Monday, March 8, 2021

Clovis Nicolas - Autoportrait (April 16, 2021 Sunnyside Records)

Recording a solo album is perhaps the most daunting feat for any instrumentalist. The time it takes for a musician to hone skills, develop a repertoire and then learn to trust his or her instincts is enough to turn most off from the project. The opportunity provided by the extreme situation of the pandemic allowed bassist Clovis Nicolas to complete this solo album, Autoportrait, an encapsulation of his 2020 spent working on himself and his art.

The idea of recording a solo bass album had nagged the French-born, New York based Nicolas for two years. The concept alone does not provide much in terms of reference, there only being a few dozen examples of solo bass recordings and those done in fairly similar fashion, with open-tunings, meditative compositions, and a lack of variety or edge. Nicolas realized that he would have to work extremely hard to make a recording that covered all of the potential he envisioned for it, without a clear prior frame of reference.

For his recording, Nicolas reflected on the first jazz lesson he learned: “Be your own rhythm section.” This meant to consider musicality, harmonies, and structure within his solo performance, but to also celebrate the services that the bass provides to the ensemble.

Nicolas began the project in September 2019 by composing “Four Steps,” but paused the operation until he had a casual meeting with his peer and friend, producer Daniel Yvinec, in January 2020, over coffee. After telling Yvinec of his thoughts of recording a solo album, Yvinec reinforced the importance of the project. It became clear to Nicolas that he found the right person to help produce the album and be a sounding board for his ideas as the project unfurled.
It was shortly thereafter that the world was stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic. The work for freelance musicians all but disappeared. The saving grace for Nicolas was that he found time. Time to spend on this work he had been obsessing over for years.

Nicolas retired to his rehearsal studio and reflected. There he would come up with an idea, record it, listen back and critique, and then build upon the work. Nicolas compares this process to a painter refining his image on canvas by looking into a mirror. Developing a program was tough because Nicolas wanted to provide an overall shape to the proceedings along with a variety of approaches.

Nicolas and Yvinec would occasionally speak over the phone or by Zoom meeting to tighten up ideas or field suggestions on material and themes. Their efforts culminated in recording the album at Sear Sound in New York City in September 2020.

The recording begins with “After Bach,” Nicolas’s two-part suite that he wrote as a companion to J.S. Bach’s Cello Suites that many bassists choose to study and practice. Encouraged by the interest sparked by a social media video he posted, Nicolas swung back to Tadd Dameron’s clever “Hot House,” a tune that the bassist loves. Yvinec proposed that Nicolas should attempt a transcription of Coleman Hawkins’s solo on “Body and Soul,” a difficult feat that Nicolas performs beautifully. Nicolas picked “Thon’s Tea” from his own book, changing the key to open his strings and the feel of the tune.
“Free” is just that: a freely improvised piece that utilizes a four-note motif as a reference for some exuberant playing, while “Another Rendezvous” playfully refers to Nicolas’s last recording, with a blues that showcases his strong walking bass style. “Jubilate Deo” sprang from Nicolas’s 10-year study of counterpoint, the piece written as an exercise, the piano recording being the piece’s first performance by his instructor, Kendall Durelle Briggs. The seed of the solo bass recording was planted by legendary bassist Dave Holland, who Nicolas was astounded by when he heard Holland play solo live in Marseilles, France. “Four Steps” is a vibrant piece with many jumps and creative elements written in tribute to Holland.

The meditative take on Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” is informed by Billie Holiday’s somber reading, while Lennie Tristano’s “Line Up” provides a serious workout, the chromatically built piece being adapted for bass and turning into a sort of lively technical study. Originally written as a prelude for piano, “Chloe” is a tribute to Nicolas’s mother, the person most responsible for his pursuit of music; the piece is reworked to insure the clarity of the bass on its striking chords. Nicolas showcases his superb walking bass again on the freely played “Lady Bass,” an incredibly paced piece based on rhythm changes that has him on a tight rope. The recording concludes with the Dennis/Adair standard, “Everything Happens To Me,” a go to piece that Nicolas owns and plays with conviction.

Clovis Nicolas spent the past year solidifying a solo recording that truly covers the full scope of what a bass can do. His Autoportrait was birthed of a time and situation where Nicolas could be reflective about his craft, edit critically, and truly push himself into some fantastically creative spaces.

