Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Amara - Amara (June 30, 2021 Sola Terra)

Responding to their environment, Amara’s sound is greatly influenced by the cold and dark months of autumn and winter in Glasgow, a city which can be unrelenting in its greyness. It is a product of that. After sifting through hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours of recordings, a narrative slowly formed and Amara began to revisit some ideas. It is these ideas that make up this album. The album is the narrative.

Amara was formed from a jam, and the music in this album came from many months of improvisation. At gigs, at rehearsals, out and about on the streets, Amara would freely improvise with one another, weaving themselves and their spirits together so that, no longer individuals, the musicians became one.

1. Intro 02:55
2. Blue 08:56
3. Ruby 07:02
4. Spirits 10:15
5. Psychedelic Potato 04:00
6. Rotations 06:17
7. Street Lamp 04:10

+ All compositions by Amara
+ Tracked & mixed by Luigi Pasquini
+ Mastered by Mark Dobson
+ Artwork by Rebecca Ashton
+ Design & Layout by C.O.Turner
+ Sola Terra STR005

Have You Heard? Min Xiao-Fen "White Lotus" (feat. Rez Abbasi) June 2021 via Outside In Music

VISIONARY PIPA SOLOIST, VOCALIST AND COMPOSER MIN XIAO-FEN SET TO RELEASE WHITE LOTUS VIA OUTSIDE IN MUSIC

Co-produced by multi-Grammy winning recording engineer Jim Anderson, original soundtrack features acclaimed guitarist Rez Abbasi

White Lotus is multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Min Xiao-Fen’s original soundtrack to The Goddess, a 1934 silent film from China’s cinematic golden age. Best known for her genre-breaking performances on the four-string pipa, Min has collaborated with artists like Wadada Leo Smith, Randy Weston, John Zorn and Bjork. White Lotus also features the work of acclaimed guitarist Rez Abbasi, co-producer and multi-Grammy winning recording engineer Jim Anderson, and Grammy-nominated immersive sound producer Ulrike Schwarz.

Min Xiao-Fen arrived in the United States in 1992 feeling a “need for something new.” She had grown up in Nanjing, where her father was a pipa master. He taught her his instrument, and also to sing Beijing Opera. The family also knew the music of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. Min’s sister became a prominent erhu virtuoso and her brother a symphonic conductor. When Min graduated from high school in 1977, the Cultural Revolution had not quite subsided – music conservatories remained closed. Min successfully auditioned for Nanjing’s leading traditional music ensemble and wound up playing eighty concerts a year, including European tours. Meanwhile, Min began singing in Chinese clubs, backed by saxophone, electric guitar, and drums. Min’s voice proved adaptable to cooler Western styles. Some of her father’s colleagues were not pleased.

A turning point came in New York City when John Zorn invited Min to improvise – which she had never attempted. That led to performing Thelonious Monk tunes for Jazz at Lincoln Center. She thought Thelonious Monk “was actually a monk. My contact with his music felt physical,” she recalls. Her transformational Monk renditions remain a Min Xiao-Fen signature.

This Chinese-American fusion is one of the highest achievements in present-day world music. It is wondrously explicable. China’s seismic political and cultural upheavals produced an earthquake of creativity. Conservatory-bound composers wound up in the countryside, absorbing folk music styles exploring timbre in ways they had never imagined. And – following Chinese speech, in which tonal infections impart meaning – Chinese folk tunes subtly manipulate pitch, sliding between notes that are separately voiced by keyed Western instruments. A generation of important Chinese composers, paradoxical beneficiaries of enforced rural relocation, wound up studying in the West. For many, Bela Bartok became a lodestar for his way of retaining the spontaneity and savage beauty of folk elements. And so Chinese composers discovered a middle ground between Chinese and Western instrumental performance – a musical kaleidoscope sounding “Asian” to American ears for its sighing speech-song and taut percussion patterns, yet equally foreign, in harmonic idiom, to Chinese audiences.
This new music spawned a virtuosity of which Min is a peak exemplar. Her musical adventures have led in many directions. The present collaboration with Rez Abbasi, whose virtuosity is as protean as Min’s, is special. Born in Karachi, raised in Southern California, Rez is a keen student of jazz, ethnic, and classical music. The resulting combination of pipa, guqin, ruan, and sanxian – all plucked instruments – with acoustic and electric guitars produces a limitless range of juxtaposition: of similarity and imitation; of dialogue and contradiction. The strumming physicality, the skittish passagework, the delicacy of inflection accessible to both players yields a veritable lexicon of East/West fusion. To this are added the complex melismas, shifting vibratos, and rapid-fire ornamentation of Min’s vocalism, as rooted in scat as in timeless Chinese tradition.

The ethnomusicologist Marc Perlman once remarked that “musical borders can be crossed, but the value of crossing them depends on the degree to which you respect them.” Some hybrids are slapdash. The intermingling of styles in White Lotus is complete and comprehensive.

From the liner notes by author, concert producer, and teacher Joseph Horowitz

DE GHOST - Newsletter June 2021 (sknail)

NEW SINGLE

DE GHOST is the new electro project (electronica/ambient) of Swiss producer Sknail.

"LUXE", the first single from the album of the same name to be release this fall, is out today!

This track won the 2nd prize of the ELECTRON FESTIVAL Track Contest 2020.

NEW MUSIC VIDEO
ARTWORK AND MUSIC VIDEO BY AMERICAN MULTIMEDIA ARTIST ENO

Festival Scene di Paglia | giovedì 1° luglio | BERARDI CASOLARI inaugurano la nuova edizione al Casone Ramei di Piove di Sacco

Scene di Paglia
Festival dei casoni e delle acque
XI| edizione
CORPI ANTICORPI
1-11 luglio 2021

GIOVEDÌ 1° LUGLIO
COMPAGNIA BERARDI CASOLARI
I FIGLI DELLA FRETTOLOSA

Arriva il primo appuntamento con il Festival Scene di paglia, che inaugura con I figli della frettolosa di Gianfranco Berardi e Gabriella Casolari.

