Friday, January 12, 2018

2henning - Puzzled Bird (PROLOG MUSIC February 22, 2018)

Imagine a Rubik’s Cube displaying a dancing, ever-morphing array of cloud formations; with all the pieces of the cube in perpetual, percussive motion. Although, the images on display are truly incidental and ephemeral by design, they seem to reassert a deeper, formal logic – regardless of their individual combinations. Plus, they leave a lot of space for the theatre of imagination; they’re also stunning and the experience is a lot of fun. In a cubic nutshell, this is what it’s like to hear “Puzzled Bird”, the sophomore studio album from Swiss, nomadic Avant-Pop duo 2henning, for the very first time.

The record is puzzling. In the best way possible. On the one hand it feels accessible and familiar, but with each successive play it discloses a deeper, more perplexing maze of idiosyncrasies – all the while its strong melodic core sinks into your bones like solid steel. Once you get past Valeria Zangger’s visceral, groove-driven drumming and Rahel Kraft’s soothing and extremely affecting vocals, and peel away the vicious, biting synths, a universe of minuscule sound objects starts to appear in the outer orbits of the stereo spectrum. Part noise, part percussion and part extrapolated sound design – there are bits here which were played on a kalimba, a sankyo, a cow’s horn, flutes, some broken toys, music boxes and even a singing, pink balloon with “Who is Jesus?” printed on it.

The lyrics are equally as imaginative as the music, often rigged with trap doors and hidden fire escape routes that take you into far-out spaces like, say a Harvard type library, which just happens to be set in the middle of a wild theme park. And that’s the point, these ladies love to walk a tight rope between ruthless entertainment and intellectual acrobatics. Despite the consistent, high emotional voltage present throughout the album, intent listeners will also spot references to writer Emily Dickinson (“Nachtkerze”), poet Bertolt Brecht (“Radio”) and Göri Klainguti (“Osoph”).

This duo definitely mastered a unique ability to surprise the listener, to take logical, yet unexpected turns compositionally. This, as well as their unrelenting commitment to working with original, non-preset sound objects, are definitive qualities of the project. And there is nothing contrived about any of this, either. Every single one of the songs is a product of a free-form improv session or a live show. Each, is also a natural outcome of an intense dialogue between two highly opinionated, versatile multi-instrumentalists – who just happen to love to be surprised, challenged musically and have a lot of fun together exploring the "deep-end."

“Puzzled Bird” was written over a period of 3 years, while the recording process is estimated to have taken roughly 10 months. Like the puzzled referred to in the title, the final version of the album was put together from recordings that took place at the Soundfarm studio, a remote chapel, a tight, but very cozy cupboard in a Tokyo apartment, a friend’s flat and, of course, at the rehearsal space. Additional production was handled by friend, producer and sound engineer, Patrik Zosso (not to be confused with Wes Anderson’s Captain Zissou). The core compositions feature an analog drum set rigged with triggers and extended with electronic pads (to set off samples) and a whole array of hardware synths.

BIGYUKI - Reaching For Chiron (LIKELY RECORDS February 2, 2018)


(Talib Kweli, Matisyahu & A Tribe Called Quest Collaborator) 

Announces Debut Album Reaching For Chiron

Available February 2 on Likely Records

Featuring Chris Turner, Bilal, Taylor McFerrin, Marcus Gilmore, Louis Cato, Randy Runyon, Justin Tyson, J. Ivy, Reuben Cainer, Bae Bro, Stu Brooks, Javier Starks, Celia Hatton

Torn between the ferocity of the equine and the civility of man, Chiron was considered to be the noblest of the centaurs. His front legs were not of a horse but of a man. He trotted about mythological worlds as a refined anomaly, forged with the best traits of both beasts. For keyboardist and songwriter BIGYUKI we are all on the verge of that transformation with our digital devices amplifying and polishing our intellects. His debut album Reaching For Chiron is a perfect synthesis of heart and technology, heavy beats and buoyant melodies.

“We don’t memorize phone numbers anymore. We don’t memorize maps. It’s like a part of the brain now,” says BIGYUKI. “There is an ongoing discussion about AI creating a god or summoning a devil. I kind of feel like in the near future there is no way a human will develop themselves without help from AI. It’s a unity between human and machine.”

