Saturday, April 14, 2018

the Jamie Baum Septet + / Bridges (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS May 18, 2018)

Hailed by Downbeat for her “remarkable artistic facility” and by The New York Times for her “remarkable balance of fluidity and restless creativity,” New York-based flutist/composer and 2014 Guggenheim Fellow Jamie Baum is proud to announce the release of her sixth CD as a leader, Bridges, featuring The Jamie Baum Septet+. The highly anticipated follow-up to her 2013 recording In This Life, Bridges offers yet another recording of incredible depth, beauty, spirituality, undiluted zeal and is the culmination of Baum’s search for common links between some of the world’s great religious music traditions. While conducting research for her Guggenheim Fellowship Award, Baum explains, “I found there to be very deep connections going back centuries, between certain types of Jewish music (my earliest musical influences), and Muslim/Arabic and Hindu/South Asian music.” Exploring these musical connections, and composing new music inspired by her findings, became the focus of Bridges. 

Baum’s advanced harmonic sensibility and sonic imagination, beautifully brought to life by the stellar members of her long-running ensemble, proves yet again the capacity of modern jazz to absorb and transform music of diverse traditions, without sacrificing the improvisatory element at the core of jazz’s identity. In her album notes Baum cites Wikipedia’s definition of the word “bridge,” one that seems to sum up her artistic mission here: “a structure built to span physical obstacles without closing the way underneath.” At the same time, Baum’s musical wanderings highlight something even deeper: our shared humanity, and the common threads that run throughout our history. 

With great respect for these varied traditions and their vast languages, Baum’s goal was not to play or compose exactly in these styles, but to have her travels and playing experiences inspire new ways of writing and improvising. The diverse musicians who make up the Jamie Baum Septet+ are all first-call artists on the jazz scene, many of them accomplished leaders in their own right. Their presence gives Baum limitless compositional freedom and inspiration: “Having specific players to write for is a bandleader/composer’s dream and offers an incredible opportunity for experimentation and growth,” she says. We hear this borne out in the lyrical melodies, intricate contrapuntal passages and complex rhythmic ideas at the heart of Bridges, and in the textural warmth and surprise of Sam Sadigursky’s alto sax and bass clarinet, Brad Shepik’s guitar, Amir ElSaffar’s trumpet and voice, John Escreet’s dazzlingly virtuosic piano and of course Baum’s compelling improvisations on flute and alto flute throughout the album. 

Baum’s fascination with world sacred music traditions stemmed from her love of South Asian music and in particular for Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pakistan’s late Qawwali vocal master. Her previous album In This Life was inspired by Khan’s legacy, because she “found in him what I have found in those musicians who have touched me, like Coltrane, Miles and Pavarotti…a truly gifted, deeply spiritual and soulful artist,” Baum writes in her album notes. Expanding her focus from Qawwali outward to other forms of religious music, Baum arrived at the focus of Bridges. 

Khan’s influence is also felt on “Joyful Lament,” derived from a melody of Khan’s called “Lament,” Baum explains. This piece was arranged with Shepik’s guitar in mind, and “his solo certainly exceeds anything I could have imagined,” Baum enthuses. 

In addition to her study of Khan, Baum’s travels to India and especially Jazzmandu, the Kathmandu Jazz Festival, in 2003 and again in 2009, widened her musical horizons immeasurably. The three-movement “Honoring Nepal: The Shiva Suite,” a centerpiece of Bridges, represents Baum’s wish to give back to a community that has given her so much. The piece was commissioned by the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art in New York. “It was difficult to watch the pain and destruction the 2015 earthquake caused to the beautiful people and historic sites in Nepal, including musicians I knew and places I’d been,” Baum writes. “I knew I wanted to highlight and pay tribute in some way to this event and found inspiration in a painting of Shiva … a pan-Hindu deity revered widely by Hindus in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Shiva is the ‘destroyer of evil and the transformer’ within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. Shiva is the Supreme Being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. Completely contradictory aspects of life have been built into the personality of Shiva…. A particular ‘thank you’ to my rhythm section [Escreet, bassist Zack Lober and drummer Jeff Hirshfield] for their drive, sensitivity and expertise in navigating and highlighting the changing colors, dynamics and intensity, giving so much meaning to the arc and intent of this suite!” 

