Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Chris Ziemba - Manhattan Lullaby (2016)

My debut album. Featuring: Chris Ziemba (piano, compositions/arrangements); Hans Glawischnig (bass); Jimmy Macbride (drums); Michael Thomas (alto saxophone, bass clarinet).

Manhattan Lullaby encompasses the duality of life in the big city. When people envision New York City, usually some combination of the following springs to mind: people, giant buildings, taxis, car horns, people, buses, shouting, pizza restaurants, people, Starbucks, subway platforms, standing in line everywhere, pigeons, people... What I've come to find is that all of this hustle and bustle brings into stark relief the seemingly random pockets of tranquility that can be found when you least expect it. When you find yourself deep in one of the parks and you can't really hear the traffic. When you're walking along a street on the Upper West Side at night and there's no one else around. On the roof of your apartment building. You know you're still in the City, so there's still an intangible energy, but it's a peaceful energy. That's what Manhattan Lullaby is about.

1. Josie
2. The Road Less Traveled
3. Manhattan Lullabye
4. I Wish I Knew
5. Escher's Loop
6. Wandering
7. Little T
8. An Instropective



Joe Baer Magnant Group - Liminal Spaces (2016)

Guitarist Joe Baer Magnant's second release with his quartet doesn't aim to stake any claims in the world of jazz. Instead, Liminal Spaces reflects the ever-changing living venue that resides inside a working musician who has spent a majority of his life working through bar bands, jazz clubs, and folk coffee houses. But rather than challenging the rules of genre in protest, the Joe Baer Magnant Group happily uses it all, melting together influences; the jazz, folk, blues, rock, and even surrealism of Erik Satie in his swaggering arrangement of the first of Satie's "Trois Gnossiennes." "Coagulate," the opening track, glides softly through some odd time signatures and key changes without the need for fanfare: this is Magnant's intention when telling the story of packing up gear and heading to the next gig.

The quartet includes Chris Lujan on bass (leader of classic R&B/ Soul group, The M-Tet), Tony Capriccio on Fender Rhodes (leader of fusion group, The Hexaphonics), and Michael Reed (drummer for electronica/jazz groups Secret Sidewalk and The Edomites).

1. Coagulate
2. Trois Gnossiennes (I)
3. Equipoise
4. Tezeta (Nostalgia)
5. Poinciana
6. Liminal Spaces



The Giving Trio - Defuser (2016)

The Giving Trio is a Chicago-based jazz group with a style and sound reminiscent of late 50's and 60's cool-jazz and pop music. Think: Bill Evans, Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz. Spice all that up with hints of Motown, The Beach Boys and The Beatles  and you'll have yourself a good taste of “Defuser,” The Giving Trio’s first full-length studio recording.  

The trio is made up of John W. Lauler on upright bass, Justin Cash on guitar, and Alex Kerwin on alto saxophone. All three met while attending Columbia College Chicago, and after graduating they continued to work together on the Chicago music scene. They began to meet and play together regularly in 2014, building a repertoire of their favorite jazz standards and classic pop tunes. From these sessions they developed a group rapport and began playing out as The Giving Trio

“Defuser” showcases six all new original compositions written by both Lauler and Kerwin. While the compositions are firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, they also take many cues from pop and rock as well. Their first single, “Old Bull Lee,” is reminiscent of all things Lennon and McCartney. Their second single, “She’s Skeptic,” strikes a similar harmonic vibe to that of Stevie Wonder and is set beneath a very ghostly, supernatural sounding melody. With each new original composition the trio crafts wonderful, fun-loving sounds in this unique, drummer-less setting.

Justin Cash - Guitar | John W. Lauler - Upright & Electric Bass | Alex Kerwin - Alto Sax


Sam Trump Harris - Trumpet

1. Old Bull Lee
2. She's Skeptic
3. The Believer
4. Web We Weave
5. Culdesac
6. 317 E 32nd St
7. Let's Go Exploring
8. Happy Trails to You



Jeff Williams - Outlier (2016)

Across a career spanning four decades, it would seem easiest to consider the musicians with whom Jeff Williams hasn’t worked. A respected stalwart of the international jazz circuit, the American drummer has notably rubbed shoulders with Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Konitz, Dave Liebman, Randy Brecker, John Abercrombie and Joe Lovano.

Williams has graced innumerable New York and London stages over the years, making frequent Atlantic crossings between the two cities. In his latest solo project, the accomplished band leader and composer collaborates with both seasoned and up-and-coming colleagues from the UK: Josh Arcoleo (tenor saxophone), Phil Robson (guitar), Kit Downes (keys) and Sam Lasserson (basses). This engaging album of originals prompts a dynamic quintet response to a variety of energized compositions.

His third album for Whirlwind (following 2011’s Another Time and 2013’s The Listener), Williams’ Outlier combines previously unrecorded works from the ‘70s and ‘80s – such as the driving, fusion-laced ‘Dream Visitor’ and Brazilian-hued ‘Hermeto’ (after Hermeto Pascoal) – with more recent, equally assertive compositions. As an experienced leader at the kit with an instinctive, deeply-imbued jazz sensibility, Williams coaxes intelligent, colorful interplay from his colleagues. As Jeff confirms: “It always astonishes me what these guys – leaders in their own right – bring to the music that I write. They find things I didn’t even know existed.”

The scope of this imaginative working band ranges from the smouldering, Joe Henderson-influenced oscillations of the title track ‘Outlier’ to the relentless ‘Oddity,’ which swings with unbridled vitality. The straight forward beauty of ‘New and Old’ recalls poignant memories with tender detail. Also a pianist, adding Rhodes to this album, Williams describes ‘Meeting a Stranger’ as “one of those rare tunes that came out whole”. Possessing a wide brashness, ‘The Interloper’ exudes a joyful, Monkish abandon.

Like all masters of a genre, Jeff Williams has profoundly internalized the traditions of jazz without being tyrannized by its conventions. Combining his influences and broad experience to form his own unique voice, he refuses to constrain himself to a single stylistic approach. Most vitally, he wants his audience to respond to his music emotionally: “It’s my continued vision – my aim to offer something that’s universal but also personal, and which might transport the listener into a realm that’s pleasurable and thought-provoking. It’s important to me that, within the construction of the music, there’s a feeling and a warmth to be discovered.”

Jeff Williams - drums, percussion, Fender rhodes
Josh Arcoleo - tenor saxophone
Phil Robson - guitar
Kit Downes - piano and Fender rhodes
Sam Lasserson - double & electric basses

Recorded 13 & 14 April, 2015 at Fish Factory Studio, London
Engineered by Benedic Lamdin and Alex Bonney
Mixed by Alex Bonney and Jeff Williams, London
Mastered by Max Ross, Systems Two, NY
Produced by Jeff Williams
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch

1. Outlier
2. The Interloper
3. Dream Visitor
4. Meeting a Stranger
5. New and Old
6. Hermeto
7. Oddity