Monday, April 19, 2021

Space Quartet - Directions (April 19, 2021 clean feed records)

“Not to interrupt someone who is talking, is giving space. To stand aside and not in the doorway is creating space. To refrain from judging too fast is leaving space. We need space more than ever now. To back off. To slow down. To be quiet. Anything that happens in open space, happens in a more positive way. More vulnerable, hopefully more grounded.”

If you thought that Rafael Toral’s quartet was named after some reference to Sun Ra’s spatial jazz, here is the confirmation that there’s much more at stake than that, even if the many allusions to the Saturn envoy are also true. Space is the valorization of pauses, interstices, a certain measure of expression and narrative, a way to create transparencies and, most of all, a return to a human dimension, aware of its heart beating, its organic, silent thinking/ inner living of bodily functions. It’s in the air surrounding us and inside us.

Since his seminal “Space” (2006), Rafael Toral has been playing with custom electronic instruments paradoxically inadequate for jazz phrasing, but making of them, however, a vehicle for music as free as conceivably possible.

Powerfully propelled by the inventiveness and clarity of double-bassist Hugo Antunes, the cross-boundary, sharp drumming of Nuno Morão and the multi-language intelligence of alto saxophonist Nuno Torres, Toral’s electronic feedbacks are molded by a galaxy of things including noise, rock, ambient and electronic music, inspired by the thinking of “space” pioneers like Bill Dixon or Miles Davis. If, nowadays, there’s plenty of acoustic ensembles playing as if the conventional instruments were electronic, in “Directions” the approach goes inversely. It couldn’t be more defying.

1. Directions 10:37
2. Photonic Radiation 07:57
3. Southern Grooves 12:33
4. Such a hungry yearning burning inside of me 05:05
5. Moonlight through the pines 07:18

Rafael Toral acoustic and electronic feedback, amplifier, direction
Hugo Antunes double bass
Nuno Morão drums and percussion
Nuno Torres saxophone, electronics

All music by Toral, Antunes, Morão, Torres

Recorded at Scratch Built Studio on October 7, 2019 and March 8, 2020 by Nuno Morão on Noise Precision Mobile | Mixed and Mastered at Noise Precision Regada
Produced by Rafael Toral | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Cover design by Travassos

Courvoisier | Rothenberg | Sartorius - Lockdown (April 19, 2021 clean feed records)

It’s not the first time we can hear Sylvie Courvoisier and Ned Rothenberg playing together. Both of them were included in a trio with Mark Feldman also released by Clean Feed (“In Cahoots”, 2017). That listening made us hope for more. Here it is with another trio, this time with drummer Julian Sartorius as the third contributor. Without a leader, and enlisting compositions from all the three members, this music reflects the present pandemic context, as the title, “Lockdown”, clearly suggests.

There’s a reflexive and introspective approach all along, with exquisite writing serving the collective improvisations and enabling lots of space for each musician to develop his/her own ideas. Sometimes it’s difficult to identify when the scores give place to spontaneity and vice-versa: the boundaries are always marked where we least expect, or the lines of separation (union, maybe?) aren’t clearly defined, everything coming in a very natural flux. The musical situations gain several dimensions, sometimes adopting a narrative, almost cinematographic character, and others choosing more textural, impressionistic, procedures, but mainly combining the emanations of those two polarities in different and surprising ways.

Convergence (for instance, the unisons between piano and sax (or bass clarinet, or shakuhachi) and divergence (the meticulous knittings provided by Sartorius are a good exemple) are constantly in equation, opening the possibilities for this endeavour that questions our innerselves and the strangeness of these days.

