Friday, October 14, 2016

Reggie Watkins (The Jimmy Knepper Project) - Avid Admirer (2016)

Serendipity, synchronicity and promises that were made to be kept led to the making of this fantastic tribute to Jimmy Knepper played on the late bone masters own horns. 

Pure music, pure jazz and pure gold every step of the way when he steps into the Knepper's shoes and finds his own sizable talents augmented with the magic that's hard to explain. Backed by jazzbos that get it and want to be there, this romp through some of Knepper's greatest moments sound as fresh as today as when they were written and first played making this simply an album that needed to be made. Killer stuff throughout.

1. Figment Fragment 04:18
2. Idol of the Flies 03:55
3. Cunningbird 05:14
4. Noche Triste 05:45
5. In The Interim 06:02
6. Avid Admirer 05:55
7. Ogling Ogre 05:07
8. Primrose Path 05:26
9. Goodbye 04:29

Matt Parker, tenor & soprano saxophone
Orrin Evans, piano (1-6)
Tuomo Uusitalo, piano (7-9)
Steve Whipple, bass
Reggie Quinerly, drums

Dave Holland / Chris Potter / Lionel Loueke / Eric Harland - Aziza (2016)

Any jazz group that includes US-schooled Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke is likely to have a strong world-music flavour, and this new quartet – led by double-bass legend Dave Holland and completed by virtuoso saxist Chris Potter and drummer Eric Harland – brims over with Latin, Caribbean and African influences. Harland’s foxily rocking backbeat on Aziza’s Dance shifts via a very catchy guitar hook into a cool and slinky jazz-rock cruiser while Potter’s inventiveness and playfulness spring surprises all through the set without sacrificing the groove. 

The saxophonist’s Summer 15 has a soft Caribbean sway; the long and sinewy Blue Sufi powerfully mixes a staccato and stuttery tenor sax opening over Loueke’s jangling chordwork and features some gracefully rolling improv from Holland; while the haunting Friends features Potter at his most fluent. Sleepless Night, with its snorty unison line and Africanised vocal chant, unleashes the most uninhibited playing from a band that promises to be killer live.

01. Aziza Dance
02. Summer 15
03. Walkin' the Walk
04. Aquila
05. Blue Sufi
06. Finding the Light
07. Friends
08. Sleepless Night

Chris Potter - Saxophone
Lionel Loueke - Guitar
Eric Harland - Drums

Michael Blake - Red Hook Soul (2016) ROPEADOPE RECORDS

Red Hook sits on the southern end of Brooklyn. Just a short ride from Manhattan, it has a rich history and a gritty past having been a major player in the bustling days of NYC's harbor. It was the centerpiece in Eli Kazan's film On the Waterfront. There's a funky sea fare vibe there and in some areas it's still an active port. You'll find rusted out ships sitting next to the water taxi stands that shunt shoppers to and from popular consumer warehouses.

There are loads of low-rise buildings so the light spreads over the flat lands and you can see the skyline of lower Manhattan and the harbor from many vantage points. Cut off from neighbors by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (one of the most devastating urban projects in NYC history) it is tied together by a strong community driven housing project and a random mash up of residential and industrial buildings that somehow all seem to get along. I used to jog down the long pier on Columbia Street where impounded vehicles are held and I'll always remember stopping in my tracks one day because I came upon the emergency vehicles that were towed there after 9/11. 

Most people will remember seeing residents waste deep in floodwaters after Hurricane Sandy pummeled it in 2012. But New Yorkers find a way to rise above adversity and Red Hook is no different. From gentrification the landscape has changed a lot but 'old' Red Hook is still evident - especially at places like Sunny’s - a long-standing former speakeasy where this band played its first gig. There is a lot of community spirit in this music; built on the same kind of familiarity and roughneck Brooklyn character as the neighborhood it is a tribute to.  - Michael Blake

Released October 14, 2016 

1. Red Hook Soul 05:41
2. Volunteered Slavery 07:13
3. The Nitty Gritty 05:55
4. Video Games 04:50
5. King Curtis 04:04
6. I Love You More Than Words Can Say 04:53
7. Did You Call Her Today? 07:01
8. Everybody Needs Love 04:51
9. Lucky Old Sun 06:08

Tony Scherr - lead guitar
Avi Bortnick - rhythm guitar *
Erik Deutsch - piano and Yamaha Y45D
Tim Lüntzel - electric bass
Moses Patrou - percussion
Tony Mason - drums

Soprano sax on Red Hook Soul 
Guitar solo on I Love You More Than Words Can Say 

Recorded by Andy Taub at Brooklyn Recording, October 19 & 20, 2015 
Mixed by Andy Taub
Produced by Michael Blake and Andy Taub 
Arrangements by Michael Blake 
Red Hook Soul and King Curtis composed by Michael Blake (SESAC)

Nicholas Payton - The Egyptian Second Line (2016) ROPEADOPE RECORDS

In the spirit of reclaiming that which colonization sought to destroy, I'm releasing the first single from my upcoming album Afro-Caribbean Mixtape at the top of Columbus Day weekend. Like a piece of African patchwork, this track is comprised of a lot of different elements — some old, some new. The main body of this record was constructed from the end vamp of a tune I wrote for Dr. Greg Carr (chair of African-American studies at Howard University) called, “Kimathi.” In fact, throughout the piece, you can hear my turntablist, DJ Lady Fingaz, scratching a sample I chopped from one of his interviews. I constructed a new work by cutting and pasting the best moments of Kevin Hays and I playing keyboards on top of the extended jam, and superimposed that over the groove laid down by bassist Vicente Archer, drummer Joe Dyson, and percussionist Daniel Sadownick. I did this with the help of my mix engineer, Blake Leyh (The Wire, Treme). 

