Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Carlos Niño & Friends - More Energy Fields, Current (May 7, 2021 International Anthem)

'More Energy Fields, Current' is a definitive new peak in the recorded continuum of prolific producer/percussionist Carlos Niño. Featuring heavy contributions from many of the most exciting instrumentalists in the creative music constellation of Los Angeles (of which Niño’s has been a central force for over 2 decades), the album collects 10 pristine gems of collaborative communication helmed by the Southern Californian sage, elegantly presented in his unique “Spiritual, Improvisational, Space Collage” style.

Starting with the subtle invitation of “Pleasewakeupalittlefaster, please…” (accompanied by the liner note from Niño: “We’re all in this together. I look forward to living in a much higher, much more conscious, harmonious state, here, with You, on this Magical Planet Earth.”), a gorgeously-keyed canonic infinity by pianist Jamael Dean articulates an Earth-loving, universalist ethos that imbues the entire 44 minute program. While the sonics shift and evolve, gracefully placed in patient order across subsequent track highlights “Nightswimming” (featuring Dean and Dntel on modular synth), “Thanking the Earth” (featuring multi-instrumentalists Sam Gendel and Nate Mercereau, whom Niño has been working and bonding extensively with in recent years), “Salon Winds” (featuring Jamire Williams on drums and Aaron Shaw on flute), and “Togetherness” (featuring Dean and Devin Daniels on sax), the naturalist sentiments established in the exposition remain potently present.
The album is ripe with “ambient” passages that function like open portals between moments of consonance and clarity. But even in the occasional absence of drums, there is a powerful pulse implicit in the program’s frequency of consciousness. It’s a testament to Niño’s foundations as a DJ. His distinct ability to craft kinetic, cinematic sonic experience from dozens of independent, often rhythmically-ambiguous improvisational archive memories is more fluently displayed on 'More Energy Fields, Current' than anything we’ve heard from him to date. It resonates, lucidly, with the way Niño’s mentor Iasos – who is known to the world as an original founder of New Age music – has described his work: "Real Time Interactive Imagination, Flow Texturization."

On 'More Energy Fields, Current', Niño immerses us in the watery depths of his world, spiriting us like a submarine through exotic nether-leagues of untouched sound. And when we arrive at the final, book-ending piece “Please, Wake Up.” (an extended version of the opening theme with transcendental counterpoint by saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings), it’s like a return, safely to shore.

1. Pleasewakeupalittlefaster, please...
Jamael Dean - Piano and Organ
Nate Mercereau - Guitar
Carlos Niño - Percussion, Mixing, Editing

We’re all in this together. I look forward to living in a much higher, much more conscious, harmonious state, here, with You, on this Magical Planet Earth.

2. The World Stage, 4321 Degnan Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90008
Sam Gendel - Alto Saxophone and Pedals
Jamael Dean - Piano
Randy Gloss - Hybrid Drum Set
Carlos Niño - Percussion

Recorded and Mixed by Tomoaki Soto from Sunday, November 24, 2019

3. Nightswimming
Dntel - Modular Synthesizer
Jamael Dean - Piano
Jira >< - Beats
Carlos Niño - Percussion, Sound Design, Mixing, Editing

4. Now the background is the foreground.
Adam Rudolph - Drum Machine, Multi-Instruments and Production
Aaron Shaw - Tenor Saxophone
Jamael Dean - Yamaha DX7
Carlos Niño - Percussion, Mixing, Editing

Thanks to Silvia Bianchi and La Terraza Magnetica / Madrid

5. Thanking The Earth
Sam Gendel - Vibraphone
Nate Mercereau - Guitar Synth, Multi-Instruments and Production
Carlos Niño - Percussion, Field Recordings, Mixing

Thanks to Ishmael Butler

6. Salon Winds
Jamire Williams - Drums, Painting
Nate Mercereau - Guitar Synth World
Jamael Dean - Prophet Keyboard
Aaron Shaw - Flute and Tenor Saxophone
Carlos Niño - Percussion, Mixing

Recorded by Jason Lader on Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Thanks to Travis Lett, Mike D and Tamara Davis

7. Ripples, Reflection, Loop
Laraaji - Zither and Voice
Jamael Dean - Electric Piano
Sharada - Voice
Carlos Niño - Percussion, Sound Design, Mixing, Editing

Thanks to Alex Kelman of Third Side Music

8. Togetherness
Devin Daniels - Alto Saxophone
Jamael Dean - Electric Piano
Carlos Niño - Synthesizer, Percussion, Mixing

9. lasos 79 ‘til Infinity
Carlos Niño - Synthesizer, Chimes and Collage

Invite them in, say, “Yes, Come.”

