Saturday, April 22, 2017

Great New Releases from Randy Ingram & Mike McGinnis! (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS)

Two Fantastic Releases Out Today (4/21/17)!

Randy Ingram's The Wandering and Mike McGinnis's Recurring Dream!

Pianist-composer Randy Ingram has put himself in a position to reveal more about his musical identity by scaling down to record The Wandering, a sophisticated, personal and enlightening duo album with bassist Drew Gress.

While other instrumentalists can choose a different mouthpiece or effects pedal to modulate and personalize their sound, pianists must develop their identity by how and what they play. Ingram has established his identity through his pianistic touch and sense of orchestration, earning many accolades over the years.  As Kevin Laskey of NYC’s Jazz Gallery says, “It’s hard to make a piano sing. You can’t breathe into it. You can’t slide from one note to another. The piano is a mechanical music-maker, and it takes a real artist – an Ahmad Jamal, a Bill Evans, a Fred Hersch – to make it come alive.  Pianist Randy Ingram is one of those artists. He has an immaculately honed touch and an unforced sense of lyricism.”

Ingram explains, “A jazz pianist’s true identity is defined equally by their tone and by the content of what they play:  the specific shades and colorations of their harmonies, the types of textures they favor and the way they think about orchestrating and stating melodies – especially in the context of ‘standard’ repertoire.”

Ingram’s thoughts were reinforced by the opening of a new NYC venue, Mezzrow, that featured stripped down performances, mainly by pianists and bassists, filling a void created by the closing in the mid-1990s of the famed Bradley’s on University Place. Mezzrow has become an incubator and stage for pianists of all sorts to display their talents with the minimum of dressings, typically in duos with bass.  The duo format resonated with Ingram, as one of the formative experiences in his musical development was a steady gig while at the University of Southern California with bassist Billy Mohler. Says Ingram, “I believe much of my stylistic identity started to form through playing that gig my last two years of college, and my memories of it have always made the duo format a very familiar and welcoming sound.”

As Ingram was developing repertoire for the followup to his previous Sunnyside release, Sky/Lift (2014), he began to feel a pull in a different direction. The music he was writing for his quartet focused on deeper interplay between piano and guitar, becoming more densely orchestrated and heavily structured. Ingram found himself thinking about ways that his pianistic voice could be more clearly and spontaneously be heard.

For Ingram’s debut performance at Mezzrow, bassist Drew Gress was his ideal duo partner.  Universally praised as a master accompanist and soloist, Ingram had long admired Gress’s playing, being familiar with the bassist’s solo recordings and work with Fred Hersch. The duo’s first gig together was exemplary: Gress’s playing was wonderfully supportive but also motivating, pushing Ingram to explore new musical areas.  At the conclusion of the duo’s first performance, Ingram’s friend, the saxophonist Jeremy Udden, described what he had heard as a stripped down, truthful statement on the identity of “Randy the player–Randy the pianist”. 

Purchase Here:

Stream: "The Rising"

The romantic dream of many aspiring jazz musicians is to sail into New York City, drawn by the magnetism of the metropolis, and to seek an apprenticeship amongst the heroes and legends of the music. It isn’t often that these dreams come true, but for saxophonist/clarinetist/composer Mike McGinnis they did in his friendship and collaboration, with jazz legends Art Lande and Steve Swallow, showcased on the trio’s Recurring Dream.

Originally from Maine, McGinnis grew up focusing on classical saxophone, leading him to the Eastman School of Music, where pianist Michael Cain introduced him to a coterie of musicians who experimented in melding jazz and classical musical concepts, including what was called Third Stream music in the 1950s and 1960s. Cain also led McGinnis to the music of pianist Art Lande, whose remarkable playing is beyond category on his own far reaching projects and those by his early band, Rubisa Patrol. Both musical conceptions had a big impact on McGinnis.

It wasn’t long before McGinnis met Lande at a friend’s wedding, where the intimidated McGinnis jammed with the pianist. There was an immediate creative spark between the two and they began to correspond, becoming close friends and collaborators for the next 15 years.

McGinnis had seen Swallow’s name tagged to tunes with bizarre titles in the Real Book but it took until this time and really hearing the bassist’s incredible playing for McGinnis to study his expansive oeuvre. In 2006, Ohad Talmor asked McGinnis to sub in his chamber ensemble for a European tour, where, remarkably, Swallow was the featured composer and in the bass chair. McGinnis took quick advantage to develop a relationship with Swallow, savoring his stories, witticisms and generous spirit.

