Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Arturo O'Farrill Sextet - Boss Level (2016)

Source & Label: Zoho

I used to hate video games and blamed the world’s evils on them. That’s easy to do, blame something unrelated for something else. Then I had offspring. One Christmas I relented and we got a game system. Christmas Eve, I started to gift wrap the system and thought “why not?” Let’s make sure this thing works and is age appropriate (I was 37 at the time).

Three hours later, I feel exhilarated. I’ve been floating, running, jumping, swimming, sliding, disappearing, materializing and having an amazing time. All set to a cartoonlike music that is as wide stylistically as the worlds are geographically. And what worlds: desert worlds, underwater worlds, space worlds, haunted worlds, an endless assortment of colors, sights, and sounds.

At every world, one gains mastery over skills that allow you to move to the next, balancing, thinking, timing, and reflex skills. It’s either learn them or game over. At the end of each world, you must fight the boss. And, me oh my, what bosses! Big rainbow-colored bosses, slithery serpent-like bosses, tiny bosses, bosses that breath fire, bosses that stomp on you, in short, bosses with no charm whatsoever.

Believe it or not, life is somewhat like this, a place of magic and adventure, a place of many worlds, many skills and, most certainly, evil and un-charming battles. But herein lies the tale. As you rise to meet the challenges the universe throws at you, as you slay the dragons and bosses that would steal from you your joy and essence, you realize that, like a video game, none of this really belongs to us, that joy comes from within, from your determination, from your mastery, and that until you get that final game over, this is a fine place to be after all. Read more...

01. Miss Stephanie 8:33
02. True That 7:18
03. The Moon Follows Us Wherever We Go 9:11
04. Circle Games 7:50
05. Maine Song 7:13
06. Compay Doug 8:47
07. Not Now, Right Now 5:06
08. In Whom I Am Well Pleased 9:29
09. V. F. S. 6:31
10. Peace 4:22 

Livio Almeida tenor saxophone
Shawn Conley bass
Adam O’Farrill trumpet
Arturo O’Farrill piano
Zack O’Farrill drums
Travis Reuter guitar


Fernando Huergo - Hashtag (2016)

Source & Label: Zoho

While the tango is the heartbeat of Argentina’s bustling capital city, Buenos Aires, 600 miles to the north in Santiago del Estero the characteristic rhythm is chacarera, a 6/8 folkloric rural counterpoint to the cosmopolitan tango. Between the two cultural centers lies Cordoba, hometown of bassist-composer Fernando Huergo. A longtime resident of Boston and currently a Professor at Berklee College of Music, Huergo grew up listening to Argentine tango and folklore, along with American jazz. He represents all of those seemingly disparate elements from his own musical makeup on Hashtag.

“It’s kind of a combination of who I am,” he says of his seventh recording as a leader and debut for ZOHO Music. “I’m from Argentina, I love the music from there, is in my blood. I love Astor Piazzolla and I love folklore music, but I also love Duke, Monk, Mingus and Benny Golson and all the jazz greats. So I tried to combine those things and create something hopefully interesting.”

What Huergo has created on Hashtag is a collection of powerfully compelling tunes that incorporate folkloric traditions, courtesy of Franco Pinna’s deep understanding of Argentinean musical styles and Yulia Musayelyan’s stellar flute work, along with modernist flourishes from Leo Genovese’s Fender Rhodes electric piano, Rick DiMuzio’s urgent blowing on tenor sax and the leader’s impeccable electric bass lines.

“I’m very lucky to be playing with these guys for a while now,” says Huergo of his bandmates. “They’re such heavy players. Yulia, who is from Moscow, is amazing. I love her sound. It’s the color of the folkloric music that was missing before when I just had a tenor in the band. Yulia is very deep into Latin music and she has a great talent for improvising melodies. Rick is just one of my favorite tenor players anywhere, beautiful sound and lines, a true Boston legend. Leo’s contribution is wonderful not only for his own harmonic world that he brings to the music but for his knowledge of the traditions and his fresh approach to them.” Huergo prominently features Musayelyan and DiMuzio on the intricate unison and harmony lines that characterize his writing throughout Hashtag, like on the surging title, which opens the collection with a bang.

