Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Jazz Trumpeter Al Strong, IV Announces Strategic Distribution Deal and Two New Singles

Jazz Trumpeter Al Strong, IV
Announces Strategic Distribution Deal With Lightyear, Virgin Music
and Universal Music, Inc.
Strong releases two singles,
“Black Love,” and “Work Song,”
from his forthcoming CD,
Lovestrong, Vol.2

Durham North Carolina-based trumpeter/educator Al Strong, IV - who burst on the jazz/smooth jazz scene with his 2016 debut CD, Lovestrong, Vol 1 - is pleased to announce his global distribution deal with Lightyear, an entertainment company, film studio and record label headquartered in Los Angeles and New York City, distributed By Virgin Records through Universal Music Group, Inc.
“This deal presents an opportunity for my music to be heard worldwide by audiences of all ages that appreciate today’s digital climate,” Strong says.
Founded in 1972, by entrepreneur, mogul and humanitarian Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Records boasted a star-studded pop roster that included The Rolling Stones, David Bowie,The Spice Girls and Janet Jackson. The label was sold to Thorn-EMI in 1992, and was relaunched in February, 2021 as Virgin Music Artist and Label Services, part of the Universal Music Group (UMG) System.
The distribution deal transacted over an eight-month period, and was facilitated by Lavae McClinnahan, of Colure and Diamond Co., a Southern California-based, members-only, business-to-business firm that aids small to large businesses with marketing, sales and distribution strategies in the fields of entertainment, electronics, clothing goods, retail, spirits, restaurants, auto manufacturers and other lifestyle brands. Colure and Diamond will maintain the role of strategic development coordinators for the projects going forward, by aligning Strong with viable partnerships helping deliver the content to consumers of like interest.
With the deal secured, Strong is poised to take his music where it has never gone before. “This deal presents an opportunity for my music to be heard worldwide by audiences that usually gravitate towards the Virgin Records universal brand,” Strong says.
Strong will release two singles: “Work Song,” a funk-finessed, go-go grooved, Robert Glasper-fied reimagination of the Nat Adderley jazz standard, drops in June. “Albert Strong, Sr.”( AKA “Black Love”), a mellow-tempoed, original composition by the trumpeter reminiscent of Count Basie’s “Lil’ Darlin,’” is slated for a late Fall release. Both selections are from Strong’s forthcoming CD, Lovestrong, Vol 2, which is also scheduled for a Fall debut.
Strong grew up in Washington, D.C., graduated from the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts (Diploma,1998), North Carolina Central University (Jazz/Jazz Studies 2003), and North Illinois University (MM, Jazz Studies/Jazz Pedagogy, 2005). He is currently an adjunct trumpet professor at North Carolina Central University. In 2011 Strong co-founded The Art of Cool Project jazz festival, and released his debut CD, Lovestrong, Vol. 1 in 2016, along with a single, “L.e.v.a.s., (Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing).”
Strong has played with a host of star musicians including Branford Marsalis, Aretha Franklin, Clay Aiken, Linda Eder, The Foreign Exchange, Yazarah, and Soul Understated, featuring Mavis 'Swan' Poole.
With his music poised to circle the globe, everyone will hear the breadth and depth of Al Strong, IV’s superior sound. “I would describe my music as being obviously rooted in jazz tradition,” Strong says, “while being unafraid and willing to explore the boundaries of jazz music.”

Jazz Pianist Sarney Norman Simmons Has Passed October 6, 1929 - May 13, 2021

The Great Sarney Norman Simmons

Chicago born Jazz pianist, composer, accompanist, arranger, educator, author, thought provocateur and icon has transitioned at the age of 91. 

