Thursday, March 15, 2018

Alexandra Jackson - Legacy & Alchemy (Radio EP) LEGACY AND ALCHEMY 2018

EP Release: Total Music: The Golden Conversation between American and Brazilian Music Blossoms on Alexandra Jackson: Legacy & Alchemy

Brazil on a work trip. One day in Rio, he stepped out of an ordinary hotel elevator and had a revelation. “I heard these young musicians in the lobby, and realized that Brazil might create the next Sade, the next singer to really synthesize pop, jazz, and Brazilian sounds like Sade and her producer Robin Millar did.”

Hebert’s insight led him somewhere altogether different, ever deeper into Brazil’s unique repertoire, heritage, and spirit. Amalgamating the golden age of 20th-century Brazilian sounds with Chicago jazz and funk, unleashing a soulful young vocalist from Atlanta on the Brazilian and Brazil-inspired songbook, Hebert created the first, epic project on his new independent LEGACY AND ALCHEMY label, Alexandra Jackson: Legacy & Alchemy. At the center stands singer Alexandra Jackson, supported by some of the most significant musicians in samba, bossa nova, and MPB, and by American jazz and funk heavyweights.

“We wanted to bring together Brazilian and American musicians and create something around the vocals, and to our pleasant surprise, it was an American vocalist who made this possible,” remarks Hebert. “We embraced the highest level of Brazilian music, with its great musicianship. The highest levels of Brazilian music and American jazz have always resonated.”

Legacy & Alchemy pays homage to samba, now in its second century, with the classic “Sonho Meu,” which contrasts Jackson’s voice with that of 96-year-old samba grande dame and songwriter Doña Ivone Lara. It demonstrates the power of Brazilian bossa nova with a cheeky, gender-reversed “Girl from Ipanema,” in which Jackson finds a whole other American-inflected swing to beloved song. It also draws on songwriting inspired by Brazil’s boundless musical creativity and resilience: “Brazilica” (by Chess Records alums Charles Stepney, Maurice White, and Ramsey Lewis) and “Our Time Now” (a heartfelt anthem co-crafted by Lionel Richie and Rod Temperton that ends with the powerhouse contribution by Armando Marcal from Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Portela samba school (reigning champion of Carnaval).

The main musical catalyst was a young singer out of Atlanta, the daughter of a remarkable, culturally and socially prominent African American family, Alexandra Jackson. With intensive vocal training and wide-ranging musical interests, Jackson had the sensitivity, sensuality, and strength to capture the essence of these songs, whether singing in English or Portuguese. (Jackson worked with coaches for weeks to be able to nail the lyrics and win over Brazilian critics.)

“I’ve worked with so many top singers, and I don’t think anyone else I’ve worked with could have or would have even tried to do this.  Alexandra could and did.  The biggest thing is she made it convincing for Brazilians,” including standout performances as part of the 2016 Rio Olympics festivities.

“There’s a huge melting pot of music in our world today,” says Jackson. “This album offers the opportunity for people to step outside the box. It’s not just jazz, not the blues, not soul, not bossa nova, not samba, but it’s a mix of them all.”

Though the project resulted in 23 tracks with more than 35 contributing artists in featured roles (and 100 musicians and engineers overall), this first EP-length burst of songs sets the historical stage for the project’s ongoing engagement with Brazilian and American music’s decades-long dialog. The project’s bigger-picture goal is as ambitious as its scope: “I want to reintroduce this music to the world,” says Hebert. “I want to return it to its rightful place in the mainstream.”

This ambition has a powerful historical precedent. Brazilian music was some of the most popular in the world until the British Invasion struck and tastes shifted. There was a reason Brazilian music resonated worldwide: the sway of samba, the wry elegance of bossa nova balanced the earthy and the refined. It channeled some of the world’s most breathtaking musicianship. Hebert reached out to everyone from Jobim’s son and grandson, to samba elders like Lara and its next generation master (percussionist Pretinho de Serrinha), to the iconic Brazilian composer Ivan Lins.

Hebert and his collaborators knew it was time to elevate these elements again. “We’re really giving all we got to reintroduce this music to the mainstream, where it left off in the mid 60s. I wanted to choose songs that were hits in Brazil. Some may be familiar, but many are incredible songs the world outside of Brazil hasn’t been exposed to very much yet. We’re alchemizing it with American music, and the heart of this music is Chicago,” Hebert’s hometown and the birthplace of a jazz aesthetic that pairs perfectly with midcentury Brazilian sounds.

