Friday, November 19, 2021

"ACROBAT", Single release with Scandinavian fusion group PARADISE LEAGUE (November 19, 2021)

Paradise League is a Swedish /Finnish jazz fusion band. Inspired by western and Japanese groups from the 70's and 80's, their music is created within the realm of contemporary jazz with a touch of modern pop. Their latest song 'Acrobat' is now available for streaming and digital download.

The song comes with a high quality video on YouTube, from a live session recording the band did in April earlier this year. There will be a total of six videos released on the platform. After the final video, all songs will be released as a live album. Therefore, 'Acrobat' is much more than "just" a single, marking the starting point of this live session project. 

Joel Nyman - "After acquiring an "EVI" (Electric Valve Instrument) I wrote Acrobat with my new instrument in mind. The song is a high energy joyride inspired by the Japanese 80s jazz fusion scene. It strongly hints at video game music, in the realm of Nintendos Mario Kart- series. Also, it is a tribute to Japanese sax player Masato Honda and his song Athlete."

"Acrobat" written by Joel Nyman

"Acrobat" Personel
Gabriel Dahl - bass
Oscar Olsén - guitar
Ludwig Sievert - keyboards
Aleksi Ylimäki - drums
Jakob Stenberg Kain - percussion
Joel Nyman - EVI


De la Cruz · Sampaoli · Flores Catino - Onírica (November 19, 2021 ears & eyes Records)

Noise, loose, free-ish jazz out of Mar de Plata, Argentina where new music has become explosive these past years.

The trio was formed in January 2020. In April of the same year they released their first album, “Correspondencia”, through the label Discos ICM. The group's axis is the interaction between written material and improvisation (trying to blur the limit between these two concepts) and the search for different and new timbral possibilities as a structural part of the compositions.

For this second work, the compositions are, for the most part, small fragments of written music, from which emerge various moments of improvisation that complete their form. We can listen to an aesthetic exploration that ranges from noise on “N1” or rock on “N2”, to situations of free improvisation on “Onírica” (the only song on the album composed for quintet) or the mantric “La Culpa”, in which the only guide is the search for a “tribal” sound. Finally, the album features "(El) Bosque" and "Labios", two songs with a format that resembles more to that of the Standard trio.
About the Tunes:

For this second album there were two main concepts used as a guide or reference. First, some gestures or postures connected with the grunge sound of the 90s band Nirvana. Secondly, the idea of improvising without having to follow an harmonic sequence (as it is traditionally done in jazz) which led to new timbrical and interactional possibilities. The conjunction of these two main aesthetical intentions was what ended up generating the form of the compositions: most of them (except for “N2”) work as sketches of a few bars that are enriched and enlarged with individual or collective improvisation.  

¿How to use improvisation as a form-generator and discursive mechanism?

While trying to find an answer for this question we came up with a compositional decision as an answer. Taking into account the fact that this group is a leader-less trio, we thought that it would be interesting to give every instrument the same improvisational importance (despite some conventions adopted in order to maintain some connections with our jazz roots).

Another key-element was the search for a dreamlike sonority in the whole repertoire, evidenced in the guitar audio with a very surrounding delay.

Finally, the last characteristic that is worth mentioning is the coexistence of many different time signatures that provide rhythmic richness and complexity to the album.

N1” The album starts with this door-kicking tune that begins as a collective improvisation related to the noise aesthetic. Loads of loud activity on the drums and bass work as a forefront background for the guitar, which uses the tremolo arm and Wah Wah referring to the sound achieved by Jimmy Hendrix in Third storm from the sun. Near the end of this moment a sudden change leads to 8 bars of a pop melody over a dark harmonic sequence that alternates different time signatures and uses modal interchange. This resounding end emulates a typical Nirvana´s chorus.

(el) Bosque” This piece starts that dreamlike aesthetic search previously mentioned. As an introduction, a double bass solo emerges over on cue arpeggios in 16th notes on the guitar. The tempo is close to a rubato feeling with fermatas. The drums join this section by playing some small and colourful effect sounds on the cymbals. The following harmonic sequence is extracted from what later on (by the end) is going to be the theme of the tune. As a conclusion of the introduction a 11/4 vamp comes in. Here the guitar gradually takes a protagonist role improvising with material from a melody that we haven´t heard yet but announcing its arrival. Finally, the so long awaited theme of the piece arrives in 7/4 over an ambiguous harmony full of sus2 chords and sequences of “Constant Structures”.

La Culpa” Continues this idea of reverie where there´s no written material and the only guide for interaction is the search for a tribal sound. There are no drums but just two different percussion instruments that are used to create the main 4-bar loop over which the guitar enters with open tuning (C9 Lydian: C-G-E-F#-B-D). The role of the double bass oscillates between free improvisation looking for timbrical textures with the bow and the creation of a rhythmic pattern that induces the listener into a dark introspective journey concluding with the opening percussion loop. 
N2” Again, an explicit reference to Kurt Cobain’s songs but this time everything was composed not just as sketches but as more detailed instrumental parts. The introduction starts with a duo between double bass and guitar playing the first melody in unison while the drums play intermittently a rock-like groove. This main melody makes its first appearance in 4/4 but then mutates into a 7/8 groove with an added 15/8 bar. The harmony of this section is a combination of modal interchange and augmented chords in order to achieve a sonority as close to grunge as possible. Improvisation is characterised by a transitional section led by the bass over which the guitar plays something melodically free but with a defined rhythmic ostinato. Here the drums play the same intermittent gesture of the beginning with different grooves. Finally the piece returns to the main melody in 7/8. 

Labios” It is the brightest composition of the album, it could be defined as a song in G major (with the diminished 6th as a little colour delicacy) in which the trio insteracts in a more traditional way: the guitar has the very mellow melody while the drums and double bass play a G pedal-ostinato in 3/4 that they slowly and progressively abandon. First solo is played by the guitar and deploys an intense use of scales taking advantage of the background pedal in the bass. A B section full of sus2 chords connected with no tonal conception follows. Last solo is played by the double bass which combines improvisation with recalls of the melody. This characteristic is extremely important because the solo superpouses with a final appearance of the first section. Another important feature is the active role of the drums, improvising constantly over the form of the song.

