Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lefteris Kordis - Mediterrana (Goddess of Light) 2016 INNER CIRCLE MUSIC


Steve Lacy says of Lefteris Kordis: "Talent like his is rare."  

Danilo Perez notes: "Lefteris Kordis's music is an abundant source of inspiration."

Lefteris Kordis releases Mediterrana (Goddess of Light)

5th Album as a leader available July 26, 2016 on

Kordis combines the language Lennie Tristano, the wild harmonic imagination and impeccable touch of Ran Blake, and the ear-bending facility of Charlie Banacos

"In these times, when we are in great need of fresh examples of intercultural dialogue, Lefteris Kordis's music is an abundant source of inspiration." - Danilo Pérez

"A pianist with skill, touch, musicality and a gift for making songs from songs. Plus, he can swing!" - Bob Brookmeyer

"Talent like his is rare" - Steve Lacy

Lefteris Kordis is an Athens-born and Boston-based pianist. Mediterrana (Goddess of Light), his fifth album as a leader, is an engaging, Tristano-esque exploration of traditional Mediterranean sounds.  The album will be released July 26, 2016 on Inner Circle Music (INCM 052CD).

Kordis has been in the US, often in the orbit of Boston's esteemed New England Conservatory, for nearly two decades, accumulating jazz credentials with the likes of Steve Lacy, Greg Osby, and Sheila Jordan. For this record he's assembled a piano-trio-plus-guests, with drummer Ziv Ravitz and bassist Petros Klampanis at the core. Boston stalwart John Lockwood also performs on one track along with numerous other guests.

Kordis comes from a heady post-bebop tradition. He's absorbed not just the language of Tristano, but also of two Boston piano icons. From Ran Blake, he borrows a wild harmonic imagination and an impeccable touch: hear how he finds unfamiliar beauty in "And I Love Her", by the Beatles. And from studies with the influential late Boston pedagogue (and fellow Greek-American), Charlie Banacos, he's developed ear-bending facility. Kordis has the fingers and the musical mind to immediately follow any hint of redirection from his quick-witted bandmates.

His thorough connection to Greek music begins in heritage - Kordis is the grandson of a Byzantine cantor - but goes much deeper. Paralleling his impressive career as a young jazz pianist, Kordis has quickly become an in-demand instrumentalist in the international Hellenic community, collaborating with noted composer Mikis Theodorakis, traditional clarinetist Vasilis Saleas, and the singer Panayotis Lalezas, among others.

A variety of timbres on this album highlight the Hellenic tinge. Harris Lambrakis, on ney, opens the first track (In the Land of Phrygians) with grit and an earthy, disruptive joy. His playing is full of intimate ornamentation and inflections common to 'folk' music but too little heard in the context of modern jazz. Vasilis Kostas - on laouto (a Greek fretted lute), Roni Eytan - on chromatic harmonica, Sergio Martinez - on percussion, and Alec Spiegelman - on clarinet, all inject raw and unguarded lyricism into the music.

So does Kordis; with an analog synthesizer (as found in many Eastern Mediterranean wedding bands), he bends and wails and moans like an Epirot clarinetist. What's more technically impressive is how he bends and wails and moans, in equal measure, on that unforgivingly tempered and quintessentially Western instrument, the piano!

You may, of course, listen with none of that in mind. All of the aforementioned instrumental mastery is in service of the music. And Mediterrana is an engaging and original set of music by a pianist constantly creating new sounds.


Naftule's Dream - Blood (2016)

“The most remarkably flexible band of musical renegades to come along since John Zorn’s Naked City." -Bill Milkowski, JazzTimes

Naftule’s Dream, whose seminal recordings in the 1990’s helped create the Radical Jewish Culture movement and jumpstart John Zorn’s Tzadik label, has released its first new recording since 2002, Blood (NDR 103).  The band known for its eclectic, edgy approach to Jewish music, once again produces a memorable album of  musical explorations, penning klezmer-rooted compositions with performances which draw on rock, free-jazz and even ambient music for inspiration.  
Naftule’s Dream was founded by clarinetist/composer Glenn Dickson as an offshoot of his traditional klezmer band, Shirim, to give voice to more adventurous musical ideas.  It quickly exploded, as the musical creativity of the musicians was unleashed in extraordinary compositions by Dickson and accordionist Michael McLaughlin.  Their original works,  though rooted in klezmer rhythms, modes and forms, draw from a wide pallet of styles.  Over the  years the band has evolved into a unique, uncategorizable, challenging-yet-entertaining troupe that has played new-music venues, major international jazz festivals (Montreal, Berlin, Graz, New York) and concerts across Europe and the US. 