This alchemy creates what project advisor and contributor Ivan Lins calls “total music,” music that has no limits due to its geographical origins, that is timeless and widely compelling. Lins, along with the legacy of icon Quincy Jones, inspired Hebert to reach for the best possible performers and performances as the vision came together.

“Quincy has really inspired me over the years — not just with music, but the way he applies his true genius to the interaction of master-level human beings.  I have known him since 1993 and his musical legacy was a guiding star for me on this project. [In the wake of the untimely passing of Rod Temperton, Jones directly assisted in securing co-writer’s Lionel Richie’s blessing for “Our Time Now.”] I knew if Quincy were doing this, he would really try to get to the heart and soul of the music in a way that opened up the musicianship, that brought something new to it. I did the best I could, knowing I’m less than 1% of the musician that Q is,” Hebert laughs.  “But, I just kept asking myself for 3 years … as a Producer, what do I think Q would do?” 

To get there, Hebert asked multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Larry Williams to be his main collaborator. Williams, who has worked with Jones, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Sheila E, and Michael Jackson, over a 40-year career was lead producer on eight of the 23 tracks recorded for the project. “This record got done because of Larry.  No Larry Williams … no Rod Temperton, no Ivan Lins, no Djavan, no Al Jarreau,” Hebert notes. “Larry was my anchor.  I knew that this ambitious undertaking would get done because Larry Williams was in my corner. I needed one of the greatest arrangers of our time to get us over the top, where we needed to be.  That could only happen with a music master of Larry’s genius, commitment, focus, pedigree and context.”   

Hebert and Williams formed a Chicago-meets-Rio house band to record in Brazil. It included Williams and Marco Brito as primary keyboardists, tag-teaming super bassists (Darryl Jones, Arthur Maia), one of Brazil’s greatest drummers (in a country of excellent drumming) Teo Lima, guitarist Ricardo Silveira, percussionist Armando Marcal, horn players and arrangers Marcelo Martins and Jesse Sadoc. They were joined by vocal masters Chris Walker (who produced the vocals for the album), Darryl Tookes, and Curtis King, and by percussionist Pretinho da Serrinha. The Brazilian and American feels for the pocket differ, but the conversation between and among master musicians adds another layer to an already rich mix.

Hebert also gathered an orchestra for the two songs orchestrated and conducted by Larry Williams, and 4 songs orchestrated and conducted by Hebert’s 1970s’ Chicago high school bandmate Charles Floyd (who has gone on to conduct over 500 orchestras all over the world).  Hebert named the orchestra “The Bossa Nova Noites Orquestra” … comprised of Brazil’s top orchestra musicians under the supervision of concertmaster Ricardo Amado.

It is no accident Hebert and company made the record they did, one that has all the precision and warmth of a Quincy Jones project, or the early Sade projects produced by Robin Millar, but with all the virtuosic scrappiness of Chicago and Rio.

“This is old school; I’m not interested in contemporizing this music with drum machines or sequencers. Computers cannot spiritually collaborate, interact, and connect in context and in real time with a human,” Hebert states. “I wanted to create an environment and commitment to the alchemy of the music, based on humans endeavoring to evolve the origins of the music.  Brazilian, African and American music have a history of connection due to the slave trade, and that’s what creates this sense of musical integrity, what ties it all together. I let the music masters of Brazil and America contemporize the music with their insight, context and virtuosity.” 

01 Brazilica - Radio Edit
02 Girl From Ipanema
03 Sonho Meu
04 Turns Your Heart Around
05 Forca da Imaginacao
06 Our Time Now
07 Brazilica - Full Version

EPK, Alexandra Jackson, Legacy & Alchemy from Legacy and Alchemy LLC on Vimeo.

Kiran Ahluwalia - 7 Billion (SIX DEGREES May 4, 2018)

Kiran Ahluwalia had a small epiphany as she wrote what eventually became the title track for her latest album: The eruptions of intolerance and violence plaguing societies around the world had to be directly countered. Yet the focus on divisions and difference neglected a central fact, that we are all united in our difference and uniqueness. “There are seven billion of us now on Earth and every person has their own unique perspective and set of experiences,” she reflects. “We each have our own way of dealing with things, of hearing things, of moving through life."

