Saturday, May 29, 2021

Billy Bang - Lucky Man (May 2021 BBE Music)

In association with IF Music, BBE Music presents ‘Lucky Man’: music from the eponymous documentary film, charting jazz violinist and Vietnam veteran Billy Bang’s brave return to the country, 40 years after the War.

The film ‘Lucky Man’ by Jean-Marie Boulet & Markus Hansen follows Billy Bang as he returns to the battlefields of his past, this time with a violin in-hand instead of a rifle. The documentary follows Billy as he travels the length and breadth of Vietnam to collaborate with local musicians, discover the culture he never got to experience the first time around, and to try to find some closure for the haunting trauma that still lingers within.

The trip took place in 2008, three years before Billy Bang’s passing and these never-before released field recordings, lovingly polished at The Carvery studio in London, capture the musician’s many poignant musical encounters along the way. The journey took him from Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, through to the highlands and the Banhar and Jorai gongs of the Montagnards, north across the 17th parallel, climaxing with ‘Mystery of the Mekong’, his collaboration with the Hanoi Symphony Orchestra.

The album ‘Lucky Man’ is composed of recordings captured throughout Billy Bang’s travels in Vietnam, interspersed with his candid thoughts about music, art, war, and his return to the country. Trần Mạnh Tuấn, the saxophonist featured on ‘Jungle Lullaby’ is well known in Saigon, where he owns a club called Sax n’Art, in which the live collaboration was recorded. In the more rural Kon Tum province, The Banhar Gong Group of Kuntum perform one of their traditional pieces, over which Billy’s off-the-cuff improvisation simply soars. The Phu Dong Family Band (a collective comprising an incredible 25 members of leader Duc Dau’s family) appears on ‘New Saigon Phunk’ and ‘Song for Don Cherry’, recorded in their native Ho Chi Minh City. Duc Dau is also a collector of ancient traditional instruments, and he plays a primitive stone Lithophone called a Dan Da with Billy in an energetic and exciting live jam that feels more like a duel at points.

“Bang was a genuine original, whose radicalism of method was always balanced by a powerful lyrical sense, a driving inner beat and the earthiness of the blues.” – The Guardian

Born in 1947, Billy Bang was only 18 years old when he was drafted and shipped out to Vietnam. He served only one tour of duty, but his traumatic experiences there would haunt him for the rest of his life. Small in stature, Bang became a ‘tunnel rat’, searching for North Vietnamese soldiers in booby-trapped tunnels with only a flashlight and a .45 pistol. On his return to the USA, Billy felt lost, haunted and stateless. He fell into revolutionary politics, alcohol and drugs, and on a trip to a pawnshop to purchase guns, chose to pick up up a $25 violin instead.

Having played violin, drums and flute before the War, Billy Bang found music to be a perfect medium through which to channel his emotions and trauma, initially under the mentorship of early free-jazz exponent Leroy Jenkins. Bang soon became a fixture in New York’s fertile ‘loft jazz’ scene, and went on to perform with the Sun Ra Arkestra in the 1980s.

A prolific composer, recording artist and sideman, Billy Bang started to address his Vietnam memories more directly with his music on 2001’s critically acclaimed album ‘Vietnam, The Aftermath’, which also featured fellow veteran Ted Daniel. The 2005 follow-up ‘Vietnam: Reflections’ featured four American Vietnam war veterans and two Vietnamese musicians. This project, ‘Lucky Man’, completes Billy Bang’s trilogy of Vietnam-themed works with a courageous solo voyage into the unknown; embarking on a new creative challenge while confronting a past he could never quite get over.

Live Virtual Film Screening and Q&A with filmmaker Markus Hansen, Kahil El Zabar and IF Music’s Jean-Claude.

Join us on Wednesday April 28th at 6pm (BST) for a virtual screening of ‘Lucky Man’, the 2010 film, followed by an interactive Q&A session. Be one of the first 150 customers to pre-order the album here on our website, via Bandcamp or at before April 26th to join the event for free. Details on how to join the event will be emailed to customers on Tuesday April 27th. 

