Thursday, May 17, 2018

June 15 – 16: Giant Step Arts presents Jason Palmer Quartet @ the Jazz Gallery

Giant Step Arts presents the Jason Palmer Quartet 
on Friday and Saturday, June 15-16 at the Jazz Gallery

Concert, which will be recorded live for release later this year, will feature Jason Palmer with saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Kendrick Scott

“Palmer is an exciting player—achieving pinpoint focus in his attack one minute, turning his concrete bebop lines into caramel, sliding through pitches and bending them to his will the next. If Palmer’s music stays close to home, he should go far.” — Jon Ross, DownBeat

Photographer/recording engineer Jimmy Katz’s artist-focused non-profit presents and records concerts by today’s modern jazz innovators

Acclaimed trumpeter and composer Jason Palmer and his quartet will perform as part of the Giant Step Arts series on Friday and Saturday, June 15-16 at The Jazz Gallery, 1160 Broadway, Fifth Floor, New York City. The concert will be recorded, videotaped and photographed by renowned photographer and recording engineer Jimmy Katz for release later this year. Joining Palmer will be saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Matt Brewer, and drummer Kendrick Scott. Sets at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. each night. Tickets $25-35, $10-20 members. For information call 212-242-1063 or visit

Jason Palmer has performed with Roy Haynes, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Smith, Wynton Marsalis, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Ravi Coltrane, Lee Konitz, Phil Woods, Roy Hargrove, and many others. Awards include a 2014 French American Cultural Exchange Jazz Fellowship, and first place in the 2009 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition. In 2007 DownBeat Magazine called Palmer one of the “Top 25 Trumpeters of the Future.” Currently a Steeplechase Records recording artist, Palmer has recorded eight albums under his own name and appeared as sideman on more than 40. He has taught at New England Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, and Harvard University. His latest release is the 2016 Beauty ‘n’ Numbers.

Giant Step Arts is a groundbreaking new non-profit founded by award winning photographer and recording engineer Jimmy Katz who has documented the world of jazz for nearly 30 years. In January 2018 Katz launched his series of live concerts with The Johnathan Blake Trio featuring Chris Potter and Linda Oh.  That recording will be released later this year. As with all Giant Step Arts project, the musicians are well compensated, own their own masters, and Katz provides them with 700 CDs as well as digital downloads to sell directly, bypassing the profit-sharing incurred in the record label model.  He also shoots photos and videos and provides them to the artists.  Instead of using these events for personal reward, he passes the recordings on to the musicians to sell themselves, an unprecedented deal that feels especially rare in today’s self-obsessed cultural climate. 

“Giant Step Arts will not be selling any music,” Katz says. “We have two goals: help the musicians and raise more money so we can help more musicians.”

Giant Step Arts was born from a generous gift by a group of anonymous donors, and Katz hopes that the stellar nature of the series’ initial offerings will entice additional contributions. Having been a keen observer of the jazz industry for so many years, he’s seen drastic changes in the nature of the record business and the political climate of the country and was moved to offer his own innovative solution. 

“I’ve seen the industry from lots of different angles: from the musician’s perspective, from the media perspective, and from the record label perspective,” Katz explains. “In the current political climate, I feel it’s really important to support positive ideas in the arts. As artists, it’s our role to stand for the greatest aspects of American culture. This, after all, is what has always made America great.”

The Leif - The Leif (SIMLAS 2018)

For a long time, they were merely two Oslo neighbours, each with an incurable guitar addiction. They had both played in bands all their lives, for almost 80 years put together. Tellef Øgrim mostly in jazz, rock and improvisational groups, while Magnus Tenge more solidly belonged in rock music. 

When they met they happily stuck to uncommitting small talk about music, guitars, amplifiers and effects. Maybe the occasional “do you prefer 0.10 or 0.09 gauge strings” question. 

In the end, there was no way around the unavoidable and they went down into Tellef’s basement with no greater commitment than to jam for a while. 

After months of intense experimenting and songwriting, it became clear that the two guitar players had more in common musically than they had thought. 

Several café concerts in Norway and Sweden and then half a year of intense work with the duo’s debut album have made the two electric guitarists into a closely interacted, poetic, melodic rock-jazz duo with their own instrumental compositions at the set list. 

Even if it sometimes can get loud, it is not an aim in itself. The Leifs ambition is to leave their listeners with the notion that an evening with the duo’s self-styled “Americana jazz music” or “wind-warped, instrumental rock-jazz” (both authentic stamps left by listeners) was worth leaving the couch for. 