The Nepali influence emerges again on “Mantra,” arranged by Baum with Nepali musician Navin Chettri, who plays tanpura and sings on the track. The tune is based on Mahamrityunjaya Mantra “meant for healing, rejuvenation and nurturance,” Baum writes. “According to Shiva Purana when you have fear of any unknown event this chant helps you to overcome the fear. The Shiva Purana is the highest science of elevating human nature to the very peak of consciousness, expressed in the form of very beautiful stories.” 

“From the Well” opens the album with the sound of a scale “common to Maqam, Jewish and South Asian music,” writes Baum. “Song Without Words,” a tribute to Baum’s late father, highlights the composer’s Jewish influence — in particular the Kol Nidre prayer so central to the holiday of Yom Kippur. “There Are No Words,” with its relaxed straight-eighth feel and beautiful chamber-like interplay within the ensemble, revisits the theme of loss as well. And the closing track, “Ucross Me,” was written during Baum’s residency at the UCross Artist Colony in Clearmont, Wyoming in March 2015. It’s a piece “about crossing boundaries and connecting influences,” Baum writes, encapsulating the theme of Bridges as a whole. 

In addition to her Guggenheim Fellowship (an honor she shared the same year with Steve Coleman and Elliott Sharp), Baum was awarded the 2017 New Music USA Project Grant and selected as a 2014-15 Norman Stevens Fellow during her MacDowell Colony residency. Baum’s exemplary career has been built on superlative performances in the studio and on stages around the world, alongside a long list of renowned jazz artists including Randy Brecker, Mick Goodrick, Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, Fred Hersch, Uri Caine, Ralph Alessi, David Binney, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith and many others.

She has placed in the DownBeat Critics’ Polls annually since 1998 and has been nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association as “Flutist of the Year” eight times; the Jamie Baum Septet+ was nominated in 2014 as “Best Midsize Ensemble of the Year” in the same category as the Wayne Shorter Quartet and Steve Coleman’s Five Elements. She has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, International Jazz Composers Alliance, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America and the American Music Center. Her playing credits include tours as a State Dept./Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador, in 1999 to South America and in 2002 to India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Thailand and Bangladesh. Baum has served on the faculty of the jazz department at Manhattan School of Music since 2007 and on the adjunct faculty roster at the New School University since 2004. Altus Flutes/KHS America has sponsored her innovative clinic “A Fear-Free Approach to Improvisation for the Classically Trained Musician”™ at colleges, conservatories, festivals, flute clubs and “music and art” schools worldwide since 1993.

1. From The Well
2. Song Without Words (for S. James Baum)
3. There Are No Words 05:59
4. Honoring Nepal: The Shiva Suite Part 1 - The Earthquake
5. Honoring Nepal: The Shiva Suite Part 2 - Renewal
6. Honoring Nepal: The Shiva Suite Part 3 - Contemplation
7. Joyful Lament
8. Mantra
9. UCross Me

Amir ElSaffar - trumpet, vocals
Sam Sadigursky - alto sax, bass clarinet
Chris Komer - French horn
Brad Shepik -guitar
John Escreet - piano
Zack Lober - bass, singing bowl
Jeff Hirschfeld - drums
Jamey Haddad - percussion (Bridges)
Navin Chettri - percussion, vocals (Bridges)

Román Filiú - Quarteria (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS May 11, 2018)

Six buildings in close proximity with families living one on top of another within a constant melee of sound, including music of all sorts. This is the public housing of Santiago de Cuba, known locally as cuartería. These apartments and their confederation of people and sounds serve as the inspiration to saxophonist and composer Román Filiú’s new musical suite and subsequent recording, Quarteria. 