McGinnis was able to finally realize his dream in 2016 as he invited Lande and Swallow to Brooklyn for a weekend of performing and recording. The trio recorded nearly three hours of music at Systems Two Recording Studios, which was winnowed down to the program on the arresting Recurring Dream.

Purchase Here:

May 5 - Romero Lubambo - Sampa
May 19 - Diego Barber - One Minute Later
May 26 - Carlos Franzetti & Allison Brewster Franzetti - Luminosa
June 2 - Dan Tepfer Trio - Eleven Cages
June 2 - Adam Kolker - Beckon
June 9 - Dominique Eade & Ran Blake - Town & Country

Tim Allhoff Trio - There Will Be Light (UNIT RECORDS 2017)

Two-time winner of the prestigious ECHO JAZZ, winner of the NEW GERMAN JAZZ AWARD and a welcomed guest at many renowned festivals and stages - German pianist Tim Allhoff's Trio is undeniably a constant magnitude on the national jazz scene. The »ZEIT« proclaims »Intelligent Music for the Masses«, the »Sueddeutsche Zeitung« cheers: »Yes, this is jazz! And what jazz it is!« On their fourth release "There will be light", the band once again demonstrates their mutual attachment and understanding, extraordinary interplay and individual class.

After the first three successful Trio-albums, the three companions return to straight acoustic sound on the brand new release, except for the Fender Rhodes, which delightfully appears on some tracks. Apart from a few arrangements of jazz standards and pop songs, this album features mainly original compositions by the bandleader Tim Allhoff.

1. Improvisation I 1:16
2. Avalon 8:33
3. Burn The Witch 4:46
4. There Will Never Be Another You 4:30
5. End Of September 8:11
6. Improvisation II 3:39
7. Reach For The Star 3:48
8. Tune No. 8 6:38
9. Birthday Song 7:06
10. Seven Daily Sins 6:19
11. Satoru Nakata's Dream 6:26
12. Hollow Talk 6:59

Tim Allhoff - Piano and Fender Rhodes
Andreas Kurz - Bass
Bastian Jütte - Drums

Kiesewetters Gammarama - The Mission (UNIT RECORDS 2017)

Woodwind and composer Jan Kiesewetter ventures forth on 'The Mission', his band's second release. While the debut 'For the Cats' (2014) already veered towards euphonious originality its successor 'The Mission' intensily advances another cornerstone in Kiesewetter's sonic cosmos.

He takes his musicians, guitarist Bernd Huber, double-bass player Uli Fiedler and drummer Tilman Herpichböhm on quite a trip. A trip to artisticly phrase his innate fondness for music. A trip that retains the fascination and the evidently endless delight in playing and experimenting. 

'The Mission' sounds as blythely and boundless as a freshly recorded superb live gig. Swiss jazzlabel UNIT has released a contemporary feast for the ears.

1. The Pony 7:33
2. The Real Birdman 4:29
3. The Mission Suite: Preface 4:12
4. The Mission Suite: Main Part 8:59
5. The Mission Suite: Epilogue 5:18
6. Personal Work Song 5:54
7. Under Pressure 5:34
8. Hangin' Out (Nicely Exhausted) 8:01

Jan Kiesewetter - Saxophones, Clarinet, Composition
Bernd Huber - Electric guitar
Uli Fiedler - Double bass
Tilman Herpichböhm - Drums

All compositions by Jan Kiesewetter
Recorded at Realistic Sound Studio, Munich, Germany
Recording date: May 16 & 17, 2016
Studio engineer and mixing by Florian Oestreicher
Mastering by Moritz Illner
Produced by Jan Kiesewetter and Uli Fiedler

Caryl Baker Quartet - True Balance (UNIT RECORDS 2017)

With a combination of lyricism, rhythmical energy, restraint and exuberance, the music presented as it is makes a strong impression of its improvisational prowess, and it’s constant "search for sound" reveals the different musical personalities.

The music of the quartet puts great emphasis on themes and improvisation, sometimes developed on complex harmonies and rhythms. The saxophones are supported by an inventive and solid rhythm section, allowing the band total freedom and interactivity.

