Thursday, November 4, 2021

Kenny Garrett Joins Jon Batiste and Stay Human on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert: November 4 and 5

Saxophonist and Composer Kenny Garrett
to Join Jon Batiste and Stay Human on
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
Thursday, November 4 and Friday, November 5

In Support of Critically Acclaimed Album,
Sounds from the Ancestors

Available Now via Mack Avenue Records

"File this album under 'most aptly named.'”
— Afropop

"Garrett, the consummate performer, is again at the top of his game.”
— Glide Magazine

"He’s someone with a lot of interesting ideas; there’s no way to predict
what you’ll get when he puts out an album.”
— Stereogum

"The focused, fervent sound of Kenny Garrett's alto saxophone doesn't appear until more than two minutes into 'Sounds From the Ancestors,' the title track from his forthcoming album. But as soon as it does, you know you're in for a ride.”
— WBGO

"Ultimately, 'Sounds from the Ancestors' amounts to another major work from Garrett;
it easily stands with his — and the year's — finest albums."
— All Music
Kenny Garrett | "Sounds from the Ancestors" | August 27 via Mack Avenue Records

Kenny Garrett’s latest release, Sounds from the Ancestors, is a multi-faceted album. The music, however, doesn’t lodge inside the tight confines of the jazz idiom, which is not surprising considering the alto saxophonist and composer acknowledges the likes of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye as significant touchstones. Similar to how Miles Davis’ seminal LP, On the Corner, subverted its main guiding lights – James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone – then crafted its own unique, polyrhythmic, groove-laden, improv-heavy universe, Sounds from the Ancestors occupies its own space with intellectual clarity, sonic ingenuity and emotional heft.
 
“Sounds from the Ancestors examines the roots of West African music in the framework of jazz, gospel, Motown, hip-hop, and all other genres that have descended from jùjú and Yoruban music,” explains Garrett. “It’s crucial to acknowledge the ancestral roots in the sounds we’ve inhabited under the aesthetics of Western music.”
 
Indeed, Sounds from the Ancestors reflects the rich jazz, R&B and gospel history of his hometown of Detroit. More important though, it also reverberates with a modern cosmopolitan vibrancy – notably the inclusion of music coming out of France, Cuba, Nigeria and Guadeloupe.
 
“The concept initially was about trying to get some of the musical sounds that I remembered as a kid growing up – sounds that lift your spirit from people like John Coltrane, ‘A Love Supreme;’ Aretha Franklin, ‘Amazing Grace;’ Marvin Gaye, ‘What’s Going On;’ and the spiritual side of the church,” Garrett explains. “When I started to think about them, I realized it was the spirit from my ancestors.”
 
The core ensemble for Sounds from the Ancestors consists of musicians that Garrett has recorded and toured with in recent past – pianist Vernell Brown, Jr., bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Ronald Bruner and percussionist Rudy Bird. The album also features guest appearances from drummer Lenny White, pianist and organist Johnny Mercier, trumpeter Maurice Brown, conguero Pedrito Martinez, batá percussionist Dreiser Durruthy and singers Dwight Trible, Jean Baylor, Linny Smith, Chris Ashley Anthony and Sheherazade Holman. And on a couple of cuts, Garrett extends his instrumental palette by playing piano and singing. 

With his illustrious career that includes hallmark stints with Miles Davis, Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, Donald Byrd, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw and the Duke Ellington Orchestra, as well as a heralded career as a solo artist that began more than 30 years ago, Garrett is easily recognized as one of modern jazz’s brightest and most influential living masters. And with the marvelous Sounds from the Ancestors, the GRAMMY® Award-winning Garrett shows no signs of resting on his laurels.

Kenny Garrett Tour Schedule:

November 11 | Colsubsidio Theater | Bogota, Colombia
November 13 | Jazz Hall | Hamburg, Germany
November 14 | Sardegna Jazz Festival | Mogoro, Italy
November 16 | Blue Note | Milan, Italy
November 17 | Circulo De Las Arts | Lugo, Spain
November 18 | Teatro Pavon | Madrid, Spain
November 19 | Teatro Ortega | Palencia, Spain
November 21 | Zaragoza Jazz Fest | Zaragoza, Spain
November 22 | Sala Barts | Barcelona, Spain
November 24 - 26 | Ronnie Scott's | London, UK
November 27 | Teatro Arsiton | Montoya, Italy

Sara Serpa 'Intimate Strangers' – Dec. 3 on Biophilia Records

Vocalist-composer Sara Serpa collaborates with Nigerian author Emmanuel Iduma on a stunning new album offering musical insight into the journeys and experiences of migrants, refugees, and displaced people
 
