Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Jazz WORMS - Squirmin’ (March 19, 2021 via Capri Records)

Denver-based jazz quintet Jazz WORMS reunites for their long-awaited second album, 30 years after their acclaimed debut

Squirmin’, due out March 19, 2021 via Capri Records, reconvenes all five original members: pianist Andy Weyl, saxophonist Keith Oxman, drummer Paul Romaine, cornetist Ron Miles and bassist Mark Simon

" Twenty-five years later and still Denver’s best jazz band." –Jazz @ Altitude review of Dazzle reunion concert

More than 30 years after the release of their acclaimed debut album, Denver-based quintet the Jazz WORMS make their belated return with Squirmin’, due out March 19, 2021 via Capri Records. Well worth waiting for, the thrilling new session reconvenes all five original WORMS – pianist Andy Weyl, saxophonist Keith Oxman, drummer Paul Romaine, cornetist Ron Miles and bassist Mark Simon – on an invigorating set of all-new material that picks up where the band left off three decades earlier.

More than 30 years after the release of their acclaimed debut album, Denver-based quintet the Jazz WORMS make their belated return with Squirmin’, due out March 19, 2021 via Capri Records. Well worth waiting for, the thrilling new session reconvenes all five original WORMS – pianist Andy Weyl, saxophonist Keith Oxman, drummer Paul Romaine, cornetist Ron Miles and bassist Mark Simon – on an invigorating set of all-new material that picks up where the band left off three decades earlier.

Just as their 1987 debut, Crawling Out, made species-appropriate reference to the emergence of five new voices on the jazz scene, so Squirmin’ captures the sense of eager anticipation and urgency that marks this long-overdue sophomore effort. Both the continuity and the passage of time are reflected by the album cover, which replicates its predecessor with a bit more gray hair and an updated fashion sense.

“I think Crawling Out made a mark of some sort,” says Oxman with a fair degree of understatement. “I run into people all the time who say, ‘I still have that original vinyl,’ or ‘I used to love hearing you guys play.’ So it feels marvelous to be together again.”

The long hiatus can be chalked up to the fact that each of the WORMS has enjoyed a busy and fruitful career in his own right. Oxman is a mainstay of the Denver scene who has recorded albums with such legends as Charles McPherson, Dave Liebman and Houston Person in addition to being a highly influential educator at the city’s East High School. Miles has become one of the most acclaimed artists on the current jazz scene, recording his own albums for Blue Note while forging meaningful collaborations with greats like Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Brian Blade and Joshua Redman. Weyl has toured the world with the vocal group Rare Silk and crossed paths with such artists of note as James Moody, Tom Harrell, Benny Golson and Eddie Harris. Romaine and Simon co-founded the Colorado supergroup Convergence. 

But when they first joined forces in the early 1980s, the WORMS (the name is an acronym for their respective last names) were simply five rising stars on the Denver jazz scene eager to find opportunities to craft an original sound. “We all grew up together,” reflects Oxman. “We were all young guys coming up at the same time who had similar ideas about music and just enjoyed playing together.” After a few years, however, each found himself on a separate path until a 2014 reunion concert at the revered Denver jazz club Dazzle revealed that the old chemistry was intact.
Squirmin’ not only fulfills the band members’ long-held desire to recapture the magic, it also marks the realization of a dream for Capri Records founder Thomas Burns, who was himself in the early stages of a remarkable career as a label owner, promoter, photographer, writer and entrepreneur. “I really wanted to record their first album, but [vocalist and label owner] James Van Buren beat me to it,” Burns recalls. “The Jazz WORMS had such a different sound for that period of time, when most jazz musicians in Denver were still looking back at the classic jazz of Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins. To hear a group of young guys at the time just blowin' their asses off was really exciting.” 

That sound still feels vital and current today, realized through eight captivating new compositions. The album kicks off, appropriately enough, with Simon’s sizzling “Launching Pad,” on which he and Romaine lay down a muscular groove punctuated by knife-edged horn lines. Simon also contributed the jaunty “What If All?” which spurs graceful melodic flights from Weyl and Miles. Romaine’s two pieces were inspired by his pet birds – and, in the case of “Wheaty Bowl,” one iconic Bird: Charlie Parker, who Wheaty can apparently chirp along to and whose memorable compositions are quoted throughout the piece. “Bu’s Box,” meanwhile, reference Bu’s cardboard home, which supplements Romaine’s percussive arsenal on the tune itself.

