Thursday, May 3, 2018

Roosevelt Collier - Exit 16 (GroundUP Music 2018)

GroundUp was founded by Snarky Puppy’s Michael League, who produced the seven-track Exit 16 and is a member of Bokanté alongside Collier. League contributed bass, while JT Thomas provided the drum parts and Bobby Sparks played organ during the three days spent holding sessions for the album.

“This record is a record about me,” said Collier in a statement. “It’s telling a story of who I am, where I’m from, and where I’m going … My mission is touch and heal people through music. That’s always been my mission, whether it’s in the church or in a club. I think people feel better about themselves after I play. That’s powerful, my man! I’ve been blessed to have that going for me. That’s my gift.”

Last year, Collier teamed with The Infamsous Stringdusters’ dobro player Andy Hall for the collaborative studio album of covers and originals, Let The Steel Play. Premiered by Live For Live Music, watch a video for the Exit 16 title track below:

Roosevelt Collier: Pedal Steel Guitar
Michael League: Bass Guitar
Jason “JT” Thomas: Drums
Bobby Sparks: Keys

1 Sun up Sun Down 5:27
2 Happy Feet 6:03
3 Make It Alright 6:53
4 Exit 16 6:06
5 That Could've Been Bad 8:06
6 Supernatural Encounters 4:28
7 Spike 8:37
8 Shuffle (Bonus Track) 7:23
9 Tailor Made (Bonus Track) 4:36
10 Spike (Full Length) [Bonus Track] 12:01

Alina Engibaryan - We Are (GroundUP Music 2018)

“A lot of songs on my album are about love, empowerment and how people treat each other,” says Alina Engibaryan. “It’s all about some kind of relationship.”

On We Are, the follow-up to the jazz/singer-songwriter’s 2016 critically-acclaimed debut Driving Down the Road, the Russian-born Engibaryan chose to concentrate on making original music — and creating something far more personal.

It marks a huge step forward for the artist, the granddaughter of jazz drumming great Nikolay Goncharov and a budding singer since the age of two. “I kind of changed everything for this record,” she says. “The band is different and the music is stylistically different from the first album. I only had one original song on that record. This time, all except one song is mine.”

Helping Engibaryan find her way: Michael League, the label head of GroundUP Music and co-founder of the Grammy-winning collective Snarky Puppy, who arranged and produced We Are. League discovered the singer while touring the Netherlands, when Engibaryan was studying jazz vocals at the Prince Claus Conservatory.

“A bunch of students and I were talking to Michael after the show, sharing our musical visions and views on life, and he told me to send him what I was working on,” says Engibaryan. “I never thought we’d end up working together; I’ve always been a huge fan of his work.” The two eventually performed at a music festival together and, soon after the singer moved to New York, started working on a new record for GroundUP.

The new label served her well: Along with League, Engibaryan worked closely with Snarky Puppy’s Mike “Maz” Maher, who helped write the lyrics on We Are. “Maz and I would talk about the vibe of song and the state of mind I was in when I was writing it, and then exchange ideas,” says the singer. “Talking with him honestly about my life, he would get the message of what I was saying and be really sensitive about it.”

Inspired by the likes of music legends Kurt Elling, Stevie Wonder and Gregory Porter, as well as mentors such as J.D. Walter (a co-writer on the album track “Love Song”) and Al Jarreau (who oversaw the 2015 Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition that Engibaryan won), We Are is a beautifully diverse mix of traditional and contemporary jazz, and one that deftly touches on empowerment (“Little Girl”) and worldly trepidation (“Doesn’t Seem So Real”).

“Alina is really quite special,” says Jarreau. “She is kind of like one in a million. There aren't many people who want to sing jazz, who have this special feeling for the tradition, where jazz singers have been and what they borrowed from horn players. Not every jazz singer has that. What did Louis Armstrong borrow from his horn when he began to sing? Not every singer understands that, she gets that! When she sings, you can hear her heart. That is very special.”

Even the album’s one cover, the jazz standard “I’ll Be Around,” had a personal meaning for the singer. Says Engibaryan: “It just spoke to me. It’s an old tune that’s very melodic, but with a sad message. I thought it was beautiful and worked well with the other music.”