In Mai 2018 Simlas produksjoner released the duo’s album digitally, on vinyl and on CD.

Magnus’s middle name is Leif. Tellef is an old combination of the names Tor and Leif. Hence the band name. Except also that the word Leif sounds almost as the English word for the period between birth and death of an organism. Somewhat. 

1 Notes From A Big Sleep (Øgrim)
2 Bromma (Tenge)
3 Juli (Tenge)
4 The Departure Of Mr D (Øgrim)
5 The Ladder (Øgrim)
6 Daniel (Øgrim)
7 (Hvis du skal av på) Darbu (Øgrim)
8 Lopskow (Tenge)
9 Laridae (Tenge)
10 Itsà

PORTA-JAZZ: Sábados Porta-Jazz - Hernán Merlo Quarteto - 19 Maio - 19:00

Hernán Merlo Quarteto (Argentina/Portugal)

Hernán Merlo é um conceituado e célebre contrabaixista/compositor de jazz argentino, que estará de passagem por Portugal para dois concertos únicos. Aluno em tempos, de Charlie Haden e Mark Helias, acompanhou grandes nomes do jazz, entre eles: Dave Kikoski, Joe Pass, Barry Altschul, Chris Cheek, Conrad Herwig, Ingrid Jensen, entre outros.

Para interpretar os seus temas, fará acompanhar-se de três músicos portugueses, que em conjunto irão propor uma música livre, intimista e de total procura.

Hernán Merlo - Contrabaixo e composição
José Pedro Coelho - Saxofone Tenor
Eurico Costa - Guitarra
Marcos Cavaleiro - Bateria

Próximos Sábados Porta-Jazz

26 Maio, 19:00
Luis Lapa & Pé de Cabra

5€ / 3€ Membros*

* (doação sugerida); Membros
quotas válidas por 1 ano: Membro amigo 40 eur; Membro músico/estudante 25 eur.

ANDREA BIONDI "Matching Àlea" (AUAND AU9074) out tomorrow May 18

Challenging fate through math
in Urban 5’s “Matching Àlea”

Destiny and research for Italian vibraphonist Andrea Biondi 
in his new album out now for Auand Records 
featuring Daniele Tittarelli (alto sax), Enrico Bracco (guitar)
Jacopo Ferrazza (double bass) and Valerio Vantaggio (drums)

After working in chamber, symphonic, contemporary music and jazz, vibraphonist Andrea Biondi wanted to find a new way. In doing so he decided to trust fate. This is what his new album, “Matching Àlea”, out now for Auand Records, actually is: the conscious use of chance as a starting point for his project. His Urban 5 quintet includes Daniele Tittarelli (alto sax), Enrico Bracco (guitar), Jacopo Ferrazza (double bass) and Valerio Vantaggio (drums) – all coming from common experiences in the Italian music scene.

Fate is a kind of deus ex machina here, driving a style that is made up of so many influences, as Biondi explains: «Having played music by the likes of John Cage, Stockhausen, Berio and Ligeti, it’s hard to think that my composition process hasn’t been influenced by them. Steve Reich, Philip Glass o La Monte Young’s American minimalism has been an inspiration for my writing.» His rock soul, devoted to giants like Led Zeppelin and Italian prog heroes Area, is also part of the big picture.

How do you connect such a vast music universe with randomness? Through an accurate procedure: «The main themes and part of both the harmonies and the formal structures come from a deliberate random plan – Biondi says – mixing dodecaphonic techniques with John Cage’s 1950 idea: he used the I Ching book to make compositional choices that would not involve his own will. It’s a way to organize chaos, to control what you can’t control. It helps you pick the notes you will play, their pitch and duration, though numeric combinations».

«In the dodecaphonic trilogy – Biondi adds – I have composed 3 tracks uninterruptedly, with only one dodecaphonic series generated by 12 pieces of paper, each of them containing one note. The main theme has literally been extracted. From that moment on, I have used all of the Schoenberg’s dodecaphonic techniques. And even the harmonic sequences arose from the vertical vision of the sequence. The jazz element, theme and variation, is what holds everything together, balancing composition and improvisation».

