Friday, September 2, 2016

Michel Portal - Radar (Live at Theater Gütersloh) 2016

Among jazz fans, you can have a lot of fun arguing whether “European Jazz” is a useful counterpoint to the American tradition, an original supplement thereto or “is worth less than American jazz on the market” as it can be read in a Wikipedia forum. There is no doubt that there have been and are gifted musicians this side of the Atlantic, who have molded and formed jazz for decades. They have developed very unique playing styles by merging European music traditions with American influences. To give these pioneers of European jazz a stage was the idea for the series of articles “European Jazz Legends”, which has been launched in the magazine Jazz thing in their 100th issue in September 2013. We can now look back on 16 issues. The symbolic stage has now become a real one, and it is in Gutersloh in the middle of Europe. Accompanying each edition of the magazine appearing five times a year, a concert planned especially for this occasion is being organized in cooperation with the label Intuition, the city of Gütersloh and Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln with current protagonists of the series, hosted by our author Götz Bühler. Each concert including an interview with the artist will be broadcast by Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR 3) at a later time, and the musical highlights of the concert will be released on a CD.

In other words, five concerts and five CDs in the series “European Jazz Legends” are planned for each year in the future, until end of 2017. In addition, a book will be published, in 2018, for which the article from the magazine will be revised and supplemented, among other things, to provide impressions from the concerts and discussions. The CD of Michel Portal is the seventh publication in the “European Jazz Legends” series. We from Intuition Records are very proud of this and would like to thank all partners and especially the musicians – and hope that you enjoy this series.

„Just because I play Brahms, does not mean that I forget about Charlie Parker“, Michel Portal said during his interview for the portrait series European Jazz Legends for Jazz thing in Paris in the winter of 2015. A „proud Eurojazzer“ (New York Times) and „a solitaire of experimental Jazz“ (Die Zeit), Michel Portal is certainly and comfortably at home in many musical worlds. 

The multi-instrumentalist from Bayonne, who had turned eighty just a few days before the interview, masters various clarinets and saxophones as well as the bandoneon, and is also recognized as a composer. His wit and wisdom, and the youthful energy and curiosity he brings to his astonishing improvisations are only some of the reasons Portal has enjoyed such a fruitful and enduring career. Having helped to kick start the Free Jazz movement in France in the Sixties, he went on to form „New Phonic Art“ to encourage collective improvisation and instant composing. After a rewarding collaboration with John Surman in 1970, Portal founded the long-lived Michel Portal Unit the following year, in order to encourage American and European musicians to play together in a freely improvised setting. 

Portal began composing music for soundtracks in the mid-1970s and later recorded an album of some of his favorite movie melodies called „Musiques de Cinémas“. During the following decades Portal increased his international reputation with various bands, concerts and recordings, often playing with Pierre Favre, Dave Liebman, Martial Solal, Mino Cinelu and Jack DeJohnette, but also with musicians from Minneapolis, MN.

Michel Portal“s extended improvisations with the American pianist Richie Beirach were recorded for this CD on March 5th 2016 during a concert in the Theater Gütersloh and mark the first time these musicians ever played together - together with the recordings with the WDR Bigband they are further proof of the universality of the musical language called Jazz and the fascinating and infectious vitality of improvisation. „I love to play in front of an audience“, Portal said. „It is like a metamorphosis. I feel bad, if I haven´t played live for two weeks. But after a concert it is as if I´ve just taken a ton of Aspirin.“

01. Esquisse Part 1
02. Esquisse Part 2
03. Esquisse Part 3
04. Bailador
05. Dolce
06. Interview With Michel Portal (by Götz Bühler)

Tony Gould & Mike Nock - The Monash Sessions (Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music) 2016 JAZZHEAD

Two of Australia's most applauded jazz and improvising pianists joined with the cream of Melbourne's young jazz talent to release the newest offering from the acclaimed Monash Sessions. 

Both multi award-winning international artists in their own right, Mike Nock and Tony Gould have joined their incredible forces with the power of a full ensemble of wonderful young musicians from the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music. 

Mike Nock's career has spanned a broad range of contemporary musical styles and he is widely recognised as one of the most important voices in Australian modern music. Based in Sydney since 1986, he previously spent 25 years in the USA, working with many of the world's top jazz artists. His compositions include orchestral music, woodwind / percussion ensembles, electronic / choral works etc., and have been recorded and performed by a range of jazz and non-jazz performers. Attracting many awards and honours over his lengthy career in 2014 he was awarded the Don Banks Music Award, the most valuable individual music award in Australia. In 2009 he was inducted into the Bell Awards Australian Jazz Hall of Fame and in 2003 presented with the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM). 

