Monday, May 8, 2017

Hermeto Pascoal to receive honorary degree from NEC

New England Conservatory will bestow honorary Doctor of Music (D.M.) degrees on one of its Life Trustees and two distinguished musicians at its 146th annual Commencement Exercises. The event will be held on Sunday, May 21, at 3:00pm, in NEC's Jordan Hall. The recipients are conductor, composer and pianist André Previn, composer and multi-instrumentalist, Hermeto Pascoal, and New England Conservatory Life Trustee Harold I. Pratt. André Previn will also give the 2017 Commencement address. Additional speakers include Interim President, Thomas Novak and NEC Board Chair, Ken Burnes.

About André Previn 
André Previn is a prolific German-born American pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor whose work leans towards the French, Russian, and English music of the 19th and 20th centuries, Previn's family fled Nazi persecution and moved to Los Angeles in 1939. While still a teenager he was recognized as a gifted jazz pianist. He later worked under contract with MGM in the 1950s as well as for various other studios, winning Academy Awards for his adapted scores of Broadway hit shows. Hollywood also commissioned one of his best-known original songs, "(Theme from) Valley of the Dolls," a huge hit for Dionne Warwick.

Previn made his conducting debut with the St. Louis (Mo.) Symphony in 1963. After serving in turn as principal conductor of the Houston, London, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras, he worked as musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1985 to 1989. He was associated with the Royal Philharmonic (as musical director, 1985-88, and principal conductor, 1988-91) and in 1993 was named conductor laureate of the London Symphony.

He has composed in varied genres including: classical, jazz, film scoring, and popular music throughout his career. Heard first by Boston audiences were Boston Symphony Orchestra commissions, including Music for Boston (2012) and his Violin Concerto, Anne-Sophie (2001) dedicated to and premiered with Anne-Sophie Mutter. NEC co-commissioned and premiered Previn's Music for Wind Orchestra (No Strings Attached) in 2014. Other works include the opera A Streetcar Named Desire (1998; based on the play by Tennessee Williams); other theatrical music; songs based on texts ranging from Emily Dickinson to Toni Morrison; Symphony for Strings (1962) and concerti; and chamber music, including String Quartet with Soprano (2003), premiered by Barbara Bonney with the Emerson String Quartet.

His many Grammy Awards were in multiple categories: musical shows (1958 and 1959), pop (1959), jazz (1960 and 1961), and classical (several awards from 1973). In 1996, he was created a Knight of the British Empire, and in 1998 he received a Kennedy Center Honor for lifetime achievement in music.

About Hermeto Pascoal 
Even in the creative hothouse of Brazilian music, Hermeto Pascoal stands out as a particularly distinctive character. Affectionately known as "O Bruxo" (The Sorcerer), the ingenious composer and multi-instrumentalist has cultivated a dazzlingly rich musical universe that draws on folkloric styles like frevo, xaxado and forro, with elements of jazz, rock and other styles of music.

On stage, Pascoal cuts a fantastical figure, with his translucent albino skin and flowing white hair. Rushing from instrument to instrument, he creates intricate tapestries of sound that hold together with a powerful internal logic. A prodigy on flute and accordion, Hermeto started performing professionally before his teens, playing dances and festivals around his hometown of Arapiraca.

About Harold I. Pratt 
Harry Pratt is a New England Conservatory Life Trustee and has been a vital member of the NEC family for over three decades. Over the years, he has been a steadfast champion for the Conservatory, a tireless volunteer, and a generous donor. He began as an Overseer in 1991, became a Trustee in 1994, and a Life Trustee in 2012. During his time with NEC, Harry has served as both Secretary and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Development Committee, and Chair of the Annual Fund Committee. He served as Co-Chair of the Gift of Music Campaign and played an integral part in the building of the new SLPC as well as the revitalization of Jordan Hall in the 1990s. An avid fan of anything loud and involving brass, he has relentlessly advocated for NEC's Annual Fund throughout the years and is also a member of the Tourjee Society. He even threw an opening pitch for his beloved Red Sox as a representative of NEC.

Harry is Co-Founder and Senior Partner of Nichols & Pratt LLP, a Boston fiduciary firm. He has served on the board of numerous nonprofits including Mount Auburn Hospital, and of course his esteemed alma mater, Harvard, as well as the Groton School, where he prepared for Harvard. In addition, he served as Chair of the 150th birthday celebrations for The Union Club in Boston, a locale where he annually hosts an event designed to introduce club members to NEC.

