Thursday, August 9, 2018

Debra Mann "Full Circle The Music of Joni Mitchell " on WHALING CITY SOUND (August 24, 2018)

Joni Mitchell’s metamorphosis from acoustic chanteuse of folk music to sophisticated performer of jazz (accompanied by geniuses like Pastorius, Shorter, Metheny, and Brecker) made an indelible impression on Debra Mann. “Joni’s lyrics, combined with her gorgeous melodies, carried on the wind of her unique voice, struck deep chords of feeling within me.”

Mann was first introduced to the music of Joni Mitchell in a poetry appreciation class in junior high school. “We listened to songs by various artists and discussed the hidden meaning in the lyrics.” She hadn’t heard of Joni Mitchell until then, but once she had, her world would be forever changed, as she was awakened to her own emerging voice as a musician. “I was of the impressionable age of fifteen, when I had a great curiosity and openness to the world and was sorting out the landscape of life and love, with its hopes and promises, as well as its disappointments. Joni’s music helped to frame and clarify that world through her honest self-reflection and keen insight.”
Fast forward a few years. Mann has graduated from Berklee College of Music, performed at Boston’s Symphony Hall, as a featured guest soloist with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra, performed at the request of Frank Sinatra, and performed with her trio on Ron Dellachiesa’s WGBH radio program “Music America” in celebration of Women’s History Month. Mann, a piano and voice teacher (Brown University and Wheaton College), continues to perform in clubs and concert halls throughout New England. Five years ago, she began performing interpretations of Mitchell’s music with her jazz quintet. The concept caught on quickly.

Full Circle: The Music of Joni Mitchell (Whaling City Sound) reflects on a lifetime of admiration for an artist who has been uncompromising in her approach to music, and celebrates the occasion of Mitchell turning 75 years old this year. “This is very inspiring material to work with,” says Mann. “Joni’s music stirs powerful emotions with its universal themes and timeless beauty.”

Peter Nelson - Ash, Dust and the Chalkboard Cinema (Outside In Music August 31, 2018)

Trombonist/Composer Peter Nelson Triumphs Over His Five-Year Struggle with Mysterious Chronic Pain on Stunning New Album

Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema, out August 31 on Outside In Music, features three ensembles taking listeners on a narrative journey through suffering, discovery and healing

“Peter Nelson is an exciting and creative trombonist making waves on the NYC jazz scene.  If his name is on it, you know you are getting something good! With the music world brimming with talent more than ever, Peter’s one to keep an eye on.”
– Michael Dease, award-winning trombonist and educator

“Nelson has a sweet, stutter shuttled virtuosity on his valveless instrument of mystical musical astronomers, floating on deep rhythmic currents.”
– Kitty Montgomery, Chamber Music America

With the evocatively titled Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema, trombonist/composer Peter Nelson retraces his five-year struggle with a debilitating condition that threatened to end his career as a musician just as it was entering its ascendancy. The album’s vivid compositions and enthralling playing draw the listener in to experience the grueling emotional journey that Nelson undertook, from the onset of mysterious symptoms through the isolating battle with physical and mental pain through the rigor of healing and the joy and revelation of recovery.

Due out August 31 via Outside In Music, Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema enlists three different ensembles to tell its compelling story, all featuring Nelson on trombone: an ethereal trio featuring vibraphonist Nikara Warren and the wordless vocals of Alexa Barchini; a hard-swinging quartet with pianist Willerm Delisfort, bassist Raviv Markovitz, and drummer Itay Morchi; and a brilliant septet supplementing the quartet with alto saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, trumpeter Josh Lawrence, and bass clarinetist Yuma Uesaka.

A native of Lansing, Michigan, Nelson earned his degree in Jazz Studies at Michigan State University, where he studied with heavy hitters like bassist Rodney Whitaker. After recording two albums in his home state he decided to move to Brooklyn in 2013, and soon found himself performing with longtime heroes like pianist/bandleader Orrin Evans and drummer Matt Wilson. Almost simultaneously, however, he started to develop strange symptoms while playing.

