Saturday, February 20, 2021

Satoko Fujii - Morning Dream (February 2021 Libra Records)

1. No Stopping Or Standing 06:26
2. Snow Dance 01:52
3. Camellia In The North Wind 07:35
4. Morning Dream 05:33
5. Path Ahead 03:30
6. Sunrise 08:54
7. Westward 07:35
8. I Am With You 08:42

Taiko Saito and Satoko Fujii - Beyond (2021 Libra Records)

You would think that the ever-restless, searching pianist and composer Satoko Fujii would have performed and collaborated in every possible setting by now, but at least once a year there is a new Fujii release that finds her in a construct she hadn’t previously attempted before. Beyond (Libra Records) is Fujii’s first ever one-on-one with a vibraphone.

That vibraphonist is fellow Japanese native Taiko Saito, a young, up-and-comer who’s spent virtually her entire adult life in Germany. This record will likely be a lot of people’s introduction to Saito and they should be prepared to listen without any preconceptions because she doesn’t kowtow to set rules about how a vibraphone should be played. Like Fujii, she is capable of wringing all kinds of interesting sonorities from her instrument, a lot of which are completely foreign to it but are creatively done for the sake of art.

From the very first moment, it’s clear that Saito isn’t your typical vibes player, “Molecular” opens with a comforting, drone-like sound resembling those Tibetan meditation bowls. Fujii very gently eases herself in with a prepared piano that offers up the perfect counterpoint. Saito uses her vibraphone as a percussive instrument “Proliferation” as Fujii rummages around on the lower end of her piano’s range. Saito finally wrings notes from her vibes but even then she hits the bars in ways to get uncommon timbres from them.

Even more alien noises are created during “Todokanai Tegami,” a creaking sound as Fujii strums the strings of her piano and later, notes ring without the sound of mallet strikes as Fujii carries out a pretty melody. Those creaking sounds continue on “Beyond” while Fujii plays a series of chords widely spaced apart, as if to give Taiko the room to breathe.

“On The Road” is the first track where Saito reminds me of another vibes player at all, where there are echoes of Gary Burton. But Burton & Corea never sounded as free as these two do even on this song, and the chemistry between this pair getting together to record in the middle of their first-ever tour together is already comparable to that of the older masters.

“Ame No Ato” is a song of varying intensity and every little modulation in that intensity is done with tight cohesion, evidence that the two are listening very closely to each other. The same is true for “Mobius Loop,” even when it enters a massive, free-form vortex.

The piano/vibraphones duo isn’t exactly a new concept, but Satoko Fujii and Taiko Saito take that concept to places it’s never been before. The exotic places they visit make Beyond a trip well worth taking.

1. Molecular 05:46

2. Proliferation 05:24

3. Todokanai Tegami 08:48

4. Beyond 05:32

5. On The Road 04:52

6. Mizube 05:26

7. Ame No Ato 04:35

8. Mobius Loop 08:01

9. Spectrum 07:42

Recorded at the Oda Community Center “Subaru” Concert Hall in Ichiko, Ehime, Japan on June 26, 2019 by by Toshihiro Toyoshima, Akio Ishiyama, Naofumi Sato and Mitsuru Itani.

Mixed on November 6, 2019 by Mike Marciano, Systems Two, NY.

Satoko Fujii - HAZUKI (2021 Libra Records)

1. Invisible 07:07
2. Quarantined 08:02
3. Cluster 04:18
4. Hoffen 09:04
5. Beginning 02:14
6. Ernesto 06:38
7. Expanding 07:42
8. Twenty Four Degrees 03:12

Thomas Steele - 10TET (February 20, 2021)

Today will mark the release of my second studio album, and my first full-length album with my 10Tet! The album features seven original compositions of contemporary and straight-ahead jazz, performed by Toronto’s most talented young jazz artists.

The album features Thomas Steele (Wind I, Compositions), David Hodgson (Wind II), Jacob Chung (Wind III, Compositions), Alex Manoukas (Wind IV, Compositions), Kaelin Murphy (Trumpet I), Christian Antonacci (Trumpet II), Nick Adema (Trombone I, Compositions), Andrew Gormley (Trombone II), Evan Gratham (Upright Bass), Jacob Slous (Drums) with Dennis Kwok and James Warren Morris (Arrangers).