BIGYUKI is naturally the perfect embodiment of that modern man. Raised in Japan, he moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music. Up until that point a majority of his keyboard experience had been with the classical masters. “Playing classical music I learned how to depart from this realm. Me becomes not me. That’s when I learned that. I love Chopin. I could really relate as my young self. He has beautiful melodies. I loved it. I think that part is still in me. Whatever music I play, it’s always there.”

Not long after arriving in Massachusetts, BIGYUKI began to see the changes, expanding and acquiring the knowledge that would create his powerhouse sound. An encounter with the much sought-after drummer Charles Haynes at Wally’s Cafe landed BIGYUKI a church gig in the Boston suburb of Dorchester, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state. “People seemed to like my enthusiasm, attitude and maybe my playing. I didn’t know any songs but I have an ear that doesn’t suck. I can figure it out.” And he did. He played that gig for six years, lasting far longer at the church than at the college. “That really kind of gave me a sense that maybe where you are from and what your background is doesn’t really matter.”

A move to New York helped to solidify BIGYUKI’s transformation. He worked regularly with hip-hop artists like Talib Kweli and Matisyahu and made numerous contributions to the long-awaited return from A Tribe Called Quest. All of these elements — Chopin, jazz, gospel, hip-hop — reside between the keys on BIGYUKI’s debut, trampling anyone who stands in the way.

The album opens by tuning into an intergalactic transmission with the ethereal “Pom Pom,” a malleable swim through space dust that is engulfed in a storm of synths, Randy Runyon’s panic attack-inducing guitar and drummer Justin Tyson’s driving hi-hat. Despite its intensity, “‘Pom Pom was one of the simpler ones,” BIGYUKI explains.

He gets an assist from Taylor McFerrin on two tracks. “Eclipse” features vocalist Chris Turner in a swoony mood, crooning poet J. Ivy’s impassioned lyrics over drummer Louis Cato’s thundering presence. Drummer Marcus Gilmore sprinkles the funk on “Missing Ones,” a chill-out crawl that blinks breathlessly from the atmosphere.

“Coming up with the bass lines and the changes was the easy part. Harmonies and melodies are very simple but then coming up with a form? Figuring out how to make the four-minute piece interesting enough so that you don’t stop in the middle of it? That’s the hard part.” “Belong” and “In A Spiral” both showcase BIGYUKI’s more sensitive side.

“Belong” features some of BIGYUKI’s most delicate work on the album. Amid the clipped rhythms programmed by Reuben Cainer, BIGYUKI channels an inner calm that becomes even more stripped down on “In A Spiral,” a virtual cabaret performance amidst the unrelenting futurism found throughout the album.

“I wanted to come up with something that was straight fire. That was the idea. Let’s make something that hits people hard.” There isn’t any mystery to “Burnt N Turnt.” BIGYUKI is aiming straight for the club floor with help from producer Bae Bro. The two mix samples and synthesizers for a menacing spin. “Boom,” the duo’s second collaboration further along the record, is equally indebted to the heavy jam, vocal samples twisted into place by dense drum programming.

“It was after one of those taping sessions for Stephen Colbert’s late show. I was part of the house band for two months. I started jamming over my piano figure with Louis Cato and I recorded it on my phone.” That sample made its way into the final recording of “NuNu.” Drummer Lenny “The Ox” Reece lays down a skittering track that melds seamlessly with a distant vocal sample manipulation. There is a latin-ish vibe simmering beneath the surface throughout. “Reuben Cainer sprinkled a little bit of his flavor to it and the rest is blood and tears.” 

BIGYUKI first worked with Bilal years ago. The soul singer is the main guest on “Soft Places” making the tune decidedly his own. “You know that it’s Bilal as soon as you hear his tone. He gives musicians such a freedom to stretch. He makes the music his playground.” With help from co-producer and sound designer Stu Brooks, BIGYUKI presents a post-apocalyptic love song that veers through time to create a soundscape that ears can easily tumble into.

