Wednesday, April 14, 2021

JAZZ NEWS: DC Jazz Festival Announces We Get to Talk Podcast Series

DC Jazz Festival Announces We Get to Talk Podcast Series
Hosted by DCJF Executive Director Sunny Sumter Starting Wednesday, April 14

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 14, 2021 – DC Jazz Festival today announces a new podcast series titled We Get to Talk, where DCJF Executive Director Sunny Sumter engages jazz artists in captivating conversations that revolve around relevant topics, people and places. We Get To Talk launches Wednesday, April 14, with episodes being released on a bi-weekly basis. Listeners can tune in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Crossover Media or wherever they get their podcasts.

The first round of episodes will feature a wide-ranging cast of guests who each have a unique story to share. In our first episode, piano prodigy Matthew Whitaker, who is blind, offers ways we can create a more inclusive and accessible world for the disabled community, particularly in music and the arts. In the second installment, Sunny and soul singer-songwriter Cecily discuss the power of mindfulness and music’s healing ability. In episode three, Allyn Johnson, Director of Jazz Studies at the University of the District of Columbia, shares his experiences as an arts educator and talks about the inspiration we can all find from love. Next, harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet sits down with Sunny to discuss what it means to truly be part of one’s community and the strength that comes from knowing your neighbors. From there we hear from Afro Blue alumnus Christie Dashiell as she shares her thoughts on how artists have been and can continue to adapt to the times. Finally, Sunny explores the importance of heritage and identity with hip-hop artist Maimouna “Mumu Fresh” Youssef and how they influence her musical stylings.

We Get To Talk will be presented in collaboration with Crossover Media. Each episode features snippets of guests’ past DC JazzFest performances and a segment dedicated to discussing each artist’s motivations and inspirations. “We are thrilled to welcome Sunny Sumter to the Crossover Podcast family,” said Crossover Media founder Alex Hollingsworth. “Whether discussing the latest Verzuz, politics, music or social issues, our hosts cover a variety of topics.” Join DC Jazz Festival and host Sunny Sumter on Wednesday, April 14, when We Get to Talk welcomes its first guest, jazz prodigy Matthew Whitaker.

For press inquiries or requests for information, contact Lydia Liebman, DCJF publicist, at
Learn more about the DC Jazz Festival and all of our programs by visiting

Keep up with DCJF:
Twitter: @dcjazzfest
Instagram: @dcjazzfest

NEW RELEASE: Jalen Baker’s 'THIS IS ME, THIS IS US' - out June 4, 2021 via Outside In Music

Outside In Music Announces The Electrifying Debut Release From Vibraphonist Jalen Baker
This is Me, This is Us Due Out on June 4th, 2021

Outside in Music is thrilled to introduce vibraphonist, composer and bandleader Jalen Baker with the release of This Is Me, This Is Us on June 4, 2021. On this auspicious and gripping debut, the Houston-based talent makes a major musical statement with the help of star drummer and producer Ulysses Owens Jr. Over the course of nine original compositions, and one reimagined Stevie Wonder classic, Baker expertly fuses his lyrical improvisation with fervent passion and virtuosic ability to create an unforgettable sonic experience. Joining Baker is an amalgam of top-flight musicians from both Texas and New York including pianist Paul Cornish, trumpeter Giveton Gelin, drummer Gavin Moolchan and bassist Gabriel Godoy. The depth of the compositions is augmented by the stellar string quartet made up of violinist Jessica McJunkins, violinist Orlando Wells, violist Andrew Griffin, and cellist Susan Mandel.

On This is Me, This is Us, Baker presents deeply substantive original material centered around themes of spirituality, trauma and healing. “I wrote all of the music based on my life experiences with things such as racism, depression, heartbreak, career disappointments, success, triumph and healing. Even though I have personal experience with all of these things, nothing is unique to just me. These are things most of us deal with and I want people to know that they’re not alone.” The title, This Is Me, This Is Us, is meant to reflect these universal experiences. The album walks listeners through Baker’s musical upbringing, reflecting on the artist’s journey while making poignant statements about the many trials he’s faced. 

This Is Me, This Is Us is produced by acclaimed drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. Baker’s relationship with acclaimed drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. Their relationship began with an encounter at a workshop that Owens Jr. was conducting at Florida A&M University. Owens was so impressed by Baker’s playing, that he made the young vibraphonist a sub for his own touring band. Thus, Baker and Owens have played together throughout the country and overseas, and have formed a long-standing musical connection that reaches its apex on This Is Me, This Is Us. 

