Friday, June 11, 2021

Bassist Tom Kennedy's first release of original compositions, 'Stories,' out 6/11 via Autumn Hill Records

Stories, out June 11, 2021 on Autumn Hill Records, reunites Kennedy with longtime collaborators including Dave Weckl, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Jay Oliver, Bill Evans, Ada Rovatti, Gary Meek and more

After nearly five decades as a working musician, bassist/composer Tom Kennedy has collected more than his fair share of stories: colorful tales of life on the road, encounters and friendships with some of the most renowned names in contemporary jazz, sights and sounds from across the globe. With his sixth album as a leader, Stories, Kennedy shares his musical impressions of those captivating tales, bringing along a host of the stellar artists with whom he shares such indelible experiences.

Stories, due out June 11, 2021 via Autumn Hill Records, marks the first release in Kennedy’s, well, storied career consisting entirely of the bass great’s original compositions. Each piece was written during Kennedy’s travels, serving as an audio scrapbook and providing musical snapshots of tours through Australia, China, Europe and the U.S. while on the road with longtime collaborators like Mike Stern, Lee Ritenour and Dave Grusin. 

To breathe life into these new pieces, Kennedy enlisted lifelong St. Louis friends Dave Weckl and Roger Guth (drums) and Jay Oliver (keyboards), along with some of the brilliant players whose paths he’s crossed along the way: trumpeter Randy Brecker; saxophonists Gary Meek, Bill Evans and Ada Rovatti; percussionist Roger Squitero; guitarist Mike Stern; and violinist Sarina Suno.

“Stories encompasses so many different things to me,” Kennedy explains. “It's all about the places and the people that were involved in it. When I listen to one of these songs I can see a vision from the place where I was when I was writing that song, or I get a sense of the smell of the hotel or the venue. They're very personal memories. It's like emotional GPS.”

The sound of Stories is intimately tied to the method of its creation. For the first time, Kennedy didn’t write his tunes sitting in front of a keyboard at home or in the studio. Instead, he used his laptop to compose on the move, entering ideas directly into Pro Tools while on a tour bus, backstage at a venue waiting to perform, or whiling away the hours between gigs in hotel rooms. 

“Dave [Weckl] and I were traveling with Mike Stern in China,” Kennedy recalls of the album’s genesis with its lyrical title track. “I remember we were in the van on the way to the next city and this little harmonic idea came into my head. It’s much too cumbersome to carry a keyboard around, so I just got out my laptop and started working in the car. Then when I got to the hotel I was like a mad scientist in my room the rest of the evening. By the end of the day I had the song pretty much worked out. I ended up writing the entire record that way.”

Of course, the disruption of constant travel, the responsibilities of each night’s concert and the buzz of activity at venues means constant distraction, but Kennedy found that to be inspiring rather than detracting. “At home, everybody shuts up and leaves me alone,” he says. “I'm in a very controlled situation, working in a very methodical way. Here, I had people bustling all around me, the stage is being set up or I'm being bounced around in the back of the van – all kinds of crazy things. But that definitely brought a lot of spirit to the music.”
That spirit is vibrantly evoked from the outset, with the rollicking opener “Hurry Up!” Kennedy wrote the track with Weckl in mind, and called in veteran big band trumpeter Nick Marchione to add a brass section inspired by the longtime bandmates’ roots in big band music. “The three of us – Dave, Jay and I – grew up playing and listening to and loving big band music. We were all big Buddy Rich fans, I was a big Stan Kenton fan, and Jay actually played in Maynard Ferguson's band when he was a kid. So that music was in our blood, and ‘Hurry Up!’ reflects that idea.”

The same idea applies to the album’s funky closing cut, “BB’s Blues.” The song is named for the St. Louis club BB’s Jazz, Blues and Soups, one of the venues where a young Tom Kennedy cut his teeth in the music alongside his brother, the late pianist Ray Kennedy. While still in St. Louis, the two would back musicians traveling through town, learning valuable lessons on the bandstand beside such legends as Sonny Stitt, James Moody and Freddie Hubbard. 

Along with the sights, sounds and scents of the places Kennedy found himself during the writing of the album, the bassist found deep inspiration in the compositions of the brilliant bandleaders with whom he was touring as well as collaborators from the past. “Elements” is his most direct acknowledgment of that, incorporating bits and pieces from the music of Stern, Ritenour, Grusin and the Brecker brothers and melding them into something wholly his own. “The ’70s” flashes back to the most formative period in Kennedy’s musical life, drawing on the heavy funk of Parliament/Funkadelic and Graham Central Station.

The profoundly grooving “Jacket,” along with several other tunes on the record, shows off the telepathic hook-up forged by Kennedy, Weckl, Oliver and Meek during their years in the Dave Weckl Band, a connection recently reprised at a 2019 jazz festival in Kennedy’s native St. Louis at the behest of Autumn Hill founders Rob and Michael Silverman. The appearances of Randy Brecker and his wife, saxophonist Ada Rovatti, also harken back to Kennedy’s tenure in Steps Ahead with the late, iconic Michael Brecker.

The title of “Simple Song” should be preceded by the word “deceptively,” as it’s far from easy to conjure such an instantly memorable melody or evoke such joyous spirited playing from a band. And “Altitude” earns its soaring sobriquet from the taut rhythms of Kennedy and Guth and a buoyant, skyscraping turn from saxophonist Bill Evans.

