Thursday, April 6, 2017



Leslie Odom, Jr. (Hamilton) Also Joins the Line-up of Grammy and Tony Award Winning Artists and NEA Jazz Masters

2017 marked the initial sailing of Blue Note at Sea, a nautical musical collaboration between Blue Note Records, Blue Note Jazz Clubs and Entertainment Cruise Productions.  Don Was, president of Blue Note Records and a three time Grammy winning producer has called this three-way production team "the dream team of jazz at sea."  With his expertise and direction, the production and programming savvy offered by Steven Bensusan and his team at Blue Note Jazz Clubs and the 17 years of jazz cruises produced by Entertainment Cruise Productions, Was' description seems apt.

The 2018 cruise roster is nearly finalized and includes winners of 48 Grammys and 2 Tony Awards.  The cruise also features 4 NEA Jazz Masters (the highest award in jazz), all of whom are sailing on Blue Note at Sea for the first time.

These four illustrious performers are among the most celebrated jazz artists of our time: 22-time Grammy winner and NEA Jazz Master Chick Corea, NEA Jazz Master Charles Lloyd, triple Grammy-winner and Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Dr. Lonnie Smith.

Legendary saxophonist (and Blue Note recording artist) Charles Lloyd will join the cruise in St. Thomas with his band The Marvels - Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland. Bridgewater, who, in addition to her three Grammys, has earned a Tony award, will be backed by her own band as well. Smith, a Hammond B-3 guru, has been featured on over seventy albums, and has recorded and performed with a virtual "Who's Who" of the greatest jazz, blues and R&B giants in the industry. Both Bridgewater and Smith will be joining the ranks of NEA Jazz Masters in 2017.

Bridgewater is not the only Tony Award-winner who will be performing for audiences on the Celebrity Summit next February. Leslie Odom, Jr., best known for his role as Aaron Burr in the Broadway smash hit Hamilton, for which he took home both a Tony (for Best Actor in a Musical) and a Grammy (for Best Musical Theater Album), is set to bring his jazz chops to the forefront when he performs with his band on the cruise. The New York Times describes Odom's style as "tender jazz vocals with flashes of adult-contemporary R&B."

Blue Note at Sea '18 will again be hosted by multi-Grammy winning bassist Marcus Miller. Other Grammy-winning artists who will be returning are Robert Glasper, Lalah Hathaway and David Sanborn. While Glasper and Sanborn will perform in the same configurations as they did on Blue Note at Sea's inaugural sailing, five time Grammy winner Hathaway will bring her own band on board this time out.  The three bands feature 11 top jazz musicians, all of whom will be performing in other configurations and groups during the cruise.

The multi-Grammy winning pianist Robert Glasper will also be appearing with the Blue Note All Stars, an incredible sextet of young visionaries who first formed in 2014 to celebrate Blue Note's 75th Anniversary. The band features Glasper along with his label-mates Ambrose Akinmusire, Lionel Loueke, Marcus Strickland, Derrick Hodge and Kendrick Scott.

Both Don Was and Steven Bensusan will also participate on the cruise. Was will emcee several events and will interview many of the performers, as he did on the 2017 sailing.  Bensusan will host the Blue Note Jazz Club at Sea, a gorgeous late night venue that offers cabaret style seating in the tradition of his many Blue Note Jazz Clubs.

Featuring the most highly respected and renowned contemporary jazz performers in the world, Blue Note at Sea is a collaboration among Blue Note Jazz Clubs, Blue Note Records, and Entertainment Cruise Productions.  From stunning main shows to their signature Night Music events to Late, Late Night shows and jam sessions, Blue Note at Sea defines what is new and hip in the world of jazz while also retaining and respecting those aspects of the genre that have made jazz one of the true enduring musical styles around the world. 

