Monday, February 5, 2018

Sons Of Kemet - Your Queen Is A Reptile (IMPULSE! RECORDS March 30, 2018)

British saxophonist and bandleader Shabaka Hutchings and two of the bands he's associated with – Sons of Kemet (above) and Shabaka & The Ancestors – have signed to the iconic Impulse! label. First formed in 2011, Sons of Kemet have released two albums and made a huge impact on the international festival circuit with their double-drums, tuba and sax attack. The current line-up includes founding members Hutchings on sax and Tom Skinner on drums, rising tuba star Theon Cross and powerhouse drummer Eddie Hick, all of whom feature on the new album, Your Queen is a Reptile, which is released on 30 March. Jazzwise understands Comet Is Coming may also be moving to the label.

The album is entitled 'your queen is a reptile'

The track listing is

1. My Queen Is Ada Eastman [Explicit] (6:41)
2. My Queen Is Mamie Phipps Clark (5:31)
3. My Queen Is Harriet Tubman (5:40)
4. My Queen Is Anna Julia Cooper (5:07)
5. My Queen Is Angela Davis (6:35)
6. My Queen Is Nanny Of The Maroons (6:44)
7. My Queen Is Yaa Asantewaa (7:04)
8. My Queen Is Albertina Sisulu (5:20)
9. My Queen Is Doreen Lawrence (6:52)

Edna - Born To Be Why (AUAND RECORDS February 9, 2018)

Polyrhythms, electronics and fluidity
Edna’s look on contemporary embraces melody
“Born To Be Why” by Andrea Bozzetto, Stefano Risso and Mattia Barbieri
is out now on Auand Records,
A long work of experimentation 
that keeps in mind the very own nature of music

EDNA’s music path is engaged, devoted and cheerful, like a kid who tries all the possibilities of a new toy. Andrea Bozzetto (Fender Rhodes, Korg MS20), Stefano Risso (double bass) and Mattia Barbieri (drums) have disassembled and put back together rhythms, melodies and music frames, to find the final shape of their new project “Born To Be Why”, out now on Auand Records.

The three musicians’ obsession is to be found in experimentation, research of new timbres and an accurate attention to balance unusually intertwining rhythms. But even the most crooked poly-metrics are able to reveal a consistent melody, as it’s evident when approaching tracks as the serene “Gomma Blues”, the kaleidoscopic “Iride” or the band’s acid-dream version of “Pure Imagination”. What constantly stands out is the sound of the trio, carefully polished and able to be recognized even when the soundscape expands to highlight a Fender Rhodes, a synth bass, or the use of live electronics.

Suspended among jazz, avant-garde and contemporary approach, EDNA – who has already taken part in several festivals – is a tribute to those who had fun with music while opening new gates for the generations to come (“Life on Mars?”). 

And it also brings a dowry of different collaborations for each member with prominent names of Italian and international jazz such as Richard Galliano, Javier Girotto, Gianni Coscia, Fabrizio Bosso and Francesco Bearzatti.

(Auand AU9066, distr. - 8031697906629)

Bettye LaVette - Things Have Changed (VERVE / Universal March 30, 2018)

Soul icon

returns with album of

Bob Dylan songs

Things Have Changed

set for release on Verve Records March 30

Listen to title track

“Things Have Changed” premiered by

Rolling Stone Country

and available everywhere today

“Bettye, everything you do touches my heart.”
Keith Richards

“Bettye wrenches every bit of emotion in these powerful, inspired
re-workings of some of Dylan’s best songs. Great production, all around knock out of an album.”
Bonnie Raitt

“It must be illegal to have that much soul, but I'm glad to have been a partner in crime on this album. She made these songs her own.”
Steve Jordan

“Whatever she sings acquires the fierce, confessional intensity of someone who barely lived to tell the tale.”
The New York Times

For her tenth album and first album on a major label in nearly thirty years, legendary soul singer Bettye LaVette takes on the songs of Bob Dylan with the grit and experience that makes her one of the greatest living soul singers. Things Have Changed is a masterpiece of interpretation of one of the greatest songwriters alive, by one of the greatest soul singers alive. Keith Richards and Trombone Shorty guest on the Steve Jordan-produced album, which is set for release on Verve Records on March 30.

The title track was released today and premiered yesterday by Rolling Stone Country, who says of the track, “It’s a foreboding song…and LaVette rips into it with bluesy grit, as though she’s unashamed of her own confessions.”

This spring, Bettye will tour the new album across North America, including dates in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Boston and Washington, DC. She will also perform on NPR’s Mountain Stage on February 25, full dates below.