All of those names are vitally important to the sound of Stories. While the compositions themselves offer remembrances of times and places, the album is stunningly realized by incredible musicians crafting vivid new memories in the moment. “The reason Stories allowed me to embrace the music as much as I have is because I embrace the relationships I've made with these people,” Kennedy says. “Musically, they're the standard by which everything is judged; but when you get to know them you realize it’s the same personally: they're the most incredibly inspiring, warm, giving people on the planet. That played into the sensitivity and freedom in the music.” 

Hurry Up!
The '70s
Don't Forget Your Jacket
A Simple Song
BB's Blues

Tom Kennedy: bass, electric
Dave Weckl: drums
Randy Brecker: trumpet
Jay Oliver: keyboards
Roger Squitero: percussion
Ada Rovatti: saxophone
Mike Stern: guitar, electric
Gary Meek: saxophone
Bill Evans: saxophone
Roger Guth: drums
Sarina Suno: violin
Nick Marcione: trumpet

Ches Smith & We All Break's Path of Seven Colors – Out This Friday, June 11 via Pyroclastic Records

Ches Smith’s We All Break melds elements of Haitian Vodou and contemporary jazz on groundbreaking new Path of Seven Colors
The recording and accompanying film showcase the band’s synergistic connection and exhilarating, alchemical mix of musical forms 
“I’ve been on the scene, and know a lot of people, but projects like this are the kind of thing you live for.” – saxophonist and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón

Like most great art forms, jazz developed by combining previously distinct, disparate elements into something new. The musicians of We All Break follow in this tradition on their new release, Path of Seven Colors, available June 11, 2021 via Pyroclastic Records. The album, with its remarkable merging of traditional Haitian Vodou music and au courant composition and improvisation, offers eight evolutionary/revolutionary tracks performed by a collaborative octet of world-class musicians.

The brainchild of drummer/composer Ches Smith, We All Break features pianist Matt Mitchell, saxophonist Miguel Zenón, rising-star bassist Nick Dunston, vocalist Sirene Dantor Rene, and master drummers Daniel Brevil, Markus Schwartz and Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene

The release features deluxe packaging including two extensive booklets with photos, track-by-track narratives, and lyrics in Haitian Creole and English; it also includes a bonus disc of the 2015 eponymous recording by the original quartet (Smith, Mitchell, Brevil, and Schwartz). In addition, the ensemble’s music and collaborative process are highlighted by a 50-minute film “We All Break,” available on the release date via the websites of Pyroclastic, Smith, and award-winning filmmaker Mimi Chakarova

While the band’s first album featured a quartet of three drummers with piano (and occasional vocals), the new recording uses an octet to orchestrate the material and greatly expands the vocal dimension, pushing the band into new terrain. “There is no existing model marrying traditional Haitian songs with original instrumental compositions and contemporary improvisation in this way,” says Smith. “We just had to keep trying things, in the spirit of experimentation, until the balance was right and we’d created our own mold.”

Smith’s dedication to Haitian Vodou began more than twenty years ago. “My attraction was instant and strong,” he says. “In 2000 I got called to accompany a Haitian dance class. I was captivated, likely because things central in the various musics I play – polyrhythm, polytonality, improvisation, extended timbral awareness, tension and release, channeled aggression and power, and most vitally surprise – I found again, and anew, in this traditional form.”
Smith’s dedication to Haitian Vodou began more than twenty years ago. “My attraction was instant and strong,” he says. “In 2000 I got called to accompany a Haitian dance class. I was captivated, likely because things central in the various musics I play – polyrhythm, polytonality, improvisation, extended timbral awareness, tension and release, channeled aggression and power, and most vitally surprise – I found again, and anew, in this traditional form.”

His compositional vision aimed to incorporate and transform elements of this tradition. “I wanted these elements – lead/chorus song structure, polytonal relations among singers and drums, conversations between the drums, and kase (‘breaks’) – at the center of each piece,” he says. “A traditional rhythm would be the foundation of each composition, while that rhythm’s spiritual, political, and visual associations could function as deep wells of information and feeling, levering the work into a new dimension.”

Pianist Mitchell’s melodic and harmonic sense, improvisational talents, and keen sense of rhythm made him a natural for the band. Smith also enlisted his master-teachers, Brevil and Schwartz. “I knew they would tell me straight whether this project was flying or not,” says Smith. He also brought in Jean-Guy Fanfan Rene, co-leader with Sirene Dantor Rene of Vodou-activism group Fanmi Asòtò. Smith also had an idea to pile-drive the bottom end, bringing in Nick Dunston:  “I pictured a broad, taut, multi-colored tapestry dense with rhythmic detail in the low range of the music. This sound would include the contrabass for its harmonic and time-keeping roles, but also to function, slyly, as a fifth drummer.”  Serendipitously, Ches played a gig with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, who expressed an interest in Haitian drumming. Smith says, “His playing on his own records, and his stunning compositions, told me he would be another force to push the music forward.” The final addition to the octet arose from Brevil’s suggestion to add a female voice. Enter Sirene Dantor Rene. “She sings with supreme conviction,” says Smith, “using traditional inflections in a voice wholly hers.”
Brevil began finding traditional Vodou songs, melodies and lyrics to nestle within Smith’s instrumental compositions. “Daniel composed many of the songs himself,” says Smith, “and fervently searched for others in the tradition, coming back with a multi-authored body of work. His curation brought up questions about the distinction between ‘traditional’ and ‘original.’ I once read that new songs may be created in a particular Vodou house and enter the tradition in that fashion. Perhaps this was happening before my eyes with Daniel’s original songs.”