Blood, like its predecessors, is powered by the unique tuba-driven rhythm section, featuring founding members Eric Rosenthal (drums) and Jim Gray (tuba) and McLaughlin (accordion).  New to the mix is Boston-based guitarist Andrew Stern.  The melodic duties are shared by Dickson (clarinet) and cornetist Gary Bohan, who began touring with Naftule's Dream in the early 2000s, but has not previously recorded with the band.  

The album opens with the spacious, almost ambient, McLaughlin composition, "Sitting in Some Train Watching the Tuscan landscape Go Speeding Backward," which sets the tone for a deeply introspective album which mines the meditative eastern elements of klezmer music as well as the more celebrated exuberant energy of klezmer music. It evokes a Romanian style doina with a soaring melody over a hypnotic rhythm, with Rosenthal's cymbal pattern filling in for the insistent cymbalom groove .  

The title track follows, a dark but unforgettable melody which beautifully merges a Jewish khosidl  with a slow-burn rock groove.  "Blood" is another of Dickson's series of tunes inspired by I.B.Singer's stories, this one a bloody and lascivious tale of a kosher butcher where the cutting of throats and carnal desire became so mixed up that it became hard for him to know where one began and the other ended.  The music captures the  disquieting sensuality of the tale: a Jewish inflected tune with ominous rock undertones.

"Aby Kurly the War Hero" is a cutting, sarcastic arrangement of a traditional freylakh featuring a trademark group improvisation, with a simmering and exploding cornet lead by Gary Bohan.    McLaughlin's "Calabria" returns to the more meditative mode, while his "Boss Shabbos" is a musical adventure which carries the listener through Romanian inspired melodies (with a tuba lead, no less!), morphing into a Motown groove, and breaking down into a free-jazz cadenza.  

Gary Bohan's compositional contribution, "Klez Spiritual" mines the rarely explored parallels between gospel and klezmer, and features the spiritual feedback laced  beauty of Andrew Stern's guitar solo.  This is followed by McLaughlin's epic "Chasing Ivo Livi," a compositional tour-de-force full of manic energy, orchestrational detail, and motivic integrity.  As with most Naftule's Dream music, the improvisation is seamlessly integrated into the compositional structure.  Dickson's powerful "Turkisher" explores a traditional klezmer dance rhythm featuring the drumming of Eric Rosenthal. McLaughlin's "In Search of Her Lullaby"  rounds out the album with a dreamy waltz.


Blood is available at CDBaby, and Itunes

Senri Oe - Answer July (2016) JAZZ PROMO SERVICES

Senri Oe
"Answer July"
CD Release Show
Tue., July 5th
@ The Jazz Gallery
Sets 7:30 & 9:30 pm

Senri Oe – piano
Jim Robertson – bass
Sheila Jordan – vocals
Lauren Kinhan – vocals
Ella Marcus – vocals
Travon Anderson – vocals
Sachal Vasandani – vocals

The Jazz Gallery
1160 Broadway 5th Floor
NY NY 10001
(between 27th and 28th street)
(646) 494-3625
$15/$10 each set
members/free for SummerPass holders
(click here to get your SummerPass today!)

Pianist Senri Oe’s New CD, Answer July,
Highlights Great Vocalists From Across The Generations
Interpreting His Original Tunes

On his fourth jazz CD, Answer July, pianist/singer/composer/poet Senri Oe presents eight new original compositions performed by a crew of versatile and talented collaborators, including vocalists Sheila Jordan, Lauren Kinhan, Becca Stevens and Theo Bleckmann. 

Senri has recorded with singers in the past, but this is the first time he’s featured vocalists on the entire album. Rather than having his piano in the starring role on Answer July, he aimed to keep the spotlight on the compositions instead of the keyboard.

For Answer July, Senri assembled an amazing cast of vocalists, spanning the generations from Sheila Jordan, an octogenarian who learned her craft directly from the original boppers to more recent arrivals on the scene such as Becca Stevens and Dylan Pramuk. While all are recognized for their improvisational skills, on this outing they focus on sticking close to Senri’s careful compositional concepts and the accompanying lyrics. The featured singers include:

Sheila Jordan: At 87, she has vitality of the teenager she was when she hung by the door of Detroit jazz clubs hoping to hear her idol and main influence, Charlie Parker. To this day she maintains a busy schedule gigging and teaching around the globe, bringing a wonderful autobiographical quality to everything her voice touches. Senri has mentioned her as an inspiration, and has written at least one song for her.

