Wednesday, July 28, 2021

George Fenton - The United Way (2021 Gearbox Records)

Five-time Oscar nominated composer George Fenton is comfortably one of today’s most prolific and acclaimed British composers, having worked on numerous Ken Loach films including ‘I, Daniel Blake’, Hollywood moderns classics like ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Hitch’, and written the iconic TV theme for Newsnight. He is also a lifelong Manchester United fan, leading to his scoring of a new historical documentary, ‘The United Way’, which tells the epic story of one of the world’s most successful football clubs ever.

Fenton’s musical underscoring adds gravitas and a sense of spiritual awakening to the film, which begins its journey in the early days of the club, in post-war, industrial Manchester. Recent events have shown that the history and city behind an organisation as powerful and global as Manchester United are what matter to people most, and Fenton’s inspiring soundtrack to ‘The United Way’ emphasises this whilst showcasing the club’s core narrative in all its glory.

1. Curtain Up 03:03
2. The Busby Babes 03:15
3. Munich and Roll Call 03:59
4. 1968 For Them 02:41
5. Say What You Like 02:07
6. A Disaster 02:02
7. Game Changer 02:51
8. Manchester Marseilles 01:30
9. Winter of Discontent 02:01
10. Time for a Change 02:06
11. More Change 02:10
12. This is Different 01:17
13. Battle Begins 02:46
14. Palace 03:03
15. Media Circus 01:53
16. Rebuilding 03:30
17. Breaking News 01:52
18. Talking in Paris 01:51
19. Miracles 02:35
20. Stepping Aside 02:42
21. Digging Deep 02:07
22. The Final Push 04:08
23. May 26 1999 03:23
24. Deansgate 03:02
25. The United Way Credits 03:31

Altus - Riot Cycle (July 2021)

Riot Cycle is a series of collaborative compositions and improvisational pieces written and recorded entirely remotely. In March of 2020, having only recently witnessed the potential of our musical bond, we, like the rest of the world, were separated from each other. Over the following year, we found ourselves gathering remotely to reflect, share our inspirations, and encourage one another during an incredibly difficult time.

These meetings were our anchor.

Our conversations inspired composition: Nathan Reising suggested that Dave Adewumi, Neta Raanan, Isaac Levien and himself compose individual pieces under the same restrictions. “Utopia Adjacent” was based on one of Olivier Messiaen’s modes of limited transposition, which Nathan had been experimenting with at the time. In an attempt to break compositional habits and as a substitute for live musical communication, we began to compose collaboratively. One of us would compose a musical sketch, and it would not be finished until Nathan, Dave, Neta, and Isaac had all contributed equally to it. “Axis,” “The Merchant, Tertius,” “Hexagonal Hawk,” and “Riot Cycle Repeats” are the results of this process.

Dave Adewumi suggested that we document our creations in the form of an album, and in September of 2020 we began the process of remote recording. Our intent was to make an album that embraced the circumstances we found ourselves in. We considered the limitations of remote recording carefully, and sought creative ways to use these barriers to our advantage. By recording on our own time we had the opportunity to manipulate and transform every performance.

Ryan Sands was the missing element in our universe. With Ryan on board, we began recording. One at a time. Alone in our rooms.

In the months that followed, Nathan prompted improvisational sketches among the horns, leading to “Blind Contour” and “Negative Space”. Isaac dug deep into a special moment from a pre-pandemic rehearsal, manipulating it into “Meditation”. Neta wrote and recorded the poem featured in “Riot Cycle Repeats,” with Sarah Rossy contributing her voice as well. All arrangements were collaborative.

As members of the band became vaccinated and some semblance of normalcy could be found in New York City, we partnered with Jack Broza on production, mixing, and mastering. Just as Ryan had invigorated Altus, Jack brought an entirely new dimension to our music, giving a live and organic quality to a project otherwise recorded in total isolation.

Riot Cycle is a reflection of our own experiences during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the unlikely first chapter in what promises to be an enduring and prolific musical alliance.

A special thank you to Amir Bar Akiva for his contribution on “Meditation” and for being present for the genesis of this band.

Riot Cycle Repeats

Sunlight ebbs and flows
The glow rolls across the floor
like a breath,
Fills the house with warmth then recedes

Eery sparkle, the same images gleam through the screens
around the house, the town, the nation

The present came chasing out

Clash the crashing cycles present now and future

Ghosts reemerge, chanting for justice
From mouths fly chants, songs of sorrow cross generations
Tragedy rippling through layers of time

The possibility to exist in a brief moment
To bare joy when justice has yet to return homebound

Acidity of sun
Rolling through the moments to afford bliss, despite
Welcomes joy
not as contrast but reaffirms
To anchor purpose 

1. Blind Contour 01:04
2. Axis 03:14
3. The Merchant, Tertius 03:47
4. Utopia Adjacent 06:07
5. Negative Space 02:14
6. Hexagonal Hawk 03:40
7. Meditation 03:59
8. Riot Cycle Repeats 05:11

David Adewumi - Trumpet
Isaac Levien - Bass
Neta Raanan - Tenor Saxophone, Voice on Riot Cycle Repeats
Nathan Reising - Alto Saxophone
Ryan Sands - Drums
Sarah Rossy - Voice on Riot Cycle Repeats

