Friday, November 10, 2017

Aki Rissanen | Artist Takeover (EDITION RECORDS 2017)


Exciting times!

My new album 'Another North' is released TODAY!


I toured Japan first time as a leader in October to present music from the album. The tour was the most active and intense I've ever had 12 concerts in 8 days! We played concerts around Tokyo with my trio including Yokohama Jazz Promenade Festival (which was amazing!) and I continued to the West part of Japan - Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe to play solo. What a great tour it was! I love it there! The people, the food, the architecture, you name it!

'Another North' is licensed to a Japanese label Inpartmaint Inc. and I was very happy to have my first album as a Japanese edition in my hands! I'm now planning to go back next year.

Aki Rissanen

The music on 'Another North' circulates around the ideas we have been developing during the last few years, framed within the Nordic tone as we hear it. With Amorandom, we briefly explored a more energetic world in our approach to our music with compositions such as ‘Bird Vision’. As we toured and developed that music over the last 18 months, our desire to delve deeper in this direction became stronger. As a trio we wanted to collectively discover a greater intensity and energy in rhythmic and harmonic textures, to stand out as a trio from the North. This music is the sum of that exploration!

There are few characteristic things I wanted to define the sound of the album with. Compared with the more pastoral and lyrical 'Amorandom', the new album concentrates more on hypnotic loops and grooves.


The opening track 'Blind Desert' is actually one of the first songs I've ever wrote for a jazz group. The first recorded version of the song is on my 'One Note Stories' album from 2005. The new version is much more rhythmic and goes in both 5/8 and 6/8 time signatures. The ostinato vamps are influenced by minimalistic composers, namely Philip Glass and Steve Reich

The same approach continues on the second track 'John's Sons' which is composed by the great late Finnish jazz pianist and composer Jarmo Savolainen. He was my piano teacher in Sibelius Academy and his style and insight to music in general has influenced a lot in my playing. We collectively use different kinds of patterns to form the solo part and morph them to new ones nothing was rehearsed before the recording and that gives pretty organic feeling to the take!

We all three have listened and loved Jim Black's recent trio record 'The Constant' and among other influences it inspired us  to find the right angle to the arrangement of the third track 'New Life And Other Beginnings'. It turned out to be pretty nice featuring Teppo's great drum work!

With our arrangement of Gyorgy Ligeti’s piano etude I wanted to reimagine the classical masterpiece - which is influenced by Bill Evans’ music - fusing it seamlessly with jazz rhythm and sensibility; a happy happenstance as Evans is a massive inspiration and classical repertoire in general a big stylistic influence to me! I used snippets from the original song to recompose our version.

I come from Eastern Finland and in my region everybody knows a song entitled 'Kallaves'. The song is actually originally an Estonian folk song but it has become our 'theme song'. I used the melody from the song for the main motive for my composition 'Nature of the Beast' and variated it in many ways throughout the song.

The track 6, 'Before The Aftermath' has two cycles of chords and they're constantly repeated with different tempos. I've got inspiration from the great trumpeter Ambrose Akinmushire's music to find the right mood for the song. The final section of the song has something like 'Brad Mehldau meets Keith Jarrett' vibe.

The final track, 'Hubble Bubble' is our collective tribute to bebop masters Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. The fast jazz original 'Crazeology' is credited to the both jazz legends (also with the name 'Bud's Bubble'). We use small parts of the melody as means to improvise and rewrite the song. The song features Antti and Teppo both doing great work.

I'm also very happy to have this music released on an audiophile 180 gram vinyl! Actually from the start,  the plan was to record the amount of music that fits to the vinyl. This helped me in the process to select only the best tunes for the record and polish them to perfection! :) After listening the test pressings I am very happy of the outcome and cannot wait to see the actual copies with the outstanding artwork by Dave Stapleton!

We will have quite many concert dates for the trio in the rest of the year. We play at the Saarbrücken Jazz Festival in Germany, Pizza Express Jazz Club in London, UK, the best jazz club in Finland, Koko Jazz Club and Sellosali in Espoo to name a few. I'm very much looking forward to these concerts and hope to see you at the concerts!

