Thursday, June 17, 2021

Dara Tucker - Dreams of Waking: Music For a Better World (2021 Green Hill Music)

Award-Winning Vocalist Dara Tucker Announces the Release of Her Transcendent New Album, Dreams of Waking: Music For a Better World via Green Hill Music

Green Hill Music is proud to announce the May 28th, 2021 release of Dreams of Waking: Music For a Better World, the new album by consummate vocalist, songwriter and bandleader Dara Tucker. With fresh, inspired arrangements of classic singer-songwriter and soul compositions of the protest era, Tucker’s powerful new release gives voice to the cry for social justice and change that has swept across the United States in the new decade. Songs from such legendary songwriters as Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway and Paul Simon are presented through a jazz lens with a compelling performance from the vocalist and her illustrious band of musicians. Dreams of Waking: Music for a Better World features Tucker alongside pianists Cyrus Chestnut and Sullivan Fortner, bassists Dezron Douglas and Vicente Archer, drummers Johnathan Blake and Joe Dyson along with saxophonist John Ellis and trumpeter Giveton Gelin.

“Dreams of Waking refers to the hope that our society will develop an awareness of the inequities that still exist,” Tucker said. “It’s the dream that we will become fully conscious and attuned to the hopes, dreams and needs of every human being.”

As a songwriter, Tucker is no stranger to composition as commentary as she teamed up in a similar spirit with blues & Americana artist Keb Mo’ to co-write the title track to his 2020 Grammy-winning album Oklahoma. Tucker’s sole original composition for her new album, “Do We Sleep?” issues a passionate call for cultural awakening that echoes the title of the album. “Many of my original songs are internal statements that help to chronicle my growth, experiences and evolution that I hope will inspire others,” Tucker said. “This time, I decided to focus on the external. Are we really awake? What are we doing to give attention to the cries of injustice and inequality, or are we complicit by silence, ignorance or lack of interest and awareness?”
Drawing from the 1960’s and 1970’s, an era that holds special significance to her musical journey, Tucker’s new album brings life to a collection of songs that reaffirm her belief in our shared humanity. The jazz waltz reimagining of James Taylor’s, “Secret O’ Life” and pianist Cyrus Chestnut’s arrangement of Donny Hathaway’s, “Someday We’ll All Be Free” allows Tucker to soar, sonically capturing the spirit of hope and reflection.

The Motown-meets-New Orleans buoyancy of Stevie Wonder’s, “You Haven’t Done Nothin,’” arranged by saxophonist John Ellis, blends party with protest, while Sullivan Fortner’s recast of Paul Simon’s, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” flows both turbulently and steadily with Tucker at the helm.

Dara Tucker is making her mark in the world of organic, heartfelt music by blending the melodic and lyrical richness of the central plains with the soulful strains of the African American experience. Her eclecticism is guided by the diversity of her narrative. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a family of singers and ministers, Tucker and her siblings traveled across the US singing with their parents. From there, Tucker has experienced a diverse array of locales that she has called home including Interlaken, Switzerland; Nashville, and finally, New York City. Tucker has since toured nationally with her own bands and also with renowned hybrid guitarist Charlie Hunter.

Dreams of Waking: Music For a Better World is her latest in a compendium of innovative studio releases. The resulting 12-song project, recorded by GRAMMY-winning engineer Mike Marciano and produced by Greg Bryant, delves deeply into the national Zeitgeist with a clarion call to all agents of change to build a world that embraces the dignity and humanity of all people.

