Monday, January 8, 2018

In Βlue and White by Erato Alakiozidou (ODRADEK RECORDS)

The music I chose for this disc represents a spiritual journey of self-discovery. The sounds create a mystical atmosphere, at once abstract and deeply-felt. For me, they are as powerful as the sights and smells of the Mediterranean. The power of the Mediterranean is felt by everyone who lives there; felt as silence, as distant sounds, echoes, reflections of blue and white, the transparency and clarity of the sea and the sky and its sounds, its mixture of cosmopolitanism and isolation.
Erato Alakiozidou

The music chosen by pianist Erato Alakiozidou for this programme represents a spiritual journey of self-discovery. Grouped together, these pieces create a mystical atmosphere, at once abstract and deeply-felt. The effect is as powerful as the sights and smells of the Mediterranean, with its distant sounds, echoes, and reflections of blue and white – from which the CD takes its title. The Greek composers featured are distinguished by their technical skill, cohesion and clarity of musical thought, their music shimmering with the transparency and clarity of the Mediterranean sea, with its mixture of isolation and cosmopolitanism.

Erato Alakiozidou has arranged these works in a carefully-chosen order to create a musical and emotional journey for the listener. Each work has its own voice, its own personality; a different sonority, intensity, character, notation or quality of attack.

The music featured on this disc ranges from the abstract, such as the Piano Pieces by Anastassis Philippakopoulos, to the metaphysical, in the dream-pieces of Stathis Gyftakis, to the evocative, with Mediterranean flora and fauna conjured up in Mediterranean Desert by Giorgos Koumendakis; fish and insects suggested as vividly as the fragrances of sage, mint, and thyme.

Erato Alakiozidou was born in Greece and, from her home in Thessaloniki, has been active in commissioning, promoting and performing Greek contemporary music for 20 years. She believes passionately in the capacity for Greek music in all its quality and variety to find a wider international audience. This disc is the fruit of that passion.

Ernie Henry: Presenting Enir Henry (Audiphile 180gr HQ Vinyl) [JAZZ WORKSHOP January 5, 2018]

"Altoist Ernie Henry's first of three sessions as a leader, all of which were made within 16 months of his premature death, served as a strong debut. Joined by trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Kenny Drew, bassist Wilbur Ware and drummer Art Taylor, Henry -- who always had a distinctive tone -- performs five of his boppish originals, plus "Gone With the Wind" and "I Should Care." Throughout the date, Henry hints strongly at the great potential he had."

Scott Yanow -All Music Guide

Format: LP / 12" / 33rpm / MONO
Catalogue Reference: JW-085
Recording Year: 1956
Country of Pressing: SPAIN
Comments: Sealed New Copy
Reissue of the original Riverside RLP 12-222
Cover Grade: MINT
Vinyl Grade: MINT

Side One:

1. Gone with the Wind (Wrubel-Magidson) 3:20
2. Orient (Ernie Henry) 5:05
3. Free Flight (Ernie Henry) 5:44
4. Checkmate (Ernie Henry) 5:50

Side Two:

1. Active Ingredients (Ernie Henry) 4:58 
2. I Should Care (Stordahl-Weston-Cahn) 5:03
3. Cleo's Chant (Ernie Henry) 8:19

Originally issued in Mono on RIVERSIDE RLP 12-222

Ernie Henry (as)
Kenny Dorham (tp)
Kenny Drew (p)
Wilbur Ware (b)
Art Taylor (d)

Recorded at Reeves Sound Studios, New York City, on August 23 (Side A) & 30 (Side B), 1956

Engineer: Jack Higgins
Produced by Bill Grauer & Orrin Keepnews
Back liner notes by Orrin Keepnews
Cover photograph: Paul Weller
Typographical design: Paul Bacon

Lowell Hopper - Forward Motion (2018)

Growing up in Virginia, Lowell was introduced to music at an early age as he would often listen to his father play the acoustic guitar and sing around their house. Lowell began playing guitar at age 6, and was playing guitar and bass in RnB and blues bands in night clubs by age 15. After college, Lowell joined the U.S. Air Force during when he was inspired to start writing and producing his own music. Throughout Lowell’s twenty-year Air Force career, he performed and recorded with numerous jazz artists in Germany, Panama Canal, and Florida. Today, he still performs regularly in northern Florida. His loyal followers span generations, and have enjoyed his performances over and over.

