Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sun Ra & His Arkestra with Salah Ragab - Egypt Strut Dawn (EP) 2018


Drummer/composer/bandleader Salah Ragab (ca. 1936–2008) was a pivotal figure in Middle Eastern jazz. He is considered by many authorities to be the founder of Egyptian jazz, having formed his first ensembles in the 1960s. Sun Ra's friendship and musical interplay with Ragab began in 1971 on the Arkestra's first visit to Egypt. (See remembrance by Hartmut Geerken below.) Ra issued a number of albums from recordings made on that tour, including Live in Egypt Volume I (a.k.a. Dark Myth Equation Visitation, a.k.a. Nature's God); Nidhamu (a.k.a. Live in Egypt Vol. II); and Horizon (a.k.a. Starwatchers, a.k.a. Live in Egypt Vol. III). 

Ragab composed "Egypt Strut" and "Dawn" and accompanied the Arkestra on congas for this May 1983 studio session, which was recorded at El Nahar Studio, Heliopolis, Cairo, on Sun Ra's second tour of Egypt. These two stellar tracks were issued that year by the Greece-based Praxis label on a hybrid album that coupled these two Ra-Ragab collaborations with three early 1970s recordings by Ragab (without Sun Ra) leading the Cairo Jazz Band and an unnamed quintet. 

The five Praxis tracks were later reissued by the UK-based Leo label in 1999. The '99 package added two tracks: a 1971 recording of "Music for Angela Davis" (comp. Hartmut Geerken) by the Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble (conducted by Geerken), and a third Ra-Ragab track: a live-in-Cairo 1984 version of "Watusa," a decades-old staple in Sunny's repertoire. A freewheeling 18-minute tour-de-force, this "Watusa" nonetheless constitutes one of the worst audio captures of a Sun Ra performance ever commercially issued (Transparency-grade atrocious). You had to be there. It is not here. 


Due to the somewhat mismatched programming of the Praxis and Leo albums, as well as their limited circulation, "Egypt Strut" and "Dawn" may have been overlooked by many Ra fans. We've coupled them here into an essential digital EP so these tracks can receive the focus they deserve. "Egypt Strut" might fittingly be subtitled "Egyptian Sidewinder," as certain passages echo Lee Morgan's 1964 classic, with a Middle Eastern flavor. "Dawn" is a perfect crossover collaboration that highlights how Ra's and Ragab's styles overlap and where they diverge. 

Art Yard Records proprietor Peter Dennett, who has been toiling for years to preserve Salah Ragab's artistic legacy, issued a superb set of 1968–1973 recordings by Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band. It is available on Bandcamp at:


"In June 1971, I sent an invitation to Sun Ra from Cairo and six months later the Arkestra came to the land of the pharaohs to play at the foot of the pyramids. When they played in my living room in Heliopolis on December 12, 1971, Salah Ragab was one of my guests. It was their first personal contact. 

"Sun Ra set out again 12 years later to gaze into the eyes of Sphinx. In May 1983 he went into El Nahar Studio in Heliopolis with Salah Ragab to record two Ragab compositions. To my knowledge it had never happened before that Sun Ra and his Arkestra played compositions of a contemporary musician from outside [the band]. Maybe he was taken with the initials of Salah Ragab-which were the same as his own-or he was fascinated with the fact that his own name was part of Ragab's. To my knowledge, Salah was the only non Afro-American, apart from Leah Ananda from Kashmir and Roger Aralamon Hazoumè from Dahomey, to be documented on record with Sun Ra. 

"In 1984 Sun Ra came to Egypt for the third time. For this last visit Salah played drums in the Arkestra when the band played at the small Jazz club Il Capo in Zamalek." 


From The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra (by Robert L. Campbell and Christopher Trent, 2nd edition, 2000): 

"According to Hartmut Geerken, the entire [1971 Sun Ra and his Astro Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra in Cairo] concert (3-1/2 hours) was taped by [Arkestra drummer/engineer] Tommy Hunter; it is not known whether additional material survives. All of the band's instruments (except Ra's synthesizer) had been impounded by Egyptian customs and consequently instruments had to be borrowed from the Egyptian Army (courtesy of Salah Ragab). The Tiger organ was obtained locally as a substitute for Ra's Farfisa or Spacemaster. Clifford Jarvis used Geerken's elaborate percussion set during the concert."