Lauren Kinhan: Besides having a burgeoning solo singing career, Kinhan is part of beloved and acclaimed vocal groups such as New York Voices, Moss, JaLaLa, and Bobby McFerrin's Vocabulaires; she also toured with jazz legend Ornette Coleman. 

Theo Bleckmann: Citing Sheila Jordan as his mentor, the versatile Bleckmann is comfortable with material by Kate Bush, Charles Ives, Berlin Cabaret classics, Las Vegas standards, and his own well-crafted originals. He has collaborated with Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Michael Tilson Thomas, Meredith Monk, and others.

Becca Stevens: Here’s a singer who tops many a music-lover’s list of vocalists deserving greater recognition. A skilled composer and multi-instrumentalist, Stevens has been inspired by a range of musical genres, including jazz, folk, rock and pop.

Dylan Pramuk: This New School graduate is well on his way to establishing himself as a voice to reckon with on the New York jazz scene, as evidenced by his brilliant work on the well-received “Royal Bopsters Project” recording. 

A veteran pianist and composer, Senri Oe enjoyed a long and successful reign as a pop star in his native Japan. He was so well regarded that a critic favorably compared him with the acclaimed novelist Haruki Murakami, citing a similar Western-influenced blend of the surreal and the whimsical. But Senri put his pop career on hold to realize a childhood dream by moving to the Big Apple in 2012 to study jazz.

For many of his longtime fans, Senri’s lyrics are the reason they fell in love with his music; however, he doesn’t write lyrics in English, so he sought out wordsmiths on a similar wavelength to provide words for his new original tunes. Becca Stevens crafted lyrics for the title tune, Answer July, to go with an instrumental Senri had written in homage to his favorite poet, Emily Dickenson. Lauren Kinhan’s words to “The Very Secret Spring,” a sensitive ballad evoking a long-ago love, were also Dickenson inspired.

Nature metaphors pop up in the songs throughout Answer July, including on the title track, featuring Senri’s mellow piano accompaniment as vocalist Becca Stevens demonstrates her surefooted way with a tune.

“Without Any Moon or Rain” kicks off with a Monk-ish intro then swings into a lively vocal duet from Lauren Kinhan and Dylan Pramuk, and a cooking tenor solo from Yacine Boulares.

Other Answer July highlights include Theo Bleckmann’s tender vocal on Jon Hendrick’s words to “Just a Little Wine.” Hendricks also penned the lyrics for the charming bop of “Mischievous Mouse,” showcasing singer Sheila Jordan in top form, with background vocals from the New School Singers adding texture. In fact, the words were crafted with Jordan in mind, as she shares a birthday with Mickey Mouse, the tune’s title character.

The backup band includes:

Saxophonist Yacine Boulares: Check out his eclectic education and experience: He earned a philosophy degree from the Sorbonne, studied jazz at the New School, and performed with Placido Domingo, Ran Blake, Jaleel Shaw, Ben E. King, and Tabou Combo.

Drummer Reggie Quinerly: Studied with fellow drummers Jimmy Cobb, Lewis Nash, Kenny Washington and others at Mannes School of Music at the New School, and went on to earn a masters from Juilliard. He's played with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Joe Lovano, Greg Osby, and Christian McBride, among other luminaries.

Bassist Jim Robertson, singers Junko Airta Mitch Wilson and Travon Anderson, and guests Andy Watson and E.J. Strickland (drums), Paul Tafoya (trumpet) and Olga Trofilmova (trombone) also lend strong contributions.

With Answer July, Senri Oe is showing that youthful dreams can become a satisfying reality.

Senri Oe "Answer July" (Sony Japan UPC 888295459082)
Street Date: June 5, 2016
Senri Oe-pianist/singer/composer
Special Guests: Sheila Jordan, Lauren Kinhan, and Theo Bleckmann, Becca Stevens, from Lauren Kinhan and Dylan Pramuk, New School Singers,  Saxophonist Yacine Boulares, Drummer Reggie Quinerly, Bassist Jim Robertson, singers Junko Airta Mitch Wilson and Travon Anderson,  Andy Watson and E.J. Strickland (drums), Paul Tafoya (trumpet)
and Olga Trofilmova (trombone)

Artist Website

On Sale After July 5th
CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio and More 

JIM EIGO, JAZZ PROMO SERVICES, 272 State Route 94 South #1, Warwick, NY 10990-3363 Ph: 845-986-1677 / Fax: 845-986-1699 Cell / text: 917-755-8960 Skype: jazzpromo

“Specializing in Media Campaigns for the music community, artists, labels, venues and events.”

Suzanne Dean - Come To Paradise (2016) KARI-ON PRODUCTIONS