Sunday, May 2, 2021

Bunn Debrett Quintet - Bunn Debrett Quintet (June 30, 2021)

This eponymous album, Bunn Debrett Quintet, owes much to London Transport's 94 Night Bus. Drummer and percussionist Stephen Bunn (Bunny) and guitarist and keys player Jon deBrett first collaborated as founding members of 90's Acid Jazz Records signed act Mother Earth. With further partnerships as remixers, producers and DJs the pair called it quits on the music industry sometime around the turn of the millennium. Then in 2019 they bumped into each other at the world famous 100 Club in London's Oxford Street at a gig featuring a new incarnation of Mother Earth with Matt Deighton from the original line-up. The BDQ album came from the conversations that Stephen and Jon had that night. Indeed it was on the 94 Bus back to Acton (West London) the Bunny decided that he and Jon DeBrett should make music again.

As little as a few weeks later they were back in the studio and here is the result. With spoken word vocals from Oakland's poet extraordinaire Tenesha the Wordsmith (Peacocks and Other Savage Beasts) and a line-up (see full list below) that includes Tamar Osborn (Collocutor), Alan Barnes (The Tommy Chase Quartet), Roger Beaujolais (Vibraphonic), Matt Deighton and Neil Corcoran (both Mother Earth) this album will be considered a modern classic that bridges the Jazz scenes of the 80s and 90s to London's innovative, contemporary movement of the present. BDQ is a double album pressed onto 180 gramme, deep groove, heavy vinyl, fully mastered at the Carvery.

1. 94 to Acton Green
2. Just Another Sunday
3. Someday
4. Praise Dance 08:18
5. Isolation
6. Webster
7. Spirits Dow Below
8. The Blessing
9. Long Road Strange Woman
10. Creeper

Stephen Bunn (Bunny) - Drums - Percussion
Jon deBrett - Guitar - Rhodes - Piano
Neil Corcoran - Bass
Tenesha the Wordsmith - Spoken Word
Nathan Haines - Flute
Dan Shafran - Trumpet
Tamar Osborn - Baritone Saxophone
Roger Beaujolais - Vibraphone
Alan Barnes - Saxophones - Clarinets
Crispin Taylor - Drums
Matt Deighton - Electric Guitar

Produced by Bunn - Debrett
Mastered and Cut by Frank Merritt at The Carvery, London

Deniss Pashkevich and Mikko Gunu Karjalainen Quintet - Reflections (2021 Riga Room Records)

DENISS PASHKEVICH is a saxophonist, flautist, composer, producer, ad-libber, educator and a prominent figure in the Baltics jazz with his name included in the European Jazz Tree. 

In 2017 his album “Yours Faithfully” won The Latvian Annual Music Recording Award "Zelta mikrofons" (known as "Latvian Grammy") for the best jazz album. In 2019 album "Variations" that is recored together with Vyacheslav Ganelin and Arkady Gotesman got 4 star review on one of the most prestigious magazines "Downbeat" and got included in their "2019: The Year’s Top-Rated Albums" and got rewarded as the best jazz album in Latvia. In his career Deniss Pashkevich recorded more than 50 albums.

He regularly plays together with world class players such as Randy Brecker, Seamus Blake, Aaron Parks, Tim Hagans and many more and visited festival all over the world. Deniss Pashkevich is an official artist-endorser of eight companies such as Marca Reeds, Kay Siebold Mouthpieces, TT Mouthpieces, Erica Synths, Gamechanger Audio, Arturia. He plays on special made custom instrument - Riga Winds "Pashkevich signature" tenor saxophone that is created in cooperation with German master Bernd Schille. 

He's the founder of "Riga Room" - the organisation thats managing musicians and organising jazz concerts and workshops in cooperation with many organisations in Europe.