Onírica” It gives the album its name. It’s also the only one as a quintet (featuring a pianist and a saxophonist), the darkest and the one that explores more profoundly that reverie and dreamlike sensation transposed to music. It intensively uses the symmetric diminished scale. The guitar begins improvising with fragments of what will be the theme while the drums gradually join improvising with growing intensity as well as the piano, which plays a polychord arpeggio of C/Gb. Finally, the saxophone weaves in with the guitar playing a melody in unison but quickly starts a very Coltrane-like raging solo. Four bars of solo piano chords work as a separation between sections A and B. In B a bass and piano riff build the background for a new melody, again played by guitar and saxophone. It is important to point out that the piano solo before the recapitulation of A overlaps with the beginning of theme B evoking the structure of dreams, where linearity is always interrupted by some disruptive action. 

Gastón de la Cruz: Guitarist and composer, born in Mar del Plata in 1988. He has released 6 albums to date. "Triptico" 2011 and "Diagonales" 2015 with the group Ert, "Proyecto RTM vol I" with Proyecto Reutemann 2017, "AfroBeats" with Niki Lauda Afrobeat orchestra 2017, "Continuum" 2019 as a soloist, “Correspondencia” 2020 with de la Cruz - Sampaoli - Flores Catino. He is currently perfecting his Jazz career at the Manuel de Falla Conservatory.

Nahuel Flores Catino: Drummer and composer, born in 2001 in Mar del Plata. From 2016 to 2018 he was the drummer of the ICM jazz orchestra which performed in the most relevant cultural spaces of the city accompanying some of the main national jazz artists. In mid-2019, together with Sofía Karpinskyj, he began the creation and management of the "Silvia Malbrán" Chamber Music Cycle. At the end of that year he had the role of promoter and founder of the Contemporary Music collective "Ars Omnium", which brings together young composers and performers. Within this group and within the mentioned cycle he has presented two works of his authorship. In 2020 he participated, with the trio de la Cruz - Sampaoli - Flores Catino, in the recording of the album "Correspondencia", which has two compositions of his own. He is currently studying the Bachelor of Musical Arts with an orientation in Orchestral Conducting at UNA.

Valentino Sampaoli: bassist (upright and electric) and composer. Born in 1996 in La Plata. Since 2011 he has been part on the jazz scene of his city. He was the bass player of Bernardo Casagrande Quinteto, Matías Martin Hargo Grupo, Cribas, Fermín Ferraris Cuarteto and His own group Valentino Sampaoli Cuarteto and Trio. From 2016 to 2019 he studied a Jazz carrera on Conservatorio Manuel de Falla. On oct-2017 he participated in a jazz recidency with Michael Formanek playing his music in the CCK (Centro Cultural Néstor Kirchner).  On July-2018 he realesed his first single called ‘alivio’ with his trio. And next year he realesed some audiovisual production recorded on a live set with his Cuartet. In 2019 he moved to Buenos Aires city, same years he recorded his first álbum as a composer and producer called “arquetipos y esplendores” realased in 2020 by Club Del Disco as a label.

1. N1 01:56
2. Bosque 05:49
3. La Culpa 05:09
4. N2 07:35
5. Labios 07:36
6. Onírica 06:51

Gastón de la Cruz: guitar & composition
Valentino Sampaoli: double & electric bass
Nahuel Flores Catino: drums & percussion

José Marín: soprano saxophone (on Onírica)
Ornella Contreras: piano (on Onírica)

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jorge Petta in January of 2021 in Mar del Plata, Argentina in Streamhome Studio.

Futari (Satoko Fujii / Taiko Saito) - Underground (November 19, 2021 via Libra Records)

Pianist-composer Satoko Fujii and mallet virtuoso Taiko Saito delve deeper into their duo project with the help of the Internet to make "real, free art"

"The adventurous pianist-composer teams with vibraphonist Taiko Saito...for a beautifully surreal journey."
— Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

“Saito and Fujii are one-of-their-kind adventurous and highly imaginative improvisers. It is clear that Fujii found in Saito a musical partner that can navigate her into uncharted sonic territories.”
— Eyal Hareumeni, Salt Peanuts 

Half a world away from each other, pianist-composer Satoko Fujii and vibraphonist Taiko Saito recapture the delicate intensity of their duo, Futari, on their new CD, Underground. After the pandemic prevented an in-person reunion during a planned European tour, Fujii and Saito agreed to carry on by exchanging sound files over the Internet. Although the format is remote, the resulting music is, if anything, even more intimate and compelling than their debut album, Beyond, which was recorded live in the studio.  “When we started Futari, I had no idea how it would come out. Then our debut tour and CD came out so well,” Fujii says. “Making Underground made us go deeper into our collaboration.”
In the liner notes, Taiko explains that she approached her responses to Fujii’s music in different ways. Sometimes she listened several times to Fujii’s file and then improvised. Sometimes she would go back in and add another layer of sound, or change what she’s already played. 
Fujii worked in much the same way. “At the very beginning of this project, I listened to the music she sent me several times and then I just played along to it,” she says. “But when I played along to ‘One Note Techno Punks’ and ‘Finite or Infinite,’ I tried several times, and I didn’t like what I played. [Husband and trumpeter] Natsuki [Tamura] suggested that I ‘sing’ on ‘One Note Techno Punks.’ I did it once and I really liked it, but I wanted more, so I overdubbed another vocal track. On ‘Finite and Infinite,’ I assembled short phrases in a way that I liked; it’s the ‘Lego approach’ that I used on Piano Music. On some pieces we both did Lego construction.
“I know many musicians and fans may think that we cannot make true music this way,” Fujii continues. “But I think this is just another way that we can make true music. We can fix all the notes before we play, we can improvise, and we can exchange music files online to make music. Actually, the reason I love music is because we can approach it in many ways. Music is 200-percent open to any approach you take to it. It is real, free art.”

