Sunday, April 18, 2021

Brian Bromberg | "A Little Driving Music" | May 21 via Artistry Music (Mack Avenue Music Group)

World-Renowned Bassist and Producer
Brian Bromberg Escapes the Pandemic Blues
with a Vibrant, Funky New Album That
Conjures the Spirit of the Open Road
with A Little Driving Music

Due Out May 21, 2021 on
Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group

Bromberg’s Third Album Created in Quarantine,
Features All-Star, Socially-Distanced Cast of Musicians Including Dave Koz, Marion Meadows, Elan Trotman,
Everette Harp, Gary Meek and Nick Colionne

After nearly a year of being cooped up within the same four walls, it’s only natural that one’s thoughts might turn to the freedom of the open road. That’s certainly true of virtuoso jazz bassist and world-renowned producer Brian Bromberg, whose third pandemic-era release shrugs off the prevailing mood of COVID-era claustrophobia and political strife for A Little Driving Music, a fun, funky paean to cruising with the top down and leaving your troubles behind.

While countless musicians have spent the quarantine months in a state of limbo, the always-prolific Bromberg quickly figured out a way to continue making music while remaining socially distanced. Due out May 21, 2021 via Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Music Group, A Little Driving Music follows the bassist’s wide-ranging holiday album, Celebrate Me Home, and the remixed and remastered digital release of his stunning tribute album Bromberg Plays Hendrix. 

“In one aspect it's been a weird, heartbreaking time to be a musician who just wants to play music with human beings, for human beings,” Bromberg laments. “On the flip side, I've been really fortunate. It's been a really positive, productive period because I've had nothing but time to sit in front of a computer or pluck my strings.”

A Little Driving Music features a dozen brand-new Bromberg compositions as well as a surprising 80s cover song, the joyful Katrina and the Waves hit “Walking on Sunshine.” Despite recording each musician in isolation and at a distance, the bassist managed to (virtually) assemble an elite roster of longtime collaborators and all-star special guests including saxophonists Dave Koz, Everette Harp, Gary Meek, Elan Trotman, Darren Rahn and Marion Meadows; keyboardist Tom Zink; guitarists Jerry Cortez, Nick Colionne and Ray Fuller; drummers Joel Taylor and Tony Moore; vibraphonist Craig Fundiga; and percussionist Lenny Castro. There’s even a string orchestra featuring members of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic, conducted by arranger/producer Corey Allen (again, with COVID safety protocols in place).
“This is the hand you're dealt, so you make the most of it,” Bromberg says of the unusual circumstances under which the album was recorded. “Everything about how we do things has changed, but when you come to terms with that and accept it for what is, you can enjoy the process. Especially when you're dealing with a lot of talented people and state-of-the-art technology – it's amazing what you can do despite not being in a prime situation.”

No trace of that adverse situation can be heard as the album kicks off with “Froggy’s,” a carefree, high-spirited funk tune highlighted by a lively horn section emulating the chorus of frogs that often greets the composer at his Southern California home. Bromberg takes a blistering solo on piccolo bass, which could easily be mistaken for a shredding electric guitar. The baton is then picked up by Everette Harp’s vibrant turn on sax. 

A diary entry for these strange times, “Quarantine” was the first track penned by Bromberg after lockdown commenced. The rest of the album was also composed in quarantine, with the sole exception of the title track – fittingly enough, as the freewheeling “A Little Driving Music” fills the listener with a sense of movement and freedom much missed over these solitary months. “That Cool Groovy Beatnik Jazz” is another self-explanatory title, conjuring the laid-back, finger-snapping groove of a classic BYOB hipster café (meaning Bring Your Own Bongos).

Both “Bado Boy!” and “Lullaby for Bado” are dedicated to a cat that Bromberg and his fiancée rescued from Barbados, a complicated tale that eventually involved the island’s Minister of Agriculture. (“It would be as if you wanted to rescue a cat and had to talk to the Vice President of the United States to do it,” Bromberg says incredulously.) The former tune, which features Barbados-born saxophonist Elan Trotman, reflects the feline’s playful spirit; the latter, pairing Bromberg’s emotional acoustic bass with the Dominican Republic strings, is an elegy for the lost cat.