1. Understatement 5:41
2. Don't Loose It 5:30
3. Rue Franche 5:58
4. A Distinction Without a Difference 9:32
5. Destiny's Dance 5:33
6. Skyline 7:12
7. Southpaw 3:43
8. Ruse 10:29
9. The Essence of Silence (Live) 7:49
10. Plus de Nouvelles (Live) 3:27

Caryl Baker: piano
Luigi Galati: drums
Emanuel Schnyder: double bass
Daniel Erismann: trumpet / flugelhorn
Lucien Dubuis: bass clarinet (guest on 1, 2, 5, 6)

Chico Freeman: saxophone

Recorded and mixed on 18 - 20 March 2016 by Clé ment Gariel at Studio de Meudon, Paris, France 
Mastered by Julien Basserès at Studio de Meudon, Paris, France

All compositions by Caryl Baker and Chico Freeman 
Produced by Chico Freeman
Executive producers: Caryl Baker, Unit Records 
Photos: Ekaterina Semenova (front), Ferrucio Gadani (back), John Reift (inside)

Thanks to Of ce de la culture du canton de BerneSwisslos, Soutien culturel de la ville Biel/Bienne, Pourcent-culturel Migros / Tracks 9 & 10 recorded live at the Auvernier International Jazz Festival.

Special Thanks to Luigi, Emanuel, Daniel, Chico, Lucien, Bernard Faulon (for his warm welcome and wonderful studio), Clément, Julien, the Baker family and Federico Leonardi for their great dedication for making this project possible.

Lionel Beuvens & MOTU - Earthsong (IGLOO RECORDS 2017)

The drummer Lionel Beuvens has just unveiled his second album, "Earthsong": a tribute to earth, nature, adventure, freedom, and the energy released by strong, contrasting and complementary personalities playing off each other.

This project was created as part of a project for the Gaume Jazz Festival in 2011, which led to a debut album ('Trinity', 2013) and numerous concerts. This enabled the group to create its own identity where each member can freely express themselves. The many concerts were of such intensity that they quite naturally incited Lionel to write a new repertoire, and bring the group to the Gaume Jazz Festival for a second creation in 2015.

For this second opus, the quartet enlisted the creative forces of French saxophonist Guilhem Verger and singer Natashia Kelly. The sax boosts the possible interactions between the musicians and the breadth of the writing, while the singing focuses the energy and makes the music more accessible.

Lionel’s influences are wide and varied: grooves inspired by African music, Steve Coleman or even Greetings From Mercury; and the atmosphere of Bill Evans or Henri Purcell. The interaction between the musicians echoes the Miles Davis Quintet.

"Earthsong" follows in the path of the first release: a balance between tradition and modernism, where the groove is there for the melody and the melody is there for the groove. An album with a broad repertoire that boasts compositions of richness and depth.

Song of Ive
Earthsong III
Earthsong II
Earthsong I
Three Trees
Bridge House

Lionel Beuvens drums
Kalevi Louhivuori trumpet
Brice Soniano double bass
Alexi Tuomarila piano

Special Guests
Natashia Kelly voice
Guilhem Verger sax

Oliver Lake - Right up On (PASSIN' THRU RECORDS 2017)

Regina Carter - Ella: Accentuate the Positive (OKEH RECORDS 2017)

Virtuoso Violinist Regina Carter
Digs Deep Into the Ella Fitzgerald Catalogue on
Ella: Accentuate the Positive

Available April 21 on OKeh Records

“Ms. Carter is widely considered the finest jazz violinist
of her generation, a hard-charging soloist whose precisely focused tone
and graceful way with a ballad hint at her long years of
classical training.” – The New York Times

A hundred years after her birth, the ever-eloquent Ella Fitzgerald continues to teach us lessons. Regina Carter has chosen this moment to celebrate the First Lady of Song’s infectious and inclusive artistry with unabashed joy. “Accentuate the Positive, I thought was the perfect title considering the mood of the country and the world right now,” Ms. Carter says. “We need some positive vibes.”

On Ella: Accentuate the Positive, out April 21 from OKeh/Sony Music Masterworks, the virtuoso violinist reveals the many faces of Fitzgerald that have influenced Carter’s own remarkable path in music. Apart from the title track of Accentuate the Positive, Carter resists the allure of the songstress’ most recognizable hits. Carter has mined tunes from deep within Ella’s bountiful catalogue, and brought them to the surface with a distinct freshness. The reward is rich for the listener.

“One of the many things that I adore about Ella is that she just loved music and didn’t box herself in,” Carter explains. “She recorded everything, not just the American Songbook — doo-wop, Stevie Wonder and Beatles songs, even some country western music. The fact that she experimented with so many different styles made me feel that, with this record, I would pay respect to her by taking the music and doing something else with it. I feel that she would smile in agreement.”