Blue Note at Sea will sail on Celebrity Summit from February 3 - 10, 2018, departing from Ft. Lauderdale, with ports of call in San Juan, St. Thomas, Coco Cay (Bahamas) and Labadee (Haiti).  For more information about the cruise program, go to

About Entertainment Cruise Productions, LLC

Entertainment Cruise Productions is the world leader in live entertainment at sea. Since 2001, Entertainment Cruise Productions, through its various programs, has produced more than 70 full ship charters, such as Playboy Jazz Cruise, The Elvis Cruise, North Sea Jazz Cruise, Celtic Thunder Cruise, NASCAR The Cruise, and The Gospel Music Cruise. Sailing in 2018 along with The Jazz Cruise are The Smooth Jazz Cruise, Blue Note at Sea, The 80s Cruise and Star Trek: The Cruise. 

Entertainment Cruise Productions is dedicated to providing the finest music and entertainment cruise experience in the world.

Apr. 8 & 9 – Wadada Leo Smith's CREATE Festival in New Haven, CT

Legendary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith presents 
the CREATE Festival

April 8 & 9, 2017 at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT

The first-ever celebration of Smith’s visionary compositions features five ensembles performing classic works and several world premieres

“A trumpeter and composer of penetrating insight.” – Nate Chinen, The New York Times

"Smith uses his magisterial instrumental voice, his inspirational leadership and his command of classical, jazz and blues forms to remind us of what has gone down and what's still happening.”   Bill Meyer, DownBeat’s 80 Coolest Things in Jazz Today

Visionary composer and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith proudly announces the first-ever CREATE Festival, a two-day celebration and exploration of his inventive and unclassifiable music that will feature classic works alongside world premiere performances. Taking place April 8 & 9, 2017 at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, Connecticut, the festival will include performances by five separate ensembles as well as seminars discussing Smith’s singular compositional innovations.

“This idea has been in a dream state for many, many years,” Smith says. That long-cherished dream has been realized in part due to support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which awarded Smith the Doris Duke Artist Award in 2016. The festival offers a thrilling, rare opportunity to delve deeply into the full scope of Smith’s sui generis compositional voice and approach, which – in their category-defying range and breadth – can only be classified using Smith’s preferred term, “Creative Music.”

The eclectic weekend will include two unique trios, each featuring unusual, ingenious instrumentation; three of the composer’s most recent works for string quartet, the latest entries in an oeuvre now spanning more than five decades; a vocal oratorio; and the world premiere performance of Smith’s latest epic composition, “America’s National Parks.” In addition, both days’ performance schedules will kick off with short sets by young, unrecorded musicians (including Wadada’s 21-year-old grandson, guitarist Lamar Smith), providing an invaluable opportunity for artists in the early stages of their careers to receive guidance and exposure from the iconic composer.

Both evenings’ concert programs will culminate with the first-time live performance of the four largest movements from “America’s National Parks” by Smith’s newly-expanded Golden Quintet: Smith, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist John Lindberg, drummer Pheeroan akLaff, and cellist Ashley Walters. Cuneiform’s 2-CD recording of the suite last year was widely acclaimed, taking its place at or near the top of most annual lists of the year’s best releases. JazzTimes wrote that the album “unites political engagement with a soul-deep connection to nature… rich with ineffable majesty, [the suite] fully engages with tensions at the heart of the American experience.”

Saturday’s line-up commences with “Dark Lady of the Sonnets,” a piece dedicated to Billie Holiday and originally recorded in 2011, by Smith’s Mbira trio with akLaff and pipa virtuoso Min Xiao-Fen. Mbira will then be joined by the RedKoral Quintet, a string quartet specially assembled to perform Smith’s music, and a pair of vocalists for excerpts from his “Rosa Parks Oratorio,” originally premiered during the 2016 FONT Festival of New Trumpet Music. The Oratorio, Smith says, “is not a portrait of Rosa Parks. It’s my view of how she generated her ideas, her courage and her notions about how to resolve conflict.”

