Thursday, April 8, 2021

NEW Live Concerts | Exclusive Release from Irma Thomas

New Album and Concert Series

Irma Thomas – Love Is The Foundation

While supplies last, get an individual copy of this timeless release from the beloved Soul Queen of New Orleans – her first studio recording in over a decade.

"Thomas sounds like a precious jewel placed in an exquisite setting." – John Swenson, OffBeat

(limited availability)
Support Live Music This April

Coming this Friday April 9th at 8pm ET: John Patitucci, Yotam Silberstein, and Rogério Boccato!

With live performances all but eliminated due to the pandemic, we created Newvelle Live for fans who want to support artists and institutions who are continuing the legacy of improvised music for a new generation. Anyone can join. All we ask is that you consider making a contribution to support the musicians performing every Friday in April. Contributions will be divided equally among the 12 artists performing throughout the series.

This series is designed as a radical experiment: one that explores the relationship between musician and fan, and an attempt to strengthen our communities and support musicians at this critical time.

Greg Abate - Magic Dance (The Music of Kenny Barron) April 2021 Whaling City Sound Records

Theres a beautiful marriage happening with Greg Abates Magic Dance."" Its the union between Abates multi-instrumental gift of bebop and Kenny Barrons varied and sublime compositions. Abate, with Barron, who handles keys on this recording session, are soulmates sharing this epic musical space. On their own, Barrons melodies are transcendent. In Abates skillful hands, thanks to his ability to shift between alto, tenor, baritone and soprano saxes and flute, the material takes on new tones, colors and patterns. One of the liberties Abate took with the material involved varying the choice and number of horns on these tracks. On two tracks, he even went so far as to arrange and overdub four additional sax parts, modeled on the reed section of the traditional big band, which give Barron's lush sounds even greater texture and intricacy.

Underneath it all is the hot-shot rhythm section of bass player Dezron Douglas and drummer Johnathan Blake, a New York City tandem born to support and elevate these arrangements. In fact, the ensemble work throughout this two-disc project is incredible, and reaffirms the health of 'real' bebop, a genre in which Abate has, through a five-decade career, been a dependable flame keeper. With this collaboration, Abate, with sidemen Barron, Douglas and Blake prove that the glory of straight-ahead jazz can still be purposeful, exhilarating, and, above all, like all great marriages, faithful and true.

1. Sunshower
2. Cook's Bay
3. Golden Lotus
4. Innocence
5. Water Lilly
6. Sonya Braga
7. Bud Like
8. Lemuria
9. Concentric Circles
10. Rain
11. Voyage
12. Magic Dance
13. Song for Abullah
14. And Then Again

Masabumi Kikuchi - Hanamichi (April 16, 2021 via Red Hook Records)

The final studio recording from the late Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi,

Hanamichi is the culmination of a lifetime of musical exploration and discovery

Debut release by Red Hook Records features masterful, definitive performances 

“[Kikuchi] was continually searching for his ‘voice’ that he couldn’t articulate with words. It wasn’t until a few years before he died that his ‘voice’ found him!” – Gary Peacock

Six revelatory tracks by the late Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi are featured on Hanamichi, the debut release by Red Hook Records, due out April 16, 2021, in digital, LP, and CD formats. Recorded over a two-day New York session on a magnificent Steinway, the music marks a divergence from the mostly free improvising Poo (Kikuchi’s nickname), who died at age 75 in 2015, practiced during his final years. Kikuchi’s radiant playing sparkles with melodic exploration and expression in renditions of lesser-known tunes and popular standards.

As Kevin Whitehead writes in these excerpts from the album’s liner notes:

“I don’t have any technique,” Kikuchi protested to the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff, a year and a half before recording Hanamichi. More accurate to say he’d developed his own. He played with fingers curved, hands moving crablike or poised banana-bunched. Sometimes his palms drooped below the keyboard, and sometimes he played with hands crossed or overlapping. You can hear the resultant sonic knots on “Improvisation” and the first “My Favorite Things”: churnings from which instant melodies suddenly arise.
For Hanamichi, producer Sun Chung nudged him toward playing tunes, in addition to his free improvisations. That proved to be a good idea. Poo didn’t bring music or a setlist, calling selections in the moment. One is a personal standard, a staple of  his sets since 1970, the ballad for his daughter “Little Abi.”

You can measure how radically Kikuchi transforms Mabel Wayne’s brisk Spanish waltz “Ramona” by the seven-second gap between the first and second notes of the melody once he finally gets around to it. Languid tempo lets him build, and the final melody statement in a new key is freighted with accumulated feeling. That tempo lets us hear Kikuchi’s command of pedaling and of overtones at the margins: the high thin sheen of ringing harmonics that persists through changing chords.