Towards the beginning of the piece, you'll hear a chant from vocalists Yolanda Robinson, Jolynda Phillips, and Christina Machado. It's from a thing my father made up while walking through his childhood neighborhood of 13th Ward New Orleans back in the 1940s, “Na-na ni-ta ho-ho. Left, right. Left, right.” Thirty years later, as an elementary school band teacher at McDonogh #15, he had us chant this whenever we marched in second line parades. It recalls the syllabic prayers of ancient languages used in modern dance songs like Mani Dibango's “Soul Makossa,” of which Michael Jackson borrowed for “Wanna Be Startin' Something.”  

The centerpiece of the single is my recitation of a poem I wrote back in 2006 in the aftermath of the flood commonly referred to as “Katrina.” It's called “The Egyptian Second Line.” The gist of the poem toys with the theory that somehow Africans submitted to slavery in an attempt to become better versions of themselves. After the ladies chirp the hook, I step away from the keyboards and embrace the instrument I'm most known for — the trumpet — and blow a few before we take it out. With this song, I am channeling the energy of the ancestors to help give Africa back to herself in the best way I know how, through the power of music. 

In New Orleans, a “second line” is the procession where we dance in the streets to music played by a brass band to celebrate either life or death. When I think about what an Egyptian second line looks like, I think of the imagery of that photo of Louis Armstrong serenading his wife, Lucille in front of the Sphinx — again Africans giving Africa back to herself.

Released October 7, 2016

1. The Egyptian Second Line 14:56
2. The Egyptian Second Line (Instrumental) 14:55

Nicholas Payton: trumpet, spoken word, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3, Clavinet 

Kevin Hays: Fender Rhodes 

Vicente Archer: acoustic bass 

Joe Dyson: drums 

Daniel Sadownick: percussion 

DJ Lady Fingaz: turntable, sampler 

Yolanda Robinson: background vocals 

Jolynda Phillips: background vocals 

Christina Machado: background vocals 

Composed by Nicholas Payton (BMI) 

Produced by Nicholas Payton 

Recorded, mixed, mastered, and designed using the PAYTONEsonic™ programming process 

Recording Engineer: David Stoller 

Assistant Engineer: Emily Eck 

Mixing Engineer: Blake Leyh 

Recorded at The Shed, New Orleans, LA 

Mastering: Michael Fossenkemper, Turtletone Studios, NYC 

Art Direction: Nicholas Payton 

Cover Painting: Ayanna Bassiouni 

Cover Design: Ayanna Bassiouni

Rik Wright's Fundamental Forces - Subtle Energy (Live) 2016

On January 16th 2016, Fundamental Forces went into the Jack Straw Cultural Center studios to record a live performance for Doug Haire's Sonarchy Radio program. Sonarchy Radio has a long and revered history, being on the air for over 20 years and showcasing hundreds of Pacific Northwest musicians. Sonarchy is broadcast on KEXP, Seattle's world renowned independent radio station. 

Rik has an affinity for how the clarinet and electric guitar sound in unison, and so he and James DeJoie decided to perform the live show with just clarinets in the front line. This required transposing many of tunes from alto and baritone saxophone to clarinet and bass clarinet, as well as writing new arrangements to fit the new instrumentation. 

The band had a wonderful experience recording the Sonarchy show. So much so that they decided to leave their gear in the studio in order to come back the next day and record the material straight through a second time. 

All of these songs appear elsewhere in the band’s catalog, somewhere amongst in the color-themed trilogy of recordings they released from 2013 to 2015. However, this time, not only have the tunes been rearranged and re-orchestrated, but the band played them straight through in one sitting, live with no overdubs. That second day of recording, on January 17th 2016, is what you have here.

1. Butterfly Effect (Live) 08:48
02. Subtle Energy (Live) 11:45
03. Yearning (Live) 07:25
04. Nonchalant (Live) 09:14
05. Patience (Live) 05:13

Released September 7, 2016 

Rik Wright, guitar
James DeJoie, alto sax, bass clarinet, clarinet, flute
Geoff Harper, bass
Greg Campbell, drums, percussion

Recorded at Jack Straw Productions in Seattle, WA 
Produced by Rik Wright & Doug Haire 
Engineered by Doug Haire 
Mastered by Rick Fisher at RFI Mastering 
CD design by Sasha Lannon Kenny 

All songs written by Rik Wright 
© 2016 Booshkaboo Music, distributed by HipSync Records, LLC