At first the issues were minor: small, localized pain and subtle feelings of anxiety. Before long, the symptoms escalated to include chronic hyperventilation, severe shortness of breath, and excruciating pain in the face down his back and arms. “Here I was playing with a lot of my heroes, in musical settings that I’d dreamed about and I spent a lot of time trying to cultivate,” Nelson recalls. “And it became very difficult to be on the bandstand while at the same time fighting my horn and fighting my body. It felt like a physically violent way of losing my medium for relating to the world, and was emotionally and spiritually crippling.”

Nelson sought the help of innumerable doctors, physiologists and educators, failing to find satisfactory answers from any source. After more than a year and a half of intense pain and frustrating questions, Nelson found his way to physiologist and trombonist Jan Kagarice, one of the world’s leading authorities on musicians’ health. Kagarice diagnosed him with focal dystonia, chronic hyperventilation and Chvostek sign, and in a single lesson reversed 60% of his pain, immediately allowing him to play again.

His symptoms, it turned out, were the result not of some curious illness but of bad pedagogy – bad habits inherited from teachers working from a misunderstanding of the human body and the physical process of making music. “The stereotype is that brass players have chops problems and difficulty with endurance,” he explains. “But the entirety of brass pedagogy is not only physiologically destructive but physics-wise has very little to do with how sound is actually made.”

Five years after the onset of his symptoms, Nelson is fully recovered and playing as beautifully as ever, pain-free. Writing the ten compositions on this album meant excavating a number of difficult feelings, but the trombonist was intent on engaging fully and honestly with the full spectrum of his ordeal. He brings his experiences vividly to life with the help of his gifted collaborators, each of whom have played an important part in his life in one context or another, from the bandstand to the classroom. 

Nelson is hesitant to reveal the meaning behind his somewhat cryptic album title, but a few themes emerge: Ash and Dust make obvious references to things crumbling away and left behind, referring perhaps to the composer’s symptoms or incorrect approaches. The Chalkboard Cinema, meanwhile, suggests the somewhat illusory nature of education, jazz education in particular – lessons taught as gospel but more akin to the flickering images of the silver screen.

Ash, Dust, and the Chalkboard Cinema traces each step along Nelson’s road to recovery, from the creeping onset in “It Starts Slowly (First in Your Heart)” to the confounding spiral of “Cyclical Maze (Round and Round We Go)” through the zen-like mantra “Do Nothing (If Less Is More),” a tribute to Kagarice and her life-altering teachings. “Behind Kind Eyes (Thank You)” is a meditation on the loss of a loved one, a nod to the tragedies that can occur around us while we’re struggling through our own, while “Closure is a Wasted Prayer (Release, Relax)” ends with the ambiguous acknowledgment that expecting any chapter of life to neatly draw to a conclusion is a fool’s errand.

“We always want closure,” Nelson says, “but it’s an almost laughable concept. I’m always going to be dealing with dystonia, but it’s not something that controls my life. The idea of putting a cap on this whole process does a disservice to the process of excavating these feelings and dealing with them. Everything that I learned about brass playing -- and more importantly about myself and what music-making really means to me –those lessons are priceless and I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Justin Kauflin - Coming Home (September 14, 2018)

For Immediate Release

Justin Kauflin Sonically Paints a Picture of His Global Home On New Album Coming Home

Justin Kauflin’s forthcoming album Coming Home Produced By Quincy Jones and Derrick Hodge

Home is where you hang your hat, or so the old adage goes. For Justin Kauflin, critically acclaimed and accomplished jazz pianist and composer, the last few years home has been many places. Originally from Virginia, Kauflin’s touring schedule, has taken him across the nation and abroad expanding and growing the idea of home. Kauflin lost his sight when he was 11 years old, but his travels are still a visual experience. Through the sounds and feelings of a city or space, he can see vibrant and captivating scenes of moving psychedelic colors. On the forthcoming album, Kauflin invites others to experience the world from his perspective as he sonically paints the homes he has found throughout his global travels.