While some pianists who ride sustain pedal overplay, Kikuchi pares back, choosing notes with extra care for clarity. Humming piano harp is a shifting backdrop to present action, not a heavy curtain descending on it. Kikuchi’s “Summertime” announces the melody with playfully ambiguous barroom tremolos and distorts the graceful timing of Gershwin’s internal cadences. All those dynamics he minds are on display: piano rings in many ways, across the registers — another zone of dynamic variation. In the performance’s back half, an overflight of chattering birds/dissolving high chords unhatches Poo’s eerie buzzard voice. Other pianists sing along with their right hands; Kikuchi’s keening would beam in from beyond, an independent voice. On Hanamichi, his utterances are few and surprisingly on point, intensifying musical effect.

Two radically different “My Favorite Things” confirm Hanamichi’s improvisatory spontaneity: two days, two perspectives. Taking his time on the longer take, Kikuchi finds implications in the melody and harmony that skirling modal versions gloss over. As on “Abi” he strikes hammered-anvil chords, dynamic alloys of timbre, harmony and attack. They signify, and remind us, that Masabumi Kikuchi’s piano music is not about rippling over the keys but making the instrument sound.

Ramona (L. Wolfe Gilbert and Mabel Wayne) 06:40
Summertime (George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin) 11:23
My Favorite Things I (Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers) 05:08
My Favorite Things II (Oscar Hammerstein and Richard Rodgers) 06:30
Improvisation (Masabumi Kikuchi) 05:36
Little Abi (Masabumi Kikuchi) 05:52

Masabumi Kikuchi - piano

Fredrik Nordström - Dolores: One (April 23, 2021)

There is undoubtedly a very special atmosphere when Swedish saxplayer Fredrik Nordström pulls the threads in the debut album of his new band, Dolores. The personal expression and creativity of the bandmembers contribute to place the music in an original strain of contemporary jazz - beautiful and melancholic. The starting point for the many things happening in the music is in Fredrik’s compositions, complemented in the release by a freely improvised track and an interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Central Park West”.

Fredrik Nordström says:
"I composed the material for Dolores with the purpose of creating music that was bare and dynamic. At the same time, perhaps due to the band's drumless setting, I wanted it to maintain a rhythmic dimension and movement that brought it forward. I have been inspired by folk music, perhaps mainly from Scandinavia and from North America. The different musical and cultural backgrounds of the musicians in this band influenced me in the writing process and contributed greatly to the final result."
1. Algorithm Changes 05:40
2. Signpost
3. Way up North
4. Rise
5. 19 Southbound
6. Turns
7. The Big Question
8. Central Park West

Fredrik Nordström - tenor & baritone saxophones, clarinet
Staffan Svensson - trumpet
Andreas Hourdakis - guitar
Ilaria Capalbo - double bass

All compositions by Fredrik Nordström except Rise by Capalbo/Hourdakis/Nordström/Svensson and Central Park West by John Coltrane (Jowcol Music/Universal Music Publishing)

Recorded on November 23-24 2020 at BAS in Bandhagen, Sweden by Mats Äleklint
Mixed and mastered by Fredrik Nordström at Bluenord Studio
Produced by Fredrik Nordström

Illustrations by Jenny Svenberg Bunnel
Design by LOUP Studio

TrioTrio - TrioTrio Live (April 20, 2021)

1. Lullaby Of Birdland
2. Let's Cool One
3. All Blues
4. All The Things You Are
5. Down By The Riverside
6. Someone To Watch Over Me
7. Almost Like Being In Love

Harry Mitchell: Piano
Karl Florisson: Double Bass
Ben Vanderwal: Drums

Recorded Live on August 10 at All Saints College Perth 2020 by Christian Peterson

Mixed and Mastered by Brodie Stewart

Steen Vig - Blue Boat (Remastered 2021) April 16, 2021 Storyville Records

In 1993, Steen Vig was one of the danish musicians to receive the Jazzpar Award which consisted of appearances on the Jazzpar concert tour with the opportunity of inviting one or two international musicians of the recipients’ own choice followed up by a recording. Steen Vig decided to invite Gene “Mighty Flea” Conners and Cornell Dupree to record with him and his “Bluesicians”. The result was Blue Boat: An eclectic album spanning from Dixieland and swing to blues and funky soul jazz tunes. Unfortunately, Steen didn’t live to see the album released. He died of a heart attack in his home on January 1., 1994. He was 49.