1. Egypt Strut 06:38
2. Dawn 12:12

Sun Ra: Hohner melodica, synthesizer, Ondioline
Salah Ragab: congas
Tyrone Hill: trombone
Marshall Allen: alto sax, flute
John Gilmore: tenor sax
Danny Ray Thompson: baritone sax
Eloe Omoe [Leroy Taylor]: bass clarinet
James Jacson: bassoon
Chris Henderson: drums
Claude Broche: drums
Samarai Celestial [Eric Walker]: drums
bassist unidentified 

Both works composed by Salah Ragab © Art Yard Music
All rights reserved

Recorded at El Nahar Studio, Heliopolis, Cairo, May 1983
Annotation and cover design by Irwin Chusid
Special thanks to Peter Dennett and Hartmut Geerken

Recordings issued under license from Sun Ra LLC

Sun Ra & His Arkestra - Taking a Chance on Chances (2018)

This is not The Great Lost Sun Ra Album. It's a GOOD Lost Sun Ra Album, and it's been more or less found. Taking a Chance on Chances (or "… on Chancey," as some typographically allege) was recorded at the Jazz Showcase, Chicago, in 1977, and issued on Saturn vinyl in 1977 (catalog #772). Only one problem: according to the authoritative Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra, by Robert L. Campbell and Christopher Trent (2nd ed., 2000), "all known copies of Saturn LP 772 have a defective pressing on Side A." 

Taking a Chance was a companion volume to The Soul Vibrations of Man (Saturn 771), issued around the same time. The two albums share comparable origins, personnel, and dollar-store acoustics. Soul Vibrations can be found here: 

Both emerged from the Alton Abraham–Chicago division of Saturn, an operation that in Ra's omniverse was slowly approaching its sell-by date. Soul Vibrations was issued with a lavishly illustrated front cover; Taking a Chance was sent to market with various covers ranging from a grainy, underlit black & white photo of Ra crowned in Egyptian headdress, to generic sleeves festooned with taped-on strips of paper bearing the title and a small inset photo. Taking a Chance was apparently a very limited press run, perhaps as few as one or two hundred copies, and very few are known to exist. 

As for the manufacturing flaws in Taking a Chance, here's a description by blogger Rodger Coleman: "The pressing defect manifests itself in a woefully unbalanced stereo presentation and a near-constant overlay of scratchy noises and horrifically ugly distortion which only begins to clear up towards the end of the side. Ugh. Pressing the mono button helps a little (if you have one) but not much. As listeners to Soul Vibrations already know, these are not great-sounding recordings to begin with; the pressing flaw renders them almost unlistenable." 

We can attest, having borrowed a sealed Saturn original from our friend Freddie Patterson, who allowed us to slit the shrinkwrap and drop a stylus in the LP's virgin grooves. Hoping to discover the world's only sonically pristine copy for a premiere reissue, we were disappointed to hear on Side A the "horrifically ugly distortion" described by Coleman. (Someone suggested we issue it that way for its "exotic mix." We demurred.) 

Fortunately, Michael D. Anderson of the Sun Ra Music Archive unearthed a tape in 2016 that proved to be the closest thing to a "pristine" version. It's got problems, sure, but compared to the Saturn pressing, it's Rudy Van Gelder-grade. For the first time, we can hear what Side A was intended to sound like. The recordings capture some incidental noise (beyond applause) from patrons, but these artifacts convey an intimate club atmosphere and are not intrusive. 

The first three titles on this digital reissue originally appeared on Side A of the LP. Some notes: 

"Taking a Chance on Chances" (6:27, stereo) 
There's some conjecture about the title of the album, and about this alleged "title track," which may or may not involve Ra wordplay on the name of the band's French horn player, Vincent Chancey. Campbell/Trent: "According to Chancey, the first title on Saturn LP 772 was supposed to be 'Taking a Chance on Chancey,' which makes eminent sense: the piece is an improvised Ra/Chancey duet" for organ and French horn. 

"Lady Bird"/"Half Nelson" Medley (8:32, stereo) 
"Lady Bird" is a vintage Tadd Dameron chestnut, "Half Nelson" a Miles Davis classic. Inexplicably, the SRMA tape contains a different take than the LP version. It's a half-minute shorter, but it's the same arrangement, the solos are comparable, the instrumentation and personnel sound identical, and it was likely recorded at the same venue during the same booking, perhaps even on the same date during a different set. The trumpet solo on the unlistenable LP version is over a minute and a half longer; Gilmore's masterful sax solos clock three minutes on both LP and tape. The mix is off on the ensemble passages, the horns somewhat buried beneath Ra's dominant Yamaha YC-30 Combo Organ, which remains dense even during the horn solos, but the powerful performances shine through. As ad hoc Ra live recordings go, this is worse than a few, but better than most. 

"Over the Rainbow" (5:21, mono) 
Ra switches to piano for what is essentially a rollicking solo, with a bit of restrained trap accompaniment from either Tommy Hunter or Luqman Ali (both of whom are cited as having been on the gig). 

On the original pressings of Saturn 772, side B was the GOOD side. Ironically, with the sonic upgrades to side A, Side B is here downgraded to a raucous clatter. The inferior audio isn't a pressing flaw; it's attributable to a woeful recording set-up at the club. Distortion, limited frequency spectrum, ad hoc mic placement, and ambient noise combine to produce one of those lo-fi captures with which any deep Sun Ra fan is familiar, and which generally appeals only to the most faithful of those fans. That said, the recordings are not without charm and archival significance. 