“I love the sound of those two instruments together and those guys have such a blend. I really enjoy the intonation and the warm sound that they get.” Pinna’s crisp, rapid-fire, drum ‘n’ bass-inspired work on the kit fuels this bristling opener while Genovese supplies a crackling Rhodes solo. Huergo also exhibits tremendous facility, uncanny articulation and remarkable lyricism in his solo on this energized number. He cites Jaco Pastorius as a major influence on his approach to the electric bass guitar. “He’s like Trane, Bird, or Herbie,” says Fernando. “If you’re a modern player, you can’t avoid the guy. I think there are very few musicians who had an impact like Jaco did on the bass. He changed the whole spectrum.”

A folkloric aspect comes into play strongly on the driving Trunca which is underscored by Pinna’s infectious chacarera groove. “Franco is from Tucuman in the north of Argentina, an area very rich in folkloric traditions,” explains Huergo. “He has mastered all those rhythms and adapted them to the drum set in a very unique and personal way.” This dynamic offering also showcases Musayelyan’s brilliant flute playing and has DiMuzio stretching heroically on a robust tenor solo.

The beautiful ballad Cerca has Pinna switching to brushes and fellow Argentine Genovese playing gentle piano. “Cerca means ‘close,’ and it’s dedicated to my kids,” explains the composer. DiMuzio delivers a dusky tenor solo and Musayelyan follows with a luminous flute solo. Genovese’s delicate touch and sparse approach on his piano solo here is simply sublime.  Read more...

01. Hashtag
02. Trunca Beat
03. Cerca
04. Evidence
05. Troesma
06. Falling
07. Infant Eyes
08. Weather
09. Afternoon at the Gallery
10. Afro Blue
11. Astor
12. U.M.M.G.

RICK DiMUZIO tenor sax
FERNANDO HUERGO electric bass
LEO GENOVESE piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano



Michael Blake - Fulfillment (2016)

Source & Label: Songlines

“Blake gets incredible range from his band here…beautiful stuff for our ears…[not] any less great than Joshua Redman or Banford Marsalis or even Sonny Rollins.”

– Will Layman, PopMatters, reviewing In the Grand Scheme of Things
Over the last 9 years, New York saxophonist Michael Blake has been periodically returning to Vancouver, which he left in 1986, to create and record new works with his pick of Vancouver improvisers. Amor de Cosmos (2007), a sextet somewhat inspired by his BC roots, featured Chris Gestrin, Dylan van der Schyff and André Lachance. In the Grand Scheme of Things (2012) was by his Variety Hour quartet (Gestrin, van der Schyff and JP Carter). This new release, his most ambitious in terms of writing and arranging, adds cello and guitar plus guest instrumentalists and, on two pieces, Michael’s own lyrics. It is also his most conceptual work since his debut as leader, Kingdom of Champa (1997), his jazz portrait of Vietnam. This time the connection is, more indirectly, with India. Originally titled The Komagata Maru Blues, this suite of music was inspired by a tragic immigration incident in Vancouver in 1914, when a Japanese freighter carrying several hundred East Indian immigrants (almost all Sikh) was turned away using exclusionist, racists laws. Michael has a family connection to this history through his great grand uncle H.H. Stevens, a Conservative Member of Parliament who declared at a public meeting, “I intend to stand up absolutely on all occasions on this one great principle – of a white country and a white British Columbia.”
Blake never knew Stevens, and grew up in a progressive environment. But the connection catalyzed a creative process, one which was also affected by the Syrian war: “I didn’t want the center of the work to be about the failure of it all, rather I wanted to tell the story from several different perspectives and show how far we’ve come. But then the current refugee crisis came into play and that definitely sank into my conscience while I was writing the music….The biggest departure for me was writing lyrics. Most people have never heard of the KM and probably never will. So I think the lyrics broaden the scope of the music into what listeners can imagine for themselves. For me ‘The Ballad of Gurdit Singh’ captures that moment in Vancouver harbor when the passengers are not welcomed with open arms.”  Read more...