1. Deja Vu 08:06

2. Push and Shove 05:15

3. Eastbound to Greenwood 08:04

4. Once In A 06:28

5. February Flowers 06:27

6. Sway 07:13

7. Middle Space 08:55


March 2-10: NEC presents 'Grow Your Art' with Maria Schneider

Multi-Grammy Award-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider
works with NEC students in Grow Your Art, a collaborative music and business residency and performance

Tuesday, March 2 – Thursday, March 4; concert to air on Wednesday, March 10
New England Conservatory’s Jazz & Entrepreneurial Musicianship programs present Grow Your Art, a week-long music and business residency with groundbreaking multi-Grammy Award winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. The residency will include a pitch night, as well as masterclasses, workshops and panel discussions on the music business and entrepreneurship, culminating in a concert with the NEC Jazz Orchestra. Grow Your Art takes place Tuesday, March 2 - Thursday, March 4, with the pre-taped concert video broadcast on Wednesday, March 10. The events are free and open to the public virtually. For information, visit Grow Your Art Residency: Public Events

Watch as NEC students and alumni pitch their ventures live for a chance to win up to $7,500 in grant funding plus project guidance from NEC’s Entrepreneurial Musicianship team. Pitch Night offers a chance for students and professionals to learn more about how to craft strong grant proposals, whether on paper or pitched live.  Maria Schneider will adjudicate along with panel of NEC faculty and staff. Visit...

Maria discusses how producing and sharing her music has evolved with the music industry. What does it take to produce a recording today? And grow an audience? How do you share your music widely while also protecting yourself? What’s important to spend money on when investing in a record? NEC students can join the virtual discussion which will be streamed to the public via...

In this panel moderated by Andrew Worden, NEC students and the virtual audience can learn the ins and outs of the business of music. What’s the difference between a manager and an agent?  When do you invest in building out your team? What does it take to share your music in a meaningful way in 2021? NEC students can join the virtual discussion which will be streamed to the public via...

Ann Braithwaite is the owner of Braithwaite & Katz Communications, a full-service public relations firm specializing in promoting the foremost jazz artists and events of our time. She and her team have helped to expand visibility for a myriad of exceptional musicians including Maria Schneider as well as organizations including the Montreal International Jazz Festival and NEC’s Jazz and CI departments.

Mike Epstein is the President of Epstein & Company, an international booking agency representing award-winning artists since 2013. The agency works with artists of all genres and has developed a unique process for helping clients achieve important career goals by taking an entrepreneurial approach to an ever-changing industry.

