Sunday, March 4, 2018

Accent - In This Together (2018)

For Their 2nd Album, A Cappella Jazz Sextet ACCENT, An Internet Phenomenon, Try Something New: Recording Together in the Same Zip Code

Six “Jazz Vocal Nerds” From Five Countries, They Met Online

On IN THIS TOGETHER (March 2018)
They Bring Stunning Jazz Harmonies to a Diverse Set of Originals

“Accent is the most amazing young vocal group on the planet! Great arrangers and singers, they come up with the most gorgeous harmonies, impeccable swing, grooves, feeling and pitch.” – Jorge Calandrelli, Grammy Award-winning composer/arranger

They are, arguably, the most spectacular jazz vocal group since TAKE 6. But when the six young men of ACCENT first performed live, at an international choral festival in Umeå, Sweden in 2014, they were taking a big gamble. They knew each other – sort of – but only online. They met and began to harmonize only five days before show time. Happily, they clicked musically and personally from the first rehearsal, and their performance at the festival was a smash.

They have since released two albums, amassed millions of views on YouTube, and performed live in concert halls, jazz clubs and festivals in the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Germany and Mexico.

IN THIS TOGETHER, the group’s second album, represents a milestone in the way Accent works: It’s the first time they have actually recorded together in the same studio, after several years of collaborating remotely on vocal arrangements, YouTube videos, and their first album. Coming together in Los Angeles for two weeks in July 2016, they lived and worked side by side in the same house in a creative marathon of rehearsing and recording. On the resulting album, they sing dazzling arrangements of original songs, never losing the melody, even as they effortlessly execute seemingly impossible chordal shifts.

In addition to their tens of thousands of fans on YouTube, reaction from other vocal jazz icons, including some of their heroes, has been enthusiastic, bordering on ecstatic. Cedric Dent of TAKE 6, the group with perhaps the biggest influence on Accent said, “These guys are exceptional musicians… they have a signature sound that is sure to delight audiences for years to come.” Alan Paul of The Manhattan Transfer said, “You guys carry on the vocal group legacy.” And Clark Burroughs, lead singer of the legendary Hi-Lo’s, said “I hate you guys with all my heart… in the best possible way!”

With IN THIS TOGETHER, they have far surpassed the usual a cappella group fare of pop covers with a program of originals that displays their peerless blend and fearless jazz harmonies. But this is no mere display of technical acumen: their impeccable skills are all in the service of accessible, memorable melodies and passionate lyrics. In addition to three songs by members James, Simon and JB, the album includes a brilliant, previously unrecorded song written by TAKE 6’s Mervyn Warren and Mark Kibble as well as contributions by Michael Jackson-collaborator Siedah Garrett and Denmark-based jazz vocalist/bassist Kristin Korb.

As Andrew says, “These are songs that people have never heard before. Nobody’s going to be saying, ‘Oh, this is the a cappella version of this song.’ No. This is the original version.”

He explains the difference between Accent and other a cappella groups this way: “For us it’s all about the arrangement. We are one of the only younger groups that really carries on the tradition of vocal jazz harmony of groups like The Hi-Lo’s and The Manhattan Transfer. None of us are vocal divas.” Evan amplifies the point: “Every member of the group plays piano,” he says. “We were instrumentalists first. That has a direct, positive impact on the way we perform.”

The new album was “a labor of love,” says baritone and arranger James. “It represents all of our musical interests and tastes, incorporating pop and electronica, jazz, R&B, and even progressive-rock.”

The album begins with a gorgeous, wordless meditative prelude, “Aux Aurores (At Dawn)” written and arranged by JB. “Just Wondering,” composed and arranged by James, is a catchy contemporary pop song with electronic touches and constantly surprising jazz harmonies. The R&B-inflected “Love Is Just That Way,” composed but never recorded by original Take 6 members Mervyn Warren and Mark Kibble, gave JB, the arranger, a chance to re-imagine the original demo of the song and run wild with jazz vocal harmonies.