Things Have Changed spans more than five decades of Dylan songs, from 1964’s immortal “The Times They Are A-Changin’” up to “Ain’t Talkin’,” the epic final track on his 2006 album Modern Times.

“Other people write songs, but he writes vignettes, more prose than poetry. I didn’t find his words to be pretty so much as they are extremely practical or extremely logical. He can work things like ‘go jump off a ledge’ into a song.”

Things Have Changed sees Dylan’s songs seriously transformed: “I had never really listened to ‘It Ain’t Me Babe,’” she says, “But I had to make it more dismissive—not fast and hard, but like a Jimmy Reed tune. And ‘The Times They Are A-Changin,’ I had to flip that all the way around, so we worked up the groove on a beat box. That just made it extremely surprising.”

To pull off these transformations, LaVette needed a producer who was up to the challenge, and, through Executive Producer Carol Friedman, she found the perfect collaborator in Steve Jordan, former drummer in David Letterman’s house band, who has worked with everyone from Chuck Berry to John Mayer. “Steve was absolutely brilliant,” she says. “He remembers everything he has ever heard in his entire life, and he was able to interpret for the musicians everything I said to him.”

Jordan brought in an A Team of musicians, including Dylan’s long-time guitarist Larry Campbell, bass virtuoso Pino Palladino, and keyboardist Leon Pendarvis. The group was in such sync that the whole album was cut in just three days. Later, Keith Richards added guitar and is featured on “Political World” and New Orleans ace Trombone Shorty joined for “What Was It You Wanted.”

Grammy nominated singer Bettye LaVette has been in show business for nearly six decades. Her first single “My Man – He's A Lovin' Man” was released on Atlantic Records in 1962, when she was only 16 years old. She continued recording until her resurgence came in the early aughts with a series of albums of interpretations, and in 2008 she wowed the audience at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony with a heart-wrenching rendition of The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me.” Her voice is like no other, and taking on the tricky canon of one of the most substantial songwriters alive is no small feat - but if anyone can match the heart of Bob Dylan, it’s Bettye LaVette.

01. Things Have Changed
02. It Ain't Me Babe
03. Political World feat. Keith Richards
04. Don't Fall Apart On Me Tonight   
05. Seeing The Real You At Last
06. Mama, You Been On My Mind
07. Ain't Talkin'
08. The Times They Are A-Changin'
09. What Was It You Wanted feat. Trombone Shorty
10. Emotionally Yours
11. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
12. Going, Going, Gone
Bettye LaVette US Tour Dates
Things Have Changed Tour

February 25

Mountain Stage

Charleston, WV

April 4

Tin Pan

Richmond, VA

April 5

World Cafe Live

Philadelphia, PA

April 6

City Winery

New York, NY

April 7

Club Helsinki

Hudson, NY

April 12

The Dakota

Minneapolis, MN

April 13

Old Town School of Folk

Chicago, IL

April 15

Jazz Café at Music Hall Center

Detroit, MI

April 18

Center for the Arts

Grass Valley, CA

April 19-20

Freight & Salvage

Berkeley, CA

April 22

Aladdin Theater

Portland, OR

April 23

Benaroya Hall

Seattle, WA

May 17

City Winery

Boston, MA

May 19

The Hamilton

Washington, DC

Timo Vollbrecht Fly Magic - Faces In Places (BERTHOLD RECORDS March 16, 2018)

Nine Matches - Nine Songs

Even without knowing the stories behind the individual pieces, Timo Vollbrecht's new album Faces in Places is a listener. Combined with the background stories, this great music becomes an impressive experience. Fly Magic is the name of the band in which Vollbrecht (saxophone) meets Keisuke Matsuno (guitar), Elias Stemeseder (piano and keyboards), Martin Nevin (bass) and Jason Burger (drums). Together they have recorded an album whose pieces are as exciting as they are refined and authentic.

