Friday, April 16, 2021

Oran Etkin's 'Open Arms' Series - New Single "Barco" Comes from São Paulo - Out April 16, 2021

Oran Etkin Releases New Single In Open Arms Project April 16th

Recorded & Filmed In São Paulo

Etkin will perform with the Open Arms Project at
San Jose Jazz - New Works Festival for
International Jazz Day April 30th

On April 16, Oran Etkin will release "Barco", the next single and music video in the Open Arms Project, a series of singles documenting his collaborations with great masters around the world - from Prague to Harrare, Zimbabwe; Paris to Rio de Janeiro.  This new track, recorded and filmed in São Paulo features legendary Brazilian pianist Benjamim Taubkin along with Kabé Pinheiro and João Taubkin.

On April 30th, to celebrate UNESCO’s International Jazz Day, Etkin will debut the next phase of the Open Arms Project in a live performance at San Jose Jazz Festival’s new Break Room for their New Works Festival. Performing with some of the most exciting young West Coast musicians, Etkin will present a new work inspired by the musical encounters chronicled in the Open Arms Project. Interweaving melodic and rhythmic motifs from the pieces he recorded around the world along with electronics and samples from the field recordings, Etkin will take listeners on a musical journey filled with excitement and energy, improvisation and interaction.  The performance will be live-streamed for free on the San Jose Jazz website.
This summer Etkin will also bring the spirit of Open Arms to New York audiences in his role as Artistic Director of the new Mama Farm Full Moon Concert Series taking place on actress Isabella Rossellini’s farm in Brookhaven, NY and featuring artists from around the world.  

About "Barco"

"Barco" is the 6th single in the Open Arms Project, and the second featuring Etkin’s collaboration with Benjamim Taubkin. Etkin and Taubkin were introduced two years ago by Dubi Lenz, the director of the Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel, and they immediately found a deep musical connection.  Taubkin recalls, “Oran came to São Paulo, and I was a guest on a performance he gave at Jazz Nos Fundos and again at Jazz B some months later. The bond came very easily.  As we say here in Brazil- this is my new friend from childhood!”

Last year Etkin was invited again to Brazil, and the two decided to organize a collaborative recording session, inviting bassist João Taubkin and percussionist Kabé Pinheiro.  The music was fresh and new - written for the occasion on the weekend before the recording! Barco was composed by Taubkin and their previous single, Pro Carnaval Voltar, was composed by Etkin. Barco begins with a slow movement that flows into a duet between percussionist Kabé Pinheiro and Etkin.  Pinheiro uses a traditional dance form from his home state of Minas Gerais, strapping shakers to his ankles and creating rhythms with his whole body,  The tradition comes from Congado, an afro Brazilian devotional event dedicated to the Black Holly Mother. Taubkin explains that “the story tells of a vision that the enslaved people had in the 18th century in a lake of the Holly Mother… and she was black! When they came back to the main house of the farm and shared the miracle, they were beaten. This event lives on in a big procession each year, with hundreds of drums, singing and dancing. Kabé’s step dance is a reference to this tradition and the continuity of rhythm.”

About Open Arms Project

Last April, as the world was closing down, Etkin’s response was the Open Arms Project: a series of singles & videos highlighting various collaborations with great masters around the world - each characterized by a deep human bond formed out of a sense of listening and mutual respect.  The tracks were filmed and recorded in Rio de Janeiro, Harare Zimbabwe, Prague, Paris & São Paulo with musicians including Danilo Caymmi, Benjamim Taubkin, Thomas Enhco, Musekiwa Chongodza.

About Oran Etkin
Oran Etkin has been described as “great clarinetist, excellent improviser” by Ben Ratliff of the New York Times and “composer of eminent individuality” by Yusef Lateef. He was voted #1 Rising Star Clarinetist in DownBeat Magazine’s Critic’s Poll and has performed as a leader at venues including Montreal Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, WolfTrap, Kennedy Center and more. He has been invited twice to be a guest lecturer at Harvard University and is also the founder of the Timbalooloo educational program for young children. Etkin released six albums as a leader including four on the Motema label. Etkin's duo concert with Sullivan Fortner in Paris was chosen as one of the Top 6 Musical Highlights of the year by Libération, which described it as "a concert of weightlessness, class, spark, inspiration and sharing. Magic uninterrupted for two hours. The crowd went wild. For such is the music of Etkin: sensitive to the exchange with the audience.”

About Benjamim Taubkin
Pianist, composer, arranger and producer Benjamim Taubkin has created a distinct voice within Brazilian music and its intersection with music from all over the world. He has recorded 20 albums  as a leading artist, most of them on his own label - Nucleo Contemporâneo, and appears on over 150 other albums as guest musician, producer or arranger. Taubkin has traveled the world presenting his music from solo to Symphony Orchestras, collaborating with musicians from Morocco , India, South Africa , Korea , Israel, Colombia, Argentina and Spain. He has performed with a.o, Paulo Moura, Rafael Rabelo, Monica Salmaso, Zizi Possi, Nana Vasconcelos, and in special projects with Hermeto Pascoal, Milton Nascimento, João Bosco.

NEW RELEASE: Adam Moezinia’s FOLK ELEMENT TRIO is out April 16, 2021 via Outside in Music


Guitarist, Composer, Bandleader and Educator Adam Moezinia Explores Modern Arrangements of Folk Classics on His Debut Release, Folk Element Trio, Out April 16th On Outside in Music

Outside in Music is pleased to announce the release of esteemed guitarist Adam Moezinia’s first album as a bandleader, Folk Element Trio. A celebration of global folk traditions and the influence that the composer derives from them, this exciting new release features elements of Beninese, Malian, Welsh and American folk music in a jazz context. Folk Element Trio introduces audiences to Moezinia’s sophisticated, soulful compositional style and his refined improvisational facility. Bassist Dan Chmielinski and drummer Charles Goold fill out the remainder of Moezinia’s Folk Element Trio, the creative and cohesive unit that graces the album’s tracks.