Recorded by Everyone at home
Mixed, Mastered, and Produced by Jack Broza

Guitarist, composer and oud master Gordon Grdina launches Attaboygirl Records with a wide-ranging trio of adventurous new albums

The label, created in partnership with his partner, photographer and visual artist Genevieve Monro, will make its debut with its first two releases on October 22, 2021
Inaugural releases include a new solo album for classical guitar and oud along with 
the studio debut of the quartet Square Peg with Mat Maneri, Shahzad Ismaily, and drummer Christian Lillinger
In early 2022, Attaboygirl will release the new album by Grdina’s Arabic music ensemble Haram with special guest Marc Ribot, while Astral Spirits will unveil the second album by the Nomad Trio with pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Jim Black

“Gordon Grdina Makes Music that is Important for Humanity.” 
— Eyal Hareuveni, The Free Jazz Collective

“(Nomad) presents the restless spirit of jazz that refuses to be still, searching for a home 
and never settling down…”
— Jon Davis, EXPOSE

“The prevailing ambience is one of dark mystery, but the ruggedness of Grdina’s tone makes for a palette of rich contrast.”
— David R. Adler, JazzTimes (review of Think Like the Waves)

The prolific Vancouver-based guitarist, composer, improviser, and master oud player Gordon Grdina has longbeen tireless in his pursuit of new possibilities and partnerships for his expansive musical imagination. Seeking a new outlet that can keep pace with his ever-expanding roster of ongoing projects and new collaborations, Grdina has announced the launch of Attaboygirl Records. The endeavor is being undertaken in collaboration with his partner, photographer Genevieve Monro, who will curate the distinctive visual style of the label. At the outset Attaboygirl will begin strictly as an imprint for Grdina’s own efforts, though the founders have plans to eventuallyexpand to include other artists as well.
Attaboygirl Records will make its official debut on October 22, 2021, with the simultaneous release of the first two entries in its catalogue. Pendulum is Grdina’s third solo album and the second composed for classical guitar and oud. Klotski, meanwhile, marks the studio debut of Gordon Grdina’s Square Peg, an exploratory quartet featuring Grdina on guitar and oud, Mat Maneri on viola, Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Moog, and Christian Lillinger on drums.
A third new release will follow in January 2022, with the meeting of guitar innovator Marc Ribot with Grdina’s Arabic music ensemble Haram. Grdina will also continue to record for other labels in the new year; in May 2022 the much anticipated second outing by Grdina’s explosive Nomad Trio with pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Jim Black will be released via Astral Spirits.

“I seem to be putting out more music than other labels can handle,” jokes Grdina about the new effort. “The labelis a project that Genevieve and I have wanted to take on for a while now. It allows us to release projects when we want and to create a cohesive visual style for these disparate releases.”
The label’s name stems from a favorite saying of Monro’s late father, serving as a personal dedication while alluding to the two partners at the helm. “It's also a positive, encouraging sentiment,” Grdina adds, “which is important when taking on something new like this.”
Pendulum builds upon the success of Grdina’s previous solo releases. The first, 2018’s China Cloud, featured his usual arsenal – electric guitar and oud – won a Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy) for Instrumental Album of the Year. His Juno-nominated 2020 follow-up, Prior Street, shifted into more of a chamber-jazz concentration with pieces designed for classical guitar and oud. The new album continues in that vein, intricately exploring the harmonic possibilities of the instruments in ways that bridge their Western and Arabic origins.
Square Peg brings Grdina together with Ismaily and Maneri, both longtime members of New York’s downtown scene, and German drummer Christian Lillinger, an award winning player in the European avant- jazz and improvised music world. For Klotski, Grdina penned a number of short, modular compositions that could fit together like puzzle pieces to form a free-ranging but focused setlist. The album’s single, nearly hour-long piece moves through eight of these cellular pieces, each able to be initiated by any member of the group and bridged by captivating improvisations, vividly blurring the lines between the written and the spontaneous.
Grdina founded Haram in 2008 with two purposes in mind: to further evolve his work with traditional Iraqi and Arabic folk music, and to convene several of his favorite Vancouver improvisers into one large ensemble. The follow-up to the ensemble’s 2012 debut, Her Eyes Illuminate, features the addition of legendary guitar wizard Marc Ribot, whose fabled career has included influential work with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant and John Zorn among countless others, as well as his own projects like Ceramic Dog, Los Cubanos Postizos, Spiritual Unity and the Rootless Cosmopolitans.
“Ribot's been a hero of mine for a long time,” Grdina says. “He added a whole lot of energy and excitement as well as a punk rock aesthetic to these pieces.”
Finally, next May will bring the release of Boiling Point, the second outing for Grdina’s Nomad Trio with Matt Mitchell and Jim Black, two of the most inventive and technically audacious artists in modern jazz. “I can write anything for this band,” Grdina touts. “It's very complex music, rhythmically, harmonically, melodically, and in the way every piece fits together, those guys really can do anything. Since the last album, the group has solidified its unique sound, which is exciting to hear develop on this second record.”