Intimate Strangers, due out December 3, 2021 via Biophilia Records, features vocalists Serpa, Aubrey Johnson and Sofía Rei with pianist Matt Mitchell and synth player Qasim Naqvi, creating vivid soundscapes for stories from Iduma’s book A Stranger’s Pose

"A fresh and riveting presence on the vocal-jazz landscape."
– Nate Chinen, JazzTimes

" Serpa possesses a preternatural cool, injecting weightless sophistication and melodic grace into everything she touches."
– Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader
 
Album release concert Tuesday, December 14 at National Jazz Museum, Harlem

There’s no better way to connect with the humanity of a stranger than to hear their stories and to share our own. On their poignant and striking new collaboration, Intimate Strangers, the extraordinary vocalist-composer Sara Serpa and the Nigerian writer Emmanuel Iduma traverse the African continent, sharing the author’s personal journey and collecting the tales of fellow travelers and migrants he meets along the way. Through Iduma’s insightful text and Serpa’s transcendent music, the lens widens to explore the struggles and emotions experienced by anyone who’s left their roots behind to seek the uncertain promise of a distant horizon.
 
Due out December 3, 2021 on Biophilia Records, Intimate Strangers draws from Iduma’s 2018 book A Stranger’s Pose, which recounts the writer’s travels through more than a dozen African cities, combining travelogue, memoir and meditations on migration and displacement. The album also continues a narrative that Serpa began with her 2020 release Recognition: Music For a Silent Film, which grappled with the legacy of Portuguese colonialism in Africa via her own family’s history. Intimate Strangers is, in a way, the mirror image of that project, gazing back at colonial powers from the vantage point of Africa itself.

“There were a lot of stories in Emmanuel’s book that really resonated with me,” Serpa explains. “While Recognition dealt with my country's past relationships with Africa, I felt like his book presents a much-needed perspective of what borders actually mean. Through his travels and encounters with so many people just trying to cross into Europe, Emmanuel raises all these questions about traveling, migrating and leaving your home behind.”
 
Commissioned by John Zorn, Intimate Strangers premiered at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust in November 2018 as a multi-media performance combining Serpa’s music, Iduma’s narration, and photographs  from the author’s book. In recorded form, Intimate Strangers remains evocative, conjuring mental images in the listener’s mind as vivid as that projected footage. It helps that Serpa gathered a stellar collection of musicians able to craft such bold imaginary landscapes: she is joined by fellow vocalists Sofía Rei and Aubrey Johnson (Rei is a bandmate from Zorn’s a cappella quartet Mycale; Johnson has been a collaborator since attending NEC with Serpa), along with pianist Matt Mitchell (Tim Berne, Dave Douglas) and modular synth player Qasim Naqvi (Dawn of Midi).

Iduma writes in the liner notes that, “My collaborative performance with Sara brought me closer to understanding how words worked in a pre-literate time, when writing was yet to be invented – when stories were passed from mouth to mouth, from memory to memory… Sara’s composition distills A Stranger’s Pose to its essential groove and vital ballad.”
 
“I am always inspired by Emmanuel’s insight and his writing,” adds Serpa. “We share a very deep mutual respect for each other's work. Of course, we come from different backgrounds, but we share the same concerns regarding humanity and hospitality. So we thought a lot about how to combine our art to convey this message and honor both our skillsets.”
photo by Da Pin Luo

The two were further bonded by shared grief, as both lost their fathers within a few months of each other. José Luis Serpa, who passed away just three days after the premiere of Intimate Strangers, provided the vibrant collage that graces the album’s cover art.
 
The album is itself a journey, beginning with Iduma’s self-reflections and continuing close to home with encounters in Nigeria. It soon ventures farther, over the Moroccan border and through the desert in Bamako, Mali. In the Senegalese town of Kidira the writer is reminded of his relatively privileged status when a passport means a world of difference between him and the unnamed stranger whose life briefly becomes linked to his own. The Morocco-based Cameroonian poet Onesiphore Nembe recites a piece in French, about things left behind – a mellifluous echo of past colonialism.

At journey’s end we cast our eyes back to its beginning. “For You I Must Become a Tree” poetically conveys the reflection of the migrant on the loves and home from which they’ve embarked, now far away but always heart-achingly close. “In the mind of the traveler, those who love you don't want you to go. So that person has to become a tree, which means having your roots in one place [with branches reaching far away].”
 