1. Feeling Good 4:56
2. Passion 4:24
3. With You in Mind 4:25
4. Just Chillin 4:56
5. Wondering Aloud 5:13
6. Freestyle 4:39
7. Forward Motion 4:28
8. In the House 4:57
9. Quiet Storm 3:58
10. Straight Up 4:32
11. Just for You 4:44
12. Back in the Day 4:10
13. Around the Way 4:48

Lowell Hopper - guitars, basses, keyboards, and drum programming.
Derek Burrell - basses on “Feeling Good”, “Passion”, "With You in Mind", and “Just Chillin’’’.

All songs composed by Lowell Hopper and published by Lowell Hopper Music, BMI.
Produced and arranged by Lowell Hopper for LCH Productions.

Under The Lake - Jazz, Groove & Attitude (February 23, 2018)

Powered by the dual-horn attack of tenor saxophonist David Evans and trombonist John Moak, and armed with eleven original new songs composed and produced by keyboardist Jayson Tipp​​

Funk, soul and jazz combined into a sound somewhere between The Crusaders and Steely Dan... 

Under The Lake has been called "...effervescent, vivacious, and all-together engaging" by, considered "...possibly the next best thing since Spyro Gyra..." by Joe Montague(, and called "the most comfortable way to be engrossed in music" by Susan Frances ( Under The Lake 25 years of credits include four internationally-distributed albums.​
The new album "Jazz, Groove, & Attitude" features John Moak on trombone and David Evans on tenor sax with special guests Nat Caranto on alto sax and Joe Powers on harmonica.

1. Breaking Through
2. Good Things
3. November 30th
4. George Is His Name
5. Father's Day
6. Second Time Around
7. LJT
8. Full Of Life
9. I Just Can't Wait
10. Rise And Shine
11. September Groove

Diego Pinera - Despertando (ACT MUSIC 26 January, 2018)

It was the awakening (Despertando) of a tinge of longing which inspired Diego Pinera to record this album. More than seventeen years after having left his native Uruguay, he re-visits his roots, the influences which first left their mark on him, and the legacy which made him the musician he is today.

His choice of compositions is highly personal: tunes by Gato Barbieri and Ernesto Lecuona are clear cultural references to Argentina and Cuba (Pinera also studied in Havana). His own composition “Osvaldo por Nueve” is a homage to his first teacher and mentor Osvaldo Fattoruso. It is also Pinera’s modern take on the ‘candombe’ folklore tradition, popular in Uruguay. The track “Yakarito Terere” is personal too: a composition by his father, inspired by a memory from childhood, of regular excursions into the hinterland of Montevideo.

Pinera’s encounters with Latin American music, and with jazz in all its breadth, have led him to develop an unmistakable style which serves as the artistic filter for “Despertando”: through the combination of his advanced conception of rhythm, a jazz sound with a Latin touch, and the freedom of improvisation, this album becomes a portrait of the artist in full, and one in which his strong character comes across vividly.

Pinera’s fellow musicians also inhabit this field of creative tension. Each of them has a very different musical background, and together they combine to make a concept of jazz which is stylistically open, deeply marked by their origins, and coloured by Latin American music.

This unusual chemistry between the musicians - and also their extraordinary talent – keep the music fresh and airy; there is musical complexity and virtuosity in abundance, but it is imbued with great subtlety.

