She mentions a Korean expression, han, that connotes a sense of deep, restrained emotion rooted in the country's long history of war and colonization, similar to the melancholic/nostalgic Brazilian term saudade but in an earthier, more inward form. The stoicism they display on the surface means that their sadness comes through in art as a howl of sadness. "I think it naturally comes through in my melodies: dramatic, lyrical, very sad, that kind of emotional statement."

The title April ties into her adopted home of Boston as well, given that the Boston Marathon bombing took place one year almost to the day prior to the Sewol. Lee hopes that her music offers a path to healing from both incidents. "April is a beautiful month, the beginning of spring when everything is new and beautiful and blooming," she says. "I want to make April bloom again."

Available February 24, 2017

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Listen to Phraternal, by Ivo Neame,

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A Message from Tim Garland - Listen to Frankenstein, a bonus track from his acclaimed album One.

Downbeat & ASCAP award winning saxophonist Alex Weitz new CD LUMA

FEATURING: Alex Weitz: saxophone; Tal Cohen: piano; Ben Tiberio: bass; Michael Piolet: drums

Alain Lefèvre, an illuminated curling and a kids’ show by Mélou!

Alejandra Ribera, a Lyonnais soup and an outdoor concert by RYMZ!

sábado, 25 de febrero de 2017

Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr - Landed in Brooklyn (ACT MUSIC 2017)

For their 5th album, German trumpeter Julian and pianist Roman Wasserfuhr are in Brooklyn. If Brooklyn were not one of the five boroughs of New York City, its 2.6 million inhabitants would make it the 4th largest city in the United States. And the secret is out: Manhattan may have the establishment institutions like Lincoln Center or the Village Vanguard, but the real action is in Brooklyn, with an abundance of creativity being generated by musicians from the Wasserfuhr brothers’ generation, working in apartments, lofts, bars, clubs and studios. 

The rise of the Wasserfuhrs has been meteoric, and “Landed in Brooklyn“ documents another important stage of it. The brothers first came to the attention of producer Siggi Loch when they were 17 and 20 years old, joining the roster of ACT’s “Young German Jazz” series. Their “stunning debut album” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) “Remember Chet” was released in 2006, already showing a distinctive and original sound. “Upgraded in Gothenburg” was released in 2009, with Scandinavian greats Nils Landgren, Lars Danielsson und Magnus Lindgren. “Gravity” from 2011 had a quartet involving Wolfgang Haffner and Lars Danielsson, and told a story of how gravity is defied and overcome. By the time they made “Running” in 2013, the brothers were setting their own pace and direction, composing, recording and producing it themselves.

Julian Wasserfuhr explains the origins of “Landed in Brooklyn: “Siggi Loch called us up last year, and asked if we were interested in making another album for the ACT label. Naturally we agreed – but we admitted that we hadn‘t really given it much thought.” So the idea emerged that the magic of the city of New York, as a force to propel and lift them, should became the concept behind the album. The established musicians they would then meet at the legendary System Two Recording Studios would act as their fountainheads of inspiration.

First and foremost among those inspirers is saxophonist Donny McCaslin, the lynchpin of David Bowie’s last revelatory masterpiece “Blackstar”. Tim Lefebvre, known in Europe for his work with the Michael Wollny Trio, and also a member of Bowie’s last band is equally at home in jazz and in rock contexts. Nate Wood is an in-demand first call drummer and close associate of Donny McCaslin.

Is that enough jazz chops and credibility? Well, there’s more, in the form of a GRAMMY winner, producer Al Pryor whose craft, knowledge and deep experience have brought listeners closer to the musicality and emotion of artists such as Cécile McLorin Salvant, Raul Midón and Christian McBride.

