Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Modulators - Drivetime (CHANT RECORDS 2018)

Drivetime is the latest album from ultra-prolific madman keyboardist Brian Marsella and presents the debut of The Modulators, with Reid Taylor on bass and Kenny Grohowski on drums. Drivetime is the perfect car playlist, tunes to accompany you whether driving on the open road or stuck in an unrelenting LA traffic jam. From surf rock to punk to glitch synth, psychedelia, circus music, film noir and more, Drivetime never stays in neutral. Throughout the 44 minute journey are sprinkles of references to Twin Peaks and the surreal world of David Lynch. Featuring special guests Cyro Baptista on percussion and Jon Irabagon on clarinet, Drivetime will get you where you want to go in style. (And by the way, despite what your ears may tell you, no guitars were used in the making of this album.

The Modulators are 
Brian Marsella- keys 
Reid Taylor- bass 
Kenny Grohowski- drums

Special guests: 
Cyro Baptista- percussion (2,7,8,10,13,18) 
Jon Irabagon- alto clarinet (8) 

All compositions and arrangements by Brian Marsella 
Produced by Brian Marsella 
Recorded February 19-20, 2018 at Red Palace Studios in West Orange, NJ 
Engineered by Iuri Oriente 
Mixed by Iuri Oriente and Brian Marsella 
Mastered by Scott Hull 
Album artwork and design by Anna Z Christensen-Taylor 

Brian Marsella plays: Clavinet E7 (through an Ampeg Gemini II), Wurlitzer 200, Yamaha CS60, Fender Rhodes, Farfisa VIP 233, Yamaha Reface YC, Kawaii toy piano, Arturia Analog Lab 2, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, bell piano, tambourine, wooden spoons, slide whistle 

*No guitars were used in the making of this album 

Thanks for nothing and everything 
In cherry pie, coffee, and douglas firs we find truth. 
May light and dark continue to dance as music fills the air

1. Start Your Engines 00:32
2. TP Is Coming Back In Style (featuring Cyro Baptista) 03:18
3. C# 03:01
4. Chinese Food In New Jersey 02:44
5. Just In Case 02:26
6. The Fibers Are Telling Me Something About What LIES Beneath 03:08
7. Easy Rider (featuring Cyro Baptista) 02:50
8. No Sleep Tonight (featuring Cyro Baptista and Jon Irabagon) 05:09
9. Basement 04:49
10. Time Travelers Overture (featuring Cyro Baptista) 01:22
11. Space Between Dimensions 01:38
12. Fecal Core 01:21
13. Dr. Jacoby Ain’t Nothin’ but a Gigolo (The Doctor Is In) (featuring Cyro Baptista) 02:09
14. Stupid 03:18
15. Cul-de-sac 02:04
16. Smoke 02:26
17. The Timely Death of 2017 03:16
18. Better Days (featuring Cyro Baptista) 01:45

Beats & Pieces Big Band - ten (EFPI RECORDS 2018)

On 27 January 2008 I asked thirteen friends and fellow students to a rehearsal room at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music to play through some tunes I'd written for big band. From that session, Beats & Pieces Big Band emerged. Exactly ten years on from that first meeting, we invited an audience of friends, family and key supporters to the same RNCM rehearsal space for a special anniversary gig, documented here. On behalf of all the Beats & Pieces musicians past and present, thanks for a fun first ten years; we hope there'll be many more to come. 

Ben Cottrell

Ben Cottrell : director
Anthony Brown, Oliver Dover, Tom Ward : saxophones
Richard Foote, Simon Lodge, Rich Mcveigh : trombone
Owen Bryce, Graham South, Nick Walters : trumpet/flugelhorn
Anton Hunter : guitar
Richard Jones : piano/Rhodes
Stewart Wilson : bass
Finlay Panter : drums

produced by Ben Cottrell

recorded by Garry Boyle and Phil Gregory
mixed by Garry Boyle at Slate Room Studio, Pencaitland
mastered by Stuart Hamilton at Castlesound, Pencaitland

film produced by BLOC+BLUR Creative Studio
directed by Louise Cowley
cinematography by Esther Vardy
edited by Karl Dixon
filmed by Esther Vardy, Louise Cowley and Karl Dixon
assisted by Ashleigh Duke

lighting design by Ash Ennever

artwork and design by Alexander Rennie

all tracks composed and arranged by Ben Cottrell
except ‘time’ - composed by Finlay Panter, arranged by Ben Cottrell

recorded and filmed live in Studio One, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester on 27 January 2018