Whatever the methods that Fujii and Saito use, they create a sound world unlike any other. It’s a beautiful, enigmatic space where conventional distinctions between sound and musical note, between timbre and melody, between spontaneous and composed, blur and fuse into a single visionary statement. So close are their interactions that it’s often hard to tell what instrument—piano or vibraphone—is making the music you’re hearing. The slowly pulsing, richly detailed title track has a massive sound presence, with textures and cryptic melodies playing across its surface. “Break in the Clouds” finds Fujii’s piano lines threading their way through billows of translucent waves of vibraphone. The give and take on “Frost Stirring” with its intertwining melodies and blending textures, is the closest approximation of a live performance. The intricately layered “Finite or Infinite” piles dancing phrases atop one another in a lively, joyful performance. Over and over again, on pieces like “Air” and “Street Ramp,” and “Memory Illusion,” Saito proves to be a wholly original voice on mallet instruments, her extended techniques, firm sense of time, and startling timbres creating arresting accompaniment for the equally inventive Fujii. 
Satoko Fujii, photo by Kazue Yokoi
Taiko Saito, photo by Cristina Marx Photomusix

Pianist and composer Satoko Fujii, “an improviser of rumbling intensity and generous restraint” (Giovanni Russonello, New York Times), is one of the most original voices in jazz today. For more than 25 years, she has created a unique, personal music that spans many genres, blending jazz, contemporary classical, rock, and traditional Japanese music into an innovative synthesis instantly recognizable as hers alone. A prolific composer for ensembles of all sizes and a performer who has appeared around the world, she was the recipient of a 2020 Instant Award in Improvised Music, in recognition of her “artistic intelligence, independence, and integrity.”

Since she burst onto the scene in 1996, Fujii has led some of the most consistently creative ensembles in modern improvised music. Highlights include a piano trio with Mark Dresser and Jim Black (1997-2009), and an electrifying avant-rock quartet featuring drummer Tatsuya Yoshida of The Ruins (2001-2008). In addition to a wide variety of small groups of different instrumentation, Fujii also performs in a duo with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, with whom she’s recorded eight albums since 1997. She and Tamura are also one half of the international free-jazz quartet Kaze, which has released five albums since their debut in 2011. Fujii has established herself as one of the world’s leading composers for large jazz ensembles, prompting Cadence magazine to call her “the Ellington of free jazz.”

Award-winning mallet player-composer Taiko Saito was born in Sapporo but currently lives in Berlin. She studied with marimba virtuoso Keiko Abe and studied classical marimba and percussion at the Toho School of Music. In 1997 she began to improvise and to write music, and moved to Berlin, where she studied vibraphone and composition with David Friedman at the Universität der Künste Berlin. In 2003 she founded the marimba/vibraphone-piano duo with German jazz piano player Niko Meinhold. Their album Koko was released in 2005 and Live in Bogotá was released in 2014. Reed player Tobias Schirmer joins them to make the trio Kokotob. Together with Rupert Stamm, she also created the jazz mallets duo Patema whose recording was released by Zerozero in 2007. She is a founding member of the Berlin Mallet Group, which also includes her former teacher Friedman. She also performs with Fujii, Natsuki Tamura, Schirmer, and percussive dancer Mizuki Wildenhahn in Puzzle. She played with Mary Halvorson at the Berlin Jazz Festival in 2019, and with Silke Eberhard at the Moers Jazz Festival and Berlin Jazz Festival in 2020.

1. Underground 4:55
2. Break in the Clouds 4:41
3. Meeresspiegel 4:11
4. Air 7:08
5. Frost Stirring 2:56
6. Memory Illusion 3:25
7. Finite or Infinite 8:08
8. Asayake 4:41
9. Street Ramp 6:19
10- One Note Techno Punks (bonus track) 4:13

All composed by Taiko Saito (GEMA) and Satoko Fujii (BMI)

Taiko Saito  marimba, vibraphone
Satoko Fujii  piano, voice

Mosaic (Satoko Fujii / Natsuki Tamura / Takashi Itani) - This Is It! (November 19, 2021 via Libra Records)

Pianist-composer Satoko Fujii records live via the internet for the first time with
her trio “This Is It!”

“…can’t get much closer to improvisational music perfection”
—Victor Aaron, Something Else!

“This project…has lifted her artistry to a new level…. Always fresh, always adventurous.”
—Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

Pianist-composer Satoko Fujii hasn’t let the global pandemic slow her down. She’s recorded solo and duet albums at home and made others by swapping sound files over the internet. Now comes Mosaic, her new album with her trio This Is It!, her first pandemic album made in real time with one band member in a remote location. With drummer Takashi Itani 400 miles away in a Tokyo suburb and Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura at home together in Kobe, they overcame technical and artistic challenges to capture the buoyant, interactive spirit of their live performances. “This pandemic pushed me to find new ways to create that I have never tried before,” Fujii says. “Nothing can stop us from making music!”

Fujii missed the opportunity to record the band live last year. “I had two shows in 2020, both at Pit Inn. The first day, I played with my Tokyo Trio and that was recorded and released as Moon on the Lake. On the second day, I played with This is It!, but I didn’t record it. I really regret that now.”

However, from the beginning of the pandemic, the trio rehearsed online several times and enjoyed it. “I can make music exchanging files online,” Fujii says, “but this trio plays spontaneous improvisation and needs the inspiration that we get when we play together. So we decided to record a session on the internet.”