Growing up in the far eastern province of Cuba, Filiú was aware of music all around him. His father was a music theory teacher who encouraged his son to explore classical music scores. Filiú’s own musical studies began with classical piano before he focused on the saxophone. While visiting his friends who lived in the local cuartería, the budding musician was exposed to a wide variety of sounds of Cuban extraction, including liturgical music for Bembé, conga oriental, tumba francesa, classical, jazz, and popular music, the cuartería was Filiú’s own musical Tower of Babel. 

Filiú left Santiago de Cuba some time ago. He continued his studies in Camagüey and at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. He lived and played locally in Havana, including a stint in jazz super group Irakere, before he moved to Madrid, where he lived for seven years. Filiú has been in New York since 2011 and has made his mark on the jazz scene as a bandleader, composer, instrumentalist and collaborator of note, playing alongside well-known musicians like Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman and Dafnis Prieto. 

Upon receiving a commissioning and residency grant from The Jazz Gallery of New York City, Filiú was able to compose his Quarteria. His goal was to create a suite of music that involved an eclectic range of musical styles performed by a diverse group of musicians. In composing, Filiú utilized a number of methods, including writing by transcribing piano improvisations, playing his saxophone, singing the melody or even without the influence of an instrument, putting his thoughts straight to paper. Through the entire process, Filiú made sure that the pieces served improvisation. 

The ensemble grew out of Filiú’s intention to have as full a sound as possible with as compact an assemblage as he could muster. The ensemble ended up as a septet with an additional horn on two pieces, all members being brilliant stylists and improvisers well-versed in a variety of musical traditions.

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi has been a frequent collaborator with Filiú in Dafnis Prieto’s band, the two having originally met while the trumpeter traveled with Steve Coleman to Havana. Dayna Stephens’ s sonorous tenor saxophone is a perfect foil for Filiú’s alto. Also from Santiago de Cuba, pianist David Virelles has been a long time collaborator and is responsible here for widening the ensemble’s panoramic sound. Bassist Matt Brewer was a must for his steady rhythm and expert time, while drummer Craig Weinrib is equally adept in support and widely steeped in rhythmic traditions from all over the world. 

The suite begins with the staggering “Fulcanelli,” the piece inspired by its namesake’s study of the sacred geometry of cathedrals and which utilizes symmetry within its compositional makeup. Olivier Messiaen’s compositional style informed “Grass,” which was written away from the piano and utilizes expanded voicings between the three horns and the piano. The title of “Harina Con Arena” refers to the period of Russian withdrawal from Cuba in the 1990s and the food crisis that followed where there developed a common practice of adding sand to the cornmeal sold to the population. The piece is meant to have the jilting feeling of biting into that unexpected texture. 

Utilizing hints from his choir director brother, Filiú wrote the beautiful “Choral” with formal voice leading, lending to the shifting harmonies within the instruments. On his week long Jazz Gallery residency at the Pocantico Center in Tarrytown, New York, Filiú composed three danzas at the piano: the improvised “Danza #5,” the Messiaen influenced “Danza #1,” and “Danza #3,” which was inspired by the rhythms of his childhood neighborhood comparsa ensemble, San Pedrito. The wonderfully disjointed “Glass” uses one melody, which is delayed a half beat between the parts, creating a unique counterpoint. 

The stately “Imperator” mirrors the walk of an old Haitian refugee who lived near Filiú’s childhood home and who used to help the young saxophonist carry his horn home from school. Saxophonist Maria Grand appears on “For Horns and Bells,” which is a chorale and an experiment in conduction and voice leading. The final two pieces came from an idea to create crazy names and then write music for them. “Tursten” is a mysteriously laconic piece, while “Kaijufrem” is aggressive and utilizes a compositional system devised by Filiú in which he assigns a note to each letter of the name but then allows the structure to mutate from there. 