1. nois 07:11
2. jazzwalk 05:35
3. three 06:14
4. rain 06:54
5. time 08:04
6. broken 09:46
7. pop 05:16
8. toan 08:50
9. banger 06:12
10. hendo 06:27

Andrea Keller - Five Below Live (2018)

Keller’s newest musical creation, Five Below, is a band of Australia’s finest rhythm section players. Featuring two bass players, guitar, piano & drums, Five Below reimagine a score of Keller compositions dating from 2002 to current – throwing the music into a new light through an intense process of deconstruction, exploration, and musical innovation. 

Melding acoustic sounds with electronics, pedals & effects, the music of Five Below draws from an eclectic array of styles including doom, contemporary classical, minimalism and contemporary jazz, producing a unique and arresting voice in Australian jazz. 

Recorded live at the Jazzlab in Melbourne, Five Below Live is the fourteenth release by Andrea Keller as leader, and is a taster of the impending studio album (due to be recorded in 2019 and featuring new works, plus special guests, saxophonists Julien Wilson & Scott McChonnachie)

Performed by Five Below


Stephen Magnusson guitar
Andrea Keller piano
Sam Anning double bass
Mick Meagher electric bass
James McLean drums

1. Hills Of Nectar 07:21
2. Fern Tree 09:45
3. Of Winter, Ice & Snow 06:01
4. Grand Forfeit 09:16
5. Warm Voices 05:25
6. Breathing In 09:09

6 tracks composed & arranged by Andrea Keller
Recorded live at The Jazzlab (Brunswick)
December 11 & 18, 2017

Live recording by Jem Savage
Mixed & Mastered by Philip Rex at Paper Mache Studio
Designed by Luke Fraser / Ahr+

Sofia Jernberg / Mats Gustafsson / Kjetil Møster / Anders Hana / Greg Saunier - Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen (RareNoise Records 2018)

When Norwegian baritone saxophonist Kjetil Møster joined forces in the studio with Swedish baritone sax burner Mats Gustafson, Norwegian noise-jazz guitarist Anders Hana (MoHa!, Ultralyd, Noxagt), versatile, powerhouse drummer Greg Saunier (of the San Francisco-based avant-rock band Deerhoof, who participated in the album, but has now been replaced by Børge Fjordheim of Cloroform) and the extraordinary Ethiopian-born experimental singer Sofia Jernberg, the resulting sonic maelstrom was so fresh and ferocious, so daring and audacious, so darkly apocalyptic that The End seemed like the only name for this band of rebels. 

Their uncompromising debut on RareNoise, Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen (a title whose approximate translation from Swedish into English could be stated as “Dark melancholy and sadness are senses to be valued”), is delivered with sledgehammer authority by the subversive crew. 

The two-baritone onslaught of Møster and Gustafsson with the addition of Hana’s baritone guitar provides a low-end assault on Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen that feels like a gut-punch to complacency. 

“The double baritone has lots of raw power, which is a big part of what this music is all about,” says Møster, who has previously appeared on two RareNoise Records releases, Jü Meets Møster and Reflections In Cosmo. “We try to break through to the raw senses, the expressions of energy that wants to burst but never does.” 

“We have talked about such a collaboration for many years,” adds Gustafsson, who previously appeared on RareNoise releases by Slobber Pup (Pole Axe) and in collaboration with Japanese noisemaker Merzbow (the Cuts series). “And when Giacomo of RareNoise offered us the chance we grabbed it immediately, of course. We just needed to really put together the most kickin' band ever.” 

With Jernberg , Hana, Saunier (now Fjordheim), they have put together a dream team on Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen. “Now that we have The End as a working unit it feels extremely exciting to see where we can take the music together,” says Gustafsson. “It’s amazing for me to play alongside Mats’ boundless energy,” adds Møster. “He has revolutionized articulations of saxophone playing and has been one of my big influences ever since I heard The Thing’s self titled album from 2001.” 