- Check out what music Aki is currently listening to on Spotify
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Jimmie Vaughan Trio (feat. Mike Flanigin) - Live At C-Boy's (PROPER RECORDS 2017)

When Jimmie Vaughan isn't out fronting his big "Tilt-A-Whirl" band, there's nothing he likes more than grooving in this fine trio at C-Boy's Heart and Soul in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

These very cool recordings - oozing with the late-night club atmosphere of Steve Wertheimer's gem on South Congress Avenue - perfectly capture Mike Flanigin's mastery of the mighty Hammond B3 and Frosty Smith's attentive drumming which form the bedrock for Jimmie to lay down some of that trademark peckin' guitar.

Nordic Circles - Under the Clouds (AMP MUSIC & RECORDS 2017)

NORDIC CIRCLES is a Norwegian project conceived to bring together familiar and young performers from the Nordic jazz scene – and Under the Clouds (following first release Winter Rainbow) presents a balmy strand of cool, often meditative sounds from a sextet which features the gossamer vocal tonality of Siril Malmedal Hauge. 

Established musicians Lars Jansson (piano), Jacob Young (guitar) and Jesper Bodilsen (bass) nestle alongside rising saxophonist Magnus Bakken and drummer/producer Anders Thorén to express nine mostly original compositions (either from Jansson or Bodilsen) which breathe life and light, principally through warm, easy-going conviviality rather than hard grooving. Nevertheless, the crystal-clear enunciation of Hauge – at times, reminiscent of Norah Jones – adds soft folk/jazz charm to atmospheres which seem to evoke the onset of shorter days (suggested by swirling Autumnal cover art).

Specific lyric-based songs such as homely, lilting A Beautiful Smile and buoyant waltz, Another Heart, are melodically memorable; and fireside miniature Om Natten (At Night), attributed to Swedish singer-songwriter Olle Adolphson, hints at deep-rooted tradition. But piano-led instrumentals anchor this album in accessible, feel-good jazz, Magnus Bakken’s rich, direct tenor lines in buoyant Special One only embellished by the subtlest vibrato. Hauge’s wordless tones enfold the guitar-and-piano dreaminess of Ahimsa as well as blithe, sunshiny Orvieto; Jansson’s pellucid, almost levitational piano in freely-improvised Searching for Meaning hints at the quieter oases of Rick Wakeman’s music; whilst sparkling, high-flying bopper School Dance closes with infectious Herbie Hancock-like fervour.

From a series whose harmonious aims are to be admired, and which hopefully will continue, Under the Clouds does indeed suggest candlelit mindfulness and cheer as the nights draw in.

1. Under The Clouds
2. A Beautiful Smile
3. Special One
4. Searching For Meaning
5. Another Heart
6. Ahimsa
7. Orvieto
8. Om Natten
9. School Dance

Siril Malmedal Hauge - vocals
Lars Jansson - piano
Jacob Young - guitar
Magnus Bakken - saxophone
Jesper Bodilsen - bass
Anders Thorén - drums

Seal - Standards [Deluxe Edition] (2017)

Standards – combining his unique voice with some of the greatest jazz standards and swing classics ever written. An artist who’s been at the top of his game throughout his 30-year career, Seal’s 10th studio album breathes life into iconic hits, paying tribute to legends including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone.

As may be apparent by the title, this is an album of jazz standards and swing classics, featuring such tracks as Luck Be A Lady, I Put A Spell On You, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and It Was A Very Good Year. To be fair to Seal he has reached for some level of authenticity by collaborating with some musicians who have performed with the greats, including pianist Randy Waldman (who toured with Sinatra), bass player Chuck Berghofe (Ella Fitzgerald) and drummer Greg Fields (Stevie Wonder). The songs were also recorded in the Capitol Records in Los Angeles.

Seal’s new album brings the glamour of Old Hollywood straight to the present. It is a natural successor to his series of soul records, made a decade ago which sold over 5 million copies around the world. ‘Standards’ hears Seal’s signature, velvety warm vocals bring to life classics made popular by Frank Sinatra (such as Luck Be A Lady, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and It Was A Very Good Year), Ella Fitzgerald (I’m Beginning to See The Light) and Nina Simone (I Put A Spell on You). Elsewhere, there are lush orchestral moments captured on Smile (Charlie Chaplin) and the Cole Porter gem, Love For Sale.