Very little had been agreed or set down in advance when Julian und Roman Wasserfuhr arrived at the studio to meet the top-drawer American players. They had brought the sheet music of some pieces with them, but the guiding principle was to see what would transpire and to let things happen:

“Bernie’s Tune” is a wonderfully optimistic up tempo opener. We’re straight into the ensemble sound that these players achieved without rehearsals, but with big ears and inspired playing. The band is here in its quintet form with guest artist Donnie McCaslin’s saxophone weaving and blending his counter melody with Julian’s trumpet. Julian and Roman’s obvious appreciation of funk and back beats is on display in “Tutto”. Julian’s wicked solo is balanced by Roman’s thoughtful, soulful take on the changes of the song. Nate Wood finds a deep and danceable groove. A power ballad, Tokio Hotel’s “Durch den Monsun”, in a clever arrangement by Julian and Roman, showcases their trademark interweaving of melodic lines. There’s a blistering tenor solo by McCaslin, followed by Julian’s intensely rhythmic triple tongued riffs. Nate Wood closes out the tune with a power drum salvo. On “Tinderly” and “S.N.C.F.” Julian and Donny make their bid for a place among the great front line horn players of jazz calling to mind such combinations as the fire of Freddie Hubbard and the cool of Stanley Turrentine. With Sting’s “Seven Days” Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr own the 5/4 time signature – as jazz musicians do. “Carlo” fuses the energy of this ensemble into the discipline, empathy and majesty that can only be found in a great ballad. 

Roman begins the final performance on the record, “First Rays Of Dawn”, just as he began the first: with a motif expressed in his pianism that allows Julian and the band to slip into a rapid and revelatory up tempo waltz; closing out the recording as they began, and in a manner characteristic of what has become a tradition in Brooklyn and beyond: new ideas and the artists who bring them.

1. Bernie`s Tune ( Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr) 05:50
2. Tutto ( Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr) 05:10
3. Tinderly ( Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr) 07:25
4. Durch den Monsun ( P. Benzner, P. Hoffmann, D. Jost, D. Roth & B. Kaulitz) 08:19
5. Carlo ( Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr) 06:06
6. S.N.C.F. ( Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr) 06:05
7. Ella ( Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr) 04:44
8. Seven Days ( Sting) 05:44
9. First Rays Of Dawn ( Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr) 07:31

Julian Wasserfuhr / trumpet & flugelhorn
Roman Wasserfuhr / piano, marimba, seaboard
Donny McCaslin / tenor saxophone
Tim Lefebvre / electric & double bass
Nate Wood / drums

Music composed by Julian & Roman Wasserfuhr, unless otherwise noted

Produced by Al Pryor
Curated by Siggi Loch

Recorded by Max Ross 
at Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn (NY), August, 13 & 14, 2016
Mixed and mastered by Klaus Scheuermann, September 2016

Mostly Other People Do the Killing's new septet CD "Loafer's Hollow" (HOT CUP RECORDS 2017)

Moppa Elliott’s Mostly Other People Do the Killing
Presents Loafer’s Hollow 

Septet CD to be released February 24, 2017 on Hot Cup Records 

Featuring: Steven Bernstein (Grammy nominated leader of Sex Mob), Jon Irabagon (Winner of the Thelonious Monk Intl. Saxophone Competition), Dave Taylor (NARAS Most Valuable Player Award), Brandon Seabrook (2012 Best Guitarist, Village Voice), Ron Stabinsky (piano), Moppa Elliott (DownBeat Rising Star Composer, Bassist, Arranger), Kevin Shea (2012 Best Drummer, Village Voice)

• DownBeat Critics’ Poll Winners: Rising Star Ensemble • El Intruso Jazz Group of the Year • El Intruso Best Band to See Live

 “After more than ten years, Mostly Other People Do the Killing sounds better than ever; reinvigorated, mischievous and perhaps more willing to take a deep breath in the midst of these multifaceted works.” – Karl Ackerman, All About Jazz

“If you thought the comic avant-garde free-jazz quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing went off the deep end years ago, it just found a deeper spot.” – Steve Greenlee, Jazz Times

“…uber-talented musicians who have fun with jazz tradition and the music itself.” – Kirk Silsbee, DownBeat