1. Secret O' Life (James Taylor) 4:02
2. You Haven't Done Nothin' (Stevie Wonder) 4:43
3. Someday We'll All Be Free (Donny Hathaway/Edward Howard) 4:00
4. Do We Sleep? (Dara Tucker) 4:13
5. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Paul Simon) 8:02
6. Make Someone Happy (Jule Styne/Adolph Green/Betty Comden) 5:48
7. What The World Needs Now (Burt Bacharach/ Hal David) 3:50
8. What's Going On? (Marvin Gaye/Renaldo Benson/Al Cleveland) 5:18
9. Love's In Need Of Love Today (Stevie Wonder) 4:12
10. You've Got A Friend (Carole King) 6:12
11. Wade In The Water (traditional arr. David M. Rodgers) 5:47
12. I Think It's Gonna Rain Today (Randy Newman) 4:02

Dara Tucker - vocals (all tracks) & arrangements (1, 6, 12)
Cyrus Chestnut - piano (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11) & rhodes piano (3, 10) & arrangements (3, 6, 7, 9)
Sullivan Fortner - piano (2, 4, 5, 8, 12) & rhodes piano (2) & arrangements (5, 8, 12)
Dezron Douglas - bass (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11)
Vicente Archer - bass (2, 4, 5, 8)
Johnathan Blake - drums (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11)
Joe Dyson - drums (2, 4, 5, 8) & tambourine (2) 
Giveton Gelin - trumpet (2, 4, 5, 8)
John Ellis - tenor saxophone (2, 4, 8) & soprano saxophone (5) & arrangement (2) & horn arrangements (2, 4)

* "You've Got A Friend" & "Wade In The Water" arranged by David M. Rodgers

Recorded November 29th, November 30th & December 1, 2020 at Samurai Hotel Studios, Astoria, NY
Engineered & Mixed by Mike Marciano for Systems Two Recording
Mastered by Mike Haynes for ENSO Mastering
Produced by Greg Bryant for Watchman Music
A & R Direction by Greg Howard for Green Hill Productions
Cover and liner photography by Andreas Hofweber
Makeup: Tanya Alvarado
Album Design by: Chad Smith

Jes Berge - Space Jazz Monstrosity (June 17, 2021)

Jes Berge’s

A free flowing guitar driven jazz experiment that wanders through genres and motifs

About Jes
- Originally from Indianapolis, he
resides in Los Angeles and works in
the film industry.

- He is better known (well, not much)
for his electronic music released as
‘Avant Grade’.

- He played in bands when he was
younger and recorded some guitar
tracks over the years, but had
mostly quit playing the guitar until
the pandemic hit.

Track Background Quote
“The pandemic reinvigorated my former passion for guitar. I started off attempting to master Frank Zappa’s ‘Twenty Small Cigars’. Then I revisited a twenty year old Arnie Berle jazz guitar book and learned some Wes Montgomery before I became distracted with the octave driven Space Jazz Monstrosity. I had no intention of doing a jazz song with live instruments, but all the training I was doing led me toward creating this track. I wanted to make something with a free structure, where the only general rule was that the music must continue moving on to somewhere new.”

A Constantly Evolving Production
The track began as a solo guitar work, but constantly evolved. After the addition of drums, Berge let the project get out of hand. He sourced more instrumentation from various internet session musicians. Berge was selective about what was used in this version, but so much material was recorded that he plans on making an alternate version without guitar. “I envision this track as a mother to other projects. I’ve considered sampling the track for an electronic/downtempo release, or reaching out to some of my favorite electronic musicians to see if they’ll take a stab at it. I would also love to split it up to use as cues for a psycho-noir film.”

An International Effort
The project was an international effort. Featuring Brazilian jazz drummer Igor Willcox and a short vocal section by Erika Boschi of Italy. The rest of the players are up and comers from all over America - Vibraphonist Morgan Walbridge, William Porter on Saxophone, Scott Hearn on Trombone, and bass by Quincy Njemanze. It was a project born from the pandemic.