1. After Bach
2. Hot House
3. Body and Soul
4. Thon's Tea
5. Free
6. Another Rendezvous
7. Jubilate Deo
8. Four Steps
9. Solitude
10. Line Up
11. Chloe
12. Lady Bass
13. Everything Happens To Me

Clovis Nicolas - acoustic bass

Abraham Burton & Lucian Ban - Blacksalt (April 9, 2021 Sunnyside Records)

Meaningful musical partnerships can emerge from musicians of any persuasion and background. The language of jazz has tended to be the most pliable, as composers and improvisers have been able to bend to meet the demands of differing situations, making moving music that resonates in the moment.

Saxophonist Abraham Burton and pianist Lucian Ban come from two distinct backgrounds but founded a long-lasting relationship based on friendship, trust, and their collective passions, most notably their focus on melodicism and jazz feel. Their new recording, Blacksalt, encapsulates the sympathetic nature of their pairing in a freely played collection of pieces, composed and improvised, and pristinely recorded live on tour in Ban’s native Transylvania in 2018.

Burton grew up a first generation American of Belizean descent in the exciting world of New York City. By his late teens, the saxophonist was already apprenticing with the legendary drummer Arthur Taylor and fortifying his foundation playing alongside jazz luminaries like Jackie McLean, Walter Bishop and Roy Haynes. Burton’s rich tone and bold playing style have helped him to maintain his position in the top tier of jazz’s saxophone stylists, a player who can supply whatever is needed in any musical situation.

Pianist Ban grew up in Romania and came to New York City to pursue his dream of becoming a mover in the City’s incredible jazz scene. His particular approach to the music has generally led him into more avant-garde spheres, but his composing style has always attracted collaborators of all stripes and influences. The music that Ban makes brilliantly straddles the line between the mainstream and the experimental.

Burton and Ban were introduced by drummer Bruce Cox in 2006. Their immediate rapport was only intensified by their mutual appreciation for each other’s talents. Ban enjoyed the saxophonist’s sound and melodic sense and Burton was impressed by Ban’s beautiful, purposeful writing and musical breadth. Once they developed trust, the music really began to flow. Their mutual appreciation for the jazz tradition and ballads insured that these diehard romantics had found in each other a musical companion that would not only push, but in any musical context. The pairing became regular when Ban invited Burton to join his band, Elevation, which has recorded two well-received albums for Sunnyside.
The two began playing duo concerts not too long afterward, cementing the cause when they were invited by Todd Barkan to perform at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola’s Late Night sessions and met with an incredible response. The two have continued these well-received events throughout New York City and on a number of European tours. On June 5, 2018, the last night of an eleven-stop tour of Europe, Burton and Ban had the opportunity to record Blacksalt at The Baroque Hall in Timisoara.

The recording demonstrates just how powerful the musical message of the duo had become after nearly a decade and a half of collaboration. The trust can be heard as the two play without a setlist, utilizing pieces composed individually and collectively in a fluid exchange of ideas. The two approach their music with no expectations, just honesty.

The recording begins with Burton’s warm sax incanting an invitation to Ban’s bluesy, pointillistic piano on “Opening / Freeflow,” which begins to blossom as the pair begin to explore the sound space, the saxophone’s soaring above the piano’s churning. The dancing “Belize” utilizes a musical sketch by Ban which evolved into a rhythmic exercise with Burton’s muscular saxophonics forever stretching over the top. Burton’s “Dad” from his album Cause & Effect is revisited in this haunting version, a gorgeous, collected tribute to an inspirational man of few words.

The title tune shows the diversity of their emotional and stylistic range in a brief, invigorating dialog. Burton’s solo “Interlude” showcases the saxophonist’s stunning command of the post-bop language and unimpeachable melodicism, which leads into Ban’s “Untold,” a stunningly complex ballad that shows the composer’s classical music leanings. The recording concludes with Ban’s chestnut, “Not That Kind of Blues,” a profound statement of the duo’s connection to the most essential element of jazz in any trajectory, the blues.

Over the past fifteen years, Abraham Burton and Lucian Ban have learned each other’s personalities and habits, on and off the bandstand. Their well-tuned friendship can be appreciated fully on Blacksalt, a recording that finds its grounding in jazz’s diverse arch, the blues that binds it together, and a familial spirit.