“We knew he was sick, but we hoped he'd live a long time,” Bromberg recalls. “Unfortunately, he only lived a year, but he had a hell of a year living with us instead of being alone as a stray cat sick in the Caribbean.”
With an assist from Dave Koz, “Walking on Sunshine” reimagines the 80s classic in a jazz context, slower and funkier than the incessantly upbeat original. “After the year we've had – and, sadly, the year we're likely going to have – a little positive energy goes a long way,” Bromberg explains. “So, I wanted to record something with positive energy and uplift that also had that twist, that most recording artists might not have thought of doing.”

Short for Sagittarius, “Sag 5” is named for the December 5 birthday that Bromberg shares with saxophonist Darren Rahn, who guests on the track, melding sounds so harmoniously with the bassist that it lends a bit of credence to astrological synergy. Adding Andrew Neu on clarinet and Mitch Forman on accordion, “A Rainy Day in Paris” transports the listener to a café in the City of Lights as the weather turns gray outside. “If that song doesn't make you want to have a glass of wine and some cheese, I don't know what will,” insists Bromberg. “The only thing missing is a red and white checkered tablecloth.”

With Marion Meadows extolling the hopeful melody on soprano sax, “Peace” is Bromberg’s offering to the search for sanity in a contentious world. As he describes it, the tune is “the equivalent of a musical time out, suggesting that everybody just take a deep breath while the world and this country, in particular, is pretty upside down.” 

The country-accented “Jedediah’s Gold” paints a sepia-tinged portrait of a Gold Rush miner and his stake in the Old West, while “The Sitting Room” luxuriates in the feeling of relaxing in a favorite, comfy spot at home. The greasy, slinky “Baton Rouge” detours down south for a bit of hot, sweaty, fun-in-the-sun funk with Nick Colionne laying down some down-home guitar licks.

“There's some heavier music on A Little Driving Music,” Bromberg concludes, “but for the most part it's a fun, positive energy record. There's nothing better than that Zen moment of listening to great tunes on the road, looking out the window at life. That's the vibe of it to me: I hope people just want to put it on in the car and crank it up.”

 Brian BrombergA Little Driving Music
Artistry Music • Release Date: May 21, 2021

Bill Kwan - No Ordinary Love The Music of Sade (April 2021)

Vocalist Bill Kwan Explores Sade's Artistry
with an All-Star Group of Distinguished Players

This is no ordinary jazz album. It’s not just that San Francisco vocalist Bill Kwan delves deeply into the songbook of one of the 20th century’s most popular female singers. No Ordinary Love: The Music of Sade captures an artist boldly redefining himself. Collaborating closely with a brilliant cast of New York players, he brings a confidently sensuous male sensibility to material defined by the Nigerian-born superstar, whose cool, understated style and regal persona has largely kept other artists from interpreting her songs. 

Working again with veteran producer Matt Pierson, whose credits range from Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman and Kirk Whalum to k.d. lang, Laura Benanti and Jane Monheit, Kwan is both reverent and resolutely unprecious in reimagining Sade’s music. In many ways No Ordinary Love builds on his previous project with Pierson, 2015’s Poison & Wine, a pensive and often riveting collection of contemporary indie rock songs by the likes of Beck, Björk, Bon Iver, Gillian Welch, and The Civil Wars. 

With Noam Wiesenberg’s bespoke arrangements tailored to the sleek contours of his voice, Kwan finds a way to get inside Sade’s music, navigating treacherous emotional terrain while flipping the gender dynamic in familiar narratives. “It’s very different tackling these songs from a male perspective and I could only sing pieces where I could identify with the lyrics,” Kwan says. “The key was maintaining the intimacy and not over singing. We maintained the fragile quality of Sade’s music even though the feel is very different.”

Kwan is joined by a New York dream team distinguished by deep connections to both the city’s jazz scene and innovative singer/songwriters, starting with pianist/keyboardist Kevin Hays, a veteran improviser who also composes his own songs. Sex Mob and Bill Frisell bassist Tony Scherr and the brilliant Japanese-born drummer/percussionist Keita Ogawa round out the ace rhythm section. Paris-raised Django Festival All-Stars accordion master Ludovic Beier and Russia-reared trumpeter Alex Sipiagin contribute memorable solos. 