In a career spanning three decades, racking up over 30 million records sales worldwide and a string of Grammy, Brit and Ivor Novello awards along the way, Seal continues to shine as one of the world’s brightest music stars. His new album is full of musical gems which glisten when brought to life with his stunning voice.

1. Luck Be A Lady
2. Autumn Leaves
3. I Put A Spell On You
4. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
5. Anyone Who Knows What Love Is
6. Love For Sale
7. My Funny Valentine
8. I’ve Got You Under My Skin
9. Smile
10. I’m Beginning To See The Light
11. It Was A Very Good Year
12. The Nearness Of You
13. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
14. Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)

Jerry Granelli - Dance Hall (feat. Robben Ford, Bill Frisell & J. Anthony Granelli) JUSTIN TIME RECORDS 2017

The inspiration or vision for a recording, the source or the sound that I can hear (and almost see) in my head seems to arise in a moment. But it may take years to actually realize. That was the path of this album, Dance Hall.  I can trace it back to the first recording I made with Bill and Robben in 1992, A Song I Thought I Heard Buddy Sing. That’s when I started hearing the sound of two guitars as one big one – and that sound was Bill and Robben, both friends and colleagues. When we finished that recording, there was the spark for this work – wanting to hear them play rhythm and blues.  Well, it took a long time, until 2015, when backstage at the jazz festival in Halifax; Bill asked the question “Are you ever going to record with that band again?”  I said, “I have this idea for a rhythm and blues project.”  He says, “I’m in.”  I call Robben – same answer. “ Lee, what are you seeing?”… “Of course.  Let’s do it.”

Finding the Material

The key for me was not doing covers, but finding songs that were personal to my journey. That is what each one of these songs is for me – from hearing Louis Jordan and “Caldonia”, I guess back to 4 years old, all the way through to hearing ARETHA sing “Never Gonna Break My Faith” on a flight from Europe a month before the recording.  So that’s part of the story of how we got here.

This work for me reflects deep gratitude for all the artists who originally wrote and recorded these great songs, and for me at this point in my life, the sheer joy of playing the drums. We kept it as open and spontaneous within the forms as possible.  Even Steven Bernstein’s horn writing, though precise, also left many options.  And J. Anthony’s bass lines did the same.  So perhaps this one is about the joy of finding the freedom in the form.

01 Meet Me In The Morning 05:47
02 The Great Pretender 06:08
03 Boogie Stop Shuffle 08:40
04 Ain't The A Shame 04:31
05 Driva Man 04:43
06 This Bitter Earth 05:36
07 Never Gonna Break My Faith 05:19
08 Caldonia 03:36

Robben Ford – Electric Guitar
Bill Frisell – Electric Guitar
J. Anthony Granelli – Electric Bass

Horns:  Derry Byrne – Steve Kaldestad – Bill Runge

Drummer Jerry Granelli Reunites with
Guitar Greats Bill Frisell & Robben Ford After 25 Years
for Blues-Soaked Repertoire on Dance Hall

Back in 1992, veteran drummer-composer Jerry Granelli went to studios in Seattle and San Francisco with an all-star cast, including trombonist Julian Priester, alto sax great Kenny Garrett, bassist Anthony Cox and guitarists Bill Frisell and Robben Ford, to record a set of blues-based tunes that resonated with his youth. The resulting album, A Song I Thought I Heard Buddy Sing, inspired by Michael Ondaatje’s haunting novel “Coming Through Slaughter” about the life of the legendary New Orleans cornetist Buddy Bolden, includes blues-tinged nuggets as Johnny Hodges’ “Wanderlust,” Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce,” Ornette Coleman’s “Blues Connotation” and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.”

Twenty-five years later, Granelli returned to the studio with the same producer from that landmark session, Lee Townsend, along with the same guitar tandem of Frisell and Ford for another blues-soaked outing. Inspired by his upbringing as an aspiring musician in San Francisco, Dance Hall, is at once a joyful reunion and a fond salute to his own youth. “This is the bookend,” said the revered, 76-year-old drummer from his home base in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “When I told Bill and Robben I wanted to make another blues record, they both said, ‘I’m in.’ It took about a year to get everybody in the same place, but it was a great session. This record really meant a lot to me. There’s magic on these tracks.”