This thoughtful and respectful display of musical synthesis seamlessly incorporates global musical idioms with the rich tradition of jazz, of which Moezinia is no stranger. Moezinia recalls “Since I was about twelve years old, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the musical genre that we call “jazz”. That being said, I’ve also consistently immersed myself in many other styles… I was going through a period of frequent writing when I realized that almost all of my compositions contained a certain element, the “Folk Element”: elements from more simple, folk-based music, less commonly found in jazz. From there, I started upon a sort of musical exploration, discovering for myself some of the different kinds of folk music from around the world.” From there, Moezinia sought to compose with the simplicity, lyricism and rhythmic traditions of folk music in mind, while also incorporating the harmonic intrigue of jazz.
The album begins with the song “Celebration” which draws influence from Beninese and Malian music. Along with “Groove March”, “Celebration” is part of a larger piece by Moezinia entitled the “Ivory Suite” which is inspired by, among many others, Beninese guitarist Lionel Loueke and Malian singer Oumuo Sangare. The jubilant album-starter demonstrates the bandleader’s acuity for melodic invention as well as the stellar interplay that can be expected between these three masterful musicians on the remainder of the release.

Aside from Moezinia’s four original compositions, Folk Element Trio features four of the bandleader’s modern arrangements of timeless classics by such folk luminaries as Bob Dylan,  Robert Johnson, and Duke Ellington (whom Moezinia espouses to be one of America’s most beloved folk composers, as jazz is America’s folk music). On Ellington’s “Azalea”, Moezinia’s electric blues/country guitar sound achieved through the use of a reverb and tremolo, contrasts with Goold’s sparse deconstructed New Orleans “dirge” rhythm to create a unique and evocative texture. Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” features bassist Dan Chmielinski on the track’s melody with thoughtful accompaniment from Moezinia. One can’t help but note the beauty in the track’s nuanced changes in dynamics, and it’s clear influence by the work of Bill Frisell.  

The album concludes with the Mississippi Delta blues anthem “Come On in My Kitchen”. This decidedly modern arrangement offers the classic melody with subtle reharmonization and a boogaloo groove. Featuring another stunning solo by Moezinia, the piece demonstrates the bandleader’s intensive study in the blues tradition. With Folk Element Trio, Adam Moezinia has created a spirited blend of tradition and innovation, honoring the folk traditions of several countries while creating a sound that is entirely his own.

NEW RELEASE: Marques Carroll’s THE ANCESTOR’S CALL due out April 16, 2021 via JMarq Records

Celebrated Chicago-Based Trumpeter Marques Carroll Announces the April 16, 2021 Release of His Impassioned Recording Debut, The Ancestors’ Call

JMarq Records is proud to announce the April 16, 2021 release of The Ancestors’ Call, the new album from celebrated trumpeter Marques Carroll. Perhaps best known to audiences primarily as a member of the Chicago Soul Jazz Collective and for his work with the Count Basie Orchestra, the Chicago-based musician comes into his own on this extraordinary introductory release that pays homage to his ancestors and heritage. Joining Carroll is his tight-knit quintet featuring alto saxophonist Brent Griffin, pianist Amr Fahmy, bassist Christian Dillingham, and drummer Greg Art as well as special guests Victor Garcia on congas, trombonist Alex Wasily, and vocalist Sharon Irving.

On The Ancestors’ Call, Carroll weaves poignant stories of strength and resilience, integrity and pride, and spirituality and culture over the course of eight original compositions. The result is a rich sonic masterwork that presents listeners with a deep spiritual exploration of the African diaspora, told from his own unique perspective and informed by the experiences of his elders.  “I have been a firm believer throughout my life that our elders and ancestors are the foundation to our beginning.  I have been fortunate to have had so many of these great spirits in my life show and lead the way for me in my darkest hours and in my brightest moments.” The wisdom passed on to Carroll, and the responsibility he feels to carry on in their footsteps is the central theme of this affecting work. 
Arranged in eight sections, narratively ordered, the guiding voice of The Ancestors’ Call is an unnamed elderly man who symbolizes the voice and call of Carroll’s African-American ancestors. He shares his story of the beginning with “The Ancestors Call Upon Us”, the driving album opener.  “His voice is rooted in the sound of the drums and yet the other ancestors speak in melody with him, calling us to listen and to learn from the collective,” Carroll remarks. With fervent musical refrains, Carroll’s horn soars over the rhythm section, demonstrating the bandleader’s immense improvisational acuity. Carroll’s stellar horn arrangements and the rhythm section’s tight pocket are on full display during “Generational Response”, which reflects on just that – the response from the younger generation after digesting the lessons that the ancestors have bestowed.

Assemble the Enlightened” is a rousing ensemble piece and fiery call to action that prominently features improvisation from Carroll as well as Brent Griffin and Amr Fahmy. “As history has shown us, we must assemble as a unit and work together to fight injustice, hate, racism or whatever stares us in the face.” Carroll indicates. This transitions into the next track which challenges the audience to look past physical or inner battles to move forward. The impassioned “Beyond the Battle” begins with total musical entropy, and resolves to a refined groove, retaining its ardent nature by pushing steadily, building in anticipation and intensity. 

Urgency” begins with the bandleader alone and progresses towards a Latin-tinged melody, well-supported with a propulsive rhythm from Arty, Garcia, Dillingham and Fahmy. The piece serves as a reminder to move with purpose, and to be conscious of the struggles that have birthed freedom. With “Aries Goddess (For Consuela and the Fallen)” we pay tribute to a mother who is running to her son as she hears that he has just been gunned down. The bandleader notes that “this happens all too often whether it is by street violence or by the hands of those who are supposed to serve and protect. This piece is for all of our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives on this soil.” The piece, featuring vocalist Sharon Irving tells a definitive and heart-rending story of loss. 
Resolution For Us” reflects on the hope for peace of mind and heart that one holds amidst tragedy. Carroll and Griffin weave soulful and passionate melodies throughout a piece that is filled with harmonic and rhythmic intrigue. “Our Ancestors Final Words” delivers us back to the energy of the opener with a renewed emotional gravity and intensity. Messages of hope and encouragement are highlighted by the transition to a deep, lively swing with stunning solos from the ensemble. The bandleader notes that the ancestors deliver a powerful story during the closer that conveys “we come from strength and determination. Let us not forget who we are.”

