Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Gathering Roots & Branches of Los Angeles Jazz - Healing Suite (January 21, 2022 The Village)

On November 8, 2015 Jesse Sharps, one of the great composers to emerge out of the Los Angeles progressive jazz scene and an early bandleader in Horace Tapscott’s Pan Afrikan Peoples Akrestra, brought together a select group of musicians at the Mayme Clayton Library and Museum in Culver City, California for special concert to celebrate The Gathering, a historic recording summit that had occurred a decade earlier at Cal Arts in Valencia. This album is a select representation from that concert in 2015, and features several of the musicians present at the original summit from 2005. This release includes a bonus, full-length version of "Freedom's Sweet" and extended liner notes by Matthew Duersten.

Early in the program Dwight Trible brought forth a disarming version of Strange Fruit in a stunning duo with Theo Saunders on piano. Kamau Daáood performed Healing Suite, a transcendent incantation of poetry accompanied by cello, bass, piano, percussion, and drums. And with what was the pinnacle and closing piece in the concert that day, Freedom’s Sweet, conducted by bandleader Jesse Sharps, featured a powerful intro by Kamau Daáood, vocals by Maia, solos by Roberto Miranda, Phil Ranelin, Fritz Wise, and Mercedes Smith in an epic and moving masterpiece put together by Horace Tapscott.

Mother, sung by Dwight Trible, with music by Nate Morgan and lyrics by Kamau Daáood, was performed earlier in the program but serves as both an emotional and musical coda for the journey this album represents. A journey that reaches back “400 years” as Maia sings it in Freedom’s Sweet. And in Healing Suite, Kamau’s chants of “Come healers, come warriors to this place of chaos,” get their response in the next tune with Maia singing “Marcus, Medgar, Malcolm, Martin” and calling out ”Black Lives Matter” as she “scats new landscapes.” Here we have our own healers and warriors, straight from this deep community of artists and musicians. Amos Delone, Danny Cortez, Derf Reklaw, Dwight Trible, Fritz Wise, Fundi Legohn, Greg Ramsey, Jesse Sharps, Kamau Daáood, Maia, Mercedes Smith, Nick Rosen, Phil Ranelin, Roberto Miranda, and Theo Saunders all digging into this rich history. A Healing Suite for your hearts, minds, and ears! 

1. Strange Fruit
2. Healing Suite
3. Freedom's Sweet Part 1
4. Freedom's Sweet Part 2
5. Freedom's Sweet Part 3
6. Mother

Jesse Sharps - Bandleader/Woodwinds
Dwight Trible - Vocals
Maia - Vocals/Flute
Kamau Daáood - Poetry
Mercedes Smith - Alto Saxophone
Amos Delone - Baritone Saxophone
Fundi Legohn - French Horn
Danny Cortez - Trumpet
Phil Ranelin - Trombone
Greg Ramsey - Tuba
Nick Rosen - Cello/Bass on "Mother"
Roberto Miranda - Bass
Theo Saunders - Piano
Derf Reklaw - Congas/Percussion
Fritz Wise - Drums

Recorded live by Wayne Peet November 8th, 2015 in Culver City, CA at the Mayme Clayton Library and Museum
Mixed and Mastered by Wayne Peet at New Zone Studios in Los Angeles, CA

Produced by Jesse Sharps, Thomas Paige
Cover Photos by Sam Lee
Album art by Sam Lee and Michael Hentz

Miquel Álvarez - La Base (November 30, 2021)

Miquel Àlvarez (El Verger, València) has been professionally dedicated to interpretation since before he came of age. Currently, he is a professional double bass player and electric bass player and has been part of bands such as: Perico Sambeat Flamenco Big band, Jim Rotondi Quintet, Vince Benedetti Quartet or Albert Sanz Trio among others. He is an arranger of his own songs.

1. Lotus Blossom (Tanguillos) 06:42
2. Little B's Poem (Bulerías) 07:36
3. La Mesha (Seguirillas) 08:20
4. The Jody Grind (Tangos) 04:53
5. I wish you love (Charles Trenet) 03:19

Perico Sambeat (saxo alto)
Will Mallard (trompeta)
Albert Sanz (piano)
Miquel Álvarez (contrabajo)
Sergio Martínez (percusión)
Juan Antonio Giménez
Toni Bizarraga (palmas y jaleos)

Brazzmatazz - Live At JGG Studio (December 11, 2021 Den Hoed Music Records)

Brazzmatazz returns with “Live At JGG Studio”; a selection of brassband bangers from a recent live session containing five brand new songs and two classics.

Join them on this half hour taster of their energetic, steampunk-drenched live shows, with styles ranging from drum ‘n bass over funk to a trip to the Balkans, and even a pirate song!

With new contributions from three of their saxophone players and a lone trumpeter, this truly was a group effort in writing as much as it was in recording.
Expertly recorded live in Johnny Green Giant Studio and mixed and mastered by our very own sound tech Jonas Nyaarr (GoTo11).

This album will be a free online release including live footage, filmed and edited live by Dante Vanquaethem (Genuine Sound).

It will be released under Den Hoed Music Records on 11th of December 2021, to be celebrated alongside the band’s 7 year “Grand Jubilee”, held the same day at Bar Bricolage, Ghent.