“Twilight,” a melancholy ballad beautifully arranged by Andrew, with the haunting lyric, “Dreams of love that will never be… Twilight over me,” was written by the Denmark-based jazz vocalist/bassist Kristin Korb and Danish pianist Magnus Hjorth. “Who You Are,” composed and arranged by Simon with lyrics by Evan, echoes the kind of symphonic progressive rock that Simon performs with his hit Swedish prog-rock group Moon Safari. The album’s closer, the upbeat “Only One Love,” was co-written by Ian Prince and L.A. tunesmith Siedah Garrett, who wrote with Michael Jackson; it features a spectacular vocal arrangement by Simon. Lyrically, the song suggests an answer to social problems like hunger and homelessness; “We all need each other, don’t you see… If you look beyond yourself you’ll find one love, one understanding…”

The songs are produced with a seamless blend of jazz and pop that goes far beyond the catchy, but simple, harmonies of other a cappella groups. Says James: “We think that Accent can bring a contemporary and international vibe to vocal jazz, somewhat like what Snarky Puppy brings to instrumental jazz. We’re essentially like a Hi-Lo’s project done by an international group of young, hip singer/musicians.”

It’s all done with a kind of sleight of hand that hides the complexity. As Simon says, “We take a pop approach, but with jazz harmonies. But that’s a good thing for reaching out to a wider audience. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Haha – we sang a 13th with a flat 9th and you still liked it!’”

1. Aux Aurores  (Jean-Baptiste Craipeau)
2. Just Wondering  (James Rose)
3. Love Is Just That Way  (Mervyn Warren and Mark Kibble)
4. Twilight (Kristin Korb and Magnus Hjorth / lyrics by Kristin Korb)
5. Who You Are (Simon  Åkesson / lyrics by Evan Sanders)
6. Only One Love (Ian Prince / lyrics by Siedah Garrett)

Jean-Baptiste (“JB”) Craipeau (France), tenor 1
Simon Åkesson (Sweden), tenor 2
Danny Fong (Canada), tenor 3
Andrew Kesler (Canada), tenor 4
James Rose (United Kingdom), baritone
Evan Sanders (USA), bass


Ori Dagan SXSW Saturday, March 17th Midnight @ The Elephant Room + New CD

New CD

"The best tribute albums are typically those that go beyond the obvious signature tunes, digging deeper into repertoire and/or offering fresh perspective on the honoree’s legacy. Ori Dagan scores on both counts...The cherry on this delectable sundae: Dagan's union with 88-year-old Sheila Jordan on a scat-fuelled "Straighten Up and Fly Right."
- Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes

“"One of the Best Albums of 2017." 
-Curtis Davenport,

"Ori Dagan may be the world's most eclectic jazz-man." 
-Donna-Claire Chesman, Mass Appeal

“Nathaniel grows in interest with each listen, adding to the legacy of both Ori Dagan and Nat King Cole."
- Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene 

"Merely saying Ori Dagan has it going on is akin to saying  
the sky is blue, a massive understatement." 
-Huffington Post

1 Lillette
2 Sting of the Cactus
3 Nature Boy
4 Sweetheart
5 Straighten up and Fly Right
6 Keep It Simple
7 Bibimbap
8 Pretend
9 Complexion
10 Darling Je Vous Aime Beaucoup
11 El Bodeguero
12 Unforgettable

Ori Dagan: vocals
Mark Kieswetter: piano
Nathan Hiltz: guitar
Ross MacIntyre: bass
Mark Kelso: drums (5, 6, 8, 9, 11)
Jane Bunnett: soprano saxophone (6, 9) and flute (11)
Sheila Jordan: vocals (5)
Alex Pangman: vocals (8)
Magdelys Savigne: percussion (6, 11)

Buy on iTunes
Stream on Spotify 
Watch on Youtube 

Jim Eigo Jazz Promo Services
Ph: 845-986-1677 /
"Specializing in Media Campaigns for the music community, artists, labels, venues and events.”

