Friday, February 26, 2021

Ralph Bowen - Power Play (February 2011 Posi-Tone Records)

Saxophonist Ralph Bowen brings forward a full complement of tour de force performances on his 2011 release "Power Play." Highlighted by a strong program of new compositions by Bowen, the album also features powerful showings by the stellar pianist Orrin Evans, the solid bassist Kenny Davis and the ever exciting drummer Donald Edwards, all of whom work seamlessly together to keep the session in the pocket. Most of all, Bowen shoots and scores with his effortless mastery and melodic brilliance on his saxophone, and "Power Play" is a hard hitting collection of performances that will certainly entertain jazz enthusiasts again and again with amazement and delight.

1. K.D.'s Blues 04:40
2. Drumheller Valley 06:19
3. Two-Line Pass 05:05
4. My One And Only Love 05:27
5. The Good Shepherd 06:26
6. Bella Firenze 08:22
7. Jessica 06:28
8. Walleye Jigging 05:31
9. A Solar Romance 06:31

Ralph Bowen - tenor saxophone, alto saxophone 2, soprano saxophone 7 & 9
Orrin Evans - piano
Kenny Davis - bass
Donald Edwards - drums

Marc Free - producer
Nick O’Toole - engineer
Barry Shapiro - associate producer
recorded February 4, 2009 at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, NY
mixed & mastered at Studio 507, Los Angeles, CA

Javier Subatin - TRANCE (Ears & Eyes Records)

In the Trance series, contrasting with his latest works, Javier approaches composition through the use of small written musical ideas giving improvisation greater importance. Most of the Trance series pieces are based in three sections. Each section is based on the repetition of short looped contrasting motives. Said repetition spirit leads the musicians to a kind of trance state that has its culmination with improvisation, by which the musicians become part of the compositional process in real-time giving a prominent place to the musical interplay.

Following the common jazz standards form, the music is presented in a simple exposition-improvisation-re-exposition structure where the improvised sections are predominant. Each musician plays his solo over a different looped section that starts with the written music but where it goes is always uncertain. The lack of dependence on the rhythm section makes each member try to adapt and explore different roles within the group and the individuality of each musician allows the music to transform and evolve spontaneously.

​When listening to the Trance trio, we find completely improvised parts, complex written counterpoints, accented rhythms and textures resulting in a “fresh” project with an eclectic style that utilizes elements from Argentinian folk music, free improvisation, classical music and contemporary jazz.

About the music:
Trance#1 (single) is the first piece of the series and is the one that settled the structure and compositional aesthetics for the following ones. As was described before, the music is based on small repeated motives, starting with the saxophone vamp, the first section is constructed with the intermittent appearance of the drums and guitar chords and finally with the one-note based melody on the guitar. The following section maintains the saxophone motif but contrasts with augmented plucked chords on the guitar following a kind of Uruguayan Candombe rhythm. The third and final section of the composition works as a conclusion, making a contrast between a saxophone ostinato playing a one-note melody that is completed by a guitar arpeggio in three over four times and followed by the drums crescendo over the cymbals. Following the exposition, the guitar solo is played over the first section starting with a groovy duo with the drums and, after the saxophone appearance, the music passes smoothly to a crescendo drums’ solo over the second section. Finally, the saxophone solo starts with a free dialogue with the drums while the guitar plays the third section in loop. After the saxophone solo climax, the music goes abruptly to the re-exposition.

Trance#8 is a free improvisation based piece, following a series of chords that are played following a textural approach.

Trance#2 (single), following the model established by Trance#1, has three sections. Starting with a 6/8 groove based on the Argentinean folkloric rhythms, then it goes over a strummed chord sequence and concludes with a saxophone and drums unison melody. The first solo, led by the saxophone is presented over a guitar ostinato that is concluded by a free improvised moment that works as a transition for the re-exposition that finishes with a coda over the strummed chords which is repeated in loop following an accelerando until the end.