Oxman’s new compositions are both dedications. “Joaquin” is something of a companion piece to an earlier tune, “Elena,” recorded with Charles McPherson. That piece was written for a close friend’s granddaughter; “Joaquin” is for the same friend’s grandson, and captures the sense of wonder and tenderness evoked by a newborn. “The Chimento Files,” which closes the album, is a simmering blues dedicated to one of Oxman’s East High colleagues, Alan Chimento. Weyl’s pair of offerings range from the blistering “Lickity-Split” to the wistful, self-explanatory “Balladesque.”

The results of this welcome rebirth exceeded expectations. “It was magical,” Burns says. “I love the way these guys interact. They seem symbiotic: they speak as one, they listen to one another, all the stuff that they teach about jazz musicians – they have it. They always shine as a group.”

“I'm thrilled about this album,” Oxman says. “I think it’s even better than the first one. I think that’s mostly due to the fact that we all truly love each other and love playing together, even though it's sometimes been difficult to get us all in one room.”

Samo Salamon & Friends - Almost Alone Vol. 2 (2021)

I'm really happy to present to you the album Almost Alone Vol. 2 – the second volume of three volumes of a really amazing new European guitar project I started in May during the Corona lockdown.

The project features 36 fantastic jazz guitarists from 35 different European countries - all these musicians are amazing guitarists and composers and I'm really thankful that they contributed their amazing share to the compositions I wrote.

The first volume of »Almost Alone« came out in October 2020, here is number 2, while the last volume will come out in the summer 2021.

Here are the guitarists featured on Almost Alone Vol. 2:

Ben MacDonald (Scotland)
Elvis Stanić (Croatia)
Greg Lamy (Luxembourg)
Andres Thor (Iceland)
Mikael Mani Asmundsson (Iceland)
Christy Doran (Ireland)
George Dumitriu (Romania)
Mindaugas Stumbras (Lithuania)
Ludmil Krumov (Bulgaria)
Gellert Szabo (Hungary)
David Doruzka (Czech Republic)
Mark Wingfield (England)

1. Remy feat. Ben MacDonald 03:54
2. Looking Forward feat. Elvis Stanić 04:58
3. Yogarhythms feat. Greg Lamy 04:38
4. Barren feat. Andres Thor & Mikael Mani Asmundsson 05:42
5. Little Places feat. Christy Doran 05:28
6. White Herons on Green Meadows feat. George Dumitriu 07:46
7. Almost Almond feat. Mindaugas Stumbras 05:24
8. Dvojka Makedonska feat. Ludmil Krumov 04:08
9. Freeze feat. Gellert Szabo 03:56
10. Animals as Followers feat. David Doruzka 04:24
11. Pyramid feat. Mark Wingfield 05:00

Samo Šalamon – electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, moog
Ben MacDonald – electric guitar (1)
Elvis Stanić – electric guitar (2)
Greg Lamy – electric guitar (3)
Andres Thor & Mikael Asmundsson – electric guitars (4)
Christy Doran – electric guitar (5)
George Dumitriu – electric guitar (6)
Mindaugas Stumbras – electric guitar (7)
Ludmil Krumov – electric guitar (8)
Gellert Szabo – electric guitars (9)
David Doruzka – electic guitar (10)
Mark Wingfield – electric guitar (11)

Recorded between May and November 2020.
Produced, mixed and mastered by Samo Šalamon, except track 9 mixed and mastered by Gellert Szabo.

Samo Salamon & Friends - Almost Alone Vol. 1 (2020)

I'm really happy to present to you the album Almost Alone Vol. 1 – the first volume of three volumes of a really amazing new European guitar project I started in May during the Corona lockdown.

The project features 36 fantastic jazz guitarists from 35 different European countries (below the list) - all these musicians are amazing guitarists and composers and I'm really thankful that they contributed their amazing share to the compositions I wrote.