They discovered that it was not the same as performing and recording in person. For one thing, internet connections can sometimes delay the transmission of sound and they needed to compensate for that when it happened. Fujii found there was another challenge as well. “I had to consciously concentrate more on listening,” she said. “If we play in the same room, listening is as natural as breathing, I’m almost unaware that I’m doing it. But on the internet, it was not like breathing. My ears worked like listening carefully to another language; it required a little extra effort. But we found we could make music in this way.”
Indeed they can. The album bubbles over with the joy of music making, the sheer delight they take in challenging and supporting one another. They play with fierce urgency on “Habana’s Dream,” feeding off each other in a multi-layered ensemble performance. It features Fujii at her most percussive and explosive, with Tamura and Itani alternating brilliant flashes of sound and color with darker, grittier passages. “Dieser Zug,” featuring Itani on vibes, is a lovely construction of contrasting parts. In one section, Itani’s sparkling vibraphone dances around Fujii’s percussive note clusters as Tamura weaves soft low tones between them. It’s a stellar display of the ways in which the trio interlocks their ideas with compelling clarity and balance. The trio initially uses the melody of Fujii’s “Kumazemi” to guide their improvising, but they gradually move far afield from it, exploring timbre and sound as they build tension and momentum. “Sleepless Night” is a dark tone poem, with Itani’s metallic clicking and clattering making a disturbing racket as Fujii and Tamura engage in a troubled dialogue. “76 RH” takes the album out with a burst of energy, blending Fujii’s composition seamlessly with fullon free improvisation. If working virtually posed challenges for this group, it doesn’t show.
Drummer Takashi Itani plays everything from jazz to folk music to rock. He’s been a sideman with a truly bewildering range of musicians, including singer-songwriter Yoshio Hayakawa, new wave rock guitarist Masahide Sakuma; singer-actor Hiroshi Mikami; Michiro Endo, front man of the influential punk band The Stalin; West coast jazz saxophonist Ted Brown; and best-selling Japanese American pop star Hikaru Utada. In addition he has performed with some of Japan’s most prominent poets, including Mizuki Misumi, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Gozo Yoshimasu, and the late Takaaki Yoshimoto.

Trumpeter and composer Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for his unique musical vocabulary blending extended techniques with jazz lyricism. This unpredictable virtuoso “has some of the stark, melancholy lyricism of Miles, the bristling rage of late ’60s Freddie Hubbard and a dollop of the extended techniques of Wadada Leo Smith and Lester Bowie,” observes Mark Keresman of Throughout his career, Tamura has led bands with radically different approaches. On one hand, there are avant rock jazz fusion bands like his quartet. In contrast, Tamura has focused on the intersection of folk music and sound abstraction with Gato Libre since 2003. The band’s poetic, quietly surreal performances have been praised for their “surprisingly soft and lyrical beauty,” by Rick Anderson in CD Hotlist. In addition, Tamura and pianist Satoko Fujii have maintained an ongoing duo since 1997. Tamura also collaborates on many of Fujii’s projects, from quartets and trios to big bands. As an unaccompanied soloist, he’s released four CDs, including Koki Solo (2021), in celebration of his 70th birthday. He and Fujii are also members of Kaze, a collaborative quartet with French musicians, trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins. “As unconventional as he may be,” notes Marc Chenard in Coda magazine, “Natsuki Tamura is unquestionably one of the most adventurous trumpet players on the scene today.”

Pianist and composer Satoko Fujii, “an improviser of rumbling intensity and generous restraint” (Giovanni Russonello, New York Times), is one of the most original voices in jazz today. For more than 25 years, she has created a unique, personal music that spans many genres, blending jazz, contemporary classical, rock, and traditional Japanese music into an innovative synthesis instantly recognizable as hers alone. A prolific composer for ensembles of all sizes and a performer who has appeared around the world, she was the recipient of a 2020 Instant Award in Improvised Music, in recognition of her “artistic intelligence, independence, and integrity.”

Since she burst onto the scene in 1996, Fujii has led some of the most consistently creative ensembles in modern improvised music. Highlights include a piano trio with Mark Dresser and Jim Black (1997-2009), and an electrifying avant-rock quartet featuring drummer Tatsuya Yoshida of The Ruins (2001-2008). In addition to a wide variety of small groups of different instrumentation, Fujii also performs in a duo with trumpeter Natsuki Tamura, with whom she’s recorded eight albums since 1997. She and Tamura are also one half of the international free-jazz quartet Kaze, which has released five albums since their debut in 2011. Fujii has established herself as one of the world’s leading composers for large jazz ensembles, prompting Cadence magazine to call her “the Ellington of free jazz.”

1. Habana's Dream 9:21
2. Dieser Zug 14:46
3. Kumazemi 10:41
4. Sleepless 8:07
5. 76 RH 11:43

Natsuki Tamura  trumpet
Satoko Fujii  piano
Takashi Itani  percussion, drums

Recorded by Satoko Fujii and Takashi Itani
at their homes in Kobe City and Soka City,
Japan in June, 2021.

Mixed and mastered by Mike Marciano,
Systems Two, Long Island, NY in August, 2021.


© Dominik Huber

TUM Records releases two stunning new projects on November 19, 2021 from iconic trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith as he approaches his 80th birthday. They include his Great Lakes Quartet (Smith, Threadgill, Lindberg, DeJohnette) in The Chicago Symphonies (4 CDs), and Smith, Iyer and DeJohnette in A Love Sonnet for Billie Holiday.  These are the second batch of TUM releases celebrating Smith’s birthday. All together there are six projects totaling 22 CDs.

Wadada Leo Smith's Great Lakes Quartet - THE CHICAGO SYMPHONIES TUM BOX 004 (4 CDs) November 19, 2021 TUM RECORDS

The Chicago Symphonies represents another magnificent four-disc collection of extended compositions by composer, musician, artist and educator Wadada Leo Smith leading his Great Lakes Quartet in a celebration of Chicago and the rich contributions of the Midwestern artistic, musical and political culture to the United States of America. The first three symphonies, “Gold,” “Diamond” and “Pearl” are performed by Smith with three other contemporary masters of creative music, saxophonist/flutist Henry Threadgill, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The fourth, “Sapphire Symphony – The Presidents and Their Vision for America,” features saxophonist Jonathon Haffner with Smith, Lindberg and DeJohnette.