"St. Louis Blues" (5:09, mono) 
Still on piano accompanied by drums, Ra has Richard Williams on bass rounding out this trio rendition of the W.C. Handy relic (with a quick nod to Gershwin at 4:43). The tracks are identical on tape and LP, but the latter sounds terrible—the speed and pitch are off, and the mastering is egregious. The tape was excellent by comparison (a relative standard); it's on-pitch, faster, and offers greater clarity. 

"What's New" (10:09, mono) 
This tune was a hit for Bing Crosby in 1939, and performances and recordings dot the Ra discography spanning 1962 to 1991. It's evident why Sunny felt compelled to issue this badly recorded performance—the smoking, extended tenor solo by John Gilmore, who is turned loose for five breathtaking minutes. The final minute and a half constitute a literal solo, as Ark and leader step aside while Gilmore dives into the vortex. The band then returns for an Ahmed Abdullah trumpet solo, which, following Gilmore's masterful tapestry, sounds like an afterthought. 

"Take the 'A' Train" (9:51, mono) 
See "What's New." Another audio snapshot with dust, wrinkles, discoloration and worn edges. But once again, Gilmore redeems. 

A bonus track has been added: 

"The Sound Mirror" (9:03, stereo) 
This is a previously unissued recording. A regrettably lo-fi 14-minute version was issued as the title track on Saturn 19782 in 1978. This performance, believed to date from late 1977 or early 1978, features a tighter arrangement and greater sonic clarity. – I.C.

1. Taking a Chance on Chances 06:27
2. Lady Bird/Half Nelson (Medley) 08:32
3. Over the Rainbow 05:20
4. St. Louis Blues 05:09
5. What's New? 10:09
6. Take the 'A' Train 09:50
7. The Sound Mirror (live 1977, bonus track) 09:02

All tracks produced by Sun Ra
Tape transfers by Michael D. Anderson of the Sun Ra Music Archive
Audio restoration and cover design by Irwin Chusid
Mastering by Joe Lizzi, Van Alst Sound, Brooklyn (tracks 1–6)

Sun Ra: piano, organ, vocals (7)
John Gilmore: tenor sax, clarinet, timbales
Michael Ray: trumpet
Ahmed Abdullah: trumpet
Vincent Chancey: French horn
Marshall Allen: alto sax, flute, oboe, percussion
Danny Davis: alto sax, flute, percussion
Danny Ray Thompson: baritone sax, flute, percussion
Eloe Omoe: bass clarinet, flute, percussion
James Jacson: flute, bassoon, Infinity-drum
Richard "Radu" Williams: bass
Tommy Hunter: drums
Luqman Ali: drums
Atakatune: conga
Eddie Thomas: percussion
June Tyson: vocals (7)

"Taking a Chance on Chances" and "The Sound Mirror" by Sun Ra © Enterplanetary Koncepts (BMI)
"Lady Bird" by Tadd Dameron
"Half Nelson" by Miles Davis
"Over the Rainbow" by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg
"What's New" by Johnny Burke and Bob Haggart
"St. Louis Blues" by W.C. Handy, trad. arr. by Ra
"Take the 'A' Train" by Billy Strayhorn

Issued under license from Sun Ra LLC

Sun Ra & His Arkestra - Strange Celestial Road (2018)

These recordings originated at the same Variety Studio sessions that resulted in the 1979 Saturn release SLEEPING BEAUTY (a.k.a. Door of the Cosmos). Based on known departures and arrivals of various players in the Arkestra, Sun Ra historians have cited a likely recording date of June 1979. These three tracks were sold to Rounder and issued on LP in 1980; Sun Ra retained "Springtime Again," "Door of the Cosmos," and "Sleeping Beauty" for release on Saturn. 

Excerpts from the AllMusic Review by Ra authority Sean Westergaard:

The band Sun Ra had at the end of the '70s was surely the funkiest he ever had, with electric bassist Steve Clarke (in tandem with upright player Richard Williams) and the twin guitars of Taylor Richardson and Skeeter McFarland. 

"Celestial Road" kicks things off, where electric bass, arco bass and wah-wah guitar set the stage for a great June Tyson vocal, followed by solos from John Gilmore [tenor sax], Michael Ray [trumpet], Sun Ra [keys], and Damon Choice [vibes]. "Say" has a great electric bassline and joyous horn charts, and swings mightily with a vaguely Latin rhythm. There's a fine electric guitar solo, as well as some more fantastic playing from Gilmore. Ra's keyboard sounds and soloing are particularly deranged on this album, but never get into the purely noisy realm. 

"I'll Wait for You" is the real treat of this album, featuring a great mellow groove and wonderful ensemble vocals led by the beautiful June Tyson. There's plenty of fine soloing on this track as well, but the main attraction is the mix by Ra and Michael Ray. There's a dub-like element to the way the instruments and voices are treated and mixed in and out, but this is dub by way of Saturn, and the mix is at least as weird and wonderful as anything Lee Perry has done. This is an overlooked album in an unwieldy discography, but it's a real gem. Recommended.