“Despertando” avoids all temptation to wallow in nostalgia. What Pinera has achieved is to re-invent the place he dreams about, to awaken Latin jazz in a way which is deep-rootedly his own, and is able to stand on its own terms. Far removed from folklore, cliché and superficiality, this is not a reversion to the past, but to the present.

1 Osvaldo por Nueve
2 Caravan
3 Despertando
4 Yakarito Terere
5 St. Thomas
6 Last Tango in Paris
7 La Comparsa
8 Vulnerability
9 A Puerto Padre
10 Duerme Negrito
11 Once Pasos

Diego Pinera / drums, percussion & steel drum
Tino Derado / piano & accordion
Omar Rodriguez Calvo / bass
Daniel Manrique-Smith / flutes
Julian Wasserfuhr / trumpet & flugelhorn

Produced by Siggi Loch

Recorded by Klaus Scheuermann 
at Hansa Studios Berlin, April 24 & 25, 2017. 
Assistant: Nanni Johansson
Mixed and mastered by Klaus Scheuermann

Cover art by Nathan Carter, Fascinator For For Gene Genie, 2016
Acrylic on aluminum, 74 x 63.25" / 188 x 160.7cm
Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York

Steve Barry Quartet - Blueprints & Vignettes (January 19, 2018)

Blueprints & Vignettes, the third album from leading Sydney based pianist-composer Steve Barry will be released January 19 on Earshift Music/MGM with launch dates in Sydney, Wellington and Auckland. 

With virtuosic playing from Barry and his quartet, the album features highly forged compositions and riveting ensemble work. The music is a kaleidoscopic exploration of the sonic and melodic possibilities of contemporary jazz. 

Joining Barry are longstanding collaborators Jeremy Rose (alto saxophone, bass clarinet), Max Alducca (bass) and Dave Goodman (drums). Beautifully captured at Sydney’s Sony Studios by Ross A’Hearn, this album is set to be an important contribution to Barry’s growing output.

A product of Barry’s recently completed PhD at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Blueprints & Vignettes reflects his parallel interests in jazz, creative music, 20th century classical music, new music and improvisation. The album dances back and forward between intricate compositions and free improvisation in an exploration of harmonic hues and the spontaneous re-imagination of pre-set structures. 

Barry maintains a busy schedule composing, teaching and performing across Australia, New Zealand and Japan. He is the co-founder of Orbiturtle, recently curating and collaborating with Koto player Michiyo Yagi at the Joganji Buddhist temple in Osaka Japan. An album of solo piano works, also a product of his doctoral studies, is set for release in early 2018. 

Barry has a growing list of awards and nominations, amongst them the Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year, 2nd in the National Jazz Awards, a finalist in the APRA Professional Development Awards and a nomination for the Freedman Fellowship.

1. Mammoth part 1
2. Mammoth part 2
3. Primed part 1
4. Primed part 2
5. Grind
6. Umbric Symmetry
7. Progeny
8. In the crepuscular forest of forked paths
9. #34

Jamison Ross - All for One (CONCORD RECORDS January 26, 2018)

The disc perfects the intoxicating chemistry of the 29-year-old’s debut, which intermingled blues, jazz, R&B and soul effortlessly. "All For One is literally the second chapter,” Ross explains after comparing the success of his debut and the world tour in support of that album as a "whirlwind of smiles and gratitude.” "There’s no deep way to view All For One other than it being the second chapter of me revealing myself as a man who loves as a father, husband, friend, and brother and as an artist who brings that love to other people while receiving love from my audience.”

For sure, love is a recurring theme on All For One as the material touches on both the romantic kind and the socio-political aspect of love that calls for unity among a diverse and, at times, a divisive community. The album also finds the Jacksonville, Florida born and now New Orleans-based Ross plowing into the rarefied areas of blues and R&B that seldom gets investigated by his peers.