“The idea of a symphony composed for a sextet was first presented by composer/performer Don Cherry in his classic recording Symphony For Improvisers in 1966,” says Wadada Leo Smith. “I have broadened this idea to include the social, political and psychological dynamic into the creative space. My Chicago Symphonies are intended to illustrate and preserve the powerfully unique cultural contribution that the Midwesterners made in helping to shape the American society.”
© Dominik Huber

Don Cherry’s classic recording Symphony For Improvisers on Blue Note Records featured Cherry on the cornet with saxophonists Gato Barbieri and Pharoah Sanders, vibraphonist Karl Berger, bassists Henry Grimes and Jean-François Jenny-Clark, and drummer Ed Blackwell. In The Chicago Symphonies, Wadada Leo Smith has expanded his idea of using symphonic form to showcase some of the Midwest’s creative composers/performers, poets, thinkers and political visionaries inside that symphonic form. In particular, The Chicago Symphonies celebrate the historical contributions of creative music in Chicago culture starting with Louis Armstrong and his contemporaries through Sun Ra and others onto the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) as well as, in the case of “Sapphire Symphony,” two great presidents hailing from Chicago, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Hussein Obama.

Each disc of The Chicago Symphonies includes one of the four symphonies composed by Wadada Leo Smith specifically for the Great Lakes Quartet. The first three symphonies, “Gold Symphony,” “Diamond Symphony” and “Pearl Symphony,” are performed by the original Great Lakes Quartet of Wadada Leo Smith with saxophonist/flutist Henry Threadill, bassist John Lindberg and drummer Jack DeJohnette whereas the fourth, “Sapphire Symphony – The Presidents and Their Visions of America,” features Smith with a representative of a younger generation of creative musicians, saxophonist Jonathon Haffner, as well as Lindberg and DeJohnette.

The Chicago Symphonies follows the release by the Great Lakes Quartet of The Great Lakes Suites (TUM CD 041-2, a double-CD with Smith, Threadgill, Lindberg and DeJohnette) that featured six extended compositions dedicated by Smith to Lake Michigan, Lake Ontario, Lake Superior, Laker Huron, Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. In 2014, The Great Lakes Suites was broadly hailed as one of the top albums of the year.

01 – 05 Movements 1 –5 39:48

01 – 04 Movements 1 –4 36:38

01 – 05 Movements 1 –5 38:45

01 – 05 Movements 1 –5 49:13

Wadada Leo Smith trumpet, flugelhorn
Henry Threadgill alto saxophone, flute and bass flute (Discs 1–3)
Jonathon Haffner alto and soprano saxophones (Disc 4)
John Lindberg double bass
Jack DeJohnette drums

Wadada Leo Smith, Jack DeJohnette & Vijay Iyer - A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday (November 19, 2021 TUM RECORDS)

A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday by Wadada Leo Smith, Jack DeJohnette and Vijay Iyer brings the three artists together for the first time in this meeting of creative giants. The recording is a unique artistic collaboration featuring compositions by all three of its participants.

Wadada Leo Smith first met and played with Jack DeJohnette in the late 1960s and the two have collaborated with increasing frequency since DeJohnette participated in the first recording of Smith’s Golden Quartet more than two decades ago. Smith’s and Iyer’s first collaboration, in a later edition of the Golden Quartet, also goes back almost two decades. Nevertheless, the recording of A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday marks the first time these three unique artists have participated in the same project and also the first time DeJohnette and Iyer have played together.

In a true collaborative spirit, A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday features compositions by all three participants. The album opens with Smith’s composition that gave the album its title. “Billie Holiday: A Love Sonnet” is the latest in a line of Smith’s compositions dedicated to Billie Holiday that previously has included the title composition of Dark Lady Of The Sonnets by Wadada Leo Smith’s Mbira (TUM CD 023) as well as “The Empress, Lady Day: In a Rainbow Garden, with Yellow-Gold Hot Springs, Surrounded by Exotic Plants and Flowers” on Najwa (TUM CD 049), among others. Smith’s other contribution, an extended composition titled “The A.D. Opera: A Long Vision with Imagination, Creativity and Fire, a dance opera” is dedicated to his long-time collaborator, pianist Anthony Davis, who already played with Smith in his important early group, New Dalta Akhri, in the mid-1970s, then joined the same first edition of the Golden Quartet that also featured DeJohnette and also participated in numerous other projects by Smith over the years.
© R.I. Sutherland-Cohen

Jack DeJohnette brought to the session his composition “Song for World Forgiveness,” a powerful plea for peace and sanity that has received a number of different treatments on his own recordings ranging from solo piano and saxophone/piano duo to a quartet, whereas Iyer contributed “Deep Time No.1,” which utilizes electronics and includes an excerpt of Malcolm X making his speech “By Any Means Necessary.” Finally, the closing piece “Rocket” was created collectively in the studio.

“A Love Sonnet For Billie Holiday was a dream project to work on with Jack and Vijay where the idea of composition and instrumentation would play a vital part in how the music sounded,” says Wadada Leo Smith. “The keyboards, drum-set/percussion and trumpet would create their own sonic ranges, and with no bass at the ‘bottom’ of the music, Vijay, Jack and Wadada’s instruments could realize wider horizontal sonic fields and emotional ranges. Therefore, the performers could reveal a complete and complex melodic and harmonic spectrum in a clear musical exposition.”

01. Billie Holiday: A Love Sonnet (Wadada Leo Smith) 11:52
02. Deep Time No.1 (Vijay Iyer) 09:20
03. The A.D. Opera: A Long Vision with Imagination, Creativity and Fire, a dance opera (For Anthony Davis) (Wadada Leo Smith) 18:11
04. Song for World Forgiveness (Jack DeJohnette) 13:50
05. Rocket (Wadada Leo Smith, Jack DeJohnette and Vijay Iyer) 04:29

Wadada Leo Smith trumpet
Vijay Iyer piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3 and electronics
Jack DeJohnette drums and percussion

“Deep Time No. 1” includes an excerpt from the “By Any Means Necessary” speech by Malcolm X

Florian Arbenz / Francois Mouton / Maikel Vistel - Conversation #4: Vulcanized (November 19, 2021)

Perhaps best known for his work with trio VEIN or with American greats Dave Liebman and Greg Osby, Swiss drummer & percussionist Florian Arbenz is on a mission to release 12 albums with 12 different constellations of musicians.

From his custom-built Hammerstudio in Basel, he brings together both musicians he’s known for years and those that he’s only admired from afar.

Carefully planned, delicately curated, but ultimately dependent on the inspiration and creativity that the players generate on the day.