The Complete Collection Of Gene Lees' Jazzletter Is Now Online

The Complete Collection
Of Gene Lees’ Jazzletter 
Is Now Online

Click HERE To View

View Gene's entry here

In 1981, tired of working for commercial publishers, whose advertising departments often called the shots, Gene began publishing his monthly Jazzletter. It was highly regarded by musicians and critics alike for its treasure trove of interviews and personal recollections of encounters with musicians and songwriters of the "Great American Songbook", many of whom were his friends: Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond, Oscar Peterson, Clark Terry, Johnny Mercer, and many more; and for his sharp and opinionated musings on American popular music and any number of related societal subjects. He wrote most of the Jazzletter himself, but invited a number of musicians and critics to contribute, such as Mike Zwerin, Bobby Scott, Bill Crow, Grover Sales, Dick Sudhalter, and more.

Though some of his writing for the Jazzletter was collected in several (sometimes award-winning) books, much of it has remained out of print, including some historical analysis (a prime example being his six-part essay A Death in the Family: The Rise and Fall of the American Song, which begins in the issue of February 1992). Another contributor to the Jazzletter was Claude Neuman, a friend of Gene's, a huge fan of the greatest American lyrics, and himself a meticulous translator of poetry. With the help of some friends, Claude and I have compiled a set of the Jazzletter, and here it is complete, for the benefit of future generations of music lovers.

The first issue was August 1981. Gene sometimes fell behind, and suffered ill- health: 1985 stops with July; February/March 1994 and July/August 2005 are each combined in one issue; there were no issues in 2006, when Gene had heart surgery, and publication stopped in November 2008. A note on copyright: this is a purely non-commercial endeavor. We have been unable to make contact with Gene’s family, but should they wish to upload or publish the Jazzletter themselves, we would gladly pass the torch to them.

Donald Clarke  /

TY - A Work of Heart (jazz re:freshed 2018)

On March 2nd 2018, the real mayor of Brixton, AKA acclaimed and respected rapper/producer Ty returns with 5th longplayer ‘A Work Of Heart’. Produced predominantly and written by Ty, this hip hop classic is a proper artist album that elevates the genre in an ambitiously artistic manner, akin to Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West.

The crisp and bouncy audiophile production is suffused with evocative, flavour-filled samples, live instrumentation and a heady, groovy atmosphere, whilst clever but accessible, vivid and entertaining lyrics are delivered with a grown-man hip hop finesse and honest, bullshit-free directness.  

With wit, subtlety and humour Ty tackles subject matter ranging from Brixton, depression, poverty, racism, family, hip hop and the creative process, to philosophical musings on life and even imagined film soundtracks.

Despite being Ty’s masterwork, he also finds plenty of space to accommodate others, with a cast of guests including Durrty Goodz (now known as OG Rootz), Tall Black Guy, Wayne Francis from United Vibrations and the legendary Umar Bin Hassan from The Last Poets.

As the title suggests, Ty poured all of his heart into making this record, and it’s clearly audible; the hypnotic double-time roller ‘Eyes Open’ invites listeners to keep their senses sharp, acting as a subliminal invitation on how best to appreciate the rest of this record that reveals further sonic, musical, lyrical and thematic layers with repeated listens. 

With a liquid, spiritual soul beat, the deeply lyrical ‘Somehow Somewhere Someway’ is simultaneously a tribute to crowd-fuelled hip hop energy, a mantra to restoring faith in yourself and a prime example of Ty’s total synergy between music and rapping.

With a nod to Roy Ayers ‘Brixton Baby’ masterfully captures the bittersweet essence of one of London’s most currently prominent areas, in a celebration of coming from somewhere and the opposite to a hip hop postcode war.