The three volumes of »Almost Alone« will come out through the following year. Here are the guitarists featured on Almost Alone Vol. 1:

Alex Machacek (Austria)
Rafal Sarnecki (Poland)
Cenk Erdogan (Turkey)
Andre Fernandes (Portugal)
Kalle Kalima (Finland)
Jacob Young (Norway)
Dušan Jevtović (Serbia)
Lorenzo Di Maio (Belgium)
Philipp Schaufelberger (Switzerland)
Spiros Exaras (Greece)

1. Miss Sarcasm feat. Alex Machacek 04:21
2. Nightmare feat. Rafal Sarnecki 07:00
3. Crooswijk feat. Cenk Erdogan 06:06
4. Awkwardly Placed feat. Andre Fernandes 05:12
5. Coalition of the Mistaken feat. Kalle Kalima 05:22
6. Looking Back feat. Jacob Young 09:38
7. Seagulls in Maine feat. Albert Vila 05:56
8. Seven Cats feat. Dusan Jevtovic 05:22
9. Not Too Late, Not Too Soon feat. Lorenzo Di Maio 05:08
10. Monked feat. Philipp Schaufelberger 03:50
11. Northern Wind feat. Spiros Exaras 06:12

Samo Šalamon – electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, moog
Alex Machacek – electric and acoustic guitars (1)
Rafal Sarnecki – electric guitars (2)
Cenk Erdogan – fretless guitar (3)
Andre Fernandes – electric guitar (4)
Kalle Kalima – electric guitars (5)
Jacob Young – electric guitar (6)
Albert Vila – electric guitar (7)
Dušan Jevtović – electric guitars (8)
Lorenzo Di Maio – electric guitars (9)
Philipp Schaufelberger – electic guitar (10)
Spiros Exaras – electric and slide guitars (11)

Recorded between May and September 2020.
Produced, mixed and mastered by Samo Šalamon, except track 1 mixed and mastered by Alex Machacek.
All tunes published by Sazas.

Lisa Cameron & Sandy Ewen - See Creatures Too (April 30, 2021 Astral Spirits)

Brand new sprawling double cassette document from Lisa Cameron & Sandy Ewen! "Sea Creatures Too" features one tape of newly recording studio tracks and a second tape of live tracks recorded on their Texas tour of 2019 (to celebrate the initial release of "See Creatures"). Almost 2 full hours of evocative soundscapes that expand upon their debut duo release.

1. Plaidypus
2. Tigersaur
3. Bananasaurus Rex
4. Meerkatstoat
5. Rhinodactyl
6. Red Spotted Chimerabee
7. Giant Kid
8. Live at Lawndale 1 (Houston)
9. Live at Lawndale 2 (Houston)
10. Live at Dobb's (Austin)

Lisa Cameron - Berimbauophone, percussion, devices
Sandy Ewen - guitar, devices

Recorded, mixed & mastered in Houston by Ryan Edwards, 2019.
Live sets recorded by Lisa Cameron.

Shlomi Goldenberg (feat. John Medeski, Gary Peacock, Thomas McKinley & Eli Meiri) - Flower (March 2021)

“Flower” is a compilation of recordings made with my group "The Little Big Band" in Boston Mass. 1985-1990

These recordings were made on 1inch reel to reel tapes. When I tried to download the tracks to a computer, the old tapes vaporized and became dust. I was heartbroken, until my mother told me she kept my safety tapes deep in her closet. The tapes got a chemical treat which kept them from vaporizing and then I downloaded them to my computer.