10. Please, wake up.
Shabaka Hutchings* - Tenor Saxophone
Jamael Dean - Piano and Synth
Carlos Niño - Percussion, Mixing, Editing

Based on a Duet by Shabaka and Carlos recorded by Andy Kravitz
at Studio 4 West on Monday, March 11, 2019
Thanks to Scottie McNiece

*Shabaka Hutchings appears courtesy of Impulse!

Produced by Carlos Niño.
Mastered by David Allen.
Photos by Todd Weaver.
Indigo by Niki Tsukamoto.
Art Direction by Nep Sidhu.
Design and Layout by Craig Hansen.

Curtis Andrews - Speaking Hands (April 2, 2021)

Speaking Hands is the sophomore release by the globe-trotting percussionist/composer Curtis Andrews. Released more than 10 years since his award-winning eponymous debut, Speaking Hands features his Vancouver-based ensemble The Offering of Curtis Andrews, and guests from across Canada (via South India), down to California, over to urban South Africa, and up to rural Ghana. Andrews once claimed he didn’t see the point of recording music anymore, but the inspiration for new compositions became too strong to ignore, and the results were too interesting not to share. The resultant album is rich in rhythmic exploration, modal and raga-based melodies, and some truly virtuosic performances.

Though recorded on the cusp of and during the 2020 pandemic, this is far from a “COVID record”. The seeds were sown over the past 11 years of travel, study, collaboration, and exploration, both abroad and at home, within and without. The compositions are reflective of the various sounds, aesthetics, and influences that Andrews gravitates towards with an open heart and mind: the intertwined rhythms and polyphonies of vodu-derived traditional music West Africa, the micro and macrocosmic play of time and pitch found in Carnatic traditions of South India, the open field of improvisation, and the intersection of all of these as one cohesive and original sound. It a place where korvais intermingle with the timeline of the gakogui. Andrews has been dwelling in these musical (and physical worlds) for the past 20 years, through deep engagement and study with communities and master musicians. As such, his music is a natural extension of these experiences.
Of special note is the presence of world-renowned South Indian master drummer Dr. Trichy Sankaran. Andrews is honored and humbled to have his guru of more than 20 years join the ensemble on 4 pieces, including one piece that Sankaran composed especially for the group. While COVID restrictions may have closed some doors, it allowed for unplanned collaborations, leading Andrews to recruit some friends from distant locales including: bassist Sandile Jwaii (Cape Town) ; bansuri and alto sax from Neelamjit Dhillon (Los Angeles via Coquitlam); South Indian violinist Kaushik Sivaramakrishan (Edmonton via Chennai), and vibraphonist Mark Duggan (Halifax via Toronto). Making a cameo appearance are drummers from the village of Dzogadze (Ghana), a community Andrews has been visiting since 1999.

The album’s title is drawn from the tune “The Speaking Hand”, itself inspired by Andrews’ own practice and play of the mridangam, the major percussion instrument of Carnatic music. The repertoire of the mridangam is taught and conceived of in a special rhythmic language known as solkattu. It is the voice that gives rise to rhythm before the instrument does. Thus, the hands “speak” what the voice (mind) creates. In the course of practice and play, ideas also arise from the hands themselves, opening up new vistas for creation.

1. Tom TaTom TaKaTom TaKiTaTom 5:39
2. Tight Rope, Short Walk 6:52
3. 30 for -32 in 25 6:32
4. The Rainmaker 13:31
5. Locomotion 7:18
6. A Frayed Knot 4:44
7. The Speaking Hand 10:09
8. Kobla 5:47
9. The Shapeshifter 5:55
10. Chapu Tala Malika 8:38

Curtis Andrews - Drumset, Percussion (1-10)
Meredith Bates - Violin (3, 5, 6, 8, 9)
Jared Burrows - Electric Guitar (1-10)
Neelamjit Dhillon - Alto Saxophone (3), Bansuri (2)
Mark Duggan - Vibraphone (1-3)
Drum Ensemble from Dzogadze - Kofi Avi; Clemens, Abomazu, Seth and
Evans Agudzeamegah; Worlasi Agbavitor; Eugene Amegayibor (8)
Sandile Jwaai - Electric Bass (3)
John Korsrud - Trumpet (1)
Robin Layne - Vibraphone (4-10)
Colin Maskell - Baritone and Tenor Saxophones (1)
Kristian Naso - Trumpet (5, 6, 8, 9)
Shantaleela Rao Andrews - In-Utero Heartbeat (5)
Kaushik Sivaramakrishnan - Violin (2, 4, 7, 10)
David Spidel - Electric Bass (1, 3-10)

Feat. Special Guest:
Sri Trichy Sankaran - Mridangam (4, 7, 10) & Kanjira (2)

Rouge - Derrière Les Paupières (April 16, 2021 Laborie Jazz)

Sortie de l'album Derrière Les Paupières
Disponible le 16/04/2021 chez Laborie Jazz
Lauréat Jazz Migration

Entourée de Sylvain Didou (contrebasse) et de Boris Louvet (batterie), la pianiste Madeleine Cazenave déploie sa palette sonore dans un album d'une beauté confondante.  L’une des grandes réussites du trio, c’est cette manière unique de tisser une résille mélodique pour y tendre des lignes de basse et capturer le grésil percussif. A partir des compositions de Madeleine Cazenave, les trois alchimistes de Rouge cherchent ensemble, jusqu’à parfaire la vibration collective.