The melancholy bass clarinet of ‘Marathon’ sets the tone for Ty’s glimpse of anxiety, depression and general struggle poetically being documented but not bemoaned, with a message of pushing on - both from a personal perspective and universally.

Maternal tribute ‘You Gave Me’ offers this album’s equivalent of Ty’s perennial anthem ‘Music 2 Fly 2’, and paints a picture of family sacrifice over a long period of time.

‘As The Smoke Clears’ features beats by Tall Black Guy, who Ty came into contact with via the popular Facebook group he started for producers called The Beat Inn. The concept and challenge they came up with together was to pick 2 films and create music for certain scenes. Verse 1 is about a scene from Paul Haggis’ ‘Crash’ and verse 2 is about the rape scene from Tyler Perry’s ‘For Coloured Girls’.

Ty values hip hop as a high art form. He set out to create an album where every beat, sound and idea were thought-out, then thematically and coherently fused to create what he considers a perfect whole.

“I wanted to move away from the hip hop album approach where a bunch of disparate beats by different producers and different rappers with stock rhymes are strung together” he explains.

“With every guest, every sample, lyric and instrument I thought about whether they suit the themes and mood of the song, then decided what to include accordingly.

As the songwriter and producer, I created whilst thinking what the album is actually telling you. This is my life work, it’s how I feel, and it’s a catharsis.

I want to upgrade the view of hip hop; rappers need to view their artform as important, which is why I have lyrics like ‘every rhyme written should be in a museum’. This music should be treated with importance and a lasting high value”, he concludes.

Ty has released 4 critically acclaimed albums; ‘Awkward’, ‘Upwards’ (Mercury nominated) and ‘Closer’ on Ninja Tune’s Big Dada imprint,  plus ‘Special Kind Of Fool’ on BBE.

He has collaborated with De La Soul, Tony Allen, Roots Manuva, Bahamadia, and Speech from Arrested Development.

He has two radio shows; the educational ‘Reaching Out’ on Soho Radio, which features intelligent discussion on academia with a hip hop connection and ‘Awkward Audio’, which is an outlet for new hip hop.

Recently Ty participated in workshops alongside the hotly-tipped MC Mist, in support of young emerging artists in Birmingham, which were organised by Levi's Music Project and filmed by Boiler Room.

The Jazz re:freshed record label has been doing big things since its official inception in 2016, and this is its biggest thing to date. From their popular weekly live residency in West London, to the annual JAZZ RE:FEST festival on the Southbank, Jazz re:freshed are building on the organisation’s mission to provide services and support independent, UK jazz and jazz influenced artists. Co-founder Adam Rockers says, "It is an honour for us to have TY on our label because for years we have respected him and his forward thinking approach to hip-hop and the musicality he brings to the genre." 

1. WorKINGTro 01:10
2. Eyes Open ft. OG ROOTZ (formerly Durrty Goodz) & DEBORAH JORDAN 05:04
3. Somehow Somewhere Someway ft. UMAR BIN HASSAN (of The Last Poets) 04:37
4. Brixton Baby ft. MPHO 05:41
5. Work Of Heart 04:05
6. Marathon ft. LADONNA HARLEY-PETERS 04:27
7. No Place To Run ft. JULIE DEXTER & JASON YARDE 05:09
8. You Gave Me ft. LASHARVU 05:38
9. Harpers Revenge! ft. PHILLIP HARPER & WAYNE FRANCIS 03:32
10. Folks Say People Say 04:13
11. World Of Flaws ft. JOHN ROBINSON 04:49
12. Raindrops 04:50
13. The Raspberry ft. N'FA JONES & REMI 04:05
14. As The Smoke Clears ft. RANDOLPH MATTHEWS & MALIK MD7 (Produced by Tall Black Guy) 04:43

The real 'Mayor of Brixton' AKA acclaimed and respected rapper/producer Ty returns with his 5th longplayer ‘A Work Of Heart’. Produced predominantly and written by Ty, this hip-hop classic is a proper artist album that elevates the genre in an ambitiously artistic manner akin to Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West.

