Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weston / Saxon Groove Assembly - Acceleration (ORENDA RECORDS)

"Imagine a dream
suspended from a wire
so that it can move freely
as the wire disappears into
the axis of rotation,
the center of the dream."

Excerpt from the poem, “Acceleration,” by Steve Shelton

Imagine the diverse collaboration of Grant Calvin Weston (Ornette Coleman, James Blood Ulmer, Lounge Lizards), Jonathan Saxon (Armored Saint, Grant Calvin Weston, Vogel/Saxon Duo), Steuart Liebig (Julius Hemphill, Les McCann, Nels Cline), and Wayne Peet (Nels Cline, John Rapson, Alex Cline). At the center of this dream is a deep sense of groove, improvisation, and experimentation.

“Hip backbeats and polyrhythms, spacey/street cool vibes, and yes, Acceleration keeps moving.” Howard Mandel

The Weston / Saxon Groove Assembly’s sound is a cross country beats collaboration built upon a myriad of grooves, psychedelic sounds, ambient landscapes, and jazz inspired compositions fueled with improvisation. Equally at home at a jazz festival, blues festival, or desert rock festival, the Groove Assembly’s sound is open, driving, and melodic.

Legendary drummer Grant Calvin Weston and percussionist Jonathan Saxon first collaborated in August 2014 when they recorded the drum and percussion duet, "Road Trip to Downey" (track #5 on the CD). 

The chemistry and deep grooves of "Road Trip" inspired Weston to suggest bringing in a few more musicians to record a full length album. With great enthusiasm, Saxon invited keyboardist Wayne Peet and bassist Steuart Liebig to participate in the project. Along with their brilliant performances, Liebig and Peet's compositions were an immense contribution to the album, as were
Peet's remarkable skills as an engineer and producer.

Released as a Compact Disc in a 6-panel digipak covered in original artwork by Eron Rauch, with a 12-page booklet with original poetry by Steve Shelton, this album is a
beautiful collector's item, as well as an incredible listening experience. 

Orenda Records is all about artistic vision. We release boutique style albums, limited edition pressings, with high quality printing and high fidelity sound. 

We believe that listening to music is all about an immersive artistic experience, both auditory and tactile.

This is a label for those who care about and collect beautiful music and beautiful presentation.

"A distance from here
to there is where I am.

Grant Calvin Weston - Drums

Jonathan Saxon - Congas, Mbira, Electric Mbira, Clave, Bells, Rainstick, Orchestral Bells, Bowed Cymbal, Cowbell, Berimbau, Shakers

Wayne Peet - Piano, Hammond B-3 Organ, Synthesizer, Clavinet

Steuart Liebig - Basses, Electronics, Loops

Drums recorded by Grant Calvin Weston at The Third Floor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, February 2015; "Road Trip to Downey" recorded August 2014. 

All other instruments recorded by Wayne Peet at Newzone Studio in Los Angeles, California, March 2015; "Road Trip to Downey" recorded August 2014. 

Edited, mixed, and mastered by Wayne Peet 
Produced by Wayne Peet 

Translation Meditation Music (BMI) - Jonathan Saxon 
Sisong Music (ASCAP) - Steuart Liebig 
Apocalypse Vision (BMI) - Grant Calvin Weston 
Killzone Music (BMI) - Wayne Peet 

Poem by Steve Shelton 
Design and photography by Eron Rauch 
Photos of Jonathan Saxon & Wayne Peet by Stephanie Cabral 
Photo of Grant Calvin Weston by Jessica Kourkounis 
Photo of Steuart Liebig by Wayne Peet


by Steve Shelton 

A distance from here 
to there is where I am. 
Constraints and motion, 
and degrees of freedom 
Time and gravity 
bring the up... down. 

A different kind of waking 
walking into a different kind of sleep. 
Here to there, and there again. 
And the next here is already gone. 
Free beams of density. Free dreams 
where the center of percussion 
and the sweet spot are the same 
to amplify the false impressions, 
harmonic balance, constant speed 
along a circular path, radial, 
towards the center of the circle. 

Constantly changing. 
Tangential, the respected points of ambiguity 
lend them legitimacy, 
hung at the pivot point, 
where the center of oscillation 
is the position of the mass, 
the high mass of a simple pendulum. 
Imagine a dream 
suspended from a wire 
so that it can move freely 
as the wire disappears into 
the axis of rotation, 
the center of the dream. 
And the mass is falling in curved spacetime 
where things become more complicated 
since there is no straight line. 
Curved manifolds. 
Motion and gravity breathe geodesic dreams, 
a relative acceleration, and 
the distance from here to there 
is still where we are. 