The graduation ceremony is free and open to the public. Approximately 275 students are graduating in the class of 2017. They will be awarded a variety of degrees and diplomas including the: Undergraduate Diploma, Bachelor of Music, Graduate Diploma, Master of Music, Doctor of Musical Arts, and Artist Diploma.

About New England Conservatory
A cultural icon currently celebrating its 150th anniversary, New England Conservatory (NEC) is recognized worldwide as a leader among music schools. Founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjée, an American music educator, choral conductor and organist, NEC is the oldest independent school of music in the United States. Located in Boston, Massachusetts, NEC offers rigorous education in an intimate, nurturing community to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate music students from around the world. Highly regarded for its innovative practices, NEC's out-of-the-box curriculum yields an expansive range of styles and traditions. NEC's faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. Alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. A founding relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and over 100 other community partnerships helps place NEC at the center of musical life in Boston.  Annually, over 1000 concerts, many performed in NEC's renowned Jordan Hall are available to Boston's music lovers for free.

On the college level, NEC features training in classical, jazz, and Contemporary Improvisation. Graduate and post-graduate programs supplement these core disciplines with orchestral conducting and professional chamber music training.  Additionally, programs like Entrepreneurial Musicianship and Community Performances & Partnerships integrate professional and personal skills development into the musical training of students to better develop the knowledge needed to create one's own musical opportunities, and interact successfully with diverse audiences. Through its Preparatory School and School of Continuing Education, the Conservatory provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, and adults. Currently more than 750 young artists from 46 states and 39 foreign countries attend NEC on the college level; 1,600 young students attend on the Preparatory level; and 300 adults participate in the Continuing Education program.

Toxic: Mat Walerian, Matthew Shipp, William Parker - This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People (ESP - DISK' 2017)

Released May 5, 2017 

This is Polish multi-instrumentalist Mat Walerian’s third CD, all for ESP and all with Matthew Shipp. Walerian’s first album [ESP5007] was the last new release approved by ESP-Disk' founder Bernard Stollman. This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People is also William Parker's first time back in the studio for ESP since his first released appearance on record in 1973, Frank Lowe's Black Beings [ESP3013] (an album of outtakes from the same session was released in 2011, The Loweski [ESP4066]). TIBBWABP is also noteworthy for containing a rare Shipp performance on organ. 

Shipp says of Walerian, "Mat approaches his instruments in a non-traditional way. He is a conceptualist and has a different personality on each instrument.

The Toxic trio is another revelation. The material was recorded in Brooklyn in December 2015. … The first piece is very peaceful flute and shakuhachi duo of Parker and Walerian with a discrete accompaniment on prepared piano and finger picked bass later – the tune has an Asian/Japanese spirit, so characteristic of [Walerian]. The second piece is started by William bowing, who is joined by the piano. After couple of minutes Mat enters on alto and plays very expressively.... The third piece starts also with bowing part, and at is even more melancholic and peaceful than the previous one; Matt's parts and solo on piano are here truly outstanding. The fourth piece begins with finger picked solo of Parker, who is joined after 3 minutes by the piano and the clarinet. The closing fifth piece is my favorite: it is first of all Mat’s and Matt’s show on bass clarinet and organ, joined later by Parker. Mat turns to alto again in the second part of the track, while Matt to piano.... For me this is another amazing artistic achievement. - Maciej Lewenstein, Polish Jazz Recordings and Beyond 

Heralded pianist Matthew Shipp and Polish multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Mat Walerian team up for their third recording as a core unit, this time with legendary bassist William Parker. As to be expected, their sounds take a significant shift in tone from previous offerings. “Lesson” opens with a sparse soundscape recalling Sun Ra’s more stripped-down work, a reference that continues throughout the sessions. The pair of twenty-minute sessions dubbed “The Breakfast Club,” however push things even further into ‘60s territory as Shipp explores his classical leanings with Cecil Taylor’s hands, Walerian teeters between Ornette Coleman experimentalism and John Coltrane beauty and Parker plays with the intuition, finesse and innovation that has always marked his work. It’s all the magic you’d expect from such a powerful trio. - Chuck Foster, upcoming issue of The Big Takeover

1. Lesson 13:27
2. The Breakfast Club Day 1 19:55
3. This Is Beautiful Because We Are Beautiful People 11:11
4. The Breakfast Club Day 2 20:28
5. Peace And Respect 14:10

Mat Walerian: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, soprano clarinet, flute
Matthew Shipp: piano, organ
William Parker: double bass, shakuhachi

Recorded December 15, 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Partikel - Counteraction (WHIRLWIND RECORDINGS 2017)

Since their Whirlwind debut as an acoustic trio (Cohesion, 2012), Partikel have progressively pushed at the developmental possibilities, and 2015’s String Theory – augmenting the line-up of Duncan Eagles (saxophones), Max Luthert (double bass) and Eric Ford (drums) with string quartet – generated significant interest, spawning numerous gigs both in the UK and internationally. These live experiences (including a month touring China) saw the band’s sound climbing to new heights, enhanced by the work of violinist Benet McLean and super-sized with the creative blends enabled by digital harmonizers, pedals and programming.

