http://www.kzmu.org/listen.m3u ~ Use this link to access the show online.
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Trumpeter Marquis Hill Set to Release Follow Up to
Critically Acclaimed EP with Modern Flows Vol. II
15 Original Compositions Continue to Blur Genre Lines
and Celebrate the Distinct Black Creative Forces
That Are Hip-Hop, Blues, Rock, Gospel, and
Modern Perception of Jazz
Available November 9 on Black Unlimited Music Group
Album Features Core Band of Josh Johnson,
Joel Ross, Junius Paul, and Jonathan Pinson with
Special Guests M’Reld Green, King Legend,
Braxton Cook, and Rachel Robinson
Hill— “a smart post-bop player who circumvents genre clichés by incorporating elements of hip-hop and contemporary R&B,” says the New Yorker—is uniquely and extraordinarily qualified for the job. He’s one of the most gifted trumpeters on the scene and arguably the finest of his generation—the victor of the 2014 Thelonious Monk competition, and the recipient of the Rising Star title for trumpet in the 2016 DownBeat Critics Poll. A Chicagoan now based in New York and barely into his 30s, Hill learned the jazz language during a thrilling period in hip-hop history and the golden age of neo-soul. In recent years, he’s developed a global reputation as a determined and tastefully innovative bandleader.
In shaping the 15 original pieces that comprise Modern Flows Vol. II, Hill assembled a group featuring other young masters—most of them raised in or near Chicago as well—who share his ability to blend virtuosity with a certain sonic rawness. The trumpeter tapped in alto saxophonist Josh Johnson for his highly personal sound and the positive challenges he presents as a frontline partner. “With a lot of players, you can tell they’ve checked out this person or transcribed that musician. When I hear Josh, I hear Josh,” Hill says. “I’m a firm believer that you should have people in your band who push you, and playing with Josh pushes the hell out of me.” In Joel Ross, Hill recruited the most buzzed-about and in-demand vibraphonist/marimbist currently in jazz.
For “the young genius,” as Hill calls Ross, the gig marks the achievement of a long-held goal. “I remember Joel coming to shows in Chicago and saying, ‘I wanna be in your band one day,’” Hill recalls. “And his time is now.” Junius Paul, a deft acoustic and electric bassist who focuses on the latter throughout Vol. II, is “like a walking library of music, and when he plays it just all comes out,” Hill says. He has also informed the trumpeter’s composing, in profound ways. “The type of basslines he naturally improvises, I try to mimic those and write the music around them,” he explains.
On drums is L.A.’s Jonathan Pinson, whose versatility and willingness to invent seem tailor-made for Hill’s genre-bending music. “He swings hard, and the music comes from that,” Hill says. “But he’s from the hip-hop generation, so he has a limitless number of grooves and beats.”
Chicago’s M’Reld Green does impassioned work on “Prayer for the People,” probing such social problems as gentrification, substance abuse and racial disparities in policing; on “Herstory,” she illuminates the plight of minority mothers, because the media won’t. Another brilliant Chicago wordsmith, King Legend, closes the album with a message of self-empowerment on “Legends Outro III.” Along the way, Vol. II takes additional inspired detours. “Kiss and Tell,” featuring singers Braxton Cook and Rachel Robinson, is a soulful dip into old-school R&B romance. Using a strategy he picked up by studying Count Basie, Hill forgoes any improvised solos on “Stellar,” and instead encourages his band to savor the beautiful melody. A brief but potent exercise in Dilla-esque beatmaking, “Smoke Break” pays tribute to a controversial healing herb—one that can be “necessary to the creative process,” especially for musicians working a 12-hour day in the studio, Hill says, chuckling.
For as long as Hill has been interested in the music of his community, he’s refused to entertain the notion of stylistic barriers. “It comes naturally; that’s the way I hear the music,” he says. “I was raised in a household where my mom played Motown, R&B, Isley Brothers, Barry White, Marvin Gaye… Then I received my first jazz record, by Lee Morgan, and that was added to the collection… I truly believe that the music is all the same.”