Il y a quelque chose de Satie, de Ravel dans les accents classiques, symbolistes, et à l’autre bout du spectre, les tons chauds-froids de Tigran Hamasyan, E.S.T ou Gogo Penguin.

En parallèle au groupe Azadi, et à ses créations en solo, Madeleine Cazenave invente avec Rouge un nouveau langage en trio qui nous entraine sur des motifs hypnotiques, à l'image du titre Petit jour, à découvrir.
Un cheminement aérien et sensible vers une éclaircie intérieure...

Madeleine Cazenave nous fait découvrir Rouge, son nouveau projet en trio, déjà lauréat de Jazz Migration. Rouge est composé de la pianiste Madeleine Cazenave dont la percussion sonne tranchante sous le bois des touches noires et blanches. La basse de Sylvain Didou et la batterie de Boris Louvet font s’envoler les volutes vers les cimes ou vers les abysses.

Leur premier album Derrière les paupières évoque une traversée orageuse, un cheminement aérien et sensible vers une éclaircie intérieure. Avec une simplicité apparente, les musiciens créent les conditions de l’immersion contemplative et hypnotique, pour mieux nos entrainer au cœur du mystère : on plonge avec bonheur dans le velours noir d’Abysses et la mélancolie rock de Brumaire en passant par la joie jubilatoire d’Etincelles.
Dans l’univers de Rouge, trois pigments suffisent à déstabiliser les couleurs connues et nous entraînent dans une odyssée chromatique.

On en ressort éclaboussés de lumière, comme pour mieux contempler la montée lente d’un éblouissement, derrière nos paupières devenues transparentes, là où scintille l’océan Rouge.

1. Petit jour (8’00)
2. Etincelles (8’58)
3. Abysses (7’55)
4. Brumaire (7’23)
5. 4% (7’28)
6. Cavale (6’02)

Madeleine Cazenave : piano et compositions
Sylvain Didou : contrebasse
Boris Louvet : batterie

En tournée :
07.05.21 VANVES (92), THÉÂTRE
03.07.21 OLORON (64), JAZZ À OLORON
21.07.21 JUNAS (30), JAZZ À JUNAS
03.12.21 METZ (57), ARSENAL

Pianist John Beasley Wins GRAMMY Award for Donna Lee from Mack Avenue album MONK'estra Plays John Beasley

Pianist John Beasley Wins GRAMMY® Award
From Mack Avenue Music Group Album

Beasley's Afro-Cuban Treatment of "Donna Lee" Wins
"Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella"
at 63rd Annual GRAMMY® Awards

Watch Beasley's Acceptance Speech Giving Thanks
to Black American Music Community &
Music Education in Public Schools

Read Randall Roberts' Los Angeles Times Feature
on John Beasley: "On Sunday, a Local Jazz Polymath
Could Have a Grammys for the Ages"

Watch Beasley Perform "Mercy, Mercy Me" with
Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra to Open GRAMMY Awards
Mack Avenue Music Group is proud to congratulate pianist John Beasley on his first ever GRAMMY® Award win for his track "Donna Lee" (from his recent album, MONK’estra Plays John Beasley) in the Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella category, as well as his astounding four nominations at the 63rd annual GRAMMY® Awards.

"Winning a Grammy this year is especially emotional because my album 'MONK’estra Plays John Beasley' was released in the year of the pandemic," says Beasley. "We are a 15-piece big band family used to playing, so lockdown was tough with no in-person concerts especially, to play this new music. Mack Avenue Records released our music in a three-album series, and I was very fortunate that its President, Denny Stilwell, had the foresight to see three records worth of music and the band’s evolution. Each of these albums went on to earn two nominations for a total of six. Now, we can add a trophy. This speaks volumes."

Beasley is one of the most nominated artists in this year's GRAMMY Awards, and the only jazz artist considered one of its top nominees. (Top nominees include Beyoncé, 9; Dua Lipa, 6; Roddy Ricch, 6; Taylor Swift, 6; Brittany Howard, 5; John Beasley, 4; Justin Bieber, 4; Phoebe Bridgers, 4; DaBaby, 4; Billie Eilish, 4; David Frost, 4; and Megan Thee Stallion, 4. Information sourced by NARAS.)