The metaphor of a large edifice with people from of all walks of life comingling with the soundtrack of the music of Cuba is fitting for Roman Filiú’s Quarteria, which is an exceptional example of a lifetime’s exposure and dedication to the study of music in all its forms, coalescing into a moving musical experience. 

1. Fulcanelli
2. Grass
3. Harina Con Arena
4. Choral
5. Danza 5
6. Danza 1
7. Glass
8. Danza 3
9. Imperator
10. For Horns and Bells
11. Tursten
12. Kaijufrem

Ralph Alessi - trumpet
Dayna Stephens - tenor saxophone
Maria Grand - tenor saxophone (10 & 11)
David Virelles - piano
Matt Brewer - bass
Craig Weinrib - drums
Yusnier Sanchez - percussion

Mike McGinnis - Singular Awakening (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS April 27, 2018)

Mike McGinnis realized his dream of recording and releasing an album with two of his musical heroes in 2017. The recording, Recurring Dream, featured the saxophonist/clarinetist/composer alongside two legends of jazz and creative music (also his mentors and friends), pianist Art Lande and electric bassist Steve Swallow. Both Lande and Swallow are well known for their compositional expertise, so McGinnis made sure to include original compositions from them both. 

The three musicians also have a penchant for thoughtful and eclectic approaches toward improvisation. McGinnis wanted to capture the both sides of this trio, the formal compositional and the more free, but equally focused, improvisational identities. The trio’s new recording Singular Awakening was culled from the same session as the original recording but features eight brilliant improvised pieces bookended by compositions written by either Lande or Swallow. 

McGinnis’s own musical aspirations began within the jazz tradition; he then moved on to classical saxophone, which led him toward more experimental music. In graduate school, he was introduced to the remarkable music of the Third Stream of the 1950s and 1960s, which blended classical and jazz repertoire. From there, the connections were made with two other musicians of similar temperament who helped McGinnis bridge that divide in his own music, namely, Lande and Swallow. McGinnis was able to get the former collaborators together for a weekend of performing and recording in Brooklyn in 2016. 

Each musician in the trio has a wide breadth of musical interests and knowledge. Their strengths in a variety of genres also have enabled them to make music that goes beyond category. Lande has long provided an ethos of openness and willingness to play anything that McGinnis has witnessed from the pianist and his protégés. Swallow’s career has spanned from the Benny Goodman Orchestra to the avant-garde to fusion via many paths. The range and rapport of the trio is a function of their histories together and apart. 

Going into the session, McGinnis knew that he wanted to begin with some improvisations to get the creative juices flowing. He decided to roll tape through the entire process, which included the free playing to test the room and the eschewing of monitor headphones. Because of each musician’s talent at compositional development, the improvisations took form in a way that many listeners probably wouldn’t be able to tell if the tracks were composed or not. 

The aim was to let each musician play whatever he wanted and the rest would try to make something of it, a freeing process that allows for extreme reaches of creativity and problem solving. The music that came out was inspired and highly listenable, highlighting the purest element of the trio’s identity: creativity. The group played as if they were of one mind and many pieces came out as if they were written. 

The recording begins with a couple of composed pieces from Swallow and Lande to get the program off and running. Swallow’s “Here Comes Everybody” is a compact, jazzy piece that is fun and challenging to play, while Lande’s “Shining Lights” is a ruminating, folk-like piece that moves through sections and is dedicated to his students. 

The eight improvisations each have their own personality and style, showing the vastness of the collective’s comfort level regardless of genre or character. “Insist on Something Sometimes” is a laid back piano led dialog. The quietly introspective “A First Memory” shows incredible restraint, while the slightly more insistent “Mini’s Can-Do Club” highlights a special low-key swagger. “PolterGinnis” has the trio at their most esoteric and captivating. 

“O’Flaherty Decides to Play Jazz” has a slightly Celtic clarion clarinet and a winding rhythm section. Led by a pressing bass line, clarinet and piano weave around each other on the bluesy “Beau Nivea.” The appropriately named “Shockinawe” showcases the far ranges of McGinnis’s soprano saxophone and a pointillistic development. The singing tones of Swallow’s bass and floating piano are dramatic in their simplicity on “Slow Dance in a Whisper.” 