1. Laivas 04:15
2. BUG 07:23
3. Last Night 06:48
4. Two Steps 07:17
5. Wisdom 08:45
6. Aramaic Man 05:53
7. Brussels 05:10
8. Resonance 06:48
9. Jasmina 06:40
10. Manago Blues 06:18

Deniss Pashkevich / sax, flute
Mikko Gunu Karjalainen / trumpet
Madars Kalniņš / piano, keys
Andris Grunte / bass
Jānis Jaunalksnis / drums

Recorded at Latvian Radio recording studio
sound recording by Ivars Ozols
mix, master by Ivars Ozols

Released by Riga Room Records

STR4TA - Aspects (2021 Brownswood Recordings)

Gilles Peterson has partnered with Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick to reinvigorate the loose, protean energy of the early-80s Brit-funk scene. Long-time friends and collaborators, STR4TA sees them mine new musical possibilities out of that shared formative era. It was through Maunick’s band, Incognito – one of the essential groups of an oft-overlooked, vital pocket of Black British musical history – that they first connected. On “Aspects”, he and Peterson revisit that important period and the spirit that guided it: self-taught, DIY vitality, and a raucous energy built on live performance.

Bringing a fresh slant to a sound first developed by groups like Atmosfear, Hi-Tension, Light of the World and Freeez – with Maunick, it should be noted, also a member of the latter two bands – it’s the first material that Maunick and Peterson have released together in over a decade. First appearing in October 2020 with single ‘Aspects’, the pair didn’t make public that they were behind the project; the limited edition 12” quickly sold out nonetheless, and the track received radio play from Moses Boyd (BBC Radio 6 Music), on KEXP and KCRW, and from Francois K (Worldwide FM), Trevor Jackson (NTS) and Colin Curtis (Worldwide FM).

Peterson and Maunick wanted to approach music-making from the starting point that led to those early records. This meant returning to the era where each of them first found their feet, a period which would shape their respective careers in the decades since. For Peterson, this has been as a tastemaking record label boss, DJ, collector and broadcaster; for Maunick, this has been as a musician, bandleader and composer, touring and making the fabled achievement of scoring chart and radio hits in the USA.

“The idea of the project was to capture that raw, moment to moment sound,” Maunick says, drawing a contrast to the touches of refinement he and his peers have acquired in the years since. In its early days, the Brit-funk sound – and the London jazz-funk milieu it grew out of – was rooted in raucous live shows, rivalling those of the punk bands in that same period. Recalling his role in the process, Peterson says he was the one making sure things didn’t get too polished. “I was there at the back, telling them, no, leave it like that, cut it there, or just use that first take,” he says.

It’s an idea that had been in the works for a while, but which was encouraged by a surprising catalyst: the award acceptance speech by Tyler, the Creator at the 2020 Brit Awards, where he shouted out the influence of “British funk from the 80s”. It was an acknowledgement of the particular sound that Maunick and his peers had honed, where their US influences were re-oriented through their own circumstances. “Like everybody else who plays music, we tried to emulate our heroes,” Maunick says. “But we didn’t have the tools, we hadn’t studied music: were all playing by ear, and we were coming off bits and pieces that we liked off certain records.”

This record is guided by the same ethos. An array of musical touchpoints have fed into the album’s direct, no-frills entries: each track’s parts are cut back to the bare bone. In writing and recording the album, the pair of them would work together to strike upon the point of departure – more naive, less considered – that had produced that killer Brit-funk sound. Peterson would dig out records that showed particular flashes or moods as jumping off points, and Maunick would then work with collaborators to build new directions out of those prompts or suggestions.

In the case of title track, ‘Aspects’, this meant working with Richard Bull to program drums that were spare and suitably punchy for the track’s tight, dancefloor-oriented sound. Elsewhere, this meant working with long-time associates such as Peter Hinds and Randy Hope-Taylor, on entries such as ‘Steppers Crusade’, a track that is rooted firmly in the groove, while building a steady-climbing energy that lifts to euphoric highs.

On ‘Rhythm In Your Mind’, they showcase another masterclass in wrapping a track tightly around the groove, showing off the taut musicianship of Francis Hylton, on bass, and Matt Cooper, on keys and drums. And on ‘Vision 9’, they nod to Luiz Eça and sneak in a bit of fusion at the album’s close.