“Simple Like You” puts hip-hop in the center of BIGYUKI’s universe. Javier Starks brings a swagger to the album that is refreshing and unexpected. A staccato riff keeps everyone on their toes while Celia Hatton’s top melody on viola packs a hard-left turn with a symphonic break.

The album closes with “2060 Chiron,” another floating collaboration with Cainer. An industrial pulse surrounds the futuristic song that is also incredibly indebted to the science fiction soundtracks of the 1980s. And as quickly as it arrives it goes, taking with it the future of BIGYUKI, the shape-shifting keyboardist, part man, part beast, all soul.

Associação Porta-Jazz: Ciclo de Jazz de Valença - Este Fim de Semana - Parceria - C.M. Valença / Porta-Jazz / Quinta do Caminho


Este fim de semana iniciamos uma parceria entre a Porta-Jazz, a Quinta do Caminho e a Câmara Municipal de Valença.

Os 6 concertos do Ciclo de Jazz de Valença realizar-se-ão entre a Quinta do Caminho e o Auditório CILV durante os meses de Janeiro, Fevereiro e Março, com ENTRADA LIVRE.

13 Jan, 21h30 - Quinta do Caminho
Alexandre Coelho Quarteto
João Mortágua - Saxofone
Gonçalo Moreira - Piano
João Cação - Contrabaixo
Alexande Coelho - Bateria

27 Jan 21h30 - Auditório CILV
Mariana Vergueiro Quarteto
Mariana Vergueiro - Voz
Pedro Neves - Piano
Nuno Campos - Contrabaixo
Nuno Oliveira - Bateria

10 Feb 21h30 - Quinta do Caminho
Renato Dias Trio
Renato Dias - Guitarra
Filipe Teixeira - Contrabaixo
Filipe Monteiro - Bateria

17 Feb 21h30 - Quinta do Caminho
Paulo Gomes - Piano
Miguel Moreira - Guitarra
Miguel Ângelo - Contrabaixo
Acácio Salero - Bateria

10 Mar - Quinta do Caminho
Luis Lapa & Pé de Cabra
Luis Lapa - Guitarra
Filipe Teixeira - Contrabaixo
Acácio Salero Bateria

24 Mar 21h30 - Auditório CILV
Miguel Ângelo Quarteto
João Guimarães - Saxofone
Joaquim Rodrigues - Piano
Miguel Ângelo - Contrabaixo
Marcos Cavaleiro - Bateria

Pierre de Bethmann Trio - Essais / Vol. 2 (ALÉA January 12, 2018)

Fourth production of the ALEA label, second volume of Pierre de Bethmann’s ESSAIS, two years and nearly sixty concerts after the first volume was released in 2015.

With Sylvain Romano on the double bass and Tony Rabeson on the drums, the trio pursues its journey, gleaning ideas from every new shared experience, continuing its exploration of a variety of musical traditions, subjecting each member’s choices to different arrangements, and above all to the spirit of the moment.

The same spirit which led the three musicians back to the Recall Studio in June 2017 to record their new album, in a setup drawing each time closer to live conditions, in an exceptional setting capable of suspending time and capturing the raw energy of musicians only too eager to play.

All of this results in a selection of ten pieces dating from 1707 to 1985 – written by different composers from the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean – which some will regard as standards.

A new album also conceived as a big thank you to those who programmed, hosted, and supported the trio on its different journeys over the last two years, and to those who will inspire the journeys to come.

01 Miss Ann (Eric Dolphy)
02 Forlane (Tombeau de Couperin) (Maurice Ravel)
03 Começar de Novo (Ivan Guimaraes Lins)
04 Je Bois (Alain Goraguer)
05 Conception (George Shearing)
06 Chant des Partisans (Anna Marly)
07 I remember you (Victor Schertzinger)
08 Lascia la Spina (Georg Friedrich Haendel)
09 You don't know what love is( Gene De Paul)
10 Belle-Ile-en-Mer, Marie-Galante (Laurent Voulzy)

Sylvain Romano bass
Tony Rabeson drums

Recorded by Philippe Gaillot at studio Recall, Pompignan (France), June 27 & 28, 2017

Mixed and mastered at studio Recall par Philippe Gaillot

P2B Trio / Essais - Volume 2 / Teaser from ALEA musique on Vimeo.