With the release of The Ancestors’ Call, Marques Carroll comes to the fore as a major musical force with a distinctive voice and powerful intention: to respect the tradition, preserve the culture and push forward. He does all of that and more on this powerful new album, which will be available digitally via Bandcamp and other major retailers, and as a CD and vinyl LP

1. The Ancestors' Call Upon Us
2. Generational Response
3. Assemble The Elightened
4. Beyond The Battle
5. Urgency
6. Aries Goddess (For Consuela and The Fallen)
7. Resolution For Us
8. The Ancestors' Final Call

Marques Carroll (trumpet)
Brent Griffin (alto sax)
Amr Fahmy (piano)
Christian Dillingham (bass)
Greg Artry (drums)
Victor Garcia (congas)
Alex Wasily (trombone)
Sharon Irving (vocals)

Evan Arntzen - Countermelody (April 16, 2021 Dot Time Records)

Acclaimed Multireedist and Bandleader Evan Arntzen Announces His Jubilant Third Release as a Bandleader, Countermelody, Out April 16 on Dot Time Records

Featuring Special Guest Vocalist Catherine Russell

Dot Time Records is delighted to announce the latest release from multireedist, vocalist and bandleader Evan Arntzen.  Arntzen’s third album as a bandleader, Countermelody is a celebration of the interplay, collective improvisation and soulful counterpoint that played such a big role in Black American Music emanating from New Orleans in the first half of the 20th century.  During a time when convening is all but impossible, Countermelody brings the gaiety of live music to the recorded realm.  Recorded on October 2nd and 3rd, 2020, the group of stellar musicians featured on Countermelody gathered together to create music that will inspire listeners everywhere to get up, share joy and dance.  Arntzen’s superb reed and vocal musings are joined by trombonist Charlie Halloran, trumpeters Jon-Erik Kellso and Mike Davis, guitarist and banjoist Arnt Arntzen, pianist Dalton Ridenhour, bassist Tal Ronen, drummer Mark McLean and very special guest vocalist Catherine Russell.

Countermelody brings early-jazz-exuberance to an eager present in a release which author and Louis Armstrong historian, Ricky Riccardi, calls “the very definition of timeless” in the album’s liner notes.  Arntzen’s Dot Time Records debut features many of his own astounding arrangements of early New Orleans and Chicago jazz compositions written by such luminaries as Kid Ory, King Oliver, Sidney Bechet and Bennie Moten.  The release also features wonderfully innovative compositions by Arntzen, Halloran and Kellso.  Aside from thirteen hi-fidelity tracks, listeners will also be treated to tracks that were recorded to wax cylinder, a medium that actually predates when much of this music was composed.  Producer Scout Opatut notes “the wax cylinder recordings were made possible by the genius Colin Hancock, who engineered them with his Edison phonograph.  Everything you hear in those songs was done acoustically, without any electricity whatsoever.”
The album begins with Arntzen’s arrangement of the Kid Ory classic “Muskrat Ramble”.  The jubilant energy is palpable from the very first notes of the track, and uplifted even further by the powerful and soulful refrains of celebrated vocalist Catherine Russell.  Ricky Riccardi notes “Just seconds into the opening track, the four-horn ensemble tears through a chorus of ‘Muskrat Ramble’, each voice independently masterful on its own, the final product nothing short of miraculous.  Let it wash over you and then listen again and concentrate on a single instrument; in fact, do this for every instrument and you’ll marvel at the individual and collective brilliance of each musician present.”  

Arntzen’s vocals soar on the Sidney Bechet popularized “Georgia Cabin” before the bandleader is featured in a wonderful display of his improvisational facility.  Interestingly, this seems to be the first-ever recording of this composition with its lyrics intact.  Arntzen notes that he learned the lyrics from his 93-year-old grandfather Lloyd Arntzen (a celebrated clarinet player in his own right, who is still performing to this day).  While the song is well-known as an instrumental, Evan’s grandfather credits Mary Karoley for writing the lyrics (she is indeed listed as a co-composer of the song). 

One cannot bypass the musical cohesion of the ensemble on tracks like “Smiles”.  This bright-tempoed classic prominently features Arntzen’s melodic refrains but is supported brilliantly by Halloran’s counterpoint and an elastic rhythm section.  The ensemble welcomes back the esteemed Ms. Russell for the exquisitely nuanced “If You Were Mine”.  Russell’s warmth and zeal breathe life into this timeless composition, first made famous by Billie Holiday, and are complemented perfectly by the strength of the ensemble.

The group brings an exceptional intensity to Benny Green’s “Bu’s March” in which Ridenhour is featured with a powerful solo.  Interestingly, composer Benny Green helped Arntzen to arrange this piece for a larger ensemble.  Of course, Green wrote this song in honor of his former mentor and bandleader Art Blakey, and the vigour of the Jazz Messengers is conjured in Arntzen’s new, 3-horn arrangement.  The sole original composition by Arntzen, “Solitarity”, is a moving comment on the shared solitude of our modern existence. The piece begins with Arntzen’s solo clarinet refrains eventually building into a contrapuntal duet, ending with a raucous second-line ensemble. 
1. Muskrat Ramble
2. 18th Street Strut
3. Camp Meeting Blues
4. Georgia Cabin
5. Put 'Em Down Blues
6. When Erastus Plays His Old Kazoo
7. Smiles
8. If You Were Mine
9. Down by The Riverside
10. Alvita
11. Counter Intuitive
12. Bu's March
13. Solitarity
14. After You've Gone (Wax Cylinder Sessions)
15. Muskrat Ramble (Wax Cylinder Sessions)