So vibrant new release Counteraction shifts up yet another gear, with music crafted specifically around this forward-thinking approach, while also introducing atmospheric electric guitarist Ant Law, flautist and baritone saxophonist Anna Cooper, cellist Matthew Sharp and electronic sound designer Sisi Lu. The compositions (mostly by Eagles) explore fascinating textural avenues, balancing and integrating them with the band’s original sax, bass and drums identity to create often strikingly unusual resonances. For example, their revisitation of previously-issued trio track ‘Blood of the Pharoah’ now elevates its spatial, percussive mystery through windswept ambience and cello, achieving greater dramatic intensity.

A cinemascopic aura of free-spirited storytelling is the key to this hour-long journey, the electronics and orchestral surge of ‘Land and Sea’ representing its title’s intended contrasts. ‘Scenes and Sounds’ is blurred with synthy urban abstractions which explode into the animated rhythms of Eagles, Luthert and Ford, accentuated by Law’s fretboard improvisations; and the afterglow cool of ‘Lanterns’, prompted by a visit to Beijing, quietly sparkles with impressionistic radio signals and teems with city life.

Soundtrack-style fusions in title track ‘Counteraction’ make it almost uncategorizable, as echoic layers of multi-double-stopped violin and electronics are balanced with tenor and percussion. The episodic invention in Max Luthert’s ‘Moving Fields’ takes the band into prog territory, full of raging complexity; and a zesty, New Orleans feel to ‘Bolden Days’ (a tribute to pioneer Buddy Bolden) is laced with bamboo flute inflections and blues-folk violin glissandi.

This album’s zeal is defined by strongly collaborative arrangements and explosive playing throughout – but then, to follow such an evolving course is a liberating process for the band: “Partikel will always have the acoustic trio at its heart. But opening ourselves to a range of genres such as electronica, as well as experiencing the music of different cultures, widens the appeal of our music, bridging gaps for audiences. Though we like to maintain a level of artistic integrity, to keep it challenging, it’s great that this is already happening.” ​

1. Land and Sea 05:51
2. Scenes and Sounds 08:25
3. Lanterns 06:38
4. Counteraction 09:32
5. Moving Fields 08:50
6. Introduction to Blood of the Pharaoh 02:26
7. Blood of the Pharoah 09:16
8. Bolden Days 07:41

Duncan Eagles - saxophones
Max Luthert - double and electric bass
Eric Ford - drums
Ant Law - guitar
Benet McLean - violin
Anna Cooper - flute and baritone saxophone
Matthew Sharp - cello
SiSi Lu - electronics

Recorded by Derek Nash at Clowns Pocket Studios (May 2016)
Mixed by Tyler McDiarmid (June 2016)
Mastered by Peter Beckmann (June 2016)
Produced by Partikel
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch

Amok Amor - We know not what we do (INTAKT RECORDS 2017)

You are gonna love this quartet", writes American journalist Kevin Whitehead. "This quartet was preceded by the Starlight trio of the Berlin players Christian Lillinger, Petter Eldh and Wanja Slavin, but Peter Evans is obviously a full partner in a new band. He brought some prime material, and shows uncanny range. His improvising is airy and abstract, tuneful, and tinged with the blues. His lines and Slavin's can be disarmingly lovely; the blend is bright and fizzy. 

The rhythm section is earth to their air: the nutty precision of abstract beat music echoes in Eldh's eloquent stutters and way of covering highs and lows in a single line, and in Lillinger's clarity at high speed; his sticks on snare can sound like dried peas poured on a metal sheet, every stroke distinct.