Add the potent contributions of Hana and Saunier to the mix and you have a combustible crew capable of nuanced ambient expression with Jernberg’s ethereal vocals floating over the top and hellacious crescendos fueled by her intense banshee wailing. 

“Anders is one of the most creative guitar players I have ever heard,” says Gustafsson. “He stopped playing guitar seven years ago but Kjetil and me convinced him to pick it up again to join this group, which he happily agreed to. He ROCKS!” 

Møster adds “Anders and me have driven thousands of kilometres together all over Eastern and Western Europe in old tour vans playing numerous concerts with Ultralyd, which released five albums, most of them on Rune Grammofon. He’s a very unique player.” 

Hana’s chainsaw guitar work, reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s noise guitar explorations on “EXP” from Axis: Bold As Love, fuels the dark opener Svårmod (Troubled Mind), which also introduces The End’s muscular and imposing two-bari sound. Hanna’s repetitive guitar riff provides a catchy hook on the Captain Beefheart-like Vemod (Sad Mind), underscored by Saunier’s polyrhythmic drummer and featuring Jernberg’s freewheeling wordless vocals. 

The epic Translated Slaughter, which sees Jernberg whispering/talking Gustafsson’s lyrics at the ethereal opening, gradually builds to a frantic crescendo that has the singer wailing with cathartic abandon over the top. Jernberg repeats her riveting performance on Don’t Wait in which she once again recites/sings Gustafsson’s cryptic lyrics. 

“Text, music, art…it should all be read and listened to in open ways and manners,” says the composer. “It is not up to me to explain, really. It is up to the listener/reader to understand, or try to understand. Or at least to ask the questions to find out more. All creative art and music should point out new doors, not open them up. To open a door, you have to do it yourself. We can’t do it for you. So the lyrics pretty much speak for themselves, especially in ‘Don’t Wait.’ That message should be pretty obvious for anyone.” 

Møster’s Both Sides Out has a particularly dark, almost requiem kind of feel to it, which he acknowledges. “Requiem is a good association,” he says. “What I had in mind was actually some kind of mourning for the state of mind that the western world has entered post-Trump. In the lyrics I am Trump’s psychoanalyst, letting him pour out his inner feelings so he can stop being so tense and hard. I think the blood flow of the society is being strangled by face masks and ‘violation’ of unnecessary rights.” 

With a discography numbering over 150 records, Gustafsson explains what his latest RareNoise release represents to him: “Just sheer joy of sharing ideas and music together. We had time to rehearse and to play three gigs before jumping into the studio – that was worth a lot for us because I feel that everything really fell into the right place for us in the studio. The music we recorded is really a wet dream of favorite influences to bring together for me. And I think me and Kjetil share the most essential sources and inspirational platforms here. We wanted elements of free jazz, noise, alt rock and more to blend and create something new. And it all led to a music that, at least me, I have never heard before.” 

“We are never into creating a special mood in the music,” maintains Gustafsson, who is also member of bands The Thing, Fire! and Nu Ensemble. “That is up to the listener to create or hear. We don’t entertain, we don’t illustrate. We play music. New music. I don’t wanna analyze it too much here. Everyone should listen freely and think and act freely upon hearing it all. It should all be open.” 

Regarding the translation of the The End’s album title, Møster says: 

‘To me it says something about appreciating difficulties, that we don’t necessarily have to please each other all the time, that expressions that go against the grain and cause friction are valuable too.” 

Those renegade expressions are readily apparent on Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen, The End’s formidable RareNoise debut.


1. Svårmod
2. Vemod
3. Translated Slaughter
4. Don’t Wait
5. Rich And Poor
6. Both Sides Out

1,2 composed by Hana and Gustafsson
3 composed by The End
4 composed by Gustafsson
5,6 composed by Møster
Lyrics on 3, 4 by Gustafsson
Lyrics on 6 by Møster

Recorded jan 14/15 2018 at Duper Studios, Bergen
Sound Engineer Jørgen Træn
Mixed Feb 2018 at Duper Studios, Bergen by Jørgen Træn, Kjetil Møster, Anders Hana
Mastered Feb 2018 at Duper Studios by Jørgen Træn
Produced by TheEnd