1. Space Jazz Monstrosity 07:51

Guitar / Composition - Jes Berge
Drums - Igor Willcox
Bass - Quincy Njemanze
Vibraphone - Morgan Walbridge
Saxophone - William Porter
Trombone - Scott Hearn
Vocals - Erika Boschi

Mixed by Jeremy Leung
Mastered by Nick Stetina


Fugu Quintet - Interweavement (2021)

There are several theories of the Origin of the Universe. According to one of them, our world is just a simulation created by an advanced civilization. Our creators have a strong rational mind, but a creative mind does not work so well, so humanity was invented to be creative. The creators look at us through the glass.
In all countries and eras with cultural stagnation, major cataclysms invariably began, bringing desolation and death. Modern humanity lives in the paradigm of endless cultural self-copying, not trying to create something new, walking the beaten path. Creative channels became filled with identical content, and we already feel the wrath of the creators.
This album is our attempt to demonstrate that human creativity has not been exhausted yet, our attempt to postpone the next great cataclysm which will be generated by the cultural asphyxia of our society. But that is not for sure . . .
1. Firefly 5:07
2. No One Had Come 7:39
3. Worry 6:20
4. Duck Of War 4:58
5. Where Flamingos Fly 5:42
6. Krakatoa 6:30

Music by: Fugu Quintet (1, 2, 3, 4, 6); Elthea Peale, Harold Courlander, John Benson Brooks (5)

Arrangements by: Fugu Quintet (1, 2, 3, 4, 6); Original arrangement by: Gil Evans, re-arranged by Fugu Quintet (5) 

Ilya Kondrashkov - Tenor sax, Alto sax
Konstantin Ivanov - Guitar, Synths
Aleksandr Kichev - Bass, Ocean drum (5)
Aleksei Shchekochikhin - Keys, Synths
Igor Borodin - Drums (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Artemiy Fakhrutdinov - Drums (6)
Aleksandra Gagarinova - Percussion (3, 5, 6)
Vladimir Bastin - Trumpet (2, 3, 5, 6), Flugelhorn (3), Mikrokosm - Drone Synths (2)
Konstantin Khazanovich - Key intro (1)
Ivan Rukinov - Violin (6)
Olga Vasilevskaya - Violin (6)
Irina Molchanova - Violin (6)
Sofia Larina - Viola (6)
Aleksandra Agapova - Viola (6)
Aleksei Makin - Cello (6)
Artemiy Iliashevich - Cello (6)

Gorokhovaya 19 Studio
Sound Engineers:
Denis Dulitsky
Arseny Markhotin
Aleksandr Yakovlev

Strings recording:
Red Wave Studio
Sound Engineers:
Danila Danilov, Vladimir Luzhbinin

Guitar re-amping:
Mmmesss Studio
Sound Engineers:
Anton Vo
Petr Kupriyanov

Mixed by:
Aleksei Shchekochikhin and Fugu Quintet

Mastered by:
Nick Powell (London, UK)

Anel Ray

Jeremy Baum - Hunk O' Funk (2021)

Hunk O' Funk - Jack McDuff

Arranged by Jeremy Baum
Co-Produced by Manuel Quintana & Jeremy Baum

Hammond Organ/Clavinet: Jeremy Baum
Guitar: Chris Vitarello
Flute: Jay Collins
Bass: Andy Stack
Drums: Manuel Quintana
Percussion: Carlos Valdez
Trumpet: Chris Pasin
Trombone: Jeanne Geiger

Mixed by Manuel Quintana
at Beet Recording Studio, Catskill, NY.
Mastered by Danny Blume


Dave Rempis with Tomeka Reid, Joshua Abrams, Tim Daisy and Tyler Damon - The COVID Tapes (June 2021 Catalytic Sound)

At the onset of the COVID pandemic in the US in winter 2020, I was on tour. First in Europe for 10 days with Michael Zerang’s Blue Lights, ending with a performance with Michael and Elisabeth Harnik at the ArtActs Festival in Austria on March 6th. I then flew straight to Asheville, NC to start a tour with Kuzu on March 8th. In St. Louis on March 11th, the severity of what we were facing was becoming clear. We finished our last dates in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison, and two days later the country was in lockdown.