Tour dates:

12.03 Archspace, London, UK

16.03 La Palace, Paris, France

17.03  ELECTROCHOC Festival, Bourgoin-Jallieu, France

22.03 Fluc, Vienna, Austria

23.03 Musik and Frieden, Berlin, Germany

29.03 Zwischenbau, Rostock, Germany

30.03 One Love Festival Tenerife, Spain

31.03 Paper Club, Las Palmas, Spain

04.04 Mojo, Hamburg, Germany

05.04 CLF Art Cafe, Block A, Bussey Building, London, UK

06.04 Duycker, Hoofddorp, Netherlands

+ more TBA

Robin Verheyen - When the Birds Leave (UNIVERSAL RECORDS 2018)

My new record When The Birds Leave will be released on Jan 26 on Universal Records. The album features the great rhythm section of Marc Copland, Drew Gress and Billy Hart.

Rest Mode
Jabali's Way
When The Birds Leave
Melody For Paul #1
Traveling Dreams

Marc Copland: piano
Drew Gress: Bass
Billy Hart: Drums

Perry Smith Quintet - New Angel (2018)

Guitarist Perry Smith Makes
Quintet Recording Debut with New Angel

At the core of everything that guitarist/composer Perry Smith does is the desire to create personal and musical connections with the artistic community. That’s true of the community he’s built around his inclusive weekly series in Brooklyn, “The Nest Session;” it’s behind his decision to use social media as a means of reaching out, not cutting off. And it lies at the very heart of his third album as a leader, New Angel — both in the close relationships he shares with his bandmates and in his desire to make the sometimes heady concepts of modern jazz something accessible and deeply personal.

New Angel (due out March 2 via Smith’s own Smith Tone Records imprint) marks the debut of the gifted guitarist’s stellar new quintet, which features saxophonist Jon Irabagon, pianist Glenn Zaleski, bassist Matt Aronoff and drummer Allan Mednard. While they’ve all played together in a variety of contexts, Smith’s decision to bring together this particular group stems directly from their shared experiences at Nest Sessions jams, which he and Aronoff have co-led for more than three years.

“It’s been a really wonderful experience,” Smith says. “I’ve been able to play with so many incredible musicians each and every week, so I’ve formed a lot of strong musical relationships. Beyond my own quintet, though, it’s really about bringing the community together and trying to create a diverse and inclusive space for every jazz artist in the city to feel welcome.”

The creative and the activist stem from the same instincts in Smith’s work. Though he insists that he didn’t set out to make a “social justice” record per se, his response to our current divisive political moment comes through in meditative solo “vignettes” interspersed throughout the album. Titles like “Lullaby for Freedom” and “Hope for Peace” tell the (ultimately optimistic) story.

“I wanted a few of the tracks to represent the message that I wanted to get across,” Smith explains. “One of the challenges you face as an artist is to figure out how you can make a difference with your art — especially in jazz, which can be so theoretical and complex. How you can go beyond that to create work that has a deeper, greater meaning is something that I’ve been passionate about for a long time.”

Translating similar instincts from the social to the musical lies behind Smith’s decision to assemble his quintet. Following his two earlier quartet recordings, Stars and Cars (2009) and Street Sense (2013), he became drawn to composing for more voices, so the versatility offered by the combination of a guitar, piano and saxophone frontline became especially compelling. He found the specific possibilities offered by weaving his own voice with those of Irabagon and Zaleski, paired with the rhythmic imaginations of Aronoff and Mednard, especially thrilling. The album was co-produced by Sam Minaie, who played bass on both of Smith’s previous releases and provided the unique insight of a sharp listener with a deep knowledge of Smith and his music.