Serpa weaves a mesmerizing sonic tapestry from the sparse instrumentation and especially the stunning vocal harmonies, which serve at times as gorgeous atmosphere, at others as ethereal storytellers, still others as a lush Greek chorus. “The main character is always Emmanuel,” Serpa describes. “The singing voices are sometimes spirits, sometimes ghosts, sometimes witnesses and sometimes joining him as narrators.”
 
While Intimate Strangers tells Iduma’s story, and those he gathered along the road, it is no less personal a piece for Serpa. “As a migrant myself,” she says, “albeit a privileged migrant, I recognize the feeling of being a foreigner and a bit of an outsider. As a European and someone who has been following the news of the world’s various refugee crises, I feel that the book offers a human, crucial and urgent side to the stories that continuously happen at every border. That's what attracted me to it.”

1. First Song
2. Lokoja- Okenne
3. How Do You Know Where To Go?
4. Bamako
5. Lejam
6. The Poet (feat. Onesiphore Nembe)
7. God’s Time
8. Kidira
9. Le Bout Du Monde
10. Note to Nephew
11. In Due Course
12. Night
13. For You I Must Become a Tree

Sara Serpa – voice, composition
Emmanuel Iduma – text, spoken word
Sofía Rei - voice
Aubrey Johnson – voice
Matt Mitchell -piano
Qasim Naqvi – modular synth

Influential Vocalistc / Multi-Instrumentalist / Composer / Arranger PAUL JOST's Double-Disc LIVE Release, "WHILE WE WERE GONE"

INFLUENTIAL VOCALIST/MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST/SONGWRITER/ ARRANGER PAUL JOST RELEASES DOUBLE-DISC LIVE ALBUM
WHILE WE WERE GONE

“A creative force that deserves to be added to the list of great male jazz vocalists of all time.”
-Peter McClaren, Jazz in Europe

PAUL JOST’s newest album, WHILE WE WERE GONE, is a double disc album recorded live at the Soapbox Gallery, an art and performance space in Brooklyn, NY. Jost and his band, which comprises some of the top New York area musicians, includes JIM RIDL on piano, DEAN JOHNSON on bass, TIM HORNER on drums, and LORIN COHEN and MARTIN WIND subbing on bass on several tunes.

Jost and the band began performing live just one day a month at the Soapbox Gallery when the Covid-19 lockdown started easing up in New York City. The venue recorded the performances, and after five months, Jost had enough material to fill two CDs. He originally intended to release a few tracks digitally, but after a recent performance in Los Angeles, Dan Davilla, a jazz fan who has been an executive producer for several vocal jazz albums, convinced him to release the music on CD.

The hallmark of Jost’s appeal is his extraordinary ability to connect with his listeners on an emotional level. He is a passionate storyteller who interprets lyrics and melodies in ways that reveal the beating heart within a song. He says, “I like to present songs in ways that perhaps no one has heard before. It’s not that I’m just trying to be different, but I have my own perspectives that I try to present truthfully and honestly.”

He did not set out to make a political album, but he feels so deeply about certain social issues, that as an artist who always tries to get at a deeper truth, many of the songs inevitably take on a moral hue. He opens Disc 1, which he titled “Poetic Justice,” with a sequence of songs and poetry, starting with a soulful version of “Shenandoah.” Jost says, “I truly love this country, which is why I open with the melody of “Shenandoah” that ends with a phrase from "The Star Spangled Banner." I know how lucky I am to be born here and to have the opportunities afforded me, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of room for improvement.” Shenandoah” moves into “Lies of Convenience,” a spoken piece he wrote about the lies we sometimes tell ourselves because it’s easier than facing the truth. “Lies of Convenience” segues into “Forever,” a short piece he wrote in memory of George Floyd and those never truly silenced by hate, and concludes with an excerpt of a tune he wrote called “Who Says?” Jost then transitions to his reimagined arrangement of “Bye Bye Blackbird,” by Ray Henderson and Mort Dixon, that touches more overtly on racial injustice.
Disc 2, titled “Appeal to Reason,” opens with a spoken piece about the January 6 insurrection, which he ends with a touching version of “If I Ruled the World.” Jost always has a unique take on the meaning of songs, as he does on “Ev’rybody’s Talkin’,” the Fred Neil tune that made its debut in the movie Midnight Cowboy. In a languid, stirring performance, Jost reconstructs this piece to express the initial awareness of confusion and anguish of recognizing one's own unraveling mind.