1. La Cigale 08:45
2. Outlander 12:50
3. Requiem d’un Songe 08:44
4. Deep Rabbit Hole 05:33
5. Quarantina 05:18
6. After Lunch 04:52
7. Popcorn 06:13
8. D’Agala 05:57

Sylvie Courvoisier Piano
Ned Rothenberg Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Shakuhachi
Julian Sartorius Drums, Percussion

Tracks 1,3 and 8 by Sylvie Courvoisier (SUISA/ASCAP) | track 2 by Ned Rothenberg (Thenro Music, ASCAP) | tracks 4,5,6 and 7 by Courvoisier/Rothenberg/Sartorius (SUISA/ASCAP)

Recorded 28-29, October, 2020 at The Zoo Studio, Bern, Switzerland by Wolfgang Zwiauer and Felix Wolf | Edited by Ned Rothenberg and Sylvie Courvoisier | Edited by Ned Rothenberg and Sylvie Courvoisier | Mixed by James Farber at Studio Bb, New York City | Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk, Peekskill, New York
Produced by Sylvie Courvoisier, Ned Rothenberg and Julian Sartorius | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Photo by Sébastian Agnetti | Design by Travassos

Hearth (Mette Rasmussen / Ada Rave / Susana Santos Silva / Kaja Draksler) - Melt (April 19, 2021 clean feed records)

Hearth is the warmth in our lives, pulsing from the center of what we call home. We could also look at it as a combination of the words Heart and Earth, equating two factors of life in search of plenitude: the human one, and the planet in which we live in. This Heart has the energy of life creation and this Earth is Mother Earth, home for all known living beings. This quartet is formed by four spirited musicians: Susana Santos Silva, Mette Rasmussen, Ada Rave and Kaja Draksler, each one of a different origin, Portugal, Denmark, Argentina and Slovenia. None of them live in the country they were born: Santos Silva’s home is in Stockholm, Rasmussen’s base of work is in Trondheim, Rave is based in Amsterdam and Draksler in Copenhagen.

Yes, improvised music is transnational and, wanted or not, belongs to humanity. It was in the capital of Holland that the four met for the first time. It was in 2016 at the October Meeting, thanks to a program of ad-hoc combinations, that their desire to play together and form a band came into being. Magic happened at that concert, and all the intervenientes decided then and there that it was a project to explore in the future.

The future, an uncertain one in many respects, comes with this “Melt”, a collection of well-thought improvised soundscapes focusing on moods and textures going from the almost inaudible to massive explosions of sounds, with the musical instruments involved – trumpet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone (doubling with clarinet) and piano – being extended by other audible resources, preparations and voices. This is exploratory music at its best, not afraid to enter the unknown, and a refreshing proposal.

1. Fading Icebergs 04:32
2. Tidal Phase 05:47
3. At Daybreak 06:35
4. In Oscillation 05:46
5. Diving Bells 14:05
6. Turbulent Flow 12:48

Susana Santos Silva trumpet
Mette Rasmussen alto saxophone
Ada Rave tenor saxophone, clarinet
Kaja Draksler piano, small instruments, preparations and voices by Hearth

All music by Hearth

Recorded at Portalegre Jazz Festival on May 3 - 5 by João Serigado | Mixed and mastered by João Serigado
Produced by Hearth | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos | Cover photo by Szymon Gąsiorek | Band photo by Luís Filipe Catarino/4SEE Photographers

Jonas Cambien Trio - Nature Hath Painted the Body (April 19, 2021 clean feed records)

Belgian-born, Oslo-based pianist Jonas Cambien couldn’t have chosen better partners than Andreas Wildhagen and André Roligheten to perform his cleverly constructed compositions. On its third studio album, his trio shows itself as a tightly interacting ensemble, with a free and playful approach.

Cambiens compositions often start with simple ideas, never saying too much or too little, paving the way for collective improvisations that can go from explosive and wild to intricate and dreamy. In that way, the music displays a wide range of moods and types of energy. From the joyful, Ornette-reminiscent ‘1 000 000 Happy Locusts’, to the introspective, repetitive ‘Bushfire’, to the contemporary sounds on ‘Freeze’ that lead up to the stubborn ostinato on ‘Yoyo Helmut’. Throughout the album, the trio is using a variety of sounds and techniques that make the music sound fresh all the way, and full of surprises.

