Monday, December 6, 2021

Harold Mabern - Mabern Plays Coltrane (December 2021 Smoke Sessions Records)

MABERN PLAYS COLTRANE, a vibrant live recording of Harold Mabern performing the music of John Coltrane with an all-star sextet including Eric Alexander, Vincent Herring, Steve Davis, John Webber, and Joe Farnsworth.

Mabern held a special reverence for John Coltrane. “He was very influential in my life and my playing, too,” Mabern once said. “After being around him and seeing what a great human being he was – man, I wish the whole world could have known John Coltrane.”

MABERN PLAYS COLTRANE is culled from the final three-nights of a three-week residency at Smoke’s annual year ending John Coltrane Festival that started in 2017 ended with these performances that Mabern and the band played in January 2018. The resulting recordings also produced two earlier albums: THE IRON MAN, which shined a spotlight on Mabern the performer and interpreter and offered a glimpse into a typical evening’s performance and MABERN PLAYS MABERN, which commemorated Mabern’s gifts as a composer and followed his untimely death at age 83 on September 17, 2019. Mabern Plays Coltrane is the album that was originally planned for those live recording sessions. Mabern had always played a key role in the festival since its inaugural edition in 2011. From the initial weeklong fest through its later three- and four-week incarnations, Mabern was the headliner for much of the annual run, an indication of both his appreciation for Coltrane as a forbear and mentor as well as his own vital role at Smoke.

“Playing John Coltrane's music with Harold was like tapping into the source,” says Farnsworth. “He was like the vortex, and it all flowed through him. It was intense. Having Harold on the stage, given how much he loved John Coltrane, it elevated the spirit of the music tenfold.” 

1. Dahomey Dance 07:13
2. Blue Train 10:42
3. Impressions 09:41
4. Dear Lord 05:36
5. My Favorite Things 11:47
6. Naima 09:09
7. Straight Street 10:51

Harold Mabern - piano
Vincent Herring - alto saxophone
Eric Alexander - tenor saxophone
Steve Davis - trombone
John Webber - bass
Joe Farnsworth - drums

Recorded Live January 5, 6 & 7, 2018 at SMOKE, NYC

Produced by Paul Stache & Damon Smith

Recorded by Paul Stache with Owen Mulholland & Jeff Citron
Mixed & Mastered by Chris Allen
Photography by Jimmy & Dena Katz
Design by Damon Smith & Paul Stache
All compositions by John Coltrane
except “My Favorite Things” by Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II
“Dear Lord” was previously included on The Iron Man: Live at Smoke

Eric Alexander appears courtesy of HighNote Records

Executive Producers: Paul Stache & Molly Johnson

Göran Strandberg Trio - Mevlana (December 8, 2021)

Göran Strandberg Trio, that is Göran Strandberg piano, Svante Söderqvist bass and Peter Danemo drums, began to take form after a few sporadic rehearsals in 2019.

- We noticed that we complemented each other, the sum of our different musical voices created something we liked. A repertoire grew slowly, which mostly consisted of my own compositions written for this particular trio, but also some well-chosen compositions written by others. After a successful tour in Västernorrland 2020, we continued to meet and the idea of documenting it all slowly emerged. During two days in June a year later, we recorded 12 tracks in my studio in Johanneshov.

Bildhuggarvägen 35.
A studio downstairs.
We find ourselves in a garden
different fragrances meet us -
it is a place just to be.
A soft rain falls gently
we unearth
sow and prune.
From time to time
unexpected winds sweep in,
an echo from a place unknown.
After two days, there’s a green light
and we leave the studio.
It’s 8 pm.