Solo#2 interrupts the Trance series presenting a song approach that starts with a guitar solo exposition. This is a melodic piece based in a slow Candombe rhythm. Solo#2 makes part of another series of Subatin’s compositions that is gaining shape over his discography. In his first recording, Autotelic, the first Solo# is included and in his following recording, Variaciones, the Solo#3 makes part of the tracks. The Solo# series is based on pieces that originally were created for solo guitar.

Trance#5 is a piece inspired in the Argentinean folkloric rhythm called Chacarera.

C Jam Blues by Duke Ellington is presented in the form of a 5 times measure arrangement that follows the Trance series aesthetics. The improvised solos of guitar and saxophone start without accompaniment and then the other instruments appear in order to give a conclusion to the soloist ideas. In this arrangement, it is possible to find Keith Jarrett influences reminding The Windup track from the Belonging recording.

In Trance#4, we found once again the folkloric influences of Subatin’s Argentinean roots, presented in a piece that oscillates between major and minor tonality. 
1. Trance#1 09:52
2. Trance#8 05:02
3. Trance#2 08:31
4. Solo#2 10:43
5. Trance#5 04:39
6. C Jam Blues 08:14
7. Trance#4 08:09

Javier Subatin (guitar and composition - arrangements in ‘C Jam Blues’ by Duke Ellington)
Daniel Sousa (alto saxophone)
Diogo Alexandre (drums)

All tracks composed by Javier Subatin except C Jam Blues by Duke Ellington
Recorded at Escola Superior de Música de Lisboa
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Javier Subatin

Javier Subatin - Variaciones

Variaciones can be described as contemporary jazz where the Latin-American rhythms, classical music and improvisation converge into a singular musical context.

This project has its origins as a continuation of autotelic, Javier's first album, where the duo of guitar and piano was growing up to a quintet with the guest musicians. The jazz quintet combo allows Javier to explore in a more extensive way the possibilities of orchestration, improvisation, written music and the individuality of the musicians.

1. Solo#3 05:31
2. Prelude 03:13
3. Variaciones#1 07:11
4. Variaciones#2 08:16
5. Variaciones#3 05:57
6. Variaciones#4 08:13
7. Postlude 04:50

Javier Subatin - guitar
Pedro Moreira - tenor saxophone
João Paulo Esteves da Silva - piano
André Rosinha - double bass
Diogo Alexandre - drums

All compositions by Javier Subatin
Recorded at Timbuktu Studios
Edited, mixed and mastered by Javier Subatin
Produced by Javier Subatin with the support of Fudação GDA
Art and design by Raquel Nobre G.

Nick Mazzarella / Quin Kirchner - See or Seem: Live at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival (March 5, 2021 Out Of Your Head Records)

OOYH Untamed is the digital-only DIY side of Out Of Your Head Records. The focus of Untamed is to release high quality performances with a quicker turnaround than a traditional studio album. They may be a live performance, a home studio recording, or an unearthed gem that never had the proper release outlet. That being said the performances are always first rate, and this is music that we strongly believe should be out in the world.

In the time of COVID-19 all proceeds from Untamed album sales are given directly to the artists. We want to say a huge thank you to TJ Huff ( for generously donating original art, time, and talents to the design of these albums.

For every sale of this album OOYH Records will donate $1 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (, an organization chosen by Nick Mazzarella.

1. Astral Projection

2. See or Seem

3. The Peregrine

4. Vis-à-vis

5. Axiom

6. Simmons' Dream

Nick Mazzarella - alto saxophone

Quin Kirchner - drums

All compositions by Nick Mazzarella (BMI).

Recorded by Nick Mazzarella in Madison Park, Chicago on September 27, 2020.

Goldberger / Jermyn / Maneri / Cleaver - Live at Scholes (February 26, 2021 Out Of Your Head Records)

OOYH Untamed is the digital-only DIY side of Out Of Your Head Records. The focus of Untamed is to release high quality performances with a quicker turnaround than a traditional studio album. They may be a live performance, a home studio recording, or an unearthed gem that never had the proper release outlet. That being said the performances are always first rate, and this is music that we strongly believe should be out in the world.