Maria Schneider conducts the NEC Jazz Orchestra in a program of her compositions including The Pretty Road, Data Lords, Walking By Flashlight, Gumba Blue, Sputnik and Choro Dancado. The concert will be recorded on March 4 with a video broadcast on March 10.  View concert at this link.
Maria Schneider’s music has been hailed by critics as evocative, majestic, magical, heart-stoppingly gorgeous, imaginative, revelatory, riveting, daring, and beyond categorization. Blurring the lines between genres, her varied commissioners stretch from Jazz at Lincoln Center, to The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, to the American Dance Festival, and include collaboration with David Bowie. She is among a small few to receive Grammys in multiple genres, having received the award in jazz and classical, as well as for her work with David Bowie.
With her first recording Evanescence (1994), Schneider began developing her personal way of writing for her 18-member collective made up of many of the finest musicians in jazz today, tailoring her compositions to the uniquely creative voices of the group. They have performed at festivals and concert halls worldwide, and she herself has received numerous commissions and guest-conducting invites, working with over 90 groups in over 30 countries.
Unique funding of projects has become a hallmark for Schneider through the trend-setting company, ArtistShare. And, in 2004, Concert in the Garden became historic as the first recording to win a GRAMMY with Internet-only sales. Even more significantly, it blazed the "crowd-funding" trail as ArtistShare’s first release, and was eventually inducted into the 2019 National Recording Registry.
Schneider’s many honors also include: 14 Grammy nominations, 5 Grammy Awards, numerous Jazz Journalists Association awards, DownBeat and JazzTimes Critics and Readers Poll awards, an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, the University of Minnesota, ASCAP’s esteemed Concert Music Award (2014), the nation's highest honor in jazz, “NEA Jazz Master” (2019) (NEA Jazz Master Speech found here), and election into the 2020 American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
A strong voice for music advocacy, Schneider has testified before the US Congressional Subcommittee on Intellectual Property on digital rights, has given commentary on CNN, participated in roundtables for the United States Copyright Office, has been quoted in numerous publications for her views on Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Google, digital rights, and music piracy, and has written various white papers and articles on the digital economy as related to music and beyond.
Her latest double-album, Data Lords (2020), has melded her advocacy and art: Nate Chinen of NPR writes: “Now it's finally here, in the form of a magnificent double album, Data Lords. . . it parses into thematic halves, ‘The Digital World’ and, as an antidote, ‘The Natural World.’ On the whole and in the details, it amounts to the most daring work of Schneider's career, which sets the bar imposingly high. This is music of extravagant mastery, and it comes imbued with a spirit of risk."
David Hajdu for THE NATION writes, “Beyond the dualism in its format, Data Lords is a work of holistic creativity. The music of outrage and critique in the first album has all the emotion and conceptual integrity that the music of melancholy and reverence does in the second. I can’t conceive of anyone else creating this music, unless Delius has been writing with Bowie on the other side.” 
NEC’s Jazz Studies Department is one of the top jazz education programs in the world. It was the brainchild of Gunther Schuller, who moved quickly to incorporate jazz into the curriculum when he became president of the Conservatory in 1967. He soon hired saxophonist Carl Atkins as the first department chair, as well as other greats including NEA Jazz Master George Russell, pianist Jaki Byard and Ran Blake. The foundation of its teaching and success begins with the mentor relationship developed in lessons between students and the prominent faculty artists. In addition to its two jazz orchestras, faculty-coached small ensembles reflect NEC’s inclusive approach to music making, with ensembles focused on free jazz, early jazz, gospel music, Brazilian music, and songwriting, as well as more traditional approaches to jazz performance.
Students are encouraged to find their own musical voices while making connections and collaborating with a vibrant community of creative musicians, and ultimately to transform the world through the power of music. The program has spawned numerous Grammy-winning composers and performers and has an alumni list that reads like a who's who of jazz, while the faculty has included six MacArthur "genius" grant recipients (three currently teaching) and four NEA Jazz Masters.
NEC’s Entrepreneurial Musicianship Department complements the conservatory education with the resources and tools integral to building a life in music: creative and critical thinking, communication, financial management, artistic programming, audience development, and more. EM is available to students through individual advising, experiential learning, career services, and opportunities to incubate new work. 
Grow Your Art: A Music and Business Residency was made possible thanks to a generous gift from an NEC supporter.

Feb. 25: NEC's Black Student Union honors Coretta Scott King in livestream event 'Continuation of a Dream: Requiem'

New England Conservatory’s Black Student Union honors legacy of alumna Coretta Scott King and the school’s Black students and faculty with
Continuation of a Dream: Requiem 
Airing on Thursday, February 25, event includes performance, film and stories
The BSU will also present ten streaming events
Coretta Scott King bust

New England Conservatory’s Black Student Union presents Continuation of a Dream: Requiem, its annual celebration of the life and contribution of NEC alumna Coretta Scott King ’54, ’71 hon. DM and of Black students and faculty throughout the conservatory's history. The pre-recorded one-hour event will be streamed at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 25, 2021.