"Each piece is dedicated to someone I met - or it is inspired by him," Vollbrecht explains the concept of the album and adds: "In recent years, we have traveled a lot on our tours. Almost everywhere in the world we met fascinating people who impressed us in very different ways. When we got home, I got the idea to write songs about them. The first piece was Muhammad. "

The story begins in Syrian Aleppo in 2010. On the morning after a concert, Vollbrecht sets off for a walk and watches the many traders opening their shops. When he eventually loses his orientation, he calls on a friendly, blinding man. It is Muhammad who immediately interrupts his work. "He gave me an hour of his time. Not only to give me the right way back, but also to show me the inner city, "Vollbrecht recalls and explains:" For him, I wrote this piece and tried to convey the pride and dignity that Muhammad broadcast to incorporate the melody. Unfortunately, we have not exchanged telephone numbers or email addresses. Since the terrible bombardments, I have often wondered what happened to him. "

Espacio has dedicated Vollbrecht to Dorivan, a flutist from Cambodia, with whom the band worked together during a project in Phnom Penh. A true master on the Khloy - an old, traditional bamboo flute. The piece is inspired by the slow, graceful movements of the Khmer dancers. "At the same time, it also refers to the eternal emptiness that we felt after visiting the Genocide Museum in the Cambodian capital," said Vollbrecht.

Tiffany is a "dear friend from Singapore, who attended our concert at the Sing Jazz Club and then took us on a trip to the bustling, colorful and impressive city."

Schaumburg in turn is an ode to Vollbrechts home, the same district in Lower Saxony near Hannover. Now living in New York City, "the piece expresses the joy and relief of coming home, as well as the feeling of longing when I'm not there," says the saxophonist.

During their tour of South America, the band also spent a few days in Chile. "There we lived with Francisco - a warm-hearted, almost exuberant gentleman who loves music. On the roof of his house in the port city of Valparaíso, we made music all night - which the neighbors did not particularly enjoy ", smiles Vollbrecht.

In Malaysia, the musicians met Mala - a young, proud Muslim from Kuala Lumpur. The encounter with her fell right at the time when Mala decided to remove her headscarf - even at the risk of being socially criticized. "The piece Mala's World is dedicated to all women who have the courage to take their lives in male-dominated societies in their own hands and to fight for freedom of religion and expression."

Vollbrecht does not label all these pieces as "political" in the classical sense. The saxophonist sees his music as a powerful tool. "As the band often tours, we naturally discuss what's going on. About the emergence of populists, for example, with the slogans of US President Trump, on the AfD in Germany or what is happening in Austria. These developments worry us. And music is an important and great way to familiarize listeners with different perspectives and perspectives, "emphasizes Vollbrecht.

The musicians of the quintet surround a tight band - on and off the stage. They are all part of a jazz community whose members help and inspire each other. Vollbrecht has been working together with Keisuke Matsuno for many years. The guitarist is a sound wizard who knows how to elicit swirling, ethereal sounds from his instrument. Elias Stemeseder is an experienced, extremely creative pianist and keyboarder who always manages to surprise his audience with his improvisations. Martin Nevin is one of the most sought after bass players in the Big Apple, with its warm, soulful sound shaping the rhythm of the band - along with Jason Burger, whose drumming is as versatile as it is innovative.

Timo Vollbrecht and his ensemble are among the rising stars in the jazz scene. "Actually, there is no drawer for our kind of music. But when asked about it, I would most likely call it a mixture of jazz, avant-garde, post and indie rock, as well as folk and contemporary classical music. This creates soundscapes like from another world. "

Or - as US vibraphist Stefon Harris describes it: "Because so many different influences come together in him, Timo Vollbrecht breaks the usual boundaries of the music genre." The press praises the young German saxophonist in the highest tones. The Hot House Jazz Guide certifies him "remarkable talent", while the Norddeutsche Rundfunk sees in him a "real discovery".

With his album Faces in Places, he effortlessly fulfills his high expectations.

Stefan Schultze Solo - System Tribe (WHY PLAY JAZZ 2018)

“System Tribe” is both an impressive statement and a convincing document of Schultze’s original, futuristic compositions and interpretations. He has created music that both challenges and rewards the listener. Now Schultze amazingly transfers his award-winning creativity to his debut album as soloist.

“System Tribe” is both an impressive statement and a convincing document of Schultze’s original, futuristic compositions and interpretations. Schultze’s comprehensive approach is completely individual. It is grounded in a healthy reaction to the information overkill of our time.

Every piece on the “System Tribe” is different. And yet, as the title implies, it all blends seamlessly into an exceptional unity. Schultze realizes this through traditional piano play, with prepared piano, with bubbling sounds from his Fender Rhodes, special microphone setups, and with a bit of overdubbing.

Schultze keeps to the point: emphatic, emotional, suggestive, remaining conscious of the structure, and with the listener in mind.

In so doing, he has created music that challenges and rewards, music that can be both melodiously contemplative and insistently minimalistic. Yet it also astounds, culminating in some sort of outrageous surrealistic rock music, on through to the machine-like alienation created by the sound distortions of the prepared piano.