 1. Opening | Freeflow
2. Belize
3. Dad
4. Blacksalt
5. Interlude
6. Untold
7. Not That Kind of Blues

Abraham Burton - tenor saxophone
Lucian Ban - piano

Scott DuBois - Summer Water (April 2, 2021 Sunnyside Records)

There is something entrancing about the natural cycle of water. There is the constant ebb and flow. Then there are the nearly limitless variations, like the lightness of sprinkling rain, babbling brooks or the relentless force of crashing waves and storms. The variety and fluidity of bodies of water has always fascinated guitarist/composer Scott DuBois and inspires his first solo guitar recording, Summer Water, which is also the first recording on his new record label / publishing company, Watertone Music.

Over the course of the past twenty years, DuBois has looked to nature and the seasons to inform his compositions. Recently he has begun to expand his writing to include orchestral music, composing a symphony and a violin concerto, among his other classical works. These experiences have expanded his compositional style and the way he hears music, as DuBois has begun to add this symphonic influence throughout all of his music, regardless of genre. He has created Watertone Music to capture this new direction.

DuBois’s 2015 album, Winter Light (ACT), began a series of recordings featuring music inspired by the four seasons that would be performed by varied ensembles. Winter Light featured DuBois’s quartet of the past 15 years, featuring Gebhard Ullmann, Thomas Morgan and Kresten Osgood, while his 2017 album, Autumn Wind (ACT), added a string and wind ensemble in addition to his quartet.

Summer Water is the third release in the series and a true departure for DuBois. The view of Lake Michigan from his window was a daily reminder of the range of water’s expressive forces. During the bone-chilling Chicago winter of 2019, he wrote pieces for solo guitar that would not only utilize his symphonic compositional voice but would emulate the sound without the use of overdubs, loops or layering. DuBois has captured the textures and colors of an orchestra and has maintained a bold sound, not just in terms of volume, but in the intensity, much as one hears from an orchestra, whether loud or soft. He has also created great variety within the sound and the compositions, an important aspect of his work. All of this was accomplished with the barest of essentials: a solo guitar.
Here are Summer Water’s structure and journeys described in DuBois’s own words:

The first five pieces and the last five pieces mirror each other musically: pieces one and eleven, two and ten, three and nine, etc.—essentially sets of musical variations. The first five pieces are a journey through a river, the last five pieces a journey through a sea, both meeting in the central “Storm Where the River Meets the Sea.” Listeners are invited to start their journeys at either end of the album.

The river is consumed by fog, otters soon appearing as shadowy shapes through the haze. Driftwood lingers along the shore before continuing its journey to a remote place.

Sunbeams lance through the mist, glistening on the river’s rushing rapids brimming with life. In the distance a storm prepares to breach the light.

Thunder, lightning, and fierce wind clamor above the clash of the river and sea, pelted by rain.

Charcoal clouds haunt the sky. Sunlight sparkles on the sea’s mighty waves.

Driftwood continues its odyssey as otters frolic. Fog enshrouds the sea. 
1. Into River Fog
2. River Otters
3. River Driftwood
4. Summer Light on Rushing River
5. River Before The Storm
6. Storm Where The River Meets The Sea
7. Sea Before The Storm
8. Summer Light On Billowing Sea
9. Sea Driftwood
10. Sea Otters
11. Into Sea Fog

Scott DuBois - solo guitar, composer, producer

Michael Thomas - Natural Habitat ( March 26, 2021 Sunnyside Records)

Developing as an artist requires an incredible amount of study and hard work honing skills. During this process, the burgeoning artist will naturally begin to find areas in which he or she feels more comfortable, their comfort zone. This concept reaches beyond a physical location. It can also apply to material and communal elements in the creation of art.

Saxophonist/bass clarinetist/composer Michael Thomas seems to have found his musical domain once he settled in New York City. His new recording, Natural Habitat, illustrates how his path to the City has placed him in a perfect spot, both physically and mentally, to create the best art that he can.