1. Celestial Road 07:02
2. Say 12:10
3. I'll Wait for You 16:06

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Variety Recording Studio, NYC 
Probably recorded June 1979 
Engineer: Mike Dacek 
Mixed by Sun Ra, Michael Ray, Mike Smith 

All compositions by Sun Ra © Enterplanetary Koncepts (BMI)
Originally issued on Rounder Records
All rights reserved

Sun Ra: piano, electric piano, organ, synth, vocals
Michael Ray: trumpet, vocals
Curt Pulliam: trumpet
Walter Miller: trumpet
Craig Harris: trombone
Tony Bethel: trombone
Vincent Chancey: French horn
Marshall Allen: alto sax, flute
John Gilmore: tenor sax, percussion
James Jacson: flute, bassoon, Infinity-drum
Eloe Omoe: bass clarinet, flute, percussion
Danny Ray Thompson: baritone sax, flute, percussion
Kenny Williams: tenor and baritone sax, flute
Noël Scott: alto and baritone sax, percussion
Hutch Jones: alto and tenor sax
Sylvester Baton: various reeds
Skeeter McFarland: electric guitar
Taylor Richardson: electric guitar
Steve Clarke: electric bass
Richard Williams: bass
Harry Wilson: vibraphone
Damon Choice: vibraphone, vocals
Eddie Thomas: drums
Luqman Ali: drums
Reg McDonald: drums
Atakatune: percussion
June Tyson: vocals
Rhoda Blount: vocals

Sun Ra & His Arkestra - Sun Ra Plays Gershwin (2018)

Sun Ra admired George Gershwin and paid musical tribute to the great composer's legacy countless times over his 50-year performing and recording career. This digital-only release, spanning 38 years (1951–1989), compiles some of the best recorded examples of Ra's idiosyncratic takes on the Gershwin catalog. These performances encompass a variety of styles and personnel — full Arkestra, trio with vocalist (Hattie Randolph), duo (Sun Ra and Wilbur Ware), and doo-wop (The Nu Sounds, arranged and accompanied by Sun Ra). 

Most tracks have been previously issued, although in most cases the audio has been remastered to fix flaws in previous versions. The live version of "Rhapsody in Blue," recorded at New York's Squat Theater in 1979, has never before been commercially available. The 1950s rarity "Nice Work if You Can Get it," previously only available on an Atavistic CD titled Spaceship Lullaby, has benefited from 60+ digital repairs. 

The encyclopedic compendium The Earthy Recordings of Sun Ra (by Robert L. Campbell and Christopher Trent, 2nd edition) lists other Gershwin titles known to have been performed by Ra over the years: Lady Be Good; I Got Rhythm; Embraceable You; I Can't Get Started; and Liza. These titles have been documented by existing tapes in the hands of collectors. However, at present these recordings are not available, nor do we know if the audio quality of any would merit commercial release. There might be other Gershwin titles by Ra which have escaped the chroniclers. – I.C.

Great review at Pitchfork: — unfortunately written without benefit of the above album annotation, which was published belatedly on Bandcamp. 

Bonus round: Here's a 2014 article from the Guardian which makes the case that Sunny and George were both freemasons:

1. Sun Ra & His Arkestra - Rhapsody in Blue (previously unissued) 09:20
2. Sun Ra & His Arkestra - 'S Wonderful 05:33
3. The Nu Sounds with Sun Ra - Nice Work If You Can Get It 01:45
4. Sun Ra & His Myth Science Arkestra - But Not for Me 06:48
5. Sun Ra & Wilbur Ware - The Man I Love 03:26
6. The Cosmic Rays with Sun Ra - Summertime 01:53
7. It Ain't Necessarily So 04:42
8. Sun Ra Trio with Hattie Randolph - 'S Wonderful (early version) 02:16
9. The Nu Sounds with Sun Ra - A Foggy Day 01:02
10. Sun Ra & His Myth Science Arkestra - I Loves You Porgy 03:30

All original tracks produced by Sun Ra
Compilation and audio restoration by Irwin Chusid
Tape transfers by Michael D. Anderson of the Sun Ra Music Archive
Issued under license from Sun Ra LLC

New Jazz Book: This is Hip The Life of Mark Murphy by Peter Jones (Equinox Publishing)

Equinox Publishing

This is Hip: The Life of Mark Murphy
by Peter Jones
A 360-degree perspective on Mark Murphy's uniqueness and authenticity. I liked the clear narrative and Peter Jones' probing, questioning approach; and the section on Murphy’s uninhibited, no-safety-net teaching methods is unputdownable.
Sebastian Scotney, editor of London Jazz News

With publication coinciding with Mark Murphy's birthday on March 14, Equinox is proud to announce This is Hip: The Life of Mark Murphy by jazz singer and journalist Peter Jones.

When Mark Murphy died in October 2015, the world lost one of the greatest jazz singers in history. Murphy was the last of his kind, a hipster of the Kerouac generation, who rejected the straight life of prosperity and numb consumerism. With a catalog of more than 40 albums under his own name, Mark Murphy was a consummate improviser, who never sang a song the same way twice. He could have enjoyed a successful mainstream career in the vein of Mel Tormé or Jack Jones. But his ambition was greater – to be an artist, to rebel against the commercial music industry and to carry the jazz vocal flame wherever it led him.