Like the prepared piano in dialogue with Wildhagens imaginative percussion on ‘The Origins of Tool Use’, the animal-like sounds evoked by Rolighetens bass clarinet on ‘Herrieschoppers’, or the organ on the beautiful, deconstructed ballad Helium. On one track, there is no piano at all, but instead a short soprano sax duet played by Roligheten and Cambien, that serves as an intro to the irresistible, trance-like rhythms on ‘Mantis’.

In Jonas Cambien Trio’s world, nothing is out, nothing is prohibited: the music goes everywhere, including corners you weren’t aware of at the start. Unpolished, yet surprisingly accessible, this is free music many will enjoy.

1. Oersoep 00:33
2. 1 000 000 Happy Locusts 05:24
3. Herrieschoppers 03:31
4. Hypnos 01:50
5. Mantis 03:29
6. The Origins of Tool Use 04:58
7. Bushfire 04:34
8. Freeze 07:39
9. Yoyo Helmut 02:51
10. Tongues 01:22
11. Helium 04:05

André Roligheten soprano and tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Andreas Wildhagen drums
Jonas Cambien piano (soprano saxophone on track 4, organ on tracks 6, 11)

All compositions by Jonas Cambien | All arrangements by Jonas Cambien, Andreas Wildhagen, André Roligheten

Recorded by Morten Qvenild at Ugla Lyd, Nesodden | Mixed by Morten Qvenild at Ugla Lyd and Johnny Skalleberg at Amper Tone, Oslo | Mastered by Christian Obermayer at Strype Audio, Oslo
Produced by the Jonas Cambien Trio | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos

Dominique Pifarély Quartet - Nocturnes April 19, 2021 clean feed records)

Any new recording by French violinist Dominique Pifarély is good news. Being his quartet with Antonin Rayon,Bruno Chevillon and François Merville his more enduring band, this former companion of the also French reedist Louis Sclavis benefits from the maturity of this project, gained through the years, but also from an attitude of always reinventing itself, going to places that we not explored before. Interesting would be to compare this “Nocturnes” with “Tracé Provisoire”, the album recorded by the Dominique Pifarély Quartet for ECM. If this previous one had the undistinguishable mark of Manfred Eicher’s production, the first evidence of difference when listening to “Nocturnes” is in Sound.

More is to come, even if there’s similar poetic atmospheres and, as a composer (and particularly brilliant at that task), Pifarély continues to put his writing at the service of the collective and of their improvisational work, be it the ensemble or the individual solos. Besides the pleasure these four exceptional instrumentalists give to our ears, the way in which the composed and the improvised intermingles in this collection of pieces is a very strong factor of enthusiasm.

1. Nocturne 1 02:56
2. La nuit ravie (part 1) 02:36
3. La rumeur qui vient (part 1) 08:16
4. La rumeur qui vient (part 2) 05:00
5. Nocturne 2 02:09
6. Nocturne 3 02:20
7. Les ombres (part 1) 07:25
8. Nocturne 4 01:33
9. clean feed - La nuit ravie (part 2) 02:29
10. Ad augusta 05:32
11. Ad augusta 05:34

Dominique Pifarély violin
Antonin Rayon piano
Bruno Chevillon double bass
François Merville drums

All compositions by Dominique Pifarély except 1, 5 by Dominique Pifarély and Antonin Rayon and 6, 8 by Dominique Pifarély and Bruno Chevillon

Recorded on Dec. 5-6-7, 2017 by Gérard de Haro, assisted by Anaëlle Marsollier, at Studio La Buissonne (France) Mixed by Gérard de Haro on Sept. 7-8, 2020 | Mastered by Nicolas Baillard, Studio La Buissonne
Produced by Virginie Crouail / Archipels-Cie Dominique Pifarély | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos | Cover photo by Ricardo Leiria | Photos by Jean-Baptiste Millot

Innanen | Pasborg | Piromalli - This Is It (April 19, 2021 clean feed records)

This is it, indeed. The instrumentation of this album makes everyone curious. Saxophones (sopranino, alto and baritone) plus Hammond organ plus drums. The gathered names are another factor of special interest: Finnish saxophonist Mikko Innanen, French organist (also pianist) Cédric Piromalli and Danish drummer Stefan Pasborg, all of them coming from the first row of their respective scenes, and all of them with international careers, in collaboration with top musicians like Andrew Cyrille, Han Bennink, Andrew Barker, Joe Fonda, Lou Grassi, William Parker, Wadada Leo Smith (Innanen), Daniel Humair, Paul Lovens, Will Guthrie (Piromalli), John Tchicai, Ellery Eskelin, Tim Berne, Michael Formanek, Tomasz Stanko and Ray Anderson (Pasborg). 