Weston/Saxon Groove Assembly - "Acceleration" from michael bloom on Vimeo.

Coming in October on ROPEADOPE RECORDS - Beekman Vol. 2

Beekman is a Brooklyn-based collective comprising pianist Yago Vazquez (Spain), saxophonist Kyle Nasser (U.S), bassist Pablo Menares (Chile), and drummer Rodrigo Recabarren (Chile). These musicians met in 2012 at the 5th Estate sessions in Brooklyn and formed Beekman shortly thereafter. 

The quartet couples eclectic original compositions (steeped in jazz, rock, latin, and classical) with dynamic group interplay into a sound that is international while remaining squarely in the realm of modern jazz. With members from three different continents, Beekman brings a plethora of influences to bear on its compositional and improvisational aesthetics, lending a unique sound.

The group celebrated the release of Vol.1 (on the Chilean label Discos Pendiente) with a 10-day tour of South America in January 2015. Critics have praised this album as “vital new music” (Donald Elfman, New York City Jazz Record) and “a joyful and continued speculation flowing in almost all facets with surprising ease.” (Jazz, ese ruido). 

It even earned the group a nomination for “Best Jazz/Fusion Artist” in the Chilean Music Awards (Premios Pulsar). Since its release, Beekman been a staple on the NYC jazz scene and toured around New England.

In October 2015, Beekman went into the studio to record Vol.2. Scheduled for release in October 2016 on Ropeadope Records, the new album features three compositions by Nasser, two each by Menares and Vazquez, and one by Recabarren. 

Having had the opportunity to play a great deal since the release of Vol.1, the quartet really sharpens its aesthetic on Vol.2. while exploring on new sounds and textures for the future.

Montreal Jazz Fest - The new Jazz All-Year Round season is here!

Rudresh Mahanthappa fall tour dates in U.S. and Europe

Saxophonist/Composer Rudresh Mahanthappa performs music from Bird Calls on tour

September 16–October 23 in the US and November 4–18 in Europe

Bird Calls examines the influence of Charlie Parker through a 21st century jazz lens

 “The concept here is so inspired, the playing so incendiary that five stars might not be enough... Breathtakingly brilliant.” – Bill Milkowski, The Absolute Sound

“…one of the most cohesive, convincing and profoundly satisfying recordings of Mahanthappa’s career.” – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

“A fantastic album.” – Arun Rath, NPR All Things Considered

“Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most important alto saxophone voices working in jazz today.” – Jazz Times

Saxophonist and composer Rudresh Mahanthappa presents the music of Bird Calls, his critically acclaimed Charlie Parker-inspired CD of the same name, with performances September 16 - October 23 in the United States and November 4 - 18 in Europe. The band will also perform early 2017 shows at Dartmouth College and Bucknell University. The tour comes on the heels of Mahanthappa’s July 2016 appointment as Director of Jazz at Princeton University. 

Bird Calls earned high praise including Best Album of the year from the DownBeat International Critics Poll and NPR Music’s Jazz Critics Poll, as well as in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, iTunes, Huffington Post, New York City Jazz Record, and All About Jazz, among others. The DownBeat Critics Poll also named Mahanthappa its #1 Alto Saxophonist of the year and the Village Voice called him their Best Jazz Artist.

United States Tour Dates:

• Friday, September 16, 8:30 p.m. at The Side Door, 85 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT  
Tickets: $35.  Mahanthappa with Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Matt Mitchell (piano), Francois Moutin (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums).

• Tuesday, October 4, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. at the Jazz Standard, 116 E. 27th St., NYC 
$25. For information call 212-576-2232 or visit  Featuring Mahanthappa with Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Matt Mitchell (piano), Thomson Kneeland (bass), Rudy Royston (drums).

All other US shows feature Mahanthappa with Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Joshua White (piano), Thomson Kneeland (bass), and Dan Weiss (drums).