Originally released in 1994, Blue Boat is now reissued as part of the Jazzpar Remastered series, including albums by Roy Haynes, Geri Allen, Lee Konitz and more. The Jazzpar Prize was initiated by the Danish Jazz Center in 1990. Back then, musicians spoke unofficially of the “big” and the “small” Jazzpar. The “big” Jazzpar being a statuette and a cash award of DKR. 200.000, given to a musician of international acclaim, while the “small” Jazzpar was given to two Danish artists; in 1993, those two were Steen Vig and Kim Kristensen.

The guest stars on Blue Boat gives a good indication of the stylistic range: Gene ‘Mighty Flea’ Conners, with a career covering everything from blues and early RnB to dixieland and swing jazz, joins Ole ‘Fessor’ Lindgreen on the trombone, while guitarist Cornell Dupree, who has worked with artists like Aretha Franklin, Joe Cocker and Bill Withers, brings a funky guitar and some great blues solos to the album. With energetic performances from both international stars and danish top musicians like Ole ‘Fessor’ Lindgreen and Hugo Rasmussen, this album displays Steen Vig playing at the top of his game. And he always did that:

“He was one of those musicians who gave everything he had in him each time he performed, and if necessary, he would find an extra ten percent deep down in some recess of hidden resources. He was also one of the funniest men I’ve ever met. (Listen to this album’s closing track with the Dadaistic title Hotel Blækregning – roughly translated from Danish: Hotel Arithmetic Homework,)” Paul Banks recalls.

Banks continues: “He was a long-term member of Fessor’s Big City Band, but most Mondays he played at the Copenhagen jazz club Vognporten with the Steen Vig Swingsters. Their eclectic mixture of blues, traditional jazz, swing, funky New Orleans, Beatles tunes – you name it - drew huge crowds. The band was great, but what we really came for were Steen’s saxophones. His Bechet-inspired soprano was touching and powerful, and the growling sound of his tenor was huge, warm and swinging. Sometimes when he felt the need to shift to an even higher gear, he would play both at the same time.“

Steen was one of those musicians you wanted to hear on stage for the full experience, but this recording does a good job at capturing that experience. Backed by a group of some his favorite Danish musicians and augmented with Gene ‘Mighty Flea’ Conners on trombone (and vocal) and Cornell Dupree on guitar, this album will give you a taste of why those packed evenings in Vognporten were so special.

1. Blue Boat
2. Memphis Blues
3. Soul Country
4. The Flea Is Jumping
5. Blue Turning Grey Over You
6. Taps Miller
7. We Sure Do Need Him Now
8. Tee
9. Kansas City Man Blues
10. Copenhagen Hip Hop
11. Foo Foo Blues
12. Hotel Blækregning

Gene ‘Mighty Flea’ Conners - Trombone
Ole ‘Fessor’ Lindgreen - Trombone
Cornell Dupree - Guitar
Hugo Rasmussen - Double Bass
Thorkild Møller - Drums
Søren Kristiansen - Piano
Steen Vig - Saxophone

Gabriel Evan Orchestra - Global Entry (April 30, 2021)

New York saxophonist Gabriel Evan’s sophomore album Global Entry is a playful, skillful exploration of pre-war jazz, early chamber jazz, and bug music. Inspired by the classical-tinged sound of the John Kirby Sextet - one of the most celebrated bands on 52nd St. in the 1930’s - the Gabriel Evan Orchestra takes you on musical trip around the world. While bringing a fresh spin on traditional jazz classics, incorporating 1930s Cuban music and even mid-century exotica, Global Entry maintains the Kirby tradition of arranging classical music for jazz band.

A carefully constructed arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers opens the record, paying homage to the arranging style of trumpeter Charlie Shavers, reimagining the languid waltz into a fun, hot swing number, suitable for a Looney Tunes Nutcracker tribute. As a matter of fact, most of this record is suitable cartoon accompaniment - so much so, that GEO’s first two singles, Rumba Azul and Arabian Nightmare are released as cartoon music videos (Waikiki Wabbit [1943] & Chicken a la King [1937] respectively). Both Rumba Azul and album closer  Rumba Tambah are timeless classics from the Lecuona Cuban Boys, one of the most famous early Caribbean ensembles.
Arabian Nightmare - one of three Charlie Shavers arrangements on the record - is a brilliant take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, echoing the haunting Dorian theme of the classic work before springing into swing. Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes is a hip pre-bop arrangement of a 1616 classic by English playwright Ben Jonson. Effervescent Blues, a Shavers original, is a slow swinger with standout solos from Joe Goldberg (clar.), John Zarsky (tmp.) and “Big” Joe Kennedy (p), before a horn soli brings it on home.