Coming Home will be Kauflin’s third release, and second with the tastemaker imprint Qwest Records. With this release he ventures into new sonic territory bringing in more modern influences of synths, electric guitar and bass. Kauflin said, “I’ve always loved music that had a good groove to it, whether it was swing or funk. With Corey Fonville’s help, we got into all sorts of great feeling grooves that I can’t wait to share.”

From the start, recording Coming Home was electric. Quincy Jones and Derrick Hodge produced the album at Quincy Jones’ infamous Westlake Studios (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Frank Ocean). Kauflin was joined by Chris Smith on acoustic and electric bass, Corey Fonville on drums and percussions, and Alan Parker on acoustic and electric guitar. The musicians had a blast bringing the album to life. Kauflin recalls, “Derrick was in there with us bringing such positivity and encouragement. I feel as if I was able to be more authentically me because Derrick was there to give me that confidence. He was an incredible catalyst for much of how the songs took shape. And if that wasn’t enough, to have Quincy overseeing the proceedings and giving his guidance and experience brought everything together in such a beautiful way.”

The album is 13 tracks that resonate emotions and transport the listener across space and time. The lead single “Coming Home,” due out August 17, opens the album and evokes Kauflin’s southern sensibilities. He comments “This song serves as an invitation to join me as I share how I experience the world around me through colors and vibrant ever-shifting textures and shapes. Alan Parker’s acoustic guitar inserts that down home feeling from my home in Virginia.” Another standout is “Lost,” Kauflin mentions, “As exciting as traveling the world has been, there have certainly been times where I’ve felt disconnected and out of my element. This is not just a feeling that is connected to where I am physically. This also delves into how I feel emotionally at times. Life itself can leave one feeling quite lost.”

The album also includes an ode to his time spent living in Brooklyn with the cover of “John My Beloved.” An impromptu on the spot session with Derrick Hodge created “ Something Somethin.” A tribute to Kauflin’s favorite food, fried chicken, most famously found in his home state on the track, “Country Fried.” “Pendulum” is about New York, and the feeling that at times it is the greatest place on earth and at others it is overwhelming. And “Strawberry Fields” as solo and band-accompanied tracks, Kauflin comments “I’ve always found the idea of an imaginary place where one can find refuge to be incredibly attractive. It is such a perfect marriage of harmony and melody and it conjures up this barely out of reach sensation, as if the place for which I’m looking is just right around the next corner.” He continues, “When I know what I’m really looking for is actually inside.”

Justin Kauflin is a pianist extraordinaire and an undeniably rare talent. He is an alumnus of the William Paterson University jazz program, mentee, protégé, and bandmate of legendary Clark Terry (winner of the 2010 Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz), signed to Quincy Jones’ management artist roster and label, and featured in the critically acclaimed film “Keep On Keepin’ On” which chronicled Kauflin’s friendship, and mentorship with Clark Terry. He has appeared on The Queen Latifah Show and the TODAY show and he was invited to perform at the Library of Congress. Kauflin has toured with Quincy Jones on a few world tours and is currently playing at international jazz clubs, and festivals.

Justin Kauflin is planning a tour to support the new album. He is excited to get back on the road and create new experiences with his music. He comments, “We had a great time in the studio, but I’m confident that each of the tracks will take a whole new life once we get a chance to take them out and play them in front of audiences. What will happen on tour will be a combination of what we created for the album and the energy we feel from the crowd.”

Check out and follow his tour dates here.

Coming Home
Looking Forward
Country Fried
John My Beloved
Present Day
Strawberry Fields
Somethin' Somethin'
Somethin' Somethin' Revisited
The Carousel
Strawberry Fields Solo


Alan Parker

Chris Smith

Corey Fonville

iTunes Pre-Orders
with instant grats
available August 17!