November 19th sees the release of Conversation #4 - entitled Vulcanized - featuring Cuban saxophonist Maikel Vistel and legendary French bassist François Moutin.
It was, in fact, never meant to be a trio record. But when trumpeter Jorge Vistel (brother of Maikel) tested positive for COVID one day before the recording, 4 became 3. The arrangements and tunes were quickly reorganised to suit the new format and the result is a studio recording with the raw edge and excitement of a live performance.

Maikel Vistel is a long-time collaborator of Florian (they released together with the group Convergence) whilst Francois Mouton is a brand new connection, inspired by the concept of the project to take part.

Ironically for an album that features no harmony-instrument, the standards included are written by piano players.

But alongside three originals, this is more than a novel take on the likes of Thelonious Monk, Joe Zawinul and Bill Evans, but an example of three high-level musicians coming together to display the imaginative and energetic spirit of jazz. 

1. Bemsha Swing
2. Pandemia
3. Freedom Jazz Dance
4. A Soothing Thrill
5. Hackensack
6. Scarlet Woman
7. Closer
8. Waltz For Debbie

Alex Hitchcock - Dream Band (November 19, 2021)

I wanted to make a project that could only happen at this specific moment in time, bringing together different musicians I’ve connected with over my time in London. Lockdown offered an opportunity, both to get the musicians together practically but also to respond positively (and with unity) to the difficult past year. I wanted to create space for these musicians to express themselves and shape my music – some of whom I’ve worked with for 10 years, and some of whom are new to me.

I felt lucky to be surrounded by so many distinctive and contrasting voices, wanted to capture that variety in an album rather than just recording one band. At a time when people weren’t able to play and create as much I wanted to go the other way, taking a maximalist approach to make something that was ambitious and wide ranging.

Partly, it was a kind of ‘curating’ – I wanted to bring these combinations of musicians together and allow them to make the music their own – every single musician made creative decisions over the three days’ recording that changed the direction of the tune as I’d originally conceived it.

The title, ‘Dream Band’ – I imagined what different combinations of my favourite musicians would sound like and wrote music for that. But it’s not something that’s totally fixed, with the lineups changing throughout the album. There are multiple possible dream bands…

1. Wolf and Nina (feat. Midori Jaeger)
2. Yeshaya
3. intro
4. to love itself
5. outro
6. FSTL (feat. Chris Cheek, David Adewumi)
7. Move 37
8. Azalea (feat. midori jaeger)
9. Embers
10. Overcome Any Obstacle with a Horse
11. Simulacra
12. And Then

ALEX HITCHCOCK saxophone (all tracks)
CHERISE ADAMS-BURNETT voice (Tracks 4, 6)
CHRIS CHEEK saxophone (Track 6)
DAVID ADEWUMI trumpet (Track 6)
DESCHANEL GORDON piano (Tracks 1, 10)
FERG IRELAND bass (Tracks 2, 7, 9, 11)
JAS KAYSER drums (Tracks 1, 10)
JASON BROWN drums (Tracks 2, 7, 9, 11)
JOE DOWNARD bass (Tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 12)
LUISITO QUINTERO percussion (Track 7)
MIDORI JAEGER voice/cello (Tracks 1, 8, 10)
NOAH STONEMAN piano (Tracks 2, 7, 11)
SHANE FORBES drums (Tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 12)
WILL BARRY piano (Tracks 3, 4, 5, 6, 12)
WILL SACH bass (Tracks 1, 10)

SONNY JOHNS recording & mixing engineer
JORDI PUJOL executive producer

All tracks written by Alex Hitchcock apart from Azalea by Duke Ellington. Lyrics to Wolf and Nina by Midori Jaeger.

Recorded at Fish Factory, London for Fresh Sound New Talent, 10-12th May 2021

Jeff Hamilton 'Merry & Bright' – Nov. 19 on Capri Records

Acclaimed jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton delivers a swinging holiday album Merry & Bright
Available November 19, 2021 via Capri Records

Revered jazz drummer Jeff Hamilton reunites with his trio, featuring bassist Jon Hamar and pianist Tamir Hendelman, for Merry & Bright, a recording of Hamilton’s favorite Christmas tunes. The album will be released November 19, 2021 via Capri Records. “I’ve always enjoyed holiday music and have been planning on doing a Christmas project for many years. I finally did it during the pandemic and got my trio into the studio to record it direct to 2 track, like I used to. We were very happy with the outcome. We put together these arrangements and got the recording done in only a few hours.”

The tunes were selected from Hamilton’s memories growing up in a family where everyone gathered around the piano and sang Christmas tunes in four-part harmony. It was a time when Andy Williams’ version of “It’s the Holiday Season” was on the radio and turntables were everywhere in America. Two of the pieces, “Caroling Caroling” and “Bright, Bright the Holly Berries” he learned from The Singers Unlimited, whose textured vocal harmonies were reminiscent of Hamilton’s evenings singing with the family.

Hamar and Hendelman open “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the spirit of the original, somewhat melancholy version sung by Judy Garland in “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Of course, Frank Sinatra’s version is one best remembered, as well as Mel Tormé’s, who wrote a beautiful new verse for the tune.

The traditional piece “O Tannenbaum” is played thoughtfully by Tamir. “Santa Baby” was a bit of a naughty song when Eartha Kitt sang it in 1953. Her version is still the most popular even though it was later covered by Michael Bublé, and most recently Ariana Grande.

Many people may not know it was Gene Autry who wrote and first performed “Here Comes Santa Claus.” The up-tempo Brazilian version delivered by Hamilton’s trio is sure to become a classic.

From Hamilton’s trademark brush stylings on “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” to his down-home treatments of “It’s The Holiday Season” and “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” these tunes were arranged to be listened to year-round.  

“We hope people enjoy listening to these tunes as much as we enjoyed putting the recording together,” says Hamilton. “There’s a combination of all the things we do that has become the trio’s signature style and what it’s known for.”