Cover Image Svårmod Och Vemod Är Värdesinnen by Edward Jarvis.
Words by Harry Martinson, taken from the poem ‘Svårmodet’ from the poetry collection ‘Passad’ published by Bonniers (1945)

© + ℗ RareNoiseRecords 2018

Jamie Saft Quartet - Blue Dream (RareNoise Records 2018)

Jamie Saft continues his collaboration with eclectic UK-based label RareNoiseRecords in 2018. On a roll after releasing his first ever solo piano album in January, the aptly named ‘Solo A Genova’, the Upstate New York-based artist presents a further facet of his seemingly boundless talent for composition, performance, invention and in this case, for acting as master of ceremonies to a group of exciting and innovative musicians. His latest formation, the Jamie Saft Quartet sees repeated collaborators, celebrated saxophonists Bill McHenry and bassists Bradley Jones as well as in rising star of the drums Nasheet Waits. 

Recorded in the Autumn of 2017 in Jamie Saft’s Potterville International Sound studio Upstate New York, co-produced by Saft and Chris Castagno, mixed and mastered by Chris Castagno in Colombia, Blue Dream showcases nine new vibrant, spiritual and energetic compositions by Jamie Saft, as well as three mesmerizing standards. The album will be released on 29th June and will be available on CD, double vinyl and digital download. 

Plenty of connotations emerge in the album title, yet as soon as you start listening you will realize, that Blue Dream won’t allow you to think about connotations. This is direct. The muscle is shown straight away in “Vessels,” and not just in the playing but the tone: dark, with four musicians moving like ships in the night, a tenor sax echoing over the water between them. That’s saxman Bill McHenry, and stirring the water beneath him is drummer Nasheet Waits, splashing into the basswaves of Brad Jones bellowing up, heavy and low. On the piano, Jamie Saft both holds it down and works in new melodies, like clouds in a rotation of sunlight and darkness. Blue Dream moves. “Equanimity” keeps it fast - punk jazz fast. 

The drums lead it off, and you get the feeling the other musicians aren’t coming in until Waits lets them in. They know to hold off. The vibe into which Waits swings himself is a tunnel for one, only breaking daylight a minute and half into the song, when everybody explodes together at once in the record’s biggest and brightest moment yet. But “Sword’s Water” brings it back into the low light, opening with a hot flourish that swirls on for two minutes before Saft begins to follow the melody down one of his paths.

Saft can slide effortlessly over the keys, to be sure, but it is when he lingers, teasing out perhaps the same several notes, that we get a sense of the restraint in place. 

This sounds like a record of standards—yes, new standards—but there are only three oldies on here … and they’re goodies. Sinatra’s “Violets For Your Furs” is the first, setting the second of this album’s four sides alive with an interpretation that finds Saft digging into the melody as only its patent simplicity allows (there’s that restraint again). Following that, Brad Jones finds room cleared out for him in the title track to pluck his heaviest path, accelerating through the heart of the record while Saft drifts overhead, clouds over boiling water. “Infinite Compassion” shoulders its way back into those big dark movements on the piano, both sustaining and running away past the margins wherever it is needed. 

The second half of the album kicks off with Bill McHenry cooling it down, and he does it through “Sweet Lorraine,” Cliff Burwell’s 1928 standard recorded by the King Cole Trio in 1940, which is the version taught to Saft by the late Geri Allen. Some 90 years later it’s a vehicle strong enough to summon a breeze into the whole second half of the album, carving out abundant room for “Walls.” Building on the big air of “Sweet Lorraine,” Saft goes off into outer space without a care in the world, and all of them ride out the vibe. Saft can flourish and arpeggiate with the best of them, but it’s in his open spaces that he shows he can be sometimes shy, sometimes flirtatious, but always confident—quietly—and relaxed. That is the foundation on which the musicians around him can build, with Saft then almost pleading with them to follow him into uncharted territories. 

Then there’s the drums. Waits has both a shimer and a modern architecture to his playing, the latter of which has him building a chess board in “Decamping,” where the band can check one another, trading on, trading off. Who’s got the end game? We don’t need to know. We only know they enjoy the field. The music nourishes the life beneath their feet. “Words And Deeds” feels like something by which each of them is living, expressing it through this music, right now, while “Mysterious Arrangements” furthers the language created by this quartet, bringing it into a new conversation that is obviously holding some tension in its palms. 