Evan Arntzen - clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax, vocals (track 4)
Charlie Halloran - trombone
Jon-Erik Kellso - trumpet
Mike Davis - trumpet
Arnt Arntzen - guitar, banjo
Dalton Ridenhour - piano
Tal Ronen - bass
Mark McLean - drums
Catherine Russell – vocals (tracks 1, 8, 14, 15)

Produced by Scout Opatut, 4/4 Creative
Released by Dot Time Records
Project Manager/Spiritual Advisor: Jerry Roche
Recorded Oct. 2nd & 3rd, 2020, Big Orange Sheep Studios, Brooklyn, NY
Engineered, Mixed & Mastered by Michael Perez-Cisneros
Assistant Engineered by Kevin Thomas
Wax Cylinders Engineered by Colin Hancock, Semper Phonograph Co.
Cylinder Recordings restored & transferred by John Levin using CPS1 Cylinder Playback System with V-Trace Cartridge 
Cover Photo by: B.A. Van Sise
Design by: Jaime Ford

Thursday, April 15, 2021

NEW RELEASE: Violinist Tomoko Omura to Release BRANCHES VOL. 2 on June 18, 2021 via Outside in Music

Outside In Music Announces Branches Vol. 2, The Eagerly-Awaited Second Installment of Celebrated Violinist Tomoko Omura’s Roots Series, Out June 18, 2021

“…a gifted composer and passionate instrumentalist.” – Strings Magazine

Outside in Music is thrilled to announce the release of Branches Vol. 2, the eagerly-awaited new installment in imaginative violinist-composer-arranger Tomoko Omura’s Roots series. A companion to last summer’s critically acclaimed Branches Vol. 1, this vibrant issue features six more of the Shizuoka-born artist’s original compositions inspired by Japanese folktales, and arrangements of Japanese popular songs. Accompanying Omura on this exploration of sound and culture is her working quintet made up of guitarist Jeff Miles, pianist Glenn Zaleski, bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Jay Sawyer.

In 2015, New York-based Tomoko Omura released Roots, a ten-track collection of well known Japanese songs rearranged for a modern jazz quintet. Since then, the violinist has made a concerted effort to intertwine her Japanese heritage with her virtuosic jazz artistry on each subsequent recording project. “There’s a promise inherent in contemporary music, and it goes something like this: with people from various backgrounds—culturally, ideologically, religiously, aesthetically—creating art, everyone can benefit from the exposure to new ideas,” remarked Downbeat Magazine’s Dave Cantor in his Editor’s Pick review of Omura’s initial Branches offering. On this riveting follow up, the synergy between the ensemble’s five members has been fortified by continual collaboration. Omura deepens her compelling tribute to Japan with evocative material that builds a causeway between deeply rooted tradition and contemporary invention.

Branches Vol. 2 is split evenly between Omura-penned compositions and folk songs, tallying three of each. The album begins with a stately march leading to a luscious passage of pizzicato violin, vocals and rhythmic underpinnings from Omura’s steadfast rhythm section. The piece is “Come Firefly”, a well known traditional Japanese folk tune.“Fireflies are magical creatures that have always fascinated me,” shared Omura. “My rendition of this folk song has a sci-fi element. I was imagining communication through lights by celestial beings.” Omura’s violin soars above overdriven guitar and discordant pianistic refrains on this surrealist celebration.

Omura’s original “Melancholy Of A Crane” offers a contrapuntal and wistful exploration inspired by the Japanese folktale “Tsuru no Ongaeshi” (The Crane’s Return of Favor) – a melancholy tale of a crane who returns a favor to a man. One can hear the flight of the swan in the gentle melodic musings of the violin over the rhythm section’s triple meter. “To-Ryan-Se” is another popular folk song that dates back to the Edo era (1603 – 1867). “Children sing this song like a game,” Omura described. “It is played by multiple children facing each other, and they form a bridge with their arms, while other children pass through the bridge while singing. At the end of the song, the bridge comes down and one child will be stuck inside the bridge. That’s the game!” Omura also hints at a haunting and yet wondrous meaning behind the song’s actual lyrics. This element is captured in Omura’s arrangement in the playfulness of the melody and the inherent sense of adventure it exudes. The melody features unison playing from Omura and Miles, which elicits a  response by Zaleski, echoing the game from which the material is derived. The piece features stunning solos from Omura, Zaleski and Miles.
Next up is “Bow’s Dance”, a folksong of the Ainu people, the indigenous people of Japan’s northernmost island Hokkaido and some of its nearby Russian territories. A close friend of Omura who extensively researched the Ainu introduced her to the great Ainu singer Umeka Ando. Ando’s interpretation of this song left its mark on Omura, and so she decided to include it here. 

Tomie’s Blues” is Omura’s composition dedicated to her grandmother, Tomie Omura, who passed away several years ago. The artist remarks, “I was very close to her and we lived together for 18 years of my life. This song is 12 bars long, just like the typical blues form, but the melody is repeated multiple times with changing note durations expressing the elasticity of time.” The contemplative ballad features wonderful solos from Menares and Zaleski. 

The concluding track is“Urashima Suite”, the fantastical tale of a young boy’s adventure that encapsulates the bittersweet nature of the passage of time. Omura and Zaleski lead us on this wondrous journey through multiple tonalities, conjuring an array of emotions and experiences including imagery of the ocean and a place called “Dragon Palace” referenced in the original tale.
In a 2021 feature in Strings Magazine, Omura shared that her Roots project is ongoing, and something that she plans to continue exploring. She told journalist Greg Cahill: “It’s developing in a few interesting directions. Just like branches. I like storytelling in music that takes us somewhere else while listening. Also, for me, re-discovering the Japanese musical elements and using them in new ways is a fun thing to do. It’s still an ongoing project, and I’m already thinking about where it can go next.” 