Murphy was a master of scat and vocalese, of songwriting and the spoken word. He expanded the jazz singing repertoire, adding his own lyrics to instrumentals like John Coltrane’s Naima, Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay, and Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments. Unrivaled as an interpreter of ballads, he was able to express longing and regret to a degree lacking in any other jazz singer. 

For years he roamed the world, playing thousands of gigs. Rediscovered in the Eighties by a new audience of jazz dancers, and again in the 21st century by a digital generation who invited him to guest on their recordings, he remains a crucial though unjustly neglected figure in vocal jazz.

This Is Hip is more than a biography: it also explores Murphy’s innovative approaches both to singing and to the teaching of singers. Based on numerous interviews with those who knew him best, the book delves into a performing and recording career that spanned 60 years and earned him five Grammy nominations.

Peter Jones is a jazz singer and journalist based in London. During the making of his first album, One Way Ticket to Palookaville, he developed a serious interest in the work of Mark Murphy, which has continued ever since.

He reviews concerts and CDs and conducts interviews for London Jazz News. His second album Utopia was released in 2016 and his third Under the Setting Sun in 2017.

Coming up: new collaboration with ESINAM, Aka Moon bringing new sounds from East & West to us in 'Alifbata', 'Nature City' by LABtrio and much more!


We can start this newsletter with – again – announcing a great new collaboration. We're happy to tell you that Esinam Dogbatse is joining the Aubergine family. This Brussels musician plays flute and percussion with Témé Tan, Sysmo, Anne Wolf, Marockin’ Brass and Diab Quintet among others. In her solo project she proves to be a fierce multi-instrumentalist who uses electronics to add a new dimension to her set. Her warm voice is the icing on the cake. In December 2017, Esinam was the support act of Melanie De Biasio at a sold-out Ancienne Belgique four times in a row. This fall, she will release her first EP on Sdban Records. So, a musician from the 'New Wave of Belgian Jazz' to watch!

Join us at one of her upcoming concerts:

08.03 Human(art)istic Festival @ Beursschouwburg, Brussels
15.03 Le Rideau Rouge, Lasne
29.04 Les Nuits @ Botanique, Brussels
18.05 Jam'in Jette, Brussels


This month, Aka Moon and some guest musicians will bring the sounds of the Balkan, the Middle East and India to France & Belgium. In Alifbata, compositions and musicians of two earlier created projects come together: The first one, Aka Balkan Moon, inspired by Balkan music with a special focus on the Bulgarian traditions, and second AlefBa, a project that uses the sultry sounds of the Middle East. Both projects arose under the wings of Fondation de Royaumont (Paris). Indian Sufi singer Zila Kahn will join the musicians with her lush chants. 

30.03 deSingel, Antwerp (BE)
31.03 De Grote Post, Ostend (BE)
03.04 Opéra de Lille, Rijsel (FR)
04.04 De Bijloke, Ghent (BE)


Starting from March 1st, Martin Vernier joins our team doing an internship with us ‘till August 31st. Martin is a young music enthousiast from Saint-Etienne (France) who was recommended by i.a. Rhino Jazz Festival, Tremplin Jazz Avignon and Têtes de Jazz (AJMI, Avignon), where he did an internship as production assistant in the past.

If you didn’t have the chance to see ‘Nature City’ (Outhere Music, Febr. '17) by LABtrio live yet: the last three days of March, the trio presents its latest album once more to the Belgian crowd. A must-visit!

29.03 De Casino, Sint-Niklaas (BE)
30.03 CC HA: Piano days, Hasselt (BE)

31.03 CC De Ververij, Ronse (BE)


Label: Tzigart/Promiseland PL0012
Release Date: JANUARY 12, 2018
Artist Website:
UPC Code: 3 760100 040159

Clotilde : vocals, flute
Alexandre Saada : Piano, Rhodes, Clavinette, back vocals
All arrangements by : Madeleine & Salomon

Track listing w/ track time:
1. Image (Nina Simone, William Waring Cuney) 1:55
2. Swallow song (Mimi Farina, Richard Farina) 2:16
3. All the Pretty Horses (Traditional) 3:19
4. No Government/High School Drag (Nicolette, Philip Anthony Johnson / Mel Welles) 4:52
5. At seventeen (Janis Ian) 2:23
6. Strange Fruit (Billie Holiday, Abel Meeropol) 3:09
7. Save the children (Al Cleveland, Renaldo Benson, Marvin Gaye) 4:32
8. Bain libre 1 (Alexandre Saada, Clotilde) 0:22
9. Little Girl Blue (Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart) 2:19
10. The End of Silence/Mercedes Benz (Elaine Brown/Janis Joplin) 4:25
11. Les eurs (Charles Stepney, Richard Rudolph) 2:07
12. Bain Libre 1 (Alexandre Saada, Clotilde) 0:51
13. Four women (Nina Simone) 6:35
14. Vous Faites Partie de Moi (Cole Porter, Josephine Baker) 2:39
15. Le Jour né de la Femme (Alexandre Saada, Clotilde) 3:54

Madeleine & Salomon is the meeting of two artists with well-established musical visions: the vocalist and flutist Clotilde and the pianist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, Alexandre Saada.