Uno spettacolo nato per riflettere il significato di “vedere”, indagando la cecità intesa come malattia e metafora della miopia sociale. In scena un gruppo ibrido di attori, vedenti e non vedenti, che ha preso parte al laboratorio condotto dalla compagnia

Giovedì 1° luglio 2021 riparte finalmente Scene di paglia con il primo di numerosi appuntamenti. Una nuova rinascita del mondo teatrale, che ritorna dopo tempo a contatto diretto con gli spettatori, che potranno godere di emozionanti spettacoli live. Il ricco programma di questa dodicesima edizione si apre al pubblico al Casone Ramei, di Piove di Sacco, con I figli della frettolosa di Gianfranco Berardi e Gabriella Casolari. Il punto di vista qui è allora quello di un non vedente - come l’attore Gianfranco Berardi e parte del coro sula scena - di chi guarda ma non vede, percependo la realtà circostante in modo differente. La cecità diventa metafora di una miopia sociale ed esistenziale che ci riguarda tutti, per affrontare il tema della cecità e il significato che ha oggi la parola «vedere», in un mondo dove l'attenzione dell'individuo è sempre più distante dalla vera conoscenza dell’essere, dell’esistenza.

Sono quindi diversi gli interrogativi a cui siamo chiamati a rispondere: cosa vedo oggi nel mondo che preferirei non vedere? Cosa non vedo più oggi nel mondo che vorrei tanto tornare a vedere? Cosa vuol dire oggi vedere? (biglietto, 5 euro, prevendite online su www.vivaticket.it e al Teatro Filarmonico di Piove di Sacco, per informazioni info@scenedipaglia.net).
I figli della frettolosa, nato in collaborazione con l’Unione Italiana dei Ciechi e degli Ipovedenti, ha preso forma con il laboratorio di cinque giorni guidato da Gianfranco Berardi e Gabriella Casolari con la partecipazione di attori vedenti e non vedenti, guidati nella creazione di piccole storie biografiche con particolare attenzione alle diverse tecniche teatrali, finalizzato alla creazione del coro. Uno spettacolo che è, quindi, anche un evento speciale perché integra il lavoro del teatro alla vita della comunità, mettendo insieme attori professionisti e cittadini, vedenti e ciechi, costruendo una struttura drammaturgica con i vissuti particolari dei diversi partecipanti. Un coro composto da persone non vedenti, con i loro bastoni bianchi e i loro occhiali scuri, può essere l’immagine più rappresentativa della nostra società, l’allegoria di un popolo smarrito, ma mai arrendevole.

L’idea nasce da Gianfranco Berardi, attore e autore non vedente, e da Gabriella Casolari, attrice e autrice, che imperniano la loro poetica sul tema della cecità, reale e allegorica. Il progetto prende spunto da un precedente spettacolo della compagnia, In fondo agli occhi (regia di César Brie) cui veniva affrontato il tema della cecità in maniera tragicomica come malattia da cui è afflitto Gianfranco, del quale Gabriella si prende cura, e come metafora della condizione in cui viviamo e in cui vivono le giovani generazioni oggi.
Casone Ramei di Piove di Sacco

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Benoît Delbecq 4 - Gentle Ghosts (June 2021 Jazzdor)

The founding of Delbecq 4 traces back to November 2003, a few years after New York pianist Ethan Iverson had introduced Benoît Delbecq’s work to saxophonist Mark Turner. Turner joined the Delbecq Unit – a quintet which also featured Oene Van Geel, Mark Helias and Emile Biayenda – for its premiere at the 2003 Strasbourg Jazz d’Or Festival. The ensemble recorded Phonetics for the Vancouver-based label Songlines. This release affirmed Delbecq’s prowess as a leader and garnered such wide-ranging acclaim as the Choc de l'Année 2004 Jazz'man and a sprawling piece by celebrated New York Times critic Ben Rattlif.

In 2008, the young in-demand bassist John Hébert – New Yorker by way of Louisiana, and a fan of Delbecq's work – proposed the formation of a new trio with Delbecq and drummer Gerald Cleaver. Both artists had worked together as the final rhythm section for legendary pianist Andrew Hill. The John Hébert trio released acclaimed albums Spiritual Lover (2010) and Floodstage (2014) for Cleanfeed Records, touring across France and the United States.

The Delbecq 4 unites Turner and Delbecq, spotlighting a musical relationship marked by a compelling empathy that blossomed within Hébert’s trio. In 2016, the quartet premiered at Cornelia Street Café in New York City’s West Village, later recording Spots on Stripes (Cleanfeed, 2019) at Trading8s studio in New Jersey. The release received peer acknowledgment and international praise.

Delbecq 4 toured France, Switzerland and Belgium in spring as well as fall of 2019. Following their concert at the Philharmonie de Paris at Jazz à la Villette Festival, the collaborators recorded Gentle Ghosts in a single day at MidiLive studio near Paris; director Igor Juget captured the session on film. As he always does for his own projects, Delbecq served as composer for the entire recording which includes two of his older tunes, one of which he wrote for Turner in 2002.

A delicate use of electronics refines Delbecq’s search for new musical vibrations. Sitting at the piano with a midi foot pedal on the ground, Delbecq uses a real-time recording program of each instrumentalist’s microphone – sometimes of the entire quartet mix – a process he calls “post-radiophonic.” Consequently, the musicians as well as the listener dive into the revisiting of micro-musical miniatures after having heard them a brief moment earlier. Such ear attitude creates a mutation feel, as these miniatures are re-injected into the quartet's playing and overall sound, a playful process that crafts new states of music. This signature approach serves and expands Delbecq’s role of real-time “remixer,” one he established on Plug and Pray with Jozef Dumoulin and Ambitronix with Steve Argüelles, who previously assumed the same role on Delbecq’s albums Pursuit (Songlines, 2000) and Poolplayers (Songlines, 2007) with Arve Henriksen.

Delbecq has received support throughout his long-term, evolving sonic arcs from such crucial musicians as Mal Waldron, Steve Lacy, Paul Bley, Steve Coleman, György Ligeti or Pascal Dusapin, as well as from venues and festivals that are particularly championing of his sound and approach, such as Jazz d’Or Strasbourg, Europa Jazz Le Mans, the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, the Wroclaw Jazztopad and the Sud des Alpes in Geneva, among other international performance hubs. The Parisian pianist continues to work diligently toward his original musical visions. He is as curious about architecture as he is about the properties of imaginary numbers; he loves Thelonious Monk as much as the music of the Aka pygmies, Paul Bley as much as Domenico Scarlatti, Ornette Coleman as much as Claude Monet. He is a free and active musician who has traveled the international jazz scene since the early 90s.

Over the past three decades, Delbecq has built a fuss-free career, for he is unaffected by fashions and seductive strategies, his career being fostered by a vibrant momenta and the transmission of a musical language. His inspiration emerges from critical thinking and persistent research, and his expression praises collective, inventive forms and sounds in movement served by the exceptional voices of his fellow improvisers. All these elements invite his listeners into a kind of rhythmic and melodic mirage-like music – Gentle Ghosts – a music that questions our own history, our own memory. The sound of Benoît Delbecq is one that quietly influences the jazz of tomorrow. 