“I think Jalen’s voice on the vibraphone will be amplified by his compositions. He had a chance to spend a little free time with Billy Childs who recognized his compositional voice, and I think coupled with his amazing playing, Jalen’s compositional voice will be one that I feel will resonate and create a new generation of listeners,” says Owens. 

Baker offered the following: “Having Ulysses produce this record means everything. He was one of the people to really take a chance on me and jump start my career. It was really important to me to have people from every point in my musical life a part of my first record so getting Ulysses to produce was a no brainer. When you work with someone like Ulysses the product will always be of the highest quality.”
Upon listening to the first track “So Help Me God”, listeners will hear Baker’s sultry vibes underscored by the lush sounds of the string quartet. Harkening back to the iconic sounds of the Modern Jazz Quartet featuring the great vibraphonist Milt Jackson, this track highlights Baker’s tremendous acuity at composing nuanced, ardent pieces. Masterfully arranged, the large ensemble avoids density and is complimentary in nature, the soaring refrains from Trumpeter Giveton Gelin doubled by Baker is underpinned by the steadfast rhythm section and cradled by the silken soundfield created by the strings.

“Healing” is an example of a thematic composition that draws the listener in with its refined dynamic sensibilities and harmonic intrigue. The piece was composed in the summer of 2020 while reflecting on the hardships of the current moment, most notably the pandemic that has afflicted our world for the past year. In order to make sense of the world, Baker strived to heal his mind with composition and practicing. This piece features solos from Baker, Giveton Gelin, and pianist Paul Cornish.

“Patience” is a poignant ballad that showcases the vibist’s maturity in composition by his use of space and affecting melodic content. The strings return, this time beginning the piece by stating the melody prior to the entrance of Baker and Gelin. In a true show of patience, the melody gently builds in both instrumentation and intensity. “Praise” is a decidedly modern sounding piece with a lyrical melody, and a prayerful air throughout, and features masterful solos by Cornish and Baker. The pared down “Faith” features Baker with bass and drum accompaniment, as the sole chordal player and displays the synergy between the three players, while spotlighting Baker’s comping prowess. Baker’s arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “Love Is In Need Of Love Today” offers a new dimension to a beautiful classic with a message that rings true in modern times. This solo piece feels like a sultry, contrapuntal prayer for a more peaceful and loving future.

One of Baker’s most ardent supporters is acclaimed vibraphonist Warren Wolf, who contributed the album’s liner notes and cosigns on Baker’s promise. Referencing a quote by Mahatma Gandhi in those notes, the future depends on what you do today, he says: “What Jalen is doing today is bringing the vibraphone to new heights and bringing new compositions to the world. The promising young vibist will continue to emerge; with experience comes wisdom. Watch out for Jalen Baker.”

1. So Help Me God (7:31) 
2. Don’t Shoot (9:16)
3. Interlude (Prayer for the Fallen) (:045)
4. Healing (7:05)
5. Patience (5:19)
6. We Regret to Inform You (6:24)
7. Praise (7:24)
8. Faith (6:09)
9. Obey Disobey (7:28)
10. Love’s In Need of Love Today (2:21)

All music by Jalen Baker, except 10 by Stevie Wonder

Jalen Baker- Vibraphone
Paul Cornish- Piano
Giveton Gelin- Trumpet
Gavin Moolchan- Drums
Gabriel Godoy- Bass
Jessica McJunkins- Violin
Orlando Wells- Violin
Andrew Griffin- Viola
Susan Mandel- Cello

Ulysses Owens- Producer
Dave Darlington – mixing and mastering

Mila Ogliastro - The Wisteria Suites (April 20, 2021 Dodicilune / Ird)

Prodotto nella collana Koinè dall'etichetta pugliese Dodicilune, distribuito in Italia e all’estero da IRD e nei migliori store on line da Believe Digital, martedì 20 aprile esce "The Wisteria Suites" di Mila Ogliastro

Nel suo esordio discografico, la cantante, compositrice e arrangiatrice ligure propone alcuni brani originali che guardano nella direzione del jazz contemporaneo ("7 Meters Tall", "Waltz Me To The Moon", "Wisteria", "Prima" e "The Consequences of Love"), alcuni "grandi classici" del repertorio del rock internazionale ("Message In A Bottle" dei Police, "Move Over" di Janis Joplin, "Come Together" dei Beatles e "We Will Rock You" dei Queen) e un'intensa versione di "‘Na Stella" di Fausto Mesolella, compianto chitarrista degli Avion Travel.

