Monday, April 5, 2021
You’ve most likely seen him perform, be it Newport Jazz Fest, Village Vanguard Orchestra, or on a late night TV show with Michael Buble. Mark Small has been an award winning sideman for numerous groups in all genres, free jazz to pop, that have an inkling of improvisation to them. He has co-lead groups with fellow musicians such as Walter Smith III and Jeremy Udden. He has finally taken the plunge and released a record of his own titled One Day.
“I’ve been extremely lucky to have played with so many wonderful musicians for so long. I’ve gotten to fulfill most of my dreams such as playing at the iconic Village Vanguard, performing at Madison Square Garden, and traveling the world over. I felt it was time I made a statement of my own.” Small continues, “I thought it would be amazing to reconnect with two friends who both perform frequently together. I hadn’t had the opportunity to play with Matt Brewer and Damion Reid in years so this recording became the catalyst.”
In 2016 I invited Milford Graves to perform at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. In preparation for his solo performance we spoke over the phone, and then in person as he visited the performance space, Veterans Room. He talked about transferring and transmitting energy through language, body and sound. I wanted to experience him pull the ear of the audience into his drums, the open vessels and gaping caverns. While he created a frame for his performance, he and Jake Meginsky created a new video. This video opened his performance and dove into his practice of amplifying the movements of the heart muscle and how those movements can render melodies. It was extraordinary, and his performance brought every aspect of his practice to peak.
At the end of his performance, he said "Thank You Jason....you know what's next.... we gotta play TOGETHER".
The festival producer Ashley Capps (Big Ears Festival) was in attendance that fateful evening, and two years later he invited Milford and I to his festival. Our duo had a date. I began visiting Milford at his home in Jamaica, Queens. On my first visit, I brought one of my sons and we sat in Milford's basement for hours. The basement is a laboratory. Thousands of wires, hundreds of vitrines, piles of books, stacks of drums, an enormous subwoofer, multiple video monitors. Everything that enters the basement is prone to be examined. Milford researches it all, from the voice to the pulp, and then he finds a way for those studies to exist in his music. He hooked my heart up to his computer and rendered a melody of my heartbeat. He added it to his archive of heart melodies. I'd return a few months later, we'd talk about sculpture, demand, and process. This was all in preparation for stepping onstage with him.
Milford reminded me of my teacher, the pianist Jaki Byard. Their stance and voice, their round sound and momentum, all of the history at play at once, never segmented into style, all living in the garden together. Milford spoke of gardens and how he planted species close to one another that might not otherwise meet, charging a new relationship.
This is how he approaches music.
Up close and personal re-workings of classics by outstanding songwriters Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Lennon/McCartney and others, alongside spellbinding memorable originals.
Recorded in 2020, this music captures a moment in time, one of uncertainty and reflection. Originating from a shared desire to create after months in isolation, it’s a powerfully inspiring and deeply authentic album, expressing a want and a need to connect. As Sachal explains: “I met up with my friend and neighbor Romain Collin in the park near my house. After sharing our stories, we agreed we should play – just get together and play. We didn’t set out to make a record, but getting together in the studio gave me a chance to work through the anxiety and anger I’d kept inside throughout the spring and summer.”
With a warm, compelling sound, ‘Midnight Shelter’ imaginatively reworks well-loved music by Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, Lennon/McCartney and other outstanding songwriters, alongside spellbinding sensitive originals, uniquely expressed. The healing power of music and collaboration is overwhelmingly evident here.
Romain Collin: “In this time of isolation, being able to spontaneously create music with Sachal was so refreshing. He’s such a versatile musician, and putting together a repertoire of songs that we could re-imagine in an intimate way in the studio felt special to us. I hope this music keeps people in good company.”
For the second edition in the Profane Illuminations series of long form temporal suspensions we find two of contemporary music’s most vital and expressive characters - Patrick Shiroishi and Luke Stewart - thoroughly exploring properties of spatial resonance on two sidelong solo pieces.
The A side begins in gorgeous elegiac fashion with Shiroishi alone with a saxophone in a parking garage. Delicately dancing with the echoes of intermittent horn blasts, the piece slowly moves into a sonorous modal ballet of fluttering, combative notes before departing again in desolate elegance.
The B side finds DC multi-instrumentalist Luke Stewart viscerally interacting with the properties of sound itself while drawing out the characteristic resonances of the room at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Scraping, ringing, piercing, clicking sounds result in frequencies that are gradually layered and emphasized as they resonate throughout the room and oscillate around their central figure eventually turning to the pure, rich tones of the room itself.
1. Staying Human 20:13
2. Works For Pioneer Works 25:56
Luke Stewart: Works for Pioneer Works
Recorded during the Music Residency at Pioneer Works.
Room Feedback by Luke Stewart with
Assistance from Ryan and Federico.
Mixed by Luke Stewart
Photo by Peter Gannushkin
Patrick Shiroishi: Staying Human
Recorded live underneath the Jazz Cat in Monterey Park, California.
mastered at FyK studios by Felix Salazar
"You'd hear some cat play, and somebody would say, 'This cat, he sounds like he's from Kansas City.' It was Kansas City Style. They knew it on the East Coast. They knew it on the West Coast. They knew it up North, and they knew it down South." - Jay McShann
One of Jay McShann's favorite stories to tell was how band member and friend Charlie Parker got his nickname "Bird". During their drive to a gig in Nebraska with a car full of musicians, the driver of the car accidently hit a chicken. According to McShann, Parker requested the driver turn around so he could get the bird, and sat with it in the backseat of the car all the way to Lincoln. Once they arrived he asked the keeper of the home they were staying in to cook it up for him.
1. Tenderly 04:27
2. Blue and Sentimental 06:26
3. Confessin' the Blues 02:53
4. Memories of You 05:21
5. Moten Swing 06:27
6. Duke and the Brute 02:52
7. Hootie's Ignorant Oil 04:29
8. Lady Be Good 03:55
9. Say Forward, I'll March 04:43
10. Nasty Attitude 02:55
11. Hootie's in Hutchinson 06:08
12. Slow Drag Blues 05:52
13. Reach 02:47
14. Four Day Rider 04:01
15. You Can Depend on Me 04:18
16. Doggin' Around 06:11
17. Jay's Boogie Woogie 04:13
Jay McShann - piano