Originally from Florida, Thomas grew up playing classical saxophone and picking up clarinet and flute as doubling instruments in high school. He pursued music as an undergrad at the University of Miami and then went to Boston to get his masters at the New England Conservatory. His three years in Boston would be the most important years in the young reedist’s development. The inspiring tutorship of saxophone legends George Garzone and Jerry Bergonzi and the sweeping breadth of Miguel Zenón’s lessons bridged the gaps between many of the musical elements Thomas was juggling.

Thomas dreamed of reaching New York City, and the Artist Diploma program at Juilliard gave him the opportunity. His immediate contact with some of the best musicians in New York who were involved with the program, including Ron Blake, Steve Wilson and Frank Kimbrough, helped him break into the scene quickly. Working on Zenón’s Identities are Changeable large ensemble project really cemented his credibility, as he worked with a generation of musicians he had previously looked up to, as an equal.

For a number of years, Thomas found himself bouncing between Boston and New York for gigs, including those with his long-time friend and collaborator, trumpeter Jason Palmer. Boston remained an indelible part of Thomas’s maturation, the place where he wrote and crafted much of his original music, including a number of pieces on Natural Habitat.

His arrival in New York led him to change his approach to music making, as his pieces began to open up, becoming more flexible for the expression of the people he began to play with. One of the first musicians Thomas began having regular sessions with was bassist Hans Glawischnig, who he met through Zenón and who happened to be his neighbor.

The supportive Glawischnig was a natural selection for Thomas as he began to establish a quartet to play his music. Pianist Julian Shore was a Boston contemporary, though he had attended Berklee School of Music, and an obvious choice for the group with his attention to the needs of a band. Drummer Johnathan Blake was a more recent association, but one that brought an unbounded freedom to the band’s performances.

The compositions on Natural Habitat underline the comfort that Thomas has in his abilities to write pieces of vastly differing styles and sounds.
The recording begins with “Float,” one of Thomas’s older pieces whose melody sails over a complicated but naturally carried meter in 7/4 and then 5/4. The gorgeous “Different Time” allows Thomas to demonstrate his bass clarinet chops on a lush jazz waltz. “First” comes from a series of pieces Thomas wrote for a 2017 performance; this bright piece bounds with energy from Thomas’s alto and a stunning bass solo from Glawischnig. The swinging title track really cemented the idea of this project, as it was during a Boston performance of the piece in 2018 that Thomas really felt grounded in his place, both his concept and destination.

The tricky “Harbor” emerged from concepts that Thomas had developed with rapidly switching meters and complex harmonies, a musical riddle that he solved on a long evening walk alongside of Boston Harbor. The delicate “Fourth” is a ballad from the 2017 series that begins extremely slowly but builds into a scintillatingly dynamic saxophone solo. “Demise” also began as a rhythmic mystery, this time a lopsided 13/8 piano feature that Thomas shaped by adding bass clarinet and bass accompaniments.

Thomas wrote “No Words” as a freely played piece that he imagined someone could sing, the lyrical piano lines leading to Thomas’s pliantly emotive sax. The recording concludes with “Two Cities,” a piece Thomas wrote while bouncing between New York and Boston for a group of musicians who split their time between the two cities. The dancing piece has two opposing sections that are a study in contrasts and highlight the composer’s ability and breadth.

Though Boston helped shape Michael Thomas, it has been New York City that has allowed him to refine his craft and approach. Natural Habitat highlights Thomas’s dexterity as a musician and composer with an ensemble of that would make any soloist feel right at home.

1. Float
2. Different Time
3. First
4. Natural Habitat
5. Harbor
6. Fourth
7. Demise
8. No Words
9. Two Cities

Michael Thomas - alto saxophone & bass clarinet
Julian Shore - piano, Rhodes & synth
Hans Glawischnig - bass
Johnathan Blake - drums

Joe Moffett - Stress Positions (April 1, 2021 Neither/Nor Records)

Stress Positions is Joe Moffett's second solo studio album release. In this collection of pieces he produces mangled, oscillating, chittering noises, a collision of muscle, bone, and metal. The contortions herein were carried out in the spirit of the glossolalic and obsessive.

1. Milkweed Salad
2. Feinting Bulb
3. Luxury Drywall Manouver
4. Steel Die Crocus
5. Succulent Midnight Quicksilver

Joe Moffett - trumpet

Recorded by Joe Moffett at home in Brooklyn, NY in the spring of 2020. Mixed and mastered by Nathaniel Morgan. All music by Joe Moffett.