In addition, the entire session was filmed and will be released as a series of videos through Smith’s social media outlets. Seeing the shift in the way that listeners take in music, the guitarist wanted to be sure his music reached the widest possible audience in the most easily accessible form. While the full album will be available in more traditional forms, he hopes these videos will make a more immediate connection.

The band’s thrilling chemistry is vividly apparent from the opening moments of “Rise and Fall,” whose title makes the tune’s shifting moods and tempos sound deceptively simple. The gentle, memorable melody is prime evidence of Smith’s gift for crafting compositions that embrace the listener while providing plenty of spark for improvisation.

“Deep Water” is a much knottier outing; its title, in fact, reflects the challenge that confronts the quintet in its harmonic complexity and sharp, treacherous angles. “Playing this song can feel like, ‘We’re in deep water right now,'” Smith admits. “That’s always been a tradition in jazz: the idea that you’re pushing yourself to try to explore something new while still trying to create something musical.”

If the title track seems to hang in the air like an unanswered question, that may be due to the fact that it’s the earliest piece on the album, one that Smith started working on as he turned 30, met the woman who would become his wife, and found himself facing many of the larger “what ifs” in life. “New Angel” may be a reference to his now-wife, but more broadly it’s a reference to a spirit of freshness and change.

The spikiness of “Monk’s World” immediately evokes the keen-edged genius and eyebrow-arched joy of the great Thelonious Monk. Smith wrote the piece on the chord changes of Monk’s classic “Epistrophy” as a way of paying homage to the legendary pianist’s outsized influence. “In my experience on the jazz scene in New York,” Smith says, “musicians are always more excited about playing Monk’s tunes than anybody else’s — more than even Coltrane or Wayne Shorter or Herbie. I think it has to do with the playful nature of his songs and the cool, creative melodies that he wrote, which open a lot of freedom in the landscape.”

Presaged by Smith’s introspective, soulful “Notes for Nostalgia,” “The Old Road” is a wistful rumination on the composer’s early days growing up in the California Bay Area. A similarly reflective spirit pervades “Lucid Night,” where the incisive melody suggests a certain brooding clarity.

“Graceful Spirit” returns the album to the theme of connection and community. It was specifically inspired by the eloquence and example of former President Barack Obama, but more generally muses on the idea of grace and empathy as powerful and necessary qualities in a leader — whether of the free world or of a scintillating and passionate jazz quintet.

1. Rise and Fall 07:01
2. Deep Water 06:45
3. New Angel 07:30
4. Lullaby for Freedom 01:20
5. Monk's World 06:23
6. Notes for Nostalgia 00:45
7. The Old Road 08:41
8. Graceful Spirit 06:37
9. Lucid Night 07:16
10. Hope for Peace 01:22

Perry Smith, guitar
Jon Irabagon, sax
Glenn Zaleski, piano
Matt Aronoff, bass
Allan Mednard, drums

All compositions written by Perry Smith

Recorded on February 5th, 2017 at the Bunker Studio in Brooklyn, NY

Co-Produced, Engineered, Mixed and Mastered by Sam Minaie

About Perry Smith

Guitarist Perry Smith combines the tradition of jazz with broad influences from R&B, rock and folk to create his indelible signature style. Originally from California, Smith is now based in Brooklyn where he leads his own groups and is a sideman for several jazz and contemporary artists. He is also a founding member of the critically acclaimed New West Guitar Group, which has been performing internationally for 10 years and has been recognized as one of the premier guitar ensembles in the country. Smith received his Bachelor of Music degree from the Flora L. Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and completed his Masters in Music at New York University, studying with the great John Scofield. His extensive performance resume includes notable venues and festivals such as the Blue Note Jazz Club, The Village Vanguard, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, the Montreal Jazz Festival, Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia, and the Philippine International Jazz Festival. Smith hosts a weekly series in Brooklyn called “The Nest Session”, performing with a different group of NYC’s finest jazz musicians every Wednesday, generously supported by a grant from in conjunction with the Jazz Foundation of America.