1. Anamorphoses 06:11
2. Chemin sur le Crest 06:15
3. Gentle Ghosts 05:43
4. Strange Loop 09:10
5. Stereo Fields 05:38
6. Le même jour 07:00
7. Havn 02:59

All compositions are by Benoît Delbecq (Sacem).

Recorded by Samuel Navel on September 3, 2019 at MidiLive, Villetaneuse, Paris.
Piano technician : Philippe Bailleul.
Mastered by Klaus Sheuermann at studio 4ohm, Berlin.
Produced and mixed by Benoit Delbecq.
Executive producer: Philippe Ochem for Jazzdor Series.
Photo: John Rogers
Graphic design: Helmo

NEWS: ÀBÁSE announces globe-trotting new album 'Laroyê', shares SINGLE 'Agangatolú'

On a quest for global grooves of unity, Àbáse is the imagination of Hungarian producer and multi-instrumentalist Szabolcs Bognar. Creating an exquisite blend of West African, Brazilian, hip-hop, new-soul and jazz music, he is set to release new single ‘Agangatolú’ on the 23rd June via Oshu Records and is the first track to be taken from his debut album ‘Laroyê’, released later this year.
 
Having already gained support from the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson, Worldwide FM, Stamp The Wax, Earmilk, Complex, Soulection, Nabihah Iqbal and KEXP, Bognar released his long anticipated debut EP ‘Invocation’ in 2019 via HHV Records and Cosmic Compositions and earlier this year, released the critically acclaimed ‘Body Mind Spirit’ EP, a collaborative electronic exploration with drummer/producer Ziggy Zeitgeist.
 
The word “àbáse” comes from the West African Yoruba language and stands for “collaboration” – a key element of Àbáse’s music, as he brings together versatile artists from around the world to push genre and style boundaries. New single ‘Agangatolú’ is no exception and features musicians Bognar collaborated with on travels around Brazil including singer and percussionist Jadson Xabla, IFA Afrobeat drummer Jorge Dubman aka ‘Dr Drumah’, vibraphonist Antonio Loureiro and Hungarian flutist and saxophonist Fanni Zahár.
The song is based on a traditional Candomblé song for the Orisha (deity) Oshosi; the spirit associated with the hunt, forests, animals and wealth. “Agangatolú is the song that probably represents the album best because it brings the beauty of the afro-brazilian culture to the forefront while mixing it with contemporary elements and a bass heavy sound. It’s also a beautiful example of the intricate collaboration process that is at the core of the project: the base of the composition was a result of me researching traditional songs and rhythms from Bahia.”

We were instantly gripped upon hearing the work of Hungarian jazz collaborative project Àbáse” Stamp The Wax
 
“Cinematic harmonies over a rollicking rhythm section” Earmilk
 
“Impressive technical prowess without ever straying close to pretension” Complex

The core of the ‘Laroyê’ album was recorded in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador where Àbáse spent five months working with diverse artists, from young talents to veterans of the Brazilian scene. Mainly recorded with a Zoom recorder in tiny apartments rather than the usual big studio set-up, the album serves as an audio diary of a travelling musician, exploring the rich heritage of afro-brasilian culture through samba, MPB and Candomblé. Mixing these with contemporary production techniques, broken beat, hip hop and afrobeat, ‘Laroyê’ is a contemporary homage to the classic Brazilian sound.
 
Bognár has been active in the electic music scene of Budapest for many years and has spearheaded may several successful acts, including Solqlap Budapest and the The Mabon Dawud Republic, a fourteen piece afrobeat orchestra hosting Felabration Budapest and guest-starring the likes of Dele Sosimi and Pat Thomas. After residencies in Paris, Lyon, New York, Rio De Janeiro and Salvador, Àbáse is now based in Berlin, where in addition to his solo career, he is also the keyboard player for Nigerian soul singer Wayne Snow and Australian jazz drummer Ziggy Zeitgeist’s Freedom Energy Exchange.

Taken from forthcoming album ‘Laroyê’ released 5th November via Oshu Records


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Jacám Manricks - Cloud Nine (June 26, 2021 Posi-Tone Records)

Saxophonist Jacám Manricks soars up and out into the friendly skies of "Cloud Nine." This exciting musical program from 2012 covers all the angles as Manricks' brilliant original compositions are presented by an amazing group of players including celebrated organist Sam Yahel, renowned guitarist Adam Rogers, the ever amazing Matt Wilson on drums, and there is also a guest appearance by trumpet wizard David Weiss. Manricks demonstrates his total command of the instrument, and serious listeners will be joyously transported away to the swinging heavenly wonderland of "Cloud Nine."

1. Cloud Nine 03:58
2. Ystävä Sä Lapsien 05:26
3. Any Minute Now 06:15
4. Take The Five Train 05:57
5. Cry 06:20
6. Alibis And Lullabies 04:52
7. Serene Pilgramage 04:05
8. Loaf 07:28
9. Luiza 04:58

Jacám Manricks - alto saxophone
David Weiss - trumpet
Adam Rogers - guitar
Sam Yahel - organ
Matt Wilson - drums

Marc Free - producer
Nick O’Toole - engineer
recorded October 19, 2011 at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, NY
mixed & mastered at Pine Street Studio, Lake Oswego, OR
photography by Jayd Gardina
package design by Escott Associates

Friday, June 25, 2021

Matthew Goodheart & Broken Ghost Consort - Presences: mixed suite for five performers and nine instruments (June 25, 2021 Infrequent Seams)

Presences: mixed suite for five performers and nine instruments is a multimovement collaborative composition by composer, improviser, and sound installation artist Matthew Goodheart. Working with his Broken Ghost Consort (featuring Georg Wissel on clarinet and George Cremaschi on bass), the group is expanded by noted trombonist Matthias Muche and veteran tubist Melyvn Poore. Goodheart, known for his “reembodied sound” technique of activating musical instruments using surface transducers, brings this technique to the ensemble as a whole, harnessing the player’s instruments with transducers so that they produce electronic sounds as the performers play. The group of musicians is additionally surrounded by four transducer-activated metal percussion instruments, creating an expensive hybrid ensemble that blends performance and sound installation.

The collaborative nature of the work emerges from the compositional design. While Goodheart provided an overall framework, each musician recorded a set of instrumental sounds of their own choice. These sounds were then and manipulated according to the compositional parameters, generating the electronic components to be played back in concert through the attached transducers. The ensemble essentially performs alongside a “ghost” of themselves and the autonomously sounding metal percussion.