Long-term friends, they discovered, during a tour of Asia, in 2014, that they shared a common musical aesthetic and decided to form the duo Madeleine & Salomon with its minimalist music stamped in impressionist poetry.

They took advantage of the Melbourne Recital Centre (Australia) invitation in June 2015 to rethink the American Songbook in their decidedly original fashion, and record their first album A Woman’s Journey. This homage to American female protest songstresses is enriched on stage by free improvisations inspired by dreamlike short films specifically edited from stock shots.

A lonely voice, surveying a minor scale and reciting fundamentally feminist lines. Thus commences this first album of Madeleine & Salomon, “A Woman’s Journey”.  A minimalist and delicate duo tackling a humanist and rebellious repertoire. Madeleine sings, Salomon sits at the piano. Madeleine & Salomon, a duo with a natural elegance, “less is more” their essence.

The epic and libertarian duo Madeleine & Salomon embraces with ardor the feminist American songbook to cover it with loving-kindness tinged with a minimalistic music and with a deep and incandescent chant. Their 1st album A Woman’s Journey reveals a graceful and unexpected reinterpretation of a humanist and rebellious repertoirefrom Nina Simone to Janis Joplin to Billie Holiday to Josephine Baker.

Superb new CD

“A fascinating album. So many moods, so much space and lyricism.”

“This is true class, no fakery, a moment of grace”
Summer Jazz CD

“A n unbelievable atmosphere, literally out of time.”

“Unheralded, unheard - of and totally necessary”

Vocalist and flutist Clotilde (CLOW-TEELD) completed her studies in jazz and improvised music at the IACP and EDIM schools. She also explored world music vocal techniques ,developing an original approach to the voice as a multifaceted and narrative instrument. In 2007, Clotilde released Live au 7 Lézards. Accompanied by guitarist Hugo Lippi, the album was acclaimed by Jazzman, Jazzmag and Jazzhot magazines. 

Pianist , composer, and multi - instrumentalist Alexandre Saada [SAH - AH - DAH] studied classical music for ten years before expanding to include jazz, pop, and song, stud ying under Michel Petrucciani. Since his installation in Paris in 1999 he has not only carved out his own career of compos ing, performing and lead ing but has also worked alongside many artists as Leonore Boulanger, Electricdiva and Malia. In 2010 he performed solo at the Saint - Germain Jazz Festival. He has compose d for cinema, garnering a purse of the Sacem. In 2014 h e released Continuation to the end , followed by Portraits in 2015 .

Available From
IMS distribution from Marvelio 

Media Contact
Jim Eigo
Jazz Promo Services
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Ph: 845-986-1677 
Cell / text: 917-755-8960
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Gene Jackson Trio Nu Yorx - Power Of Love (WHIRLWIND RECORDINGS April 6, 2018)

Along a career timeline glinting with highlight after highlight, drummer Gene Jackson has gained the deserved respect of musical peers and audiences worldwide for his linchpin role in major jazz line-ups from the late 1980s onwards. Initially recording and touring with guitarist Kevin Eubanks, Jackson became the backbone of bands led by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Dave Holland, as well as collaborating with a panoply of names including Art Farmer, Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Joe Lovano and Hugh Masekela, plus the New York Standards Quartet. 

For his debut as leader – Power of Love – the Philadelphia-born, Tokyo-based rhythm maker returns to the format perhaps most dear to him, with pianist Gabriel Guerrero and double bassist Carlo de Rosa; both of whom he cites as his inspiration, alongside the indelible friendships and experiences forged in both Hancock’s and Holland’s trios. “Playing all those years with Herbie and Dave, I just fell in love with the environment”, explains the drummer. “When Gabriel and Carlo came over to my place in Brooklyn, it was a great privilege, as both are highly sought after on the scene. We soon realised we had a rapport, and I really liked the vibe – so I knew this was the New York trio I had to record with. For many years, I’ve had a deep love of Afro-Caribbean music, believing this connection to be crucial to American jazz piano and drums – so, as a Colombian, Gabriel brings exciting elements of that culture into his compositions and performance; and that’s important to me as I incorporate these more deeply into my own sound”. 

Most of the ten, absorbing tracks are individual, original compositions brought in by each member of the trio. “I like to develop ideas that are not governed by tradition or rules”, the drummer elaborates, “with the freedom to extend phrases and ideas without limitation. Music is an expression of who you are – and when I write and play, I’m conscious that aspects of my life are in there”. Jackson’s own ‘Great River’ follows that lead with blithe piano extemporisation characterized by intelligently ornamented percussion; and bass-bustling ‘Before Then’ (inspired by Ahmad Jamal) revisits his first published song which, until now, has only been recorded on other people’s albums. An oblique arrangement of Cole Porter’s ‘I Love You’ (“I played this with Herbie – he’s like a mad scientist with the harmonies”) is delicately poised throughout; and Thelonious Monk’s distinct angularity is explored in two numbers, the unflappable piano melodies of ‘Played Twice’ sailing nonchalantly across its otherwise swaggering deportment (recalling the leader’s time with Dave Holland).