Caroline Davis - Heart Tonic (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS March 23, 2018)

Born in Singapore to a Swedish mother and British father, Davis grew up in the United States from the age of six, settling first in Atlanta, then Texas and ending up in Chicago, where she attended Northwestern University and received a Ph.D in Music Cognition. It was in Chicago that Davis became engrained within the local jazz and improvisatory music community, one that is tight knit, diverse and particularly open to each player’s musical inclinations. 

Davis’s Chicago experience was instrumental in her development as a player. Regularly hearing local greats, like saxophonist Von Freeman, guitarist Bobby Broom, and pianist Ron Perrillo, playing in wide ranging musical contexts and interdisciplinary collaborations helped to shape her into a well balanced and genre defying artist. Davis was also privy to a range of artists, including one of her biggest influences, the iconoclastic composer/conceptualist Steve Coleman. 

Upon her move to New York City in 2013, Davis found herself as an outsider looking in. It was difficult to come from a place where she was established to an entirely different community, especially one as fractious as New York’s. Though, Davis soon showed that she was equal to its demands.

The roller coaster lifestyle of working as a professional musician in New York was challenging. Davis quickly saw that her days would have some career highpoints alongside humbling lows of everyday musician life. Friends like drummer Jay Sawyer helped her overcome her blues by coming along to sessions and gigs, thus helping establishing herself in the scene. Soon, Davis began to play more regularly with a diverse group of musicians, including Matt Mitchell, Greg Saunier, Billy Kaye, and Curt Sydnor. 

It was about this time that Davis found out that her father had heart arrhythmia. The news prompted her to do detailed research on the physical aspects of the human heart. 

It was with all of this in mind that Davis decided to compose this music, using the heart for its emotional connotation or utilizing ventricular rhythms as metrical devices. Composing helped not only in her emotional transition but also focused her study on biological aspects of the body. Heart Tonic finds Davis employing more standard jazz elements than in the music of her previous work, including formal harmonic changes and shifting meters. 

To assist in the recording, Davis employed a brilliant ensemble of young musicians, more aligned to swinging, straight ahead jazz, but who could also handle the challenges the composer posed for them in her idiosyncratic music. Pianist and keyboard player Julian Shore and percussionist Rogerrio Buccato had been friends with Davis since her time at Litchfield Jazz Camp nearly a decade ago. Trumpeter Marquis Hill is a Chicago contemporary and a perfect foil for Davis’s lithe alto. Originally from Israel, Tamir Shmerling is unwavering on acoustic and electric bass, while longtime friend and drummer Jay Sawyer always insures the music is remarkably propulsive. 

The recording begins with the churning “Footloose and Fancy Free,” a piece that relies on a cyclical bassline echoing the cycle of the heart’s superior and inferior vena cava leading to the brain and back but with an unconstrained melody singing above that anchor. The plaintive “Loss” is an introspective and emotional piece that was written quickly after a truncated musical connection in Chicago after Davis’s move, featuring Rogerrio Boccato on percussion. The swinging “Constructs” is a suite concerned with the insistency to make up words for the intangible, like using “heart” as a metaphor for honesty, bravery or sympathy. The waltzing “Fortune” is a thankful tribute to the new people and projects Davis has been involved with since relocating. It also features Benjamin Hoffmann on organ. “…TuneFor” is a drum feature for Sawyer stemming from “Fortune.” 

Wayne Shorter’s “Penelope” lent itself to the project as its heart beat like pulse is reminiscent of the rhythms her father’s arrhythmia was making in his own heart. Originally written for another album, Davis rewrote “Dionysian” in New York with a new mindset eschewing the filters of frustration that had limited her on her arrival; it provides an emphatic proclamation of place. The haunting “Air” floats on a bassline in 7 while the rest of the instruments play in 4, thus generating an ambiguous but stable cycle and bedrock for Shore’s lovely piano solo. The stirring “Ocean Motion” closes the recording with a piece in 9/4 in three sections, which leaves the listener with a healing final melody and incendiary drum solo. 