Over the course of four movements, this process becomes a multi-leveled platform to explore complex timbres, spatialized sound, instrumental acoustics, interaction, and the nature of time and materiality in sonic creation. 
1. Prelude in Disintegrations
2. Interlude
3. Impulse Response Variations
4. Closing Forms

Composer: Matthew Goodheart
Broken Ghost Consort:
Georg Wissel – clarinet
Matthias Muche – trombone
Melvyn Poore – tuba
Matthew Goodheart - piano
George Cremaschi – bass

Produced by Georg Wissel

Recorded June 13, 2019, The Loft, Köln
Recording Engineer: Stefan Deistler
Mixed by - Matthew Goodheart
Mastered by - Jonah Rosenberg at Blooming Lightways

Dal 25 giugno: "Enjoy", disco d'esordio per il progetto Claudio Prima & Seme (Ipe Ipe Music - Puglia Sounds Record)

ENJOY
IPE IPE MUSIC / GOODFELLAS - ARTIST FIRST

La musica tradizionale è in continuo movimento: venerdì 25 giugno esce Enjoy, disco d’esordio del progetto Claudio Prima & Seme prodotto da Domenico Coduto per Ipe Ipe Music nella programmazione “Puglia Sounds Record 2020/2021”, distribuito nei negozi da Goodfellas e negli store digitali da Artist First.

L'incontro fra l'organetto del musicista, cantante e compositore salentino Claudio Prima, il quartetto d'archi formato da Vera Longo (violino e voce), Paola Barone (violino), Cristian Musìo (viola) e Marco Schiavone (violoncello), già protagonisti di numerose collaborazioni (Giovane Orchestra del Salento, La Municipal, Orchestra della Magna Grecia), e le percussioni di Vito De Lorenzi, porta alla ricerca di una scrittura che esprima il contatto tra due stili, apparentemente lontani fra loro, ma legati da un'appartenenza geografica che negli anni ha prodotto numerose forme di reciproca influenza. Il rigore della musica classica incontra, infatti, l'istinto e la spontaneità della musica popolare, che rivive di una ritualità moderna, traslando la sua eterna ricerca di un richiamo ancestrale in una scrittura attuale. Il Mediterraneo si fonde con il mondo classico, giocando con le provenienze e favorendo la contaminazione di due mondi musicali che da sempre hanno segretamente dialogato, come si può evincere dalle composizioni di Béla Bartók e Igor Stravinskj, fra gli altri, profondamente intrise di echi tradizionali. Il repertorio scandaglia i fondali del Mediterraneo con una scrittura originale che condensa più di vent’anni di ricerca sulle musiche cosiddette “di confine” e sulle inaspettate connessioni fra le tradizioni del mare di mezzo e il mondo classico.

Il disco - che propone dieci composizioni originali di Claudio Prima e una rilettura del brano tradizionale dell’isola di Cipro “To Ghiasemi” - sarà lanciato con il videoclip del primo singolo “Domenica” che racconta una storia semplice, al limite fra quotidianità e sogno. Sullo sfondo della band e del protagonista, le campagne di Otranto e la Torre di Sant'Emiliano, uno dei luoghi più suggestivi del Salento, terra d'origine di Claudio Prima, che firma le musiche e la regia di questo videoclip, impreziosito dalla fotografia di Stefano Tramacere.
Il disco sarà presentato ufficialmente sabato 26 giugno (ore 21 - ingresso 5 euro - info e prenotazioni 0573774500) nel parco della Villa Medicea La Magia a Quarrata per la sesta edizione del Quarrata Folk Festival, e lunedì 28 giugno (ore 19:30 - ingresso libero - info e prenotazioni 3516480009) al Museo Castromediano di Lecce per la serata finale di Pratiche corporee a cura de La fabbrica dei gesti. Il tour proseguirà al Philia Festival di Squinzano, in provincia di Lecce (17 luglio - ore 20:30) e a Suoni della Murgia di Altamura, in provincia di Bari (30 luglio - ore 20:30).

«Scrivere per quartetto d'archi non è impresa semplice, è uno strumento complesso con delle logiche interne quasi perfette, che si portano dietro secoli di storia della musica», spiega Claudio Prima. «Dopo quattro anni di prove e tentativi a volte non riusciti, ho iniziato a scrivere per quartetto cercando di sfruttarne al meglio la potenza evocativa, che viene dall'ascolto degli archi in ambito popolare, soprattutto nell'est Europa, in Albania, Romania, Armenia. In questo progetto io cerco principalmente l'emozione del gesto sonoro, la coesione e l'immediatezza. Ogni brano è un piccolo rito per me, ha i suoi richiami nella mia storia personale e nel mio percorso professionale, rappresenta per me il riferimento a un vissuto, a una relazione, a un'esperienza, che traduco volta per volta in musica. Ogni brano è completamente vissuto e concreto, questo mi aiuta a connettermi in prima persona con quello che scrivo e poi suono. Così posso trasportare con me dapprima i musicisti che condividono questo percorso, giovani talenti che hanno da subito sposato l'idea e che mi sostengono in tutto il processo e quindi il pubblico, a cui nei live racconto cosa c'è dietro ogni brano, per poterli aiutare a rivivere con me quell'emozione. A dirla tutta questo accade, a volte, anche senza dire una parola».
Claudio Prima è leader e ideatore di numerosi progetti di indagine sulle “musiche di confine” (BandAdriatica, Adria, La Repetitiòn - Orchestra senza confini, Tukrè, Manigold). Si esibisce in festival e rassegne internazionali in Europa, USA, Brasile Tunisia, Libano, Giordania, Kuwait. È organettista, cantante, compositore e autore di colonne sonore. È solista dell’opera contemporanea Oceanic Verses di Paola Prestini con cui si esibisce a New York, Washington e al Barbican Center di Londra con la BBC Symphony Orchestra. Dirige la “Giovane Orchestra del Salento” un ensemble di giovani musicisti salentini. È assistente di Goran Bregovic e Giovanni Sollima per la Notte della Taranta. Ha un'intensa attività discografica e ad oggi conta più di 80 presenze in pubblicazioni discografiche italiane ed internazionali. Scrive musiche per teatro (Verso Terra di Mario Perrotta 2016, Oltremundo, Arrivi e partenze di Marcelo Bulgarelli 2014, La grande cena di Camilla Cuparo 2009). «L’organetto per me è uno strumento di relazione, di incontro, è una lente d’ingrandimento, portata sempre in valigia e pronta ad esplorare. Ha il suono e il sapore della mia terra d’origine e lo sguardo rivolto al prossimo approdo», conclude.