In questo viaggio sonoro l'artista sceglie come compagni di strada il batterista Giorgio Griffa, il bassista elettrico Nicola Bruno e il pianista Andrea Pozza, «il cui profondo rapporto con la storia del jazz non solo italiano è un dato di fatto testimoniato dalla sua biografia artistica», scrive nelle note di copertina Pietro Leveratto. «Registrare un disco significa anche decidere cosa si vuole fermare nel tempo e mai come in questi anni la scelta del repertorio, inteso come il veicolo che rende esplicita la propria poetica musicale, rappresenta una sfida», prosegue il musicista e scrittore. «Se il giacimento della canzone americana storica pare sfruttato fino all’ultima pepita, è altrettanto vero che molto del catalogo del song moderno e contemporaneo non sembra sempre adatto a contenere le peculiarità del linguaggio del jazz, vuoi per la forma, vuoi per l’evidente modestia del substrato armonico, vuoi per la difficoltà di scindere l’interprete - la pop star - da quello che esegue. Occorre quindi avere coraggio per mettere le mani su materiale che proviene da altre derive, magari estraneo al songbook tipicamente jazzistico e ancora più ne occorre per scrivere la musica che si vuole cantare e suonare».
«Quanti musicisti straordinari, nel corso degli anni, ci ha dato la Liguria! Ed ecco un nuovo bellissimo regalo. Una gran voce, un senso del jazz fuori del comune e soprattutto una notevole originalità sia come cantante che come compositrice: Mila Ogliastro. Benvenuta"», è il messaggio di rimasto colpito dalla freschezza di questo lavoro: composizioni raffinatissime e mai banali», sottolinea Fabrizio Bosso. «Una voce quella di Mila che oltre ad essere tecnicamente ineccepibile, regala all’ascoltatore tante sfumature e colori diversi. Importante il contributo di bravissimi musicisti tra cui spicca il sempre ispirato pianoforte del grande Andrea Pozza».

1 - 7 Meters Tall
2 - Waltz Me To The Moon
3 - Message In A Bottle
4 - Wisteria
5 - Move Over
6 - ‘Na Stella
7 - Come Together
8 - Prima
9 - We Will Rock You
10 - The Consequences of Love  

All compositons by Mila Ogliastro except 3 by Sting, 5 by Janis Joplin, 6 by Fausto Mesolella, 7 by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, 9 by Brian May

Mila Ogliastro - vocals, arrangements, piano (10)
Andrea Pozza - piano
Nicola Bruno - electric bass
Giorgio Griffa - drums

Recorded 29 August 2020 at Indiehub Studio, Milan, Italy
Mixed and mastered 30 September 2020 at Indiehub Studio, Milan, Italy
Sound engineer Stefano Giungato

Storione / Rossy / Schürmann - This Time the Dream's on Us (April 2021 Challenge Records)

"This Time the Dream’s on Me" is the name of Harold Arlen's 1941 song, which made it into the charts twice in the same year with none other than Glenn Miller and Woody Herman. It was composed for the film "Blues in the Night" with lyrics written by the famous singer and songwriter Johnny Mercer. Ella sang it especially tenderly, including it in her two Arlen and Mercer songbooks. It has been covered by many other great artists over the years, from Bird to Miles.

And now we have a technically stupendous pianist at the relatively young age of 27, a classic jazz trio and an album title referring to the Great American Songbook. What could go wrong? The temptation, especially with young jazz musicians (less often with female artists), is well known: to dazzlingly display their instrumental skills over a traditional framework, like a gymnast vigorously working out on the high bar. Unfortunately, the dismount often ends up, despite their virtuosity, stumbling into the mainstream of mediocrity.

Pianist Yuri Storione excels in this endeavour by teaming up with two experienced musicians: the deliberate, steady and precise bassist Dominik Schürmann, and one of the world's best drummers, Jorge Rossy. The balance between the players is already expressed in the trio’s name. Apart from the Arlen tune, another milestone in jazz history, Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear" is the only other work from the Great American Songbook. The remaining ten compositions are Storione’s and Schürmann's own creations – consistently melodic and, in their creative interplay

brilliantly accented music — all of which reward the attentive listener with music that avoids all superficial gimmickry.