By the time he won the Monk competition (and its Concord recording contract) in the fall of 2014, Hill was a known commodity in Midwestern jazz, having played in the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and self-released several projects—including, just weeks prior, Modern Flows EP Vol. I. A move to New York that same year helped him elevate his national profile, as did his Concord Jazz debut of 2016, The Way We Play, a fantastic postmodern standards record. “The groove-laden arrangements provide the perfect soundscape for Hill’s fluid improvisational style, which, with its glass-like lucidity, recalls the crisp elegance of hard-bop stalwart Donald Byrd,” DownBeat commented. Hill has also been a powerhouse sideman for Marcus Miller, Joe Lovano, his trailblazing Chicago peer Makaya McCraven, and other heavyweights.
Modern Flows Vol. II, which Hill is releasing on his Black Unlimited Music Group imprint, is in many ways the definitive statement of his musical life up to this present moment—as a player, composer, bandleader, collaborator and, perhaps most important, as an artist with something to say. “If you look at my past projects, there’s always been some kind of message,” Hill explains. “Because the greatest music, the music that lasts, has some kind of message. That’s what I try to aim for.”
Josh Johnson - Alto Saxophone
Joel Ross - Vibraphone
Junius Paul - Bass
Jonathan Pinson - Drums
M’Reld Green, King Legend, Braxton Cook, and Rachel Robinson
1 Modern Flows II Intro (feat. Brandon Alexander Williams) [Explicit] 1:53
2 Twin Flame 6:00
3 Ego vs. Spirit 8:13
4 The Watcher 5:52
5 It Takes a Village (feat. Brandon Alexander Willams) 2:16
6 Prayer for the People (feat. M'reld Green) 6:05
7 Moments of Flow 6:02
8 Smoke Break 1:55
9 Kiss and Tell (feat. Braxton Cook & Rachel Robinson) 4:51
10 It's All Beautiful 3:33
11 As I Am 6:03
12 Herstory (feat. M'reld Green) 2:57
13 Stellar 4:38
14 Law of Vibrations 5:34
15 Legend's Outro III (feat. King Legend) 2:32
The prodigal son of Portuguese jazz is finally on record. Since his teenager years until he became a young man (25 years old in 2018) we get used to only hear him on stage, improvising with the tunes of American masters like Charlie Parker, “Cannonball” Adderley, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, among many others of different times in the “jazz continuum”. Now, we can seat at our homes and listen to his superb alto sax playing his own compositions. With one exception: Herbie Hancock’s “The Sorcerer”. Ricardo Toscano managed to interpret the tradition simultaneously with the same authenticity of the originals (really? really!) and with a remarkable freshness of approach, as if an old standard was something completely new. He keeps doing it, but the inevitable (considering his superlative capacities) happened: he’s playing now his own inner world, born from Toscano’s many auditions of the jazz patrimony. Or patrimonies, because this force of life is a fundamental contributor to the avant / groovy music of Marco Barroso’s Lisbon Underground Music Ensemble, also known as LUME (Fire in English), at the same time dedicating himself to the compositions of the late Bernardo Sassetti and beginning partnerships with free improvisers like Rodrigo Pinheiro, Miguel Mira and Gabriel Ferrandini. Step by step, with no urgencies and refusing to be obfuscated by fame and success, Toscano oppened his space of action and is now a more complete musician. This CD, named after the quartet he founded with the like minded (and like aged, like talented) João Pedro Coelho, Romeu Tristão and João Lopes Pereira, marks a new beginning in his ascensional path. It’s impossible to know what the future brings to him, but one thing is for sure: it’s going to be great.