Passing through several periods of music in the last 50 years, Tony Gould has developed his own distinctive style which insists on the primacy of melodic material, the complex and glorious world of harmony and of playing things differently each and every time. He is an influential teacher, though not always in the most traditional sense, preferring to lead by example rather than to stand and lecture and as such has inspired many students who have then gone on to their own influential paths. He is himself influenced by many musicians past and present and other creative beings such as Rosalie Gascoigne, Stravinsky, Robert Hughes and Jackson Pollock. 

These 2 giants of Australian Jazz are joined by renowned musicians and staff of the School of Music: Rob Burke (Sax); Jordan Murray (Trombone) and Paul Williamson (trumpet) along with jazz students from the school.

1. Indifference 07:53
2. Somewhere Called Home 06:39
3. Transitions 06:59
4. Reflections 04:48
5. Natal Lagal 06:54
6. Lamp is Low 07:38
7. Embracing You 05:50
8. Palhaco 08:00
9. Duality 02:16

Jeff Coffin - Sometimes Springtime (2016) EAR UP RECORDS

“What a piece of joy, like a delicious fruit, you’ve produced!!!”
– Carlos Malta / Brazilian woodwinds master (Hermeto Pasqual, Pife Muderno)

JEFF COFFIN – wurlitzer electric piano, sopranino, soprano, tenor sax, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, alto flute, bass flute, D whistle, kalimba, gong

additional musicians:
CHRIS WALTERS – wurlitzer electric piano (tracks 7 & 9)
FRED BERMAN – drums (track 11)

“Sometimes Springtime is a beautiful, unusual, and occasionally, haunting musical soliloquy by one of the leading saxophonists in music today.”

01. Falling 1:07
02. First Steps 1:45
03. Open Windows 1:51
04. Love Cry 2:55
05. Slow Whirling 2:27
06. Round & Around
07. Gathering 3:03
08. The Celebration 3:58
09. Tenderness & Tears 2:47
10. Reflections 2:53
11. Forward March 2:47
12. Sometimes Springtime 1:43



about the music:
I am interested and intrigued in seeing what I can come up with by myself in my studio and this is another exploration of that idea. On this recording, I play everything with the exception of Chris Walters playing Wurlitzer on “Gathering” and “Tenderness & Tears” (tracks 7 & 9), and Fred Burman playing drums on “Forward March” (track 11). 

On Sometimes Springtime, I’m exploring and examining the beauty of simplicity as well as the beauty of tension and release. The tunes are mainly through-composed and are basically short, non-symphonic tone poems. Some are as short as one minute and others up to about four minutes. There are 12 tunes and they are sequenced in the order I wrote them. 

On this recording there are basically no solos occurring. There are some fills here and there, but this is not an improvisational project per se. However, the tunes were written from improvisations I started on the Wurlitzer electric piano and built from there. I have tried to retain the spirit and ‘off-balance’ nature of the improvisation within the tunes and I hope you’ll hear that here.

the writing process:
I have never really written this way before and the tunes are unusual for me as a composer. This music sort of ‘fell out’ of me late at night in my studio. I would find interesting repeating figures or unusual chord changes and melodies and would explore the possibilities without getting too caught up in form or tradition. I tried to let the melody and harmony tell me what they wanted and I did my best to get out of my own way during the writing process.

the inspiration:
Have you ever heard one of those old wind up music boxes? My sister had one when we were kids and it had a ballerina on top. Her’s was missing part of an arm, and the music would sound a little ‘off’ because the springs had weakened over time. It almost had a wobble effect to the sound. Some of these tunes are written with that sound and feeling in mind.

the wurlitzer:
This particular Wurlitzer keyboard was gifted to me by my first band director in Dexter, Maine. Many years ago he sent it to me from Maine to Nashville in a big, heavy wooden box to protect it. That box was HEAVY! This particular Wurly is from the early 1970’s and was in the band room when I first started playing saxophone in 5th grade. It has a long history and there have been many, many tunes written, and recorded, on this beautiful instrument. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to my late band director Arthur Lagassee for this and so many other gifts.