In the time of COVID-19 all proceeds from Untamed album sales are given directly to the artists. We want to say a huge thank you to TJ Huff ( for generously donating original art, time, and talents to the design of these albums.

For every sale of this album OOYH Records will donate $1 to The Nature Conservancy (, an organization chosen by Jonathan Goldberger and Simon Jermyn.

1. Live at Scholes

2. Live at Scholes Preview (excerpt)

Jonathan Goldberger - guitar

Mat Maneri - viola

Simon Jermyn - electric bass

Gerald Cleaver - drums

Record live to stereo 2-track at Scholes Street Studio on February 24, 2019 by Rene Pierre Allain.

Santi Debriano - Flash of the Spirit (Truth Revolution Recording Collective 2021)

The Truth Revolution Recording Collective is proud to announce the release of Flash of the Spirit, a new album from bassist, guitarist, and composer Santi Debriano.

Much like his native Panama, which straddles the continental divide and facilitates the union of Pacific and Atlantic, Santi Debriano has become comfortable occupying several worlds at once. But, like the Panama Canal, it’s taken some work—extracurricular work, in Debriano’s case. As an ethnomusicology graduate student at Wesleyan University Debriano read Robert Farris Thompson’s Flash of the Spirit. For Debriano, a Black Panamanian American who’d grown up in New York City after his family emigrated from Panama when he was four, Thompson’s book proved revelatory, asking questions like: To what extent have African traditions and customs been retained by contemporary Black cultures throughout the Americas? “That book describes my ancestral struggle to stay present in the many worlds I live in,” says Debriano, “but also to never forget where I came from.”

It’s a tight rope that Debriano walks, but on his version of Flash of the Spirit, the always intellectually curious bandleader strikes the balance of a Wallenda in his prime. And he’s got plenty of help; his rhythm section’s rounded out by drummer Tommy Campbell, whom Debriano’s known since both were college students in Boston, playing in Stan Strickland’s band, Sundance, and pianist Bill O’Connell, who, like Debriano, performs with consummate fluency regardless of whether the gig’s led by Sonny Rollins or Mongo Santamaria. A small but powerful woodwind section includes alto saxophonist Justin Robinson and flutist Andrea Brachfeld. And complimenting the core quintet are Francisco Mela, a Cuban-born, raised and educated drummer known for collaborations with saxophonist Joe Lovano and pianist Chucho Valdés, Brazilian percussionist Valtinho Anastacio, a veteran of the genre-defying, Debriano-led ensemble Circlechant, and Tim Porter, an indispensable scholar and practitioner of the contemporary jazz mandolin.

There’s a lot here. It’s easy to get distracted—and understandable, because everything that does glitter here is, indeed, gold, from a listening standpoint. Between the reimagined— and sometimes totally reinvented— takes on tunes from Kenny Barron, Kenny Dorham, and Ornette Coleman, as well Debriano’s solo bass take on a standard popularized by Billie Holiday, the temptation might be to overlook Flash of the Spirit’s original compositions; doing so would be a mistake.

1. Awesome Blues 06:32
2. Funky New Dorp 07:30
3. For Heaven's Sake 02:42
4. Beneath The Surface 06:44
5. Toujours Petits 06:57
6. Humpty Dumpty 03:37
7. Natural Causes 08:10
8. Ripty Boom 06:29
9. La Mesha 07:50
10. Voyage 05:51

Paul Towndrow - Deepening The River (February 2021)

Deepening The River

This is the culmination of a journey that began in 2018 as a specially commissioned work for the City of Glasgow. It received its premiere at The Merchants House of Glasgow, during Festival 2018 (the arts programme accompanying a major international sports event), followed by a repeat performance at the world-famous Celtic Connections festival in 2019. The project was finally completed in 2020 during the global COVID-19 pandemic, culminating in this recording.