The celebration will highlight the stories of students past and present. Requiem, a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead, creates a space in the conservatory to truly reflect and give power to the Black lives that have been unjustifiably lost over centuries in America. The streamed event includes spoken word, music, dance, digital art, and interviews with featured performers including Lemuel Marc, Naledi Masilo, Zoe Cagan, Joseph Borsellino, Nnamdi Odita-Hannah, Zabriel Rivers, and Caleb Smith. Among the pieces to be performed are Caleb Smith’s “Nostalgia” for saxophone, drums, bass, piano, and guitar; Allison Loggins-Hull’s “Homeland” performed by flutist Zoe Cagan; “Thina Sizwe,” a traditional South African protest song performed by Naledi Masilo; “Fables of Faubus” by Charles Mingus, arranged by Lemuel Marc and performed by NEC students Marc, William Mabuza, Zoe Murphy, and guests; “Breathe Again” by Toni Braxton, performed by Zabriel Rivers; “The Police State” by Joseph Borsellino; “Keep Marching” by Anthony Greene. 
All events are organized by the BSU Board, Zoe Cagan (chair), Lemuel Marc (marketing and media chair), Nnamdi Odita-Honnah (community events chair), Naledi Masilo (board partner), and David Norville (board partner), under the guidance of faculty advisors Nedelka Prescod and Jason Moran, and staff advisors Claudia Robaina Winston and Annie Phillips. 
“This was a year of mourning and suffering,” says Cagan, “and our Black communities have taken heavy losses. Continuation of a Dream: Requiem reflects on the pain Black people have endured while also giving power to our songs, our stories, and our lives. This month, we dedicate our programming to those who have walked before us. We dedicate our songs to them, and we continue on the path towards realizing a better today and a better tomorrow.”
Other events include:

∙ Thursday, February 11, 7 p.m. EST, livestream concert with current NEC student Lemuel Marc and guests featuring “Stolen Moments” by Oliver Nelson and “JuJu” by Wayne Shorter.
∙ Thursday, February 18, 7 p.m. EST, livestream concert by Trio Gaia featuring Andrew Barnwell, Grant Houston, Yi-Mei Templeman performing “Five Negro Melodies for Piano Trio.” Geneva Lewis, Maria Ioudenitch, Zhanbo Zheng, and Gabriel Martins will perform Eleanor Alberga’s “String Quartet No. 2.” 
∙ Sunday, February 28, Live Stream The Connection: Chains & Change
∙ Thursday, March 11, Live Stream The Connection: Chains & Change
∙ Friday, February 19, “Black is Canon,” countdown to Coretta Scott King tribute 10-minute Instagram event “Stay on It,” Julius Eastman
∙ Saturday, February 20, “Black is Canon,” countdown to Coretta Scott King tribute 10-minute Instagram event “Dismal Swamp,” William Grant Still 
∙ Sunday, February 21, “Black is Canon,” countdown to Coretta Scott King tribute 10-minute Instagram event “Symphony No. 1,” Florence Price
∙ Monday, February 22, “Black is Canon,” countdown to Coretta Scott King tribute 10-minute Instagram event, “Come Sunday,” Omar Thomas
∙ Tuesday, February 23, “Black is Canon,” countdown to Coretta Scott King tribute 10-minute Instagram event, “Portrait of Josephine,” Valerie Coleman
∙ Wednesday, February 24, “Black is Canon,” countdown to Coretta Scott King tribute 10-minute Instagram event, “Black, Brown and Beige,” Duke Ellington

Students performing at last year's BSU events

New England Conservatory’s Black Student Union is committed to the fortification and celebration of Black art and culture in the NEC community, the advocation for equal representation and inclusion of all students at NEC. The purpose of the New England Conservatory Black Student Union is to provide an open forum for Black and non-Black students who want to be more involved in the discussion about the Black experience, to create a safe space in order to unify and educate Black students and the greater NEC community about the Black history and culture. Through discussion, performances, and outreach, the BSO finds new ways to implement positive change in the community.

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

Evan Arntzen, renowned multi-reedist, vocalist and bandleader, presents his third album as a bandleader, Countermelody. This uplifting new release 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.

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.

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

Roni Ben-Hur / Stories (March 5, 2021 Dot Time Records)

Stories is the newest recording from renowned guitarist and composer Roni Ben-Hur. On his latest collaboration with some of the finest musicians on the international jazz circuit, the jazz guitar virtuoso shares a fascinating collection of 'stories' from his genre-busting 40-year multicultural musical journey.

"Recording Stories has been a unique and very fulfilling experience, allowing me to incorporate songs I loved since my childhood, and ones that speak to social issues that are important to me, with the exquisite mastery of the artists in this album. Each person on this recording brought their stories to mine, adding beauty and depth that was beyond my imagination, making it a tale I wanted to listen to again, and again. I feel very blessed to be able to share this with the world," shared Ben-Hur.