The Lao Tizer Band - Songs From The Swinghouse (YSE RECORDS March 16, 2018)

With more than five years since their last release, The Lao Tizer Band has taken the time to grow in every aspect. An updated larger band is exploring some new methods on their upcoming CD/DVD combo, Songs From The Swinghouse: recorded live in just three days at Conway Studios in Hollywood, the band explores three cover tunes with vocalist, a first for the group, alongside original instrumental tracks, bringing them to new heights of excellence and exuberance.

Featuring a thoughtful and at times surprising choice of tracks, while adding to an already stellar lineup of players with the addition of a seasoned vocalist, this is an album that has set a new path for the band and its dedicated fans. Songs From The Swinghouse features eight blistering original instrumentals and three iconic classic rock songs with reimagined arrangements. “We’ve never done anything with a vocalist and we’ve never done any cover songs, so this is the first time that I decided to delve into that realm, to basically expand the scope of our music,” says Tizer. Critically acclaimed music-film director, Andy LaViolette (Snarky Puppy, Bokante, David Crosby, etc), documented the entire session in a simultaneous, 8-camera HD video shoot for the included DVD.

From the 2007 album Diversify, which showcased the multi-faceted richly textured musicality of an already celebrated career, to 2009’s Passages in which the keyboardist and composer focused on a minimalist expression of his musical journey in a virtually solo piano recording with the barest of accompaniment, and then back to a pulsating full band on the 2012 release Downbeat, this ensemble of world-renowned musicians has taken Tizer’s vision to a new level on the latest album. The jazz and world-fusion group now adds rock to its repertoire with a sizzling new collection of eleven songs. 

Hailing from Boulder, CO, with a career that now spans nine albums over nearly a quarter of a century — he was a teenage prodigy — Tizer is the son of hippies with a Russian-Jewish background, and the mix of that ethnic family heritage, parental new age influence and growing up with the sights and sounds of ’80s and ’90s pop culture (alongside the music of the ’60s and ’70s he heard from his parents) have brought him to a place in his artistic life where he was ready to embrace a wider range of influences and stretch himself and his players to pull off such an ambitious project.

If the choice of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and Cat Stevens’ “Sad Lisa” seem astonishing, Tizer’s arrangements render them almost entirely original. They are taken to the transcendent through the warm and soulful vocals of Tita Hutchison, who sang with the likes of Michael McDonald, Rick Rubin, Michael Jackson, and Foreigner, among others. 

Hutchison joins Tizer’s regular collaborators who are celebrated in their own right: Chieli Minucci, the three-time Emmy-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated guitarist and composer; Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who is a permanent member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band; longtime member and EWI/saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Nieves; and violinist Karen Briggs, who has graced the stage with Yanni, Diana Ross, Wu-Tang Clan, Chaka Khan and more. Tizer also credits the powerhouse rhythm section (bass players include Grammy® Award-nominee Ric Fierabracci and Cheikh NDoye, Grammy® Award-nominated drummer Gene Coye, and percussionist Munyungo Jackson) with underpinning the dynamic force and arrangements for the project.

The group in fact stretches to 15 members at times with the addition of a string quartet, horn section and a marimba player. Just watching the video of “Metropolis” shows the vast ambitiousness of the undertaking, the concentration of so many musicians in the studio playing live together and feeding into work that was so much grander than the breathtaking individual performances, while the sultry and intimate duet — just piano and violin — on “Forever Searching” reminds the listener and viewer of the purity of Tizer’s jazz beginnings.

“It was all recorded live at Conway Studios,” Tizer says. “So this is as authentic as it could possibly be. It’s a star-studded cast, a lot of pros, and they all came in with their A-game. We got just the right mix of players in the band at this time to make this particular set of music come to life and be artistically deep in an accessible way. And that’s always what my favorite music has been — well written, well composed, but also with that room to stretch, that’s the improvisation and the jazz of it.”

Tizer praises each musician for his and her contribution to the whole. Conceptually focused while always generous as a composer, arranger and band-leader, Tizer produced Songs From The Swinghouse on his own and wrote all of the instrumental tracks himself, aside from one co-write, “A Prayer For Unity” with the band’s other guitarist, Jeff Marshall. They wrote it just after the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, and the significance at this particular time amid current events is imperative for Tizer. “It’s a message that the world needs on a much more macro level, and music is one of those few mediums that can bridge some gaps.”

