Friday, October 7, 2016

Orrin Evans - #knowingishalfthebattle (Oct. 7th, 2016) SMOKE SESSIONS RECORDS

Pianist Orrin Evans Lets Go and Trusts Instincts
with Electrifying Band for #knowingishalfthebattle
Available October 7 on Smoke Sessions Records

No child of the ’80s could forget the closing moments of every “G.I. Joe” cartoon: one of our heroes would teach a valuable life lesson about saying ‘no’ to drugs or not talking to strangers, followed by the familiar refrain, “And now you know… and knowing is half the battle!”

Pianist/composer Orrin Evans has parroted that line for decades, but says he’s only recently come to realize what it truly means. On #knowingishalfthebattle, his third release for Smoke Sessions Records, Evans shares his own lessons in life and music on a raw, electrifying session that teams him with a pair of renowned guitarists who are also, not coincidentally, native sons of Evans’ own hometown of Philadelphia: Kevin Eubanks and Kurt Rosenwinkel. He’s also joined by the latest in a long line of inspired rhythm sections, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Mark Whitfield, Jr., along with up-and-coming saxophonist Caleb Wheeler Curtis and a longtime collaborator, vocalist M’Balia.

#knowingishalfthebattle shows Evans coming to terms with what he’s learned over his years on and off the bandstand — and more importantly, how to make use of that knowledge. In large part, the answer he’s come to involves letting go, forgetting what’s been learned and trusting the instincts that come along with it. By inviting such virtuosic musicians into his world, he’s asking them to do the same and making new discoveries through a collective act of forgetting.

“We’re taught that with knowledge comes power,” Evans says. “Which is true, but we never really realize that with knowledge comes responsibility. Then we have to figure out how to forget. When you let go of everything that you’ve been taught, the possibilities of what can happen on the bandstand are endless.”

“#knowingishalfthebattle” was recorded live in New York at Sear Sound’s Studio C on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to ½” analog tape using a Studer mastering deck. Available in audiophile HD format.

Orrin Evans #knowingishalfthebattle Release Performances
November 17 – 20 | Jazz Standard w/ special guest Kurt Rosenwinkel | New York, NY
December 28 – 30 | Chris’ Jazz Cafe w/ special guest Kevin Eubanks | Philadelphia, PA

Additional Orrin Evans Performances

August 27 | Chris’ Jazz Cafe (w/ Joanna Pascale) | Philadelphia, PA
August 31 | SOUTH (w/ Reggie Watkins) | Philadelphia, PA
September 2 | Chicago Jazz Festival (w/ TARBABY) | Chicago, IL
September 29 – October 2nd | Jazz Standard (w/ Steve Wilson) | New York, NY
October 15 & 16 | Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola (w/ Matt Wilson Group) | New York, NY
October 22 | Bucks County Performing Arts Center (w/ Captain Black Big Band) | Yardley, PA

Orrin Evans · #knowingishalfthebattle
Smoke Sessions Records · Release Date: October 7, 2016

Jesper Lundgaard Trio - 2016 (2016)

Jesper Lundgaard was born in 1954 in Hillerød, Denmark. After first playing guitar for a few years, he started to play bass at age 16. In 1976 he began to study music at Århus University and the same year he became part of Århus' jazz scene when he joined Bent Eriksen's trio. There he met Danish jazz musicians such as Thomas Clausen, Alex Riel, Niels Jørgen Steen, Finn Ziegler, Jesper Thilo, Jørgen Emborg and Jan Zum Vohrde as well as many American musicians, including Dexter Gordon, Harry Sweets Edison, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Joe Newman, Benny Waters, Hal Singer, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Pepper Adams, Howard McGhee, Roy Eldridge and Doug and Jimmy Raney.Lundgaard soon established himself as one of the leading jazz bassists on the Danish jazz scene.

In 1978 he became a member of the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra and went on a 3-month European tour which would become its last before Thad Jones left the band and it changed its name simply to the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.