"As I said in my thank you speech, I owe my whole career to Black American Music, the heart and soul of all popular music as Quincy Jones says. I am also indebted to the Black community of musicians who have nurtured and continue to teach me," reflects Beasley. "And, let’s support music in the schools because I am the product of public school arts education."
His August release, MONK'estra Plays John Beasley, brings the MONK'estra cycle full circle with the big band's third release. With MONK’estra, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 garnering a pair of GRAMMY Award nominations apiece, alongside widespread critical acclaim, Beasley keeps in line with its namesake’s unpredictable nature on the new release as MONK’estra veers off in new directions. Additionally, besides casting the lens of his brilliant ensemble on his own music for the first time, the album also reunites Beasley with several now-formidable artists–including John Patitucci, Vinnie Colaiuta, Joey DeFrancesco, and Hubert Laws–with whom he performed in his formative years nearly three decades ago.

Additionally, Beasley has earned two other nominations for his significant roles in Maria Mendes feat. Metropole Orkest and John Beasley's Close To Me, which earned a nomination for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals, as well as Somi's Holy Room: Live At Alte Oper, which was nominated in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category. Beasley led the orchestra, wrote the arrangements, played keyboards on and produced the Maria Mendes album–which also earned a Latin GRAMMY nomination and the Edison’s “Best Jazz Vocal” album award–and conducted Frankfurt’s HR Radio Big Band playing his arrangements of Somi's music. Beasley also arranged some songs on blues great Ruthie Foster's Live At The Paramount, which received a nomination in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category, although this does not technically count as a nomination for him as the others do.

In addition to the highly productive year Beasley has had with album releases, he has expanded on an already prolific list of soundtrack credits and worked on film and television productions such as Emmy Award-winning Watchmen, Steven Soderbergh's film Let Them All Talk–which stars Meryl Streep–and Oscar and GRAMMY Award-nominated 1917, and will appear on screen with his MONK'estra Quintet in Amazon's Bosch Season 7's opening episode. Additionally, MONK'estra was presented on nearly 80 global stages pre-pandemic. His last in-person concert, in Covid-safe settings, was a special 80th birthday celebration for the iconic Pharoah Sanders with the maestro on his horn. Currently, he is finishing a new recording to mark Charlie Parker's centennial celebration "Bird" with Stuttgart's SWR Radio Big Band in a unique collaboration with respected Swedish conductor, arranger and saxophonist Magnus Lindgren. He is also preparing, as Music Director, UNESCO's 2021 International Jazz Day's global gala concert hosted by the Herbie Hancock Jazz Institute on April 30th and featuring an all-star list of performers.

GRAMMY WINNER BEST LATIN JAZZ ALBUM Arturo O'Farrill The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (Feat. Dr. Cornell West) "Four Questions"

Trøen / Arnesen Quartet - Tread Lightly (May 14 2021 Losen Records)

It is not uncommon in improvisational music to see the melody primarily as a point of departure for musicians’ solos. But obviously, melodies have a power of their own. Playing a melody, letting it shine it its own right, takes skills. These skills are featured on this album. The quartet, Elisabeth Lid Trøen (saxophone and flute), Dag Arnesen (piano), Ole Marius Sandberg (bass), and Sigurd Steinkopf (drums), consistently demonstrates a number of melodic strategies to highly different results. The compositions establish melodic material, often lyrical, but even more important is how the musicians seamlessly moves from melodies to improvisation and back again, insisting on the melodies to carry the output.

On “Flirt” there is an echo of folk music, together with an ostinato. It is not folkloristic, but use a lyricism also found in folk music, giving the musicians a sense of direction. Something similar is heard on “Partysvensken,” but in addition the latter works with layers of instruments. The piano drops out during parts of the saxophone solo, then gradually reenters with tiny figures and counter-lines; the bass and drums disappear, and the piano figures become more embellished, highlighting how the quartet co-create the collective sound rather than focusing on individual musicians. “Just Thinking” is, in a sense, a daring composition. The melodic material could, in less accomplished musicians’ hands, have been banal, but given the strong explorations of melody the song still works.

“Sarah’s Bounce” begins march-like, and the drums drive much of the dynamic dimensions of the composition. In addition to dynamics, Steinkopf demonstrates that drummers also can have a melodic approach. Trøen’s sax and Arneson’s piano are complementing each other, so that any difference between soloist and accompaniment is beside the point. On “Feline Dreams” the tiniest musical motif opens the song, and is unfolded first in piano, and then with addition of bass and drums, hinting of a potentially endless unfolding. From there different melodies in counterpoint with each other demonstrate yet another layer of melodic playing. Another strategy is employed on “Armadillo Dance” where the musicians engage different pulses at the same time, from where melodic motifs develop.