The all-star band on We Are working with Engibaryan (who sang and played keyboards) includes League, Taylor Eigsti, Maria Im, Zach Brock, Nathan Schram, Sam Quiggins, Larnell Lewis, Chris McQueen and Chris Potter.

Going forward, Engibaryan will be a part of this winter’s GroundUP Music Festival in Florida, and continue to perform on her own in New York and throughout Europe. Later this year, she’ll head out on tour with Russian trumpeter Alex Sipiagin.

As far as her own music, Engibaryan simply hopes to spark a connection with the listener.

“I feel like when people hear this, they’ll understand the vibe I was going for,” she says. “It’s not a ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ album. I think people will relate to the music in their own way. It’s just a very honest record.”

1 We Are
2 I’ll Be Around
3 Pulse of the Day
4 Doesn’t Seem So Real
5 Love Song
6 Little Girl
7 There Is A Place
8 The New You
9 Lullaby
10 My Imagination (Bonus Track)

Sirintip - Tribus (GroundUP Music 2018)

Stretching across three continents and cultures (Thailand, Sweden and America), Sirintip’s remarkable debut album Tribus — produced by three-time Grammy winner Michael League of Snarky Puppy — is a gathering of different moments from the last four years of the singer/composer life. It’s an exciting, eclectic work that touches on pop, R&B, electronic and jazz, while creating a sound uniquely its own.

Tribus means “three” in Latin, a number that serves as the overriding theme on the album — three continents, three languages and the three relationships we all share (to the world, to other people and to ourselves).

Born in Thailand, Sirintip moved with her mother to Sweden at the age of 11. A student of classical piano, violin and double bass, her study of jazz would eventually take her from the Royal College of Music to (years later) the prestigious Manhattan School of Music.

This musical appreciation and study would pay off years later, when Michael League discovered the singer working at a jazz club in Stockholm. Recognizing an adventurous and like-minded musical spirit, the Snarky Puppy bandleader told Sirintip to send some music and “give him a call” if she ever moved to New York.

Sirintip did end up helping Snarky Puppy’s Bill Laurance on his album Swift. She also moved to New York to pursue her Master’s Degree. While going to school, performing and competing in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, she also began work on Tribus, with League in the producer’s chair.

“Sirintip uses everything she has to her advantage — clout in both the pop and jazz worlds, tri- lingual vocal ability, and the soaring ethereal elegance of her Scandinavian upbringing and the percussive sharpness of her Thai roots,” says League. “Her desire to explore, though, shines through it all.”

Tribus is an album of empowerment and hope. It also embraces the singer’s jazz heritage while sounding decidedly modern — you could easily put these songs on a playlist between Thundercat, Kimbra and Little Dragon. “The idea behind the album is to bridge the gap between pop and jazz by combining singable melodies with grooves, jazz harmonies and electronics,” says Sirintip. “The music might sound simple when you listen to it at first, but if you dig deeper, you´ll find the hidden depth and complexity.”

Outside of her album, Sirintip’s talent and musical background have led to some fascinating collaborations: She opened up for Wayne Shorter at the Polar Music Prize, in conjunction with his talk at Polar Talks in Stockholm. She also worked with Benny Andersson from ABBA during a fundraiser held at the Guggenheim. As well, she’s also been selected twice to perform and compose a musical interpretations of Nobel Prize nominations at the Nobel Museum in Sweden. If you do catch her live, Sirintip will be working with a quintet, while also using a guitar pedal board to create different vocal effects. It presents another unique arrangement to her music. “I incorporate electronics so I can be one of the instruments,” she says. “People are programmed to listen to the human voice first, so it can sometimes be hard to lead the ear to other instruments. By manipulating my sound with my electronics, I can create a sound landscape behind a solo … without creating unnecessary attention.” As well, you’ll witness more of her jazz influence — Tribus purposely had no solos, but the live arrangements have room to breathe.

1 In My Garden
2 Shut It Up
3 Wolves
4 Emperor Of The Sun
5 Ashes Of Gold
6 Oceans
7 Nothing In The Room
8 Pretend
9 You Know It
10 In The Line (Bonus Track)

Pierre Marcus - Pyrodance (JAZZ FAMILY 2018)

The first album with his own quartet, 'Long Wait,' was released in 2015. He participated in several competitions where he won multiple awards. His thirst for meetings makes him leave Nice for Paris where he plays with many musicians (Eric Legnini, Vincent Bourgeyx, Pierre Bertrand ...). 