On a couple tunes, you can hear that the tines (the pieces inside that are struck and make the sound) were going out of tune. That reminded me of the fragility of music, that tuning is a relative term, and how we are so used to everything being in tune when we record that sometime we miss the beauty of sounds that don’t adhere to even-tempered tuning. Using sound is like using color to me and we need to use different shades from time to time.

the recording:
I recorded everything in my home studio, ITA Studios, in Nashville, Tennessee. I ended up using a variety of great mics including an AEA44, a Lawson 47, a KSM32, and an AKG414. I used an Apollo interface and Pro Tools as my recording platform.

For the mix, I decided to use a new friend who recently moved to Nashville, Greg Magers. I heard a duo project of Jennifer Hartswick and Christian McBride that he had mixed and asked him to mix this. I’m thrilled with the result. Jim DeMain mastered it and brought a three-dimensionality to the sound. These guys both have incredible ears.

The entire recording is only about 30 minutes long but it’s a full statement. Because the digital format allows it, artists sometimes feel they have to provide large amounts of content. In this case, I think less is more. 

Ultimately, this music is about love and how it finds your heart.

about the musicians:
My friend, and extraordinary keyboard player, Chris Walters, plays on “Gathering” and “Tenderness & Tears” (tracks 7 & 9) and he really captures what I couldn’t. Chris serves the music in a sincere and deeply emotional way and I love working with him! Chris also plays and records with the Mu’tet and has a few solos cd’s out that deserve more than a listen.

The other guest on this project appears on track 11, “Forward March”. Fred Berman – aka Freddie B is a great friend, and one of Philadelphia’s legendary drummers. You might be familiar with his playing with the great singer/songwriter Amos Lee. Fred is a beautiful player with such a deep spirit to his musicality.

cd notes:
Engineered by Jeff Coffin / ITA Studios / Nashville, TN
Mixed by Greg Magers / The Attic / Nashville, TN
Mastered by Jim DeMain, Assisted by Amy Marie / Yes Master Studios / Nashville TN
Compositions by Jeff Coffin / Otani Music / BMI
Design by Robert Hakalski / Visual Machinery

This recording is dedicated, with love, to my dad. 

Alex Clayton • • 615.610.9919

Everybody Ear Up!

Jeremy Cunningham Quartet - re dawn (from far) 2016 EAR&EYES RECORDS


Drummer Jeremy Cunningham has been a staple on the Chicago jazz scene since moving to the city in 2009—he’s played with everyone from Von Freeman to Caroline Davis, and is getting his Masters in Jazz Performance at DePaul—but one thing was always missing: an album under his own name. But that was then. This is now: re: dawn (from far) will be released on June 17 from ears&eyesRecords. 

re: dawn (from far) is Cunningham’s solution to what he used to see as a “missed opportunity” to record something tangible with his closest colleagues and mentors. On the highly collaborative album, he’s joined by guitarist Jeff Parker (Tortoise), Josh Johnson (a 2012 Thelonious Monk Institute fellow), and Matt Ulery (Loom). Years ago, Cunningham and Johnson played a number of times with the renowned Parker, a mentor figure to both of them. The seed of the album was planted when, at one gig, Parker mentioned offhandedly that they should all consider making a record. “We were too scared to take him seriously,” Cunningham laughs, and before long, both Johnson and Parker had moved to Los Angeles. Initially, Cunningham saw this as a wasted chance; soon enough, though, he decided to call them back and make it happen. 

There was another, more personal reason that Cunningham felt ready to record his first album, after being featured on the albums of so many of his contemporaries. Back in 2009, Cunningham and his family were stunned by the unexpected death of his brother in their hometown of Cincinnati. “This record is a statement that I’m moving forward,” says Cunningham. “I’m trying to push on with the artistic process, toward the end of creating something that I’m proud of.” As such, re: dawn (from far) is both an poignant homage to the past and an exuberant nod toward the future. Even the title is a tribute: the first six letters are an anagram of his brother’s name, Andrew. 

Cunningham says that the song-writing process was highly collaborative; he himself co-wrote songs with multiple musicians, including Doug McDiarmid of the indie rock band Why?, and the three other members all contributed their own original compositions. The resulting tracks feel nuanced and personal, “informed by the quartet's collective musical experiences,” according to Cunningham, and, as always, deeply indebted to the rich creative tradition of Chicago jazz. 

The album’s first single, “Bembé”—a reference to a style of folkloric drumming that appears in the religious ceremonies of Santeria—can be seen as something like a drummer’s homage to both his craft and his scene. Cunningham spent hours listening to the Afro-Cuban grooves of these bembé folk recordings, and wrote the track with multi-instrumentalist McDiarmid. The drumming here is both sensitive and infectious: leading the band, but never overshadowing it, and eventually making way for a fiery guitar solo by Parker. 