The RedKoral Quintet, comprising longtime collaborators Shalini Vijayan and Mona Tian (violin), Lorenz Gamma (viola) and Ashley Walters (cello), will then premiere Smith’s “String Quartet No. 9” and the first movement of “String Quartet No. 10,” two of the latest in a book of music begun in the mid-1960s. “No. 9” features four movements dedicated to female African-American pioneers in music and the Civil Rights movement (Ma Rainey, Marian Anderson, Rosa Parks, and Angela Davis), while “No. 10” was inspired by the legendary Duke Ellington and also features pianist Anthony Davis.

Sunday’s concert begins with Smith’s 12th String Quartet, the “Pacifica,” which was premiered at the 2016 Vision Festival and was written for four violas (Stephanie Griffin, Gwen Lester, Tanya Kalmanovitch and Jason Kao Hwang) with Smith’s trumpets and electronics by New York-based sound designer Hardedge. The evening continues with a newly-composed piece for the trio New Delta Akhri, in which Smith is joined by saxophonist and flutist Dwight Andrew and vibraphonist Bobby Naughton. That trio, Smith says, continues to expand concepts inaugurated with his influential early trio, the Creative Construction Company, with fellow AACM pioneers Anthony Braxton and Leroy Jenkins. “That trio set the pace for the idea of an ensemble that didn't have a set bottom, middle and top,” he says. “It sits in a zone that’s quite unique.”

Several of the works will be supplemented by images provided by video artist Jesse Gilbert, who Smith says adds integral visual context to the aural elements. “The music and imagery don’t move in separate streams,” he says. “They’re actually intimately connected and responsible for each other, allowing us to create a narrative that transcends space and time. It’s twofold: there’s a technical and musical connection, and then there’s a psychological and historical connection that help to provide for comprehension of the work.”

In order to further that comprehension, Smith (aided again by Gilbert’s images) will offer two afternoon seminars during the weekend, one to elaborate on several of the compositions and the inspirations and approaches behind them, and one to offer insights into his symbolic musical language, Ankhrasmation. Both seminars will be accompanied by premium coffee brewed by Wadada himself and Creole gumbo prepared by Gianna Chachere, executive director and founder of New Orleans arts organization The New Quorum.

Smith chose New Haven’s Firehouse 12 as the ideal venue for the CREATE Festival, calling it “almost a perfect place to play. The size is intimate enough that everybody in the space will feel that they’re part of the performance and can have a clear, engaged audio and visual experience. It’s a strong center for music in Connecticut.”

As with every performance, Smith sees the overall festival as a work in itself, which he calls “Kosmic Music: A Sonic Spectrum of Crystallized Rhythm: Pure – In Eight Parts with Five Ensembles.” In the end, Smith hopes that audiences who attend the festival will come away “with a deeper understanding of how I make my art. I expect that they’ll be more informed about what my music is and therefore they can create a deeper level of appreciation for what I do. Ultimately I wish to create a dialogue about issues of liberty, democracy, art and the connection between human beings.”

CREATE Festival April 8 & 9, 2017, Firehouse 12

Saturday, April 8

12-2:00pm Seminar

A presentation centered around a dialogue about Wadada Leo Smith’s music and some of the pieces being performed over the two days, with Jesse Gilbert, video artist. Premium coffee brewed by Wadada and Creole gumbo prepared by Gianna Chachere.

7:00pm Concert

1. Young People’s Opening Act LaStar
Lamar Smith, guitar, plus two musicians TBA

2. Dark Lady of the Sonnets 

3. Excerpt from Rosa Parks Oratorio
The Montgomery Bus Boycott: 381 Days: Fire

Pheeroan Aklaff, drums and percussion
Min Xiao Fen, pipa and voice
Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet
with RedKoral Quartet and Jesse Gilbert, video artist on Rosa Parks Oratorio

4. String Quartets 9 and 10, World Premiere
String Quartet No. 9 
Ma Rainey
Marian Anderson 
Rosa Parks 
Angela Davis

String Quartet No. 10 
Reminiscing in Tempo

RedKoral Quartet
Shalini Vijayan, violin
Mona Tian, violin
Lorenz Gamma, viola
Ashley Walters, cello
Anthony Davis, piano on String Quartet #10

5. Excerpts from America’s National Parks
New Orleans; National Cultural Park, World Premiere Yellowstone; the Spirit of America

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quintet
Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet
Anthony Davis, piano
Ashley Walters, cello
John Linberg, bass
Pheeroan Aklaff, drums
Jesse Gilbert, video artist

Sunday, April 9

12-2:00pm Seminar

A presentation of a dialogue concerning the symbolic music language Ankhrasmation, with Jesse Gilbert, video artist. Premium coffee brewed by Wadada and Creole gumbo prepared by Gianna Chachere.