It’s also a nice counterpoint to the groups Gospel, funkified arrangement of U2’s, “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” the civil rights-inspired song that Tizer had loved since first hearing it in the movie In The Name Of The Father. “Ramble On” was, says Tizer, “the one tune I wanted to do because I’m not sure that there’s any classic rock group more iconic than Led Zeppelin, and I wanted a song that we could take and put our stamp on, which I felt really strongly that we could with that tune, take it to another place.” As for “Sad Lisa,” dedicated on the album to the late daughter of a friend, “I had Cat Stevens’ album Tea For The Tillerman since I was in high school, and right away I knew I could do something with that.”

The evolution of the Lao Tizer Band is revealed joyously in Songs From The Swinghouse. Now incorporating a vocalist into the recording and touring band, the road ahead is enthralling to the group’s founder. “I spent my whole life writing instrumental music, and now I’m working on original material for the group including vocals.” Ultimately, Lao Tizer eschews being formulaic. “I try and just stay true to my muse and to use every bit of my facility to create great music that hopefully has its own voice and continues to evolve as I continue to evolve as a person. It’s very reflective of me, it’s all I’ve done all my life.” 

Roscoe Mitchell & Matthew Shipp - Accelerated Projection (ROGUEART 2018)

Roscoe Mitchell, member of AACM from its early stage and founding member of Art Ensemble of Chicago is a living legend, a national treasure, involved in whether it as a solo, a duet, an ensemble or a classical music situation. Matthew Shipp, definitely a legend in his own right as well, play in many configurations witnessing his impressively brilliant creative devolvement. The experience seeing these musicians play live is equivalent to seeing/hearing Bach, Beethoven and Chopin play live if such a thing were still possible.

Here we are holding the gift of a recording of them playing together in duet. And what a gift it is! -Yuko Otomo, excerpt from the liner notes.

Accelerated Projection I (4:37)
Accelerated Projection II (2:22)
Accelerated Projection III (3:14)
Accelerated Projection IV (6:59)
Accelerated Projection V (6:16)
Accelerated Projection VI (13:33)
Accelerated Projection VII (8:56)

Roscoe Mitchell: alto & soprano saxophones, flute
Matthew Shipp: piano

Hal Galper Quartet (feat. Jerry Bergonzi) - Cubist (ORIGIN RECORDS February 16, 2018)

With his focus on ‘the art of the trio’ since moving on from the Phil Woods Quintet in the late ’80s – the last decade incorporating his innovative development of trio ‘Rubato‘ playing into 7 albums on Origin Records – pianist Hal Galper made a major, personal musical statement in adding his old friend and saxophone titan Jerry Bergonzi to a late 2016 tour and live recording.

Diving into the ‘Rubato’ deep end with the trio, Bergonzi provided another dimension and added spark, opening unforeseen avenues to the trio and quickly becoming an integral part of Galper’s musical concepts going into the future. Thus, the Hal Galper Quartet, featuring Jerry Bergonzi! Recorded at Cleveland’s Tri-C, Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts, the quartet recorded live in an open session format with a small but involved audience.

Bassist Jeff Johnson contributed much of the music for the tour and four of the tracks for the recording. His tune title ‘Cubist,’ provided the implied visual of a subject with many parts out of place or overly-dramatized, offering new perspectives on a familiar image, and a fine metaphor for the music.

Dr. Lonnie Smith - All in My Mind (BLUE NOTE 2018)

The marvelous Dr. Lonnie Smith stands tall as the foremost maestro of the Hammond B-3 organ and at the age of 75 still reigns as a master of innovation and experimentation. The 2017 NEA Jazz Master may say that all he does is simply old school, but Smith paints new hues across the canvas of tradition with aplomb, as evidenced on his spirited new live album All in My Mind. The album is his second for Blue Note since his 2016 return to the legendary label where he made a name for himself in the late-1960s, first as a sideman with saxophonist Lou Donaldson, and soon after as a leader with his own soul-jazz classics.