“Obviously casting is extremely important,” says Pierson, a producer with a deep catalog of career-defining albums by some of jazz and contemporary music’s most influential artists. “Kevin was involved with Bill in the past so he was a natural, but Tony Scherr and Keita Ogawa were also key. The versatility that Tony brings as a singer/songwriter himself is exceptional, and Keita is singular, a drummer with a whole lot of percussion integrated into his set. They’ve got a deep understanding about how to support a vocalist, understanding what not to play. Finally, I’d gotten to know Noam Wiesenberg when we worked together on Camila Meza’s Ámbar project, and felt he would create perfect treatments for many of these songs.”

From the opening track, a gorgeous string-laced arrangement of “The Sweetest Taboo” set to a slinky, predatory groove, Kwan embraces a less-is-more aesthetic. His restraint paradoxically amplifies a song’s emotional wavelength. He’s in the midst of the fierce tango maelstrom of “King of Sorrow,” a lacerating arrangement underscored by Ludovic Beier’s slippery bandoneon and Antoine Silverman’s violin accents. Beier’s harmonica-like accordina brings out the loneliness at the heart of “Jezebel,” a portrait that Kwan renders with gentle precision.
The title track is also the album’s centerpiece, a startlingly effective version of “No Ordinary Love” that captures both Sade’s underappreciated skill as a songwriter and Kwan’s ability to make an iconic tune his own. Propelled by Hays’ funky Fender Rhodes and Scherr’s chunky electric guitar chords, the track pulls off the near impossible feat of standing brilliantly on its own while enhancing the original. With songs drawn from just about every Sade album (and lesser-known pieces she’s contributed to soundtracks), Kwan covers a lot of musical territory, striking pay dirt again and again. From his soothing croon on “Love Is Stronger Than Pride” to the anguished but triumphant “The Big Unknown.”

“The challenge is that her music is so identifiable,” Kwan said. “Even if some of the original productions, like ‘The Sweetest Taboo,’ may not have aged well, her phrasing and approach is so hip. I adopted a very specific rule, singing like you’re not singing, while trying to make sure there’s enough emotion. What makes her music interesting is the repetition. The magic is that hook or melody. Often times Matt would dial me down. He really did guide me with the dynamics of each song.” 

Kwan’s mid-life emergence as a jazz-informed vocalist is mostly due to the fact that music is his second calling. A dermatologist with a solo practice in San Francisco, he’s honed his craft at many of the Bay Area’s leading jazz venues. Born and raised in Southern California, Kwan wasn’t particularly drawn to music as a youth. By his early 20s he started getting seriously interested in jazz, finding particular inspiration from the master vocalists he saw performing at the Hollywood Bowl, such as Mel Tormé, Dame Cleo Laine, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald. 

Studying medicine at the University of Southern California didn’t leave him much time to pursue his growing love of music, but once he settled in San Francisco he started to seek out opportunities. He spent several years studying with Kitty Margolis, a master teacher and top-shelf jazz vocalist, and took classes at the Jazzschool in Berkeley with vocalist Laurie Antonioli and trombonist Wayne Wallace. Working with bassist Seward McCain and drummer Jim Zimmerman, who both spent many years in the popular trio of pianist Vince Guaraldi, he recorded his 2010 debut album Pentimento, a well-curated program of standards. 

Kwan followed up with 2013’s More Than This, a transitional album that ranged from American Songbook fare to Bryan Ferry and Radiohead. It was his first project produced by Pierson, a creative partnership that blossomed with 2015’s Poison & Wine. Undaunted by Sade’s indelible musical imprint, Kwan reveals himself as an artist with a cool and intoxicating sound himself on No Ordinary Love: The Music of Sade, an album that announces the arrival of a potent pop-jazz interpreter.