The jazz capitol New York City is well represented by Duke Ellington’s red hot Jubilee Stomp, as well as two NYC inspired Evan originals: Negotiations of South Williamsburg, a klezmer rollercoaster featuring clarinetist Joe Goldberg shredding and wailing; and South 5th Street, written while Evan lived in South Williamsburg - a high-energy, pseudo-Broadway show tune, with a stomping 2 & 4 heartbeat. Global Entry is a brilliant tribute to the “biggest little band in the land,” as Kirby’s band was often called.

1. Waltz of the Flowers (Tchaikovsky) 4:14
2. Rumba Azul (Ernesto Vasquez) 3:15
3. Arabian Nightmare (Rimsky-Korsoakov) 1:59
4. South 5th Street (G. Evan) 3:30
5. Diane (Tropical Moon) (Traditional) 2:57
6. Singin’ the Blues (Original Dixieland Jazz Band) 3:05
7. Jubilee Stomp (Duke Ellington) 2:58
8. Negotiations of South Williamsburg (G. Evan) 5:25
9. Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes (Ben Jonson) 2:58
10. Lujon (Henry Mancini) 2:30
11. Effervescent Blues (Charlie Shavers) 3:12
12. Rumba Tambah (Leo Blanc & Rafael Hernandez) 3:29

All songs arranged by Gabriel Evan except 3, 9, & 11, arranged by
Charlie Shavers, and 6, arranged by Frankie Trumbauer

Gabriel Evan - Alto & Soprano Saxophones
Joe Goldberg - Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone
John Zarsky - Trumpet
Joe Kennedy - Piano
Ben Fox - Upright Bass
Michael Voelker - Drums, Percussion

Umbra Arts Collective - Voodoo Blues Poetry Opera (2021)

The Voodoo of Hell’s Half-Acre” is a multimedia theatrical presentation that chronicles the journey of Richard Wright from his migration from Mississippi to Chicago. This live presentation is comprised of a nonet (nine-piece ensemble) and features spoken word poetry, singing, saxophone, piano, upright bass and drums. This soundscape features bonus tracks, outtakes, and a 21-page color booklet. This presentation was recorded live at The Cabaret (Indianapolis, IN).

1. Movement 1: The Traveler Speaks 02:53
2. Wigwag Whistle Post 06:59
3. Movement 2: The Traveler Speaks 02:03
4. A City Speaks 06:04
5. Movement 3: The Traveler Speaks 02:03
6. Same Ol Blues 10:40
7. Movement 4: The Traveler Speaks 01:36
8. Freedom Summer 06:18
9. Movement 5: The Traveler Speaks 01:41
10. Corpus Delecti 10:45
11. Movement 6: The Traveler Speaks 01:45
12. Chicago 11:36
13. A City Speaks alternate take 07:40
14. Freedom Summer outtake 1 02:14
15. Freedom Summer outtake 2 03:05
16. Freedom Summer outtake 3 02:30
17. Freedom Summer outtake 4 02:22
18. Freedom Summer original 06:50

Lasana D. Kazembe (spoken word, librettist)
Rob Dixon (musical director, saxophone)
Kenny Phelps (drums, percussion)
Steven Jones (piano)
Brandon Meeks (bass)
Okara Imani (vocals)
Allison Victoria (vocals)
Keesha Dixon (narration, vocals)

Varun Das - Solitude EP (April 2021)

The compositions of this EP portray both the positive and negative connotations behind the word, “solitude,” with relevance to the COVID pandemic. But for me personally, the pandemic has proven to be a journey of solitude and emotional silence. I initially feared this would stimulate feelings of loneliness, isolation, depression, and longing because we are secluded from one another. It’s been quite the contrary. Being in solitude has helped free up my mind from many distractions of everyday life, allowing me to realize what really matters to me; it has made me reach out to unexplored creative domains to express myself in ways I have never done before. I consider myself very fortunate.

1. Inner Demons 01:37
2. Roots Embraced 03:03
3. Neptune 03:06
4. Until We Resume 02:00
5. Out of the Void 03:22

Composer / Producer: Varun Das (BMI)
Vibraphone: Juan Diego Villalobos
Piano: Esteban Castro

Recording Engineer: Felipe Fournier, Joystick Cafe Studio, New York, USA
Piano Recording: Parade Sound Studios, Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, USA
Mixing Engineer: Joel Hamilton, Studio G, Brooklyn, New York, USA