Track listing: 
Come Firefly 5:41 (Japanese Traditional/Tomoko Omura)
Melancholy Of A Crane 7:11 (Tomoko Omura)
To Ryan Se 6:44 (Japanese Traditional/Tomoko Omura)
Bow’s Dance 6:47 (Ainu Traditional/Tomoko Omura)
Tomie’s Blues 5:40 (Tomoko Omura)
Urashima Suite 6:38 (Tomoko Omura)

NEW RELEASE: Saxophonist Tim Mayer’s ‘KEEPER OF THE FLAME’ due out June 4, 2021 via D-Clef Records

D-Clef Records is proud to present the June 4, 2021 release of  Keeper of the Flame, a new album from stalwart saxophonist and composer Tim Mayer and his octet, featuring bassist Rodney Whitaker, drummer Ulysses Owens, and Emmet Cohen as a guest pianist

Jazz music has taken Mayer all over the world. Boston, Hawaii, the Canary Islands, Colombia, he’s played them all and many more, spreading the gospel of jazz at each port of call. At present, Mayer’s based in Xalapa, Mexico, having just completed his Master’s degree at Universidad Veracruzana; that hasn’t stopped him from recording Keeper of the Flame, his first album as a leader since 2011’s star-studded and critically acclaimed Resilience.

A decade later, Keeper of the Flame reveals that the same fire that’s taken Mayer around the globe to play jazz is still burning plenty hot – and he wants to make sure he passes on his enduring passion for the music to others; that’s what Keeping the Flame is all about. “Jazz is what we as Americans have contributed to the world,” Mayer says. “The music is also a great teacher; it can be a mirror that reflects back who we really are.”

On Keeper of the Flame, Mayer’s octet brings both fiery tenacity and thoughtful erudition. The rhythm section sets the tone for striking this sophisticated balance, with Owens and Whitaker joined by Miki Hayama on piano. Mayer can be heard on both tenor and soprano saxophones, as well as on alto flute (on “Elusive”); joining him in the woodwind section are Adam Rongo (alto sax) and Tony Lustig (baritone sax). And the small but mighty brass section comprises Anthony Stanco (trumpet) and longtime Mayer collaborator Michael Dease (trombone), who in addition to playing has contributed a composition to the session, the intimate and lushly textured “Elusive.” 

The always ascending Cohen guests on Mayer’s “Get Organized,” a stylish, contemporary noirish number inspired directly by the Occupy Wall Street protests of the Great Recession but perfectly suited to contemporary foreboding.

“Whether it’s an old standard or a brand new composition,” Mayer says, “we face the same challenge: to render the moment in music.”
Keeper of the Flame rises to that challenge with a balanced set of originals, standards, and tributes to some of Mayer’s heroes, past generations’ keepers of the flame. Take the opener, “Big P,” a tune written by saxophonist Jimmy Heath for his bass-playing older brother Percy. Whitaker’s playing anchors the tune and, as both driving and contemplative, honors the eldest Heath brother, but Mayer actually presents this one as a tribute to Jimmy, whom Mayer came to know and befriend before he died in early 2020.

And just two tracks later, Mayer honors Cedar Walton’s finely crafted songwriting with a take on the late Jazz Messengers’ “Hand in Glove,” a showcase for the rhythm section that naturally allows the pianist, Hayama, ample time out front. Then there’s the closer, a joyous, bursting rendition of McCoy Tyner’s anthemic “Passion Dance,” with Mayer waking up the echoes of Joe Henderson with his solo and the ensemble leaving nothing in reserve for Tyner’s signature tune.

The octet’s take on Coltrane’s “Naima” is another story. Mayer as a saxophonist considers himself among the keepers of Coltrane’s flame, but this one transcends even that most noble goal here. “Every recording session,” Mayer said, “has one tune that captures the essence of the moment, that embodies the love, music, and respect among the musicians.” For Mayer, “Naima,” is this record’s version of that tune; it’s an exciting new arrangement that doesn’t forsake the soul of the original.
While Mayer and co. are innovators, they’re rooted in history, too, and it shows on their treatment of a couple of standards, “Bye Bye Blackbird” and “Blame it on My Youth.” The former features Mayer, Whitaker, and Owens as an intimate trio, with Mayer taking up the soprano sax, while the latter strips things down even further—it’s Mayer speaking his smoky ballad voice on tenor accompanied only by Whitaker this time. It’s about as up close and personal as Mayer gets here, with the possible exception of his other original piece, “Blues by Four,” which Mayer calls a tribute to “the bond of love and friendship I was fortunate enough to share with two enlightened beings”—his two pet pugs.

Dog owners are sure to find emotional resonance here; the pet-free crowd, meanwhile, is sure to enjoy a no-nonsense blues that swings free and easy while showing off the power of a large ensemble combined with the fluidity of a smaller group.

With Keeper of the Flame, Mayer shows more than love for the legends he honors here; he communicates a sense of responsibility to them, one that exists between all musicians and must continually be nurtured, especially, as Mayer notes, in a year where so many greats have passed. “While this causes great sadness,” Mayer says, “it also strengthens my resolve to do my best to keep the flame.”

1. Big P (4:37) (Jimmy Heath)
2. Bye Bye Blackbird (6:51) (Ray Henderson)
3. Hand In Glove (6:27) (Cedar Walton)
4. Blame It On My Youth (6:11) (Oscar Levant)
5. Blues By Four (4:26) (Tim Mayer)
6. Naima (4:41) (John Coltrane)
7. Elusive (5:59) (Michael Dease)
8. Get Organized (7:50) (Tim Mayer)
9. Passion Dance (6:28) (McCoy Tyner)

NEW RELEASE: Dee Daniels Presents 'THE PROMISE: DELUXE EDITION - Her Spiritual Cellar Music Debut, Due Out May 7, 2021

Jazz & Inspirational Music Legend Dee Daniels Presents The Promise: Deluxe Edition,
Her Spiritual Cellar Music Debut, Due Out May 7, 2021
Cellar Music Group is thrilled to announce the May 7, 2021 release of The Promise: Deluxe Edition by multi-award winning jazz and inspirational music icon Dee Daniels. Her Cellar Music debut, The Promise is a deeply spiritual and powerful tour-de-force inspired by the acclaimed vocalist’s recent journey with breast cancer. Featuring twelve original compositions and one creatively-arranged traditional, The Promise solidifies Daniels’ standing as one of North America’s most extraordinary and beloved performers. The first single, “Let Freedom Ring: The Ballad of John Lewis”, was released earlier this year and the second single, “One Moment In Time” was released on April 9, 2021. Already a winner of the 2020 Western Canadian Music Awards' Best Spiritual Artist and numerous Global Music Awards, The Promise is one of the most anticipated spiritual albums of the year in a time when we all need inspiration.