We who love and cherish Norman Simmons gather in a consciousness of gratitude to have known this great man who lived his life by his own terms as an artist. 
As a bandleader, Norman made significant recordings and started Milljac Publishing Company. His recordings as a leader are: Norman Simmons Trio (Argo, 1956), Ramira The Dancer (Spotlite, 1976), Midnight Creeper (Milljac, 1979), I’m The Blues (Milljac 1981), 13TH Moon (Milljac 1986), The Heat and The Sweet (Milljac, 1987), The Art of Norman Simmons (Savant, 2000), and with Eric Alexander, Manha De Carnaval (Soundhills, Japan) 2002.
Norman accompanied Jazz icons Betty Carter, Carmen McRae, Ernestine Anderson (who raised him on the road), Anita O’Day (who gave him marquee billing) and Joe Williams (who elevated Norman’s status), Etta Jones, Carrie Smith among many others. 
Among the last musicians to have performed with Charlie Parker at the famed Beehive Jazz Club in Chicago, Norman mentored, played piano, arranged, accompanied and guided several bands and musicians. They include Houston Person, Henry Johnson, Johnny Griffin’s Big Soul Band, Winard Harper & Jeli Posse, Joe Farnsworth, The Duke Ellington Legacy Band under the direction of Edward Ellington and Virginia Mayhew and The Norman Simmons Group which included his longtime loyal partners Paul West and domestic partner Sheila Earley, Lisle Atkinson, Al Harewood and Vernel Fournier,  whom with Norman worked out amazing rhythms later used in Vernel’s recording of Poinciana. Some of Norman’s music is held with Don Sickler’s Jazzleadsheets.com by Second Floor Music, BMI, and other publishing houses.
Current vocalists who perform, record, and sing from Norman Simmons vast Songbook include Cynthia Scott, Melissa Walker, Kate Baker, Antoinette Montague, Karen Frances, Nancy Reed, Kameelah Harper, Gillian Margot and Shoko Amano. They proudly pick up Norman’s musical spear and speak his name reverently as they continue in the artistic life.

As Norman would encourage each of us at the end of a lengthy, complex conversation, “Straight Ahead.” During this incredible season, may we all be uplifted and blessed.

Submitted with light and love on behalf of Norman Simmons family of choice, friends, musicians, singers, fans, community of Jazz, neighbors, and the sparkling universe. We pray that Norman’s spirit will realize his beliefs about the next chapter. 

Norman Simmons lives in our hearts. We urge you to check out his rich musical inheritance. We honor his powerful request for no funeral or memorials. However, consider a collective moment of silence on Sunday, May 16 at noon wherever you may be. 
Contributions in Norman Simmons’ honor may be made to the Norman Simmons Foundation, near to Normans heart, Jazz House Kids, Jazzmobile and or The Jazz Foundation of America.

Gil Goldstein - Pure as Rain (May 2021 Chiaroscuro Records)

Chiaroscuro presents the long out-of-print 1977 debut album by influential three-time Grammy-winning keyboardist, composer and arranger Gil Goldstein, released on CD and digital for the first time. This wide-ranging session includes duo, trio and fusion arrangements of Goldstein’s original compositions. Produced by Fred Miller, “Pure as Rain” features an all-star lineup that includes bassist Jeff Berlin, drummers Bob Moses and Steve Smith, percussionist Ray Barretto and harmonica great Toots Thielemans, plus cameo appearances by vocalist Mary Eiland and producer Miller in a duo on English horn.
Goldstein’s many collaborations over the years have included Pat Metheny (“Map of the World” and “From This Place”), Michael Brecker, and Gil Evans. His film composer credits include “Radio Inside” (1994) and “Simply Irresistible” (1999).
The CD includes the original LP artwork, plus all-new liner notes from Gil Goldstein and from Chiaroscuro founder Hank O’Neal. It was newly remastered from the original analog recordings.

1 Pure as Rain
2 Boy Inside a Drum
3 Alas
4 November's Child
5 Without an Anchor
6 Carin'
7 Downhill Racer
8 Beantown

Kenny Davern & Flip Phillips - John & Joe (May 2021 Chiaroscuro Records)

Two great reed men are spotlighted on in a pair of swinging sessions, one from the studio, and the other from a jazz cruise aboard ship, recorded 18 years apart. John Kenneth “Kenny” Davern and Joseph Edward Filipetti, better known as Flip Phillips are the John & Joe in question. Separated by about 20 years in age, both were steeped in the great swing traditions, and had a long musical friendship.
The first disc features an all-star 1977 New York studio session which has been out of print for decades, featuring pianist Dave McKenna, bassist George Duvivier, and drummer Bobby Rosengarden, performing both standards and a joint original. Both reed men “triple” with Davern on clarinet, soprano and C-Melody saxes, with Phillips on sax, clarinet and bass clarinet. With the blue-chip rhythm section, the swinging never stops. 
Disc 2 is a 1995 live performance from the Floating Jazz Festival with a sextet featuring Derek Smith on piano, Howard Alden on guitar, Milt Hinton on bass and Joe Ascione on drums, with special guest Phil Woods joining for a “burning” version of “Lover Come Back to Me.”
The 12-page booklet contains the original liner notes from both Dan Morganstern and Gene Lees.