The Hammond is key in the group sound, rooted in the history of this instrument in jazz (listen to the grooves and the solid swing of these compositions: amazing!), but also involving other influences, among them the one provided by progressive rock. The foundations and involvements created by the organ couldn’t be better suited to project the suggestive melodies and complex chord changes played by Innanen, and the intense, almost superhuman drumming of Pasborg. Mixing the past and the future results in this: fantastic music of the present.

1. Mocking Bird 07:09
2. Is This It? 07:03
3. Manic Zigaman 02:51
4. Søhesten 04:49
5. Pharoah Favelassa 04:11
6. Sudden Happiness 05:36
7. Autonomus XXVII A: Gneisenaustraße 113 03:02
8. Riding with Cafarelli 05:02

Mikko Innanen alto, baritone and sopranino saxophones
Cedric Piromalli hammond organ
Stefan Pasborg drums

All compositions by Mikko Innanen except 1 by Cedric Piromalli and 3 by Stefan Pasborg

Recorded Feb. 26-27th 2020 in The Village Recording by Thomas Vang | Mixed and mastered in KarmaCrew by John Fomsgaard
Produced by Innanen, Pasborg and Piromalli | Executive production by Pedro Costa for Trem Azul | Design by Travassos

Hector Quartet debut release!: Uncharted

Hector is a Toronto-based jazz collective featuring Chris Gale, Ted Quinlan, Jeff McLeod and Chris Wallace. With influences ranging from Jimmy Smith to King Crimson, Hector revels in shifting gears stylistically making their sets feel both unpredictable and seamless. The members of Hector have performed with a who's who of artists including: Dave Holland, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Freddie Hubbard, David Clayton-Thomas, Bo Diddley, Serena Ryder, Blue Rodeo, Jeff Healey, Colin James, The Shuffle Demons, Michael Kaeshammer, Brandi Disterheft and more.

1. Building 8 06:59
2. 590 Blues 06:15
3. Here And Now 05:52
4. First Of Many 08:14
5. Richard's Rhyme 09:03
6. What The Hec 08:49

Chris Gale - tenor saxophone
Ted Quinlan - guitar
Jeff Mcleod - hammond B-3
Chris Wallace - drums

recorded at: StarBirdHeadquarters
production: Mark Mariash & Hector
engineering & mixing: Ron Chilton
mastering: Ron Skinner at Heading North Mastering
artwork: Howie Shia
layout: Leo Shia

Enrico Degani - Daily Diary Of A Robot (April 23, 2021 Auand Records)

“Daily Diary Of A Robot”, Enrico Degani new album
Out now on Auand Records 
First solo album for the Italian guitar player and composer
A research on a new digital humanism

Four digital EPs (released monthly) and one CD make up the original and complex structure of Italian guitar player and composer Enrico Degani new release on Auand Records.
 
The four EPs will be out every second Friday of the month, starting from April 9th (the others will be on May 14th, June 11th, and July 9th). The CD, which will include the entire work, will be released on April 23rd.
 
“Daily Diary Of a Robot” is a turning point for Degani. After several collaborations in the jazz scene (Louis Sclavis, Andrea Ayassot), and after working with Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (their duo album “Time Lapses” is out on Auand Records as well), Degani has decided to step up his game as an artist in his solo album, and has created an original way of expression using many different instruments. «My collaborators in this album – Degani says – are a telecaster, a keyboard, a Korg Volca Beats drum machine, a colorful Glockenspiel, a classical guitar, some small clothespins, some mics, and my voice.»
 
The four EPs are chapters of a story, each describing a different life stage of an android: birth, youth, adult age, wisdom. Dealing with a very close future, and just like in Philip Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Degani reflects on the complex nature and differences between human and android beings.
 