It's The Holiday Season
Caroling Caroling
The Little Drummer Boy
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Bright Bright The Holly Berries
It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
Here Comes Santa Claus
Santa Baby
O Tannenbaum
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Jeff Hamilton on drums
Tamir Hendelman on piano
Jon Hamar on bass

John Edwards / N.O. Moore / Eddie Prévost / Alan Wilkinson - EMPoWered (November 19, 2021 577 Records)

EMPoWered documents an improvisational live performance from British musicians John Edwards (Double Bass), N.O. Moore (Guitar), and Eddie Prévost (Drums). The three musicians have comprised a longstanding trio, known for their vigorous riffs and unconventional introspection. But in this performance, their group expanded to include saxophonist Alan Wilkinson, adding a deeply resonant, full-bellied sound to their otherwise discrete and dynamic in-the-moment compositions. Their pace is constantly shifting, reflecting both an instant rapport between the players, and a tight command of their styles. 

This performance, in particular, calls to Sonny Sharrock’s Ask the Ages recording, and Elvin Jones’s percussive legacy. Moore’s longstanding affinity for electronic manipulation can also be heard in his use of the guitar’s self-oscillating echos, as well as filters and distortion throughout the performance. This is Moore & Prévost’s second release on 577 Records after The Secret Handshake with Danger, Vol. 1 (Olie Brice, Binker Golding, Henry Kaiser, N. O. Moore, Eddie Prévost).This marks John Edwards & Alan Wilkinson’s debut on 577 Records. EMPoWered will be available in CD and digital editions on November 19, 2021.

1. Part One
2. Part Two
3. Preview for the album 'EMPoWered'

Alan Wilkinson - Saxes
N.O. Moore - Electric guitar
John Edwards - Double bass
Eddie Prévost - Drums

Recorded January 9, 2019 by Giovanni La Rovere at Iklectik, London, UK
Mixed by Rupert Clervaux
Mastered by Jeremy Loucas, Sear Sound, New York City

Illustration by Robert Mirolo
Graphic design by Mark Smith

Music by Edwards (PRS), Prévost (PRS), Wilkinson (PRS), Moore (Five Seven Seven Records Music, ASCAP)

Henry Cole & Villa Locura (w/ Metropole Orkest) present BUSCANDO LA VIDA due out November 19

Musical Visionary Henry Cole & Villa Locura present sprawling new
masterwork, BUSCANDO LA VIDA, due out November 19, 2021
via La Musica Artesanal
Puerto Rican master drummer, composer, arranger Henry Cole is thrilled to announce the release of Buscando La Vida, a new full-length recording with his dynamic ensemble Villa Locura. Due out for release on November 19, this bold, life-affirming work commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works finds the Grammy-winning musical polymath in a highly creative and expressive state. Augmented by the renowned Metropole Orkest, and featuring an eclectic cast of top-notch collaborators including Antibalas frontman Duke Amayo and MC Negro González, Buscando La Vida showcases Cole’s extraordinary and expansive vision. 

A native of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Cole’s cross-cultural style draws on African, Indigenous, and European influences and positions him at the forefront of jazz innovation and 21st-century rhythms. “If I had been a Puerto Rican musician playing a few centuries ago, I would have had the same kind of influences,” explains Cole. “They’ve come together to create a mestizo sound, and I’m carrying that forward.” In 2012, inspired by Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa 70 with Ginger Baker, Cole’s Roots Before Branches garnered superb reviews from the New York Times, World Music Report, and Jazz Times among others. National Public Radio declared the album “One of the Five New Directions in Jazz Evolution,” and jazz icon Chick Corea praised Cole for “beautifully expanding on the traditions he grew up with.”

Over the years, Cole’s power and versatility have proven indispensable to the world’s most acclaimed jazz groups, including The Miguel Zenón Quartet, David Sánchez, The Gary Burton Quartet, Fabian Almazan Rhizome, the Ben Wendell Quartet, the All-Star quartet 90 Miles, and Chano Dominguez as well as the groups Chambao, Calle 13, Residente, Siete Nueve, Balún and Draco Rosa.

The last few years have been a whirlwind for Cole. Six months to the COVID-19 shutdown, tragedy struck when a fire destroyed Cole’s New York City apartment. Two months later, he relocated to his native Puerto Rico, and “started from zero.” These plans were disrupted when the world shut down in March 2020, creating an even more tenuous situation. Concurrently, Cole received some welcome news: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation was giving him a New Jazz Works grant. As one of the only Puerto Ricans to ever be granted this honor, Cole felt an immense responsibility to create something that would be representative of his work, and of his native Puerto Rico. “Losing a home - and then having to do all the work that comes with that gives no time to complain or overthink. It's about action. These are the so-called "fight or flight" situations. When faced with life-threatening conditions, we can access our "superpowers," which is what this album is all about,” reflects Cole. 
Photos of Henry Cole by Pipo Exe & Jerome Stoope

Throughout the pandemic, Cole kept busy by working on Buscando when he could, and by releasing singles with Villa Locura including “El Diablo” with Tito Allen, “Caminando” with Tego Calderon, “Si Va’llover” with Alex Lopez “El Callejero,” and “Atiende” with Andy Montañez. With the support of the New Jazz Works grant, Cole was able to broaden his scope for this new project and unleash his own “superpowers” in spite of the poor state of the world around him. “Death became the word of the day," writes Cole in the liner notes, "the death of humans, work, faith, plans, bank accounts and so much more. In the middle of so much death, I decided to look for life.”

Featuring eight original compositions by Cole, Buscando La Vida is rooted in jazz, but features strong elements of funk, Afrobeat, soul and hiphop, synthesized through Cole’s singular vision. Some of the selections were inspired by feelings; the cinematic opening “No Estamos Solos” (“We Are Not Alone”) is a colorful showcase for the Metropole Orkest in particular and was written as a reflection on unexpectedly crossing paths with like-minded people and realizing we, as a people, are not alone. Some are more personal: “Y en Sueños te Persigo” (“And in Dreams I Chase You”) is about being “so obsessed with an idea, the creator pursues it in dreams” and “Dime Donde Estas” (Tell Me Where You Are), and “H.C.S.”  are dedicated to Cole’s estranged father, Henry Cole Simon. “De Frente” (Head On), a genre-mashup featuring the sharp-tounged Negro Gonzalez, is a meditation on confronting and taking responsibility for one’s life, including all its positive and negative qualities while “Azul Turquesa” (Blue Turquoise) is a reflective love song. “Shinobi (He Who Hides)” is dedicated to the figure of the ninja - a figure of inspiration for Cole that speaks to the ability to develop a “killer” instinct ability without sacrificing one’s essence. The vibrant closer “Vueltas” (Turns) pays homage to the community that created the Delta Blues and its relation to the Puerto Rican Jibaro, and, as Cole says,  “the "gatekeeper" to our hearts.”