You’ll be relieved to know that tension all gets worked out in the end. Closing out the record is the 1937 Mack Gordon and Harry Revel classic “There’s a Lull In My Life,” blissfully stretching out the last seven minutes of the album like a long holiday party full of old faces. Memories abound of the song’s place in jazz history, and the voices that interpreted it in years past: Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Tony Bennett, Alice Faye, and Nat King Cole. The standard torch song, love ballad, classic, becomes buoyant in their hands. It does not wallow, but revels in its ache. Shouldn’t we all?

Jamie Saft : piano
Bill McHenry : tenor saxophone
Bradley Christopher Jones : acoustic bass
Nasheet Waits : drums

1. Vessels
2. Equanimity
3. Sword’s Water
4. Violets For Your Furs
5. Blue Dream
6. Infinite Compassion
7. Sweet Lorraine
8. Walls
9. Decamping
10. Words and Deeds
11. Mysterious Arrangements
12. There’s a Lull In My Life

All Music written by Jamie Saft and published by RareNoisePublishing (PRS), except
‘Violets for Your Furs’ : music by Matt Dennis and lyrics by Tom Adair
‘Sweet Lorraine’ music by Cliff Burwell and lyrics by Mitchell Parish
‘There’s a Lull In My Life’ written by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel

Recorded by Jamie Saft and Brian Gunn at Potterville International Sound, NY, Fall 2017
Mixed and Mastered by Christian Castagno in Minca, Colombia
Art and Design by Steven Erdman
Additional Layout assistance by Graham Schreiner
Piano Tuned and prepared by Steve Greenstein R.P.T.
Executive Producer for RareNoiseRecords: Giacomo Bruzzo

Bugge Wesseltoft & Prins Thomas - Bugge Wesseltoft & Prins Thomas (SMALLTOWN SUPERSOUND 2018)

A long time ago, in a Norway far far away in time, keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft introduced his New Conception of Jazz to the world. We’re talking about the late 90s, when Bugge’s cosmopolitan blend of jazz, hiphop and techno beats was pretty much the coolest music coming out of Norway at that moment. That was a golden time for Norwegian music, in fact, when the rest of the world began to sit up and take notice that something was stirring up north, and realized the music was more than just glacial tones hurtled from icy mountaintops and frozen lakes. This was the sound of urban Scandinavia. 

A few years later came the electronic dance genre ‘space disco’. Along with Todd Terje, Bjørn Torske and Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas was at the epicentre of this next big wave to surge out of Norway. Now, the two generations have come together in this exclusive collaboration between Bugge and Prins Thomas on the Smalltown Supersound label. Jazz and electronics combine for that energising vitamin D shot of Nordic sunshine. 

The Rainbow Studio in Oslo is a familiar name to anyone who follows the ECM label – many of its classic 1970s jazz albums were recorded there under the eye of resident producer Jan Erik Kongshaug. Bugge and Thomas booked a couple of sessions at the legendary space with Kongshaug at the controls, and improvised some tunes in the style and spirit of some of their favourite ECM moments, like the fresh, open sounds of Codona, Egberto Gismonti, Oregon and Kenny Wheeler. Bugge had previously done a remix of Thomas’s ‘Bobletekno’ in 2015 but this is the first time they have worked together as active musicians. The results – also partly taped at Thomas’s home studio – fuse programmed rhythms, live synths and percussion, all captured in sumptuously spacious acoustics.

For an even more authentic touch they called up one of their all time local heroes and one of Norway’s most famous jazz drummers, Jon Christensen, who’s been the go-to guy for Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Keith Jarrett and many more. At 75 years he’s still pretty spry behind the kit, as you’ll hear on several tracks here. 

Make no mistake, though, this is not retro pastiche but contemporary music, coasting on gently insistent programmed grooves and bubbling basslines. The whole thing feels not so much like a consciously hip fusion of DJ and jazz musician, more like two great musicians totally enjoying themselves.

1. Furuberget 18:18
2. Norte do Brasil 05:42
3. Sin Tempo 09:43
4. Bar Asfalt 13:32
5. Epilog 13:55