Disc 1 (1977 session):
1. Elsa's Dream
2. Sweet Lorraine
3. Mood Indigo
4. If Dreams Come True
5. Squeeze Me
6. Candy
7. Cottontail

Disc 2:
1. Elsa's Dream (live in 1995)
2. Flip's Dido
3. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
4. Royal Garden Blues
5. Miki's Dream
6. All of Me
7. Lover Come Back to Me (feat. Phil Woods)

Dal 18 maggio: Cor cordis di Francesco del Prete (Dodicilune / Ird)

Prodotto dall’etichetta Dodicilune, nella collana editoriale Controvento, distribuito in Italia e all’estero da IRD e nei migliori store on line da Believe Digital, martedì 18 maggio esce "Cor cordis", nuovo progetto discografico del violinista e compositore salentino Francesco Del Prete.

Nove composizioni originali per scoprire ciò che vive oltre la superficie delle cose e dell'essere umano e per andare al di là di ciò che l'occhio vede in "prima battuta" per approdare nel “Cor cordis”, il "cuore del cuore" del microcosmo che ci circonda. In alcuni brani il musicista, che alterna il violino acustico ed elettrico e si accompagna con loop station e suoni elettronici, è affiancato dalla voce di Arale - Lara Ingrosso, con cui condivide e cura anche la produzione musicale e artistica del disco, dal violoncello di Anna Carla Del Prete, dalla batteria di Diego Martino, dal sax soprano di Emanuele Coluccia, dal synth di Filippo Bubbico e dal trombone di Gaetano Carrozzo.

Il disco si apre con Gemini, la colonna sonora di una festa. «Gemini è il sud in piena estate. Gemini è una coppia che balla a piedi nudi tra la gente. Gemini, in latino, vuol dire “Gemelli”. Gemini è il mio segno zodiacale. Gemini sono Io», racconta Del Prete. A seguire Lo gnomo («quella parte di noi più deforme, irregolare, imperfetta, difettosa e di conseguenza alla continua ricerca della “bellezza”»), Il teschio e la farfalla (che «racconta di una farfalla che svolazza placidamente tra le orbite e le cavità vuote di un teschio, e si chiede in realtà chi tra i due faccia più paura: l’abisso oppure chi ci guarda dentro compiaciuto?») e L’alveare («un “capriccio”, che esprime la mia passione per determinati generi musicali, in questo caso il jazz in generale e l’hard-bop in particolare, con un richiamo sonoro allo sciame laborioso delle api»).
L’inganno di Nemesi svela la falsità, l’imbroglio, la menzogna della dea greca della Giustizia, Nemesi appunto, sottolineandone l’utopia in una realtà come la nostra. «Nemesi distribuiva gioia o dolori a seconda di quanto fosse legittimo, garante ndo perciò giustizia ai delitti irrisolti o impuniti e perseguitando soprattutto i malvagi». Acido balkaniko è, invece, il secondo “capriccio” del disco e testimonia, con approccio e linguaggio balcanici, la passione di Del Prete per i tempi dispari. Cor cordis prosegue con SpecchiArsi, brano che riflette sulla possibilità di ognuno di noi di riuscire ad avere o meno la propriocezione, quella capacità cioè di percepire e riconoscere, senza il supporto della vista, la posizione del proprio corpo nello spazio, «un sesto senso che, nella mia interpretazione, ci permette di preparare e trovare l’assetto necessario per affrontare situazioni difficili».

L’attrice è l’immagine, rivelata senza fretta, di qualcosa di meraviglioso e straordinario che sarebbe potuto essere e che invece ha lasciato il posto a fantasmi di bellezza. «Melodia ed inquietudine si alternano e si compenetrano svelando gioie e dolori della vita, esp erienze sensoriali inscindibili le une dalle altre». La traccia conclusiva, Tempo, è un inno all’inesorabile scorrere delle lancette, così ciniche nel loro incedere indifferenti all’essere umano.