The bass is strikingly elegant: Dominik Schürmann is a team player who, from soulful ballads to up-tempo tunes, maintains a clear, reliable beat and a gentle touch. He creates stirring melodic lines that contrast with the piano, and short solos that are as honest as they are clean and inspired. Jorge Rossy’s contribution is an amazingly responsive, imaginative and sensitive drumming: it orders and underlines, decisively shapes, and in a restrained but effective manner accompanies his partners’ solistic excursions. This, like his entire presence here, is truly invaluable.

Within this flexible framework, where both of these stimulating and well-grounded musicians know how to let their vast experience flow fully into each musical moment, Yuri Storione's pianistic exuberance can wholly unfold, blossoming in all its splendor.

What were the last lines of the Mercer lyric? "It can't be true, but / This time the dream's on me." The Storione-Rossy-Schürmann Trio playfully twists and turns this dream. Without bombast and without hesitation, it transforms it in the most satisfying way: directly, easily, with depth and drive, into the reality of a surprising and captivating music: Yes, it can be true.

1. Father and Son 06:56
2. Violeta 06:07
3. Happy Hour 07:46
4. Ms. G. R. 05:23
5. One for Doris 06:21
6. This Time the Dream's on Me 05:17
7. Sambâle 05:48
8. Ruby My Dear 04:01
9. Viva Bud Powell! 05:29
10. Iberica 06:38
11. Lonely Owl 05:38
12. Holding Line 06:47

Yuri Storione - piano
Dominik Schürmann - bass
Jorge Rossy - drums

© 2021 - NewArts International / Challenge Records Int.

xLWBxDRx - Prairie spells, a ribbon wove (2021)

"Prairie spells, a ribbon wove" is the outcome of a long-distance collaboration between Lightning White Bison (Adam Parks, also of Timber Rattle) and Drekka (Mkl Anderson), who at the time of its culmination were in eastern Czechia and central Indiana respectively.

The four 11-minute tracks are a sonic document of the exploration and reconciliation of geographic disparity, the distance between the places in which the collaborators each found themselves in a time of isolation. That document is here assembled as a quadripartite image of unity in concept and sound.

Built from a simple palette of exchanged raw materials, minimal drones, and field recordings from Mkl’s and Adam’s individual wanderings and past travels together, “Prairie spells, a ribbon wove” towers like a structure of unknown origin in a frosty plane, looming and beautiful and committing to neither threat nor its counterpart. These recordings call to mind the masterful tension of Fatima al Qadiri’s "Atlantique" score or Tim Hecker’s gentler moments. And although the music never tips into the pulsating realms that Coil’s "Hellraiser themes" do, this work similarly dances the line between pleasant and unsettling.

At this point in Drekka’s quarter century career, it would make sense to acknowledge his own hearty catalogue as an antecedent to this work. But like many of the most engaging collaborations, it’s difficult to decipher where one’s vision ends and another begins. And this can be said of the aesthetic of these recordings as well. Sight and site and sound and memory seem to all play a significant role. The result is rich and haunted.
1. untitled, at sinjin 11:00
2. through creatures, night return 11:00
3. bird and savior, sacred illness 11:00
4. at telč, an empress embalmed 11:00

Out Friday, April 16 – Rubén Blades y Roberto Delgado & Orquesta – SALSWING!

Rubén Blades has a fabulous new album that defies the SALSWING genre! with the Roberto Delgado Orchestra. Fusing salsa and jazz, the album comes out this Friday, April 16.

The album will also be released in separate editions, SALSA PLUS! on April 23 and SWING! April 30. For now it is digital, but there will be physical copies at a later date.

“SALSWING! As an album it has different purposes. One, to present the Roberto Delgado Orchestra as an ensemble capable of expanding its original Panamanian roots to encompass other musical genres, ”says Blades. “Another, to present my interest in exploring other vocal directions and thus eliminate the stereotype that affirms that we are conditioned to exist only artistically within specific limits, according to our nationality. Perhaps the most important point is to exemplify that, as artists, we direct our music to the world, not just to a specific segment of its population. "

Saskatchewan All Star Big Band - Saskatchewan Suite (April 30, 2021 Chronograph Records)

Through this recording project, the Regina Jazz Society seeks to communicate the beautifully unique history of Saskatchewan in the vernacular of jazz, by offering a live recording of a commissioned work by one of Canada’s most talented composers, Fred Stride. Recorded live at Casino Regina on December 28, 2019, the event featured many of the best local and ex-patriate musicians of the province in a truly special performance of Stride’s unique composition. It was an evening which allowed a fantastic group of artists to tell Saskatchewan’s story through music for the very first time ever.