1 Sea Shanty
2 Perimeters
3 The Ballad of Gurdit Singh
4 Arrivals
5 Departures
6 Battle at Baj Baj
7 Exaltation
8 The Soldier and the Saint

Michael Blake, tenor & soprano saxophone, compositions
J.P. Carter, trumpet, electronics
Peggy Lee, cello
Chris Gestrin, piano, MicroMoog
Ron Samworth, electric guitar, banjo
André Lachance, bass
Dylan van der Schyff, drums, percussion
Special guests:
Aram Bajakian, acoustic & electric guitar (1, 6, 7)
Emma Postl, voice (1, 3)
Neelamjit Dhillon, tabla (7)



Michael Herring Quartet - A Very Large Gap (2016)

Label: Self Released

The Michael Herring Quartet is a new project from accomplished Toronto bassist and composer Michael Herring that explores the influences and sounds of 1960’s jazz in a classic chord-less quartet format. The front-line is made up of saxophonists Chris Gale and David French, each taking turns playing tenor and baritone, and joining Herring in the rhythm section is his long-time collaborator, drummer Nick Fraser.

The band has a real rapport, and brings a hard-swinging 1960’s sound to its performances. This is a horn blowing party inspired by Mingus and Ellington, mixing classic jazz sounds with Herring’s more modern approach to composition.

They will be releasing their debut album, A Very Large Gap, in 2016, dedicated to the reconciling of disparities – rebalancing inequities, and building bridges between cultures – and it uses a grooving bluesy sound to deliver this message.

“Michael Herring has established himself as one of the most creative musicians on the Canadian scene” Joseph Blake – Times-Colonist

“the boss’s bass soars and swoops and the overall impact is tremendous” Geoff Chapman –  Toronto Star

1. Treefology 04:51
2. Midden 07:14
3. Impermanence (Changes) 04:50
4. With Both Feet On The Ground 05:05
5. Moanin' 05:42
6. Fearless and Kind 05:23
7. Seedy Underbelly Button 05:52
8. Roadhouse, Mass. 05:50
9. Blues Bird (White Throated Sparrow) 04:46
10.Further Than The Future 04:34
11.Quantum 04:00
12.Tzac 06:02
13.A Very Large Gap 05:02

David French -- Tenor and Baritone Saxophones (left channel)
Chris Gale -- Tenor and Baritone Saxophones (right channel)
Michael Herring -- Double Bass
Nick Fraser -- Drums



Charlie Apicella & Iron City - Payin' the Cost to Be the Boss (2016)

Label: Zoho

"Apicella is a lithe, swinging guitarist with an affinity for the contrasting styles of both Grant Green and Wes Montgomery... An all-around impressive debut by a guitarist of substance." - Mark Gardner, Jazz Journal

"Apicella is a no-nonsense player of unquestioned chops and whose soul drips from each note... This is 'organic' music, and Apicella is an exciting young player." - John Heidt, Vintage Guitar

1 You Upset Me, Baby    
2 I'm King    
3 Rock Me, Baby
4 Mosaics    
5 Delia Soul    
6 Outer Space    
7 Farid
8 Over in the Gloryland 

Charlie Apicella - guitar
Stephen Riley - tenor, alto saxophones
Freddie Hendrix - trumpet
Dave Braham - organ
Mayra Casales - congas
Alan Korzin - drums



Bill Laurance - Aftersun (2016)

Label: GroundUP Music
Source: The Guardian
Genre: Electronic Jazz/Crossover

Snarky Puppy pianist Bill Laurance has let the solo persona he introduced on painterly and cinematic journeys such as 2014’s Flint and last year's Swift off the leash with Aftersun. It’s an uninhibited jam on more succinct materials, featuring his Snarky Puppy rhythm-section partners Michael League and Robert Searight and the exciting St Louis-based Ghanaian Weedie Braimah, whose hand drums provide fireworks that light up the set. There’s a contemporary Headhunters feel in the wah-wah sounds and choppy time swaps of the opening Soti, while the gentle piano hook of The Pines invokes Robert Glasper – and a fast rhythmic undertow, contrasting with the languid theme, sets a creative pattern often revisited on the session. The flute-like theme and African drums sound of Bullet have a ritualistic grip; the title track is a brooding anthem; A Blaze is an irresistible hook with a Caribbean feel. For all its sense of players’ freedom, though – and some flying piano breaks from the leader – Aftersun might still have too smooth a sheen for some jazzers, but there’s no doubting Laurance’s creativity as a very unusual kind of world musician. John Fordham