«It all starts – Degani adds – from the will to describe the emotions of an identity that is forcefully robotic, and yet full of hopes, fears, and dreams. Every day, we experience how big the impact of the digital world is in our lives. People allow their avatars to take more and more space, and the endless shades of real personalities must navigate pressing standards. Therefore, I imagined the secret journal of a robot who, in between tasks, allows itself to linger in imperfection, to look at the sun and its shadows. A perfect machine that, ironically, can’t give away its consciousness, its identity. A machine that hesitates and astounds. Somehow, my belief (or is it just hope?) is that robots will never stop dreaming of electric sheeps either.»
 
«The music I conceived for this album – Degani ends – tries to emerge from the narrow spaces of an almost inexpressive and unchallengeable digital normal. I would say it’s an album of electronic music, however electronic tries very hard to sound analogic here. The perfection of digital leaves room to a sort of humanization of the sampled sounds, making them imperfect, searching their souls. Unlike Kraftwerk “We are the robots”, the humanization of robots prevails here. It’s not a human turning into a robot – it’s a robot turning into a human.» 

1. Loading System
2. Wake-Up
3. Raise And Walk
4. Dream
5. My Human
6. Module One
7. I Dreamt I Was Wooden Made
8. Papillons
9. Raindrops
10. Little Prayer
11. Thinking
12. Freedom Flower (Bella Ciao)
13. Shutting Down

Enrico Degani: guitars, bass, voice, synths, keyboards, groove boxes, metallophone

recorded and mixed at Flamingo studios on January - March 2020 by Enrico Degani
mastered by James Plotkin

produced by Enrico Degani
executive producer: Marco Valente
cover photo by Dana Nycz
inner photos by Dana Nycz

Blue Rainbow - Blue Rainbow (April 2021 Working' Label)

Il progetto nasce a marzo 2020, durante il periodo di lockdown, da un’idea di tre musicisti marchigiani: Pierfrancesco Ceregioli (pianoforte e tastiere), Tonino Monachesi (chitarre, basso e flauto) e Roberto Bisello (batteria). La mission del trio è intraprendere una nuova strada artistica dove la distanza non è un ostacolo alla creatività, stimolati dalla sfida di ricreare l’interplay in una situazione innaturale come la lontananza. La conoscenza e l’uso consapevole della tecnologia si impone quindi come requisito professionale fondamentale per l’artista contemporaneo. L’idea è quella di ricreare, malgrado le difficoltà oggettive, un ensemble aperto grazie alle potenzialità comunicative, tecniche ed espressive che i nuovi mezzi tecnologici mettono a disposizione. 

Blue Rainbow include infatti il contributo di artisti provenienti da differenti aree geografiche: Giulia Barba (sax e clarinetto basso), Samantha Binotti (vibrafono), Sara Jane Ghiotti (voce), Guillermo Valero Lozano (tromba) che hanno registrato a distanza, esprimendo la loro arte supportati dalla sezione ritmica del trio.

Il nome del progetto nasce dalla commistione di tutte queste unicità: la presenza di più artisti, il blue inteso come un colore primario dell’arcobaleno che si mescola agli altri in infinite sfumature di stili e sensazioni, il blue delle note ad altezza variabile del blues (blue note), tema principale del lavoro discografico, riproposto in un caleidoscopio di colori. 

Il disco è composto da 7 brani, tra originali e cover rivisitate attingendo a diverse influenze e contaminazioni con altri generi e stili della musica contemporanea, dal jazz al funk fino al latin jazz. 