The program concludes with two more composed pieces. Lande’s lovely “For Elise” is an elegy to a friend’s stillborn baby, which is composed of three counterpoint parts working off each other until they extinguish. Throwing down the gauntlet, Swallow’s tricky “Bite Your Grandmother” closes with a bang. 

Mike McGinnis knew that he was putting something special together when he convened this trio with Art Lande and Steve Swallow. On their Singular Awakening, the trio shows their incredible capacity for fascinating, conversational group improvisation.

Duduka Da Fonseca Trio Plays Dom Salvador (SUNNYSIDE RECORDS 2018)

The merging of Brazilian music and American jazz changed the trajectory of modern music. The inceptions of bossa nova, samba jazz, and other fusions enable Brazil to make its mark on jazz and beyond, via some incredible musicians and composers, including the legendary Dom Salvador. The remarkable pianist and his classic trios, which blended samba and jazz, made an impression on many during the mid-1960s, including a young Duduka Da Fonseca. 

Fonseca’s initial exposure to Salvador’s music came as a teenager in Rio de Janeiro. The budding drummer could hear Salvador’s original trio rehearsing, featuring bassist Sergio Barrozo and drummer Edison Machado, while walking to school. When the group released their seminal recording, Rio 65 Trio, Fonseca was completely spellbound by the music and practiced along to the record religiously, forever engraining Salvador’s music into his psyche. 

Though he had met Salvador briefly in Rio, Fonseca didn’t have a chance to play regularly with his idol until 1980. Having been in New York City for five years, Fonseca had played with a who’s who of modern jazz legends, so when Salvador’s drummer wasn’t available, the pianist called Fonseca to fill in. Fonseca surprised Salvador by knowing Salvador’s repertoire backwards and forwards, thus cementing a bond that led to years of playing and touring together. 

Salvador and Fonseca played regularly during the 1980s in a quartet that also featured saxophonist Dick Oatts and bassist Dennis Irwin. Their collaborations have continued to this day. In 2015, Fonseca’s relationship with Salvador came full circle when he was asked to play Machado’s parts on the 50th anniversary celebration of the Rio 65 Trio recording at Carnegie Hall. 

Duduka Da Fonseca Trio Plays Dom Salvador was born from the leader’s love of Salvador and his music and Fonseca’s effort to make a proper tribute to his friend and mentor. The featured trio was born of a 2000 meeting with pianist David Feldman, who was studying then at the New School in New York, and with whom Fonseca recorded with later in 2009 in Brazil, where he also met the trio’s bassist, Guto Wirtti.

In the efforts to make the best recording and present Salvador’s music in the best light, Fonseca reached out to Salvador for lead sheets for his compositions. Feldman also took time to consult Salvador and learn the repertoire from its source, removing any doubts about structural and interpretive nuances. Many of Salvador’s songs seem simple but have difficult elements, most notably in the rhythmic combinations. 

Fonseca traveled to Brazil three times: the first to rehearse the music, the second to record over two days, and the third to mix and master. The trio aimed to make the recording as natural as possible, eventually using many first or second takes. 

The recording begins with a tune from that inspiring Rio 65 Trio album, “Farjuto,” a breezy composition whose title comes from dated Rio musician slang. ironically meaning “not so good.” The modal of groove of “Transition” is augmented by a variety of rhythms emanating from the Northeastern provinces of Brazil. The haunting “María” is a minimalistic ballad named for Salvador’s wife of 50 years, which the trio molded in the spirit of Keith Jarrett’s memorable take of “It’s Easy To Remember.” The ensemble performs “Antes Da Chuva” in a looser fashion than the Salvador original, while the straight samba of “Samba Do Malandrinho” is bouncy and smart, apropos to its rascally namesake. The sly “Temátrio” is a grooving composition that emerged from Salvador’s second trio around 1966. 