After the tour both Thad Jones and Jesper Lundgaard settled in Copenhagen. Lundgaard became bassist-in-residence at the La Fontaine Jazz Club and also played in other venues such as Jazzhus Montmartre and Slukefter, accompanying musicians such as Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson, Jay McShann, Dorothy Donegan, Phineas Newborn, Mose Allison and Stanley Turrentine. In 1979 he also started recording for SteepleChase Records, appearing on around 40 albums from this label. He was also a sideman for musicians such as Benny Carter and Teddy Wilson on albums released on Storyville Records. He has also recorded with Chet Baker and Duke Jordan for some albums released by Japanese labels.

Up through the 1980s, Lundgaard was a member of the Radiojazzgruppen, Ernie Wilkins' Almost Big Band and Thad Jones' Danish big band Eclipse, Parallel to this he went on numerous tours with American musicians. These included lengthy tours with Doug and Jimmy Raney to the Netherlands, France and Germany and others with Tommy Flanagan and Ed Thigpen. In the mid-1980s he also became a member of Bob Rockwell's quartet after Rockwell had become the third former The Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra-member to permanently move to Copenhagen in 1984.

From 1989 to 1991 he was a member of the DR Big Band and in 1993 he joined Svend Asmussen's quartet in which he still plays.

In 1994 he formed the Repertory Quartet which released six albums before it was dissolved in 2000.

He has also taught and conducted master classes at educational institutions in Denmark as well as at conservatories in Rotterdam, Zürich and Helsinki.

 01. K. B. Blues 4:30
02. Walking in Circles 4:22
03. The Meeting 5:21
04. The Meaning of the Blues 5:46
05. Three Birds in Paris 5:25
06. Doug 5:14
07. Stafet 5:06
08. Vals Fra Nørrebro 4:57
09. Naima 5:10
10. Waltz for K 4:39

Jesper Lundgaard, bass
Hans Ulrik, sax
Niclas Knudsen, guitar


Don Friedman – Booker Little Tribute on NEW VELLE RECORDS (2016)

In 1961, the young (23 years old) trumpet phenomenon, Booker Little, recorded two extraordinary albums.  Booker was a visionary musician, possessing a close to flawless technique, a burnished, round and beautiful sound and a purely modern conception. His music was completely original and deeply lyrical. Although those two records, "Out Front" and "Booker Little and Friend" are not canonical works, they are known to the initiated as diamonds, and have stood for 56 years as testament of Booker's genius.  They did no less than point to entire new worlds of harmonic and emotional possibility in American music.  Booker Little died that same year from complications arising from a blood disorder.  Those recordings feature two of his closest collaborators Max Roach and Eric Dolphy on Out Front as well as musicians such as Julian Priester, Ron Carter Pete LaRoca, Reggie Workman.  And on both records the young pianist Don Friedman was featured.

 Don passed away from pancreatic cancer in June.   Don was my piano teacher when I first moved to NYC.  I am blessed to have known him and studied with him, he was a brilliant, humble, spirited and compassionate person.  We are enormously grateful that he recorded this project and proud to offer it as part of Newvelle's first season. – Elan Mehler

 Phil Palombi (photo by William Semeraro)

When we were first looking for projects to produce, at the very top of my list was a project with Don Friedman, returning to some of these beautiful Booker compositions. For two days last September, Don brought an extraordinary rhythm section featuring Phil Polombi and Shinnosuke Takahashi to East Side Sound. They weren’t trying to recreate sounds from the record but really used these tunes as jumping off points in the true jazz tradition.

 Shinnosuke Takahashi (photo by William Semeraro)

Don Friedman's final studio recording is available exclusively on vinyl and only from Newvelle Records.  This record is a call back to one of his earliest recordings, but it is also a testament to an artist whose strength and heart were a force and an inspiration throughout his incredible career.