7:00pm Concert

1. Young People’s Opening Act
Musicians TBA

2. String Quartet #12, Pacifica
Viola Quartet with Trumpet and electronics

The Sextet
Stephanie Griffin, viola
Gwen Lester, viola
Tanya Kalmanovitch, viola
Jason Kao Hwang, viola
Hardedge, electronics
Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet

3. New premiere, TBA

New Delta Ahkri
Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet
Dwight Andrew, saxophones/flutes
Bobby Naughton, vibraphone

4. Excerpts from America’s National Parks
Mississippi River 

Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quintet
Wadada Leo Smith, trumpet
Anthony Davis, piano
Ashley Walters, cello
John Linberg, bass
Pheeroan Aklaff, drums

Jesse Gilbert, video artist

The Kareem Kandi Band - Hourglass (2017)

Tacoma's top jazz man, Kareem Kandi, returned to the knkx studios this fall armed with the enviable rhythm section of Delvon Lamarr on Hammond organ and D'Vonne Lewis and some new music from his new album, "Hourglass".

One of the busiest musicians in the area, Kareem talked about helping to organize the Tacoma Jazz Association, the inspiration he draws from the jazz community, and his newest role, as a father of a new baby.

He hasn't written a song for his daughter yet, we were treated with two of Kareem's own songs, "Guess Again" and "Hourglass" from the new release, and - just two days after a contentious election - the appropriate finisher, "The Glory of Love."

1. Impressions
2. Hourglass
3. Curvaceous
4. Stardus
5. Guess Again
6. You Make Me Feel So Young

Mani Padme Trio - Vôo

“It’s diminishing to talk about Mani Padme Trio as any jazz trio. This group, in fact, doesn’t belong in any specific or recognizable music category other than the broad and “omni-understandable” category of great music, which manages to transcend the intensions of its own author until it acquires universal value.

Mani Padme Trio’s music has the rhythm of breathing, the depth of a thought, the beauty of a smile, the vitality of a running child. It’s simple, spontaneous, immediate, and speaks directly to the soul. Music that only the great can create.” (Marco Giorgi – Italian critic).

Created in 2002, Mani Padme Trio is already a reference in Brazilian jazz music. After the success of their first two albums, Um Dia de Chuva(2004) and “Depois”(2008), the trio formed by the Cuban pianist Yaniel Matos, bassist Sidiel Vieira and drummer Ricardo Mosca, releases their third CD, Vôo.

Two cultures that meet, Brazil and Cuba, samba and salsa; but the trio, while letting their common harmony be heard, as well as the differences of their musical ideas, move away from the smug concept of latin-jazz.

São Paulo’s rhythms and colors, where this work was recorded, are present, but are not easily recognizable. We find these characteristics wisely in the instruments’ dialogues drawn through a unique style that is, at the same time, richly enhanced by influences from European jazz and New York music.

“Vôo” offers – in Yaniel Matos and Sidiel Vieria’s songs – complex, deep and meditative musical forms. They also recorded two famous brasillian standards, Cais (Milton Nascimento) and Rosa Morena (Dorival Caymmi). Free of stereotypes, the trio produces music that is completely original and of a truly symbiotic relationship among the musicians. Just like their two first records, Vôo is an independent recording and is distributed in Brazil by Tratore. In Europe, both albums have been released by the Italian record label Red Records.