01 Sambasilio
02 Pigneto Uncompromissed
03 Piano Sequenza
05 Brackland
06 Psicosi Inversa
07 Transizione al Doppio Salto
08 Doppio Salto Dodecafonico
09 Cicciococcò
10 Lament

Daniele Tittarelli alto sax
Enrico Bracco guitar
Jacopo Ferrazza double bass
Valerio Vantaggio drums
Adriano Lanzi live electronics on #3

Produced by Andrea Biondi
Executive Producer: Marco Valente
Recorded at Groovefarm, Rome – Italy
Engineer: Davide Abbruzzese
Cover Photo: Lorenzo Guidi

Fred Hersch Trio - Live in Europe (PALMETTO RECORDS 2018)

Celebrated jazz pianist/composer Fred Hersch releases 
luminous new trio recording Live in Europe

"One of the major jazz ensembles of our times." — Will Friedwald, The Wall Street Journal 

“Hersch leads one of the most sensitive and nimble trios in jazz.” — Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

“An imposing level of collective empathy." — Nate Chinen, The New York Times

Live in Europe (May 11, 2018, Palmetto Records) crowns what was a momentous year for pianist Fred Hersch. Capturing his trio–with longtime associates, bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson–in peak form, the new album signals a high level mark for an ensemble that has been garnering critical and popular praise for nearly a decade. Consisting of six Hersch originals and two significant compositions apiece from Thelonious Monk (“We See,” “Blue Monk”) and Wayne Shorter (“Miyako,” “Black Nile”), Live in Europe demonstrates how a working trio breathes as one. 

“The trio has a shared language; by now we each contribute an equal part in what goes on musically during a performance,” Hersch says. He has made a dozen trio albums over the last 30 years, and he states that “This is the best trio recording we’ve yet made, and pretty much as well as I can play in terms of energy and technical command.”

Serendipity played its role in the birth of the album. The penultimate engagement of the band’s three-week European tour in November of 2017 was held at Flagey Studio 4, in Brussels’ former National Institute for Radio Broadcasting. “After the show, I realized that this was one of the two or three best performances we had given. The band was in terrific playing form, the acoustics were perfect and the piano was outstanding,” Hersch recalls. “On returning to New York, I thought about the show and was then pleasantly surprised to find out that it had indeed been recorded. On hearing it, I was again struck by the level of creativity, content and energy.” 

Live in Europe finds the trio in near telepathic communion. While each band member is a virtuoso player, individual bravura is always subordinate to group interplay. Lyricism, open-eared interaction and a respect for the power of space are all invaluable components of the trio’s identity. In such performances as the frisky “Skipping,” the affecting ballad, “Bristol Fog” (dedicated to the late British pianist John Taylor), the joyous “Newklypso (dedicated to Hersch’s hero Sonny Rollins) and the bluesy tribute to New Orleans “The Big Easy,” Hersch, Hébert and McPherson give a master class in ensemble communication, uniting as one yet allowing each other to freely react with spontaneous invention. A masterful solo encore of “Blue Monk” spotlights the depth of Hersch’s undiminished improvisational skills and expressive powers.

2017 was as a particularly bountiful period for the always-productive Hersch. Highlights included the publication of Hersch’s acclaimed autobiography Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In and Out of Jazz (named one of the Five Best Memoirs of 2017 by both The Washington Post and The New York Times) and two Grammy Award nominations for his revealing solo album Open Book on Palmetto Records: 
Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo (Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not”). In addition, Hersch was awarded the 2017 Prix in Honorem Jazz for the entirety of his career from l'Académie Charles Cros in France. Hersch also opened the Jazz At Lincoln Center 2017 Season with his "Leaves of Grass," a full-evening setting of Walt Whitman's words for vocalists Kurt Elling, Kate McGarry and an instrumental octet.

Add to that such recent accolades as the 2016 Doris Duke Artist award and the 2016 Jazz Pianist of the Year award from the Jazz Journalists Association–not to mention the release of the feature documentary The Ballad of Fred Hersch, premiered at the prestigious Full Frame Film Festival in March 2016 to rave reviews and now streaming on Vimeo–and you have that most auspicious of times when an artist is being rightfully acknowledged for attaining new pinnacles of ability and inventiveness.

That Hersch is reaching such artistic heights after his well-publicized battle with HIV and a subsequent 2-month coma in 2008 is extraordinary.  “The release of this album is also a personal triumph in that it once again reminds me of how lucky I’ve been,” Hersch states. “It’s been nearly ten years since my coma and to find that I can play with the focus and energy that I have now is remarkable to me.”   

A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is a pervasively influential creative force who has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist. Hersch has earned a total of twelve Grammy nominations since 1993 in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Best Instrumental Composition and Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Nine of his nominations have come since his recovery from a coma in 2008.