Caroline Davis’s new Heart Tonic is a moving and pulse livening journey through Davis’s emotional relocation from Chicago to New York and her investigation of the biology of the heart.

1. Footloose and Fancy Free
2. Loss
3. Constructs
4. Fortune
5. ...TuneFor
6. Penelope
7. Dionysian
8. Air
9. Ocean Motion

Releases March 23, 2018 

Caroline Davis - alto saxophone
Marquis Hill - trumpet
Julian Shore - piano, Fender Rhodes, Yamaha DX7, Roland JD-Xi
Tamar Shmerling - acoustic & electric bass
Jay Sawyer - drums
Rogerio Boccato (percussion 2, 9)
Benjamin Hoffman - organ (4, 5)

AJ Ghent [ j-ent ] - The Neo Blues Project (ROPEADOPE RECORDS March 16, 2018)

"This album reflects the rawness and passion of a sound I like to call "Neo or New Blues" Neo Blues Project incorporates Rock, R&B, and soulful melodies from the past with a glimpse into the future, while highlighting the stories of many who still walk, sleep and live the Blues today. I strived to keep every note, from my voice to the guitar as authentic as possible. Approaching every song with honesty and conviction. For this EP, the sounds you will hear include those of my roots, mixed with the influence of modern music-- and the different voicings that the slide guitar can produce--from singing guitar solos to rhythmic patterns. I can’t wait to share this with you." - AJ Ghent

Logan Richardson - Blues People (ROPEADOPE RECORDS 2018)

Blues People was created in the oral tradition of the blues, and improvised music as a whole. The viscous entirety of the 14 song repertoire was relayed all by ear during the process of the documentation of the album. 

Blues People, is a modern day version of the Kansas City Blues, Black American Music, and Rock & Roll tradition. In being such, consequently this documentation is an accumulation of experiences, and influences that have given way to a fresh sonic fusion of sound that calls on the genetic DNA of the forefathers of modern popular music.

1. Blues People
2. Hidden Figures
3. 80's CHILD
4. Country Boy
5. Underground
6. Black Brown & Yellow
7. Anthem (To Human Justice)
8. Hunter Of Soul
9. Class Wars
10. The Settlement
11. Rebels Rise
12. With U
13. Urban Life
14. Pure Change



Logan Richardson, Justus West, Igor Osypov, DeAndre Manning, Ryan Lee, ROPEADOPE RECORDS

John L. Nelson: Don't Play With Love - The John L. Nelson Project (ROPEADOPE RECORDS 2018)

It is with distinct pleasure that we announce the release of The John L. Nelson Project - Don't Play With Love. The long anticipated album was in discussion between Nelson and his eldest daughter Sharon many years ago, before Prince Rogers Nelson changed the world of music. Shelved as John L. Nelson frequently collaborated with Prince, the project re-appeared in serendipitous fashion: the sheet music falling out of a cabinet as Sharon Nelson was organizing (yes, just like the movie). Sharon brought the great Louis Hayes (Prince's cousin) to Paisley Park with his seasoned band - including Richard Germanson, Dezron Douglas, Vincent Herring, and Jeremy Pelt - and they laid down seven tracks live. 

The intense history paints the picture, yet the players and the melodies let the music jump right off the canvas. Don't Play With Love is a journey from the past to the present - we get the sense of an earlier time yet we feel all of the human emotion that rings true for eternity.

‘Our dad was a loving, caring, hardworking father and a prolific jazz musician most notably known as the father of the musical genius, our brother Prince. Our dad wrote and composed many songs, but they were never recorded until now. He was Prince’s musical inspiration, and this project is very special because it was recorded in Paisley Park and guided by the spirits of my father and brother Prince.  (Sharon L. Nelson)