Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Xavi Torres Trio - Unknown Past (BERTHOLD RECORDS 2017)

Unknown Past, the new intriguing CD by the Xavi Torres Trio is released by BERTHOLD records in June 2017. The line up is: Xavi Torres on piano, Joan Terol on drums and Vic Moliner on bass. All Catalonians, Xavi and Joan are now based in Amsterdam. Vic still lives in Barcelona.

Xavi Torres, the driving force behind the trio, composed all the music. It is dynamic and adventurous, with strong attention to detail and played with virtuoso precision and verve. “My composing changes a lot depending on the situation,” explains Xavi. “I wrote Hope at a specific moment in my life, it just kind of appeared by itself, out of nowhere. The feeling of hope gives you energy. I was writing during a stormy moment of my life. This track has an intimate vibe.”

Unknown, by contrast, as with most of the tracks on the CD, is more driving and experimental. Xavi says, “I was trying to bring us to where we had never been before. With the whole album I tried to move on, to write and approach the music in a way that was not what we were used to, not natural, bringing us into the unknown. I was forcing myself and the band into an uncomfortable place, musically speaking, so that something new and exciting would appear.”

This “uncomfortable musical place” makes for great listening and is forward looking. Xavi though is fascinated by history. “Unknown Past is a dual concept that inspires me a lot,” he says. “It’s what happened in the past that we don’t know, that’s been lost. The other meaning is more dreamy. The known past, but what would have been if something had been different.” Xavi’s career path indeed could have been taken another turn. He was an outstanding tennis player as well as a brilliant young pianist. He felt he had to make a choice. He chose music.

“I was kind of obliged to get into music,” he recalls. “I don’t come from a musical family but they are very culturally oriented. My older sister played the piano, so I said, I can also play the piano and eventually I loved it. I started playing classical music, and when I was ten or eleven, blues. Then I was attracted to jazz.” Influenced by amongst others, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and John Lee Hooker, Xavi explored jazz together with the trio’s drummer Joan Terol. They knew each other as teenagers. “Joan comes from my home town,” explains Xavi. “I learnt with him the rhythmic approach to jazz, the swing, the language.”

01. Benko 2:02
02. The Unknown 5:27
03. Hesitació 5:18
04. Mèlt 5:34
05. Scipio 6:01
06. Our Freedom 3:54
07. Madiba 4:57
08. Hope 3:23
09. DT 3:45
10. Overcome 4:31
11. The Barco 5:13
12. Benko Ends 1:35

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: Four more days of Festival!

Nils Landgren Funk Unit - Unbreakable (ACT MUSIC 2017)

Mr Redhorn, Nils Landgren would never, ever mess with a good recipe.

Unbreakable opens with the title song, Nils Landgren’s own composition. It  begins with an unmistakeable guitar intro by Detroit funk legend Ray Parker Jr. (for the occasion an “Honorary Funk Unit member”) a funky riff that sets the pace for what’s to follow; a nonstop funk blowout. The Funk Unit rhythm section is tighter than ever before and lays down a groove like no other band. The horn arrangements (by band member Jonas Wall) are exquisitely precise and the process of arranging, mixing and performing they have developed over the years is unique and totally their own. If you add to that an outstanding trombone player/lead vocalist you have one of the most dynamic groups of musicians ever to hit the stage in Europe. Some funk, some jazz and some straight-out party music, and when the likes of Ray Parker Jr., Randy Brecker and Tim Hagans are willing to come along for the ride, it’s bound to keep the recipe going and some good music playing. The title is important to Nils and marks something of a turning point in the history of his band: “Throughout all our years together, there have been countless moments of great joy and laughter, but also times when we had to fight to stay on the right track. Remembering the highs always helped us to face the lows and to get back up on our feet. The love for the music and for each other has always won and always will. We are unbreakable”.

Nils Landgren, one of the most successful European jazz musicians ever, has received a plethora of jazz awards and other honours, including the Swedish Grammy for “lifetime achievement” and the Royal Swedish medal ”Litteris et Artibus” from the hands of H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, for his outstanding achievements.

When ACT Music founder Siggi Loch, first heard Landgren play in 1994, the band was called Unit. ”Why don’t you call it what it is?", Loch said, and from that moment Funk Unit was born.

The first album on the - then young - ACT label would be Live in Stockholm, recorded in summer 1994 with Maceo Parker as special guest, and that would soon be followed by a string of Funk Unit records released on ACT. Some of the notable highlights are the Cannonball Adderley tribute Paint It Blue (1996) featuring Bernhard Purdie, Michael and Randy Brecker. Funky Abba (2004) and Funk For Life (2010) supported, together with Doctors without Borders, a project to support children and teenagers with their music in Kibera, one of the biggest slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

Ray Parker Jr., guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer. Previously lead guitarist with Stevie Wonder. Parker wrote songs and did session work for Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Diana Ross and many others. Parker has scored six Top 40 hits as a solo artist; including the million selling hit single Ghostbusters in 1984.

Randy Brecker, trumpet player. Six-time Grammy award winner. Started his career as a member of Blood Sweat and Tears, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. His collaboration with younger brother Michael led to some of the most notable albums in the fusion genre, Brecker Brothers.