The result is a triumphant, pioneering ascent, tracked and mixed beautifully by the legendary Ron Saint Germain. The band rehearsed and recorded for a week in February 2020 amidst mutual respect, focus, excitement, and a commitment to going all in on their trailblazing collaboration. Says Smith, “An almost uncanny feeling accompanied us the whole time. If I may be allowed a bit of speculation: if in Vodou the invisible becomes visible, here, perhaps, the inaudible becomes audible.”

1. Woule Pou Mwen 02:41
2. Here's The Light 09:05
3. Leaves Arrive 09:39
4. Women of Iron 06:07
5. Lord of Healing 13:35
6. Raw Urbane 07:05
7. Path of Seven Colors 08:56
8. The Vulgar Cycle 11:29

Sirene Dantor Rene vocals
Miguel Zenón alto saxophone
Matt Mitchell piano
Nick Dunston bass
Daniel Brevil tanbou and vocals
Fanfan Jean-Guy Rene tanbou and vocals
Markus Schwartz tanbou and vocals
Ches Smith drums, percussion and vocals

We All Break dedicates this album to the memory of pi bon zanmi nou Eddy Jean (1970—2020).

Music composed by Ches Smith (Preposterous Bee Music, BMI)
Song lyrics and melodies by Daniel Brevil (BMI) and traditional

Recorded at Power Station New England by Ron Saint Germain in February 2020
Assisted by Patrick Smith and Evan Bakke
Mixed by Ron Saint Germain at Saint’s Place

Produced by David Breskin

Mastered by Scott Hull
Album Design & Layout
by Spottswood Erving & July Creek for Janky Defense (logo)
Cover photo by Mimi Chakarova
Translation assistance by Markus Schwartz and Daniel Brevil
Text editing assistance by David Breskin and Markus Schwartz
Pictured Drum and Writing by Jérôme “Junior” Simeon

Open Studio Presents Fred Hersch In His First Ever Online Course Beginning June 11

Thoughts and Experiments with Solo Piano features 18 lessons, nine performances, and an exclusive interview with Hersch
© Tracey Yarad

With inspiring artists, deep content, passionate students and a soulful approach, Open Studio is more than a jazz education platform – it’s a global family of music lovers, joining together to celebrate jazz as a vibrant and collaborative art form. Beginning on June 11, 2021, iconic pianist Fred Hersch, a fifteen-time Grammy nominee, will present Thoughts and Experiments with Solo Piano – his first ever online course
Featuring 18 lessons over 6 hours, the course also includes an exclusive 45-minute interview with Hersch as well as nine full performances of jazz classics and transcriptions of both those performances as well as most of the demonstrations in the lessons. Students can join the individual course, or they access it as an Open Studio membership, giving access to the full breadth of courses.  Visit Hersch’s Open Studio artist page here
Hersch, a pervasively influential creative force who has taught at the conservatory level for over 40 years, has mentored some of the most prominent jazz pianists of the past two generations, including Jason Moran and Sullivan Fortner. Rather than offer a traditional “how-to” or “method” course, he aims to inspire, enlighten, and catalyze creativity. “My goal is to embolden students to try things, play with less fear and, whatever their level of playing, have more fun as they embrace the demands of being a solo pianist,” says Hersch. “As one who has recorded eleven solo albums and plays many such concerts a year, I also want to share my experiences, some funny and meaningful stories, and some tips that I have picked up over the years.”
Hersch also applied his masterful, intuitive improvisational instincts to devising the course. “I had no ‘plan’ going in,” he says, “I just let it fly – and the laborious editing of the wizards at Open Studio helped shape it all into a logical sequence and flow that builds upon itself, and will hopefully help some pianists embrace the ‘aha’ moments that can happen when one takes the ‘should’ and ‘should-nots’ out of their time at the piano.”
Hersch first met Open Studio’s Brian Fielding in 1980 at a jazz club in Greenwich Village. Fielding was a serious amateur jazz pianist and began studying with Fred. Several years ago, Brian, then recently retired from, told Fred about Open Studio. “I checked it out and was very impressed with the audio and visual quality and the passion that everyone involved had for making online jazz education as good as it could be,” says Hersch. ”No one, of course, could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic – Open Studio has been a lifeline for many aspiring musicians and teaching artists during these strange times.”
A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is a pervasively influential creative force who has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist. With some fifty albums to his credit as a leader or co-leader, he’s a 15-time Grammy Award nominee who continues to earn jazz’s most prestigious awards, including recent distinctions as a 2016 Doris Duke Artist and 2018 Jazz Pianist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association. Proclaimed “a living legend” by The New Yorker, Hersch has long defined jazz’s creative edge in a wide variety of settings, from his breathtaking solo recitals and exploratory duos to his extraordinary trios and innovative chamber settings. As a composer, he is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship – and his recent releases, Live In Europe with his celebrated trio, and the 2020 solo disc Songs From Home are definitive statements. His acclaimed memoir Good Things Happen Slowly is available from Crown Archetype Books.

Founded by acclaimed jazz pianist and educator, Peter Martin, Open Studio has students in 141 countries, and has built a thriving community of aspiring jazz students and top jazz artists -- including such luminaries as Christian McBride, Dianne Reeves, Sean Jones, Geoffrey Keezer and Gregory Hutchinson. At Open Studio the concept is simple and the interactions are inspiring: players take comprehensive online video courses taught by master jazz musicians that are more than just Grammy-winning virtuosos - they’re inspiring and thoughtful teachers, ready to share their knowledge and inspire you with their tools of the trade. All this happens at Open Studio, the most innovative jazz learning platform on the web, and the new way players learn to play. Click here for media assets and information.