1. Cool As Ice 06:35
2. Bo Po 04:49
3. Flower 04:44
4. Gospel 04:14
5. Creation of the Flower 05:51
6. Blowing 07:24

Shlomi Goldenberg
Tenor & Soprano Saxophones, Compositions & Arrangements

1. Cool As Ice - John Medeski-Piano, Wesley Worth-Contrabass, and Gordon Grothentaller -Drums, Avram Fefer -Sop. Sax.

2. Bo-Po - John Medeski-Piano ,Wesley Worth-Contrabass ,Gordon Grothentaller -Drums ,Avram Fefer- Ten. Sax.

3. Flower - John Medeski-Piano, Wesley Worth-Contrabass, Gordon Grothentaller -Drums

4. Gospel - John Medeski-Piano ,Wesley Worth-Contrabass ,Gordon Grothentaller -Drums ,Avram Fefer-Ten. Sax.

5. Creation of the Flower - John Medeski-Piano, Wesley Worth-Contrabass, Gordon Grothentaller -Drums
Avram Fefer-Bass Clarinet, Maurice Cahen - Sitar.

6. Blowing - John Medeski-Piano, Antonio Arcodia- Drums, Khris Weeks-Contrabass.

7. Unspoken Words - Gary Peacock – Contrabass & Saxophone Duet.

8. How Deep is the Ocean - Gary Peacock -Contrabass, Thomas McKinley -Piano, Alex Deutch-Drums.

9. Circle - John Medeski-Piano, Antonio Arcodia, Khris Weeks-Contrabass.

10.Lea's Blue Eyelashes-with Eitan Izcovitz -Drums , Eli Meiri -Piano , Avram Fefer-Ten. Sax., Winston Degraff-Trumpet.

11. Bolero - with Haya Samir Vocals , Roslan Sirota -Keys, Yatziv -Tablas , Israel Nahum- Drums ,Mark Smulian-Bass.

Selection 1 - 5 was recorded in Boston July 21 1988 at Newbury Sound Studio recording engineer - Bob Reardon

Selection 6, 9 was recorded in Boston December 13 1989 at a live concert at the New England Conservatory

Selection 7, 8 was recorded in Boston December 18 1990 at Blue Jay Studio

Selection 10 was recorded in Boston 1985

Selection 11 was recorded in Tel Aviv 2004 at Digi Hippie Studio. Recording engineer - Mark Smulian

Drawing by Jill Reiss


Except: How Deep is the Ocean by Irving Berlin, Bolero by Maurice Ravel

Chakalito Jazz Experience - LEI (March 2021)

Con mucho orgullo les presento a "LEI" mi disco debut de mi proyecto personal Chakalito Jazz Experience. En este disco intente mostrarles lo que es mi persona y les expreso mis momentos mas felices, mis películas favoritas, mi admiración por grandes músicos y mi agradecimiento a la vida. Ojala lo disfruten mucho.

1. Me acuerdo que ... 00:46
2. La vida inicia en ese momento 04:37
3. Verde Esmeralda #2 04:12
4. Cinepolis VIP 06:02
5. En Kino frente a una alberca 01:24
6. Rial 03:28
7. Polvo de estrellas del ayer (stardust) 02:43
8. Gratzie 05:38

Alan Arzac: Producción/Mezcla/Master
Rudyck Vidal: Bajo/Arreglista
Saul Sau: Guitarra/Arreglista
Daniel Fuentevilla: Piano/Areglista
Edgar Romero: Voz/Arreglista
Paloma Ledgard: Voz
Felipe Garcia: Ingeniero de grabación

Daniele Germani - A Congregation of Folks (March 26, 2021 GleAM Records)

“Daniele Germani’s first recorded document of his music as a leader is full of soulful, personal expression.  I was captured by Daniele’s sweet sound and his quartets wonderful collective spirit and creative dialog throughout.” – GRAMMY-winning saxophonist Joe Lovano

"As a composer, Germani has a vision, keeps on task and adds some surprises. As an instrumentalist, his tone is true and unselfconscious. A very beautiful compilation of fresh new music" – Debbie Burke, Jazz Author)

A Congregation of Folks is the debut album from saxophonist and composer Daniele Germani and his quartet.

GleAM Records is proud to announce the release of A Congregation of Folks, the striking debut from auspicious newcomer Daniele Germani. Congregation of Folks introduces a riveting and spirited voice on the alto saxophone, and an intriguing, unique composer. Ten modern jazz compositions, all penned by Germani, beautifully come to life with the help of his tight-knit quartet consisting of pianist Justin Salisbury, bassist Giuseppe Cucchiara and drummer Jongkuk Kim. A Congregation of Folks will be available on CD and digital download/stream on March 26, 2021.

