Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Mohannad Nasser - Al Hamra

Al Hamra is a musical journey that started at the moment I left Syria. The name of the album reflects a hidden intersection between two places that influenced me: Al Hamra street in Beirut, Lebanon, The symbol of pluralism and diversity, and Al Hamra castle in Granada, Spain, which is one of the most magnificent representations of the arabic cultural influence in Spain and Europe.

The music is based on three main musical directions, The Arabic music, expressed by the Oud, the Arabic lyrics and traditional music elements. The flamenco music brought by the grand flutist Jorge Pardo, the distinguished name in the flamenco scene, and the percussionist Sergio Martinez who twists the flamenco with groovy vibes, The Jazz music, introduced by the delicate pianist Albert Sanz through his rich harmonics, and the unique double bassist Masa Kamaguchi. 

1. Al Hamra 05:39
2. Sacromonte 05:09
3. Schengen 06:28
4. Moonless Night 06:44
5. Sonbati 06:19
6. Dabke in Jaffa 05:04
7. Ajebto Menka 06:20
8. Badwen Jazz 03:27
9. Huzzam Taksim 03:36

Mohannad Nasser: Oud & Voice & Composition
Jorge Pardo: Flute
Albert Sanz: Piano & Keys
Sergio Martinez: Percussion
Masa Kamaguchi: Double Bass

Matt Ulery to Issue First Live Recording – ‘Delicate Charms Live at the Green Mill’ on October 6

Celebrated Bassist and Composer Matt Ulery Announces the Release of His First Live Record, Delicate Charms Live at the Green Mill 

Out October 6th on Woolgathering – Release Show/Residency Kickoff at the Hungry Brain on October 6th

Woolgathering Records is thrilled to announce the October 6th release of bassist and composer Matt Ulery’s Delicate Charms Live at the Green Mill. This recording captures an electrifying evening of live music from Ulery’s Delicate Charms ensemble, performing at the legendary Chicago institution The Green Mill. Following the ensemble’s eponymous release in October of 2019, 2021’s Delicate Charms Live at the Green Mill presents six brand new Ulery compositions interpreted by five masterful musicians that when assembled, create a deeply adept ensemble unparalleled in interplay and dynamic sensibility. Profoundly reflective of the time-period in which the album was recorded, the exultant energy heard here captures an eagerly-awaited evening of live music – a hungrily anticipated night of freedom and creative expression after a disorienting period of imposed solitude due to the global health crisis. In addition, the travel restrictions of the time imposed some changes in the ensemble’s personnel – Ulery is joined here by pianist Paul Bedal, drummer Quin Kirchner, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, and trumpeter James Davis. On the night of release, Ulery will kick off the first outing of his new weekly residency at The Hungry Brain with an album release celebration. Details can be found HERE
Photo by Sandy Morris

Ulery reflects: “Just as Chicago was starting to open up in April/May 2021, it seemed like the only live music happening inside was at some of the jazz clubs. The Green Mill was operating with a seated only capacity. While braving the elements, we were all so hungry for live music in a room together, so it was no surprise that the vibe in the room was tangible…We couldn’t imagine replicating the energy in a studio that was created and felt that weekend at the Mill. ” The band played six sets from 8pm to midnight each night for two nights, as Dave Jemilo, the proprietor of the Green Mill, mixed live sound. Performing new material written by Ulery within the year, Delicate Charms Live at the Green Mill documents the most spirited takes of the ensemble’s first impressions of these striking compositions. 

The composer explains, “The tunes on this record have long, dynamic forms requiring intense engagement of the musicians at play. I wanted to create something new (to me) that has the composure of chamber music while having the agility through these forms only potent improvisers can bring to the flow… These guys absolutely crushed the new material, all the ink and all the dynamic improvisation that is always woven throughout this music.”

From the album’s very first refrains, the ensemble strikes an acute balance between harmonic intensity, thoughtful nuance and soulful delivery. Ulery’s orchestral genius is apparent when one notes the sheer range of timbre and dynamics that he pulls out of a single quintet – pieces like “We Are Just at the Limit” and “That Hideous Strength” seem to center heavily around the piano while “Oceans Away” and “The Arrival” are driven by the ensemble’s steadfast horn section. “Consumer of Time” makes ample use of Ulery’s stellar bass playing, before evolving into a true ensemble piece. These changes in density make for a diverse and exciting listening experience.

This live release acts as a vibrant follow-up to Ulery’s 2019 release Delicate Charms which garnered international acclaim. Hrayr Attarian of Chicago Jazz Magazine noted “The mellifluous and intricate Delicate Charms is thought-provoking and charmingly sophisticated. It is novel, complex yet accessible, which, together with its singular style, are the makings of an instant classic.” Michael Ambrosino wrote, for 33Third: Best of 2019, “By the end of the album you’ll realize this is Matt Ulery’s harmonic world, and we just live in it.” Delicate Charms Live at the Green Mill transports listeners into Ulery’s immersive harmonic world within the stirring, irreplaceable atmosphere of a live performance.

1. We Are Just At The Limit 07:05
2. Oceans Away 11:07
3. The Arrival 14:43
4. Undertow 08:58
5. That Hideous Strength 07:15
6. Consumer Of Time 13:36

Greg Ward | alto saxophone
James Davis | trumpet
Paul Bedal | piano
Quin Kirchner | drums
Matt Ulery | double bass and compositions