Hersch has long defined jazz’s creative edge in a wide variety of settings, from his breathtaking solo recitals and exploratory duos to his extraordinary trios and innovative chamber settings. With some three dozen albums to his credit as a leader or co-leader, he consistently wins an international array of awards and lavish critical praise for his albums. Hersch has earned similar distinction with his writing, garnering a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition. He’s collaborated with an astonishing range of artists throughout the worlds of jazz (Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Bill Frisell); classical (Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Christopher O'Riley); and Broadway (Audra McDonald). Long admired for his sympathetic work with singers, Hersch has joined with such notable jazz vocalists as Nancy King, Janis Siegel, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Norma Winstone and Kurt Elling.

For two decades Hersch has been a passionate spokesman and fund-raiser for AIDS services and education agencies. He has produced and performed on four benefit recordings and in numerous concerts for charities including Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. To date, his efforts have raised more than $300,000. He has also been a keynote speaker and performer at international medical conferences in the U.S. and Europe.

A committed educator, Hersch has taught at New England Conservatory, The Juilliard School, The New School and The Manhattan School of Music. He is currently a Visiting Artist at Rutgers University. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from Grinnell College and Northern Kentucky University. Hersch's influence has been widely felt on a new generation of jazz pianists, from former students Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson to his colleague Jason Moran, who has said, "Fred at the piano is like LeBron James on the basketball court. He’s perfection.”

1. We See
2. Snape Maltings
3. Scuttlers
4. Skipping
5. Bristol Fog (For John Taylor)
6. Newklypso (For Sonny Rollins)
7. The Big Easy (For Tom Piazza)
8. Miyako
9. Black Nile
10. Bluemonk

Fred Hersch, piano
John Hébert, bass
Eric McPherson, drums

Turbamulta - Turbamulta (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018)

Five musicians came together to create a place where new dynamics of performance and musical creation materialize – the Turbamulta (a Portuguese word we could translate as “rowdy mob”). Each instrument, an original, individual voice magnified by new sound production techniques, existing on the border between interpreter and composer, embodies both beyond the confines of formal contemporary classical music ensembles.

Musical gestures recovered by listening to improvisation sessions lead to new sessions and new gestures, remaining constantly open – be it for the purpose of a recording or a live performance. Open to new convergences, divergences, uproars and romanticisms, each musician wandering in their own thoughts until another one calls out, pulling them by the arm to come out to play, or at something else. If one can be made to feel a bit like Borges’ Averróis, watching children playing in the yard while failing to understand what games they’re playing at, it’s because the union of this turbamulta develops forms of communication that are almost indiscernible (unlike the very well-defined “patterns of relationship” of improvised forms: reiteration, imitation and melodic transposition, or alternating between fixed and free moments), and the music they play is intense and bright, profoundly articulated, enigmatic and endlessly surprising.

This communication has to do with the fact that, in short, the group brings together two new interpreters to the preexisting trio of Eduardo Raon, Joana Sá and Luís Martins (Powertrio), whose granular and glistening clouds of sound the percussionist Nuno Aroso thickens and the cellist Luís André Ferreira makes long notes and lines stand out from. The symbiotic rapport between the quintet becomes quite clear, after the introduction, in the central section of (like a mast, an arm, a head) where the first cluster of bass notes on the piano leads to short and energetic sounds, and the second one leads to fine and delicate textures. Listening more and more intently, one can sense other signs of what happens between them.

That first movement leads to the sound of cow bells’, which all of them play, then to Bartók pizzicatos on the guitar and the cello, to low-pitched attacks from the harp and the piano, finally rising to a series of inverted sounds – a similar mechanism appears during the metamorphosis at the center of in holes, when all the instruments become, for an elongated time, percussive. The romanticism of exagero minúsculo reoccurs on the first section of and they would stumble upon some figure, accompanied by echoes of the harp that progress until the end, in the background, as pulsating chords sounding off the guitar, at first, then the harp, and later the piano and the vibraphone.

As if from the bottom of ocean, the other musicians join these distant pulses briefly, leading us to back away from the metaphor of the restless children and reminding us that music can be founded upon the spontaneous relations between mysterious beings of the abyss, whom we can admire without worrying ourselves with trying to fully understand.