Kate Reid - The Heart Already Knows (2018)


KATE REID is an artist who’s not afraid to take chances. On her new CD, THE HEART ALREADY KNOWS (July 30, 2018), the vocalist performs a program of tunes of varied provenance and styles accompanied by only a piano or guitar. THE HEART ALREADY KNOWS is Reid’s third CD. She’s also a pianist, and played as well as sang on her two previous projects, which featured some of the top L.A. musicians, including Ernie Watts, who appeared on THE LOVE I’M IN in 2011.

She released her first project, SENTIMENTAL MOOD, in 2000. Both CDs received wide acclaim from fans and critics, as well as airplay in several major U.S. markets. Reid performs as a duo and with her trio and quartet at jazz venues in the Los Angeles and Miami areas.  

Reid is a nuanced singer, attuned to the subtleties of a song’s lyrics and harmonic structure. The duo setting is the perfect vehicle for Reid’s jazz explorations and sexy, smoky, alto voice. “For me, the experience of making the CD was just as important as the outcome,” says Reid. “I hadn’t worked with four of the five musicians before. I wanted this to be a journey of discovery. The essence of jazz is spontaneity; therefore, little to no rehearsals worked well for this project. 

Although I didn’t know most of the musicians, I learned so much about them and their playing after spending hours in the studio, sharing ideas and creating music together.” Reid arranged most of the tunes on this disc.

PETER ELDRIDGE, the critically acclaimed vocalist, pianist, composer, and founding member of the internationally acclaimed vocal group New York Voices, produced the CD. Reid met Eldridge when the New York Voices were just starting out, and the group appeared at the college Reid was attending. Through the years, they became friends through various jazz events and conferences. Peter helped her pick the tunes and encouraged her to perform music outside the jazz genre. He also helped her choose the musicians, and, being a superb storyteller himself, he helped Reid with her approach to the material on this record.  

The musicians they chose are all at the top of their game and well-known leaders in their own right. FRED HERSCH’s star perhaps shines the brightest in this firmament of jazz luminaries. With a career that spans more than three decades, Hersch is a ten-time Grammy Award nominee and continues to earn jazz’s most prestigious awards, including the distinction of 2018 Jazz Pianist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association. Hersch accompanies Reid on three tunes. “No More” is a moody ballad often associated with Billie Holiday who said it was one of her favorite songs. Irene Kral also did a well-known version of it. Reid decided to do “If I Should Lose You” in the studio. Luckily, it’s one of Hersch’s favorite tunes. The duo performed the song in just one take. “Lazin’ Around” is an original by Hersch. The sweet lyrics, which were written by Hersch, belies the complicated melody that Reid sings flawlessly. 

TAYLOR EIGSTI is a young pianist who has already received two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Solo and Best Instrumental Composition in 2006. He accompanies Reid on “Busy Being Blue,” a tune written by Eldridge and Jack Donohue. Reid, who is the Director of the Jazz Vocal Performance program and Associate Professor of jazz voice in the Studio Music and Jazz department at the Frost School of Music, relates “I sang this tune during the interview for the teaching position at Frost, and I was told the performance helped me get the job." Eigsti also plays on James Taylor’s “The Secret of Life” on which Reid really captures the philosophical nature of the lyrics. 

Reid is also backed by three stellar guitarists. PAUL MEYERS has played with a Who’s Who of jazz luminaries and released several critically acclaimed CDs of his own. He and Reid perform together on the Strayhorn/Ellington classic “Something to Live For.” Reid loves the song because it doesn’t use the typical AABA pattern and Ellington is one of her favorites. She also has a particular attachment to his music because her husband, Steve Reid, played trumpet in Mercer Ellington’s band for eight years. Reid and Meyers also do a very bluesy rendition of “Just A Lucky So and So.” 