The Promise is a major career milestone for the legendary artist, who has captivated global audiences for over four decades. Originally from Berkeley, California, Daniels moved to Vancouver in 1987 and has since become an internationally recognized artist with an extensive resume of top-tier performing and recording credits. She has performed with a who’s-who of jazz greats ranging from Wycliffe Gordon and Houston Person to Clark Terry and Benny Golson, and fronted numerous symphony orchestras and large ensembles. She’s is regarded as one of the leading vocal clinicians in the world with countless awards and honors: a 2002 induction into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame, recipient of the 2003 Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and the 2009 receipt of an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Fine Arts from Capilano University. 
Despite all of her success, Daniels couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. With the blessing of her family, in 2011 she moved to a brownstone in Harlem, hoping to find what she was looking for. Her career certainly blossomed when she arrived in New York City - she recorded two popular albums including State of the Art (Criss Cross) and Intimate Conversations (Origin), was offered a teaching position at Queens College and performed regularly at top jazz venues throughout the city. “With all these, and many more wonderful events occurring daily in my life, I still had that empty feeling inside,” she shared. Though she prayed regularly throughout her life, it was then that she dialed up to “fervent” prayer - a state she describes as “total submission to the manifestation of my desire.” Two weeks after she started to fervently pray, in late 2014, she received the life-changing news that she had breast cancer. Instead of responding with shock and fear, Daniels felt a sense of calm. “I knew in my heart that I was about to embark on a journey that would lead me to the answer.” 

Throughout her treatment, Daniels made a number of lifestyle changes and shifts, including daily meditation practice. At the urging of a close friend, Daniels began to experiment with guided meditation - a practice that helped her dial in deeper spiritually, and access parts of her creative sector with ease. “The meditative sessions became a gateway to healing and creative adventures.” Through this daily practice, Daniels was “gifted” with countless original compositions. They came so rapidly, that she had to record them during her sessions on her cell phone. As the music continued to flow, Daniels’ journey of self-discovery began to crystallize. “I understood that my entire life has been a fulfilment, but it was about to expand. The songs that I was gifted with through meditation were to be shared with the world.” 
The resulting work is The Promise, a dynamic collection of original music that offer personal messages of healing, joy, hope, inspiration, guidance, and above all, unconditional love for oneself and others. Stylistically, the album finds Daniels circling back to her Gospel roots, though the music pulls from the many genres she’s so expertly performed throughout her career: jazz, r&b, blues, and rock music. Highlights include the mood setting opener, “Choose Me”, the unparalleled showstopper “Healed”, which showcases Daniels’ passionate and wide-ranging vocal prowess, and the red hot soul stirrer “Never Alone”. On this special Deluxe Edition, three bonus tracks are included: an alternate version of “One Moment In Time” featuring guitarist Felton Offard, a stirring rendition of the traditional “I Want Jesus To Walk With Me” and “Let Freedom Ring: The Ballad of John Lewis” - her uplifting anthem for a world on the precipice of a new beginning. The powerful video, which has been viewed over 140,000 times on YouTube, can be seen here

With the release of The Promise, Daniels presents her most fully realized project to date, and ushers in a new era of her already illustrious career. Daniels shares: “I am so happy and excited to share this music with you. May it bless you and be a vehicle for love and healing on all levels of your existence.” 

Track listing:
1. Choose Me (4:23)
2. One Moment in Time (5:12)
3. The Promise (5:40)
4. My Prayer (5:05)
5. Healed (6:18)
6. Grateful (4:49)
7. Love Inside (5:00) 
8. I am Forgiven (8:36)
9. Never Alone (5:33)
10. Dance With Me (5:12)
11. Love Is the Answer (4:28)
12. One Moment In Time (5:12)
13. I Want Jesus To Walk With Me (4:28)
14. Let Freedom Ring (5:04)

All music by Dee Daniels except 13, which is a Traditional


MORE ABOUT DEE DANIELS

Dee Daniels is a crowd pleaser and a musician’s musician. Whether accompanying herself at the piano, fronting a trio, big band or symphony, she is a unique talent who transcends musical borders when she brings her jazz styling, infused with gospel and blues flavouring, to the stage.

The stepdaughter of a Baptist minister, Dee was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Though she graduated with a B.A. degree in Art Education, music was always a big part of her life. However, she didn’t discover her true calling to it until after teaching art in a Seattle high school for a year. She then joined a band, resigned her teaching position, and the rest is history!
Dee has since traveled throughout the world with her music. She has shared the stage and/or recorded with numerous legends of jazz including Houston Person, Monty Alexander, John Clayton, Russell Malone, Cyrus Chestnut, Ken Peplowski, and Lewis Nash to mention a few. Her diverse career has seen her in clubs and prestigious music halls around the world, on theater stages, television and radio, performances for royalty and international dignitaries, and on many recordings as leader or guest.

Dee has also established herself as a jazz vocalist in demand by the classical world, performing her five symphonic Pops programs with orchestras in the US, Canada, and Europe. Many organizations and institutions in and out of the music industry have recognized Dee with awards for her contributions in music, education, and community service.

Rez Abbasi named 2021 Guggenheim Fellow

Acclaimed guitarist/composer Rez Abbasi wins 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in Music Composition
 
Abbasi is one of a diverse group of artists, writers, scholars, and scientists selected to receive the honor

Guitarist and composer Rez Abbasi, one of the most celebrated artistic voices of his generation, has been named a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Music Composition. He’s one of 184 artists, writers, scholars and scientists, 13 in the area of Music Composition, receiving this year’s award.  A veteran of fourteen albums as a leader, his deep musicality has been applied with equal conviction to contemporary New York acoustic jazz, the Qawwali and Indian Classical traditions of South Asia and the heady fusion sounds of the 1970s, each time applying the filter of his own musical personality to deliver inimitable results.
 