“Leaves Rain,” another standout track, is song both conceived in and written for the autumn. Years ago, Cunningham heard Josh Johnson and Dustin Laurenzi (Snaarj, TWIN TALK) utilizing a medieval technique called “hocket,” where a single melody is shared between two voices that alternate between resting and taking up the tune. Cunningham loved the technique and wanted to replicate it on a song of his own, so he and Laurenzi spent a fall afternoon making soup and composing together. In the middle of the track, Parker creates a gorgeous drone that stretches out, ethereal and quintessentially autumnal, into what feels like a sleepy fall afternoon, before Johnson and Laurenzi begin their medieval-inspired soloing. 

Since each musician had already crafted a strong, individual presence on their respective scenes before coming together for re: dawn (from far), this was never going to be the sort of album wherein young musicians struggle toward a new collective sound. Rather, each player brought his own significant compositional experience to the table: Parker from his influential indie band Tortoise and well-recognized work in a variety of mediums, from pop to rock to angular jazz; Johnson, emerging from the Monk Institute to become a remarkable saxophonist and composer in his own right, having shared the stage with icons from Herbie Hancock to Aretha Franklin; Ulery, one of Chicago’s first-call bassists, as a composer and bandleader known for his sweeping lyricism, unconventional phrases, Balkan influences, and more. Props to Cunningham for combining them into something alchemical. “Jeremy is one of the most in-demand drummers in Chicago, and he put together a special band of unique voices and personalities for re: dawn (from far),” says Ulery. “His openness as a leader really brings out the singularity in each musician's voice for this project.” 

There’s a warmth and a close-knit sound to the album that makes sense when Cunningham talks about his collaborative relationships with each musician. After all, improvisation only works well if your fellow musicians have your back. “Jeff Parker has always inspired me to create my own unique sound,” says Cunningham. “The ideas that he plays are so natural that it helps to make everything I play much more natural and thoughtful in general. He always knows how to change texture at the right moment, how to play something that’s really supportive. Matt Ulery is always checking in with me to make sure that we’re a unit, that we’re shaping things together. He’s always thinking of the long game. And Josh Johnson? We have a natural dialogue that’s been in place from the first time we ever played together. Josh is extremely melodic, and he’ll take an idea and start turning it around in different ways, taking it through many different variations during the course of the tune.” 

Last fall, Cunningham took the album on the road through the Midwest and up into Canada. The music was well-received by excited audiences, with a radio interview in Montreal and a review in Detroit. One consistent comment was that the tunes were “beautiful and sincere.” That’s what happens when a group of talented musicians play well offstage, too. 

“Even though his playing style does justice to traditional jazz techniques, some of the fills he created as the song went on had a thunderous energy that clearly showed that he had a fair amount of experience in playing genres of rock music as well… great precision and intensity...” - Luigi Murri, WXOU Detroit

Released June 17, 2016 

Jeremy Cunningham - drums (Caroline Davis, Meridian Trio) 

Jeff Parker - guitar (Tortoise) 

Matt Ulery - bass (Loom) 

Josh Johnson - alto saxophone (Holophonor, Thelonious Monk Institute) 

Dustin Laurenzi - tenor sax (Twin Talk, Snaarj) 

Andrew Toombs - organ (Davey Knowles) 

Recorded by Anthony Gravino and Stephen Shirk at Shirk Studios, Chicago, IL. 
Mixed by John McEntire at Soma Studios, Chicago, IL. 
Mastered by Carl Saff at Carl Saff Mastering, Chicago, IL. 
Album artwork and layout by Magdalena Fumagalli and Federico Maksimiuk 


Released by indie, Chicago-based label: ears&eyes Records.

1. Bembé 08:23
2. Pulses 06:22
3. Leaves Rain 06:22
4. Ecliptic 05:39
5. far from 07:41
6. Constituent 03:26 
7. Visions 05:42

Jerry Bergonzi - Spotlight on Standards (2016)

How can you not believe in God when there are things like Hammond B3-tenor groups? There is no way anything but an all-knowing and loving God could create something like this.