1.Target (Tom Scott)
2.Purple Blues (Pierfrancesco Ceregioli)
3.Interplay (Bill Evans)
4.Save Lee (Tonino Monachesi)
5.I’m Not Ashamed to Sing the Blues (Diane Schuur)
6.Fried Pies (Wes Montgomery)
7.Tempo Perso (Pierfrancesco Ceregioli, Tonino Monachesi)

Pierfrancesco Ceregioli (pianoforte e tastiere)
Tonino Monachesi (chitarre, basso e flauto)
Roberto Bisello (batteria)

Guests:
Giulia Barba (sax e clarinetto basso)
Samantha Binotti (vibrafono)
Sara Jane Ghiotti (voce)
Guillermo Valero Lozano (tromba)

The Volunteered Slaves, nouveau single 24

The Volunteered Slaves
Nouveau single "24"
Disponible en digital chez Day After Music

The Volunteered Slaves amorcent la sortie de leur nouvel album SpaceShipOne. Ce cinquième album, véritable ode musicale à l'espace intergalactique, est prévu pour le mois de septembre 2021 sur le label Day After Music.

Après nous avoir présenté le single Astronaef il y a quelques semaines, le groupe poursuit son décollage avec un second extrait appelé "24".

Ce nouveau single est l'évocation d’un voyage dans le 24ème monde où un son venu de nulle part téléporte le voyageur dans un univers affranchi du temps et de l’espace

Deux ans après la sortie de l'album Ripcord, The Volunteered Slaves poursuivent leur explorations musicales, colorant le jazz de funk, d'afro et désormais d'électro. Leur nom, emprunté au thème « Volunteered Slavery » de Roland Kirk, donne le ton. Epris de liberté, ils cherchent une musique qui nous mélange et qui mélange les styles, les cultures, les générations, les genres…

Avec "24", leur nouveau single ultra planant, The Volunteered Slaves nous emmènent sur une planète inconnue où règne une musique contemplative et hallucinée.
Depuis leur création, The Volunteered Slaves aiment évoluer en altitude. Avec leur nouveau projet SpaceShipOne, ils montent encore d'un cran. Né dans la ferveur du Festival de Jazz de Marciac en 2002, le groupe réunit des personnalités hautes en couleur et des talents affûtés : Olivier Temime au saxophone, Emmanuel Duprey au piano Rhodes, Akim Bournane à la basse et Julien Charlet à la batterie. Les irréductibles seront rejoints en 2016 par l'organiste Emmanuel Bex.
Dès le départ, ils décident de ne rien décider et improvisent une musique au-dessus des genres et des chapelles. Jazz, funk ou afro, nul ne sait où ils habitent, mais ils donnent instantanément envie d'y vivre aussi. Leurs albums se succèdent : Streetwise, Breakfast in Babylone, The Day Aflter ou Ripcord et dessinent une musique à la fois roots et aérienne, presque planante. En live, les corps et les esprits s'échauffent : même les clubs de jazz les plus feutrés peuvent se transformer en dancefloor.

Pour leur nouvel opus SpaceShipOne, The Volunteered Slaves ne visent plus le ciel mais l'espace. La musique, toujours organique, se charge d'électro. La poésie est bien là, entre lyrisme et transe. Libertaires, les Volunteered Slaves fabriquent une musique qui nous rend captif. Le groupe est entré en cabine d'enregistrement en mars 2020, pour une mise en orbite de l'album SpaceShipOne début septembre 2021. Après Astronaef, on poursuit l'exploration de nouvelles planètes avec le superbe 24.

2021 JJA Jazz Awards Nominees Announced: 47 Categories of Jazz and Jazz Media Cite Music's Riches

Spotlighting the creative energy of the greater jazz community over a year of turmoil, the 2021 JJA Jazz Awards' Finalists Ballot, released today, cites some 300 musicians, writers, broadcasters, photographers, their recordings, books, live-streams, podcasts and platforms, as nominees for the Jazz Journalists Association's 25th annual Awards celebrating excellence. The complete slates of nominees in 47 categories of Jazz Recordings and Performance and Jazz Journalism are posted at the fully re-designed JJAJazzAwards website.
 
Saxophonists Charles Lloyd, Roscoe Mitchell and Pharoah Sanders and bassist Ron Carter are nominees for the JJA's Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Award. Composer-arranger-orchestra leader Maria Schneider has five nominations, including for Data Lords  as Album of the Year. Emerging leaders such as Nubya Garcia, Immanuel Wilkins, Thana Alexa, Sajë, multi-reedist Anna Weber and the band Artemis are among the nominees, along with established artists such as Bill Frisell, Carla Bley, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.
 