L’album è realizzato nella “Programmazione Puglia Sounds Record 2020/2021”
“REGIONE PUGLIA – FSC 2014/2020 – Patto per la Puglia - Investiamo nel vostro futuro”.

Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog - Hope (June 25, 2021 Northern Spy Records)

When these recording sessions began in the last week of May 2020, I hadn’t left my house to go anywhere other than the grocery store in over two months. I hadn’t taken a cab or subway. I’d lost several friends to COVID-19, and was afraid I’d also lose more thanks to the non-response of our would-be dictator/“president”, whose deliberate embrace of untruth fed tens of thousands of lives to the pandemic, and also reduced what little hope was left for avoiding global warming catastrophe.

I hadn’t seen my partner since February (our plans to fly to each other’s countries shut down) and it would be July before we finally got together. Our difficulties were nothing compared with others. When me and fellow Ceramic Dogs Ches and Shahzad figured out a way to record, we entered the studio separately, sat in separate, isolated rooms from which we couldn’t see each other, communicating through mics and headphones. We were careful to wash our hands: one of us has respiratory issues, so fuck-ups could’ve been bad. We wound up with two record’s worth of material, some released on Bandcamp in October on the EP What I Did on My Long Vacation, and the majority of the music here on this full CD-length recording.

If/when people look back on these times, maybe they’ll seem unreal... foreign, alien: the way I, as a child in the 1960’s, looked at the faded footage of the 1930’s as impossibly ancient, even though the family members who had survived those newsreels sat next to me at breakfast. In fact, my 9 year old self was closer to the burning of the Reichstag than we are now to the release of Nevermind.
Anyway, when we went into the studio, I thought we’d come up with something that spoke to our times… a message in a bottle to our equally shipwrecked (imaginary) listeners. But once we started, it was so much fun to jam that we forgot the disasters outside. So instead, we “spoke” to each other. And to other times that we couldn’t yet see: like the day, 5 months later, when people all over Brooklyn would dance in the streets for joy.

It’s almost December now. Things are shutting down again, and I’m quarantined in Europe writing liner notes for a record that will be released in the new year--once more, speaking to another time… perhaps a future? M Ribot

1. B-Flat Ontology
2. Nickelodeon
3. Wanna
4. The Activist
5. Bertha The Cool
6. They Met In The Middle
7. The Long Goodbye
8. Maple Leaf Rage
9. Wear Your Love Like Heaven

Ceramic Dog are:
Marc Ribot: guitars, vocals
Shahzad Ismaily: bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Ches Smith: drums, percussion, electronics, backing vocals

with Guests:
Darius Jones: alto sax (6,7)
Rubin Khodeli: cello (8)
Gyda Valtysdottir: cello (8)
Syd Straw: background vocals (3)

Mixed by Randall Dunn at Aleph Recording Company, Brooklyn, NY
Engineered by Shahzad Ismaily at Figure 8 Recordings, Brooklyn, NY
Except (8) Engineered by Shahzad Ismaily & Philip Weinrobe at Figure 8 Recordings
Mastering by Gregory Obis at Chicago Mastering Service
Creative Direction by Bryan Abdul Collins
Management: Mary Ho / Noise Inc

All Lyrics & Music by Marc Ribot (Knockwurst Music, ASCAP)
Except (2) (4) (5) (6) Music by Marc Ribot, Shahzad Ismaily (Wazir & Malika Music), Ches Smith (Preposterous Bee Music, BMI), And (9) by Donovan Leitch (Peer International Corp)

Denny Zeitlin & George Marsh - Telepathy (June 25, 2021 Sunnyside Records)

True improvisers always seek new avenues and vehicles to inspire themselves in their art. Keyboard master Denny Zeitlin and percussion guru George Marsh have continued to push their musical dialogs to near telepathic levels utilizing their long-honed rapport and technological advancements to propel their music into new, enlivening places. Their new recording, Telepathy, continues their journey into the endless world of improvisation.

The Bay Area based Zeitlin and Marsh have worked alongside of each other since the 1960s. Together, they have explored the farthest reaches of numerous musical styles, from jazz and classical to rock, electronics and free improvisation. These decades of working together have cemented a bond and musical language that is unbreakable, but also one that continues to evolve.

Since 2013, the two artists have met regularly at Zeitlin’s Double Helix Studio at his home. The meetings happen every two to three months and are always recorded for posterity. The studio houses percussion and drum set along with Zeitlin’s Steinway piano, and an astonishing array of keyboards, computers, monitors, pedals, breath controllers and electronics.

Marsh typically plays acoustically on percussion and drums. Zeitlin plays all keyboards, acoustic and electric. The system is set up for maximum flexibility in real time. Sounds from multiple computer synths are controlled from any of 4 keyboards via foot pedals, hand and breath controls, and an array of three iPads with 8 different complex sounds apiece that can be dialed up and mixed together at any time with the touch of a screen. The net effect is that of two musicians becoming an orchestra, a goal of Zeitlin’s since he first climbed into his parents’ Steinway piano as a child.

Telepathy is the third, and most recent, collection of spontaneous compositions that Zeitlin and Marsh have recorded. It continues on the path they initially carved on Riding The Moment (2015) and Expedition (2017); the musicians are musical explorers who span not only the geography of the musical terrain but also the geology, as they break deeper and deeper into the bedrock of the unexplored.
The duo has continued to grow, and Telepathy shows the crystallization of their processes of instant composition. Zeitlin and Marsh find ways to bring these divergent sounds together in a collective and intuitively structured fashion, all without a note being planned ahead of time. They choose to get out of the way of the emergence of the music.

The recording begins with the evocatively titled “Highlands,” a piece that introduces pipelike tones reminiscent of Scotland with Marsh’s percussion before settling into a piano and bass led groove. One can imagine mercury flowing down a steep hillside in “Quicksilver,” an especially swinging piece, while “Hatching” begins with an ascending emergence before finding a warm pulse. A mysterious pall hangs over “Black Hole” until the murky sustained piano and fluttering percussion finally let some light escape through Zeitlin’s bright righthanded melody and haunting vocal effects.

Ruminative piano and propulsive kit drums build into an otherworldly waltz on “Moon Flower” and the intensity heightens on “Boiling Point,” with a simmering, swinging drum feature and offbeat rejoinders from Zeitlin. Shifting meters, bass pulses, snappy percussion and kalimba make “On the Move” exciting and exotic, while Zeitlin’s guitar and Marsh’s push and pull on “Disagree to Agree” generate a teasing musical debate. Meditative patches give “If Only” an aura of regret, differing from the offbeat energy of “Hadron Collider.”