1. Lucky Man: Introduction 04:10
2. Billy playing with the Banhar Gong Group of Kuntum (traditional and improvised) 06:16
3. Lucky Man: Flashback Tunnel Reflections 01:26
4. Mystery of the Mekong 06:59
5. Lucky Man: The Sun Rising - Introduction to Song for Don Cherry 01:03
6. Song for Don Cherry 13:26
7. Lucky Man: Flashback Memories 01:45
8. New Saigon Phunk (Extended Version) 11:35
9. Lucky Man: Traditional Vietnamese Catru Music 00:59
10. Lucky Man: Billy Reflecting on Memories and Feelings 00:51
11. Jungle Lullaby (Live at the Sax n'Art Club) 12:26
12. Lucky Man: Quynh Anh Pham's Memories About Her Father 01:07
13. Dan Da 09:45
14. Lucky Man: Billy Speaking About Music and Art 00:47
15. Lucky Man: Flashlight and a 45 Tunnel Memories 01:53
16. Lucky Man Title Music: Vietnam 1967 Battle Composition 01:06
17. Lucky Man: Teach Me Banhar 01:09
18. Traditional Quan Ho 05:47
19. Lucky Man: Billy Reflecting on America, Music and Being Left Alone 01:05
20. Moments for the KIAMIA (Solo in a Hotel Interior Courtyard) 02:30
21. Lucky Man: Quynh Anh Pham Lullaby 00:44
22. New Saigon Phunk 05:51

BBE - Modern Love (May 2021 BBE Music)

BBE Music is thrilled to announce the release of Modern Love, a diverse compendium of specially commissioned cover versions of rarities and classics in tribute to David Bowie.

Featuring an array of artists such as Jeff Parker, We Are KING, Meshell Ndegeocello, Helado Negro, Khruangbin, Matthew Tavares, Nia and more, Modern Love seeks to champion Bowie’s lesser-known connection to soul, R&B, jazz, funk, and gospel. The prominent jazz influences throughout Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, were a key inspiration for curating this collection of reimagined Bowie songs with these artists. The resulting album is an eclectic tribute featuring a group of artists who not only fit together creatively, but who, like Bowie, straddle different worlds musically, with soul and jazz at their core.

Modern Love offers a fresh look at Bowie’s trailblazing career, aiming to highlight the often overlooked relationship between his back catalogue and musical genres traditionally pioneered by artists of color. The project was curated by music executive and DJ Drew McFadden, alongside BBE Music founder Peter Adarkwah. “I felt that the connection between Bowie and R&B, jazz, funk, gospel and all things soulful, had never really been explored before — at least not so much in covers, which tend to lean more towards rock and pop,” says McFadden. “Certainly, there’s been plenty of Bowie covers over the years, but none that have really tapped into what seems to have been a big part of his core musical
style and direction.”

Modern Love is an interactive sonic map. Here, seventeen artists make their way into the varied regions of his sundry catalog and circle back with seventeen unique re-imaginings of both his cornerstone and lesser-known tracks. Some, in atmosphere, feel like a sly alternate take from original sessions (Khruangbin’s ethereal, funk infused version of “Right” from Young Americans); others nod at the source, then wink before diving into the deep waters of another musical stratosphere (Sessa’s sexy Tropicalia-drenched “Panic in Detroit” from Aladdin Sane). Still others take tunes down to the studs and then re-arrange the moody interiors: Meshell Ndegeocello’s pensive “Fantastic Voyage” from Lodger and Tavares’ clever take on “Heroes” which is restructured into a kinetic hardbop-esque backdrop, fronted by ice-cool, held-back vocals. The bullseye these artists aim for is Bowie’s fearlessness. “Fame was an incredible bluff that worked,” he once reflected. “Very flattering. I’ll do anything until I fail. And when I succeed I quit too.”

Modern Love packs us off on a journey that balances on risk’s sharp blade. Track-to-track, it explores what happens when a musician throws out notions of should and safe and stretches beyond the known. These artists use Bowie both as a guide and a prism: A way of being and seeing. Their offerings, widely divergent, explore the inheritance from an artist who freed himself from labels, genres and, consequently, pigeonholes. While he was at it, he decimated fixed notions about territory (or terra) itself; boundaries hemmed-in his creative process, but his essence remained free to roam. He may have vanished in earthly form, yet, as he also promised in the lyrics of “Modern Love,” But I never wave bye-bye . . .” This compilation assures us that his spirit swirls around us. His force is alive to all of us and, here, it is summoned with an incantation that celebrates possibility. 

1. Life On Mars – Miguel Atwood-Ferguson 04:22
2. Sound and Vision – Helado Negro 03:21
3. Lady Grinning Soul – Kit Sebastian 03:48
4. Soul Love – Jeff Parker, The New Breed 04:43
5. Panic in Detroit – Sessa 03:44
6. The Man Who Sold the World – The Hics 03:28
7. Right – Khruangbin 05:08
8. Silly Boy Blue – Nia Andrews 02:37
9. Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family – Foxtrott 03:11
10. Move On – L’Rain 04:00
11. Modern Love – Jonah Mutono 03:19
12. Where Are We Now – Bullion 03:31
13. Tnght – Eddie Chacon, John Carroll Kirby 03:35
14. Golden Years – Léa Sen 02:56
15. Fantastic Voyage – Meshell Ndegeocello 03:58
16. Space Oddity – We Are KING 04:45
17. Heroes – Matthew Tavares 08:41