Guitarist LARRY KOONSE is one of the busiest musicians on the L.A. jazz scene. He has appeared as a sideman on dozens of CDs as well as releasing his own projects. Reid and Koonse do a straight-ahead version of “Confessin,” a happy, upbeat love song that Reid likes for its wordplay. The two of them also perform “Two Grey Rooms,” a dark, imagistic Joni Mitchell tune arranged here by Eldridge.  

ROMERO LUBAMBO is a rising star Brazilian guitarist. A versatile musician, he plays everything from Brazilian rhythms to hard bop. He performs with Reid on “Endless Stars,” composed by Fred Hersch with lyrics by Norma Winstone. He also plays on “Minds of Their Own,” an Ivan Lins composition with lyrics by Peter Eldridge. As Reid relates, “Romero set the tempo, and we just went with it!” 

THE HEART ALREADY KNOWS is an intimate project that comprises a mix of standards, modern jazz compositions, and pop tunes that take on new life in the hands of these A-list musicians. Reid is a singer who approaches a song with the ear of a piano player and arranger. She can swing and be sexy while capturing the heart of a lyric.

Paul Meyers guitar (1,7)
Larry Koonse guitar (2,4)
Fred Hersch piano (3,9,11)
Romero Lubambo guitar (5,10)
Taylor Eigsti piano (6,8)

1. Something to Live For  (4:46)
2. Confessin’ (3:33)
3. No More  (3:17)
4. Two Grey Rooms  (4:15)
5. Endless Stars  (3:15)
6. Busy Being Blue  (7:02)
7. Just a Lucky So and So  (4:46)
8. Secret o’ Life  (3:58)
9. If I Should Lose You  (3:58)
10. Minds of Their Own  (5:13)
11. Lazin’ Around  (3:38)  

Produced by Peter Eldridge All songs arranged by Kate Reid  except Secret o’Life arranged by Taylor Eigsti & Kate Reid,  Two Grey Rooms arranged by Peter Eldridge, and Lazin’ Around arranged by Fred Hersch

Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine "A Tribute To The Great Voices In Jazz" Sun., Aug. 26th 7PM BERNARDO WINERY San Diego, CA

New CD

Bob Mintzer, Eric Marienthal,
Holly Hoffman & Dean Brown

The Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine, a 39 year fixture in the Southern California jazz scene plays modern big band compositions in a variety of styles and sound for this, their 5th CD. Featured guest artists on this project are Yellowjackets saxophonist and composer, Bob Mintzer, Alto saxophonist Eric Marienthal, Dean Brown, former Brecker Brothers guitarist and composer and Flutist, Holly Hofmann. Compositions include originals by Mintzer and Brown, arrangements by Mike Abene, Alan Baylock, Mike Crotty, Peter Herbolzheimer, Tom Kubis, Carl Murr and Eric Richards.

Ever since he was drum major of the award winning Patrick Henry High School Band back in the early 1970’s in San Diego CA and voted Most Valuable Band Member his senior year, Ira B. Liss was destined in life to be a big band leader. Since then he has had extensive experience in all phases of the music and entertainment industry at the local, regional and national levels including stints in music management, retail/wholesale music product sales, talent booking, concert production and promotion, music education, record producer, saxophonist and bandleader.

At 6’7” tall, Ira B. Liss is literally head and shoulders above the crowd and is Southern California’s most watchable band leader. The Ira B. Liss Big Band Jazz Machine, his 18 piece jazz orchestra was founded in February 1979. His performance credits include working with such world class artists as Bob Mintzer, Bobby Caldwell, Rob McConnell, George Shearing, Eric Marienthal, Dean Brown, Gary Foster, John Guerin, Bob Stone, The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Shirley Jones, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Barbara Morrison, Holly Hofmann and Peter Sprague to only name a few.

“Ira Liss is one of those special folks who keeps the big band idiom alive and moving forward. It is no easy feat to sustain a big band and create a forum for the music. I truly enjoy working with Ira and his band, and am honored to have the band record one of my compositions”

—Bob Mintzer

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