As an improviser, it felt like my job to figure out some way forward artistically. So I did what I often do when “working” in this abstract art form feels too absurd; I put my head down and kept plowing ahead. And it worked for awhile. An early invitation to do an online solo performance on March 25th as part of the Quarantine Concerts organized by ESS in Chicago showed one potential way forward. Although online performances sure aren’t ideal in a music that’s based on live in-person interaction, they were at least something. I’d already been delving seriously into my solo playing since 2017 when I did a long solo tour and produced my first solo record, Lattice, so why not try to build on that further?

After another invite to do an online performance at Fulton St. Collective in early May, I really dove in. I launched a concept whereby I’d release a new digital album on Aerophonic Records each week, culled from the many recordings I had on hand of various working bands and one-off projects spanning roughly twenty years. Each new album would be accompanied by an online record launch performance on Wednesday nights, and all the proceeds from sales would be split evenly between the artists on each one, hopefully generating a small amount of revenue for some of my collaborators. Between the first week of May and the last week of August, I produced 15 of those digital albums. The broadcasts were done through Twitch using just an iPhone, all from my closet-sized practice space at Unity Lutheran Church in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. These concerts gave me the chance to work on new pieces each week, ranging from total improvisations, to tongue-in-cheek pop hits, to jazz standards. It also allowed me to talk somewhat extensively about my experiences in the music over the last 25 years, tying those into the music I’d chosen.

These solo selections make up about half the material on this two-cd set. Knox, by Joe McPhee, leads it off, because Joe is one of the most inspiring humans I’ve met through the music or otherwise. His early spring 2020 solo performances on the Quarantine Concerts made me think, “if Joe can do this, so can I!” We even traded some notes on technology and approach.

Other pieces were ones that I’d loved for years and finally took the time to really work on. I had included “B My Dear” by Dudu Pukwana in a solo concert I did at the Hungry Brain in January 2020, performing all ballads. A number of those pieces would continue to have life through these solo broadcasts, including ”Isfahan” by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington. That piece is dedicated to my partner Victor Wasserman, who likes to play the Far East Suite around the house on Saturday mornings when I’m cooking brunch.
“The Song Is You” was chosen as a tribute to Joe Segal, owner of the Jazz Showcase in Chicago, whose career as an impresario began in the 1940’s. He passed away a few days before the online stream when this was recorded, in August. I’d always loved this tune since hearing Charlie Parker’s version when I was 12 or 13. Nate Wooley did a fantastic version inspired by Lee Konitz on another early Quarantine Concert. Konitz’s 39-minute version on his 1976 album Lone-Lee is mind-melting.

“Just A Gigolo” was chosen since it seemed to sum up my new life begging online. Talking with musician friends it became clear how dejected we all felt as mid-career or veteran artists at having to hold out our hats to try to restore some portion of the meager living most musicians make in “normal” times.

Finally, “On Green Dolphin St” was done as a tribute to Von Freeman. One of the first times I saw Von play in the 90’s, he opened with it, cut the band out after the head, and did a 10-minute unaccompanied solo before bringing them back for the outhead. My young mind was blown away by his singular sound and approach. Years later when I tried to get Von to do a solo set on the Umbrella Music Festival, he demurred, saying that wasn’t really his thing. I still beg to differ!

The group pieces presented here all came from live outdoor performances in the summer and fall of 2020. I don’t usually like playing outdoors. There’s no natural reverb, so it generally sounds bad. I’m also always afraid that an old lady is going to hit me over the head with her umbrella for playing such unruly music. But when an invite came from Adrienne Pierluissi at the Sugar Maple in Milwaukee to play a Sunday afternoon concert on their outdoor patio to a generously distanced audience, how could I say no? Tim Daisy and I were able to do three of these events between July and September.