“I am truly honored and grateful to be named a Guggenheim Fellow,” says Abbasi. “The award is a concrete affirmation that embracing my intuition and artistic values was the right thing to do.”
 
The Guggenheim Fellowship is one of the most distinguished awards an artist can receive. Since 1925, the Foundation has awarded nearly $400 million to more than 18,000 individuals. The Foundation offers “fellowships to exceptional individuals in pursuit of scholarship in any field of knowledge and creation in any art form, under the freest possible conditions. After a rigorous review involving hundreds of distinguished scholars and practitioners, the Foundation’s Board of Trustees appoints Fellows on the basis of past achievement and notable promise for future accomplishments.”
 
Chosen from almost 3000 applicants, the 2021 Fellows represent a broad range of disciplines and pursuits. “A Guggenheim Fellowship has always been meaningful,” says Foundation President Edward Hirsch, “but this year we know it will be a lifeline for many of the new Fellows at a time of great hardship, a survival tool as well as a creative one. The work supported by the Fellowship will help us understand more deeply what we are enduring individually and collectively, and it is an honor for the Foundation to help them do what they were meant to do.”
Guitarist and composer Rez Abbasi is among a rare breed of artists that continue to push boundaries while preserving the traditions he has embraced. Consistently placing on DownBeat’s International Critics Poll alongside luminaries Bill Frisell and Pat Metheny since 2014, Abbasi continues to forge new ground with his many multi-dimensional projects. 
 
“Abbasi is living, breathing proof that jazz music can be as vital and boundary-pushing as ever.” – AllAboutJazz.com.
 
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, migrating to the vastness of Southern California at the age of four, schooled at the University of Southern California and the Manhattan School of Music in jazz and classical music, and undertaking a pilgrimage in India under the guidance of master percussionist Ustad Alla Rakha, Abbasi is a vivid synthesis of many influences. Making New York home for the past 25 years, he has developed a singular sound both as a composer and an instrumentalist.
 
Among Abbasi’s recent projects is a commission by the New York Guitar Festival to create and perform a live score to the 1929 silent film A Throw of Dice. His Silent Ensemble recorded the score and released the album in 2019. He also received two highly coveted composition grants from Chamber Music America in order to complete a trilogy of albums with his acclaimed ensemble, Invocation.
 
In 2018 Unfiltered Universe, featuring bandmates Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa, was released as the completion of the trilogy. Like the previous two albums, Things to Come and Suno Suno, Unfiltered Universe received accolades worldwide. With fifteen albums of mostly original compositions, Abbasi’s wide-ranging projects continue to capture provocative sounds seldom heard in today’s music.  In 2021 he is featured on a duo album White Lotus with Min Xiao-Fen.

Rino Arbore - Temporary Life? (May 4, 2021 Dodicilune / Ird)

After having explored the world of rituals and grief in his album “The Roots of Unity”, Rino Arbore - in this record titled “temporary life?” - deals with several thorny ethical issues: the ability to resist evil, indifference or empathy with other people’s suffering and the value of life. As starting point there are three mug shots of Czeslawa Koka, a Polish girl interned in Auschwitz who died in 1943 at 14 years old, after only three months of detention. She was probably killed by a phenol injection. Wilhelm Brasse, the photographer of the camp, portrayed her posing in three different ways, as Nazi used to “identify” their prisoners: a frontal photo and two profile photos. His shots depict a terrified little girl, with her head shaved and a wound on her lip: the same Brasse then reported that the girl, who couldn’t grasp a single word of German and that felt like she was thrown with her mother in an incomprehensible horror, in the picture had just been beaten by a Kapo with a stick.

In the photos she stays motionless in shock and with fear. The album “temporary life?” is dedicated to Czeslawa Koka and to Brasse. In fact the titles of the tracks are conceived to suggest a sort of narration of their life stories. The powerful and tense music is entrusted to a classical jazz quintet, that is classical on paper alone: you are not going to listen to unison themes and long solos accompanied by rhythmic music. The music texture is more complex and free, as it follows a chamber-music cosmetic that continuously divides the group in smaller units, until the rhythm is entrusted to single musicians. More compact tracks in the name of free-bop, like “Czeslawa cries”, “The train at dawn” or “Dance of pigs”, alternate with more sophisticated tracks like “Temporary life?” or the final “Corpi inutili” (Useless bodies). The tune is suggestive and alienating in “L’amore in fondo” (Love at the bottom), a typical shady ballad whose secret is known by Arbore.

All the involved musicians play in a marvellous way: Rubini with his zigzagging paths, Distante with is lyric pathos, Vendola with his warm presence and D’Ambrosio with his always dramatically meaningful contribution, to end with Arbore’s guitar, that directs the rhythm and colour of music. All this contributes to mark a work whose beauty and stunning depth will stay with us for a long time. Fabrizio Versienti
1 - Temporary life?
2 - Czeslawa cries
3 - Nie rozùmiem ci
4 - The train at dawn
5 - Dance of pigs
6 - Fabrika
7 - L'amore in fondo
8 - Block
9 - Wilhelm Brasse
10 - Corpi inutili  

All compositions by Gennaro Arbore

Rino Arbore - guitar
Giorgio Distante - trumpet
Mike Rubini - alto sax
Giorgio Vendola - double bass
Pippo D’Ambrosio - drums

Produced by Maurizio Bizzochetti, Gabriele Rampino, Dodicilune, Italy
Label manager Maurizio Bizzochetti (www.dodicilune.it)
Recorded 15, 16 February 2018 at Studio Sorriso, Bari, Italy
Mixed and mastered 18 April 2018 at Studio Sorriso, Bari, Italy
Sound engineer Tommy Cavalieri
Photos by Lorenzo Zitoli, Alessandro Pensini, Giovanna Sodano, Marina Damato

Steven Feifke Big Band - Kinetic (April 2021 Outside In Music)

Outside in Music is proud to announce the release of Kinetic, the spellbinding big band debut from pianist, composer, arranger, orchestrator, educator and Yamaha Recording Artist Steven Feifke.  One of the most in-demand artists of his generation, Feifke has amassed  an impressive discography having appeared on 30 albums all before  turning 30 years old.  After over a decade’s worth of work as a notable  sideman, conductor and arranger for esteemed artists as Steve Tyrell, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, Santino Fontana, and most recently, Veronica Swift, Feifke finally comes to the fore on this smashing new album that highlights his singular vision and distinct voice. Kinetic will be available everywhere on April 9, 2021. 