Ricardo Toscano saxophone
João Pedro Coelho piano
Romeu Tristão double bass
João Lopes Pereira drums
Recorded March 13th 2018 at Auditório de Espinho, Portugal by Mário Barreiros | Mixed and mastered by Mário Barreiros
Produced by Ricardo Toscano | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Cover photo by Madalena Meneses | Design by Travassos
The title says it all: here is music conceived under the influence of Albert Ayler, author of seminal free jazz pieces like “Bells” and “Ghosts” and one of the most celebrated interpreters of a gospel hymn specially cared by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino, “When the Saints Go Marching In”. The name of the band (The Way Ahead) has the same referential weight: the way to go is in front of us, and you’ll find it while walking, as the poet (Federico Garcia Lorca) wrote. On the back there is history, and beyond you have the unknown. Each direction feeds from the other. The procedure could describe the respect that the present day American jazz has regarding its past, but this septet is Scandinavian, reuniting some of the best musicians active in Norway and Sweden. This explains why “Bells, Ghosts and Other Saints” seems simultaneously so familiar and so strange: the connection to the American jazz tradition is solid, but it comes without a cultural vinculation. As Europeans, Roligheten, Alberts, Barnö, Äleklint, Ståhl, Høyer and Østvang don’t feel the obligation to reproduce the exact parameters of the chosen materials, preferring it´s re-creation. The free jazz paradigm is free from itself, not to refuse it on the process, but to face it with fresh ears. The results are as much intriguing as they’re astonishing.
André Roligheten tenor saxophone and clarinet
Kristoffer Alberts alto and baritone saxophone
Niklas Barnö trumpet
Mats Äleklint trombone
Mattias Ståhl vibraphone
Ola Høyer double bass
Tollef Østvang drums
Tracks 1 and 7 by Tollef Østvang (TONO/NCB) | Tracks 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 by Andre´ Roligheten (TONO/NCB)
Recorded September 16th 2017 by Marcus Forsgren at Studio Paradiso, Oslo, Norway | Mixed and mastered by Mats Äleklint, Stockholm, Sweden
Produced by The Way Ahead | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos
Wonderful news coming from the Bay Area, even considering that the participants in this ad hoc trio originated from elsewhere—one from Detroit, another from Heathfield / England and the third from Los Angeles. The recording of Lantskap Logic took place at Mills College in Oakland—where Fred Frith directed the Improvisation program until he retired this year—and specifically at the Mills Chapel, both for reasons of sound and for the chapel’s pipe organ, the favored instrument of in-and out-side pianist, improviser, composer, vocalist, synthesist and teacher, Evelyn Davis. Like Frith, Davis works on multiple fronts, from alternative rock to avant jazz and experimental music, in groups like Frankenixon, Cheer Accident and Chiromancer. Frith was one of the founders, at the end of the Sixties, of the “rock in opposition” band Henry Cow, and established a reputation as one of the great revolutionaries of the grammar and the lexicon of both the electric and the acoustic guitars. They have a like-minded companion in Phillip Greenlief, a prolific composer and saxophonist whose biography includes solo performances and collaborations with figures as diverse as Wadada Leo Smith, Meredith Monk and They Might Be Giants, as well as fronting electro-acoustic ensembles and inter-disciplinary orchestras. What emerges from this partnership couldn’t be more Californian: the intensity of listening in response to space and sonority, the reconciliation of elegance with free expression, the ecstatic eclecticism. Yes, profane improvised music can be as beautiful as a sacred hymn.