1. Partida
2. Gotas de Rocio
3. Cais
4. Compreensiva
5. Cimarron
6. Estrada Rural
7. El Vuelo
8. Farofa
9. Rosa Morena

Yaniel Matos - piano
Sidiel Vieira -  upright bass
Ricardo Mosca - drums

Nico Gori Sea Side Quartet - Opposites (PHILOLOGY 2017)

Nuovo doppio album del polistrumentista Nico Gori, prodotto da Paolo Piangiarelli per l’etichetta discografica Philology. Il cofanetto è composto da due dischi definiti già dal titolo “opposti” in quanto il primo, che ha per titolo “Ballads” è interamente dedicato ai tempi lenti, alle ballate; il secondo dal titolo “Fire & Flames” è invece composto da brani veloci ed energici. In entrambi gli album sono contenuti standards più o meno riarrangiati ed alcuni brani del leader Nico Gori, in sintonia con la sonorità generale, con chiari riferimenti al “be bop” e all’ “hard bop”.

Nonostante la contrapposizione ritmica il doppio album Opposites si uniforma grazie al suono compatto e collaudato del Nico Gori Sea Side Quartet che comprende il pianista Piero Frassi, già noto nel panorama jazz italiano, il solido contrabbassista Nino "Swing" Pellegrini e il brillante batterista Vladimiro Carboni.

1. Reflections
2. The Swan
3. Dexter
4. A Little Song For You
5. Ask Me Now
6. Darn That Dream
7. Belzebu
8. The Gipsy

1. Without A Song
2. Fluk
3. Invitation
4. It’s You Or No One
5. Melodious Thonk
6. Subconscious-Lee
7. Marshmellow
8. Seven Steps To Heaven

Piero Frassi (p)
Nino Pellegrini (b)
Vladimiro Carboni (ds)

Gilad Atzmon / Alan Barnes & The Lowest Common Denominator (2017)

This looks like an outlandish pairing, but if you ignore the usual misleading labels (Alan Barnes supposedly mainstream, Gilad Atzmon far-out), differences in style are trivial compared to the things they have in common. They are both phenomenal saxophonists, overflowing with inventive ideas and, equally important, the gift of communicating with an audience. When playing together, they make much comical play of being engaged in deadly conflict, but the spirited way they spark each other off in their improvisations tells a different story.

And the mutual fun is catching. Even Barnes’s cod-mathematical album note is hilarious, claiming that the pair of them “like pi, are irrational and can go on and on towards infinity”.

1. Fat Cat (feat. Frank Harrison, Chris Higginbottom & Yaron Stavi) 6:07
2. The Lowest Common Denominator (feat. Frank Harrison, Chris Higginbottom & Yaron Stavi) 6:01
3. Blip Blop (feat. Frank Harrison, Chris Higginbottom & Yaron Stavi) 6:12
4. Sweet Pea (feat. Frank Harrison, Chris Higginbottom & Yaron Stavi) 7:20
5. Phonus Bolonus (feat. Frank Harrison, Chris Higginbottom & Yaron Stavi) 4:26
6. Pro-State Solution (feat. Frank Harrison, Chris Higginbottom & Yaron Stavi) 5:03
7. Giladiator (feat. Frank Harrison, Chris Higginbottom & Yaron Stavi) 5:06
8. Sun, Moon, Stars, Rain (feat. Frank Harrison, Chris Higginbottom & Yaron Stavi) 4:47

Gilad Atzmon & Alan Barnes (saxes and clarinets)
Yaron Stavi (bass)
Frank Harrison (keys)
Chris Higginbottom (drums)

Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet - December Avenue (ECM 2017)

The great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko has long been one of the most distinctive musicians in all of jazz, his grainy tone and smeared notes instantly recognizable, his intensely lyrical improvisations and soulful themes as characteristic as the noirish atmospheres they often conjure. He’s also a player who gives a great deal of thought to context, and a generous bandleader who encourages his co-players to express themselves within his world of dark melody. US magazine JazzTimes noted recently: “He writes melodies that pierce the heart like needles, but does not exactly write songs. His pieces are open forms, a few strokes or gestures that introduce a mood and set Stanko into motion. He needs musicians around him who can respond with independent creativity to his unique stimuli.” Stanko’s New York Quartet is among his most exciting projects.