Soon after, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival (for which I also work as a producer…) invited Joshua Abrams to present an outdoor concert as part of their “Postcards” Series. He convened our trio with Tomeka Reid for this on August 14th, and we scouted out a location at a park two blocks from my house in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Seeing how well it worked, I continued this Friday evening series for the next two months. I mostly worked with Tyler Damon as a duo, sometimes adding Joshua on bass, and once adding Bill Harris for a double drum lineup. Matt Butchko, who I would refer to as a “superfan” of the music, generously came to each concert with the same portable mobile setup that he uses regularly at venues, with two small bud microphones positioned on top of his baseball hat. He managed to get good-sounding recordings, even outdoors. A huge debt of gratitude goes out to him for being there right up front for these and so many other concerts.

One of the interesting benefits of playing outside is evident on these recordings: all of the great background noises that play into the improvisations. Check out the overwhelming swells of sound from the chorus of cicadas, the punctuation of passing cars on Lake Shore Drive, and the cardinal calls at the end of the trio with Abrams and Reid for example. Or the truck beeping as it backs up at the end of the duo with Tim Daisy. Or the barking dog that passes through during the trio with Abrams and Damon. Those events all became a part of the music, and they’re presented here without any effort to filter them out, to give a better sense of what the experience of these concerts was actually like.

By late fall 2020, I felt burnt out from putting out so many records in what ended up being quite a busy year. I decided to take some space to further my artistic practice in other ways. With warm weather gone, case counts climbing, and venues slowing down even their online programming because of it, there weren’t too many options left for performances anyways. Going back to my practice space for more solo events felt somewhat played out after doing fifteen of them. As we move now into spring 2021, the future still remains uncertain. But with some luck, I hope to be involved in redefining what “normal” can be sometime soon. It’s clear that things can’t, won’t, and shouldn’t be the same as they were.

by Dave Rempis

1. Knox by Joe McPhee 06:46
2. Toron - Rempis/Daisy 17:18
3. B My Dear by Dudu Pukwana 03:40
4. Skin And Bones - Rempis/Abrams/Damon 22:58
5. The Song Is You by Jerome Kern 06:37
6. Just A Gigolo by Leonello Casuci 03:28
7. In The Wild - Rempis/Reid/Abrams 19:34
8. On Green Dolphin St by Bronislaw Kaper 06:52
9. Glitch - Rempis/Damon 17:29
10. Isfahan by Ellington/Strayhorn 04:19

Dave Rempis Solo (saxophones) and in duos and trios with :

Tomeka Reid – cello
Joshua Abrams – bass
Tim Daisy – drums
Tyler Damon - drums

All music recorded between May and September 2020 during the COVID era.

Solo tracks recorded by Dave Rempis at Unity Lutheran Church, Chicago

Rempis/Daisy Duo recorded by Dave Zuchowski at the Sugar Maple, Milwaukee

Rempis/Reid/Abrams, Rempis/Abrams/Damon, and Rempis/Damon recorded by Matt Butchko at Margate Park, Chicago

Mixed and mastered by Dave Zuchowski
Design by Johnathan Crawford
Produced by Dave Rempis

Halym Kim's Bijul - My Illusion of Korea (June 2021 Barefoot Records)

With the project “Bijul” Halym Kim presents a new band that plays original compositions which are influenced by traditional Korean music. The Korean influences are coming from different types of the traditional music such as shamanistic, folkloristic and percussive music and they are transmitted into a context of experimental and improvised music. All pieces are composed by Halym Kim and express his interpretation and perception of a “foreign” culture. The compositions also display his thoughts about the political situation in South Korea, the Korean philosophy and their current society.