Ahluwalia, with over nearly two decades of music making that took her from Punjabi folk and Indian classical music to refreshingly original borderless songs, has found her own way on 7 Billion. (Six Degrees: May 4, 2018) Touching on the need for tolerance and boldness, the songs on 7 Billion encompass all Ahluwalia’s myriad musical fascinations: the guitar twang of Mali, the heavy heartbeat of Southern soul, the gorgeous nuance of Subcontinental sounds.

“I’ve taken aesthetics I love such as blues, Malian styles, and of course Indian forms and mashed them together in my own way,” explains Ahluwalia.

Ahluwalia will celebrate this album’s release with a spring US/Canadian tour, including several dates of her new live project LOVEfest, which bring spiritual performances from the Sikh and Sufi traditions together with contemporary sets by Algeria’s Souad Massi and Ahluwalia.

7 Billion pulls together songs that map out many of Ahluwalia’s interests and sonic loves. “Jhoomo (Sway)” was written to charm a shy lover in a steamy seduction scene in an as-yet unreleased film. “We Sinful Women” commissioned and composed for a dance company’s new work was based on a radical Pakistani feminist’s stirring poem. Yet most of Ahluwalia’s pieces are sparked by the diverse sounds she hears rolling around in her head. They often emerge in conversation with her life and musical partner, the highly acclaimed guitarist Rez Abbasi.

“I translate thought and emotion into sound in a very intuitive way,” says Ahluwalia. “I sometimes develop songs with Rez as we sit on the couch, either referencing tracks that are inspiring me or working on specific ideas that I've been living with. If we come up with something magical, I'll record it on my phone and listen to it later. That’s how songs often start.”

That’s not where they end. Ahluwalia will continue to refine and rethink the songs, adding layers of instruments. On 7 Billion, these layers built on Ahluwalia’s past explorations--Malian and desert blues, Portuguese fado, North American rock, Indian forms--for a sometimes raucous and raw sound that includes a soulful sweep of organ and glittering, growling guitars.

The music of “Khafa,” an impassioned call to set aside the religious strictures and orthodoxies that blind us to one another’s humanity, was inspired by West African styles. “I came up with the melodic idea and would hum it around the house. Rez said, ‘Hey, that sounds great.’ I had all these phrases all over the place, then I decided to develop it more to find meaning for the melody, which lent itself very well to talking about anger against the man made rules of religion.”

Ahluwalia brought similar intensity to “We Sinful Women,” rethinking it for the album. It was no easy feat to set the poem to music for a dance company’s performance, as its Urdu lines simply did not conform to usual song styles accompanying Urdu poetry. Ahluwalia did not let that faze her, and came up with a unique approach that resonated powerfully with audiences.

Yet after the dance piece premiered, the song stuck with her. She longed to hear it slightly differently: “I liked it but wanted to make it less polite and dainty, into a very militant and activist song, a strident battle cry,” she explains. “When I arranged it for the dance piece it had flute, sax, sarangi, and tabla. It was not traditional but softer in treatment. For my own record, I wanted to match the gritty activist nature of it in the arrangement and tonality. I asked Rez, and we spent a lot of time figuring out the heavy, gritty amp sound for the guitar.”

Grit also runs through “Kuch Aur (Something Else),” a bluesy examination of regret and sorrow that came to Ahluwalia after she got into Southern blues rock. A first for the songwriter, Ahluwalia came up with some English-language lyrics, only to translate them into Urdu because they just worked better that way.

The way Ahluwalia flows between seemingly farflung genres is no accident. It’s the natural progression of her exploration of what appeals to her; her refusal to see her Indian heritage as her defining characteristic. “I think of my music as creating a genre that’s on its own, one that benefits greatly from being in the diaspora,” she muses. “This isn’t the way Indian music is in any other part of the world. I hesitate to even call it Indian. We’re doing something that hasn’t been done before. It’s an organic hybrid that's reflective of so many personal and lived influences.” Ahluwalia is an artist and songwriter first and foremost, whose global ear catches frequencies that are hers alone.

01. Khafa (Up In Arms)
02. Saat (Seven)
03. Kuch Aur (Something Else)
04. Raina (Night)
05. Jhoomo (Sway)
06. We Sinful Women


THE FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE JAZZ DE MONTRÉAL invites you to a concert with Ludovico Einaudi! Accustomed to sold-out concerts, this brilliant pianist made no exception to that rule with his last appearance in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. Therefore, it’s perfectly natural to have the classical music superstar take on the Centre Bell this time with a show as immense as his talent. Moving between film scores and classical music, Ludovico Einaudi’s oeuvre combine subtlety and refined melodies for an evening of artistry and passion.