A decade ago, Stanko took an apartment in the city he still considers the jazz capital of the world, the stomping ground of all his early musical heroes including Monk, Miles, Coltrane and Cecil Taylor. His initial thought was that a New York retreat would be an ideal space to soak up inspiration and write new music, but it was not long before he was interacting with some of the most gifted and creative players on the scene. The first documentation of this activity was the double album Wisława, which introduced the first edition of Stanko’s New York Quartet. Released in 2013, it immediately netted much praise from the international press with The Guardian hailing it as “a dream-ticket jazz meeting between a cutting-edge European legend, and an equally honed triumvirate of pioneering New York-based musicians.”

Now December Avenue – recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in June 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher – takes the story forward. There’s been one change in the line-up, and new bassist Reuben Rogers – originally from the Virgin Islands and perhaps best-known to ECM listeners for his work with Charles Lloyd (see Athens Concert, Rabo de Nube and Mirror) – proves to be a splendid addition to the team, establishing a profound understanding with Cuban-born pianist David Virelles and Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver, and bringing a dancing buoyancy to the collective improvising. Rogers’ playing has, he says, internalized some of the lilting rhythms of the calypso music he heard as a child as well as the emotional fervour of gospel. An exceptionally well-rounded improviser, Reuben played clarinet, piano, drums and guitar before settling on the bass, and is well-placed both to drive the music forward and make cogent melodic contributions.

Pianist David Virelles, widely regarded as one of today’s most original pianists, exemplifies the melting-pot character of New York in sparkling solos that can cross reference Cuban rhythm with lessons learned from Muhal Richard Abrams, or allude to early influences including Andrew Hill and Bud Powell. Virelles has two ECM leader recordings already, Mbókò and Antenna, and a third is on the way. He is also member of Chris Potter’s new quartet and is featured on its new album The Dreamer Is The Dream, released in April 2017.

Gerald Cleaver, among the most resourceful of all contemporary drummers, first recorded for ECM 20 years ago, as a member of Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory. He has since appeared on albums for the label with Miroslav Vitous, Michael Formanek, Craig Taborn and, most recently, with Giovanni Guidi, Gianluca Petrella and Louis Sclavis on Ida Lupino. Cleaver is touring with Guidi, Petrella and Sclavis this Spring, as well as with Stanko.

December Avenue is Tomasz Stanko’s 12th album as a leader on ECM. The first of them Balladyna, recorded in 1975, established him as a major force in European jazz. His other discs for the label are Matka Joanna (recorded 1994), Leosia (1996), Litania – Music of Krzyszstof Komeda (1997), From The Green Hill (1998), Soul of Things (2001), Suspended Night (2003), Selected Recordings (2004), Lontano (2005), Dark Eyes (2009), and Wisława (2012). He can also be heard on Edward Vesala’s Satu (recorded 1976), Gary Peacock’s Voice from the Past – Paradigm (1981) and Manu Katché’s Neighbourhood (2004).

Stanko begins a European tour at the end of March, playing the music of December Avenue in Hamburg, Germany (April 6 and 7), Oslo, Norway (April 8), Voss, Norway (April 9), Helsinki, Finland (April 10), Poznan, Poland (April 11), Warsaw, Poland (April 12), and Stuttgart, Germany (April 16).

1. Cloud 4:13 
2. Conclusion 2:01 
3. Blue Cloud 8:52 
4. Bright Moon 7:19 
5. Burning Hot 5:05 
6. David And Reuben 1:30 
7. Ballad For Bruno Schulz 6:26 
8. Sound Space 4:04 
9. December Avenue 6:33 
10. The Street Of Crocodiles 6:08 
11. Yankiels Lid 6:07 
12. Young Girl In Flower 5:57

David Virelles piano
Reuben Rogers double bass
Gerald Cleaver drums 

Recorded June 2016 at Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines (France)

João Hasselberg & Pedro Branco - From Order to Chaos (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2017)

Only a few months after the debuting success of the album “Dancing Our Way to Death”, the partnership of the Portuguese, but living in Copenhagen, double bassist João Hasselberg and the also Portuguese, but established in Amsterdam, guitarist Pedro Branco is back with “From Order to Chaos”.