Sean Ali - A Blink in the Sun (April 1, 2021 Neither/Nor Records)

A Blink in the Sun is the second solo album by bassist and poet Sean Ali. The album is composed of many layers of bass and spoken word that have been shaped into seven musical pieces that depict an inner journey, a joyful dive into the interior rabbit hole. Speaking, whispering, and breathing combine with spectral and timbral double bass performances to create a series of self-portraits in sonic hues and oratorial pigments.. The album’s journey through density to translucence is a musical meditation on the multi-faceted nature of the self.

Sean Ali has been performing solo double bass concerts for a decade. In 2017 he released his first solo album, My Tongue Crumbles After, on Neither/Nor Records.

1. Salutations II
2. The Same Brisk Pace
3. Out Of-
4. Something Wrong Here
5. The Backs Of Eyelids
6. And Danced
7. Dialogue
8. The Reptilian Throat (digital-only bonus track)

Sean Ali - double bass, voice

Recorded by Nathaniel Morgan at Buckminster Forest in Brooklyn, NY on January 4th and 26th, 2020. Mixed and mastered by Nathaniel Morgan. All music and text by Sean Ali.

Carlo Costa - Silos (April 1, 2021 Neither/Nor Records)

In the summer of 2018, while in Rome, Carlo recorded a long-form improvisation inside an old grain silo. For the recording he solely used found objects that were close by: branches, bricks, logs, metal pipes, stones, gardening tools, etc. The piece explores the reverberant acoustics of the silo and the interaction between Costa’s gestures and the sounds of the surrounding environment: cicadas, passing vehicles and planes, dogs barking, etc.

Carlo Costa has been performing solo percussion concerts since 2012 and has had the opportunity to present his solo project in Switzerland, Germany, France and the US. In the fall of 2018 he released his first solo album, Oblio, on Neither/Nor Records.

1. Silos (excerpt)

2. Silos

Carlo Costa - found objects

Recorded by Carlo Costa in Rome, Italy on July 28, 2018. Mixed by Nathaniel Morgan and Carlo Costa. Mastered by Joe Branciforte. All music by Carlo Costa. Cover photo by Carlo Costa. Inside photo by Georgia Fraleigh.

Neither/Nor Records


Kaidi Tatham - An Insight To All Minds (April 2, 2021 First Word Records)

First Word Records are very proud to present a brand new album from Kaidi Tatham!

'An Insight To All Minds' is Kaidi's 3rd solo album under his own name, following several EPs and two albums for First Word; 2018's acclaimed 'It's A World Before You' and the re-press of his seminal 2008 sophomore album 'In Search Of Hope' last year.

For those that don't know, Kaidi Tatham is a legendary multi-instrumentalist. Once dubbed "the UK's Herbie Hancock" by Benji B, he's a virtuoso on the keys and a true innovator in sound production as one of the original creators of the Broken Beat sound. Over the years his musical prowess has blessed numerous projects, initially with the likes of Bugz In The Attic and The Herbaliser, and more recently with DJ Jazzy Jeff (through the PLAYlist projects), Andrew Ashong (on the acclaimed 'Sankofa Season' EP last year) and with longtime accomplice, Dego. This in addition to session work for artists such as Mulatu Astatke, Slum Village, Amy Winehouse, Soul II Soul and Leroy Burgess, along with First Word label mates such as Eric Lau, Children of Zeus and Darkhouse Family. Kaidi is also a revered DJ known for rocking parties globally, whilst his solo catalogue spans tons of EPs and releases for labels such as 2000 Black, Eglo and Theo Parrish's Sound Signature.

On 'An Insight To All Minds', Kaidi says it's "not about a destination, but a process. It's about how you drive, not where you're going. Nothing in this world can torment you as much as your own thoughts… We are all going through it. We can all feel what the next person is feeling, believe it or not. It's learning how to tap into it".
The album is comprised of an assortment of Kaidi's unique flavours - uptempo jazz-funk bruk, laced with rhodes, flutes, live bass and delicious percussion. Using that blueprint he moves effortlessly through latin and samba, half-step, deep afro house and a sprinkle of curveballs, all presented in Kaidi's inimitable way.