I have often struggled with the notion of assigning any single objective meaning to a work of music. It’s hard to do, and it makes writing about it a tricky, often futile pursuit. As a listener I have found myself beholding pieces of music as beautiful, universally resonant statements, encapsulating human consciousness and shared experience, while at other times, it’s just functional stuff for dancing to, driving to, eating to – no reflection on ‘meaning’ required, just there to be consumed in the moment and enjoyed for what it is. So, accepting the disclaimer that these notes may well be such an exercise in futility, and that music will always be reliant upon, and subject to, the individual upon whose ears it lands – I will endeavour.

‘Deepening The River’ is in the first instance about Glasgow, its citizens, its diverse communities, its complex history, its collective consciousness, and its international reputation throughout history. The music is intended to invite an exploration of a multitude of themes based around Glasgow’s people, history, and culture, specifically the role in the 17th Century of The Merchants House of Glasgow in campaigning for the deepening of The Clyde to enable the passage of ships, and to facilitate trade. It should be noted that The Merchants House is now a major charitable institution and donations of more than £700,000 are awarded each year to deserving charities and individuals in Glasgow and beyond.

My idea was that “Deepening The River” could become a powerful musical analogy, bringing together themes of hope, recovery, potential, social, cultural and industrial history, movement of people, exchange of ideas, combined with a deepening of thought, tolerance and understanding. I also wanted to bring together musicians from both Glasgow and elsewhere in Europe, to represent a collaboration of diverse musical backgrounds and to explore musical influence from India, America, and Scotland. I drew upon the influence of three rivers (The Clyde, The Mississippi, and The Ganges) as an initial thematic focal point. The Sierra Leone River estuary is also historically important here. You may hear some pretty obvious symbolism in the music, particularly in the opening section as a ‘bell’ (unheard for hundreds of years) tolls, as if to herald in a new beginning. A ship slowly winds its way down a river, into open waters and out into a wider world. It’s cargo and mission are perhaps questionable, but in any case, it brings about seismic changes on a global stage.

It is true that the deepening of the River Clyde was a vital step in pushing Glasgow to the fore as an international trading power and establishing it as the ‘Second City of The Empire’, and indeed in its significant part in the Atlantic Slave Trade. This is an area of history that is familiar to most musicians, especially within the jazz tradition, which easily traces so much of its roots to the enforced movement of enslaved Africans to America. Jazz is perfect imperfection; a messily syncretic form with its roots in early spiritual music, work songs, gospel music, and the blues. It represents so much of the undeniable, inherent resilience of the human spirit. Music has always survived hardship - even the most abhorrent examples of human oppression, slavery, and social marginalisation. Music, I believe, has always been the purest, most clear expression of the web-tangle of the human condition, leaving an echo of social commentary throughout its past that can cut to the quick, often times more directly (and accurately) than the history books.

Glasgow’s historically ignominious role in Britain’s colonial past can clearly no longer be denied or swept under the carpet. And we must of course, continue to educate ourselves and insist upon proper and full recognition of events of the past, as how else can we learn, and move forward. I will be no more literal and explicit other than to point your attention to some glaring clues in the titles of some of the tunes on this album (I accept that I am just a guy with a saxophone and that others tell this story much better than I can!) You may take them as a prompt for research if you choose, and to explore those articulate contemporary voices who now speak with such clarity and poignancy on these issues.

That brings us to the next key theme of this music. What can ‘Deepening The River’ mean to us in the context of the (not insignificant) struggles now facing humanity?

Perhaps it can represent a deepening of thought, tolerance, and understanding. It can represent a shift in collective ethos – as the river opens out to the sea, we have the potential to be true world leaders, exporting our creative ideas, culture, industry, and outlook to the rest of the world. ‘Deepening The River’ means encouraging the enrichment of a society that opens its doors to people in times of need rather than victimising those who find themselves marginalised, displaced, enslaved, or misunderstood. ‘Deepening The River’ shouldn’t be for greed, but instead for love, for nurture, to eschew fear and oppression, and allow people to feel safe in their own gender, sexuality, race, or age. In recent centuries the human race has advanced with respect to global dominance, to the extent that it has relied upon the physical alteration of the fabric of its earthly environment in search of riches. But at some point, our species must begin to repay its debts, through respect for and its environment, and its co-habitants.
‘Deepening The River’ means that we look to history and learn lessons, and that we examine the world around us with the type of scrutiny that differentiates the truth from the ‘alternative truth’, but without breeding suspicion and prejudice towards our neighbours. ‘Deepening The River’ of a city educates, inspires, entertains, and sees the value in art and heritage, in preserving its great buildings, in encouraging the health and wellbeing of its children, and showing care and respect for its older citizens - no one human life more valuable than another. ‘Deepening The River’ means digging deep for hope, confidence, and positivity, even when the world around seems to be moving in the other direction. Hope in the face of adversity; that’s the message of the blues, jazz music, the message of folk music around the world, and I hope, the message we can successfully convey with this musical offering.