The arguments presented make us expect other grand results, maybe even stronger, such is the programmatic range of the concept announced by the title “From Order to Chaos”. It’s not difficult to understand why: together and each one by his side, with their own individual projects and through collaborations with others, Hasselberg and Branco are renewing the jazz tradition with the internalization of aspects coming from both popular music (folk, pop, rock) and art music (contemporary classical, experimental, free improvised), taking down the barriers still dividing “high culture” and “low culture”.

Some of the participants are the same of the previous record (such is the case of the virtuoso guitar player Afonso Pais), establishing a sense of continuity, but others are added, like the Catalan Albert Cirera, a saxophonist at ease in both mainstream and avant-garde situations. The music is so familiarly strange, so bizarrely accessible, that you soon become addicted.

1. One for Debord  3:02
2. Crossing the Street so I Don't Have to Say Hello  3:27
3. Sisyphus Back Pain  5:16
4. While Trees Turn White  3:33
5. Basquiat's Moses  2:17
6. One for Debord – Reprise  2:57
7. Improv I  1:40
8. I Would Prefer Not To  2:45
9. Absolutely Overwhelming Revelation  1:18

João Hasselberg  double bass, electric bass  
Pedro Branco  guitar  
Albert Cirera  saxophone (5,8)  
Afonso Pais  guitar (1,6 )
João Paulo Esteves da Silva  piano (1,6)  
Luis Figueiredo  piano (3)
João Lencastre  drums

Recorded by Rui Guerreiro at Auditório Municipal do Seixal
Produced, mixed and mastered by João Hasselberg and Pedro Branco | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos

Chris Potter, David Virelles, Joe Martin & Marcus Gilmore - The Dreamer Is the Dream (ECM 2017)

For his third ECM album as a leader ? released on both CD and 180g vinyl ? Chris Potter presents a new acoustic quartet that naturally blends melodic rhapsody with rhythmic muscle. 

The group includes superlative musicians well known to followers of ECM's many recordings from New York over the past decade: keyboardist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, who each shine in addition to the leader on multiple horns. The Dreamer Is the Dream features Potter on tenor saxophone ? the instrument that has made him one of the most admired players of his generation ? in the striking opener "Heart in Hand" and such album highlights as "Yasodhara," as well as on soprano sax ("Memory and Desire") and bass clarinet (the title track). 

Potter is an artist who "employs his considerable technique in service of music rather than spectacle," says The New Yorker, and his composing develops in texture and atmosphere with every album. Along with his previous ECM releases, Imaginary Cities and The Sirens, he has appeared on some of the label's most acclaimed discs, including Paul Motian's classic Lost in a Dream and Dave Holland's Grammy Award-winning What Goes Around.

1. Heart In Hand
2. Ilimba
3. The Dreamer Is The Dream
4. Memory And Desire
5. Yasodhara
6. Sonic Anomaly

Chris Potter (tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, clarinet, ilimba, flute, samples)
David Virelles (piano, celeste)
Joe Martin (double bass)
Marcus Gilmore (drums, percussion)

Rob Garcia - Finding Love in an Oligarchy on a Dying Planet (BJU RECORDS)

Forget for a minute how few drummer composers have as much of a gift for melody as Rob Garcia. Or for that matter what an acerbic, smart lyricist he is. It’s impossible to imagine an album that more accurately captures the state of the world in 2016 better than his new release Finding Love in an Oligarchy on a Dying Planet. Isn’t that the challenge that pretty much everybody, other than the Donald Trumps and Hillary Clintons of the world, faces right now? Garcia’s critique is crushingly vivid, catchy as hell and just as erudite. He offers a nod back to the fearlessly political Max Roach/Abbey Lincoln civil rights-era collaborations, and has an aptitude for bustling Mingus-esque 50s noir. His first-class band includes Noah Preminger, a frequent collaborator (who has a killer new album of his own just out) on tenor sax, along with Gary Versace on piano and Masa Kamaguchi on bass, with Joe Lovano and Kate McGarry guesting on a couple of tracks each.