“Interlid” is a lyrical ballad, with a low register dominating in the flute, a register working nicely together with the bass. Playing with register and tone is another characteristics of “Tread Lightly.” Trøen uses different qualities of tone as a sonorous dimension, the registers becoming an aesthetic material. On “I Remember This,” Arnesen sounds almost to restrain himself in the solo, insisting on a slow feeling. Here melody appears in contrast to a kind of virtuosity, demonstrating the musical power of melody and feeling rather than so-called technique. “Denne” sounds almost nocturnal, as a reflection upon a long day. Melodic development and chords belong together, but at the same time establish contrasting dimensions. Throughout the album, then, we as listeners is given a master-class in melodic thinking. Erik Steinskog

1 Flirt
2 Partysvensken
3 Just Thinking
4 Sarah´s Bounce
5 Feline Dreams
6 Armadillo Dance
7 Interlid
8 Tread Lightly
9 I Remember This
10 Denne

Elisabeth Lid Trøen saxophone, flute
Dag Arnesen piano
Ole Marius Sandberg bass
Sigurd Steinkopf drums

Recorded October 2020 by Yngve Sætre at Duper Studio, Bergen, Norway
Mixed November 2020 by Yngve Sætre at Duper Studio
Mastered January 2021 by Iver Sandøy at Solslottet Studio, Bergen, Norway
Produced by Elisabeth Lid Trøen & Dag Arnesen
Supported by Creos Vederlagsfond, Fond for utøvende kunstnere og Bergen Kommune.

Svetlana Marinchenko - Letters to My Little Girl (April 30 2021 Losen Records)

How well do you know yourself? Are you sensitive to your synapses, fond of your feelings?  Have you ever attempted an extended, a profoundly personal journey – to discover the inner YOU?!

Russian-born pianist Svetlana Marinchenkohas. Through her music. Composed and performed with the utmost grace, dexterity and style, Letters to My Little Girlis a remarkably courageous expedition and constructive expression of such a journey.

Creative activity, such as music, offers a source and outlet for emotional self-expression.  It can have a productive, nurturing function that paves the way to a deeper understanding of former, repressed issues. This album might then be regarded as a form of bridge building; from basic but essential childhood structures to fully-formed, skilfully operated and hopefully rational adult associations. These liner notes therefore, will not benefit from an attempt to analyse or deconstruct the music, track by track. The music speaks for itself and is rich in tension and release, peaks and troughs, the traditional and the experimental.

Svetlana: “The protracted path we take during our lives…there is no black and white.  I wish these compositions to reflect a way of discovering/recalling a more authentic self, leading to a more profound acceptance of life.”

Letters to My Little Girl, with its well-placed, sensitive and innovative vocal contributions from Mongolian-born Enji Erkhembayar (Billy Hart, Johannes Enders, Paul Kirby)and Swiss-born Fiona Grond(worked/studied with Sheila Jordan, New York Voices) is impressively aided by the influence of distinctive (studio-induced, but always ‘musical’) effects produced by Mattheus von Schlippe.

We are also treated to an elevated level of musicianship provided by virtuosi Israeli-born Ofri Nehemya (Avishai Cohen, Shai Maestro)on drums and Slovakian-born Peter Cudek(tutored by Ron Carter) on bass.

Svetlana: “The album is a reflection of my inner personal development.  Each composition is a story, a statement, a step.  The album is dedicated to my inner child and it’s full of love, support and hope.”

The emotional discovery and emotional acceptance of the truth in the unique history of our childhood can be of impactful significance to emotional stability and well-being in our adulthood.  Built on a thrillingly diverse, multi-cultural background, Letters to My Little Girloffers us a musical roadmap to the centre of a solo soul.  Welcome aboard! David Fishel

1 Bear Can Dance
2 Hide 'n' Seek
3 Letters to My Little Girl
4 The Threads
5 Dive
6 Michael
7 Morning Alone
8 Lighthouse
9 Release

Svetlana Marinchenko piano
Peter Cudek bass
Ofri Nehemya drums
Fiona Grond vocal tracks 3 & 9
Enji Erkhembayar vocal tracks 4 & 7
Mattheus von Schlippe effects all tracks except track 2

Runar Nørsett Trio - My Funny Quarantine (April 23, 2021 Losen Records)

I started playing the piano at the age of six, and in my teens, my dream was to study classical music and be a professional pianist. Somehow this didn´t happen, and I ended up studying medicine instead. I now work as a medical doctor in Kristiansand, Norway, but I never stopped playing and writing music. My interests gradually changed from classical music to improvised music and jazz, and I played the piano in many different settings and with many different musicians for many years, but something was missing. I had been dreaming since the ’90s about putting together my own trio and play my own compositions, but for many years nothing happened.