'Intergalactic Relations' brings with it some 110bpm synthed-out spacey electro-breaks, 'Could It Be' sets off sounding like a Morricone film score, whilst 'Rodney' is some serious heads-down business; stark and punchy off-kilter broken beat and vocal stabs. There are a few guests too - 'Chungo' sees the return of Uhmeer (who previously appeared on 'Cupid' on the album 'It's A World Before You'); here the young Philly MC deftly rides a 9/4 time signature beat. Meanwhile 'Stro Kyat' invites in another supreme talent, Stro Elliot (The Roots), who provides a suitably crisp & crunchy riddim to accompany Kaidi's key play over a mind-bending 5/4 time signature.

With this new album, Kaidi Tatham adds further to his already impressive catalogue, a body of work that falls within the cracks of jazz and dance music, exemplifying modern British black brilliance once again; uncompromising, innovative, groundbreaking, intricately sophisticated and deeply funky. His fanbase expands on every release and it's no surprise that that fanbase includes peers such as Madlib ("ahead of his time"), Gilles Peterson ("a key part of an entire movement"), K15 ("a limitless source of inspiration"), Alexander Nut ("a true virtuoso") and Kyle Hall.

1. Try N Follow
2. Intergalactic Relations
3. Interlude
4. Carry ft Mongo Man
5. Chungo ft Uhmeer
6. An Insight To All Minds
7. Nah Top Yuh Noise
9. Rodney
10. Rain
11. Could It Be
12. Interlude 2
13. Stro Kyat (ft Stro Elliot)
14. Tek Care
15. Enjoy Life

Quin Kirchner - Live at Pro Musica (March 2021 Astral Spirits)

Live at Pro Musica was recorded just over a year ago on March 1, 2020. While it seemed almost routine at the time to gather together in a small space for an intimate afternoon concert, this recording soon stood as an artifact of a very different time. Each one of the musicians involved has since remarked on how great a memory the show has become, and it has helped us all get through a troubling year to be able to look towards the future with hope for more experiences just like it on the horizon. LONG LIVE LIVE MUSIC!

 This concert was the first-time meeting of this particular quartet, a group of musicians who until then had all played together many times in various settings but never in this configuration. Ward and Kirchner having worked together for over a decade, first in the group blink. and then in Ward's first Quartet, Fitted Shards, continued to share stages regularly. Ulery and Kirchner had played together for years in Kirchner's long-working 5 piece as well as in countless other bands, including Ward's latest project, Rogue Parade, and Ulery's own Delicate Charms (with Ward). Bedal had joined Ulery and Kirchner as the main house pianist at their weekly jam session for over 2 years while also choosing Ulery for his own Quartet and joining Kirchner in Ulery's brass band project, Pollinator. And yet, even with all of those connections and many more to list, the performance in this recording was and remains to be an entirely unique experience for everyone.

It was the final concert in a week-long Chicago festival called Chopin In The City, curated by singer and presenter Grazyna Auguscik. While the festival invites musicians from across various stylistic genres to present their own original music, it also aims to honor the legacy of the great pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin, native of Auguscik's home country of Poland. It was for this reason that Kirchner decided to bring arrangements of two Chopin Nocturnes to the band, and attempt to showcase the great composer's work through a context of their own.

On the afternoon of Sunday, March 1st, 2020, an enthusiastic and attentive audience packed into the intimate surroundings of the Pro Musica showroom in Chicago, completely unaware of how unusual such an act would soon become. Revered audio specialist and recording engineer, Ken Christianson, the owner and founder of Pro Musica, arranged his trademark AKG stereo pairs in front of each member of the band to capture every moment in startling detail, especially the house grand piano which has been played and recorded countless times in the space by many of Chicago's greatest pianists. The results are an incredibly dynamic and detailed reproduction of the performance allowing the listener to feel as though they might be inside that very space sharing in every moment with both the band and the audience.

In addition to the two Chopin arrangements, the group presented a varied repertoire that included extended renditions of both David Murray's tribute to Albert Ayler, "Flowers for Albert," and the meditative piece "Ababcas," by Paul Motian. Alongside those stand a fiery version of Ward's "We Are Still Here" and a delicate rendition of Kirchner's "Lucid Dream" from his latest album, The Shadows and The Light.