It’s a question of contours, character, and nuance, an effective concurrence of tenderness and accelerated onslaughts, the balance from loud to soft, right on through to the CD’s finale, “Fade”, as a single chord plays repeatedly, it’s notes ringing out, then fading into silence before being struck yet again, on through to one final altered chord. This album demonstrates all that, as well as the benefits of the careful handling of particular fragments. There is something special that happens on the way from exposure to exploratory adaptation. With its precise logic, this surprising recording transforms the overwhelming within the core idea into the comprehensible.

1 System Tribe  4:24
2 Silva  3:45
3 Culture Vulture  2:36
4 Return  3:22
5 Fracking  5:13
6 Rooftop  1:36
7 Gu  3:30
8 Fade  12:55

All compositions by Stefan Schultze. Produced by Stefan Schultze for WhyPlayJazz. Recorded April 1st 2016 by Lukas Lohner at Loft, Cologne, Germany & April 2nd - 3rd, Berlin, Germany. Mixed and mastered by Christian Heck at Tonartstudio, Horrem, Germany. Photo by Dovile Sermokas. Design and artwork by Travassos.

Concerts 2018

Nov 05, 2018 - Weimar, DE @ Montage
Nov 06, 2018 - Jena, DE @ Trafo
Nov 07, 2018 - Magdebug, DE @ Forum Gestaltung
Nov 08, 2018 - Bremen, DE @ Sendesaal Bremen
Nov 09, 2018 - Berlin, DE @ Musikbrauerei
Nov 10, 2018 - Bochum, DE @ Christuskirche

Peuker8 - Influx (WHY PLAY JAZZ 2018)

With an octet that includes a string trio, guitarist/composer Paul Peuker has created an incredible universe of sound that catapults the guitar back into contemporary jazz. A fascinating fusion of jazz and European contemporary classical music characterize Peuker’s exceptional compositions – critically praised and vibrant in a live setting.

The return of the guitar to contemporary jazz has been going on for some time.

The guitar’s role in jazz has more importance than ever before. Now making his home in Berlin, Paul Peuker is one of those players. In order to establish a wider musical spectrum, in 2011 he formed his octet, Peuker8. Characterized by a fascinating fusion of jazz and European contemporary classical music, Peuker’s exceptional compositions have been highly praised and have proven to be viable in a live setting.

You might think, aha, Third Stream jazz, and ignore the whole business. But Peuker’s music has nothing to do with some sort of ambitious academic work; rather, it flows forth with a wonderful vitality. Coincidentally, the listeners’ pleasure is a forgone conclusion as they become conscious of the close, natural intertwining, of players and styles. Peuker’s seemingly effortless structures are filled with spontaneity. This music is not overly cerebral; it is agile, multi-faceted and self-consistent without being intrusively overpowering. And it's a music from the here and now primed with American jazz and colored by European experiences, with string trio integrated in such a way that it accomplishes far more than enhance the music’s ‘flavor’ or effect.

Luckily, Paul Peuker has kept his large group together as he continues the exploration of his ‘third way’. Having grown out of a multiplicity of joint musical experiences, his second album, "Influx", is the next step; with a heightened intensity, he decisively suffuses his concept with life. Dense and rugged while at the same time transparent and permeated with creative details, this spirited band navigates its way through the ten concisely structured compositions.

Peuker has written into them a balanced awareness of form and improvisational freedom, as if they could have never been any other way. The pieces allow this large group to play with the fluidity of an extremely flexible organism.

Peuker is a remarkable guitarist. He can breathe new life into a ballad, but he can also let loose, hands-on and rocking, without losing sight of his responsibility to the group. This goes for all of the players. Theirs is a collective sound – compact, playful – and it all makes sense. At times there is such a rhythmic intensity that it may well make you want to get up and dance. The solos are cleverly integrated into this musical cosmos, since each individual is a part of the common cause.

Ulrich Stock recently wrote in Germany’s prestigious der ZEIT newspaper, "Suddenly jazz is back – in the big cities, in improvised clubs – and at some of the concerts the listeners are as young as the musicians. How can that be?" Peuker8 offers one of the most plausible answers.