It’s the latest chapter in a story that started with Peterson interviewing Maunick in his parents’ garden shed, the first interview that the former had ever conducted. Later, they would reconnect to put out a string of celebrated Incognito albums on Peterson’s pioneering, now-defunct Talkin’ Loud imprint. Now, linking up once more, they unpick an under-appreciated flashpoint in a vital musical lineage, one which each of them has been instrumental in shaping. 

1. Aspects 07:46
2. Rhythm In Your Mind 03:45
3. Dance Desire 03:54
4. We Like It 05:11
5. Steppers Crusade 05:09
6. After The Rain 07:01
7. Give In To What Is Real 04:36
8. Kinshasa FC 05:05
9. Vision 9 07:19

Various Artists - Indaba Is (2021 Brownswood Recordings)

Brownswood are proud to present ‘Indaba Is’ – a compilation of current South African improvised music and jazz – released January 29th 2021. The project is a collaboration with 2 luminaries of the South African Music scene pianist / songwriter Thandi Nthuli and The Brother Moves On’s Siyabonga Mthembu who act as curators / musical directors on the project.

South African townships were historically cosmopolitan places. Apartheid confined all classes in the same impoverished locations. Migration from across the country and the region meant kasi residents commanded many musical languages. Church music, European classical music, the latest US jazz LPs and Liverpool pop tunes from offshore radio stations fed the mix. The same woman could sing Handel in church on Sunday, traditional lyrics by the evening fireside, local and overseas standards on a community hall bandstand and songs of resistance on a march. There never was just one sound. And it’s the flowers from all those roots, and more, that Indaba Is has harvested. Questions about lineage, community and spirit thread through the tracks – not just communities of descent or language, but the communities being built now through collective creation.

Bokani Dyer’s ‘Ke Nako’ (now’s the time) opens with an irony, because that was a slogan used to get voters to the polls in the first post-apartheid election. Now, Dyer’s using it to remind us to think again about who we are and where we’re going.

That’s always been the question for The Brother Moves On (TBMO: a genre-refusing, personnel-revolving performance collective named, with a twist, for The Wire’s assassin: Brother Mouzone). Here, it’s embodied in a meditation on relationships refracted through the distorting-glass of their context.

It’s the singing voices on both those tracks that reference roots even as they engage with contemporary spoken flows and instrumental improvisations. Explicitly, trumpeter Lwanda Gogwana bookends his track with the idioms of the Eastern Cape – galloping rhythms, harmonies from bow music and split-tone singing, a spluttering trumpet reminiscent of Mongezi Feza – and grows from them a chill contemporary meditation: no spatial or temporal barriers here.

Chill, though, is the last term you’d use for Wretched, vocalist Gabisile Motuba’s Fanon-inspired project with drummer Tumi Mogorosi and sound artist Andrei van Wyk and the voices of Black Panther Kwame Toure and liberation leader Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: “What is history?..” Motuba demands. Mandela describes how imprisonment on Robben Island actually sheltered those who became post-liberation leaders from the visceral realities of the struggle. Her presence poses the same question; her history is still weighed down with calumnies even after an apartheid police boss admitted not a shred of evidence linked her to the killing she was accused of: the whole farrago was deliberate fake news.
That, like ‘Ke Nako’ and The Brother Moves On's bitter allusion to “black yellow and green” (the colours of the ruling ANC) is the thread of another kind of tradition – the reminders and remainders of South Africa’s struggle not yet won – weaving through the album.

Balm is offered by what guitarist Sibusile Xaba has described as his “modal, groove-oriented roots music”. It is, he says, inspired by dreams; he sees himself as a diviner not a performer and his music as functional for healing. That echoes one of his musical masters, the late Dr Philip Nchipi Tabane. ‘Umdali’ is a reference to the Creator, inspirer of such service.

The Ancestors weave Siyabonga Mthembu’s voice into a web of musical references forward-looking and historical, including bluesy instrumentals that hark back to what South Africa’s jazz bandleaders of the ‘70s and ‘80s conjured up – another aspect of South Africa’s musical tradition.

Then pianist/composer/vocalist Thandi Ntuli returns to the theme of identity in ‘Dikeledi’ (‘Tears’). “Who are you?’ she asks. “What do you call yourself?.. the illusion [of who you are] emerges from you.” Ultimately, the song concludes, rootedness in community trumps image.