Though these CDs include some Classic Rock, Pop and a few originals, many of the titles may be recognized as "standards," but there is nothing standard in the approach Jost takes. Randy Newman is one of Jost’s favorite composers, and he covers two of Newman’s -- “Feels Like Home” and “Marie.” Jost is also a formidable and prolific songwriter. He has written over 40 CDs for major music libraries, and his music is heard daily in over 750 markets throughout the United States. He is also a four category Billboard Song Contest Winner and two of his songs, "A Book Faded Brown" and "Half The Time," were recorded by The Band (Jubilation ), Carl Perkins (Friends, Families and Legends) and Rick Danko (The Last Waltz ). Jost wrote “Livin' in the Wrong Time” in 1995 and is included here on WHILE WE WERE GONE. It first appeared on his album, Simple Life, at his wife’s urging because the song remained relevant to today’s social and political climate.

He is drawn to musicians who approach music with the same guiding principles and sensitivities. He and Jim Ridl have been friends and cohorts for 27 years. Jost says, “Jim can play anything. He has incredible facility, fantastic ears, and boundless creativity.” Jost worked as a drummer with bassist Dean Johnson over 30 years ago and says he immediately fell in love with his approach after playing just a few bars together. Jost paid perhaps the highest compliment one musician can pay another when he first heard Tim Horner and said to him, “I want to play just like you.” For Jost, the band is more than a group of musicians. It is a brotherhood of like-minded souls, where serving the music always comes first.

Jost has performed on numerous albums over his long career. WHILE WE WERE GONE is his fifth album as a leader and follows Simple Life (2019), Peace and Love (2017), Breaking Through (2014), and Can't Find My Way Home (2013). Jazz in Europe has called Jost “a modern-day oracle of jazz vocals” and All About Jazz says, “Paul Jost makes every song so personally his own that it's easy to forget anyone else ever sang them.”

A multi-instrumentalist, Paul Jost plays guitar and harmonica, which he does beautifully on live performances and on WHILE WE WERE GONE. But before turning his full attention to singing in 2014, he had a long career as a drummer, recording and performing as a sideman with Billy Eckstine, Mark Murphy, Dr. John, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Farrell, Ron Carter, Ann Hampton Calloway, Sylvia Sims, and George Mesterhazy, to name just a few. He performs around the world and is a mainstay on the New York City jazz scene. He had a two-month stint at SMOKE, performing with Orrin Evans, and guest appearances with vibraphonist Joe Locke at Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club at the Lincoln Center. He performs regularly around the city at popular clubs like Mezzrow and Jazz at Kitano, and he currently has an ongoing residency at the internationally acclaimed jazz club 55 Bar. Jost says, “I enjoy playing small clubs and love connecting with the audience and sharing the experience together, and I try to create that same intimate feel when I play larger venues too.”

Many critics, contemporaries, and music fans consider Paul Jost to be one of the best male jazz vocalists since Mark Murphy, who, like Jost, was known for his edgy, unconventional singing and dramatic recitations. The live recordings on WHILE WE WERE GONE are soulful and intimate. It is a journey into the profound, elegant, and moral universe that Jost inhabits.

CD 1: POETIC JUSTICE
1. POETIC JUSTICE 3:19
• SHENANDOAH
• LIES OF CONVENIENCE
• FOREVER (IN MEMORY OF GEORGE FLOYD)
• WHO SAYS?
2. BYE BYE BLACKBIRD 4:56
3. FEELS LIKE HOME 5:28
4. CENTERPIECE 7:54
5. EV'RYBODY'S TALKIN' 8:11
6. GENTLE RAIN 6:41
7. LOVER MAN 5:38
8. A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP 5:08
9. MARIE 3:40
10. MY FOOLISH HEART 5:31
11. SOME OTHER TIME 6:19

CD 2: APPEAL FOR REASON
1. JANUARY 6TH: "AN APPEAL FOR REASON" 2:33
• IF I RULED THE WORLD
2. LIVIN' IN THE WRONG TIME 6:23
3. SUNSHINE SUPERMAN (DRUM INTRO) 1:13
4. SUNSHINE SUPERMAN 7:23
5. IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN 5:54
6. YOUNG AND FOOLISH 5:27
7. ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET 3:41
8. IF I HAD YOU 5:14
9. I THOUGHT ABOUT YOU 7:38
10. THE NEARNESS OF YOU 7:54
11. I DIDN'T KNOW TIME IT WAS 4:11
12. WE'LL BE TOGETHER AGAIN 6:31

PAUL JOST vocal & harmonica
JIM RIDL piano
DEAN JOHNSON bass
TIM HORNER drums
LORIN COHEN bass (CD 1, track 8 & CD 2, track 10)
MARTIN WIND bass (CD 1, track 9 & CD 2, tracks 4,6,9)

All songs arranged by Paul Jost except "An Appeal For Reason" arr. by Jim Ridl, Dean Johnson, Tim Horner

Produced by Paul Jost