Joining the bandleader is an ensemble  made up of players from the very frontline of the contemporary jazz  scene including drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., vocalist Veronica Swift, tenor saxophonist Lucas Pino, and alto saxophonist Alexa Tarantino among many others. The music on Kinetic was refined during the big band’s popular monthly residency at The Django in New York City that ran for nearly two years before COVID brought all live performances to halt. These  regular live performances afforded the band to develop a cohesive  common language and solid rapport, lending a rare intimate air to this  large ensemble recording. 

While Kinetic is his formal label debut, Boston-native Feifke has been a ubiquitous presence on the scene in a plethora of musical arenas. A  two-time semi-finalist in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano Competition,  Feifke has written commissioned work for such notable institutions as  the Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra featuring jazz trumpet greats Sean Jones and Jon Faddis, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra with Ken Peplowski, the Malmo Big Band with Katie Thiroux, and the New Generation Festival Orchestra featuring Dominick Farinacci. Additionally, Feifke works as musical director for musical theater luminary and Tony Award Winning actor and singer Santino Fontanato.  In the realm of television music, Feifke’s compositions and orchestrations have been prominently featured on such hit shows as Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix), Impractical Jokers (TruTV), and Animaniacs (Hulu). Feifke is also a respected educator; he is currently on  faculty at The New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music where he  teaches composing and arranging.  He has served as a guest educator at  Moravian College, Yale University, Williams College among others, and  was the 2018 recipient of the “Pros Meet Pupils” grant from Arts  Mid-Hudson after developing a comprehensive curriculum about the history  of civil rights in America and its relation to jazz pedagogy and  performance. 

All of this and more informs Feifke’s unique artistry, which is on full display on Kinetic. “I  have been running my big band for the past 10 years — since just after I  moved to New York, pretty much. Of all the musical releases I have been  a part of since then, Kinetic is  the one that contains the most “Feifke” on there. It’s just 100% me.  It’s my own voice, and it’s my own unique stamp on the big band idiom,” Feifke says, adding, “I am really proud of the end result.” 
Acclaimed pianist, producer and arranger Gil Goldstein  notes, “There is a traditional quality to the music but upon closer  listening you can hear Steven’s voice and how he reinvents the big band  format to suit his musical personality. He plays with a similar  adventurous spirit, which is at once rooted in the modern jazz piano  tradition, while showing a curious and probing musical mind.”

Kinetic begins with the  bright tempoed swing of the album’s title track.  Feifke’s Coltrane –  McCoy tinged melodic refrains glide atop an unshakeable swing before the  band descends on the tune’s rich melody.  The track demonstrates the  pianist’s immense improvisational acuity with solo features from the  composer as well as trumpeter Gabriel King Medd and drummer Ulysses  Owens Jr.  The album’s first single, the video for “Kinetic” premiered late last year with JazzTimes. The album continues with another highlight, “Unveiling Of A Mirror”,  a composition rife with impressionistic intrigue.  The two contrasting  parts of the tune (a softer and more mysterious textured beginning, and  hard-hitting swing section) speaks to the complexities of reflections  and our often-diverging perceptions versus realities.  The piece  features solos by trumpeter Benny Benack III, saxophonist Sam Dillon,  and drummer Joe Peri.  The composer won second place, for “Unveiling of a  Mirror,” in the 2016 BMI Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Competition  (judged by Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Heath and Alan Ferber).

“The Sphinx”  is a true feat of sonic exploration and instrumental virtuosity.  The  shifting time signatures and sonorities of the piece serves the overall  energy of the composition, not for one second sacrificing musicality for  the sake of technicality.  The piece is equally served by the stunning  musicianship of the ensemble and especially soloist Lucas Pino who acts  here as the Gonsalves to Feifke’s Ellington.  The album ventures on with  a sultry vocal feature for vocalist Veronica Swift on “Until The Real Thing Comes Along”.   Recalling iconic moments of this song’s rich history, from Andy Kirk to  Jackie Wilson, Feifke’s arrangement ultimately is one of restraint,  romanticism, even reverence.  

Showcasing a who’s who of acclaimed, virtuosic instrumentalists and masterful arrangements, Kinetic  offers audiences the polish of a studio album with the electric  intrigue and emotional ebb and flow of a live performance in a time when  gathering to enjoy live music is impossible. The echoes of the Django  residency ring throughout this album with ebullient arrangements of  gorgeous Feifke-penned originals and jazz standards, reflecting the very  pinnacle of orchestral jazz.

Kinetic
Unveiling of a Mirror
The Sphinx
Until the Real Thing Comes Along
Word Travels Fast
Wollongong; Nica's Dream
On the Street Where You Live
Midnight Beat
Closure

Steven Feifke: piano
Andrew Gould: saxophone
Alexa Tarantino: saxophone, alto
Lucas Pino: clarinet, bass
Sam Dillon: saxophone, tenor
Andrew Gutauskas: saxophone, baritone
Max Darché: trumpet
John Lake: trumpet
Benny Benack III: trumpet
Gabriel King Medd: trumpet
Robert Edwards: trombone
Jeffery Miller: trombone
Armando Vergara: trombone
Jennifer Wharton: trombone
Alex Wintz: guitar
Dan Chmielinski: bass
Ulysses Owens, Jr.: drums
Veronica Swift: voice / vocals
Jimmy Macbride: drums
Bryan Carter: drums