Accompagnato da un video diretto dal regista inglese Marc Hamill, "Forbidden Colours" è il nuovo singolo estratto da “The Shining of Things. Dedicated to David Sylvian". Firmato dall'etichetta salentina Dodicilune, il progetto discografico della cantante Serena Spedicato e del pianista, compositore e arrangiatore Nicola Andrioli, affiancati dal trombettista scandinavo Kalevi Louhivuori e dal percussionista Michele Rabbia, è nato nell'estate 2019 dal desiderio di rileggere e sviluppare un songbook sui camei più significativi dell'immensa produzione artistica di David Sylvian. Distribuito da Ird e Believe Digital, prodotto da Dodicilune con il sostegno di Puglia Sounds Record, esattamente un anno fa, The Shining of Things è uscito anche in una preziosa edizione in vinile con tiratura limitata e numerata.
Strumentista, compositore e autore di musica sperimentale, intima e sofisticata, mista al jazz, all'ambient più colto e minimale e al rock d'avanguardia, David Sylvian è uno straordinario vocalist dal timbro originale e pulito, caldo e profondo, a volte quasi indefinibile e fluttuante a mezz’aria. In particolare, Forbidden Colours, brano scritto dall'artista britannico insieme al compositore giapponese Ryūichi Sakamoto e registrato per la prima volta nel 1983, è la versione cantata del tema musicale del film "Furyo" del regista Nagisa Ōshima, tratto dal romanzo "The Seed and the Sower" di Laurens van der Post (1963). Attraverso la libera espressione del linguaggio dei quattro musicisti, The Shining of Things fruga e ricerca quel fil-rouge che avvicina l'opera di Sylvian alle atmosfere aperte, intime e rarefatte del jazz europeo, esalta le caratteristiche “nascoste” nei suoi viaggi sonori e le tramuta in una rilettura musicale con un sigillo personale che esalta il significato stretto e spirituale dei suoi testi, delle sue melodie e delle sue armonie.
Il disco - che ospita le note di copertina del sassofonista Roberto Ottaviano e le foto di Giacomo Rosato - è stato accolto con grande entusiasmo da riviste e media italiani e internazionali. “Una musica poetica, che suoni cool e fantastici” (Jazz life magazine, Giappone), “L'album riscuote un successo perfetto, facendo risorgere i testi di Sylvian in un contesto totalmente jazz.” (Jazzhalo, Belgio), “Scommessa vinta! In modo fantastico!” (Jazz Magazine, Francia), solo per citare qualche esempio.

Moka Efti Orchestra - Erstausgabe (April 2021 Six Degrees Records)



Moka Efti Orchestra is an international sensation that first gained notoriety on the hit Netflix series “Babylon Berlin.” The 14 member ensemble were first cast as musicians for the series and are all renowned players. The group was pieced together by composer and show music supervisor Nikko Weidemann, & composer Mario Kamien , along with saxophonist/arranger Sebastian Borkowski. The series invites the viewer into the Moka Efti, a re-creation of the famous pre-World War II Berlin club, with the goal to bring back the music and the vibe of the 20´s. The Moka Efti was an entertainment palace during 1920s Berlin and is also a prominent set location for the TV series.

In the wake of the show’s international success and due to enthusiastic fan response, the Moka Efti Orchestra became an actual entity. The ensemble started to tour and perform their hits from the show’s soundtrack with vocalist, and series actor Severija Janusauskaitė aka SEVERIJA. Capitalizing on the momentum of their popularity, the Orchestra has now created a 13 song album featuring new versions of their popular songs plus new compositions. The album Erstausgabe sees its North American debut on April 16th on Six Degrees Records. Pre-save:

From the onset of the series, album composers and arrangers were tasked to focus on musically defining vivid contemporary emotions, rather than worrying about achieving 100% historical accuracy. A lofty task for the most ambitious TV series in German film history. Music industry veterans, Weidemann, has been rooted for decades in the international musical subculture and Kamien has made a name for himself as part of the 90s duo dZihan&Kamien. Borkowski is a successful sax and flute player in Berlin’s jazz scene. With guidance from the series directors, they took the band and its music to unimaginable new heights.

The band’s compositions and arrangements range from swing, blues, ragtime, Chanson, Big Band Charleston to Klezmer. The track “Zu Asche, Zu Staub” is a fan favorite standout. The song appears on the new album with an original arrangement featuring singer SEVERIJA. Another standout is “Snake – Together Alone,” showcasing Severija’s deep, smooth and silky voice, set over the orchestra’s bluesy, R&B influenced, powerful soundscape.
The ensemble had been touring throughout Europe and Germany up until COVID-19. Highlight performances have included Brandenburg Gate, German Unity day, Europe’s GQ Awards, sold out shows at the famous Ballhaus Berlin, Munich Philharmonie, and Kassel ́s opera house.

Paste says “Watching Babylon Berlin is often a visceral experience, one you may occasionally need a break from yet find it hard to tear yourself away. It is simply stunning television that has for too long been buried in the depths of Netflix’s vast catalogue. Seek it out like that fabled Russian gold. You will, indeed, uncover a treasure.”

Entertainment Weekly has proclaimed the series the best TV show for self-isolation.