1. Shamanistic Ritual 06:00
2. Where do you really come from? 09:12
3. Humbling Old Man 05:21
4. Our Illusion of Korea 07:12

Nana Pi - tenor saxophone
Eloi Calame - bass clarinet
Erik Kimestad - trumpet
Grzegorz Tarwid - piano
Halym Kim - drums

Recorded and mixed by Storm D’Angelo
Mastered by Michal Kupicz
All compositions by Halym Kim
Artwork by Young Seok Kim
Released with support from Koda Kultur

Willie Jones III - Fallen Heroes (2021 WJ3 Records)

Through Fallen Heroes, Jones celebrates his personal history with his musical heroes and the impact of each. “This new album is inspired by and dedicated to these soldiers of the music,” said Jones. “My father played with Ndugu, who became one of my earliest influences as a drummer, and I had the great fortune to work with Jimmy, Larry, and Roy, right up to the end of their lives.”

To document this celebration of music and spirit, Jones convened long-time colleagues who shared the stage with many of these masters alongside Jones throughout the years: trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, saxophonists Justin Robinson and Sherman Irby, trombonist Steve Davis, pianist George Cables, bassist Gerald Cannon, vocalist Renee Neufville; as well as emerging pianist Isaiah J. Thompson.

Collectively, the personnel on Fallen Heroes represents the continuum of jazz, and dedication to uphold the legacies of several acclaimed icons .

1. Something For Ndugu 03:58
2. Fallen Hero 03:39
3. C.T.A 04:42
4. Trust 03:56
5. Truthful Blues 06:19
6. Annika's Lullaby 08:36
7. To Wisdom The Prize 06:06
8. I've Just Seen Her 07:01
9. Jackin' For Change 05:20

Willie Jones III - Drums
Gerald Cannon - Bass
George Cables - Piano
Renee Neufville - Vocals
Steve Davis - Trombone
Isaiah J. Thompson - Piano
Justin Robinson - Saxophone
Sherman Irby - Saxophone

John McLaughlin - Liberation Time (July 16, 2021 Abstract Logix)

John McLaughlin announces new studio album

Spanning innumerable ensembles, hundreds of compositions, and thousands of performances, John McLaughlin’s wide-ranging musical journey is guided by an unflagging quest for transcendence — a tireless grasp for spiritual ecstasy that renders traditional, earthly boundaries irrelevant. For more than five decades, McLaughlin has deployed his peerless guitar technique, compositional gifts, and imagination in service of a deeply personal higher calling, forging a vast legacy unmatched in improvised music.

Thankfully, his journey is nowhere near complete — especially now when we need him most.

As the world reels from the social, emotional, and spiritual toll of the ongoing viral-induced global lockdown, McLaughlin reflects on both the perils and potential of this challenging moment with “Liberation Time” — his newest album, available July 16th on Abstract Logix/Mediastarz. In the fall of 2020, as the reality of pandemic limitations set in, McLaughlin commenced work on “Liberation Time” as a “direct response” (his words) to the mandated restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19. Characterized by both joy and reflection, “Liberation Time” finds McLaughlin harnessing his frustrations and redirecting that energy. “The result,” he explains in a candid liner note, “was an explosion of music in my mind.”

Unusual for McLaughlin’s recent projects, “Liberation Time” is not the work of one fixed ensemble. With physical proximity no longer a prerequisite, McLaughlin drew upon decades of experience as a bandleader to select musicians best suited to each composition. “That is a choice that can only be made correctly if you know how the musicians play,” he explains. “Not just how well they play technically, but how they play intuitively. Only then can you make the right decisions.”
Creating compelling, dynamic performances from contributors isolated around the globe required McLaughlin to draw from his years of experience as a producer, recording artist, and bandleader to set up parameters that would spark inspiration. “I have a certain experience playing drums, piano, and bass,” he says, “so it’s not difficult for me to create a session that not only gives the structure melodically, rhythmically and harmonically — along with the atmosphere of the piece. I set this up and send it to the musicians, giving very broad outlines of the piece, and ask them to be themselves in their improvisations and in the way they accompany the themes. Several pieces came back to me transformed, and I would then re-record my part in response.”