Massimiliano Rolff / Gershwin on Air - Porgy, Bess and Beyond (November 2021 Challenge Records)

“George Gershwin’s extraordinary musical world emerges, caresses us, amazes us and finally overwhelms us in the uniqueness of this recording. Rolff shapes in a contemporary writing, the songs, the musicals, the jazz and the orchestral sound that made Gershwin’s music the pillar on which the ‘American Sound’ is built.“

The measure of the greatness of a composer’s work is certainly indicated by its ability to speak to successive generations of performers and listeners. Massimiliano Rolff, in these arrangements for his trio, discovers some hidden facets in these famous songs, such as those penned by George Gershwin that have now entered the Golden Age repertoire of American Song. The album starts off with his work Porgy and Bess, to which a specific and poignant suite is dedicated, and moves on to a series of single songs that were composed for other shows but have survived as stand-alone songs, including great classics and rediscoveries that fit in well.

The arrangements are written from the point of view of the double bass player, and this instrument acts as something of a litmus test for the differences between the classical European tradition and music of the African diaspora. The sound of the double bass is as omnipresent in jazz and in other black music as it is secondary or neglected in western classical music. Following the example of jazz, musicians in the second half of the twentieth century discovered the double bass as an inexhaustible source of sounds, capable of singing or moaning, of being romantic or percussive, and often in this record the melodic role of the double bass is highlighted to provide the exposition of the themes, underlining its wide capabilities. And yet, the trio naturally and fluidly undergoes continuous changes of role, without assigning fixed attributes of accompanist or soloist to the musicians with whom Rolff has chosen to collaborate. On the piano, we find the very young talent Tommaso Perazzo, who will be a real discovery to those not yet acquainted with him, capable of a mature and balanced performance without any needless display of his sparkling technique, while the drummer Antonio Fusco expresses an orchestral and melodic drum concept without losing sight of the sense of propulsion that is also essential in this music. 

What is striking is the flexibility with which the three musicians in this ensemble unreservedly place themselves at the disposal of the composition and the interpretation that the leader wishes to convey, with interventions that are appropriate to the specific expressive and emotional dimensions of the unique arrangement. From the very first bars of the introduction and the Latin groove of “It ain’t necessarily so”, there is a feeling that we are dealing with an original and solid idea, not a simple recreation; the piece is continuously varied in every aspect, while always remaining true to the original.

Among the songs in the repertoire, perhaps the least visited by the mainstream is “Who Cares?” (despite the historical version by Bill Evans and some recent appearances in pop music). We hear a relaxed version that also features some unexpected glimpses in the reinterpretations of the theme, as well as in the solos: an excellent representation of the qualities of this trio, which recreates a Gershwin by turns meditative and nocturnal, solar and rhythmic, always open to a contemporary improvisation that enhances the classical values, the singable melodies, and the delicate harmonies.

1 Suite from Porgy and Bess It ain’t necessarily so 03:25
2 Suite from Porgy and Bess Bess, you is my woman 06:53
3 Suite from Porgy and Bess I loves you Porgy 04:38
4 Suite from Porgy and Bess There’s a boat that’s leavin’ soon for New York 04:19
5 Suite from Porgy and Bess My man's gone now 04:17
6 Suite from Porgy and Bess Summertime 04:40
7 A Foggy Day 05:47
8 Love Walked In 04:50
9 Who Cares? 04:35
10 The Man I Love 04:55
11 How Long Has This Been Going On? 04:23
12 Someone to Watch Over Me 02:43
13 But Not For Me 03:43
14 Embrecable You 04:06

"O Holy Night!" as a Samba - New Christmas Single from Duo "AS IS" (Stacey & Alan Schulman) December 3, 2021


For decades, the Christmas Classic “O Holy Night” has been a staple of nearly every Holiday playlist. From its origin as a semi-sacred and traditional Christmas Carol, AS IS, the American Duo of Jazz Guitarist Alan Schulman & Vocalist Stacey Schulman have reimagined this iconic Christmas favorite into a bouncing samba-esque arrangement that’s bound to have you up on your feet and swaying to the beat. 

The single, to be released December 3rd, was arranged by the Duo AS IS and produced by former GRAMMY trustee and nominee James McKinney of Infinite Icon Productions.  The single features subtle scatting from jazz song stylist Stacey Schulman. Tasty fills are introduced by jazz guitarist Alan Schulman, while authentic accents are provided by the rhythm section of native Brazilian brothers – Bassist Leonardo Lucini and drummer/percussionist Alejandro Lucini. 

The track was recorded at Blue House Studios in Silver Spring, Maryland, where it was engineered by Jeff Gruber and mixed by Grammy-winning sound engineer Scott Jacoby of Eusonia Studios in NYC.  The single is the first release from the Billboard Charting Duo AS IS since their sophomore release “Here’s to Life” (Night Night the Elephant productions) in 2018.

O Holy Night by As Is
Release Date:  12/3/21
Run time:  3:07

Alan Schulman - Lead Guitar & Rhythm Guitar
Stacey Schulman – Lead Vocals
Alejandro Lucini – Drums & Percussion
Leonardo Lucini – Upright Bass

James McKinney – Producer, Infinite Icon
Jeff Gruber – Sound Engineer, Blue House Studios, Maryland
Scott Jacoby – Mix Engineer, Eusonia Studios, NYC
Alex Guerink – Mastering Engineer, the Netherlands