It is now time for North America to experience the band that created the music from this popular series, Moka Efti Orchestra! New record is out April 16th on Six Degrees Records.

01) “Hollaender Mash Up”
02) “Süsse Lügen” feat. Moritz Kramer
03) “Fatalist Tango”
04) “Snake – Together Alone” feat. Severija
05) “Crocodile Blues” feat. Roland Satterwhite and Phillipp Kacza
06) “Frenzy”
07) “Lange Beene” feat. Mario Kamien
08) “Zu Asche, Zu Staub” feat. Severija
09) “Rainbow” feat. Nikko Weidemann
10) “Wannsee Weise”
11) “Die Nacht” feat. Severija
12) “Vaskresenje (Gloomy Sunday)” feat. Severija
13) “Tschuldigensemal” feat. Mario Kamien

Moka Efti Orchestra:

Featured singers: Severija, Moritz Krämer, Roland Satterwhite, Mario Kamien, Nikko Weidemann, Sebastian Borkowski, Philipp Kacza
Violin: Roland Satterwhite, Daniel Weltlinger, Olga Holdorff
Viola: Sebastian Peszko
Tenor saxophone & flute: Sebastian Borkowski
Trumpet: Florian Menzel, Philipp Kacza
Trombone: Simon Harrer, Andrej Ugoljew
Bass trombone: Friedrich Milz
Clarinet: Gregoire Peters
Baritone saxophone & bass flute: Andreas Dormann
Baritone saxophone: Lars Zander
Banjo & Piano / Keyboards: Mario Kamien
Banjo: Igor Osypov
Piano & Mellotron: Nikko Weidemann
Drums, percussion, vibraphone, Timpani: Larry Mullins
Drums: Tobias Backhaus
Double bass: Paul Kleber

Producers: Mario Kamien, Sebastian Borkowski, Nikko Weidemann

Alexa Tarantino - Firefly (April 2021 Posi-Tone Records)

Alexa Tarantino burns bright with a scintillating maturity of insight and takes flight on Firefly, her 2021 release for Posi-Tone Records. Driven on by the Winds Of Change to refine the Clarity of her artistic vision, Tarantino reaches inward to transform herself into the luminous “Firefly” and searches to discover the unifying spark of eternity hidden behind each individual moment in time. Supported on the album by familiar collaborators, including vibraphonist Behn Gillece, pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Rudy Royston, Alexa leads her group by example and sparkles with melodic inspiration throughout.

The centerpiece of the album is Alexa’s evocative Moment in Time suite which clearly demonstrates her advancement as a composer and showcases the wide range of her effortless multi-instrument virtuosity. With an engaging program of original compositions and a few tasty covers, Firefly presents the world with a musical message that shines brightly into the darkness to provide a much-needed message of wonder, poise, joy and hope.

1. Spider's Dance 05:38
2. Mindful Moments 04:44
3. Move Of The Spirit 04:07
4. Iris 04:43
5. Daybreak 04:19
6. Surge Fughetta 01:37
7. Surge Capacity 04:11
8. La Donna Nel Giardino 04:34
9. Rootless Ruthlessness 06:43
10. Lady Day 06:33
11. Violet Sky 04:24
12. The Firefly Code 05:56

Alexa Tarantino - alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto flute, flute and clarinet
Behn Gillece - vibraphone
Art Hirahara - piano and Rhodes
Boris Kozlov - bass
Rudy Royston - drums and percussion

Marc Free - producer
Nick O’Toole - mixing & mastering engineer
Michael Brorby - recording engineer
recorded September 14-15, 2020 at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, NY
mixed & mastered at Woodland Studio, Lake Oswego, OR

Buckley / Kline Duo - Structure (April 2021 Flood Music)

1. Offering 03:37
2. Tilt 06:08
3. To Vigilance 06:40
4. Forge 06:21
5. Bashō 07:19
6. Flourish 01:20
7. In Their Shoes 07:54
8. Morphic 08:40
9. Cloak 00:57
10. Crude Alchemy 08:43
11. Corollary 01:34

Recorded on August 23-34 2018 at SHIRK Studios in Chicago, IL

Josh Kline - Tenor Saxophone
Tom Buckley - Drums

Mixed and Mastered by Dan Pierson
Artwork and Design by Marine Tempels Black
All Compositions by Tom Buckley and Josh Kline (ASCAP)