1 Love Song  7:28
2 The Skyward Escape  5:58
3 Grind Me Tender  6:19
4 Anthem  4:24
5 At Beinglas Farm  6:59
6 Metamorfosi  10:39
7 Fuge  8:08
8 Mnimi  3:54
9 Theme Music  5:25
10 Into the Wild White Yonder  4:27

Clemens Christian Pötzsch (piano)
Mark Weschenfelder (saxophone)
Alina Gropper (violinquinton)
Filip Sommer (violaquinton)
Elisabeth Coudoux (cello)
Eugen Rolnik (bass)
Florian Lauer (drums)
Sissi Rada (vocals on "Mnimi")

Recorded, produced and mixed by Max Trieder at Hirschberg Studio, Oberkirchen and Studio 5, Berlin. Mastered by Henning Birkenhake at Eastside Mastering, Berlin. Photos by Dovile Sermokas. Design and artwork by Travassos.

Concerts 2018

Jul 06, 2018 - Greifswald, DE @ Eldenaer Jazz Evenings

Wanja Slavin Lotus Eaters - Salvation (WHY PLAY JAZZ 2018)

Wanja Slavin (BMW World Jazz Award, Echo Jazz Award) presents his new album, “Salvation” with music that dazzles like the iridescent layers of a rainbow, evoking a radiance and authority – seven compositional gems with an orchestral feeling, rich tonal colors and sophisticated arrangements.

It’s a given that he’s one of the best alto saxophonists in Germany – or anywhere else, for that matter. His play has earned him the commensurate awards – important waystations along Wanja Slavin’s musical journey rather than any sort of existential musical goal. 

The exceptional new album from Slavin and his Lotus Eaters is the best evidence that the bandleader wants more. It’s the reason why he is so meticulous about the music he releases and why he so scrupulously fine-tunes his arrangements; it’s why time and again he alters his band personnel in order to more conclusively encompass the overriding musical ideas.

The music on “Salvation” dazzles like the iridescent layers of a rainbow. Yet it does not intrude on or attempt to overwhelm the listener. It develops its radiant power and authority reflectively, with discipline, devoid of clichés. In listening, one witnesses the burgeoning of something beautiful. Known for his free play in diverse Avant-garde constellations, here Wanja commits to the melodics of song form. Wanja Slavin considers The Lotus Eaters to be his most important band.

Like a gourmet, he seeks out the musicians that best suit his intentions. Thus, this second Lotus Eaters album consists of three recording sessions with alternating lineups and seven musical gems. There is an orchestral feeling to the music, with rich tonal colors and sophisticated arrangements. The solos are delineated, and come quickly and precisely to the particular point, since totally free play would not serve the purpose. Less is more, with pieces that project the feel of thoroughly arranged pop songs, or a kinship to Alfred Schnittke, or they could be the heroes of an imaginary Shorter-Wheeler-Konitz lineup leaning towards a rare multi-dimensional quality. After listening to the music, it’s clear that the particular line-up is essential.

Wanja isn’t one to hide behind his music. In this postmodern period, he has to deal with everything that’s out there. With the Lotus Eaters, he has come a long way in the art of defining and refining the essential. He doesn’t copy and he stays clear of irony. He doesn’t need those crutches because he’s not afraid of standing on his own two feet. 

The music alludes to something precious that goes beyond the six individuals involved and towards a spiritual level in which everything is transformed.

1 Salvation  6:36
2 W.S. 1  6:54
3 Melancholia 1  6:25
4 Melancholia 2  3:51
5 W.S. 2  6:33
6 Moonlight Becomes You  4:48
7 Love Song  3:53

Tom Arthurs (tp)
Erik Kimestad Pedersen (tp)
Wanja Slavin (as, synth)
Philipp Gropper (ts)
Rainer Böhm (p, rhodes)
Andreas Lang (b)
Bernhard Meyer (eb)
Petter Eldh (b, eb, synth)
Ivars Arutyunyan (dr)
Tobias Backhaus (dr)
Nasheet Waits (dr)

Track 1 recorded March 24, 2016 by Falko Duczmal at Forest Studios Steinbeck, Germany. Track 2/3/4 recorded September 28/29, 2016 by Marco Birkner at Casa San Francesco Loft Studios, Italy. Track 5/6/7 recorded January 19, 2017 by Rainer Robben at AudioCue Tonstudios Berlin, Germany. Produced by Wanja Slavin for WhyPlayJazz. Mixed by Marck Fuck. Mastered by Katherine Miller. Photo by Dovile Sermokas. Design and artwork by Travassos. Supported by Initiative Musik gGmbH with project funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, Germany.

Concerts 2018

Apr 17, 2018 - Mannheim, DE @ Klapsmühl
Apr 18, 2018 - Köln, DE @ LOFT
Apr 19, 2018 - Berlin, DE @ Orania
Apr 21, 2018 - Pohrsdorf, DE @ Saxstall