Yeah, they're all great, but this music is about how they come together, showing creative tradition some crazy love: amour run amok. Kevin Whitehead, Liner notes

1. Pulsar (Peter Evans) 8:31
2. Body Decline (Petter Eldh) 5:05
3. Brandy (Petter Eldh) 6:02
4. Alan Shorter (Peter Evans) 4:54
5. Trio Amok (Christian Lillinger) 4:05
6. Enbert Amok (Christian Lillinger) 5:18
7. The New Portal (Peter Evans) 6:26
8. Jazzfriendship (Wanja Slavin) 2:28
9. A Run Through the Neoliberalism (Christian Lillinger) 4:03

Christian Lillinger: Drums
Petter Eldh: Bass
Wanja Slavin: Saxophone
Peter Evans: Trumpet

Recorded in May 2016 by Marco Birkner at Studio H2 in Berlin, Germany. Mixed in February 2017 by Marck Fuck. 
Mastered in February 2017 by Klaus Scheuermann. 
Liner notes: Kevin Whitehead. Photo of cover art: László Moholy-Nagy. 
Graphic design: Jonas Schoder. Photo: Lukas Haemmerle. Executive producer: Anja Illmaier.
Produced by Amok Amor and Intakt Records, Patrik Landolt. Published by Intakt Records.

Vinnie Sperrazza - Juxtaposition (POSI-TONE RECORDS 2017)

Everyone is invited to expand their musical horizons and enjoy a musical exploration of “Juxtaposition" when drummer Vinnie Sperrazza bravely embarks on a novel and ambitious course with his first record as a bandleader for Posi-Tone. Sperrazza provides a contrast of strong rhythmic and harmonic concepts with unstoppably gentle melodic sensibility which help him to succeed in making bold statements of stunning musicianship. When placed in the hands of the capable accompaniment of saxophonist Chris Speed, pianist Bruce Barth and bassist Peter Brendler, Sperrazza conducts our ears through an exciting presentation of carefully crafted originals and cover compositions. Whether one is already familiar with the music of Sperrazza, or discovering him for the first time, "Juxtaposition" will surely intrigue and inspire imaginations into flights of fancy, and deliver bright moments of straight forward musical delight to listeners everywhere.

01. Chimes (V. Sperrazza) 
02. St. Jerome (V. Sperrazza) 
03. House On Hoxie Road (V. Sperrazza) 
04. Juxtaposition (V. Sperrazza)
05. Alter Ego (J. Williams) 
06. This Night This Song (T. Williams)
07. One Hour (V. Sperrazza) 
08. Somewhere (L. Bernstein) 
09. Warm Winter (V. Sperrazza) 
10. Hellenized (V. Sperrazza) 
11. Solitary Consumer (V. Sperrazza) 
12. Say The Secret Word (V. Sperrazza)

Vinnie Sperrazza - drums
Chris Speed - tenor sax
Bruce Barth - piano
Peter Brendler - bass

Akiko Tsuruga with Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter - So Cute, So Bad (SOMETHIN' COOL 2017)

New York based Jazz Organist, Akiko Tsuruga released her new album "So Cute, So Bad" featuring Jeff Hamilton-drums & Graham Dechter -guitar. 

01. So Cute, So Bad (feat. Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter)  6:51
02. The Lady Is a Tramp (feat. Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter)  5:29
03. Face to Face (feat. Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter)  6:32
04. Frame for the Blues (feat. Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter)  10:02
05. You Don't Know What Love Is (feat. Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter)  7:41
06. Peachie (feat. Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter)  7:37
07. Tanabata (feat. Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter)  6:28
08. Pretty Please (feat. Jeff Hamilton & Graham Dechter)  6:58

Akiko Tsuruga / Hammond B3 
Jeff Hamilton / Drums
Graham Dechter / Guitar

Recorded at  Alvas Showroom, San Pedro, CA, January 22, 2017
Recording Engineering & Mixdown: Steve Genewick
Mastering: Katsuhiko Naito at The Avatar Studios, New York, NY

John O'Gallagher Trio- Live In Brooklyn (WHIRLWIND RECORDINGS 2017)

As New York-based saxophonist & composer John O’Gallagher would emphatically relate, there is nothing quite like the concept and energy of a live performance to provide both artist and listener with the affecting, visceral tingle which is at the heart of great music – and especially true when it comes to the spontaneity of improvised jazz. So the opportunity to offer up these riches to a wider audience, through a live album, has always been an aspiration for the acclaimed altoist and his longtime colleagues Johannes Weidenmueller (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums).