‘Deepening The River’ means always returning to what ought to be important to us as human beings. With this music, my aim was to make the listener feel like they were hearing and feeling something they’d heard before. A sort of implied nostalgia, or ‘induced déjà vu’, if you will.

Music in itself rarely needs to ‘educate’, rather it should remind us of what we knew all along. It’s a prompt to ‘remember’.

Music listeners often talk about hairs on the back of their neck, involuntary foot tapping, dancing, or even being moved to tears.

That’s it.

That’s music doing its job.

That’s us remembering what it is to be human.

1. Emergo 06:51
2. The Deepening 03:07
3. Wildfire 04:30
4. Loyalty To Neptune 08:38
5. Hamsadhwani 04:59
6. Bunce Island 06:10
7. Second Line For Rick 06:57
8. The Tontine Heads 05:00
9. Waltz For The Forgotten 02:55
10. Deeper Still 03:30
11. The Long Recovery 03:26

Tom Walsh – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Sean Gibbs – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Neil Yates – Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Tom MacNiven – Trumpet, Flugelhorn

Phil O’Malley - Trombone
Chris Greive - Trombone
Rick Taylor - Trombone
Michael Owers – Bass Trombone, Sousaphone

Martin Kershaw – Alto & Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet
Rachael Cohen - Alto Saxophone
Konrad Wiszniewski - Tenor Saxophone
Helena Kay -Tenor Saxophone
Bill Fleming – Baritone Saxophone

Alyn Cosker – Drums, Percussion
Steve Hamilton - Piano
Euan Burton – Double Bass
Miro Herak – Vibraphone

Ross Ainslie - Border Pipes, Highland Pipes, Low Whistles, Bansuri
Adam Sutherland - Fiddle
Laura Wilkie – Fiddle
Greg Lawson – Fiddle
Sodhi – Tabla, Vocals, Harmonium

Additional Guitar by Tom Baxter

Engineered by Stuart Hamilton at Castlesound Studios on 20 Jan 2019
Mixed & Mastered by Ross Hamilton at Rocket Science
Produced by Ross Hamilton & Paul Towndrow
Session Producer – Ross Hamilton

Sketches Of Influence - The Grind (Live at Middle C Jazz) February 2021

THE GRIND is a Sketches Of Influence live album recorded at Middle C Jazz in Charlotte N.C.

This recording features some of New York’s great talents including Stacy Dillard (saxophones), Davis Whitfield (piano), Otto Gardner (bass) and bandleader Joe Barna (drums). It documents the passion, power and joy put forth by the group while on tour in March of 2020.

Looking to add an exciting new recording to your existing collection? Well look no further. The Grind is a sonic exploration rooted in the rich history of hard bop that is sure to please any devoted jazz enthusiast and casual listener alike.

Joe Barna

1. The Grind 09:39

2. Oh Feline, I'm Glad You're Mine 14:07

3. A Children's Song 13:23

4. The Return of Shah 11:40

5. Living Without You 10:20

6. Nine Maple Syrup 11:38

Sketches of Influence is the dream-child of composer and bandleader, Joe Barna. He describes his compositions as "sketches" of people and experiences that have inspired him throughout his musical journey.

Some of the jazz artists Barna has played alongside include Joel Frahm, Ralph Lalama, Gary Smulyan, Dick Oatts, Stacy Dillard, Joe Magnarelli, Lee Shaw and Jon Gordon.