1 (Like a Mast an Arm a Head), Pt.1 4:51
2 (Like a Mast an Arm a Head), Pt.2 6:36
3 (Like a Mast an Arm a Head), Pt.3 3:49
4 O Exagero Minusculo 1:28
5 And They Would All Stumble Upon Some Figure, Pt.1 6:33
6 And They Would All Stumble Upon Some Figure, Pt.2 9:50
7 In Hole 13:09

Eduardo Raon  harp, electronics & daxophone
Joana Sá  piano & idiophones
Luís André Ferreira  cello & electronics
Luís José Martins  classical guitar, electronics
Nuno Aroso  percussion & sampling

All music by Turbamulta

Recorded by Joaquim Monte at Estúdios Namouche, Lisboa | Mixed by Eduardo Raon in Ljubljana | Mastered at Estúdios Atlântico Blue, Lisboa
Produced by Eduardo Raon, Joana Sá e Luís José Martins | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos | Front cover image: “Halloween” by Bo Bartlett, 2016

Sean Conly - Hard Knocks (CLEAN FEED RECORDS 2018)

No one gets a free ride in life. Sooner or later, everyone ever born has to deal with their own share of obstacles, rocky roads and missteps. it is in those times that our true selves emerge, our mettle tested and formulated. In those moments, the best we can do is stay true to our selves and our beliefs, and surround ourselves with a community of strong likeminded individuals and comrades. 

On “Hard Knocks”, bassist and composer Sean Conly does just that. In a trio setting with Satoshi Takeishi (drums) and Michaël Attias (alto saxophone), Sean sets out on a musical adventure with his longtime friends and collaborators of roughly 20 years. These stalwart improvisors fill every moment with surprise, energy and emotion as they navigate a new series of compositions Mr. Conly wrote for them. . Past, present and future are engaged and mixed together in this organic and elastic trio.

Whether they navigate thru a modern take on the blues (Loose Screws), or swing thru freedom and form (Hard Knocks), or embrace a cinematic take on the slow ballad (Undertow), the trio has a compulsion to simultaneously explore the roots and yet play something very much alive and organic. This puts Conly and his companions very far from the classic mainstream / avant-garde equation. This means you find them, and the music in “Hard Knocks”, all encompassing, nothing being refused on principle. The use of open forms isn’t necessarily in conflict with the rigour of the structures, the same way the attention to spaces doesn’t endanger the drive or the intensity of a particular improvisation. The name of the game, here, is inclusion, and it sounds beautiful.

1. Hard Knocks 06:26
2. Totem 05:50
3. Undertow 07:24
4. Skippin' Town (1000 Mile Rule) 06:45
5. Loose Screws 04:09
6. Afterfact 09:47

Michaël Attias Alto Saxophone
Satoshi Takeishi Drums

All Songs by Sean Conly BMI
Recorded at Tedesco Studios
Mixed and Mastered by Joseph Branciforte
Edited by Anton Serrats
Produced by Sean Conly
Executive production Pedro Costa for Trem Azul
Design and Artwork by Travassos

Jake Mason Trio - The Stranger in the Mirror (SOUL MESSIN' RECORDS 2018)

The Stranger in the Mirror is the debut album from the Jake Mason Trio. Stepping out from the drivers seat of Cookin’ On 3 Burners, Mason dives firmly into the 60’s organ trio sound making a record that is both delicate and fiery. 

Featuring James Sherlock (Guitar) and Danny Fischer (Drums) the trio weave their way through bluesy soul-jazz, blazing vigour and soundtrack-esque territory. “I love the place where Jazz and Soul meets” says Mason. “It has a simplicity that is so warm and welcoming combined with a complexity that is exciting and makes you move” 

Recorded on the east side of Melbourne, the trio captured the moment in the tradition of the classic Jazz recordings on labels such as Prestige and Blue Note playing live in the room, using vintage recording techniques and adding a pinch of modern inspiration. The result is a dynamic sound that has space and transparency but with just the right amount of grit and crunch. While this is the first official recording of the trio, Mason, Sherlock and Fischer are no strangers, having played together for over 20 years in many guises; Melbourne - a melting pot for great music and culture.

1. The Grain Store 05:33
2. The Stranger In The Mirror 04:22
3. Rib Eye 04:45
4. Please Please Please 05:08
5. People Two & One 07:07
6. Smile Awhile 05:27
7. Butter Melt 04:35
8. Sunfall 05:07
9. Lemon Twist 04:10
10. Candy Smack 04:54

Danny Fischer - Drums
James Sherlock - Guitar

Paul Williamson - Saxophone (Tr 3, 4 & 10)

Produced, recorded and mixed in Melbourne Australia by Jake Mason
Mastered by Lachlan Carrick

Jake Mason published by ORiGiN Music
Photography by Michelle Grace Hunder
Image editing by Ash Pritchard
Cover design by
© & ℗ Soul Messin’ Records 2018