Pierre Marcus returns with his quartet (Baptiste Herbin / alto sax and soprano, Fred Perreard / piano, Thomas Delor / drums and Irving Acao as guest on sax tenor). There is a lot of love and friendship in 'Pyrodance'. The title is a wink to a pianist who has marked a lot: Thelonious Monk. Other compositions were written for his nieces, his companion, a friend disappeared ... One title was not composed by Pierre Marcus, it is '317 East 32 NB Street' signed Lennie Tristano. 

An inspired and generous album, like this discreet double bass player. B.JPierre Marcus approached the music with the electric bass playing reggae, funk and rock before really getting interested in jazz. He then enters the Conservatoire of Nice to study this music and then buys his first double bass. He starts playing with different musicians and participates in several recordings (6 albums between 2012 and 2016). 

The first album with his own quartet, 'Long Wait,' was released in 2015. He participated in several competitions where he won multiple awards. His thirst for meetings makes him leave Nice for Paris where he plays with many musicians (Eric Legnini, Vincent Bourgeyx, Pierre Bertrand ...). 

Pierre Marcus returns with his quartet (Baptiste Herbin / alto sax and soprano, Fred Perreard / piano, Thomas Delor / drums and Irving Acao as guest on sax tenor). There is a lot of love and friendship in 'Pyrodance'. The title is a wink to a pianist who has marked a lot: Thelonious Monk. Other compositions were written for his nieces, his companion, a friend disappeared ... One title was not composed by Pierre Marcus, it is '317 East 32 NB Street' signed Lennie Tristano. 

An inspired and generous album, like this discreet double bass player.

01. Le Berthé futé
02. Giulia & Kattleya
03. Longue attente
04. Luboff
05. 317 East 32nd Street
06. Mestre Dana
07. Papillon bungallow
08. Paradise Sister
09. Blues Minjeur
10. Pyrodance

Baptiste Herbin : alto & soprano sax
Irving Acao : tenor sax
Fred Perreard : piano
Thomas Delor : drums

The Ben Geyer Trio - The Acadian Orogeny (May 17, 2018)

I finished composing this album’s title piece the day before I migrated from my New Hampshire hometown to a new life in Kentucky, but it found its name more recently, thanks to a geologist friend. The Acadian orogeny, he pointed out, is a mountain moving event stretching along the path of that move. His suggestion brought me back to my little blue two-door hatchback, bulging with all my possessions, as it rolled through the 375-million-year-old echo of shifting rock. 

Funny—the title clarified something for me that I hadn’t heard in the piece… or maybe the piece morphed in my mind to embody its title. But the topography of the piece—the peaks and valleys, slopes and cliffs—became suddenly salient. These were, I realized, metaphors for my nomadic journey, never living in the same place for more than a few years, always chasing the next thing. I’ve since found a more permanent home (in Georgia), but this album is an artifact of my winding past. 

The album’s five original pieces, originating between 2006 and 2014, create topographies of all sorts. Each constrains the musicians differently, sending us on different kinds of terrains. “Reminiscing” and “The Acadian Orogeny” are hikes: we create the vivid details of the landscape as we follow a predetermined path. “Movable Cogs” is a crawl through the daily grind until we break away, eventually returning home to find ourselves transformed.

The other pieces are quick laps around a track. “High Tide” and “Five-Tone Blues” are old favorites composed during college, revisited over the years, and finally recorded here. John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” the only track I didn’t compose, is a perennial challenge: a practice piece for years, but never just for practice. 

The band —bassist Peter Dominguez and drummer Zaire Darden— handled these challenges with incredible grace: always present in the moment, yet always ready for the next turn in the road. They helped me turn roadmaps into journeys, sometimes navigating and sometimes driving. Unlike my solo drive along the Acadian orogeny years ago, this journey was made all the better by the people I took along for the ride.