Finally, in 2017, my very good friend and excellent bass player, Fredrik Sahlander (a Swede living in Norway) grew tired of listening to my rambling about a trio and me complaining that it would never come to life. Sahlander, known from i.a the bands «Sah!», «Dualistic» and «Johnsen, Sahlander and Moen», and an extraordinarily talented and accomplished musician, said that he had found a young, vastly talented drummer from Harstad in the northern parts of Norway, now a student at the University in Kristiansand, and that he, Tobias Øymo Solbakk, wanted to join Fredrik and me in a trio. Solbakk has later earned a reputation as a magnificent drummer in a wide variety of styles, and he has played the drums in the metal bands «Inhsahn» and «In Vain» as well as in «Kubby», «Dualistic» and «Vian». The three of us started to work together in Spring 2017, and Runar Nørsett Trio was born.

The trio rehearsed regularly the following months, and in January 2018 we held our first concert in Kristiansand. Our first album «From the ashes» was released in 2019, and in October 2019 we performed for a sold-out venue at Kilden Theatre and Concert Hall I Kristiansand.

We started working on our second album early in 2020, and then suddenly everything changed. The coronavirus shut down almost everything, and even though Norway has managed well compared to many other countries, we had to put our activities as a trio on hold. I was still working as a medical doctor, but nonetheless, I continued to write music. Early in October 2020, the situation in our part of Norway allowed us to record the songs on this album. Most of the songs on this album have been written during 2020. The songs have nothing specific to do with the pandemic, except the title track «My funny Quarantine», which I wrote in a strange mood, part afraid and disillusioned, and part optimistic and full of hope.

I try to write music that appeals to both heart and brain, music that can make you both smile and cry, and music that spurs your imagination. I have something to tell you, but I don´t know exactly what it is. By listening to my music, maybe you understand it anyway? Runar Nørsett

1 Super Mario
2 Stumbling and Fumbling
3 Song For a Summer Night
4 Fooling Around
5 No Exit!
6 Where the Songs Have No Name
7 Dønning
8 West Goes East
9 My Funny Quarantine

Runar Nørsett piano
Fredrik Sahlander bass
Tobias Solbakk drums

Sha! - Past Present Future (2021 Losen Records)

The year was 2012 and I had just started my PhD. My research area was jazz improvisation and improvisation methodology. The background for the problem that I wanted to research was myself as a jazz improvisor. Despite many years of studying music focusing on improvisation and an endless amount of practicing, I still had not achieved the level of performance I wanted to be at. Why? Had I been practicing the wrong material? Wasn’t I talented enough or was there something else that had inhibited my progress? The hypothesis was that the improvisation methodology my earlier teachers used had not been optimal for me. To find out about this, I contacted my great idol Gary Willis (Tribal Tech). My intention was to study with Willis for two years and try out his methods of teaching improvisation. In that way documenting a leading jazz improvisors way of teaching improvisation.

Willis was positive to the project and I traveled to Barcelona to start my lessons. The first time I met Willis, I was starstruck! Willis wanted us to play a song and I chose “Solar”. It is a composition that I know well, but that did not help at all. I was playing with the person who had all the skills I always wanted. In the middle of my solo, Wills stopped me and said, “you are not communicating with me”! Which unfortunately were absolutely true..

After the session, Willis started to introduce me to his approach to improvisation. I had expected it to be based on scales and transcriptions, but Willis had a whole different approach. Willis teachings were based around geometry. What did that mean? An electric bass is tuned I fourths. This results in for example the octaves looking the same everywhere of the fretboard. The same goes for melodic motifs.  The result is that all that is played on an electric bass can be looked upon as a geometric shape. Willis uses this geometry to organize chords and their available tonal centers. This results in the bass player never have to move his or hers hand more than a half-step to reach the available notes in another key.

This release represents me as a jazz improviser after finishing my studies with Gary Willis in 2015. Track number six is recorded before this period began. This track is called “Newfus” and represents my improvisational talents before my studies with Willis. “Newfus” is a part of a production containing eight original compositions and Willis regarded these as part of my research and thought that my improvisation on the track was the best of the project. Anders Langset plays drums on this and I wanted him to play on the next recording as well. After a discussion with my PhD supervisor Per Elias Drabløs, I chose to contact my dream drummer Kirk Covington (Tribal Tech)! How did this come about? When I presented my thoughts on the recording and told him I was going to use the same musicians as the previous recording, Drabløs said to me “you have got to think bigger. Who do you want to play with the most?” Kirk Covington, I replied timidly.