Demain matin, Montréal m'attend en tournée au Québec

Le 22 mars prochain débutera la tournée de la comédie musicale Demain matin, Montréal m’attend. La brillante distribution composée de 21 comédiens dont Hélène Bourgeois-Leclerc, Laurent Paquin, Benoît McGinnis, Kathleen Fortin et Marie-Andrée Lemieux, dirigée par René Richard Cyr, faisant honneur au texte de Michel Tremblay et à la musique de François Dompierre, se produira dans près de 20 villes au Québec pour un total de 31 représentations.

« On retrouve ici la magie des Belles-sœurs ! »
Christian Saint-Pierre — Le Devoir

 « En 110 minutes bien tassées et sans entracte, René Richard Cyr a su faire de Demain matin, Montréal m’attend, on l’aura compris, un excellent divertissement. »
Marc-André Lussier — La Presse

« Demain matin, Montréal m’attend, c’est un cadeau pour l’œil et un enchantement pour l’oreille. Un spectacle qui va droit au cœur. » 
Guy Fournier — Journal de Montréal

« Demain matin, Montréal m’attend n’a pas perdu de sa magnificence et de son panache ! À voir absolument ! » 


Pour plus de détails sur la tournée, consultez le DEMAINMATIN.CA

David Murray (feat. Saul Williams) - Blues for Memo (MOTEMA MUSIC 2018)

The new album from jazz innovator David Murray and acclaimed actor/poet Saul Williams ‘Blues for Memo’ is out now. This album is a  powerful, political expression of the blues, paying homage to a pioneer of Istanbul’s jazz scene, Mehmet “Memo” Uluğ, inspired further by the legendary conductor/cornetist Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris and poet Amiri Baraka.


Joey Alexander - Eclipse (MOTEMA MUSIC May 4, 2018)

This sophisticated yet explorational recording features bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland with guest appearances on three tracks by saxophonist Joshua Redman. Recorded in Woodstock on August 21, 2017, the day of the solar eclipse, the track “Eclipse” became the centerpiece of the album. The musicians’ spontaneous expression of their experience viewing this rare astronomical event signifies Alexander’s movement into a freer expression.

1. Bali
2. Faithful
3. Draw Me Nearer
4. Moment's Notice
5. Blackbird
6. Eclipse
7. Fourteen
8. The Very Thought of You
9. Space
10. Time Remembered
11. Peace


Pablo Held Trio - Investigations (EDITION RECORDS April 23, 2018)

Pablo Held’s releases his landmark 10th album ‘Investigations’ on his new home and international label Edition Records, marking the progression of a new, global trajectory for this supremely talented musician. 

Pablo Held piano / Robert Landfermann double bass / Jonas Burgwinkel drums

Regarded as one of the most talented and adventurous pianists and improvisors in Europe, Pablo Held releases in April 2018 his landmark 10th album Investigations. Featuring long-standing trio of bassist, Robert Landfermann and drummer, Jonas Burgwinkel, the album is his first for British imprint Edition Records. A pivotal album in the trio’s journey, the trio’s adventurous spirit and energy reaches global audiences and with the release of ‘Investigations’ ignite a new wave of interest for a true working band. 

“The beautiful music of the Pablo Held Trio strikes me as an important example of the evolution of the piano trio in jazz. They embody the poetry and depth of this tradition, while extending the harmonic and rhythmic possibilities of the tradition. The music of this trio brings me joy knowing that this great art form continues to grow and flourish.” Ralph Towner

1. Investigations
2. Dr. Freeds
3. I’ll Dream of Flowers
4. Yearning
5. Stubborn
6. April Sonne
7. Birkenhain
8. Haiku Kit
9. Pinatubo (Bonus Track)
10. Sonja’s Rumba (Bonus Track)

Recorded at Deutschlandfunk Kammermusiksaal, Cologne by Christian Heck from August 30th till September 2nd 2017 
Mixed by Oliver Bergner on December 13th & 14th 2017 
Mastered by Christoph Stickel on December 17th & 18th 2017

Ed Bennett / Decibel - Togetherness (DIATRIBE RECORDS 2018)