01. Soti (5:24)
02. The Pines (6:23)
03. Time To Run (8:19)
04. Madeleine (4:57)
05. Bullet (4:04)
06. Aftersun (5:59)
07. First Light (4:55)
08. Golden Hour (4:39)
09. A Blaze (7:57)
Bill Laurence - keys
Michael League - bass
Robert "Sput" Searight - drums
Weedie Braihma - percussion



John Zorn - Flaga Book of Angels, Volume 27 - Flaga (2016)

Source & Label: Tzadik

For one of the last CDs in the Book of Angels series Zorn has put together an astonishing all-star piano trio featuring three of the most powerful and respected musicians in the jazz/new music scene: Craig Taborn, Christian McBride and Tyshawn Sorey. Diving into eight tunes from Zorn’s mystical Masada project they take off in flights of melodic, rhythmic and harmonic fancy that will make your head spin. Visceral and virtuosic, Flaga is one of the most spontaneous and exciting installments in the Masada catalog. 

1. Machnia
2. Peliel
3. Katzfiel
4. Talmai take 1
5. Shoftiel
6. Agbas
7. Rogziel
8. Harbonah
9. Talmai take 2

Craig Taborn: Piano
Christian McBride: Double Bass
Tyshawn Sorey: Drums



Josh Quinlan Q'tet (feat. Terell Stafford) - In from Somewhere (2016)

Josh Quinlan releases his fourth album as a leader, this time featuring the amazing trumpeter, Terell Stafford (www.terellstafford.com). The Q'tet has been playing music together for over six years and this marks their third tour in Colorado with Stafford. The new album this night celebrates is called In From Somewhere and is comprised of Quinlan's original compositions that reflect his experiences as a Colorado based musician who travels the world performing and teaching. 

This concert is not to be missed if you enjoy high energy trumpet and saxophone accompanied by an amazingly interactive and communicative rhythm section sound.

Josh Quinlan - saxophones and compositions
Ben Markley - piano 
Matt Smiley - bass 
Ed Breazeale - drums


Terell Stafford - trumpet

1. In from Somewhere
2. Lift
3. Fields of Green
4. And I'm Tuned to You
5. Taipei
6. Bearable Light
7. Las Olas
8. First Meditation
9. Fourth of July



Josh Quinlan Trio - Chopin Project (2016)

The Chopin Project features six original arrangement's of Frederic Chopin's Nocturnes and Preludes and a lyrical waltz composed by Quinlan and inspired by classical harmonic movement. The group features Matt Smiley (bass), Ed Breazeale (drums) and Josh Quinlan (saxophone, piano and arrangements). If you like beautiful classical melodies and harmony fused with modern jazz rhythm and conception you will really enjoy the Chopin Project.

Josh Quinlan (saxophone, piano and arrangements)
Matt Smiley (bass)
Ed Breazeale (drums)

1. Prelude in Ab Major 11:12
2. Nocturne in B Major (Ab excerpt) 06:24
3. Nocturne in C Minor 08:11
4. Warsaw 05:17
5. Nocturne in E Major 04:18
6. Nocturne in G Minor 04:30
7. Nocturne a Mr. Ferdinand Hiller 06:12

Released February 23, 2016



Josh Quinlan - Original Saxophone Quartets (2016)


Josh Quinlan is a saxophonist, composer and educator based out of the state of Colorado. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Jazz Studies from the University of Colorado. As well, he is a graduate of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (BM) and DePaul University (MMA).