Live in Brooklyn captures the spirit of the chordless trio’s appearance as part of Seeds Brooklyn’s intimate, weekly concert series – a popular venue for many leading contemporary artists – with realism and verve. And having forged a close, intuitive working relationship over several years, this became the perfect environment in which to unveil new material alongside interpretations of two tracks from their studio album 'The Honeycomb' (the saxophonist has also previously released on Whirlwind, with 2013’s The Anton Webern Project). The realization and 'stretch and pull' of the original compositions in this conducive setting, during the gig and in playback, confirmed to O’Gallagher that this was the one – and now the wider public have the fortuity to focus on this rich seam of in-the-moment creativity.

One of the most compelling saxophone improvisers on the New York scene, John O’Gallagher’s many collaborators have included Jeff Williams, Ben Monder, Maria Schneider and Kenny Wheeler – and all the years of experience cascade from his alto bell with a seemingly inexhaustible and colorfully individual vocabulary, supported prominently by the high-level, malleable responses of Weidenmueller and Ferber. The saxophonist explains that the blurred lines of composition and conversational improvisation are key to the challenge: “That’s the beauty of playing with these two guys – they’re masters of form and structure, yet don’t always have to mark it.”

Oblique five-against-seven-meter experiment ‘Prime’ sets up an increasingly turbulent dialogue, O’Gallagher’s forceful, rippling lines prompting heavyweight, percussive reactions from bassist and drummer; and ‘Blood Ties’ alludes to the band’s prowess in intertwining the number’s purely rhythmic beginnings with various pitch collections. The broad landscape of ‘Credulous’ prompts extreme displays, especially from saxophonist and drummer; and furtive ‘Nothing To It’ finds its animation through the close connection between Weidenmueller and Ferber.

‘Extralogical Railman’ – an anagram in both composition and title – turns Charlie Parker’s ‘Relaxin’ at Camarillo’ upside down, O’Gallagher carefully spinning the rhythmic content on its axis, then reassembling re-pitched melodics against it… and it swings with glorious abandon, the saxophonist’s lines incessantly searching, screeching and tumbling through “a number you know, but can’t put your finger on.” Finally, ‘The Honeycomb’, specifically originating from common links and patterns between tones, lets rip for an appreciative audience.

Describing the elevated, exposed nature of this three-way partnership, O’Gallagher concludes: “We are constantly listening and taking risks, creating an atmosphere which is exciting to play in – there is no 'wrong', and we all know the paths back. A shared trust provides the confidence to pretty much explore any avenue and be assured that everything will be OK. That transformative, on-the-edge excitement – not knowing what’s gonna happen – is what I’ve always wanted.”

"Powerful jazz-making without a safety net."
★★★★ The Guardian

"The music intuitively blurs the boundaries between composition and improvisation and between freedom and structure... Absorbing and rewarding... A monster player... he’s certainly in fine form here and is well supported by an empathic and impressive rhythm team."
The Jazz Mann

"John O'Gallagher has a rather individual earmark to his playing​... ​Some of his finest work to date."
Cadence Magazine

“Live recording of a great concert... It’s as if you were there.”
Culture Jazz (FR)

"There is nothing quite like the environment of a live gig to bring out the best in the musicians and this set is no exception."
★★★★★ UK Vibe

1. Prime 10:24
2. Extralogical Rainman 06:15
3. Credulous (Intro) 02:50
4. Credulous 10:45
5. Blood Ties 06:37
6. Nothing To It 06:34
7. The Honeycomb 06:14

Johannes Weidenmueller - double bass
Mark Ferber - drums

Quercus - Nightfall (ECM 2017)

Quercus’s self-titled ECM debut won the album-of-the-year award of the German Record Critics in 2013, was widely praised  by the  international press, and especially celebrated in Britain where June Tabor has long reigned as “the dark voiced queen of English folk music” (to quote The Times). Folk and jazz and chamber music become one in Quercus’s world, where recontextualizing of material is part of the process, prompting listeners to pay heightened attention even to familiar songs. Nightfall opens with the most famous of farewells in “Auld Lang Syne”, and gently breathes new life into it, leading us into a programme that includes Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice”, the jazz standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and the West Side Story ballad “Somewhere”, as well as original compositions by Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy and songs from British folk tradition, in stark and moving new arrangements.

1 Auld Lang Syne  05:46
2 Once I Loved You Dear (The Irish Girl)  05:43
3 On Berrow Sands  06:32
4 Christchurch  04:47
5 You Don't Know What Love Is  05:03
6 The Manchester Angel  06:44
7 Don't Think Twice It's Alright  07:22
8 Emmeline  04:00
9 The Shepherd and His Dog  07:21
10 The Cuckoo  06:38
11 Somewhere  05:32

June Tabor, voice
Iain Ballamy, tenor & soprano saxophones
Huw Warren, piano