• Thursday, October 13, 7:30 p.m. at Outpost, 210 Yale SE, Albuquerque, NM
For information call 505-268-0044 or visit

• Friday, October 14, 7:30 p.m. at MIM Music Theater, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, AZ 
Tickets $33.50-$38.50. For information call 480-478-6000 or visit  

• Saturday, October 15, 8 p.m. Angel City Jazz Fest at LACC, Clausen Hall, 855 North Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 
Tickets $15-$25. For information visit

• Sunday, October 16, 8 p.m. at Café Stritch, 374 1st St., San Jose, CA
For information call 408-280-6161 or visit

• Monday, October 17, 7 p.m. at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320 Cedar St., Santa Cruz, CA
Tickets $25. For information call 831-427-2227 or visit

• Tuesday, October 18, 8 p.m. at Humboldt State University, Kate Buchanan Room, 1 Harpst St., Arcata, CA
Presented by Redwood Jazz Alliance. For information visit

• Thursday, October 20, 7:30 p.m. at The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave., Portland, OR
Tickets $20-$30. For information visit

• Friday, October 21, 8 p.m. at the Seattle Art Museum, 1300 1st Ave., Seattle, WATickets $24, $22 members and seniors, $10 
students and military. Presented by Earshot Jazz Festival. For information call 206-654-3100 or visit

• Saturday, October 22, 7:30 p.m. at the Myrna Loy Center, 15 N. Ewing St., Helena, MT
For information call 406-443-0287 or visit

• Sunday, October 23, 8 p.m. at Vieux Carre, Hamm Building, 408 St. Peter St., St. Paul, MN
Tickets $30-$35. For information call 612-332-5299 or visit

The performances in Albuquerque, Portland and Seattle are funded, in part, by the Presenter Consortium for Jazz, a program of Chamber Music America funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

European Tour Dates:

All shows feature Mahanthappa with Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Joshua White (piano), Francois Moutin (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums).

• Friday, November 4, 8:30 p.m. at Bimhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

• Saturday, November 5, 6 p.m. at So What’s Next Festival, Muziekgebouw Frits Philips, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

• Saturday, November 5, 9 p.m. at Tivolivredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

• Monday, November 7, 7:30 p.m. at Stenhammarsalen, Gothenburg, Sweden.

• Wednesday, November 9, 8 p.m. at Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, Norway.

• Thursday, November 10, 8 p.m. at Jazzclub Fasching, Stockholm, Sweden.

• Saturday, November 12, 10 p.m. at Guimaraes Jazz Festival, Centro Cultural Vila Flor, Guimaraes, Portugal.

• Sunday, November 13, 10:30 a.m. at Café Latino, Ourense, Spain.

• Monday, November 14, 8:30 p.m. at Voll-Damm El Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona, Conservatori del Liceu, Barcelona, Spain.

• Wednesday, November 16, 9 p.m. at Teatro Prinicipal, Puerto Real, Cadiz, Spain.

• Thursday, November 17, 7:30 p.m. at Auditorio del Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid, Spain.

• Friday, November 18, 9 p.m. at Teatro Lopez de Ayala, Badajoz, Spain.

2017 Bird Calls Dates:

• Wednesday and Thursday, January 25-26 at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

• Thursday, March 23, 7:30 p.m. at Bucknell University, Bucknell Hall, Lewisburg, PA

Charlie Parker was a key influence for Mahanthappa from the time a junior high music teacher handed him the Parker album Archetypes along with a copy of Jamey Aebersold’s well-known collection of transcriptions, the Charlie Parker Omnibook. “I was blown away,” he recalls. “I couldn’t believe the way he was playing, gorgeous with so much charisma and flying all over the horn. I think hearing Charlie Parker was what planted the first seeds of wanting to do this for the rest of my life. It was very powerful.”

Poring over the transcription book, which listed catalogue numbers for the compositions but not album titles, the young altoist noticed that nearly half of them were accompanied by the label Savoy 2201. Not long after, while searching the bins at a local chain record store, he spotted a copy of the collection Bird: Master Takes – and there, on the spine, was the magic number: Savoy 2201. He describes the moment as “like finding the Holy Grail.”

Despite the stunning array of influences that have impacted his playing since that time, Parker has always remained an overweening inspiration. “If I ever feel uninspired or down I can always go back to Charlie Parker,” he says. “That always makes me feel invigorated and joyful about playing jazz and playing the saxophone. I always say that what I play still sounds like Bird, just a little bit displaced. It’s coming from the same language and the same foundations. I feel like I’ve always been playing Bird.”

Few musicians share the ability of alto saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa to embody the expansive possibilities of his music with his culture. What has materialized is a sound that hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form that reflects Mahanthappa’s own experience growing up a second-generation Indian-American.

Mahanthappa has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, and numerous commissions. He has been named alto saxophonist of the year five of the past six years in DownBeat Magazine’s International Critics Polls and for six years running by the Jazz Journalists’ Association. In April 2013, he received a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, one of the most prominent arts awards in the world. In 2015, he was named a United States Artists Fellow. In 2016, he was named the Director of Jazz and the Associate Director of the Program in Musical Performance at Princeton University.