Quinlan is currently an Instructor of Jazz Studies at the University of Colorado, music faculty member at Denver School of the Arts, Director of Education for the Colorado non-profit Gift of Jazz, Director of the Dazzle Recordings label and Co-Director of the Telluride Jazz Celebration Educational Program. In addition, he is an endorsing artist of P. Mauriat saxophones, Bari Woodwind saxophone mouthpieces and Gonzalez Reeds. 

Quinlan has released three albums as a leader, saxophonist and composer (Mountain Time Standards, Open Space and Hear, Here) with a fourth coming out in February, 2016 that features Terell Stafford on trumpet. Since moving to Colorado, he has toured throughout the world with performances and teaching in Asia, South America, Central America, Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Recent highlights include concerts as a guest soloist and composer with the National Symphonic Orchestra of Panama performing “Charlie Parker with Strings,” a residency with his trio at the National University of Costa Rica and tours with Greg Osby and Terell Stafford.

1. Tumeric
2. Winter Shore
3. Variations on a Theme by Plyel
4. Reflections
5. Premise



Jaimeo Brown Transcendence - Work Songs (2016)

Jaimeo Brown Transcendence’s Work Songs Resurrects
Stories of Workers and Prisoners Worldwide in a
Call to Action During Tense Times in America

Album Fuses Jazz, Hip Hop, and Blues on
12 Sample-Heavy Original Tracks 

Available February 12, 2016 on Motéma Music

At a time where it feels like history is repeating itself and the world has lost its way, drummer, composer, educator and activist Jaimeo Brown asks, “What is important?” For Brown, the answer is to tell the unheard stories in the name of those who need them. To tell the stories of life and the human experience. To tell the stories of the forgotten: to honor the workers and the music of their lives. February 12, 2016 marks the release of Work Songs, the second installment in the Jaimeo Brown Transcendence series. “Work Songs represents us,” Brown explains. “It’s our human journey of transcending the difficult.”

Jaimeo Brown Transcendence is the product of long-time collaboration between Brown and co-producer/guitarist Chris Sholar (who won a GRAMMY® Award for his work on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne). Both emerging from a generation that appreciates the jazz in hip-hop, the artists with whom this duo has collaborated with speaks for itself. Brown, as drummer, has sat behind the skins for Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Q-Tip, Carl Craig, Kenny Garrett, Geri Allen, and Bobby Hutcherson, among others. Sholar’s work as guitarist and producer has spanned the likes of Beyonce, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, A Tribe Called Quest, Robert Glasper, D’Angelo, Just Blaze, Common, Dr. Dre and more.

The digital tapestry that birthed Work Songs also hosts several contributors: Jaleel Shaw and JD Allen on alto and tenor saxophone, respectively; legendary soul and blues vocalist Lester Chambers; the Gee’s Bend Quilters (who were the central focus of Jaimeo Brown Transcendence’s debut album), and rising star keyboardists BIG YUKI and James Francies.

More than just music, Jaimeo Brown Transcendence is a movement, a moment, and an imperative: home to a variety of collaborators and contributors, from different eras and across the globe. Work Songs is a call to action, a call to transcend: transcend traditional limits of creativity; transcend oppression; transcend to come together through the essential humanity that unites us. Work Songs samples the unknown laborer, the jailhouse, the coal miner, gandy dancer, and stonemason. The album resonates with echoes of protest and rhythms of a call to freedom.

Borne of oppression and sung in conditions of hardship, the music is visceral but inherently uplifting. It weaves the present through the past to the future, teaching us how to transcend an immediate suffering through strength and mutual support. “The music of Transcendence, on a social scale, allows us to reach out to communities and help restore culture and identity. Work Songs tells powerful stories of perseverance and human ingenuity,” explains Brown. “Tales of enduring communities through song, from African-American slaves to the stonemasons of Japan. These songs paint a picture of struggle we still feel today.”

In search of new sounds (which includes sampled sounds of construction outside of Brown’s own apartment), Work Songs deftly weaves together the acoustic and the digital, connecting jazz and classic blues with contemporary rock, hip-hop and electronic music.