Solo nella versione “digitale” il disco ospita un’altra traccia. Il singolo Lacci, che ha anticipato di qualche giorno l’uscita del disco disponibile anche su YouTube, con un videoclip diretto da Stefano Tamborino. “Lacci” parla di rapporti indissolubili costruiti nel tempo, vincoli e relazioni talmente forti da annullare e superare distanze e ineluttabili incomprensioni. Il brano – accompagnato da un videoclip nel quale il violinista in prima persona si esibisce con e senza violino a rimarcare l’intensità della connessione indipendentemente dalla presenza o meno dell’altra parte – narra di legami e collegamenti che si nutrono magicamente della stessa relazione, qualunque essa sia: un rapporto parentale, di amicizia, un amore travolgente e duraturo.
Francesco Del Prete inizia il suo percorso violinistico con gli studi classici per poi appassionarsi al mondo della musica etnica in generale e jazz in particolare, passioni che lo portano a ricercare sonorità inedite e modi alternativi di utilizzare lo strumento e di svelarne i lati nascosti anche attraverso l'utilizzo dell'elettronica. Da questa ricerca hanno preso vita i suoi tre principali progetti: "Corpi d'Arco", per violino solo e pedaliere (il disco omonimo è stato pubblicato nel 2009); "Respiro", originale duo elettro-pop violino e voce; “Francesco Del Prete Jazz Ensemble”, il cui primo disco, Colibrì, è stato pubblicato nel 2018.

Il suo percorso musicale rievoca i nostalgici echi di un interminabile viaggio nella musica attraverso l’Italia, il Giappone, la Francia, la Grecia, la Germania, la Svizzera, la Slovenia, attraverso la sua più che variegata (proficua) collaborazione con: l’ensemble de La Notte della Taranta (al fianco di artisti del calibro di Stewart Copeland, batterista dei Police, Lucio Dalla, Francesco De Gregori, Piero Pelù, Teresa De Sio, Gianna Nannini, Ares Tavolazzi, Mauro Pagani, Vittorio Cosma, Franco Battiato, Ambrogio Sparagna, Giovanni Lindo Ferretti), Arakne Mediterranea, Nidi D’Arac, Manigold, Demotika Orkestar.

L’etichetta Dodicilune, fondata da Gabriele Rampino e Maurizio Bizzochetti è attiva dal 1996 e dispone di un catalogo di quasi 300 produzioni di artisti italiani e stranieri. Distribuiti nei negozi in Italia e all'estero da IRD, i dischi Dodicilune possono essere acquistati anche online, ascoltat i e scaricati sulle maggiori piattaforme del mondo grazie a Believe Digital.

Jazz Vocal Prodigy Anaïs Reno Releases "Lovesome Thing, Anaïs Reno Sings Ellington & Strayhorn"

Lovesome Thing, Anaïs Reno Sings Ellington & Strayhorn

Available April 16, 2021 on Harbinger Records

Reno, who grew up in New York City, was taking voice lessons as a recipient of the Renati-Kaplan Scholarship Program at the 92nd Street Y at eight years old when a perceptive voice teacher suggested she learn the song “At Last.” The bluesy song, made famous by Etta James, became young Reno’s entrée to the world of jazz. Reno relates, “When I was eight years old, I didn’t realize I was doing anything special. I didn’t know that singing was actually very complex and that there was a difference between someone who liked to sing and a trained singer. I just knew I loved to sing, and I loved the soulfulness of “At Last.” That led me to listen to jazz extensively. It consumed my whole life.”

Although her father stopped singing professionally when Reno was just two years old, he was instrumental in her growth as a singer, not only teaching her technique, but sharing his love of singing. Reno had been performing in various musical situations, like school shows, events at the 92nd Street Y, and recitals by her mother. When she was 11 years old, she was part of the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program and had the opportunity to perform with the orchestra.

At the age of 12, she began performing at the open mic night at Birdland and soon became a regular at that storied institution. The friendships she made there with the staff and other performers soon became the most comforting aspect of her life. Reno got her first gig as a leader when she was 13, after her mother sent a video of her singing to the booker at Feinstein’s/54 Below. The club was so taken with her talents, they wound up giving her three solo shows with Billy Stritch and Tedd Firth.

Despite her fledgling career, Reno has already racked up an impressive list of honors. She won the 2016 Forte International Competition’s Platinum Award at Carnegie Hall and Second Place at Michael Feinstein’s Great American Song Book Academy competition in 2018. She also came in First Place at the Mabel Mercer Foundation competition in New York City in 2019 and won the Julie Wilson Award in 2020.
Anaïs decided to make her first album when she was 15. She wasn’t sure how she wanted to structure the album, but she had participated in a tribute performance of Ellington’s and Strayhorn’s music at Birdland, and her mother suggested doing a whole album of their music. “At first, I resisted the idea,” says Reno. “But now I can’t imagine it being any other album. It’s a good representation of where I’m at musically and personally. The overall color of the album, a little sad, a little blue, a little romantic, is really me.”