Kasia Konstance - You Never Do (ft.KinKai) - OUT 11TH JUNE


Soulful singer-songwriter and flautist Kasia Konstance is back with her new single
'You Never Do' featuring Manchester-based rapper KinKai, lifted from her upcoming
EP 'Cosmic Dust' planned for Sept 2021

‘You Never Do' imagines a spiritual connection between two people and touches on
platonic love. “I wrote this song during lockdown when I got stuck for three months away
from friends and loved ones. I was really struggling to understand my feelings which
caused a lot of confusion and anxiety. I chatted to a friend and came to the realisation
that I was experiencing platonic love, something completely new to me.”
After receiving great reviews and radio plays including BBC6 Music, Rinse FM, Reprezent
Radio, Jazz FM, Worldwide FM and many more, the polish-born singer collaborates on
her new song with British producer and guitarist Beau Diako and rapper KinKai. "I wasn’t
planning to have a feature on this song, this idea came later. I heard KinKai’s Album ‘A
Pennies Worth ’and fell in love with his sensitive and poetic style, I had to get in touch.
Everything was recorded at home.“

Kasia has been making moves on the UK scene since 2015 when she moved to London to
study and started getting involved in various music projects. She is part of Tomorrow’s
Warriors Female Frontline which she performed with across different UK venues and
festivals including Field Day, Love Supreme, Brainchild Festival, Cadogan Hall (supporting
Monty Alexander during EFG London Jazz Festival).

Chuck Anderson - Angel Blue (June 11, 2021)

Angel Blue features an eclectic collection of jazz styles. Chuck has decided to take “A Tour of Jazz” rather than focus on one particular style. Having several Philadelphia “heavy weights” including Gerald Veasley on Bass and John Swana on Trumpet certainly propels this tour along the jazz topography.

All but the Eleanor Rigby Medley are Chuck’s compositions. The opening selection, Aqua Blue, is a melodious piece which features guitar, trumpet, sax and piano trading solos. Chuck opens with a relaxed solo with a very warm tone. Later, Swana skillfully shows his aural talents by repeating the five end notes of Kleiman’s piano solo to start his solo. _Bob Miles

1. Aqua Blue 04:27
2. Soft Breezes 06:07
3. Angel Blue 07:01
4. Piroutte 07:02
5. Street Strut 04:00
6. Flyin’ Free 05:37
7. Danielle 07:02
8. VSQ 03:26
9. Eleanor Rigby Medley 05:33
10. Dance of the Algons 07:24

Chuck Anderson - Guitar
Gerald Veasley - bass
Ronnie Barrage - drums
John Swanna - trumpet
Ron Kerber - sax
Dan Kleiman - piano

Todd Cochran | "Then and Again, Here & Now" | Available June 11th via Sunnyside Records

Pianist Todd Cochran Emphatically Marks
his Acoustic Reincarnation After Nearly Half Century Solo Recording Hiatus

Then and Again, Here and Now Features Like-Minded Collaborators Michael Carvin and John Leftwich

The creation of music as a collective art requires participants who are open and engaged. The essence of ensemble jazz music is the collaboration between elements, including sound and time and the musicians and audience. Pianist/composer Todd Cochran views these interchanges of energy and emotions as positive forces for change in the world. In his new album, Then and Again, Here & Now, set for June 11 release on Sunnyside Records, Cochran’s earlier explorations are folded into this fresh musical creation.

To assist him in his efforts, Cochran enlisted bassist John Leftwich and drummer Michael Carvin. Leftwich has been an important voice in the West Coast’s vibrant music scene for decades and was introduced to Cochran twenty years ago via Freddie Hubbard. The legendary drummer became a part of the pianist’s world even earlier through collaborations with Bobby Hutcherson. Together the Todd Cochran trio – TC3 – is a tremendously vibrant, cerebral and vividly emotive ensemble that breathes life into any piece they endeavor to touch.

Cochran’s musical interests have always been vast in their outlook, from the avant-garde to fusions of jazz and rock. Under the alias Bayeté, his sound can be heard on albums that push the bounds of genres, from Santana, Automatic Man, Peter Gabriel, and Joan Armatrading’s arena filling rock sounds to the explosively spiritual world of his own records. “It was a combination of learning about idioms outside of those with which I was most familiar, and the trajectory of a restless curiosity that pushed me to surmount the challenges of making music outside of my natural affinities. Playing different styles of music authentically rather than as an approximation overtook everything. Each musical idiom had its own aesthetic and particular alchemy” says Cochran. Though, the element that has never escaped Cochran’s work throughout his career has been the blues aesthetic tied to jazz’s legacy, which he re-embraces on Then and Again, Here & Now.

Then and Again, Here & Now presents a collection of stalwart jazz songbook compositions, expressively contemporized and poetically reimagined by Cochran and his trio. Cochran’s philosophy of the development of music through the passing of ideas from generation to generation through evolving syntax can be heard in the approaches that are taken on these pieces. Though experimenting and taking liberties with these classics, the trio remains responsible as keepers of the flame and protectors of the blues vernacular.