1. Reminiscing 05:58
2. High Tide 07:43
3. Giant Steps (John Coltrane) 05:40
4. Movable Cogs 08:41
5. The Acadian Orogeny 07:14
6. Five-Tone Blues 06:17

Peter Dominguez, bass
Zaire Darden, drums

The Ben Geyer Sextet - The Narrative (2018)

Program music, or music which evokes concrete images, has existed for centuries. Think of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf with its duck theme or Princess Leia’s Theme in John Williams’s Star Wars sound track. The Narrative, the debut album of The Ben Geyer Sextet, comprises two pieces of program music. The first shows the behavior of the ice molecule and its atoms; the second depicts the events surrounding the Biblical murder of Abel. Both projects began with a basic story. Themes were developed which musically projected the nature of the central characters in each story. Finally, the themes were plugged into the outlines and orchestrated to serve the stories’ moods.

The opening piece on The Narrative, entitled The Slip, serves as the music for an original work for three modern dancers choreographed by Annie Now. Each dancer represents an atom in the water molecule. The two hydrogen atoms are introduced in the first movement, and their stability contrasts the imbalance of oxygen in movement two. In “The Happening,” the atoms merge into a water molecule and collectively waltz. The molecule SLIPS as if it’s standing on ice, blows apart through electrolysis, and the atoms return to their independent existence. 

Inspired by the John Steinbeck novel of the same name, East of Eden Suite tells the Biblical story of “Cain and Abel” in the second half of The Narrative. Listen for the contrast between Cain’s sinister theme and Abel’s heroic one in the introductory movement. “Sacrifice” reflects the mystery surrounding the section of the Biblical story which supposedly motivates the murder. In “The Argument,” a bass part based on Abel’s theme represents his sheep creeping onto Cain’s land. Cain’s theme responds with increasing intensity in the horns leading to a raucous moment of anger. In the saxophone duet which follows in “The Fight,” the characters duel until Abel wins, Cain begs for mercy, and then Cain bludgeons Abel’s head with stones. “Conversation” depicts an increasingly distraught Cain emotionally reacting to the murder. A climactic drum solo midway through is played over an iteration of Abel’s theme representing the Biblical line, “Thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground,” and Cain calms to stillness to end the album. 

The Narrative is a product of good timing. After finishing East of Eden Suite in 2007, I began to compose for sextet instrumentation whenever possible. By 2008, I was living in Manhattan with a book full of arrangements, access to like-minded musicians, and a performance opportunity, so I decided to form a band. By the summer of 2009, I realized that I was in a prime situation to record an album. My new work, The Slip, matched my earlier piece in scale and tone; I had access to a top-notch studio through a friend, recording engineer Corey Levesque; and I hired consistent personnel on a cluster of performances, thereby developing a band sound. The tour which preceded the recording was a joyful experience for the entire band. If I have one hope for the the affect of this album, it is for that joy to come through your speakers. 

Ben Geyer

1. Hydrogen 07:00
2. Oxygen 02:35
3. The Happening 05:08
4. Cain and Abel 08:30
5. Sacrifice 05:48
6. The Fight 04:01
7. Conversation 05:50

All compositions by Ben Geyer (ASCAP)
Produced by Ben Geyer
Graphic design by Ben Geyer
Cover art by Gustav Dore
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Corey Levesque of Mastersuite
Copyright 2009 Ben Geyer
All Rights Reserved

Montagne! Trio - Entre les Murs (2018)

1. Une Heure 05:57
2. Même dans la Nuit 07:00
3. Comptine pour Romain 06:51
4. Hiver 05:45
5. Basel 06:56
6. Deux pour Trois 06:20
7. Cannes 06:04

Leo Fumagalli - Tenor Saxophone (track 3) 

Compositions :
C. Grin (tracks 2–3–4)
D. Roelli (tracks 6–7)
J. Martinet (tracks 1–5)

All tracks arranged by Montagne! Trio
© Montagne! Trio

Recorded live at Temple St-Marc (Lausanne, CH)
18-20 August 2018

Dillon Mansour Trio - All I Can Hear Is Myself (Live in Chicago) 2018

This album is a musical narrative of my experiences with mental health and depression, and is intended to be heard as a full piece, top -to- bottom.

1. I'm Home 07:02
2. Losing Myself 04:53
3. Cigarettes 07:27
4. The Arrogant Academic 03:44
5. Alone With Her 08:04
6. A Dollar A Beer 07:05
7. Todays Are For Tomorrow 09:50

Dillon Mansour - compositions, drums
Joshua Catania - Piano
Sanchez Fernandes - Bass