Originally from the Frosinone region of Italy but based in Brooklyn, NY, Daniele Germani is a fast-rising star on the contemporary New York jazz scene. A graduate of the Conservatory of Frosinone, Germani moved to Boston in 2013 when he was offered a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music. While there, he was admitted to Danilo Perez’s prestigious Berklee Global Jazz Institute, where he studied under the tutelage of Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano, and his mentor, George Garzone.
His revelatory experiences in the classroom were rivaled only by those on the bandstand, most frequently that of Wally’s Jazz Cafe, the legendary jazz club where Germani cut his teeth. Known as the “training ground” for local and rising musicians, performing at Wally’s became a regular occurrence for Germani; eventually he was performing there 2-3 times weekly as a sideman and with his own groups. A shifting “congregation of folks” from all parts of the world would join Germani night after night at the storied venue. Wally’s played a vital role in Germani’s musical and personal development, and much of the club’s vibrant and inspiring spirit is captured on this recorded debut. “Wally’s was the place where we dreamt with our eyes open,” Germani describes.

Early on during his time in Boston, Germani linked up with fellow Italian bassist Giuseppe Cucchiara, South Korean drummer Jongkuk Kim and Oregon-born pianist Justin Salisbury. They immediately clicked, and went on to form a tight knit group that developed into a meaningful friendship and musical partnership. They performed frequently in Boston – at Wally’s and in assorted ensembles at Berklee – and they remained a unit through their graduation and subsequent move to New York City in 2017. Since then, they have continued to perform together, as well as build successful independent careers on their own, each ascending to “first call” status among their talented peers.

Germani took on a personal challenge in 2019 at the behest of his good friend and frequent collaborator Leo Genovese. “Leo is a brilliant composer and each of his songs are more beautiful than the last,” says Germani. Inspired by Genovese’s trove of jaw-dropping compositions, Germani challenged himself to write one song a day. “My goal was to be present in the moment when writing songs… I followed the flow of the moment, and my approach to writing changed depending on what happened that day. I wanted to be surprised by my own creations.” To date, Germani has written over 450 songs. Two of them appear on Leave It Blank For Now; Germani’s 2020 Chant Records release with Genovese, his Wally’s bandmate Boni, stalwart bassist Francesco Marcocci and once again, Kim – ten others are featured on this stunning debut.

On A Congregation of Folks, Germani takes listeners on an expansive emotional journey that ranges from joyous and raucous to pensive and inquiring. Highlights include the high energy opener “They Move In On The Action” which gives way to the lyrical “One Moment to Moment”, a lovely showcase for Salisbury. Another standout is the meditative title track which opens with a gorgeous saxophone solo intro “meant to call beloved folks together”. This track was inspired by the album’s front cover: his parents’ wedding picture with Germani and his band digitally superimposed in the shot, bringing everyone together. “No Clouds in the Air” is a contemplative exploration that kicks off with a heavy drone, haunted and prescient, while Germani and his band duel in tones, creating a rich tapestry of sound. “You Won’t Find A Better Listener” is joyous and musical conversation between Germani and Salisbury, likened to “the best late- night conversation, full effervescence and depth.”
Daniele Germani is thrilled to unleash A Congregation of Folks into the world, and hopes that his music can help bring people together during an ever-perilous time. With the release of his debut, Germani welcomes you into his congregation of folks.

1. They Move in on The Action
2. One Moment to Moment
3. The Capitalist Creed
4. A Congregation of Folks
5. Half Believe It
6. In The Field of Unconscious
7. Ers Luz Variation
8. Eres Luz
9. But It Doesn't Mean It's Danger-free
10. No Clouds in The Air
11. Salisbury Introduces ILWFBL
12. You Like Won't Find A Better Listener
13. Farewall (A Congregation of Folks)

Daniele Germani - Alto Sax
Justin Salisbury - Piano
Giuseppe Cucchiara - Doublebass
Jongkuk Kim - Drums