The group of musicians on stage that night was one of the most impressive gatherings of talent in Saskatchewan’s history, and resulted in a caliber of performance unlikely to be replicated anytime soon. The Saskatchewan All Star Big Band is comprised of players that grew up here, got their musical start here, and were then exported to every corner of the globe to share their craft. They are joined by other players who came here to live, teach, and perform because Saskatchewan affords them that grand opportunity.

So, what is “The Saskatchewan Story”? It is the stories of everyone living here and all those that have gone before us. It is more than 150 years of narrative threads, weaving the canvas of our history since the days when Saskatchewan was ruled by the thundering hooves of the buffalo. It tells the story of how people arrived here. You will hear the train whistle bringing all the various settlers and immigrants to the province. It tells of the initial clash of cultures, followed by the important journey towards inclusiveness that has culminated in our society today. It tells the story of the seasons. You will hear the biting sounds of winter, the fierce wind howling at you over the brittle crunch of snow underfoot. You will also hear the soft, carefree nights of summer, with their cool refreshing breeze and orchestra of frogs croaking, crickets chirping, and songbirds singing sweet lullabies.
You will hear that Saskatchewan folk are farmers, businesspeople, potash workers, railroaders, hockey players, story tellers, writers, artists, and soldiers marching off to war. We are all The Saskatchewan Story, and that is what the Saskatchewan Suite is all about. This is the most novel, ambitious, progressive, and challenging project in the history of the Regina Jazz Society, and they are thrilled at the opportunity to share it with the world.

The Saskatchewan Suite: The Story of Us
1. I. The Place 11:18
2. II. The First 8:52
3. III. The Newcomers 5:34
4. IV. The In-Between 4:52
5. V. September 1905 4:58
6. VI. Saskatchesport 9:08
7. VII. Thank You, Mr. Douglas 5:02
8. VIII. Saskatchejazz 19:38

Fred Stride – Musical Director, Composer, Keyboards

Dean McNeill – Lead Trumpet
Al Muirhead – Trumpet
Andy King – Trumpet
Brent Ghiglione – Trumpet
Dave Mossing – Trumpet

PJ Perry – Lead Alto Saxophone
Donny Kennedy – Alto Saxophone
Kelly Jefferson – Tenor Saxophone
Steve Kaldestad – Tenor Saxophone
Trent Reschny – Bari Saxophone

Shawn Grocott – Lead Trombone
Ross Ulmer – Trombone
Tom Richards – Trombone
Dave Dick – Bass Trombone

Jon Ballantyne – Piano
Jack Semple – Guitar
Miles Foxx Hill – Bass
Ted Warren – Drums
Dylan Weist – Vibraphone/Percussion

Ed Minevich – Violin
Cam Wilson  – Violin

Julian Lage - Squint (June 11, 2021 Blue Note)

Guitar virtuoso Julian Lage has shared “Boo’s Blues,” the second song from his Blue Note Records debut album, Squint, out June 11. The loping swing feel of “Boo’s Blues” exemplifies Lage’s ability to write with his bandmates in mind while echoing his influences: “I like to imagine this music being played by the tans of bass and drums,” Lage says. “I’m imagining Billy Higgins, I’m imagining Art Taylor, I’m imagining Wilbur Ware, even though I’m writing explicitly for Dave and Jorge.”

Squint is a striking full-length that weds incisive, expressive songwriting with the profound interplay Lage has honed over the past few years with his de trio featuring bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus). The album was heralded last month with the release of the album’s lead single “Saint Rose.” Squint is available now for pre-order on vinyl, CD, or download.

“I absolutely love improvised music, and I’ve always been fascinated by singer-songwriter music,” says Lage. “For me, the jazz that came out of Blue Note always engaged both sides of that. It had incredible improvisational vocabularies and performances, but when I think of albums from Grant Green’s Idle Moments to Joe Henderson’s Inner Urge to McCoy Tyner’s Time for Tyner with Bobby Hutcherson – all these records that I love so much also have such great songs. I felt like this was an opportunity to present new music born out of the Blue Note tradition as I’ve interpreted it.”

Lage was recently featured on the GRAMMY Museum’s COLLECTION:live interview series, watch here. The guitarist will also be continuing his popular series of masterclasses with upcoming sessions on April 11 and April 18. A 30-minute solo performance will follow each class. Tickets are available here.