1. Intro/Flowers for Albert 13:35

2. Nocturne No. 20 in C-Sharp Minor 08:51

3. Abacas 07:00

4. We Are Still Here 08:38

5. Lucid Dream 04:52

6. Nocturne in F Minor, Op. 55, No. 1 08:07

Greg Ward - Alto Saxophone

Paul Bedal - Piano

Matt Ulery - Bass

Quin Kirchner - Drums

Recorded live at Pro Musica in Chicago as part of the 4th Annual Chopin In The City Festival. March 1, 2020 at 3pm.

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Ken Christianson

Lafayette Gilchrist - NOW (Morphius Records)

"New Orleans barrelhouse piano, the Impressionism of Ravel, and Duke Ellington’s jaggy solo-piano sound form the bedrock of Lafayette Gilchrist’s style at the keyboard. But if there’s one big influence on the way he thinks about rhythm, it’s the deeply swinging ‘pocket’ of a classic go-go beat. With its classic loping groove, built on heavy hand percussion and call-and-response flow, go-go is the unofficial musical idiom of Gilchrist’s native Washington, D.C.”
– Giovanni Russonello, The New York Times

“Lafayette Gilchrist has dug deep into [jazz piano] history… he's tapping into jazz's spiritual, historical and cultural roots. He's an old soul at ease in the modern world.” – Kevin Whitehead, NPR’s Fresh Air

Pianist, composer and bandleader extraordinaire Lafayette Gilchrist returns to the trio format on his engrossing, self-released double disc, NOW, the follow-up to last year’s critically acclaimed solo piano album, Dark Matter, which many critics cited as one of 2019’s best jazz releases.

On NOW, Gilchrist’s first trio recording since his 2007 release 3, the pianist leads his formidable group Specials Revealed, featuring bassist Herman Burney and drummer Eric Kennedy. The three musicians have developed a deep rapport from years of playing together in other people’s bands. When the trio convened to record in November 2019, Gilchrist was bursting with creative energy.

The album begins with Gilchrist’s signature tune, “Assume the Position,” a protest song about police violence that was featured on HBO’s crime drama The Wire. Atop a combustive, deep-pocket groove, Gilchrist unleashes his signature two-handed improvisations, often marked by granite-hard rhythmic attacks, rumbling blues-laden melodies, a striking harmonic sense and off-kilter improvisations.  

NOW includes other socially and politically conscious compositions as well, such as the dramatic “Bmore Careful,” which examines crime and police brutality in Baltimore, where Gilchrist has lived since 1987. The piece features rumbling tremolos, a stuttering groove and a cinematic melody that fluctuates between menacing and wistful.
Gilchrist also cites other influences, including Billy Preston, Aretha Franklin, Randy Weston, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner and Bud Powell. Make no mistake though, Gilchrist is a modernist who deftly juxtaposes multiple jazz idioms with the rhythmic bounce, syncopation and grooves associated with go-go music, funk and hip-hop.  

Born in August 1967 in Washington, D.C., Gilchrist’s life as a pianist began at 17 while he was studying economics at University of Maryland, Baltimore. On his way to an English class during his freshman year, he wandered into a recital hall and began pecking out melodies and riffs on a Steinway piano. 

Gilchrist subsequently spent many hours teaching himself piano and auditing music theory classes. By the time he graduated, he had started his career as a pianist and composer. He formed his first ensemble, New Volcanoes, in 1993 and released his debut album, The Art is Life, that same year. He’s since released 13 other albums as a leader. In addition to The Wire, his music has been featured on HBO’s Treme and The Deuce. “Gilchrist's writing weaves together old-school funk rhythms with hip-hop cadences and raw street beats,” says Troy Collins in All About Jazz. “His melodic sensibility embraces the esoteric angularity of Andrew Hill and Sun Ra as much as the emotional directness of the blues.”  

In addition to his work as a leader, Gilchrist has also performed as a sideman with a host of jazz luminaries including saxophonist David Murray, singer Cassandra Wilson, trombonist Craig Harris, bassist William Parker and drummer Andrew Cyrille.
Disc 1

Disc 2
5 ENOUGH 10:25

Lafayette Gilchrist - piano
Herman Burney - bass
Eric Kennedy - drums