To realize her vision of the album, which transforms the songs through a lens of classic 1950s-’60s soul and blues, Carter calls on an impressive roster of musicians and arrangers. The violinist is accompanied by her longtime rhythm section of bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Alvester Garnett, and is joined by pianist Xavier Davis and guitarist Marvin Sewell. Both Lightcap and Sewell serve double-duty as arrangers. 

This talented group is supplemented by in-demand bassist Ben Williams, producer and hitmaker Ray Angry, renowned vocalist Charenee Wade and pianist Mike Wofford, Fitzgerald’s own former accompanist and musical director. Two tracks feature vocals by Carter’s fellow Detroiters, actress and singer Miche Braden; and longtime friend and vocalist extraordinaire Carla Cook, who first introduced Carter to jazz violin while the two were classmates at Cass Technical School.

“When people arrange tunes, their voices become part of the recording as well,” Carter says. “I wanted to have many voices and many stylistic approaches on this record.”

Adoration of Ella Fitzgerald is a theme that is woven throughout the violinist’s career. Many songs previously have found their way onto Carter’s recordings. For instance, “Oh, Lady Be Good,” shows up on 1999’s Rhythms of the Heart while “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” appears on the 2006 release, I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey, the moving tribute to Carter’s late mother. Central to Carter’s choice of songs for the album was the ability to spark a connection between the audience and the material, similar to the connection she felt upon hearing Ella for the first time. On the heels of Braden’s spirited, gospel-tinged performance on the opening “Ac-cen-tchu-ate the Positive” comes Williams airily funky arrangement of “Crying in the Chapel.” Best known as a hit for ’50s R&B group, The Orioles, and recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to Bob Marley, the song was the B-side to Ella’s 1953 single “When the Hands of the Clock Pray at Midnight.” Lightcap’s bluesy take on “I’ll Never Be Free” follows, while Davis’ sultry Rhodes sets the tone for the slinky groove of Sewell’s arrangement of “All My Life.”

Wofford’s setting of the standard “Dedicated To You” pares the band down to a violin/piano/bass trio, allowing Carter’s touching lyricism to shine. Angry gives “Reach for Tomorrow” a shimmering ballad treatment, while Wade’s gutsy R&B take on “Undecided” shines the spotlight on Cook’s powerhouse, no-nonsense vocal. Carter pairs off with Sewell for an intimate duo rendition of “Judy,” the song that jump-started Fitzgerald’s career on the stage of the Apollo Theater. Finally, Sewell’s gutbucket slide guitar fuels the rootsy version of “I’ll Chase the Blues Away” to bring the album to a close.

A student of the violin from age four, Detroit native Carter first focused on listening to classical music. But a vast wealth of influences crept into her ears via her music-loving family. Her older brothers brought home Motown and other soul records, an influence certainly felt on Accentuate the Positive. From her parents’ record collection she would pull titles at random — one day jazz albums, the next, movie soundtracks. It was through that treasure trove that she first heard Ella and instantly was hooked.

“Something about her voice made me feel like I had a personal connection,” Carter recalls. “When she sang, I felt really warm and safe, almost a maternal connection. It just felt like love.” For Carter, the enchantment continued into adulthood. She grew to realize how much technique and virtuosity were involved in producing a sound so remarkably warm and inviting. “As an adult, I realized what an instrument she (Ella) had,” Carter continues. “She had an incredible voice and I gained a lot of respect for her along with the love I had always felt. For years, I would get up and put on an Ella track first thing in the morning. That was the way I needed to start off my day.”

Accentuate the Positive is the end result of Carter’s daily communion with and lifelong devotion to the music of Ella Fitzgerald. In her heartfelt and deeply personal interpretations of these songs we can hear the same degree of warmth, feeling and elegance that imbued the legendary singer’s work as filtered through Carter’s singular voice. And that’s nothing but positive.

1. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive
2. Crying in the Chapel
3. I’ll Never be Free
4. All My Life
5. Dedicated to You
6. Reach for Tomorrow
7. Undecided
8. Judy
9. I’ll Chase the Blues Away

Regina Carter - violin
Chris Lightcap - bass
Alvester Garnett - drums
Xavier Davis - piano
Marvin Sewell - guitar
Ben Williams - bass
Charenee Wade - vocals
Mike Wofford - piano
Miche Braden - vocals
Carla Cook - vocals

Ella: Accentuate the Positive (promo video) - Regina Carter from International Music Network on Vimeo.