An apparent simplicity to Carlo de Rosa’s tender ‘A Perfect Tremor’ belies the intricacy of its occasional harmonic and melodic twists, as does delicate yet sprightly ‘Neptune’. Gabriel Guerrero’s agitated ‘Land of the Free‘ and infectiously upbeat bossa nova ‘Lighting’ (newly introduced to the band at the sessions) display facets which delight Jackson, including abstract landscapes and tricksy Latin time signatures; while ‘Lapso’ combines joyous swing with resolute grandeur. 

Gene Jackson identifies strongly with his album title: “In the midst of all the craziness that’s going around the world, not just in the States, I believe the power of love is the cure for helping humanity to the right place (the album’s African art symbolizing this). It transcends everything, and there are a multitude of things that can move us forward positively – in the creation of music, in relationships, in dealing with your fellow person, and also spiritually. My music is all about love – and I was taught by Herbie and other great leaders that it should always be in the moment. On this recording, I embraced that moment. It’s the sound I wanted to put out… and I’m alright with that.”

1. I Love You
2. Great River
3. A Peaceful Tremor
4. Lighting
5. Played Twice
6. Land of the Free
7. Neptune
8. Ugly Beauty
9. Before Then
10. Lapso

Gabriel Guerrero - piano
Carlo De Rosa - double bass

Recorded Tedesco Studios (April 26th 2017)
Engineered by Tom Tedesco
Mixed and mastered at Current Sounds by Bob Ward
Produced by Gene Jackson
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Album artwork and design by Gene Jackson

Gene Jackson plays Zildjian Cymbals and Pearl Drums exclusively

Tori Freestone & Alcyona Mick - Criss Cross (WHIRLWIND RECORDINGS March 23, 2018)

With the playful opening bars of new release Criss Cross, the sublime world of tenor saxophonist and flautist Tori Freestone and pianist Alcyona Mick (plus guest vocalist Brigitte Beraha) is encapsulated through creative intrigue and improvisational dexterity, frequently glinting with mischievous spontaneity. Known for diverse roles in jazz, folk and world music, Freestone and Mick have been friends for years, performing together in different ensembles, including the London Jazz Orchestra. But it was casual duo explorations in music from their combined eclectic influences, taking in the output of Thelonious Monk, which led to an enthusiastic invitation from Manchester Jazz Festival’s artistic director, Steve Mead, to develop the project for live performance in 2015. 

“I’d always felt the two of us were like-minded”, explains Freestone. “We were in Tenerife, playing together quite a lot, and it felt so easy and so lovely (on rainy days, we’d just pull out another Monk tune); and we kept saying we should do it more often – and actually made it happen. Quite different from my trio with bassist Dave Manington and drummer Tim Giles – which is specifically chordless and very rhythmic – here we both shape the rhythm in a different way, following whatever direction the music takes us in; and with such amazing piano-playing, I can bring out the harmony in new and existing compositions”. Alcyona Mick reinforces the merits of the collaboration: “There’s plenty of space for creativity; and though a duo can be more challenging, I have much more freedom to use the whole piano – in this case, the beautifully warm, richly dark sound of a Fazioli Concert Grand at Stefano Amerio’s Artesuono studio in Italy”. 

In Tori Freestone’s mathematically challenging 8/11 ‘Hermetica’, Brigitte Beraha’s characteristically high, wordless tones intertwine with Brazilian-imbued flute and piano in breathtaking synchronicity, while ‘Charmed Life’ offers a lyrical beauty far from its trio origins as balmy tenor melodies are enfolded by Mick’s sensitively rippling undercurrents. As well as interpreting the inherent quirkiness of ‘Criss Cross’ (“I love how the form of the middle eight is so weird”, says Freestone), the spirit of Monk can also be found in Mick’s strutting, bluesy promenade, ‘Strange Behaviour’; and previously conceived for quintet, and then two pianos, her bustling ‘Exchange’ features complex, dancing keyboard figures and vehement conversations with Freestone’s soprano. The concerto-like breadth of Alcyona’s ‘Goodnight Computer’ demonstrates how they regularly open out on the bandstand, these wayfaring twelve minutes painting fluctuating vistas and moods. Tori’s folk-tune ‘Press Gang’ (from her 2016 release, El Barranco), takes on a new guise, Beraha’s emotive vocal elucidating its dark poetry; and comedic, theme-tune-like ‘Mrs PC’ (from the In the Chop House album) leaps and shrieks with unfettered glee. 