Ross begins the disc with mighty shout out to the Crescent City’s R&B legacy with the vivacious make of "A Mellow Time,” a 1966 tune written by Allen Toussaint and made famous by Lee Dorsey. "I’m the biggest Lee Dorsey fan and I’m a huge Allen Toussaint fan,” Ross enthuses. "A lot of tunes like this taught me how to write. I want to write songs that have stories inspired by love.

The title track – "All For One” – is another Big Easy-based song; it’s a rare groover written and recorded in 1993 by Wilson Turbinton, better known as Willie Tee. The lyrics’ plead for love takes on both amorous and socio-political overtones that spills over to other songs on the album, such as Ross’ splendid rendition of Mose Allison’s 1968 classic, "Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy.” "It’s a rough time in America. It’s that simple,” Ross explains. "I know a lot of Mose Allison’s music. I like the way that he could talk the blues. He didn’t sing the blues; he talked the blues. That song has such a pivotal message for where we are right now as a nation.”

Fats Waller’s 1936’s "Let’s Sing Again,” which closes All For One is another old-school gem. On Ross’ makeover, his sanguine singing soars atop of Irvin’s churchy organ accompaniment – a strategic move that tips its hat pays to Waller’s church roots in New York as well as Ross’ background in Jacksonville, Florida, where he grew up singing in his grandfather’s church.

Ross also delves into jazz standards on All For One with his haunting reading of "Don’t Go to Strangers,” a ballad written by Arthur Kent and Dave Mann and made famous in 1960 by Etta Jones, and his alluring version of Ira Gershwin and Kurt Weill’s 1941 classic, "My Ship,” which gains a subtle country vibe thanks for Lollar’s guitar yawns. "I don’t do a lot of jazz standards. The covers that I do come more from the obscure blues realm,” Ross says. "But I honestly love singing ‘Don’t Go to Strangers.’ I sang it at NPR’sJazz Night in America tribute to Rudy Van Gelder Concert. That song taught me a lot about phrasing, which I used on ‘My Ship.’”

All For One contains some exquisite originals too. The gentle, blues-tinted ballad "Unspoken” is a song Ross penned for his wife, Adrienne, to express his enduring love for her while he’s on the road. The jaunty "Call Me” is another original written with Ross’ wife in mind. The backstory of "Call Me” involves his wife phoning him while he was in the middle of crafting an infectious boogaloo drum groove. Instead of getting frustrated by the interruption, Ross allows the phone call from his wife to become an inspirational force. Ross dedicates the melancholy "Away” to his daughter, Jazz Aubrielle as he conveys missing her while he’s constantly on the road and reminding her that his love for her is unending.

The soothing bossa nova, "Safe in Arms of Love,” co-written with Lollar and Joshua Starkman, and the somber, wordless vocalese ballad "Tears and Questions” find Ross turning his attention back to more socio-political issues. Both songs were written while he was touring Australia with Nicholas Payton then receiving news of the 2016 police killing of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge.  Ross’ soul-infused "Keep On” offers encouraging balm in the face of tragic upheaval.

Besides the wordless "Tears and Questions,” All For One contains no instrumentals like its predecessor; nor does it explicitly showcases Ross’ virtuosity as a drummer. "I started touring and playing on a constant basis with my band. That didn’t happen before I made my first record,” Ross explains. "So playing instrumentals was part of my development then. I feel now, I don’t have to prove that I can play instrumentals anymore nor do I have to prove my drumming skills. Recording instrumentals is not indicative to what my artistic concept has grown into.  This album is a result of a personal revelation that we all have the capacity to love with empathy in a deeper way.  The love you need comes from me and the love I need comes from you.  All for one, one for all.”

1. A Mellow Good Time
2. Unspoken
3. Don't Go To Strangers
4. Away
5. Everybody's Cryin' Mercy
6. Safe In The Arms Of Love
7. Tear And Questions
8. Keep On
9. All For One
10. Call Me
11. True Love (Interlude)
12. My Ship
13. Let's Sing Again