“My goal is to create something that feels good, is soulful and speaks to hearts. Something spiritual and moving,” says Brown of his creative process. “I hope that people will be moved in the way I was when creating it.”

Through an exploration of differing global “scenes” (as Brown refers to the tracks), Work Songs depicts the tale of the human condition, that which make us all the same. The album is sonic cinema. “For Mama Lucy” is a powerful intersection between blues, rock and jazz. The track prominently features a sample of Leroy Grant, a prison inmate from the Parchman Farm Prison in Mississippi in 1959, grieving over a sick family member, singing the multiple emotions associated with love and death. The accompanying video juxtaposes Grant’s cry and a driving guitar riff with sensory-blowing visuals. Flashing images of oppression and injustice, which echo several overarching themes of Jaimeo Brown Transcendence, overwhelm the video’s protagonist.

“Be So Glad” showcases the divergent musical influences that typify Jaimeo Brown Transcendence. It at once exhibits the soulful-hip hop influence that underpins the group, highlighting also their drum and bass influences. The sample sounds workers using hoes in fields under a hot sun. The emotional chant repeats, the refrain lifting and falling with each effort.

“Safflower” imagines a young Japanese boy listening to records in his basement, discovering a cultural tradition of another lifetime, and celebrating it in his own time. The song also pays tribute to the resilience of a country surviving the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Jaimeo Brown Transcendence was born when the drummer connected with JD Allen and Chris Sholar while in search for new forms of musical expressions. With an MPC salvaged from the garbage, the group sampled songs from the Gee’s Bend Quilters in Alabama for their debut eponymous album. The rest of the project grew organically from there and continues to flourish.

“When recording, our aspiration is always to marry art, history and technology so Transcendence can live as a music and movement that speaks to tomorrow, as well as yesterday,” explains Brown. “We created the album Work Songs to explore the interaction between work and music. It’s fascinating to see the variety of ways that music and work actually weave together.”

Brown’s view of the world is one of togetherness. His life, like his work, is a patchwork of people, cultures and examples of the great human potential for acceptance and integration. His early years were spent living on a Native American reservation in Arlee, Montana, a community in which the Native American voice was an ever-present part of the social dialogue. Later, as a teen amidst the aimless youth and gang culture of the Bay Area, Brown discovered multiculturalism within a west coast hip-hop culture shared and celebrated by a broad group of minorities. Inspired equally by the beats and samples of J Dilla, Dr. Dre, and DJ Premier, and the raw eloquence of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Art Blakey, he found shelter in creation: the epicenter of his spiritual awakening.

About Jaimeo Brown:

2013 marked the international debut of Jaimeo Brown: a fearless renegade; an artist who seeks new pathways for personal musical expression; an artist who honors a deep and broad lineage of musical and cultural traditions. With the release of Transcendence on Motéma Music, the drummer launched an international career—playing festivals including The Love Supreme Festival and London Jazz Festival—and garnered critical acclaim, earning a spot on year end lists for NPR, The Los Angeles Times, DownBeat, and more. Shortly after the release of the album, Jaimeo Brown Transcendence collaborated with eminent producers Carl Craig and Q-Tip to produce a remix with a radical recasting of “Mean World,” one of Transcendence’s singles.

Jaimeo Brown Transcendence • Work Songs

Motéma Music • Release Date: February 12, 2016

Jaimeo Brown: drums
Chris Sholar: guitar
Jaleel Shaw: alto sax
JD Allen: tenor sax
Lester Chambers vocals
Marisha Rodriguez: vocals
Lester Chambers: vocals
China Pettway: vocals
Mary Ann Pettway: vocals
Larine Pettway: vocals
Revil Mosley: vocals
Cadence Brown: vocals
Falu: vocals
Big Yuki: keyboards
James Francies: keyboards
Marcia Miget: flute

01. Hidden Angel 
02. Mississippi 
03. Lazarus 
04. Safflower 
05. Be So Glad 
06. Happy Serving 
07. 2113 
08. Moment of Rest 
09. For Mama Lucy 
10. Stonemason 
11. Paterson 
12. The Valley

Released February 12, 2016