From the opening of Romberg and Hammerstein’s “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise,” the trio’s command of the piece’s inherent swing can be interspersed with creative rhythmic experimentation. A variety of approaches can be heard from piece to piece, especially on a pair of Gershwin pieces with “A Foggy Day” morphing from ballad to mid-tempo and “I Got Rhythm” in pointillistic swing. Interstitials connect and introduce a number of pieces in a thoughtful fashion akin to live performance, including Dave Brubeck’s “The Duke,” which flows expansively like a lazy river. “My approach is to accentuate its eloquence and enhance the myth” says Cochran.
Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” finds a curious pull between the classicism that the song inspires and Cochran’s playful bending, while a solo bass meditation leads into a brilliantly woven version of J.S. Bach’s “Prelude XX” from Book II of the Well-Tempered Clavier highlighting Cochran’s continued classical inspiration. “After the theme is stated we segue into improvisations around the idea of climbing up and climbing down. Modeling real-life and the reality that we’re continually modulating in one direction or another” says Cochran.

Vernon Duke’s “April In Paris” inspires a sweeping but soft touch from the trio until Leftwich’s unaccompanied bass “Between Spaces - Interstitial” leads to a percussively propulsive take on Kaper and Webster’s “Invitation,” as Carvin, a masterful archetype of empathetic rhythming, imaginatively sets the tone. “It’s played as a song without words, I think about the emotion of finally arriving at the perfect moment to extend an invitation to someone long imagined or hoped for” says Cochran.

An impressionist touch introduces Michel Legrand and Jacques Demy’s “You Must Believe in Spring,” a heart stopping ballad performed solely by Cochran. Monk’s spritely “Bemsha Swing” follows in short order followed by a wistful take on Bobby Hutcherson’s jazz waltz, “Little B’s Poem,” poignantly played by the trio with brilliant solo turns by all. The recording concludes with the resonant “Then and Again, Here & Now,” a brief recapitulation of the elements that brought this recording together: fellowship, history and hope. 

Todd Cochran has made it his life’s work to bring love and understanding to the world. The method he endeavors to accomplish this is through the communal language of improvisation and jazz. Then and Again, Here & Now encapsulates Cochran’s desires in a tangible and invigorating way.

Todd Cochran | Then and Again, Here & Now
Sunnyside Records | Release Date: June 11, 2021

For more information on Todd Cochran, please visit:

For more information on Sunnyside Records, please visit:

Stephan Micus | "Winter's End" | Available June 11 via ECM

Multi-Instrumentalist Stephan Micus
Utilizes Two Never Before Used Instruments,
Amongst Eleven Instruments from Ten Countries,
for his 24th Solo Album, Winter's End

The Japanese poem accompanying Winter’s End, Stephan Micus’ 24th solo album for ECM, seems like a metaphor for his music. He chuckles at the suggestion, as he thinks of the hours and hours working with dozens of different instruments, which he builds up layer upon layer in his studio. “For a musician or an artist, it’s very important to keep your childlike nature,” he says. “Of course, it’s more fun to walk in deep snow than on an asphalt road. This is something I try to keep in mind in daily life.”

The range of instruments on this album is one of the most extensive in Stephan Micus’ catalogue with eleven instruments from ten countries: Mozambique, Gambia, Central Africa, Egypt, Japan, Bali, Xinjiang, Tibet, Peru and the USA. Most important, there are two instruments that he’s never used before. One is recently acquired from Mozambique; the other has been sitting on a shelf awaiting its turn for 40 years. 

It’s the chikulo that opens Winter’s End and defines its character, appearing on seven of its twelve tracks. Amongst the musical glories of Mozambique are the large timbila bands of the Chopi people. The timbila is a xylophone with wooden keys and gourd resonators hanging beneath. A timbila orchestra has several instruments of different sizes. Because he prefers to walk in the snow, Micus has just selected the bass instrument with only four notes, which gives a buzzing rhythmic support to the ensemble. 
“I had heard about the timbila orchestras and seen some instruments. As it was a place I had never visited, I wanted to go. The higher instruments demand virtuoso playing and in this life, I would never be able to master that. But I’m also attracted to low instruments and when they showed me the chikulo its possibilities seemed very open.” In fact, the chikulo is rarely used these days in timbila bands as it’s so large and difficult to transport. Micus never saw one actually being used in an orchestra, but only demonstrated in a museum. He commissioned his own from timbila player and maker Eduardo Durão. 

It is the woody tone and buzzing sound of the chikulo that opens the album, but most of the time Micus uses it without the buzzing membranes to create a cleaner sound. Alongside three chikulo on “Autumn Hymn", the opening track is a Japanese nohkan flute, traditionally used in Noh theatre. While the chikulo has an earthy sound, the nohkan seems heavenly and there is a natural earth and sky harmony.

The other instrument Micus is using for the first time is the tongue drum. He made it himself 40 years ago, sawing tongue-shaped pieces in the top of a wooden box following examples in Central Africa. “Back then, I played it several times in concerts and sang a single vocal line, but I was never quite satisfied with it. However, from the moment I combined it with the chikulo and added more voices, the two tongue drum pieces finally felt complete. I often have instruments for a long time before I manage to incorporate them in a composition - and if after 40 years one of them finds its moment it’s a very nice thing.” With the voices (singing an invented language) accompanied by percussive sounds from the tongue drum and chikulo, “The Longing of the Migrant Birds” and “Sun Dance” have something of the savannah about them.
“For me the beautiful thing about music is that it’s beyond words and beyond any message in words,” says Micus, but having created the album with its other textures of bowed and plucked strings, thumb piano, flutes and cymbals he created a kind of narrative out of the titles. 

“I got this idea about migrant birds. A journey from Europe to Africa when winter is coming. In the third track I feel a kind of longing to travel and with the 4th track, “Baobab Dance” we have arrived in Africa.” Where we are at the end is ambiguous. As so often in Micus’ music, Winter’s End has a symmetrical structure, and the title “Winter Hymn” perhaps suggests a return. But winter is present in Africa too. 

