Sunday, April 15, 2018

Walter Wolfman Washington - My Future Is My Past (Anti- Records April 20, 2018)

New Orleans Luminary Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington Announces New Album




“I’m used to playing with another person. To do something like that by myself, I was kind of nervous,” said Walter “Wolfman” Washington, sitting in a chair in his living room and talking about his new record My Future Is My Past, produced by Ben Ellman of Galactic. He smiles and continues, “Oh man, it was really a thing. I had never done something like that. I had to really discipline myself where I couldn’t really underplay and really overplay, so I had to stay really in the middle which was a trick for me. I was amazed at my own self at how it turned out.”

Now 74 years old, Walter “Wolfman” Washington has been a mainstay in the New Orleans music scene since the early 1960s. He cut his teeth backing up some of the best singers and performers in New Orleans history including Lee Dorsey, Johnny Adams, and Irma Thomas before putting together his long time band The Roadmasters, who have been burning down and burning up local and national stages since their first gigs in the 1980s. This new record confirms what fans have known for years: Walter “Wolfman Washington has soul to go along with that fire.

My Future is My Past is a different kind of record than his playing with Lee Dorsey or The Roadmasters. Washington had to take more care with these songs. He explained, “When you’re with a band, you have to really punch it out. When you’re alone, you have to pay attention to your notes and pronunciation and stuff. And then you have to put your soul into it and your feelings. Each one of the songs is a story. You can actually picture things like that happening. I had to fix my mind into each of the situations in the song.”

Songs like “Lost Mind”, ‘Save Your Love For Me’, and ‘What A Difference A Day Makes’ are subtle and heartfelt. “I always liked jazz,” he says, ‘What a Difference A Day Makes’? It’s a happy song. It’s a song about how you found someone who makes you feel different, and each day represents the way you feel, and that day you feel different. That particular song was a song I used to do when I was playing with the AFB (All Fools Band) back in the 1960s. There were a lot of jazz songs at that time in the world of real musicians. I came in on the tail end of when a lot of those musicians were going out, and I had a chance to meet most of them. It was fun to play with them. Big Joe Turner and all those cats. It was a thrill to me when I could play with them. And those were the songs they played.”

Washington has always embodied both the wildness and sophistication of New Orleans, but finally we have a set of songs that reflects the yin to Walter’s bring-the-party yang. This is the record that we all have known he has in him. This is the night after that party, or maybe just the after party. He’s been given free rein to express himself, and that’s special. Producer Ben Ellman has assembled a sympathetic group of musicians from keyboardists Jon Cleary and Ivan Neville to a versatile and sensitive rhythm section of bassist James Singleton and drummer Stanton Moore. When asked about being in the studio with these musicians, Washington’s enthusiasm comes through immediately.

“To have all those cats in there at one time, and they are playing behind me! That was one of the most thrilling things for me. While we were doing the album and what has become of it, that’s even better. That’s what happens when you have certain musicians that are qualified to do that. There aren’t but two cats that really amaze me when I saw James and Stanton. I said, ‘Man, there they are!’ I had Jon Cleary playing too, and then when I saw that David Torkanowsky is going to be there! Man!!!!”

1 Lost Mind
2 Even Now
3 What A Diff'rence A Day Makes
4 Save Your Love For Me
5 I Don't Want To Be A Lone Ranger
6 Steal Away
7 She's Everything To Me
8 I Cried My Last Tear
9 I Just Dropped By To Say Hello
10 Are You The Lady

Rafiq Bhatia - Breaking English (Anti- Records 2018)

Breaking English, Bhatia’s audacious instrumental first album for ANTI- Records sets out to challenge existing musical vocabulary with a language of its own. 

“‘Hoods Up’ was the first track I started on Breaking English, and one of the last ones I finished,” explained Bhatia. “Years in the making, with multiple discarded versions littering the path to completion, the piece is the result of me trying to push myself beyond my limits. That required wading into uncharted territory, but it also meant accepting myself for who I am. I think the music carries some of the struggle of its creation with it.” 

“I started sculpting ‘Hoods Up’ in the wake of Trayvon Martin's senseless killing and the subsequent smear campaign against him: the systematic dehumanization of a young black teenager walking home in a hoodie. As I worked away at the song, escalating current events began to add layers of meaning to it. The white hoods from our country's past kept coming out of the woodwork, reminding us of the horrifying influence they continue to exert in the present.” 

Bhatia is the first-generation American son of Muslim immigrant parents who trace their ancestry to India by way of East Africa. Early influences such as Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, and Madlib—as well as mentors and collaborators including Vijay Iyer and Billy Hart—prompted him to see music as a way to actively shape and represent his own identity, not limited by anyone else’s prescribed perspective. 

Bhatia is also eager to bring the hybridity of his ideas to the live stage; He will be performing tracks from Breaking English with Ian Chang of Son Lux on drums and Jackson Hill on bass.

1. Olduvai I - Minarets 01:27
2. Hoods Up 04:33
3. Olduvai II - We Are Humans, With Blood In Our Veins 01:16
4. Before Our Eyes 03:50
5. The Overview Effect 03:47
6. Breaking English 05:54
7. Perihelion I - I Tried To Scream 03:25
8. Perihelion II - Into The Sun 03:41
9. A Love That's True 03:44

SFJAZZ Collective - Live: SFJAZZ Center 2017 (SFJAZZ RECORDS 2018)

Announcing the SFJAZZ Collective's new album, featuring original compositions by each member, and the music of Ornette Coleman, Stevie Wonder, and Thelonious Monk performed by the new lineup, plus a DVD featuring fresh versions of four Miles Davis compositions.

Original Compositions & The Music of Ornette Coleman, Stevie Wonder, & Thelonious Monk

Recorded over four nights at the SFJAZZ Center from October 26-29, 2017, this collection consists of one CD of new pieces composed by each member of the current SFJAZZ Collective with a second CD of fresh versions of selections from the Collective’s vast trove of tunes including Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk and Stevie Wonder arranged over the years by former SFJAZZ Collective members, saxophonist Joshua Redman, trumpeter Dave Douglas, arranger Gil Goldstein, and trumpeter Avishai Cohen, for the current SFJAZZ Collective members.

Give the Drummer Some by Warren Wolf
Venezuela Unida by Edward Simon
Tidal Flow by Miguel Zenón
Tune for June by Matt Penman
Off Kilter by Sean Jones
Perseverance by Robin Eubanks
Soundless Odyssey by Obed Calvaire
Living the Question by David Sánchez

Criss Cross by Thelonious Monk, arr. Dave Douglas
Reflections by Thelonious Monk, arr. Dave Douglas
Una Muy Bonita by Ornette Coleman, arr. Gil Goldstein
School Work by Ornette Coleman, arr. Gil Goldstein
When Will the Blues Leave by Ornette Coleman, arr. Gil Goldstein
Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder, arr. Avishai Cohen
Creepin by Stevie Wonder, arr. Avishai Cohen
Superstition by Stevie Wonder, arr. Miguel Zenón

The physical release includes a bonus DVD that includes live footage of the SFJAZZ Collective’s October 2016 performances of the Music of Miles Davis at the SFJAZZ Center including Edward Simon’s arrangement of “All Blues,” Warren Wolf’s arrangement of “Joshua,” Matt Penman’s arrangement of “Milestones,” and David Sánchez’s arrangement of “Teo.”

Miguel Zenón | David Sánchez | Sean Jones | Robin Eubanks | Warren Wolf | Edward Simon | Matt Penman | Obed Calvaire