Smith may have been away from Blue Note for 46 years, but he perfectly fits in with the current mission of label president Don Was to present the future movements of jazz as well as honoring those who forged the tradition. “Dr. Lonnie Smith returns to the Blue Note label with an album that reveals the enduring appeal of organ soul,” raved The Wall Street Journal in a review of his 2016 homecoming album Evolution, adding that the album “showcases a variety of organ-soul stylings [and] demonstrates the versatility and currency of the style.”

A connoisseur of foot-tapping grooves, sophisticated harmonic voicings, indelible melodicism and ethereal atmospherics, Smith wanted to record All in My Mind in a live setting because, as he says, “It’s so hard to capture what I’m feeling at the moment in the studio. Hearing me live is catching me playing in the moment. It’s a good vibe. It’s a loving situation.”

A native of the Buffalo area in Western New York who presently lives in the warm climes of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Smith decided to roll tapes during his week-long 75th birthday celebration at one of his favorite clubs, the Jazz Standard in New York City, with his longtime trio of guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and drummer Johnathan Blake.

“My group is a brotherhood, a dedicated family,” Smith says. “They are the heartbeat of the music. They know what I’m trying to do, and they enhance what I play. I play in the moment all the time, and they adjust and are there for me.”

The resulting seven-track album opens with a powerful rendering of Wayne Shorter’s “JuJu” from the saxophonist’s 1965 Blue Note album of the same name. “I enjoy playing this,” Smith says. “I feel it. I love it. It means something to me.”

Next up is the soulful, lyrical “Devika,” composed by the late Dave Hubbard, a tenor saxophonist who linked up with the B-3 burner in years past. “This is an old tune,” says Smith. “When I played it with Dave in the past it had a faster feel. This is the first time I’ve recorded it, and I decided to change the feeling around it to give it an easier feel.”

Smith invited drummer Joe Dyson to replace Blake behind the kit for a playful jaunt through Paul Simon’s hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” (Dyson and Blake play alongside each other in Smith’s expanded Evolution band). Smith takes the tune on a nearly 10-minute joyride featuring a soaring B-3 solo. (he also notes that he once played a gig in Vegas with Simon & Garfunkel and Tony Bennett playing opposite.)

The slow and soulful take on Tadd Dameron’s “On a Misty Night” (most famously heard on the composer’s 1958 Prestige recording Mating Call with John Coltrane) features Smith’s mastery of dynamics, from the delicate hush of the opening to his climactic full-throttle demonstration of the B-3’s potential. “We love to play that tune,” he says. “It’s down my alley. We do it a lot and I’m in my world.”

A Smith original, “Alhambra,” is the longest and most complex tune of the set. The leader opens with his electronics, an atmospheric mix of synth brass and woodwind sounds that morphs into driving guitar and B-3 solos. “I love to take people on a ride,” Smith says of the tune, which he wrote a long time ago but never recorded. “I want to take the audience on a journey. People just love this song. You can hear it.”

Smith also offers up a new version of one of his oldest songs, “All in My Mind,” which he had recorded twice before on his Afrodesia (1975) and Funk Reaction (1977) albums. “It’s the right time to be singing this again,” he says, referring to the ruminative lyrics that long for a better world. Here Smith delivers the vocal in a duet with singer Alicia Olatuja, whose amazing vocal range and spirit lift the song to new heights.

Closing out the session is the ebullient swing through Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring,” a tune he wrote to celebrate the season when he was in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and later recorded on his own 1967 Backlash album. “There’s a hopeful note to this,” Smith says.

Smith reflects, “You play life, you tell your story. I know who I am, and that means so much.” As for his return to Blue Note, he singles out Don Was who produced Evolution and All in My Mind. “I’ve worked with producers who don’t understand the musicians they’re working with. But Don wants me to be myself, he understands and respects creativity. It’s a reminder of the old days when Frank Wolff used to be the same.”

01. JuJu (Live) 08:18
02. Devika (Live) 06:55
03. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover (Live) 09:27
04. On A Misty Night (Live) 07:45
05. Alhambra (Live) 09:51
06. All In My Mind (Live) 08:20
07. Up Jumped Spring (Live) 05:58