Recorded at Bacque Recording Studio (NY) by Luis Bacquè
Mixed & Mastered at Sear Sound (NY) by Grammy Winner Jeremy Loucas

JJA Book Nominees Authors Zoom, Sunday, March 21 at 1 pm Central Daylight Time

Sunday, March 21 at 1 pm
Central Daylight Time

Biographies of Dave Brubeck, Nat King Cole and Ornette Coleman, the autobiography of the late Phil Woods, a deep dive into jazz stories on film and a fictional trilogy about “jazz, intolerance, and baseball” have been nominated for the JJA’s 2021 Jazz Book of the Year Award. Authors of the six books will present their works and discuss their writing/publishing issues as moderated by Bob Blumenthal, JJA board member and Book Award committee chair, at the JJA Book Nominees Authors Zoom, Sunday, March 21 at 1 pm Central Daylight Time.

The authors and their books are:

Philip Clark, Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time (Hatchette)
Phil Woods with Ted Panken, Life in E Flat: The Autobiography of Phil Woods (Cymbal Press)

These books are being offered to JJA voting members for consideration toward the Jazz Award for Best Book of the Year About Jazz, presented annually since 1998. The 2021 Award winner will be announced on or about May 1. Recent winners are Jazz from Detroit by Mark Stryker (2020), Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon by Maxine Gordon (2019), Good Things Happen Slowly by Fred Hersch (2018), and Better Git It In Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus by Krin Gabbard (2017).

The JJA Book Nominees Authors Zoom on March 21 will be a 90 minute, interactive event open to JJA member registrants. It will be streamed live to the JJA Facebook page and archived on the JJA Youtube channel. It follows on the JJA's January 21 Zoom Book Party, wiith authors Karl Ackerman (A Map of Jazz: Crossroads of Music and Human Rights), Debbie Burke (Tasty Jazz Jams for Our Times), and Tish Oney (Peggy Lee: A Century of Song) as well as Panken (co-author of saxophonist Woods' book) and Sirius/XM jazz host/storyteller Ruffin. 

The JJA is a non-profit professional organization of writers, photographers, broadcasters, videographers, new media professionals and their supporters, which produces the 2021 JJA Jazz Awards. For further information on the Zoom Book Party, JJA Jazz Awards or the Jazz Journalists Association, contact Howard Mandel, or Jim Eigo,

Philippe Lemm Trio - First Steps (March 26th, 2021 Outside In Music)

Outside in Music is thrilled to announce the latest studio release from the Philippe Lemm Trio, First Steps, out March 26.  First Steps demonstrates the trio’s unique, dynamic voice developed after ten years of stellar creative output and consistent touring from the vivacious group. A bittersweet moment for the bandleader, this release celebrates the life and musicianship of longtime friend and collaborator, pianist Angelo Di Loreto who passed away in October of last year.  Alongside Lemm’s drums and percussion and Jeff Koch on bass, Di Loreto’s musical voice is woven intrinsically throughout the album's tracks.  

Thematically, First Steps is centered around the bandleader’s background in dance.  Lemm notes “Before I played the drums I was a dancer, and in a way, I still feel like the drums are my expression of movement.”  A reflection on the events of the past year, Lemm indicates “2020 felt like an uncertain choreography.  We had to practice slow-dancing by ourselves and learn to maneuver without reference.  It dictated its own movement and made us more aware of our fundamental need for one another and how much we desired our dance partners.”  Musically, First Steps draws inspiration from traditional folkloric dances and their rhythms while some songs are more based on reflecting on life and the events of the past year.  The overall message is “Keep moving, keep flowing, be flexible.”  

Lemm, Koch and Di Loreto first met as students a decade ago at Manhattan School of Music. Immediately, the trio gravitated towards each other and formed an immediate musical and personal connection. Lemm notes “immediately, we played with no agenda, and with an honest and open mind”.  This impassioned playing sustained the group through ten years of performance, during which time the trio debuted at such esteemed institutions as Bimhuis (Amsterdam), North Sea Jazz Festival, the Blue Note (NYC), Ronnie Scott’s (London) and the Kennedy Center (Washington D.C).  The trio even won the 2015 B-Jazz International Contest in Belgium, in which Di Loreto was named ‘Best Soloist’.  