“Every move, idea, melody, rhythm, and concept on this project is fueled by the "fight or fly" energy we carry – the life inside us and around us. The only way we could complete this project was to adapt to what was possible during the pandemic and never for a minute lose faith or focus, and by working as a family. Buscando La Vida is a testament to courage and excellence during the worst moments. Also, the collaboration with the Metropole Orkest takes our culture, the group, and Puerto Rico to new places in history,” shares Cole.

1. No Estamos Solos (ft. Metropole Orkest) (7:58)
2. Y En Sueños Te Persigo (8:33)
3. Dime Dónde Estas (4:22)
4. H.C.S (1:01)
5. De Frente (ft. Negro González) (4:15)
6. Azul Turquesa (6:12)
7. Shinobi (He Who Hides) (4:06)
8. Vueltas (Feat. Duke Amayo) (7:36)

Henry Cole – Drums, Synths, Rhodes

The Metropole Orkest, Jahaziel Garcia – Trumpet, Jonathan Acevedo – Tenor Sax, Andrew Gutauskas – Baritone Sax, Kalani Trinidad – Flute, Benito Diaz – French Horn (4,5), Randy Roman – Trombone (4,5), Giovanny De La Rosa – Guitar, Javier Perez – Guitar, Ricardo Rodriguez – Bass, Emanuel Rivera Gambaro – Keyboards, Synths. Alberto “Beto” Torrens – Baril, Bryant Huffman – Chekere, Duke Amayo – Main Vocals (8) Negro Gonzalez – Main Vocals (5), Antoinette Rodriguez, Melissa Orsini, Dayanira Arzuaga, Genesis Z. Cordero - Back Up Vocals (8)

Bill Laurance - Zeal EP (November 19, 2021 Flint Music)

GRAMMY award-winning pianist, composer and original member of Snarky Puppy. Founder of the Flint Music label. Endorsed by Yamaha, Mellotron, Dave Smith, Moog, Korg, Native Instruments, Roland, ROLI, Nord, Arp, Audio Technica, MXR, and Expressive E.

1. Zeal
2. Balm
3. Artifice

Bill Laurance - Piano, Rhodes, Moog One, Prophet 6, Juno 106, Melotron
Jonathan Harvey - Electric, Upright & Synth Bass
Marijus Aleksa - Drums & Drum Machine

Violins: Andra Vornicu, Chloe Hayward, Eleanor Shute, Emma Rushworth, Heather MacLeod, Helena Logah, Isabella Baker, Kathleen Ord, Madeleine Fitzgerald, Simmy Singh, Stephen Bradshaw
Violas: Henry Rankin, Rosamund Hawkins, Sophia Dignam, Natalia Senior-Brown
Cellos: Awen Blandford, Rebecca Thomas, Ellie Boney, Polly Virr, Inés Mota
Double Bass: Alice Phelps, Joshua Cavanaugh-Birley

Arrangements by: Sam Davies, Joshua Poole, Rory Storm
Mix engineer: Nic Hard
Recording engineer: Camilo Salazar
Assistant engineer: Paul Skinner

Produced by Bill Laurance
Co-produced by Jonathan Harvey & Marijus Aleksa

Artwork by Melissa Fuentes

Trio recorded at Morley Studios, London, U.K.

Lorenzo Nardocci Trio - Secondo Me (November 19, 2021 Losen Records)

This is the second album from Lorenzo Nardocci Trio: awesome!

It includes six new compositions developed during the last year through great interplay with Andreas and Terje. Themes are based on life´s everyday moments and on important people in my life: This is, in fact, the essence of the album title Secondo Me (According to me).

That is also the way the album opens: Secondo Me is a light C-major melody on a sweet samba, a reflection on how much I love life, music, and this beautiful instrument with its endless sounds and expressions.

Songs like Rubato and Al Quinto Piano represent moments of imagination at the piano and are dedicated to the two places I´d been sitting the most whilst working on those melodies; respectively the church in my town, Langhus kirke, and the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, up on the 5th floor, as the title says, where all the rehearsal rooms are. Dicembre is a representation of the crazy life of a gigging musician at the most beautiful time of the year: running from gig to gig, from church to club, from heaven´s imaginary scenarios to lots of Christmas food and sweets. The tempo is high and stressful, even though the melody is as slow as a ballad, and is reminiscent of an abstract digital Bethlehem.

Birozza is my love, my family. This song is made especially with my beloved wife in mind. Yes, this is a love song! The soulful groove is the way I feel together with her: swinging, relaxed and happy. B.M.W. are my kids, always in action, funny, lovely dynamos!

The album also includes three short improvisations: these are pure moments of joy in between recordings at the wonderful recording studio named Rainbow.

I thank my family for their support and patience during my absence. I wish to thank Martin at Rainbow Studio for a great job. Special thanks to those who funded my album: Creo, Ad-Hoc by Norsk Jazzforum and, especially, Ebba Nielsens Minnefond for their confidence in my project. Thanks to Bjørn-Egil Brekke for the wonderful pictures of nature around the place we both live.

Biggest thank you to the two great musicians playing with me on this album – for spending many hours with me, playing, talking, video-chatting, advising…you rule Terje & Andreas!

Yours Truly,
Lorenzo Nardocci

1 Secondo Me
2 Dicembre
3 Impro I
4 Al Quinto Piano
5 Birozza
6 Impro II
7 Rubato
8 Impro III
9 B.M.W.

Lorenzo Nardocci piano
Andreas Dreier bass
Terje Evensen drums