The title of “Gafieira” refers to an old Rio tradition of a ballroom dance incorporating some acrobatic elements, the difficult composition prancing along in a brilliant display of melodic and rhythmic complexity. Salvador’s beautiful ballad “Para Elis” is a dedication to the pianist’s former employer, the iconic singer Elis Regina, and finds the trio augmented by the great cellist Jaques Morelenbaum. Performed and recorded as a samba, “Valsa De Esquina” was originally composed as a Brazilian waltz by Salvador, so the trio transformed it into a Bill Evans-esque jazz waltz. The upbeat “Clauditi” is a tribute to a great friend and collaborator, trumpeter Claudio Roditi, and features rhythmic elements of samba and the pre-samba maxixe. Perhaps Salvador’s most famous composition, “Meu Fraco é Café Forte” (or “My Weakness Is Strong Coffee”) utilizes an intriguing arrangement by Wirtti that introduces the melody in half time before speeding it up. 

Duduka Da Fonseca and his wonderful trio of David Feldman and Guto Wirtti pay tribute to Brazilian jazz legend Dom Salvador on the enchanting Duduka Da Fonseca Trio Plays Dom Salvador by highlighting the composer’s brilliant music but also giving it new life with new contemporary arrangements.

1. Farjuto 04:18
2. Transition 04:21
3. Mariá 04:29
4. Antes Da Chuva 05:48
5. Samba Do Malandrinho 03:11
6. Temátrio 05:35
7. Gafieira 04:31
8. Para Elis 04:19
9. Valsa De Esquina 04:57
10. Clauditi 04:13
11. Meu Fraco É Café Forte 03:25

Duduka Da Fonseca - drums
David Feldman - piano
Guto Wirtti - bass

Francos de Montréal: Programmation en salle

Catherine Ringer
Première partie: Fanny Bloom
12 juin • 20 h
Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA

L'événement 50e d'André Mathieu
Alain Lefèvre avec l'Orchestre
de la Francophonie et invités
14 juin • 20 h
Maison symphonique de Montréal

Brel Symphonique
16 juin • 20 h 
Maison symphonique de Montréal

Pierre Lapointe
La science du coeur
Première partie: Voyou 
16 juin • 20 h
Théâtre Maisonneuve, PdA

Roméo Elvis x Le Motel / Joe Rocca / FouKi
9 juin • 21 h

Exterio 25 ans / Kamakazi 10 ans / Capitaine Révolte
8 juin • 19 h
Club Soda

Premières parties: Mon Doux Saigneur / Les Royal Pickles
9 juin • 19 h
Club Soda

Soirée Vintage à l'os : Seba et Horg / Dubmatique 
12 juin • 19 h
Club Soda

Rymz / Lary Kidd
14 juin • 19 h
Club Soda

Arthur H
Première partie: Bernhari
16 juin • 19 h
Club Soda

École nationale de la chanson
avec invité spécial Dany Placard
8 juin • 19 h 30

GiedRé / Daniel Grenier
9 juin • 19 h 30

Hubert Lenoir / Angèle
12 juin • 19 h 30

Gaël Faye
Première partie: Sam Faye et D-Track
13 juin • 19 h 30

Juliette Armanet
Première partie: Gael Faure
14 juin • 19 h 30

Mara Tremblay
Première partie: Joli-Bois
15 juin • 19 h 30

Fred Fortin solo
16 juin • 19 h 30

Roch Voisine
Une heure avec Roch Voisine
8 et 9 juin • 19 h & 10 juin • 16 h
Cinquième Salle, PdA

Sur la Lune,
Souvenirs de Claude Léveillée
13 juin • 20 h 30
Cinquième Salle, PdA

Annie Villeneuve
14 juin • 20 h 30
Cinquième Salle, PdA

Florent Vollant
16 juin • 20 h 30
Cinquième Salle, PdA

Hey! This weekend's wicked $5.00 album is... (CUNEIFORM RECORDS)