Jerry  Bergonzi brings his tenor to team up with Renato Chicco/B3 and Andrea Michelutti/dr for a vintage stick to your ribs blue plate session. The medium is the message here, and it can be delivered in any style. The team is angular in it’s groove on a modal take of “Witchcraft” and is as crispy as a Pringle’s chip on “Come Rain Or Come Shine.” Bergonzi makes his tenor flexible, as he can get as fuzzy as a fur ball on “Dancing In The Dark” or thick as sorghum during his own “First Lady.” The rhythm team boogaloos with delight on “Blue Cube” and Michelutti has tons of fun turning “Out Of  Nowhere” into a Latin Lover. Filling, and a wonderful aftertaste that lingers lusciously.

1. Witchcraft
2. Bi-Solar
3. Blue Cube
4. First Lady
5. Gabriella
6. Dancing in the Dark
7. Out of Nowhere
8. Come Rain Or Come Shine
9. Stella by Starlight

Jerry Bergonzi (tenor saxophone)
Renato Chicco (organ)
Andrea Michelutti (drums)

Steve Turre - Colors For The Masters (2016) SMOKE SESSIONS RECORDS

TROMBONIST AND COMPOSER STEVE TURRE SHOWS OFF HIS FULL SPECTRUM OF SOUNDS on his latest album, Colors for the Masters. The album’s ten songs, evenly split between jazz standards and original tunes that carry the torch for the tradition, offer a dazzling array of hues played in tribute to and alongside some of the elders that have inspired Turre. The leader’s own trombone virtuosity is only one color in a palette that also includes a variety of mutes and his wholly original conch shell artistry.

Colors for the Masters teams Turre with a rhythm section of legendary elders, each of whom shaped the trombonist’s distinctive voice: pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jimmy Cobb. On four tunes the band is joined by saxophonist Javon Jackson, like Turre an alumni of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers; and for the album’s final tune, a stirring rendition of Jobim’s “Corcovado” on which Turre shows off his innovative shell playing, virtuoso percussionist Cyro Baptista also joins in. Together, they pay electrifying homage to other, departed luminaries like John Coltrane, J.J. Johnson, and Thelonious Monk.

While he has shared the stage with each of them over the years in various bands and all-star configurations, he says, “I’ve never had them play my music. I wanted to hear how their interpretations would open up new avenues of expression to me. I’m still trying to grow. I have a certain feeling and a certain direction in mind, and everybody on this record is in the same frame of mind about what jazz is and what this music means to them.”

Taylor Made
JoCo Blues
Coffee Pot
Mellow D for R.C.
Colors for the Masters
When Sunny Gets Blue

Steve Turre: trombone, shells
Javon Jackson: tenor sax
Kenny Barron: piano
Ron Carter: bass
Jimmy Cobb: drums
Cyro Baptista: percussion

Isaac Del Pozo - Cycle (2016)

“Un disco que, haga frío o calor, nos lleva a las estrellas”

José Miguel López, Discópolis (R3)

A sus veintitrés años, ISAAC DEL POZO está considerado uno de los más creativos intérpretes del Bajo Eléctrico en el Nuevo Jazz Español.

Formado en el Centro Superior de Música del país vasco "Musikene", donde obtuvo las máximas calificaciones,  ISAAC DEL POZO toca el Bajo con absoluta maestría, y, sobre todo, compone. En “Cycle”, prima el uso de las Matemáticas aplicadas al Jazz, en un apasionante desarrollo de los conceptos de George Russell, un músico que abrió nuevas puertas al difundir las escalas modales, descubriendo caminos inexplorados a John Coltrane y una larga pléyade de instrumentistas.

“Cycle” se compone de ocho piezas de una calidad extraordinaria en las que se aprecia la poderosa influencia del Miles Davis eléctrico de los setenta junto a chispazos de músicas contemporáneas de las más variadas y sorprendentes  procedencias.

Junto al Bajo Eléctrico de ISAAC DEL POZO, brilla con luz propia el fabuloso Saxo Tenor de Dani Juárez, (otra figura señera del Jazz Español de última generación) y la calidad excepcional de dos músicos cubanos de la talla de Arnaldo Lescay a la Batería, y Edgar Vero al Piano y Sintetizador.

Así suena el Futuro…

01. Circa
02. El Plaza Jazz Club
03. Jackie
04. New Blues Conceptions
05. 505 AM
06. A Very Altered Cherry
07. Marko
08. Plastic Aquarius

Isaac del Pozo - Bass
Daniel Juárez - Tenor Sax
Edgar Vero - Piano, Keys
Arnaldo Lescay - Drums

Rantala / Danielsson / Erskine - How Long Is Now? (2016) ACT MUSIC