First Steps contains songs written by Philippe Lemm, along with several compositions penned by Di Loreto.  “Music is healing,” the bandleader laments, “I enjoy and want to keep playing Angelo’s compositions to keep his work and his spirit alive.  His death was so abrupt, It helps everyone to cope with the loss in a more gradual way.”  He adds “Di Loreto was such a huge part of the piano trio’s sound”.  First Steps conveys a celebration of the music Di Loreto wrote as well as songs that were born from experiences that the late pianist shared with the bandleader.  The album is one of the last documents of Di Loreto’s musical output and it encapsulates the beautiful person that Di Loreto was, the joy he brought to so many, and the very intense and full life that he led. 

Lemm and Koch will celebrate their late bandmate’s life and work as well as the release of First Steps with a February 21st performance at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach, Florida serving as the official album release show.  That performance will be preceded by a February 18th performance at Heartwood Soundstage and a February 19th performance at Timucua Arts Foundation in Orlando, FL.  The February 21st release show will be followed by a March 25th show at Bop Shop Records in Rochester, NY, and performances at PAUSA Art House in Buffalo, NY on March 26th and 27th.

First Steps begins with the Lemm-penned tune “The Kiln” which will be released as the first single on February 12.  Lemm’s driving and intensely polyrhythmic composition demonstrates the stunning interplay between these three masterful players right from the very start. The composer notes that the song was influenced by a family of potters that the group lived with while performing in Belgium.  Lemm recalls being inspired by this family that were so masterful at their crafts, creating beautiful objects with their hands. 

“Kalief” another featured single, to be released on March 12, is dedicated to the memory of Kalief Browder, a young African American man who was wrongfully accused of a crime and was held in prison for several years before he was proven to be innocent.  In a devastating turn of events, the young man ultimately committed suicide.  Moved by the events, and disturbed by the racial injustice still so prevalent within American culture, Lemm composed this wistful ballad featuring guest soloist Simon Moullier on vibraphone.

Di Loreto composed two pieces on this release.  “Malambo” was inspired by Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera.  This high-energy piece which Di Loreto would jokingly refer to as “cardio jazz” is a wonderful example of Di Loreto’s compositional prowess.  “Elysian Voices” is another display of Di Loreto’s innovative arranging, featuring soulful pianistic refrains and stacked vocal parts from Philippe Lemm. 

In addition to original compositions, the album includes several expertly arranged cover songs that fit within the theme of the release.  “River” by Joni Mitchell is a song which grapples with mortality, hardship and change.  “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel is heard here in gorgeous form with Di Loreto and Koch volleying the melody parts between them.  According to Lemm, “the song itself applies so much to our current situation.”  The song centers around the notion of remaining optimistic in the face of disaster. 

Lemm indicates “Music is my first step to connect to you, the listener, the observer, the dance partner.  Perhaps in person, maybe from afar but always in spirit.” 

 1. The Kiln 06:59
2. Mica 05:36
3. River 06:00
4. Malambo 07:20
5. August 01:16
6. Elysian Voices 07:57
7. Kalief 05:21
8. Don't Give Up 06:27
9. Trenke Todorke 05:50
10. Caffeinated Souls 06:53

Philippe Lemm - Drums
Angelo - Di Loreto - Piano
Jeff Koch - Bass

Recorded at Power Sound Studios, Amsterdam
Mixed by Josh Guinta at GSI Studios
Mastered by Nate Wood at Kerseboom Studios

Kjetil Mulelid - Piano (March 19th 2021 Rune Grammofon)

Still only 29 years old when composing and recording this album, Kjetil Mulelid is one of the brightest talents in Norwegian jazz, and these days that really says something. Kjetil was sceptical when we first suggested a solo piano record back in early 2018, fully aware that solo piano in jazz is considered the ultimate challenge

But the idéa slowly grew on him and when the pandemic exploded and other plans had to be scrapped, he suddenly had the time as well as the means to do it. Thus the bulk of the album was written in a hectic lockdown period and recorded on a steaming hot June day in the legendary Athletic Sound studio on their unique and characteristic Bösendorfer grand piano from 1919. Of the piano Kjetil says the sound is one of a kind, very clear and not typically “perfect” like most new ones. We can only wholeheartedly agree, it sounds great and is also very well recorded and mixed, giving the impression that you sit next to him, and not in a concert hall.