One of the remarkable things about Micus is the way he uses the sounds of the world as an inspiration and brings them together in unique and pioneering combinations. “To bring instruments together for the first time is fascinating. It’s like going to places where nobody has been. Surprisingly you can take these instruments from all over the world and they sound in harmony. It’s a beautiful message when sadly we humans haven’t got to that point.”

Julian Lage - Squint (June 11, 2021 Blue Note)

Guitar virtuoso Julian Lage has shared “Boo’s Blues,” the second song from his Blue Note Records debut album, Squint, out June 11. The loping swing feel of “Boo’s Blues” exemplifies Lage’s ability to write with his bandmates in mind while echoing his influences: “I like to imagine this music being played by the tans of bass and drums,” Lage says. “I’m imagining Billy Higgins, I’m imagining Art Taylor, I’m imagining Wilbur Ware, even though I’m writing explicitly for Dave and Jorge.”

Squint is a striking full-length that weds incisive, expressive songwriting with the profound interplay Lage has honed over the past few years with his de trio featuring bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King (The Bad Plus). The album was heralded last month with the release of the album’s lead single “Saint Rose.” Squint is available now for pre-order on vinyl, CD, or download.

“I absolutely love improvised music, and I’ve always been fascinated by singer-songwriter music,” says Lage. “For me, the jazz that came out of Blue Note always engaged both sides of that. It had incredible improvisational vocabularies and performances, but when I think of albums from Grant Green’s Idle Moments to Joe Henderson’s Inner Urge to McCoy Tyner’s Time for Tyner with Bobby Hutcherson – all these records that I love so much also have such great songs. I felt like this was an opportunity to present new music born out of the Blue Note tradition as I’ve interpreted it.”

Lage was recently featured on the GRAMMY Museum’s COLLECTION:live interview series, watch here. The guitarist will also be continuing his popular series of masterclasses with upcoming sessions on April 11 and April 18. A 30-minute solo performance will follow each class. Tickets are available here.

Various Artists - Utopic Cities: Progressive Jazz in Belgium 1968​-​1979 (June 11, 2021 Sdban Records)

On June 11th, independent groove label Sdban Records will release Utopic Cities: Progressive Jazz in Belgium 1968-1979 featuring twelve essential compositions from a highly creative period in Belgian jazz. The release follows Sdban’s critically acclaimed Let’s Get Swinging: Modern Jazz in Belgium 1950-1970, released back in 2017.

Utopic Cities is an eclectic selection of forward-thinking jazz from the Belgian underground, including the left-field fusion of Marc Moulin’s Placebo, Koen De Bruyne and Solis Lacus; the intense post-bop of Jacques Pelzer and Lou MacConnell; the cutting edge soul jazz of Philip Catherine and Open Sky Unit or the otherworldly avant-garde of Babs Robert and the Brussels Art Quintet. Recorded in the aftermath of the revolutionary year 1968, this music is the fruit of a highly creative momentum in Belgian jazz history that produced a unique sound which distinguishes itself from its American source of inspiration by an indefinable characteristic that can be hardly better described than ‘Belgian’.

1. Placebo - S.U.S. 04:23
2. Solis Lacus - Utopic Cities 07:02
3. Open Sky Unit - Open Sky 05:38
4. Brussels Art Quintet - Vas-y Voir 05:30
5. Koen De Bruyne - Pathetic Dreams 09:03
6. Raphaël - Archangelo 12:52
7. Philip Catherine - Memphis Talk 04:02
8. Jacques & Micheline Pelzer Quartet - Face Reality 08:19
9. The Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band - Sakara 07:13
10. Marc Moulin - Tohubohu pt. I 05:13
11. Babs Robert - Pro Forma I 06:14
12. Lou MacConnell - Naima 11:09

Charnett Moffett - New Love (June 11, 2021 motéma music)

Fretless electric bass master Charnett Moffett delivers a love letter to humanity with his new trio/quartet album, New Love. Further refining his signature and virtuosic sound in collaboration with his skilled and fearless ensemble, Moffett's twelve original tracks range boldly through contemporary-, free-, soul-, and world- instrumental jazz while he also breaks new ground as a vocalist/lyricist with a spiritual message.

With intensely engaging dynamism: the album one-moment swings with passion and fervor -  evoking Moffett's early years with Tony Williams, Ornette Coleman, Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner .. - and the next moment swirls with contemplative beauty as Moffett spreads his message of joy and love.

1. Swinging in the Realms
2. We Remember
3. Little Flowers
4. Today
5. Higher Dimensions
6. I Didn't Know
7. Flying in the Air
8. ETQ
9. New Love
10. Spirit & Bride
11. Love for the People
12. Rejoice

James Brandon Lewis, Patrick Holmes, Ches Smith & Josh Werner - RESILIENT VESSELS LIVE AT THE CELL (June 10, 2021 RRGEMS Records)

New York city based bassist and visual artist Josh Werner was awarded an artist in residence from The Cell Gallery located in New York NY. As a part of this residency which occurred in the month of July 2020, Josh presented various works in different mediums from visual art to music. In lue of the 2020 pandemic Josh was unable to present music to a live audience and instead offered a pre-recorded live performance to be aired at a later date. Werner was able to put together an ensemble of some of the leading improvisors on the New York City scene in that of James Brandon Lewis, Ches Smith and Patrick Holmes.