But community isn’t unproblematic. The persistent fractures in South African society were deliberately engineered by apartheid, results of an attempt to impose unitary, racially-constructed identities on all. All the tracks in this collection challenge that: they demonstrate the unifying power of collective hard music work.

In that context, iPhupho L’ka Biko’s ‘Abaphezulu’ (“They are coming, those who are above” – an invocation to ancestors, including the spirit of Steve Bantu Biko) is a fitting conclusion. Opening with the notes of Kinsmen’s Druv Sodha’s sitar, it smashes another of the walls apartheid tried to build against Black unity: between South Africans of African and South Asian heritage. The classically-inflected gospel voices of Mthembu's dialogue with Indian and modern jazz rhythms and free horn improvisations in joyous heterophony.

1. Bokani Dyer - Ke Nako 06:49
2. The Brother Moves On - Umthandazo Wamagenge 08:50
3. Lwanda Gogwana - All Ok 05:06
4. The Wretched - What is History 08:46
5. Sibusile Xaba with Naftali, Fakazile Nkosi, & AshK - Umdali 06:03
6. The Ancestors - Prelude to Writing Together 11:17
7. Thandi Ntuli - Dikeledi 08:58
8. iPhupho L'ka Biko ft Siyabonga Mthembu & Kinsmen - Abaphezulu 08:50

Hermann's Live - Cheers to 40 Years! (2021)

With the launch of our 40th-anniversary album, we salute the artists who have been part of this jazz club's family since its 1981 inception. When Hermann launched the club at the Bastion Inn, it was founded on the rich local Trad Jazz scene. This album raises money for the west coast's most iconic jazz club, run as a non-profit in Victoria, BC.

Musicians/Bands featured on the album:

Avalon, Dinah, I Ain’t Gunna Give Nobody None of My JellyRoll
Recorded at Hermann's (2021)
Band members: Tom Vickery, Al Pease, Lloyd Arntzen, Don Cox, Avram McCagherty

Canal Street Blues & Hesitation Blues
Recorded at Hermann's (2021)
Band members: Joey Smith, Alfons Fear, Al Pease, Joey Smith, and Avram McCagherty

We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye
Re-release from the previously recorded album titled:
CanUS Presents That's My Home - CanUS Jazz Band (1998)
Band members: Toni Blodgett, Jim Armstrong, Don Leppard
Doug Rhodes, Borgy Borgerson, Everett Atchison

Roll On, You Mississippi
Re-release from the previously recorded album titled:
Rollin' On With CanUS - CanUS Quartet (1994)
Band members: Toni Blodgett, Joey Smith, Jim Armstrong, Don Leppard

Darktown Strutters
Re-release from the previously recorded album titled:
CanUS Volume 2 (2003)
Band members: Toni Blodgett, Jim Armstrong, Doug Rhodes, Nathan Gage, Don Leppard, Joey Smith

I Never Knew
Recorded at Hermann's (2021)
Band members: Al Pease, Tom Vickery, Dave Emery, Rob Johnson

China Boy
Re-release from the previously recorded album titled:
Dixieland Express Plays Bechet & Ellington (2001)
Band Members: Norrie MacFarlane, Bob Cadwallader, Lloyd Arntzen, Borgy Borgerson, Tom Vickery, Dox Cox, Lou Williamson

1. Avalon 05:50
2. Canal Street Blues 05:12
3. We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye 03:11
4. I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None of My Jelly Roll 03:37
5. Roll On You Mississippi 04:38
6. Hesitation Blues 05:12
7. I Never Knew 05:09
8. China Boy 03:41
9. Darktown Strutters 03:46
10. Pasadena 02:58
11. Just A Closer Walk With Thee 07:16
12. Dinah 03:53

Just a Closer Walk With Thee (Sermon)
Re-release from the previously recorded album titled:
From Live at Hermann’s 2003 (2003)
Band members: Norrie MacFarlane, Bob Cadwallader, Lloyd Arntzen, Borgy Borgerson, Tom Vickery, Dox Cox, Lou Williamson