Thanks to Willis I got in contact with Covington and he proved to be a very nice guy and he would love to travel to Norway and be a part of the recording. To make my dream complete, I had Scott Kinsey (Tribal Tech) mix and master the production. It was Covington who gave me the idea and put me in contact with Kinsey.

Bernt Moen plays keyboards on both productions. Moen is for me a unique musician that can never be replaced, and he really impressed Covington (who have played with such legends as Josef Zawinul).

The compositions on this album are a part of my doctoral dissertation Från grundton till b2 (Sahlander 2017) which is now being released on Losen Records. I hope you enjoy the result! Fredrik Sahlander

1 Inner Urge
2 Angry Happy Drummer
3 Ängermanslandmorgon
4 Horisont
5 Hold Your Breath
6 Newfus
7 Slow Kind
8 Present Future

Fredrik Sahlander, bass
Bernt Moen, piano, keys, synth
Kirk Covington, drums
Anders Langset, drums track 6 only

Arne Torvik Trio - Northwestern Songs (2021 Losen Records)

The trinity of piano, bass and drums is an ensemble construction with a particularly prominent place in jazz, past and present. Indeed, some of these piano trios, as they are commonly termed, are among the most revered and popular groups the music has seen. The standing of the piano trio in the Norwegian jazz landscape is no different. And like a lot of modern jazz from Norway in general, in particular how it evolved since the generation of Garbarek, Andersen, Rypdal and others spearheaded new sounds in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it has also taken on flavors very distinct to this country.

Given this venerated and popular status, the piano trio can be both a tempting task to try one’s hands on as it can seem a daunting one. For pianist, composer and educator Arne Torvik (b. 1981), the opportunity to form a trio to play his own compositions arose while on a sojourn away from his home town of Molde. This is a slightly sleepy, mid-sized city on the Western coast of Norway that for one week each year explodes with jazz in all conceivable (and some inconceivable) shapes for the duration of the venerable Molde International Jazz Festival.

Torvik met and played with double bassist Bjørnar Kaldefoss Tveite and drummer Øystein Aarnes Vik during a short stint in Oslo. They quickly hit it off, and the idea of making an album with this trio began to take shape. The resulting album, Northwestern Songs, was recorded at Newtone Studio in Oslo, June 2019. Here, Torvik continues to explore the relationships between pop sensibilities and jazz, which was also a feature of the music on his debut as a leader, the 2016 quintet recording Northwestern Sounds. At the same time, the open and revealing nature of the trio format allows him to further explore and challenge himself as piano player.

Northwestern Sounds garnered some international recognition, and the music drew comparisons with some of Norway’s most popular and well-known jazz musicians. And while one can hear elements in Torvik’s trio that seem to align it with some of the prominent Norwegian piano trios of today –  a strong feel for melody and lyricism and a penchant for space which allows the pieces to breathe and the notes to resonate– there are others that set Torvik’s piano trio apart and highlight his unique voice as a pianist and composer.

Sometimes, these particularities are subtle, and delightfully so. Notice, for example, the hip-hop-influenced bass and drum interplay that surges just under the piano lead towards the closing stage of “Iver”. At other times, they appear more to the fore, at least initially, such as the R&B-like syncopation that carries the album opener “Compromises”.

With Torvik’s strong melodies leading the way, Kaldefoss Tveite and Aarnes Vik tread assuredly but lightly close by. Focused, attentive, and understanding rather than reined in, sometimes taking center stage as Torvik leans back. The approach is one of openness and fluidity, the trio moving seamlessly from one stage to the next, investigating new connections between various pop forms and jazz. As such, Northwestern Songs is proof that there is still plenty of ways to explore the piano trio format.

1 Compromises
2 Psalm
3 First Song
4 Åpent rom
5 Home
6 Iver
7 Johan

Arne Torvik piano
Bjørnar Kaldefoss Tveite bass
Øystein Aarnes Vik drums


Il fisarmonicista ostunese Vince Abbracciante ha conquistato (ex aequo con Simone Zanchini) l'Orpheus Award 2021 nella categoria jazz. Si tratta del Premio della critica per le produzioni fisarmonicistiche italiane organizzato dall'associazione Promozione arte e diretto da Gerlando Gatto, che coinvolge diciassette esperti e critici di riviste italiane e internazionali e che per il biennio 2019/2020 ha visto la segnalazione di ben 45 produzioni discografiche. Il successo di Vince Abbracciante è arrivato grazie a "Terranima", prodotto nel 2019 dall'etichetta discografica pugliese Dodicilune (distribuito da Ird e Believe Digital) con il sostegno di MiBAC (oggi MIC) e SIAE, nell’ambito dell’iniziativa “S'illumina – Copia privata per i giovani, per la cultura”. Nelle altre categorie il Premio è andato a Pietro Roffi (classica), Daniele Di Bonaventura (world music) e Art Van Damme (carriera e memoria).