Roni Ben-Hur is a master in the world of straight-ahead jazz, but his unique style also reflects the Brazilian, Middle Eastern and African musical landscapes that are so much a part of his heritage. This album is a dazzling compilation of great Stories from that rich treasure chest that yearn to be heard again and again.

1. La Serena

2. Something for Kenny

3. But I Had To Say Goodbye

4. Ma'of

5. Ha'omnam

6. After The Morning

7. A Redoblar

8. Melodius Funk






MAGOS HARRERA – Vocals tracks 1 and 7

TAMUZ NISSIM – Vocal Track 5

PLS Trio - Cosmonauts - (2021 Dot Time Records)

Cosmonauts is the exciting follow-up to PLS.trio’s 2015 debut album East River, which was lauded by All About Jazz as “the best in this category in many years”, and was nominated for “Best New Album” at the 2015 NPR Jazz Awards.

With influences spanning from minimal and ambient music to hard-pumping dance music and bombastic rock styles, PLS.trio creates a blend which, while defying easy categorization, is compelling, distinctive, and oddly familiar.  With Cosmonauts, these electronic-driven modern jazz explorers continue this tradition with a first-rate mix of precision, refinement, playfulness and invention.

The tracks of Cosmonauts are adorned with bombastic, epic space-battle beats from drummer Shawn Crowder (Emel Mathlouthi, Sungazer), ferocious improvisational motifs of bandleader Pier Luigi Salami (Emel Mathlouthi, Chris Brown, Amy Vachal), and a breadth and depth of timbres explored by bassist / synth bassist Martin Fowler.  However, while all these components lend gravity to the vast compositional expanses throughout the record, the standout, trademark fixture of all PLS.trio pieces lies in their uncompromising sense of melody.  While so many of today’s improvisational instrumental artists hide behind their complex rhythmic and tonal chops, PLS.trio revels in the power of sweeping, memorable melodies though they certainly maintain the chops to support these melodies and improvisations.

1. Conquering 01:18

2. #stronglion 05:39

3. Look Ahead 05:26

4. Cosmonauts 08:40

5. B.E.C. 05:05

6. Just Before 01:19

7. The Heppicola Aftermath 04:33

8. What For 02:48

9. F0 06:40

10. Nessun Dorma (ft Giorgia Renosto) 05:02

PIER LUIGI SALAMI – Piano, Live Piano FXs, Synths

MARTIN D FOWLER – Electric Bass, Synth Bass

SHAWN CROWDER – Drums, Percussion, Electronic drums/percussion

Wolfgang Lackerschmid & Chet Baker - Quintet Sessions 1979 (Dot Time Records)

‘Quintet Sessions 1979’ is the follow-up to Dot Time’s critically acclaimed re-release of Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker’s Ballads For Two. A continuation of Lackerschmid’s great adventure with one of the greatest trumpet players in the history of the art form, the album features the spirited duo of iconic trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker and vibraphonist Wolfgang Lackerschmid alongside a stellar rhythm section made up of jazz luminaries Larry Coryell (guitar), Buster Williams (bass) and Tony Williams (drums).

The archival vaults have been reopened by Dot Time Records after the widespread success of Wolfgang Lackerschmid and Chet Baker’s Ballads For Two. JazzTimes noted “Serenity permeates [Ballads For Two], a serenity born of internal logic that feels both welcome and foreign”. Quintet Sessions offers a distinctly different lens through which to hear these fine musicians coalesce. This material (two tracks of which have never been publicly released before), presented here in a stunning CD package, displays the stunning musicianship and compositional prowess of each of these five leaders of their instrument.

1. Mr. Biko 09:05

2. Balzwaltz 06:46

3. The Latin One 02:24

4. Rue Gregoire Du Tour 06:31

5. Here's That Rainy Day 04:15

6. Toku Du 06:28

7. Balzwaltz Alternate Take 05:19

8. Rue Gregoire Du Tour (Rehearsal Take) 03:58


CHET BAKER – Trumpet, Vocals (2)