The JJA Jazz Awards is unique in recognizing jazz's media-makers. Nominated for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz Journalism are:

Nate Chinen, WBGO director of editorial content, author
Paul de Barros, author, retired from Seattle Times
Marc Myers, author, Jazz Wax blog, The Wall Street 
Ben Ratliff, author, retired from The New York Times
Howard Reich, retired from the Chicago Tribune, author, films
Kevin Whitehead, critic on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, author of Book of the Year Award nominee Play The Way You Feel: The Essential Guide to Jazz Stories on Film.
 
Live-stream Producer of the Year, Jazz Podcast and Jazz Documentary are new media ballot categories. Awards for Vocal Group, Duo, Brass Specialist and Electronics Specialist of the Year are new, too. 
 
Professional members of the JJA, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, international organization, submitted nominations, finalists being those accumulating the most. Committees pre-screened nominees for Book of the Year, Photo of the Year and Album Art of the Year awards. The JJA's professional members vote again to determine the 2021 Jazz Awards winners. 

"JJA members are proud to proclaim that despite the challenges of creating music, documenting and commenting on it during a pandemic, jazz people more than faced the challenges," said Howard Mandel, JJA president since 1994. "We've expanded our Awards categories because there's so much music and media being made about it, to consider." 
 
Winners of the 2021 JJA Jazz Award will be announced on or about May 5. Sponsors of the JJA's Awards and Jazz Heroes campaigns include the Joyce and George Wein Foundation, the Jazz Foundation of America, Braithwaite and Katz Communications, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Carolyn McClair Public Relations, and Jazz Promo Services.

For more information about the JJA or the JJA's Jazz Awards, email Howard Mandel, President@JazzJournalists.org.

Pianist James Francies Returns with New Album "Purest Form" out May 21; Hear the 1st Single "713"

Pianist, producer, and composer James Francies has released “713,” a vivid tribute to his Houston hometown that is the first single from his forthcoming album Purest Form, an expansive opus due out May 21. The album is available for pre-order now on CD and digital formats.

Since his debut album Flight entranced listeners in 2018, Francies has expanded personal explorations of sound bending and orchestral approaches to the music. Collaborations across stylistic realms — including those with Childish Gambino, Pat Metheny, Mark Ronson, The Roots, YEBBA, Chris Potter, Common, Eric Harland, Marcus Miller, DJ Dahi and Ms. Lauryn Hill — have enhanced his development and refined his sound. In issuing Purest Form, his second Blue Note release, Francies accesses intimate chambers of his artistry across 14 tracks, interpreting love, grief, frailty, and fortitude.

The album’s core trio includes Francies’ longtime collaborators Burniss Travis on bass and Jeremy Dutton on drums—three Houston-raised artists who have been playing together and developing alongside one another for more than a decade. Additional musicians featured throughout include his Blue Note labelmates alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins and vibraphonist Joel Ross, as well as guitarist Mike Moreno and vocalists Elliott Skinner, Peyton, and Bilal.
Francies’ expression blooms across false borders of genre and style. He nurtures a celestial fascination with melody and texture. “Music, in its purest form, is an honest space we’re trying to get to where there are no preconceived ideas of what we think something should sound like,” he says. “When you really tap into who you are on the inside, musically and as a person, that energy supersedes anything else.”

For Francies, Purest Form is more than a recording. It’s an essence. “I hope that what I was trying to go for — an immersive, multidimensional experience — really reaches people. I hope that for 56 minutes, they step into this world of sounds and textures. That’s the idea. And [laughs] I hope it sounds good on every speaker.”

1. Adoration
2. Levitate
3. Transfiguration
4. Blown Away Feat. Peyton
5. Rose Water Feat. Elliot Skinner
6. My Favorite Things
7. Stratus
8. 713
9. Melting
10. Where We Stand
11. Freedmen’s Town
12. Eyes Wide Shut Feat. Bilal
13. Still Here
14. Oasis