«Sono felice e orgoglioso di questo premio in quanto viene attribuito ogni anno alle migliori produzioni italiane di fisarmonica in ambito jazz, classico e world music. In questo periodo davvero complicato per l’arte, ricevere un riconoscimento per quello che si è fatto, è uno stimolo notevole per continuare a produrre musica», sottolinea Vince Abbracciante. «Terranima è l’album che mi sta regalando più soddisfazioni in termini di apprezzamento di critica e soprattutto di pubblico. Nella scrittura delle nove composizioni originali ho ricercato la cantabilità delle melodie, per me la melodia sta diventando davvero un elemento fondamentale della mia espressività, mi permette di parlare direttamente al cuore di chi ascolta e riuscire a far cantare uno strumento come la fisarmonica è un’emozione particolare».

Il musicista e compositore è affiancato dall'ensemble, già con lui nel precedente lavoro "Sincretico" (Dodicilune, 2017), composto da Nando Di Modugno (chitarra), Giorgio Vendola (contrabbasso) e dall'Alkemia Quartet - Marcello De Francesco e Leo Gadaleta (violino), Alfonso Mastrapasqua (viola) e Giovanni Astorino (violoncello) - arricchito per questa nuova produzione dalla presenza di Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinetto), Aldo Di Caterino (flauto), Nicola Puntillo (clarinetto basso), Giuseppe Smaldino (corno, shell) e Pino Basile (percussioni). Terranima propone una vera e propria musica da crocevia. In essa si incrociano istanze, desideri e sogni che profumano di terre lontane e di idee esotiche, pur restando fortemente ancorata alla terra della nascita e del nòstos. Negli arabeschi sonori creati da Abbracciante si trova un che di antico e un che di nuovo. C'è il sapore della terra salentina, generoso come un vino rosso primitivo, che pulsa, che innerva i non pochi abbandoni a idee popolari e che ribadisce il forte legame dell'autore con quella Puglia così aspra eppure incredibilmente generosa come una madre. E c'è allo stesso tempo, la gentilezza del sospiro jazz che ricorda Astor Piazzolla con inesausta malinconia. Il disco esprime il senso di un’intera regione: colta e popolare. Per ordire questa trama, Abbracciante utilizza lo strumento principale della musica popolare italiana, la fisarmonica, in un discorso che diventa una sola voce con gli archi dell’orchestra e con la voce solista di uno straordinario ospite, Gabriele Mirabassi. Se Astor Piazzolla, anche lui pugliese di origine, fosse nato oggi, suonerebbe questa musica.

“Chi più mi ha impressionato è un giovane italiano, originario della Puglia: si chiama Vincenzo Abbracciante. In ogni brano mi ha imbarcato in una storia e commosso”, disse di lui Richard Galliano (Jazzman, 2005). Classe 1983, originario di Ostuni, Vince Abbracciante, a otto anni intraprende gli studi musicali con il padre Franco. Diplomato in musica jazz al Conservatorio “Nino Rota” di Monopoli sotto la guida di Gianni Lenoci e laureato in fisarmonica classica con lode e menzione speciale al Conservatorio Egidio Romualdo Duni di Matera con Gian Vito Tannoia, ha frequentato master class, seminari, corsi con Franco D’Andrea, Bruno Tommaso, Richard Galliano, Joelle Leandre, Steve Potts, Roberto Gatto, Dado Moroni, Jacques Mornet, Rosario Giuliani. Dal 2000 è testimonial delle fisarmoniche Borsini di Castelfidardo.

Si è esibito in festival e jazz club in tutto il mondo suonando con numerosi musicisti (Juini Booth, John Medeski, Richard Galliano, Marc Ribot, Javier Girotto, Gabriele Mirabassi, Flavio Boltro, Fabrizio Bosso, Peppe Servillo, Lucio Dalla, Ornella Vanoni, Heidi Vogel). Nel 2006 si avvicina alle tastiere vintage, come l’organo Hammond, Farfisa, Rhodes dando sfogo alla sua vena creativa e psichedelica. Nel 2009 progetta insieme a Carlo Borsini un nuovo sistema per il cambio dei registri della fisarmonica, che permette di ampliare la gamma sonora del suo strumento. Ha scritto colonne sonore per i film del regista Gianni Torres e ha pubblicato vari cd con The Bumps (Davide Penta & Antonio Di Lorenzo) e con Paola Arnesano (Tango!, 2012 e MPB, 2017). Nel 2012 è uscito anche “Introducing”, nel quale è affiancato dal leggendario bassista newyorkese Juini Booth. Nella sua carriera ha conquistato numerosi premi nazionali e internazionali.