A cover of Stephen Foster’s Beautiful Dreamer opens the album, pulsing on an uneasy triplet beat until Preminger’s crafty lead-in to Versace’s spirals sends it into genunely surreal doublespeed territory, a time-warping nocturne. People Are Everything, a similarly uneasy jazz waltz, has Kate McGarry’s austere, Britfolk-tinged vocals channeling a similar angst and a hope against hope. Time and time again, Garcia’s message is that we’re all in this together, that it’s our choice to either sink or swim isn’t one that future generations will have.

Preminger’s tightly unwinding spirals sax over Versace’s insistent, acerbic piano deliver a vivid update on 50s noir postbop in the almost cruelly catchy Terror, Fear and Media: Garcia’s own artully terse propulsion so tight with the rest of the rhythm section, ramping up a practically punishing, conspiratorial ambience. Those guys are just hell-bent on scaring the bejeezus out of us, aren’t they?

Joe Lovano guests on the languidly aching ballad Precious Lives with a wide-angle vibrato, Versace following with masterfully subtle, blues-infused variations before handing back to the sax. Actor Brendan Burke narrates Garcia’s rapidfire, spot-on critique Mac N Cheese (Bank Fees, Dead Bees, Killing Trees, Shooting Sprees, War Thieves, Mac N Cheese) ) over a broodingly tight Angelo Badalamenti noir beatnik swing groove, a crushingly cynical, spot-on Twin Peaks jazz broadside.. Garcia follows this with the first of two tightly wound solo breaks, Act Local #1

The album’s title track makes plaintively shifting postbop out of a simple, direct Afro-Cuban piano rifff, then takes the whole architecture skyward, a showcase for both Preminger and Versace to sizzle and spin; it has the epic ominousness of a recent Darcy James Argue work, Versace adding a carnivalesque menace. The Journey Is the Destination makes a return to furtively stalking straight-up swing with Lovano again, McGarry rising with a determination that stops short of triumphant: where this will all end up is far from clear.

Guns Make Killing Easy opens as a surrealistically creepy, upper-register piano-bass duet and the swings morosely as Versace leaps with a clenched-teeth, macabre intensity balanced on the low end by Garcia’s coldly inevitable groove, Preminger adding nebulous suspense as the whole thing starts to go haywire and then turns into a requiem.

A tight, enigmatic two-sax chart opens Greenland Is Turning Green, both Lovano and Preminger judiciously prowling around over the hard-charging rumble underneath. The second pastorale here, Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier is reinvented as pensive mood piece, while Whatever Gets You By seems to offer a degree of hope with its flashy piano, bittersweet Preminger lines and tropical heat. The album winds up with a second solo Garcia piece, Act Local #2

Throughout the suiite, Garcia’s own impactful, tersely majestic riffs and rolls color the music with an often mutedly brooding thud, as coloristic as it is propulsive. You would hardly expect the best jazz album of 2016 to be written by a drummer, and it’s awfully early in the year to make that kind of choice. On the other hand, nobody’s going to release a more relevant or important – or tuneful – jazz album this year.

1. Beautiful Dreamer
2. People Are Everything
3. Terror, Fear and Media
4. Precious Life
5. Mac n Cheese (Bank Fees, Dead Bees, Killing Trees, Shooting Sprees, War Thieves, Mac n Cheese)
6. Act Local #1
7. Finding Love In An Oligarchy On A Dying Planet
8. The Journey Is The Destination
9. Guns Make Killing Easy
10. Greenland Is Turning Green
11. Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier
12. Whatever Gets You By
13. Act Local #2

Noah Preminger: tenor saxophone
Gary Versace: piano
Masa Kamaguchi: bass

Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone (4, 8, 10)
Kate McGarry: vocals (2, 8)
Brendan Burke: spoken word (5)