Evelyn Davis pipe organ
Fred Frith electric guitar
Phillip Greenlief alto and tenor saxophones
Recorded at the Mills College Chapel /February 25, 2013 by Karen Stackpole | Mixed at Guerilla Recordings, Oakland / March 9, 2017 / Mastered at Headless Buddha | Mastering Lab, Oakland, October 10th, 2018 by Myles Boisen
Produced by Davis/Frith/Greenlief | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos | Cover photo: Heike Liss
Mesophase is a term used in physics describing a state of matter that is neither liquid nor solid, sharing properties of both while defining a state unique unto itself. By extension, the concept can also apply to a reconciliation of emotional polarities or conflicting ideas. Zack Clarke leverages the idea of a mesophase as a vehicle for musical expression through the synthesis of disparate musical forces. His album “Mesophase” unites the natural and the human-made, bringing together acoustic and electronic elements in profound and unusual ways. The result is a music that is not defined by genre, taking essential elements from improvisation, electronic music and through-composed writing. With this combination of approaches, the pianist and composer from New York creates harmonic and melodic forms that translate through multiple mediums. Clarke refers to the process of creating the album as “feeling less like construction and more like a discovery and translation of something that is already there.” After the initial success and critical acclaim of his first Clean Feed release, “Random Acts of Order,” Clarke takes a bold and significant step forward with this record, as he expands his previous approach to electro-acoustic music through the incorporation of a score for an ensemble of musicians. Performed by some of New York City’s finest up-and-coming improvisors, the outcome is a vibrant palette of unique instrumentation and modern synthetic sound that delivers a powerful and thought-provoking listening experience.
Chris Irvine cello
Charlotte Greve saxophone, clarinet, flute
Nick Dunston double bass
Leonid Galaganov percussion, waterphone, shakuhachi
1 Curtain 06:24
2 Generative 08:14
3 Infiltration 02:00
4 Beggar 04:41
5 Tilted 04:48
6 Reticence 05:35
7 Frontier 04:14
8 Assimilate 05:48
9 Bridge 05:40
10 Bravery 05:37
All compositions by Zack Clarke
Recorded April 25th 2017 by Jim Clouse at Park West Studios, Brooklyn, NY | Mixed and mastered by Dave Darlington, Bass Hit Studios, New York, NY
Produced by Zack Clarke | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos
Here is a record of crossed challenges. A band (The Assassins) with a vocation to improvise freely is co-operating with a classical chamber string ensemble (Florence Art Quartet) specialized in the interpretation of written compositions, determining a very special way to combine two different musical worlds. Drummer Francesco Cusa assumed that task as a composer and an improviser and asked for an experienced partner in order to establish the necessary arrangements and applied strategies, someone who works either with jazz big bands and symphonic orchestras, Duccio Bertini. Italian creative jazz may not be widely known outside of its frontiers, but considering what “Black Poker” show us, we wonder why this happens. The music is organized by parallel planes and these frequently imply the gradual re-composition of the original ideas, in a constant renewal and adaptation of all the parameters. Always searching for the best combination of what comes from the two quartets, without “jazzifying” the strings or turning classical the jazz combo, what you find here is pure gold. That something which defines a good poker player «who deals with hazard and parsimony», to use Cusa’s own words.
Giulio Stermieri hammond, piano
Flavio Zanuttini trumpet, electronics
Giovanni Benvenuti tenor sax
Florence Art Quartet:
Daniele Iannaccone violin
Lorenzo Borneo violin
Agostino Mattioni viola
Cristiano Sacchi cello
Duccio Bertini keyboards (on “Elegia”)
The musical identity of this trio remains consistent with their eponymus debut album, released four years ago – exemplified by fluctuating tonal centers and the interaction made of convergences and divergences. And yet, its components are now more clear, because the music feels more transparent: it sounds an American folk music from another dimension in the multiverse, a folk music filled with twisted and bizarre – but very explicit – rock and jazz elements. No wonder: the guitar is played by one of the top rock musicians in Portugal, Tó Trips, founder and member of the country-fadorock-jazz band Dead Combo; the bassist is John Klima, an intermedia artist from Redondo Beach, USA, for some years living in Portugal, who in the past was involved with the pop-rock group later identified as The Presidents of the United States of America; the zither, the electronics and occasional field recordings are manipulated by a veteran of Portuguese experimental and improvised music, Adriana Sá. She has specialized herself in the interaction of her instruments and body with reactive software, and once again we see this in “Urban Season”: her playing of the zither, with hands or bow, ignite all the electronic processing and found sounds as if by magic. And magical, mesmerizing and mysterious the music is indeed, very different from everything else you heard before.
Adriana Sá zither, reactive software, field recordings
John Klima electric fretless bass
Tó Trips electric guitar and percussion