Zeitlin introduces a collection of voices on the playful tune “The Ascent,” a cinematic piece where the performers are at their most dramatic. The expansive “The Odyssey” is the record’s tour de force, a fascinating, weaving journey that continues on a triumphant arc. “The Maze” is another mysterious piece that leads listeners through unexpected turns. The recording concludes with electric “Fillmore Dreams,” a bombastic sendoff recalling rock concerts at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium back in the ‘60’s psychedelic era with distorted melody and high intensity percussion.

Lifelong partners in exploration, Denny Zeitlin and George Marsh feel that Telepathy is the best representation of their unique musical bond and unbounded enthusiasm for creation. 

1. Highlands
2. Quicksilver
3. Hatching
4. Black Hole
5. Moon Flower
6. Boiling Point
7. On The Move
8. Disagree To Agree
9. If Only
10. Hadron Collider
11. The Ascent
12. Odyssey
13. Maze
14. Fillmore Dreams

Denny Zeitlin - acoustic piano, hardware & virtual synthesizers, keyboards
George Marsh - drums, percussion

Introducing Joel Frahm - The Bright Side (Friday, June 25th on Anzic Records)

The Joel Frahm Trio is a new band featuring Frahm on tenor and soprano saxophones, Dan Loomis on bass, and Ernesto Cervini on drums. The Bright Side is their debut recording for Anzic Records, and is the culmination of a musical partnership that has developed over the course of many tours and recording sessions spanning the last decade.

Frahm first encountered the chord-less trio format as a teenager, and says he was "mesmerized by the music they created and hooked by the feeling of freedom and space the “chordless” trio provided me as a listener.” He was part of several bands that fit that description: In the 1990s, Matt Wilson’s Quartet with Frahm and Andrew D’Angelo playing their musical version of Abbott and Costello with Wilson and Yosuke Inoue facilitating the antics on drums and bass, respectively. The millennium brought a seven year trio residency at Bar Next Door in Greenwich Village featuring Joe Martin on bass and Bill Campbell on drums. There were many nights at Smalls Jazz Club and later at Wilson Live featuring Frahm's trio with bassist and composer Omer Avital and drummer Anthony Pinciotti, another band that continues to work consistently. In fact, Frahm’s debut recording Sorry No Decaf was initially envisioned as a trio CD before David Berkman was added on piano.  This recording marks Frahm’s return to this formative trio format, this time as a bandleader.
The trio was born at a masterclass at the University of Toronto, as an offshoot of Cervini’s band Turboprop. In the ensuing years, Loomis and Cervini took the reins and began to book gigs for the ensemble, and on their first European tour a repertoire began to take shape, comprised almost entirely of recently penned original songs by each member of the band. The music runs the gamut: from X-Friends, Dan Loomis’ knotty re-imagining of the Klenner/Lewis standard Just Friends, to Frahm’s title tune The Bright Side, which was inspired by the opening riff of Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side. Cervini contributes The Beautiful Mystery, a pensive and emotional tone poem that contrasts beautifully with upbeat tracks like Frahm’s Beeline, a new melody written on the chord changes of My Shining Hour.

The Joel Frahm Trio is dedicated to playing original music with humour, emotion, blues spirit and all of the elements that people love about jazz. This  record is the first offering from a formidable band you’ll be hearing more from soon.  Also, you might be interested to learn that Frahm, a veteran of the New York City jazz scene , will be moving to Nashville mid-July.

The Bright Side will be released worldwide on Friday, June 25th on Anzic Records

1. Blow Poppa Joe (Frahm) 4:22
2. Thinking of Benny (Frahm) 7:35
3. Boo Dip Dip (Frahm) 6:17
4. Silk Road (Loomis) 7:33
5. Omer’s World (Frahm) 4:55
6. Qu’est-ce Que C’est (Frahm) 6:48
7. X Friends (Loomis) 5:18
8. Beeline (Frahm) 4:27
9. The Beautiful Mystery (Cervini) 5:15
10. The Bright Side (Frahm) 8:58

Joel Frahm - Tenor & Soprano Saxophone
Dan Loomis - Bass
Ernesto Cervini - Drums

Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra - Tales From The Jacquard (June 25, 2021 Whirlwind Recordings)

Saxophonist and composer Julian Siegel is back for his fourth release on Whirlwind. Tales from the Jacquard is his most ambitious musical feat to date, assembling the stellar forces of the Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra. Following the acclaimed Julian Siegel Quartet release Vista and the influential co-led Partisans album Nit de Nit, Siegel solidifies his reputation as one of Europe's most celebrated artists working across jazz and improvised musics.

Siegel has appeared as a member of some of the great large ensembles – he lists Hermeto Pascoal, Mike Gibbs, Kenny Wheeler, Django Bates and NDR Bigband amongst extensive performing credits. Now, the instrumentalist turns leader: Tales from the Jacquard is Siegel’s first record at the helm of a large ensemble. The album is a long time in the making – Siegel pairs ‘Jacquard’, a Derby Jazz commission from 2017, with a selection of charts originally written for small band arranged for the specially formed Jazz Orchestra.

On the half-hour ‘Tales from the Jacquard’, history fuses with technique. The piece is rooted in the East Midlands, where Siegel’s parents owned a lace-making business. “I have clear memories of trips to the lace factory with my Dad in the 1970's and hearing the sound of the machines – he wanted to conduct them! My Dad always had a great love for music and after work at home in Nottingham, Ellington, Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Lockjaw Davis, Paul Gonsalves and Ben Webster would be on the turntable as well as a lot of classical music. It seemed like a natural thing to try and explore the lace making process and use this research to inspire new music.”

Experimentation with Jacquard cards played a key role in his compositional process. “I was sent a single card by Cluny Lace, one of the only surviving lace factories in the East Midlands. At the factory I saw the Jacquard machines with their sheets of punched cards transmitting the pattern to the lace machines. With more research, I was delighted to find musical possibilities within that card. The fact that each card contains numbers as well as rhythms gave me lots of musical ideas.” Having originally translated its card language into lace, the Jacquard now informs musical construction, creating melodies, rhythms, orchestrations and harmonic structures.

It’s a juggling act though, balancing the maths of the cards and allowing the band the freedom to have fun with the piece too. “I wrote for the improvisers in the band and tried not to prescribe the music too much and let the band play.” This translates into a hands-off approach to compositions, with ample room for exploration built into the forms.