Gianni Valenti, the owner of Birdland, helped Reno assemble the band for the album. EMMET COHEN is an internationally touring pianist and composer who has worked with some of the top names in the jazz world, like Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Tootie Heath, and Houston Person, to name just a few. The band also comprises bass player RUSSELL HALL and drummer KYLE POOLE. Reno wanted to add different sounds and textures to the album, so Cohen asked the highly sought-after saxophone player TIVON PENNICOTT to join the project. Reno’s mother, JULIET KURTZMAN, plays violin on “Mood Indigo” and “It’s Kind of Lonesome Out Tonight.” Reno is following in her mother’s footsteps, as the formidable violinist made her debut with the Houston Symphony at the age of 12.

The remarkable thing about Reno is not just her musicality, but her very mature ability to interpret song lyrics. There is a genuine world-weariness to her vocals that belie her youth. Listen to her subtle approach to a contemplative, bluesy song like “Mood Indigo” or a swinging blues tune like “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues.”
Her resonant voice is as clear as crystal on ballads like “Daydream” and “It’s Kind of Lonesome Out Tonight,” which is one of Ellington’s more obscure tunes. She can also swing like a 1940s big band singer as she so capably demonstrates on “Take the A Train.” And she can even tell a story without words as she does on “Chelsea Bridge” on the “Chelsea Bridge/A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” mashup.

Anaïs Reno is truly a phenomenon. Her sophistication and work ethic sets her apart from most people her age. But it would be wrong to judge her just for being so accomplished at such a young age. It is more appropriate to listen to her stellar performance as a polished artist, regardless of her youth.

LOVESOME THING, ANAÏS RENO SINGS ELLINGTON & STRAYHORN is a sumptuous achievement by an emerging talent who will surely take her place in the jazz firmament in the coming years.

Lioness Shape - Impermanence (May 2021 Laborie Jazz)

Lioness Shape dévoile le 07 mai 2021 son album Impermanence. Voilà déjà deux ans que le projet mûrit au sein du label Laborie Jazz. Lioness Shape est un trio emmené par Manon Chevalier, chanteuse, compositrice et ses deux complices, Ophélie Luminati à la batterie et Maya Cros aux claviers et Fender Rhodes.

La formation est toute récente, le travail de composition a peine exposé au public et pourtant tout est là pour laisser apprécier une vraie fraicheur et une orientation musicale tout à fait particulière, entre indie pop jazz et jazz du monde.

Avec ce premier album, le trio féminin électrique de Lioness Shape abreuve autant l’âme que l’oreille, happant le public dans un univers magnétique, où la pop indie, sauvage et singulière, rencontre un jazz progressif, tentaculaire. D'emblée, on est séduit par la fraicheur et l'interaction de ce trio.

Impermanence est un disque qui porte un message de courage à toutes les femmes, "pour qu’elles se rendent compte de cette force incroyable qu’elles ont en elles. Force qu’elles s’efforcent de réprimer chaque jour au nom de la beauté." En premier extrait de l'album, voici la vidéo du titre Self-Reliance enregistrée au Studio Ouï-Dire.
Avec son trio Lioness Shape, Manon Chevalier trouve dans cette architecture une assise sur laquelle s’appuyer pour porter son discours et sa voix sur le monde, sur la situation des femmes, sur les violences d’aujourd’hui et sur ce qui nous construit chaque jour, l’écoute de l’un pour l’autre, l’amitié et le respect, l’amour.

Tout est frais, volcanique et cette voix délicate nous pénètre à la première intonation.  Tout au long de l'album Impermanence, la musique écrite par Manon Chevalier déploie ses influences pop, jazz, trip-hop et à la fois les styles latin et anglo-saxon. 

Impermanence est un album dédié aux femmes. Un disque pour que les femmes soient plus que beauté et tranquillité. Pour qu’elles expriment leur art, et développent leur créativité. Pour qu’elles se rendent compte de cette force incroyable qu’elles ont en elles. Force qu’elles s’efforcent de réprimer chaque jours au nom de la beauté.

Avec Lioness Shape, le label Laborie Jazz revient à ses fondamentaux : la découverte de jeunes talents de la scène jazz.