Hot Cup Records is proud to present Loafer’s Hollow, the second release by the septet lineup of Mostly Other People Do the Killing.  As always, bassist/bandleader Moppa Elliott juggles multiple sources of inspiration in his singularly inventive, irreverent fashion. Loafer’s Hollow draws upon the literary and the musical, containing eight new compositions that explore pre-bebop era jazz from the first half of the 20th century, five of them dedicated to influential authors.  Each of the compositions is named after the seemingly inexhaustible supply of oddly-christened towns in Elliott’s native Pennsylvania, as has been the case since the band’s earliest recordings.

Loafer’s Hollow is an attempt by Elliott to concentrate the style of MOPDtK by squeezing more musical material into a smaller space.  With hopes of encouraging listeners to engage with the album as a whole in this random-access era, the album clocks in at just over 40 minutes with compositions that are compact and dense but still allow the members of the ensemble to freely interpret the music. Whereas the first MOPDtK septet album, Red Hot, was directly influenced by the jazz and blues recordings of the 1920s and early ‘30s, Loafer’s Hollow owes a great debt to the music of the swing era, and Count Basie’s many ensembles in particular.  From the use of the piano as a melodic instrument to the wide assortment of mutes employed by the brass players, the sounds of the 1930s and 40s big bands and “swing song” tradition is constantly referenced.  Of course, this being a Mostly Other People Do the Killing album, there are innumerable other musical references waiting to be discovered by the astute listener.

With pieces written in homage to such ground-breaking literary figures as Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, James Joyce, Cormac McCarthy and David Foster Wallace, Elliott’s obvious choice was to title the album “Library” after a town south of Pittsburgh, PA.  After some research, it turned out that the town of Library had an interesting history, having been known as Loafer’s Hollow before the first library in the area was built there in 1833, lending the album its even more evocative, though equally apt, new name.

The “literary suite” opens with “Bloomsburg,” dedicated to James Joyce and the central character from his novel Ulysses, Leopold Bloom.  Elliott based the melody on the closing lines of Molly Bloom’s famous soliloquy, which ends the novel as she drifts off to sleep.  The brass players take turns trading fours while constantly changing mutes, creating a musical exchange that sounds like many more than two people. “Kilgore” is dedicated to Elliott’s favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, and his frequently recurring character, Kilgore Trout. Trout plays a central role in many Vonnegut novels, culminating in his appearance alongside the author in Timequake.  Trombonist Dave Taylor shares Elliott’s love of Vonnegut’s novels, so it was inevitable that Elliott would feature him prominently (and in the lowest possible octave) on this tune.

The reclusive author Thomas Pynchon often weaves songs in the form of lyrics into his novels, and in at least one instance named a novel after something Pennsylvania-related.  Mason and Dixon is Pynchon’s fictional account of the British surveyors who mapped the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland, and like many of his novels, the characters often break into song.  Elliott took one of these tuneless songs and composed a melody to fit Pynchon’s lyrics.  The track begins with a piano solo that originates from the harmony of “Kilgore” and works its way to “Mason and Dixon” featuring solos by Seabrook and Irabagon that dovetail seamlessly.

“Meridian” is based on the final passage of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian and a ruthless character referred to only as “The Judge.”  While the ending of the novel is dark and menacing, Elliott’s melody is wistful and nostalgic.  The opening chorale-like section gives way to bridge of the tune before making space for Steven Bernstein, intent on exploring the lower range of a trumpet he had recently brought back from the West coast. 

In David Foster Wallace’s epic novel Infinite Jest, it is mentioned in passing that one of the minor characters grew up in a town called Glen Riddle, PA.  Upon consulting his handy Pennsylvania state atlas (kept in his piano bench) Elliott realized that no such town exists.  The melody to this composition named after a nonexistent Pennsylvania town was inspired by the ending of the novel wherein one of the central characters (a recovering addict) recalls “hitting bottom.”  Infinite Jest explores the idea of information overload or having too much of a good thing and has been a major influence on the music and members of MOPDtK for several years.