Tim Hagans, jazz trumpeter, arranger, and composer from Dayton, Ohio. USA. Three-time Grammy Nominee. In his early years he toured with Stan Kenton and Woody Herman. Among other artists Tim has recorded with Steps Ahead, Maria Schneider, Joe Lovano.

Unbreakable was recorded in November 2016 in the legendary Atlantis Studios in Stockholm, also the recording site for artists like ABBA, Scorpions, Elvis Costello and Esbjörn Svensson.

1 Unbreakable with Ray Parker Jr.
2 Just a Kiss Away
3 Get Down on the Funk with Ray Parker Jr.
4 Friday Night
5 Stars in Your Eyes with Ray Parker Jr.
6 Rockin’ After Midnight with Ray Parker Jr. feat. Randy Brecker
7 Soulchild
8 Old School
9 Nlfu Funk feat. Tim Hagans
10 Bow Down with Ray Parker Jr.

Nils Landgren Funk Unit:
Magnum Coltrane Price / bass & vocals
Andy Pfeiler / guitar & vocals
Jonas Wall / saxes
Petter Bergander / keyboards
Robert Ikiz / drums

Honorary Funk Unit Member - Ray Parker Jr :
Guitar on Unbreakable,
Rockin’ After Midnight (& vocals),
Just A Kiss Away, Stars In Your Eyes
& Bow Down

Randy Brecker / trumpet on 06
Tim Hagans / trumpet on 09

The Four Corners Quartet - The Four Corners Quartet (2017)

Originating from Jordan, USA, UK and Palestine, The Four Corners Quartet will take you somewhere you will have never been before. Shattering the traditional impression of a string quartet, they are a self-composing and improvising ensemble with an energy unheard to the jazz, world, or contemporary classical scene.

On 4/4 they release their debut EP - The Four Corners; four new works from their four corners of the world. The EP explores Arabic improvisations, Palestinian folk, Native American Choctaw hymnals, to a jazz cover arranged by the UK’s Mercury Nominated trio GoGo Penguin. 

Formed in 2014 at Berklee College of Music, their first recording of Eugene Friesen’s “Maracaibo” quickly became a YouTube sensation worldwide. Now they step out across boarders with their first record, promising to be an new evolution to their own traditions.

1. Shock and Awe arr. for String Quartet by GoGo Penguin 03:08
2. Zainab 07:00
3. Al Dal'Ona 05:18
4. I've Just Seen the Rock of Ages 04:28

Shock and Awe 
Composed by GoGo Penguin 
Arranged by Chris Illingworth, 2014 
From ‘V2.0’, on Gondwana Records, a Mercury Nominated Album of The Year 

Composed by Layth Sidiq, 2014 

Al Dal’ona 
Composed by Naseem Alatrash, 2014 

I've Just Seen the Rock of Ages 
Arranged by Ellen Melissa Story, 2014 

A Songololo Music Production: 
Mixing/Recording by Vicente Espi, Songololo Music 
Recording Assistants Pablo San Martin & Travis Karpak 
Mastered by Jonathan Wyner, M Works Mastering

Special thanks to Chris Illingworth, GoGo Penguin, Qattan Foundation, Berklee College of Music, Melissa Howe, Eugene Friesen, Sandy Kott, Jacques Cohen, Nathalie Botbol, and all other encouraging voices.

Dimitar Liolev - Eastern Shadows (SLAM PRODUCTIONS 2017)

Young Bulgarian composer and saxophonist Dimitar Liolev mixes rhythms and ornaments of Balkan folk and jazz, with an impressive avantgarde and creative aproach. 

The strong rhythmic Bulgarian heritage and the creative and collective jazz improvisation together create an outstanding and quite unique band on the modern european jazz. 

Liolev's album 'Eastern Shadows' following his first album 'The Other Side' (BlueArt, 2012) and the second one 'Rhodopology' (Music Clinic Records, 2015), presents original compositions performed by some of the most well-known musicians of Balkan area, trumpeter Martin Tashev and drummer Dimitar Semov. With the international jazz experience of Italian bassist Massimiliano Rolff the music is a constant flow of energy.

Four talkers – (Liolev, Tashev,  Rolff, Semov) - 04'14"
Day One (Liolev) –  05'08"
Filipopolis (Liolev) - 07'20"
New song (Liolev) - 04'50"
Still wondering (Liolev) - 05'56"
Night hope – (Rolff) – 05'55"
At this moment (Liolev) - 06'16"
Jazz me (Liolev) - 05'09"
Eastern shadows - (Liolev, Tashev,  Rolff, Semov) - 05'52"

Dimitar Liolev – Alto Sax
Martin Tashev – Trumpet, Flugehorn, Vocals on track 9
Massimiliano Rolff – DoubleBass
Dimitar Semov - Drums

Recorded and mixed by Konstantin Katsarski at Blubabox Studio, Sofia, Bulgaria on 31 May 2015
Mastered Misjah van der Heiden at 24mastering Studio, Holland

Playlist for Tom Ossana – The Thin Edge – July 5, 2017 MST 7:00 to 9:00p.m. ~ Use this link to access the show online.