“We have great understanding and confidence in each others’ playing”, enthuses Freestone. “In fact, we sometimes find we’ve chosen to express exactly the same thing, prompting the mutual question, ‘How did you know I was going to do that?!’. We like to accept the challenge of whatever is put in front of us, finding a new way of getting inside the music; and Alcyona’s been working a lot on the world music scene recently, so it’s great to have her back on the jazz stage. Though the duo format can present a degree of vulnerability, this project especially engenders warmth, enjoyment and openness amongst the intensity and complexity. It’s both fun and heavy – a developing journey through the material and styles we love, all with the sheer joy of playing. On Criss Cross, we are delighted to have covered that range of emotions, which is so important to us”.

1. Hermetica
2. Charmed Life
3. Strange Behaviour
4. Exchange
5. Goodnight Computer
6. Mrs PC
7. Criss Cross
8. Press Gang
9. El Barranco

Brigitte Beraha - voice (tracks 1 and 8)

Recorded on 2nd October 2017 at Artesuono Studio, Udine, Italy
Mixed and mastered by Stefano Amerio
Produced by Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick
Executive Producer - Michael Janisch
Artwork - Sophie Moates

Jeff Hackworth - Shout​-​Out! (2018)

I wrote these songs for seven musicians who are extremely important to me. I have listened to and studied their music for years and owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. I chose the band for this date knowing I wanted players who could impart both the intellect of this music as well as the feel.

“Maceo Made Me Do It” is some of that signature funk that Maceo Parker has done so brilliantly for so many years. Diego really dug in on this one and gave me that great groove to play over.

“Pass That Jug” is my homage to the great tenor man Gene Ammons. I always liked how he used the whole range of the horn, top to bottom, and always kept that strong blues feel. Carlo has a nice solo on this one.

Next is “Ready For Eddie” which I wrote for a true jazz icon, Eddie Harris. This song starts with a nod to one of his most well-known compositions, “Listen Here.” Ed Cherry plays a wonderful guitar solo on this one with Carlo and Diego really capturing that “Eddie” groove I envisioned.

“Houston’s House” I wrote for my friend and mentor, the ever-soulful purveyor of melody, Houston Person. I recently read an interview with Houston where he said that in his music “the blues are always close by” and in this one I wanted that feeling too.

“Papa Lou’s Love Cruise” is a salute to the legendary Lou Donaldson. It's a boogaloo variation of a 12 bar blues with a bridge. The guys hit a nice groove and we conjured up some of Papa Lou’s vibe along the way.

For Charles Mingus there is “Melody For Mingus.” I have always been drawn to the complexity, the moodiness and the directness of his music. This features a wonderful solo by Carlo on bass.

I finish up with "Stanley T." a salute to the great Stanley Turrentine. It's a straight-out blues groove with the band really getting deep in the pocket. This is one for listening and grooving.

This is my shout-out to those who have inspired me. I want to thank Chris Sulit of Trading 8’s Studio for his hard work helping us capture these sounds. I am grateful to Ed, Carlo and Diego for their generosity of spirit in bringing this musical vision to life.

1. Maceo Made Me Do It - for Maceo Parker 07:06
2. Pass That Jug - for Gene Ammons 08:53
3. Ready For Eddie - for Eddie Harris 06:13
4. Houston's House - for Houston Person 07:38
5. Papa Lou's Love Cruise - for Lou Donaldson 07:13
6. Melody For Mingus - for Charles Mingus 07:51
7. Stanley T. - for Stanley Turrentine 07:00

Ed Cherry guitar
Carlo De Rosa bass
Diego Voglino drums

All songs composed/arranged by Jeff Hackworth
All songs © 2018 Saxworks Music BMI

Recorded on 11/3/17 Trading 8s Studio Paramus NJ
Engineered, mixed, mastered by Chris Sulit
Produced by Jeff Hackworth
Jeff uses Roberto’s Winds reeds exclusively

Jeff Hackworth - Soul To Go! EP (2018)

"New York City abounds with working musicians trying to make their mark in jazz circles. Whether as a fan or music professional, discovering these musicians is a delight, especially when the musician has "arrived " and developed a true voice in the jazz tradition.
Jeff Hackworth is one such musician. He’s achieved a deep understanding of the tenor sax and he plays with assurance and a keen mastery of the drenching emotions of his horn. Houston Person introduced me to Jeff and has been a big influence and mentor in Hackworth’s career. I endorse this enthusiasm, and I am honored to add these words."
Sid Gribetz WKCR-FM NYC

“Jeff Hackworth plays in the spirit of master tenor players such as Gene Ammons, 
Stanley Turrentine and Houston Person.
...talent such as his is bound to rise to the top” 
Bob Porter WBGO NYC

“...he wields a mean tenor that's reminiscent not only of Fathead in his prime but also of prominent soul/blues spokesman from Illinois Jacquet and Lockjaw Davis to Stanley Turrentine and Houston Person.
Hackworth's technique and concepts are impressive ...clean muscular sound...”
Cadence Magazine

1. Soul To Go! 05:38
2. Live and Learn 06:23
3. Blues in a Few 04:40
4. Under a Strayhorn Sky 04:36

Ed Cherry guitar
Radam Schwartz organ
Vince Ector drums