Outside of the suite, the first two pieces, “Hi-Nella” and “Honey Hole,” jump rapidly from section to section, featuring the banjo and electronics of Brandon Seabrook in addition to an epic cadenza from Steven Bernstein and solos from Jon Irabagon and Dave Taylor. The album closes with a composition entitled “Five (Corners, Points, Forks)” after three towns in Pennsylvania whose names share the same first word.  The composition begins with a single theme that gradually expands as different members of the ensemble each take turns stating it.  The players are instructed to play no low notes in an attempt to simulate the sound of low-fi recordings from the 1920s.  Once the band is all in, the lower frequencies appear as a contrast to the earlier sections.  Elliott was inspired to write this piece after listening to Jelly Roll Morton’s music and wishing that it had been possible to record those pieces with booming bass frequencies. 

Over the past thirteen years, MOPDtK has earned a place at the forefront of jazz and improvised music, performing in a style that is at once rooted in the jazz tradition and highly improvised and unstructured.  Their initial albums explored the intersection between common practice hard-bop compositions and free improvisation, incorporating a kaleidoscopic wealth of other influences from pop music to the classical European repertoire.  In 2010, Elliott expanded the group’s framework and began exploring specific eras of jazz, resulting in 2011’s Slippery Rock (an investigation of smooth jazz and fusion styles) and 2012’s Red Hot (featuring an expanded lineup recalling the jazz and blues recordings of the late 1920s and early 1930s).

2014 saw the release of Blue, a note-for-note recreation of Miles Davis’ classic album, Kind of Blue that evoked a wide range of strong responses from both the public and critics and will likely be a part of the discussion of the state of jazz in the 21st century for years to come.  In 2015, the band returned to a quartet format for the album Mauch Chunk, which explored the hard-bop styles common in the 1950s.  Since the release of Mauch Chunk, all four members of the core quartet have released solo recordings including Moppa Elliott’s Still, Up In the Air, and pianist Ron Stabinsky’s Free For One, both on Hot Cup Records.

Steven Bernstein is best known as the leader of Sex Mob, The Millenial Territory Orchestra, and the Hot 9 with Henry Butler.  Sex Mob’s album Sexotica was nominated for a Grammy award in 2006.

Jon Irabagon works with Dave Douglas, Mary Halvorson, and Rudy Royston in addition to leading his own ensembles. He recently showcased his versatility by releasing a daring solo sopranino saxophone recording, Inaction is an Action and a straight-ahead jazz quintet recording on his Irabagast Records Label. 

Dave Taylor is one of the most recorded bass trombonists in history.  He has performed and recorded with everyone from Duke Ellington and Gil Evans to The Village People and Sting. 

Brandon Seabrook was named “Best Guitarist in New York” by the Village Voice and performs in a wide variety of contexts from traditional jazz to experimental noise-rock.  His band Seabrook Power Plant recently released their second album. 

Pianist Ron Stabinsky first joined MOPDtK in 2013 as part of a project at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam commemorating the anniversary of Eric Dolphy and Booker Little Live at the Five Spot. In addition to his work with MOPDtK, Stabinsky is an accompanist in virtually every possible context from classical recitals, to community choirs, to improvised music, jazz, pop, and rock.  Stabinsky lives in Plains, PA and is a member of the Peter Evans Quartet and Quintet, Charles Evans Quartet (no relation), and recently recorded his first solo album Free For One on Hot Cup Records.

Kevin Shea was named “Best Drummer in New York” by the Village Voice and regularly tours with the noise-rock-improv duo, Talibam! Shea recently released a third album with the band People featuring Mary Halvorson.

Bassist Moppa Elliott teaches music at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, NY and double bass and trombone at the Long Island Conservatory.  He also produces and releases albums on Hot Cup Records including his solo bass recording Still, Up in the Air.