In turn melancholy, joyful and playful, always elegant, the album fully shows Kjetil’s harmonic and melodic mastery and the influence from early introductions to classical masters like Debussy, Chopin and Beethoven. Whether staying with the tune or taking off on improvised flights, there is an ease and assurance in his playing that betrays his young age.

1. Beginning04:38
2. Skjong 04:10
3. Dancers 04:01
4. Point of View 04:09
5. Le Petit 03:10
6. Love Story 03:39
7. For You I'll Do Anything 03:13
8. Sailor's Song 04:15
9. Blooming 02:10
10. Kanskje i Morgen 04:27
11. The Sun 03:35

All compositions by kjetil andré mulelid

Kjetil André Mulelid - piano (bösendorfer grand piano from 1919)

recorded june 19th and september 13th 2020 by dag erik johansen in athletic sound, halden
mixed by kyrre laastad in øra studio, trondheim
mastered by karl klaseie in øra mastering, trondheim
produced and arranged by kjetil mulelid
sleeve by kim hiorthøy

Elephant9 - Arrival Of The New Elders (2021 Rune Grammofon)

After a solid run of five studio albums and 2019´s two double live albums, Psychedelic Backfire I and II, Elephant9 had taken their groovy mix of high energy rock and power jazz as far as they could. In this respect Arrival Of The New Elders comes as a welcome and most timely addition to their recorded output. More varied, mature and reflective, they are as groovy as ever, but more structured and less jam oriented, with the longest tracks clocking in around the seven minute mark.

Having built a solid live reputation even before their brilliant 2008 debut Dodovoodoo, the trio boasts what is probably the strongest rhythm section in Norway, complemented with keyboard magician extraordinaire, the one and only Ståle Storløkken. And boy, does he excel himself on this album, notably with more focus on the Rhodes than before. That said, this is nothing if not another strong group effort from what has been a very tight unit straight from the outset.

Seven brand new compositions from Storløkken and one from Hængsle make way for what we consider to be their finest and most cohesive album to date.

Arrival Of The New Elders was recorded by trusted stalwart Christian Engfelt, with early Dungen producer Mattias Glavå handling the mixing duties.

1. Arrival of the new elders 06:50
2. Rite of accession 07:12
3. Sojourn 03:17
4. Tales of secrets 03:52
5. Throughout the worlds 06:14
6. Chasing the hidden 05:23
7. Chemical boogie 05:12
8. Solar song 05:39

Fire! - Defeat (2021 Rune Grammofon)

Not the most optimistic title for pressing times, but the music sees Fire! tracking new paths and reaching new levels of excellence, still honoring their 12 year old vow of presenting a fresh approach to improvised music. Their debut album, You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago, was released in 2009 to wide international acclaim. “The basic strategy of pairing the expressive energy of free jazz with a sturdy sense of groove has yielded something potent and self-contained” (New York Times). Between this and Defeat there´s been five albums, including collaborations with Jim O´Rourke (Unreleased?, 2011) and Oren Ambarchi (In The Mouth A Hand, 2012).

No two Fire! records sound the same, but with Defeat they have taken their biggest leap so far, with Gustafsson giving the flute a prominent place in the sound image, a surprising and most successful move, his both expressive and ornamental approach given ample room to breathe, especially on the two long tracks bookending the album. In places more subdued than on previous efforts, but with the distinctive bass figures and hypnotic mood fully intact. There are some lively stretches with guests Goran Kajfes and Mats Aleklint, bringing to mind their big band offshoot Fire! Orchestra, albeit on a much smaller scale.

1. A Random Belt. Rats You Out. 09:03
2. Each Millimeter Of The Toad, Part 1 04:51
3. Each Millimeter Of The Toad, Part 2 05:38
4. Defeat (Only Further Apart) 06:45
5. Alien (To My Feet) 09:56