Pasadena & Rockabye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody
Re-release from the previously recorded album titled:
All Aboard Again! (1983/88)
Band members (Pasadena): Norrie MacFarlane, Al Pease, Hugh Barclay, Toni Blodgett, Ernie Cockayne, Keith Fraser, Paul Mascioli
Band Members (Rockabye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody): Norrie MacFarlane, Al Pease, Hugh Barclay, Toni Blodgett, Ernie Cockayne, Stu Salmond, Don Leppard

Nitai Hershkovits - Lemon the Moon (2021 enja & yellobird records)

Lemon The Moon features Nitai's long-time collaborators -- drummer Amir Bresler, who played in Avishai Cohen's trio, along with Nitai, and bassist Or Bareket. Like in his previous albums, Nitai teams with Rejoicer (Yuvi Havkin) to produce this ten- track braid of music; an abundance of musical terrains ranging from the cinematic Invite Me, Dance through the exploratory Bridge Under Water and marbling Ethio-Jazz Bonfire Wiggle to the mischievous Goat, the listener finds proof of true teamwork.

1. Invite Me, Dance 04:15
2. Lemon the Moon 03:20
3. Bridge Under Water 03:54
4. Far Picture of Bresi 05:19
5. Thin White Curtain 03:44
6. Bonfire Wiggle 03:58
7. Witch Is Which 03:12
8. Amelia Heals 03:01
9. Goat 03:19
10. Hangontree 03:15

Nitai Hershkovits – piano
Or Bareket – bass
Amir Bresler - drums
Featuring: Rejoicer

Wildflower - Better Times (June 15, 2021)

Wildflower, the project comprising Idris Rahman, Leon Brichard and Tom Skinner, continues its journey with the third release Better Times, setting ahead with a deep, relentless and unique sound, constantly evolving and effortlessly hitting the aim.

The beauty of Blue, Yellow, Green and Red, recorded in London in 2019, lies in the openness to form and structure these tunes, whilst a sense of groove and melodic development is maintained throughout.

The confidence and versatility of the musicians is key, and so is the interaction between them, characterising a natural flow of unfolding musical ideas and embracing a New York musically care-free ethic, without having to wear their combined influences on their sleeves.

Each song has a colour reference suggestive of mood tone and internal balance, enabling the audience to concur that Wildflower is not just a band, it is as ever an experience and one that allows its listeners to emerge and engage in a time where a perfect fusion of global sounds and jazz exists as a remedy, one you can feel and enjoy the benefits from everyday.

Better Times by Wildflower is the debut release on Tropic of Love Music.

4. RED

Mark Nelson's Sympathetic Frequencies - Parcours (May 2021)

Born in Calgary, Mark Nelson began drumming at age 15. In 2003, he received his Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand. He was also selected to perform in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra directed by Bruce Paulson. On two occasions he received the Ted Frickleton Most Outstanding Drummer award at the Manawatu Jazz festival.

Mark furthered his study of music at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Alberta) creative music workshop directed by Dave Douglas and SIM, School for Improvisational Music (Brooklyn), directed by Ralph Alessi.

Based out of Montréal, Mark has had the opportunity to tour with various ensembles across Canada, extensively in Québec, Europe and even in Brazil.

Mark received a Masters in Music Performance (Jazz) from the Schulich School of Music, McGill University in 2015. The same year, he released his first recording as a bandleader, Mark Nelson’s Sympathetic Frequencies.

1. Départ 06:02
2. New Horizons 06:43
3. Mysteries W 07:14
4. Parcours 05:26
5. Ibec 06:45
6. Messy Inn 06:19
7. Bye Bye Bjella 04:17
8. Retour 04:33

All compositions by Mark Nelson and registered with SOCAN

Lex French - Trumpet
Caoilainn Power - Alto Sax & Bass Clarinet
Nicolas Bédard - Contrebasse
Mark Nelson - Drums

Engineered and Mixed by Mark Nelson
Recorded and Mixed (2017-2021) at SoundBside Montréal
Produced by Mark Nelson