One of the leading jazz pioneers Ornette Coleman once expressed himself by saying " you know more, but i feel more ". During these turbulent times this statement resonates with this ensemble; it's one that embodies the acknowledgement of feelings within your being to then pour into the music being presented. This ensemble draws from proceeding generations of musicians such as Don Cherry, Roy Ayers, John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Tribe Called Quest and the energy of the downtown art rock movement.



Produced by Josh Werner and James Brandon Lewis
Recorded and engineered by Ricardo Romaneiro at The Cell Theater
Mixed by Daniel Schlett at Strange Weather
Mastered by Louis Henry Sarmiento II, Sonic Vista Studios
Lacquer Cut by Jukka Sarapää, Timmion Cutting
Design by Ilja Tulit
Released and distributed by RR GEMS Records © 2021 RRGEMS10

Matt Cappy - Tales Of The Tape (June 11, 2021)

Matt Cappy's sophomore album Tales Of The Tape displays Matt's creative compositions in jazz, soul, latin, hip hop, and the groove that exists in each genre all pulled together with his staple warm trumpet sound. Matt production mind explores with various instruments and the blending sounds on each track. Take for instance the upright bass, played by Philly Legend Mike Boone on Tronix, Activ8, Better Days, and Gum Sole which gives a true Jazz Club earthy feel to the songs.

Or the Keys and Synths on Electric Shine and Activ8 which gives the songs a new energy by harkening back to some sounds Matt loved coming from Genesis and Talking Heads albums.

The name of the album, "Tales Of The Tape" is an ode to Matt's first trumpet mentor, the late great Joe Fallon of Philadelphia's Port Richmond section. Joe would have Matt bring a cassette tape to all his lessons that Joe would record an album from his collection to that cassette tape. Matt still has hundreds of these tapes and all that music has helped to shape the musician, trumpeter, composer, producer Matt is today.

(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music SESAC)

Matt Cappy: trumpet
Chris Farr: tenor sax
Corey Bernhard: piano
Mike Boone: upright bass
Andrew Marsh: drums

Produced by Matt Cappy, Engineered & Mixed by Ryan Moys

(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music SESAC)

Matt Cappy: trumpet, vocals, piano, rhodes
Clay Sears: wurlitzer, synths
Erik Sayles: guitar
Nick Perri: bass
Andrew Marsh: drums
Aaron Draper: percussion

Produced by Matt Cappy, Co-Produced by Clay Sears, Engineered & Mixed by Ryan Moys.
Percussion Engineer: Ben Thomas

3. LOOK AT US NOW (feat. B. Slade & Brenda Roy)
(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music/SESAC, A. Williams, Golden Child Holdings/SESAC
D. Rouse/BMI, B.Roy, Bree Fold Publishing/BMI)

Matt Cappy: trumpet
B. Slade: vocals
Brenda Roy: vocals
Dan Rouse: piano, synths
Eric Whatley: bass
Steve McKie: drums

Produced by Matt Cappy, Engineered & Mixed by Ryan Moys.
Vocals engineered by B. Slade

(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music/SESAC, L. O'Reilly, LCO Publishing/ASCAP)

Matt Cappy: trumpet
Luke O'Reilly: fender rhodes, piano
Jonathan Smith: bass
Mario Crew: drums

Produced by Matt Cappy, Engineered & Mixed by Ryan Moys.

(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music/SESAC, C. Sears, KBall Music/ASCAP)

Matt Cappy: trumpet
Sam Greenfield: tenor sax
Junius Bervine: fender rhodes
Mike Boone: upright bass
Eric Seats: drums
Aaron Draper: percussion

Produced by Matt Cappy, Engineered & Mixed by Ryan Moys.
Percussion Engineer: Ben Thomas.

(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music/SESAC)

Matt Cappy: trumpet, synths
Mike Eckroth: piano, synths
Mike Boone: upright bass
Mekhi Boone: drums

Produced by Matt Cappy, Engineered & Mixed by Dave Downham.

7. PHILA PHUNK (feat. Rashawn Ross & Jeff Coffin)
(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music/SESAC)

Matt Cappy: trumpet, fender rhodes
Rashawn Ross: trumpet
Jeff Coffin: tenor & bari sax
Erik Sayles: guitar
Justin Gilbert: organ
Nick Perri: bass
Andrew Marsh: drums
Aaron Draper: percussion

Produced by Matt Cappy, engineered & Mixed by Ryan Moys.
Percussion engineer: Ben Thomas Rashawn Ross engineer: Josh Connolly

(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music/SESAC)

Matt Cappy: trumpet
Mike Eckroth: fender rhodes
Mike Boone: upright bass
Mekhi Boone: drums

Produced by Matt Cappy, Engineered & Mixed by Dave Downham.

(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music/SESAC)

Matt Cappy: trumpet
Luke O'Reilly: piano
Jonathan Smith: bass
Mario Crew: drums

Produced by Matt Cappy, Engineered & Mixed by Ryan Moys

(M. Cappy, ReCapp Music/SESAC D. Rouse/BMI)

Matt Cappy: trumpet, flugel horn
Dan Rouse: piano, synth
Eric Whatley: bass
Steve McKie: drums
Aaron Draper: percussion

Produced by Matt Cappy, Engineered & Mixed by Ryan Moys.
Percussion Engineer: Ben Thomas

@ (copywright) east philly records
Recorded at Studio One, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
and Gradwell House Recording, Haddon Heights, NJ
Mastered by Andrew Mendelson at Georgetown Masters, Nashville, TN

Jun 12
Cape May, NJ

NEW RELEASE: Lauren Henderson's 'MUSA' - Due Out June 11th, 2021 via Brontosaurus Records

Award-winning singer, composer and bilingual lyricist Lauren Henderson honors her cultural and musical heritages with release of Musa, due out June 11th, 2021 via Brontosaurus Records

Acclaimed vocalist-composer and lyricist Lauren Henderson returns with her most  personal gesture to date. A multilingual rumination on themes of love and longing, Musa explores existing connections — and creates new relationships — among Henderson’s mingling lineages.  