This exploration continues with ‘Blues’, grounded by a heavy bass line over which Jason Yarde and Trevor Mires dazzle. ‘Song’ and ‘The Goose’ appeared on Siegel’s quartet album Vista and both get a full expansion here, opening up the structures for solo adventures from Mark Nightingale, Percy Pursglove and Stan Sulzmann. Sandwiched between them is ‘The Missing Link’, emerging from a dark opening into an energetic boppy swinger that features trumpeter Claus Stötter, invited over from the NDR Big Band Hamburg. ‘Fantasy in D’, the Cedar Walton standard, concludes the set energetically with a pared back arrangement – in this case, less really is more.

1. Tales From The Jacquard (part 1)
2. Tales From The Jacquard (part 2)
3. Tales from The Jacquard (part 3)
4. Blues
5. Song
6. The Missing Link
7. The Goose
8. Fantasy in D

Julian Siegel - tenor & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, composition, arrangements
Nick Smart - conductor
Tom Walsh, Percy Pursglove, Henry Lowther & Claus Stotter - trumpets
Mark Nightingale, Trevor Mires & Harry Brown - trombones
Richard Henry - bass trombone, tuba
Mike Chillingworth - alto saxophone
Jason Yarde - alto & soprano saxophones
Stan Sulzmann - tenor saxophone
Tori Freestone - tenor saxophone, flute
Gemma Moore - baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Mike Outram - guitar
Liam Noble - piano
Oli Hayhurst - double bass
Gene Calderazzo - drums

Tales from the Jacquard was commissioned by Derby Jazz. The band’s debut tour was produced by Derby Jazz and Right Tempo with grateful assistance and support from Arts Council England ‘Grants for the Arts’ and EMJAZZ.

Recorded by 7Digital at Lakeside Arts, Nottingham on 15th March 2017 for original broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Jazz Now

Engineer - Jerry Peal
Producer - Lyndon Jones
Remix and Mastering by Chris Lewis
Produced by Chris Lewis and Julian Siegel

Amaro Freitas - Sankofa (June 25, 2021 Far Out Records)

From the slums of Recife in Brazil’s North-East to international jazz icon, Amaro Freitas has worked tirelessly to become the artist he is today. Gaining international attention for “an approach to the keyboard so unique that it’s startling” (Downbeat), his debut and sophomore albums Sangue Negro (2016) and Rasif (2018) arrived on a wave of instant acclaim. His new album Sankofa - a spiritual quest into the forgotten stories, ancient philosophies and inspirational figures of Black Brazil - is his most stunning and sincere work to date.

But for Amaro Freitas, work isn’t just playing the piano, his art delves far deeper than music theory and practice. Explaining the impetus behind Sankofa, Amaro elucidates the imperative behind his music:

“I worked to try to understand my ancestors, my place, my history, as a black man. Brazil didn’t tell us the truth about Brazil. The history of black people before slavery is rich with ancient philosophies. By understanding the history and the strength of our people, one can start to understand where our desires, dreams and wishes come from.”

Sankofa is an Adinkra symbol depicting a backward-facing bird. After stumbling upon the symbol on a robe at an African fair in Harlem, New York - perhaps auspicious considering it’s the home of some of the great jazz pianists like Monk and Tatum, it sparked a curiosity in Amaro. He soon came to understand what it represents, and it became the foundational concept for his new album:

“The symbol of the mystical bird, which flies with its head back, teaches us the possibility of going back to our roots, in order to realize our potential to move forward. With this album I want to bring a memory of who we are and pay homage to neighborhoods, names, characters, places, words and symbols that come from our ancestors. I want to celebrate where we come from.”

With the help of Jean Elton (bass) and Hugo Medeiros (drums), who have formed the Amaro Freitas Trio since the very beginning, Amaro employs intricate rhythmic patterns and time-signature variations as if reimagining the ancient designs of his ancestors, and every track is imbued with a message or a story Amaro is compelled to tell.

‘Baquaqua’ highlights the seldom told story of the West African Mahommah Gardo Baquaqua, who was brought to Brazil as a slave but escaped to New York in 1847 where he learned to read and write. His autobiography was published by the American abolitionist Samuel Moore and now stands as the only known document about the slave trade written by a former Brazilian slave.
The delicate ‘Vila Bela’ takes its name after an area near the Bolivian border, in Brazil’s Mato Grosso region, where the 18th century Quilombola queen Tereza de Benguela led the the black and indigenous community in resisting slavery for two decades.

‘Nascimento’ is a warmhearted tribute to the great star of Minas Gerais, who Amaro sees as a talisman of contemporary Black Brazilian culture. Having recently collaborated on a joint EP with Milton Nascimento and rapper Criolo, Amaro recalls: “It was an unforgettable experience. Milton is love, lightness, art, and memory.”

‘Ayeye’, Sankofa’s most joyful moment, means celebration in Yoruba and features gorgeous, fluttering piano, shuffling hi-hats and a stuttering bass groove, at times sounding as much like a D’Angelo or Alicia Keys hit as it does Bill Evans or Thelonious Monk.

Named after a mythical bull from the tropical region of Maranhão, ‘Cazumbá’ represents the interdependence of all living things. A jazz rock pulse represents a noisy urban city port, and as the track develops it’s as if the group moves out into the tranquility of the rainforest river. Inspired by the sounds of nature, from crickets to birds and flowing water, it’s a call to respect and protect Brazil’s stunning natural beauty.

These people, places and stories are Amaro’s jumping off point. “I start from these theories, from these ideas, but then emotion pours into the notes, it’s my interpretation of this knowledge turned into music.” Among Amaro’s influences are the evangelical church, his hometown Recife, funk music, samba, maracatu and frevo. But like the Sankofa bird, while looking back, Amaro's music is fundamentally contemporary music. “It’s a continuation, it connects with people today and it represents what is happening in 2021.”

Like all Amaro’s albums, Sankofa has taken around two years to make, with the trio spending eight hours a day, four days a week in the studio. “We treasure the creative process. We know it takes time to reach a different place, and then it takes time to understand that place, to translate it. When we want to leave our comfort zone, the most important factors are time, dedication, discipline and wisdom. Months pass and ideas start falling into place. Time is the most important thing. We cannot make it to where we want to be without it. So, I also want to transmit this message to future generations: Let’s slow down, let’s give ourselves more time, let’s do deeper things. Let’s stop swimming in the surface, let’s dive.”