“As the Spirit Sings” introduces the album by contrasting churning rhythmic tension (stoked by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist Sam Burgess) with McLaughlin’s soaring guitar figures — all underpinned by Gary Husband’s subtle, expansive piano. While each musician recorded his part in their respective locales, the responsiveness of the performers is undimmed by distance.

Knotty post-bop figures form the basis of “Right Here, Right Now, Right On,” one of the most jazz-inflected performances McLaughlin has laid down in some time, featuring Nicolas Viccaro (drums), Jerome Regard (bass), Julian Siegel (tenor saxophone), and Oz Ezzeldin (piano). While his muse has led him down many stylistic avenues over the course of his career, McLaughlin is quick to cite his roots in jazz as a foundational element of his approach to this day. “We are all jazz musicians,” he says of himself and his cohorts on “Liberation Time”, “and there is much love between jazz musicians. All the musicians I invited to perform with me know that there will not only be collective playing, but they will have the possibility to express their individuality spontaneously. This is the great characteristic of jazz.”

When speaking of camaraderie, it is impossible to ignore the profound brotherhood that exists between the members of 4th Dimension — McLaughlin’s current ensemble, which includes Husband along with Etienne Mbappe (bass) and Ranjit Barot (drums). They are featured on the soul “Lockdown Blues,” a playful refraction examination of blues tropes first released last summer to benefit the Jazz Foundation of America.
While much of Liberation Blues revels in the sort of spontaneous interplay that has been denied by Covid restrictions, some of the album’s most touching moments feature McLaughlin alone at the piano — an instrument he has not recorded on since his 1973 collaboration with Carlos Santana, “Love Devotion Surrender”. Although brief, McLaughlin’s two piano features, “Mila Repa” and “Shade of Blue,” are by no means incomplete. “In my mind, the two pieces I play the piano on are like two short musical poems,” he says. “I’m very fond of the Haiku form of poetry — which is ‘distilled’ poetry — and this is how I see these two pieces. There are few notes and much space, as in the kind of poetry I enjoy. I include them to bring a particular feeling into the listener’s mind.”

With vaccination campaigns now in full effect and a more promising tomorrow coming into view, Liberation Time’s title track can be felt as visceral anticipation — a rousing glimpse into an unbound future rich with possibilities. With Sam Burgess’s bass holding the center, the cut culminates in a thrilling conversation between McLaughlin and longtime bandmate Gary Husband, who is heard on both piano and drums. Eventually bass and piano drop out, unleashing a riveting guitar/drum dialogue made even more astonishing by the fact that neither of the performers were able to make eye contact with one another.

“Liberation Time” is a product of its times, and yet it looks both forwards and backwards — at once drawing upon memories of better days gone and yet reaching for a new dawn. If the rhythmic innovations and intricacies of such past McLaughlin projects as Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti have demonstrated anything, it is that John McLaughlin seems time itself as pliable and open to interpretation. And if time is no barrier to his creative impulses, why should distance be? Looking back at the transcontinental sessions that resulted in “Liberation Time”, McLaughlin concludes, “The wonderful thing about music is that you put the headphones on, and you are all in the same room.”

1. As the Spirit Sings 5:22
2. Singing Our Secrets 5:13
3. Lockdown Blues 7:19
4. Mila Repa 2:29
5. Right Here, Right Now, Right On 7:26
6. Shade of Blue 1:33
7. Liberation Time 7:57

John McLaughlin (Guitar / Piano)
Gary Husband (Drums and Piano)
Ranjit Barot (Drums / Konokol)
Vinnie Colaiuta (Drums)
Etienne MBappe (Bass)
Roger Rossignol (Piano)
Jean Michel ‘Kiki’ Aublette (Drums / Bass)
Nicholas Viccaro (Drums)
Julian Siegel (Tenor Sax)
Sam Burgess (Bass)
Jerome Regard (Bass)
Oz Ezzeldin (Piano)