Toward the beginning of the pandemic, the New York artist sought to record an album  braiding together traditions that influence her sound. “I wanted my next record to blend  jazz, flamenco and Afro-Latinx music” says Henderson, “kind of melding all that makes me me, culturally and musical identity-wise.”  

Due out on June 11th, 2021 via Henderson’s label Brontosaurus Records, Musa — her eighth release as a leader  — features eleven tracks of original compositions and vibrant interpretations of standard tunes, including “I Concentrate on You,” “Wild is the Wind” and Valerie Parks Brown’s, “Forget Me.” Layer by layer, the lattermost title — Musa’s first single release — reveals an undercurrent of intensity pervading Henderson’s expression. Through each satin-swaddled lyric, she intuits dynamic tension and release. Her unrelenting awareness serves every dimension of the music. “I love being a musician because we’re always learning and we’re always growing,” says Henderson, who assembled a deft and dextrous outfit to interpret Musa’s range of identity. “Some of these songs blend jazz, R&B and soul; others incorporate flamenco, so I had to ask, ‘Who would be perfect for this record?’” 

“This is jazz mastery” — DownBeat Magazine

Core personnel includes Sullivan Fortner on piano, Eric Wheeler on bass and Joe Dyson on drums. When Henderson felt ready to share her music, she went straight to Fortner, her longtime collaborator who has played on all her leader releases since 2011. “Sullivan is the first person I usually go to to share my original music,” she says, “just to get feedback from someone I trust, someone I know will give their honest opinion of what they think about the music.” Following a socially distant duo rehearsal, Henderson set the record dates.
Throughout the recording, Henderson engages a complexity of both musical and cultural identities, allowing them to influence the direction of the music in a head-on and  multidimensional way. The sound she sought for each track emerged as bold, textural and authentic. After laying down mixes at Flux Studios in Manhattan — under the direction of  studio engineer Daniel Sanint — Henderson sent tracks to extended ensemble members, trumpet player-composer Marquis Hill; electric guitarist Nick Tannura; stage, screen and studio performer Daniel J. Watts; Madrid-based flamenco guitarist Paco Soto; and legendary flamenco percussionist Sabu Porrina. “Paco is an amazing flamenco guitarist,” says Henderson, who met the Spanish artist when she spent a semester abroad in Spain. The two developed a friendship and creative partnership via Instagram, “Like a lot of other millennials [laughs].” 

“Somewhere between a comforting whisper and a cogent declaration” — The New York Times 

“As a composer, I really want to honor honesty and integrity,” says Henderson. “As a  vocalist, it’s my responsibility to deliver a story to the listener and share my interpretation of the story. I just try to be kind of simple with my compositions and let things breathe. It’s been such an honor — and a blessing — to work with the people I’ve been able to call because they add so much life and their own voice to the music.” 

Wheeler casts vivid shadows of tension and tenderness on “La Marejada” as Soto’s guitar radiates across Henderson’s melodies and interludes. Full of grace and syncopation, “Luz” features signature interplay between Henderson and Fortner buoyed by Dyson’s nuanced and reflexive touch. “Wild is the Wind” reveals the impact of intimacy — contemplative, purposeful and engaging a conflux of time feels. The album’s sole English-lyric original  “Leeward” presents a hymn to the enduring nature of love. Hill’s lustrous conversational melody and moments of self-talk call and response serve the mood’s surrender. Porrina joins the ensemble for the album’s title track, providing textural dimension and resonating authenticity.  

Composing for her own sound has taken Henderson on a journey of self-discovery. She found her shy disposition could become the focal point of her music — the most intimate aspect of her expression. “I’m not a belter,” says Henderson. “It’s more nuanced. While intensity is a powerful tool that we can use in a beautiful way and in a positive way, I can be more private at times, and I think I bring some of that to the stage. I’m so grateful for people who take the time to listen. I’m saying more with less and people have to listen to be able to receive it.” 

1. “I Concentrate On You” feat. Paco Soto, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
2. “La Marejada” feat. Paco Soto, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
3. “Forget Me” feat. Marquis Hill, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
4. “Corazón, No Llores” feat. Nick Tannura, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
5. “Wild Is The Wind” feat. Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
6. “Luz” feat. Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
7. “Leeward” feat. Marquis Hill, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
8. “Ahora” feat. Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
9. “The Sweetest Sounds” feat. Paco Soto, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson
10. “Musa” feat. Paco Soto, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler, Joe Dyson & Sabú Porrina
11. BONUS TRACK: “Leeward (Love)” feat. Daniel J. Watts, Marquis Hill, Sullivan Fortner, Eric Wheeler & Joe Dyson

Lauren Henderson (voice)
Sullivan Fortner (piano)
Eric Wheeler (bass)
Joe Dyson (drums)
Daniel J. Watts (spoken word)
Marquis Hill (trumpet)
Paco Soto (guitar)

Arrangements: Lauren Henderson & Sullivan Fortner

Recorded at Flux Studios NYC (New York, NY Feb 11th & 12th of 2021)

Produced by Lauren Henderson
Brontosaurus Records

Recording and Mixing Engineer: Daniel Sanint
Mastering Engineer: Oscar Zambrano