Granelli’s 20th album as a leader has him tackling hit singles from yesteryear, including The Platters’ “The Great Pretender,” Dinah Washington’s mournful “This Bitter Earth,” Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia.” He also tips his cap to Max Roach on a dramatic reading of “Driva Man” (from 1964’s pivotal protest record We Insist! Freedom Now Suite featuring singer Abbey Lincoln) and to Charles Mingus on a straight shuffle version of “Boogie Stop Shuffle.” An earthy reading of “Meet Me in the Morning” represents one of the artists Granelli knew from the early days of the Fillmore West in San Francisco, Bob Dylan. The drummer explains that his laid back, behind-the-beat groove on this Dylan tune was more inspired by a funkier version by Texas bluesman Freddie King from his 1975 album Larger Than Life. Aretha Franklin is also represented here with a newer tune, the gospel-tinged “Never Gonna Break My Faith” (from the 2006 movie Bobby about the death of Bobby Kennedy). “I heard that song on a plane and I just felt, ‘That’s the time we’re in, that’s what we gotta do now,” Granelli maintains. “We gotta stand and not let these motherfuckers break our faith.’”

When Granelli and producer Townsend began talking about the project, Granelli stated he wanted the album to be “personal.” Townsend replied, “That’s it, find it from there.” This is how Granelli was able to develop personal connections to each of the songs. “‘Ain’t That a Shame’ has a story behind it. I was in high school and had just met the woman who would become my first wife. I just fell in love, walked around the corner to a record store and I remember that song was playing. I was not yet 20 when I first heard Dinah Washington single, ‘This Bitter Earth.’ After that I would sit in this bar every day, drinking gin and tonics, trying to feel melancholy and capture the sadness of that profound song. It’s so gorgeous. Louis Jordan is someone I grew up listening to and his ‘Caldonia’ in particular is how I learned to play quarter note triplets on the drums. So I had all of those songs memorized as a kid, and every one of them meant something real to me. And as far as ‘The Great Pretender,’ I toured with The Platters when that song was popular, so I must’ve played it hundreds of times.”

The core quartet – Granelli on drums, Frisell and Ford on guitars and Granelli’s son J. Anthony Granelli on bass – puts its stamp on “Boogie Stop Shuffle,” “Driva Man,” “This Bitter Earth” and “Never Gonna Break My Faith.” A punchy three-piece horn section, arranged by Steve Bernstein of Millenial Territory Orchestra and Hot 9 fame, are augmented on four other tunes — “Meet Me in the Morning,” “The Great Pretender,” “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Caldonia.” Granelli, who has cultivated a two-guitar sound in his previous bands V-16 and UFB, says he fell in love 20 years ago with that combination from the Frisell-Ford hookup he heard on A Song I Heard Buddy Sing. “I just always loved that sound, where it’s like two guitars meshing into one big guitar to the point where you can’t tell who’s playing what.”

For the drummer and educator, who is approaching 77 in December, Dance Hall represents a return to the fundamental desire to play the blues. “I’ve gone through a lot of phases in my career, starting out playing straight ahead in piano trios led by Vince Guaraldi and Denny Zeitlin, then playing that right-in-the-pocket Mississippi-Louisiana thing with Mose Allison in the ‘70s. I’ve gone through the ‘out’ stuff with free jazz and all that. But the beauty of playing this instrument, the drums, is playing time for people who can just do it and use it. And these guys really know how to use it.

“Everybody did this session as a labor of love all the way down the line,” he added. “There was a lot of laughing, a lot of joy at the sessions. It was a real love fest. And to me, personally, it just feels like artistic freedom has finally been reached with this recording, where you can actually do what it is that you love. For me, it feels like a pretty outrageous record to make at this point in my life. Just to play the drums that way…that’s what I grew up in. I can’t wait to get on the road and play this music and see what happens. That’s the next step.”

Festival International de Jazz de Montréal: Coming soon ! Diana Krall live in concert in Montréal