1. Sankofa
2. Ayeye
3. Baquaqua
4. Vila Bela
5. Cazumbá
6. Batucada
7. Malakoff
8. Nascimento

Amaro Freitas - Piano
Hugo Medeiros - Drums and Percussion
Jean Elton - Double Bass

Produced by Amaro Freitas
Recorded and Mixed by Vinicius Aquino
@ Studio Carranca, Recife / Brazil
Mastered by Arthur Joly
@ RECO Studio

Eli Keszler - Icons (June 25, 2021 LUCKYME®)

LuckyMe present the new album from New York based percussionist and composer Eli Keszler Previously releasing music on Empty Editions, ESP Disk, PAN as well as ‘Stadium’ on Shelter Press – Boomkat’s 2018 Album Of The Year A frequent collaborator to Oneohtrix Point Never, Laurel Halo and Rashad Becker Keszler’s work has shown at The Lincoln Centre, MoMA PS1, MIT List and The Barbican.

Keszler’s latest solo venture offers up a latticework of melodic percussion, drum set, and electro-acoustic instrumentation, built upon fragments of American abstraction, ancient scales, industrial percussion, and jazz-age film noir to achieve its feeling of imperial decay. Keszler’s instrumental performances are framed by panoramic recordings of New York City and the Odyssey Cave, along with other on-location audio from his global travels, defining an expansive music that takes on hyperreal forms difficult to describe outside of the loss and wonderment that defines our age.

1. All the Mornings in the World
2. God Over Money
3. The Accident
4. Daily Life
5. Rot Summer Smoothes
6. Dawn
7. Static Doesn’t Exist
8. Late Archaic
9. Civil Sunset
10. Evenfall
11. We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn

The Fantastics! - Take A Shot (June 25, 2021 BBE Music)

BBE Music welcomes respected UK funk / soul / jazz combo The Fantastics! to the label for ‘Take A Shot featuring Sulene Fleming’, the band’s long awaited third studio album, nine years in the making.

The Fantastics! story begins back in 2003, when keys maestro and Freestyle Records boss Greg Boraman joined London group ‘Reverend Cleatus & The Soul Saviours’. Officially changing their name to The Fantastics! in 2007, in 2009 the ranks were bolstered by the arrival of prodigious UK vocal talent Sulene Fleming in 2009. Only Greg and bassist Raydn Hunter remain from the band’s original line-up, which now features Mark Norton (saxophone / flute) and James Smith (drums). New member James Byron (guitar) brings yet another fresh perspective on the band’s genre-agnostic approach, which takes Afrobeat, Latin, Rock and Rhythm & Blues influences in easy stride.

The band have been honing this album at gigs and in the studio for nine long years, during which time singer Sulene Fleming has been busy collaborating with Incognito and Leroy Hutson, as well as enjoying a stint as lead vocalist for The Brand New Heavies. The approach of constantly testing material in a live setting has endowed this record with an indefinable yet distinctive, authentic feel; put simply, it successfully transmits the energy and immediacy of a great concert.

The range of sounds to be heard on ‘Take A Shot’ is ambitious, but it feels pretty effortless. From the library music tinged spacey jazz-fusion of ‘Oblique’ and ‘Better Than Dead’, ‘Hey Misters’’s intense Hammond driven, risqué sister-funk, ‘Pyramid’’s touching & serene modal jazz-dance, ‘Say You Will’ with its shimmering, sweet & summery soul-pop, the Betty Davis- esque ‘Can’t Decide’ which is a straight up funk-rock monster, the deceptively slinky West Coast smooth ‘Mind Time’ that takes a sharp left when you least expect it, the woozy and tripped out ‘St Tropez Blue’ – and of course the album’s title track ‘Take A Shot’ – not only display the ensemble’s collective and solo abilities, but also frame Sulene’s powerful and versatile voice in a wonderfully wide election of musical settings.

Special mention goes to Mark Ashfield & his youthful sidekick James Nugent, who not only cheerfully put up with The Fantastics! slow and meandering methods, but also engineered, mixed and mastered this album with truly special levels of detail, warmth and musicality. Eclectic? yes, multi-faceted? Versatile? Very much. Certainly, but the one word you couldn’t use to describe The Fantastics! is prolific.

It’s been a 9 long years since the bands last long player – 2011’s ‘All The People’ was the follow up to 2009’s ‘Mighty Righteous – so Take A Shot is the 3rd album and there isn’t really any specific reason.. other than the first studio recordings of Take A Shot album laid down in 2012 eventually got binned, trashed, disposed of and also deleted. After playing the new songs live for 18 months at venues like London’s Jazz Café and Pizza Express Jazz Club, when it came to finally mixing those tracks, the recordings, compared to how the songs had been honed and polished by those live performances in across those shows, sounded like demos’ – so the entire process was began again.

There was also, since All The People, the arrival of new guitarist James Byron, an appropriately open minded player that further embellished the bands non genre specific approach. One other mildly delaying factor was the bands long established vocalist, the enviously talented Sulene Fleming had a successful stint as lead singer for The Brand New Heavies amongst her other various projects (including with Incognito and Leroy Hutson), she also found the time to get married and start a family. The rest of us didn’t really have such good excuses.

The upside to this convoluted route – is that this collection is without doubt the bands favourite and most proud accomplishment. The time taken over the music on this has given it depth, variety, quality and as is the groups stated modus operandi on record and when playing live, is to touch upon as many styles, musical textures and modes as possible, but still maintain an identity across the project. It’s a big ask- and was that achieved? You be the judge.

‘Honorary Fantastic Status’ is awarded to Mark Ashfield & his youthful side kick James Nugent, who not only cheerfully put up with The Fantastics! slow and meandering methods, but also managed to build his 2 different recording studios, GTA Studios and then Cosmic Audio that this project was started, and then finally completed in. He also engineered, mixed and then mastered the resulting recordings beautifully, and under charged us too – so the group didn’t bust the budget in the process.

The range of sounds to be heard is ambitious but assured; the library music tinged spacey jazz-fusion of Oblique and Better Than Dead, ‘Hey Misters’s intense Hammond driven, risqué sister-funk, Pyramid’s touching & serene modal jazz-dance, Say You Will with it’s shimmering, sweet & summery soul-pop, the Betty Davis-esque Can’t Decide which is a straight up funk-rock monster with a wailing guitar solo and Sulene simply smashing it at the opposite end of her amazing vocal range, the deceptively slinky West Coast smooth Mind Time, that takes a sharp left when you lest expect it, the woozy and tripped out St Tropez Blue – and of course the albums title track – not only display the ensembles collective and solo skills on the instrumental tracks – but also frame Sulenes insanely versatile voice in a wonderful sly wide election of musical poses and explorations.

What do the band like most about this album? All of it. 

1. Better Than Dead
2. Take a Shot
3. Oblique
4. Say You Will
5. Pyramid
6. Can't Decide
7. Mind Time
8. Hey Mister!
9. St Tropez Blue
10. The Bounce