- Göran Strandberg dec 2021 

1. Indian Wake
2. Där det kan vara
3. Falling Grace
4. Sphere I
5. Mevlana
6. Letters
7. For A While
8. Kl. 8
9. Sweet Rain
10. Sphere II
11. Sweet Flower
12. Klartecken

Liner notes
Mevlana (Rumi) was a poet and mystic from 1200–1273
All Music Composed by G. S. Except No 3 by Steve Swallow & No 9 by Mike Gibbs.
Recorded at Bildhuggarvägen 35 in Stockholm, May 2021
Recording & Mixing Engineer Peter Danemo.
Recording Engineer Track No 9 Daniel Nygaard
Mastering by Stockholm Mastering.

Cover Photography by Sylvia Martens
Band Photography by Örjan Fahlström
Graphic Design by Pontus Dahlström.
Produced by Göran Strandberg.
Resonansium Records 2021

Aparticle - The Glamour Tapes (December 2021 Ritmo&Blu Records)

Ritmo & Blu Records is pleased to present “The Glamor Tapes,” a new work by Aparticle. Produced by Stefano Castagna, “The Glamor Tapes” is an entirely analog reinterpretation of “The Glamor Action,” the quartet’s latest record, recorded and mixed at Studio Ritmo & Blu and released in February 2020 via UR Records. The work is available in Tape Master, Compact Cassette and high resolution digital formats on the Ritmo & Blu website.

Aparticle is made up by Michele Bonifati, Giulio Stermieri, Cristiano Arcelli and Ermanno Baron, an eclectic quartet that offers a personal synthesis of Jazz, Rock and improvisation. Born in 2017, they debuted with Bulbs in 2018, followed by The Glamor Action in 2020: in concert the songs of the disc are interpreted as a launch for new compositions, testifying to a continuous collective research that is reflected in an increasingly evident identity of group. The re-reading of the 2020 album should therefore not be understood as a moment of fatigue or a break, but as a central stage in the path of dialogue between composition and impromptuness. Both in the writing and in the organization of the interactions, the present tense takes on considerable importance: this characterizes Aparticle as a peculiar and intriguing improvising band.

Revisiting your own record is an important operation, especially if – as happened for “The Glamor Tapes,” reinterpreted according to the “vintage” perspective dear to Ritmo & Blu – governed by a unique production and listening philosophy. As Aparticle points out about the invitation: “Stefano Castagna proposed us to make a new version of the album working completely in analog: we recorded on a tape multitrack and mixed on an analog desk. No computer was used in any production phase and the audio was not processed through any digital device. This was a time for us to rethink how technology can affect music production. In this perspective we have reworked our material, adapting it to this new recording process.”

The reworking of the album stimulated reflection and artistic exploration in the quartet, starting with the role of the production process up to questioning the support as such in an era of liquid music. The questions and ideas that arose in this phase were extended to colleagues, critics, record companies and friends, so much so as to generate a broad and shared reflection process that has become part of the booklet. Above all we quote the opinion of a historical and authoritative signature such as Aldo Gianolio: “A very modern and personal music, in which they have perfectly metabolized sounds and ideas that run in the air of contemporaneity, making them their own and adapting them to their styles, with beautiful architectures played on the juxtapositions of aerial and floating parts and others that are more earthy and solid.“

The publication of “The Glamor Tapes” follows that of “The Boy Next Door” (Gibellini/Corini/Maniscalco) and confirms the respectful approach to production times that Ritmo&Blu Records wants to preserve and enhance.
1. The Glamour Tapes Part 1 15:09
2. The Glamour Tapes Part 2 08:45
3. The Glamour Tapes Part 3 04:34

Cristiano Arcelli / Alto Sax
Michele Bonifati / Guitar
Giulio Stermieri / Rhodes, Organ, Juno60
Ermanno Baron / Drums

Stephan Thelen - Fractal Guitar 2 Remixes (December 2021 MoonJune Records)



Fractal Guitar 2 remains one of my own favorite albums, not just for musical reasons, but also because it was such an enjoyable working experience in which many of my musician friends sent me file after file after file of amazing and spellbinding music. In the end, there were so many tracks that ultimately did not make it to the album, but were simply too good to just let go of. A good example ist Andi Pupato’s Middle Eastern percussion track for my remix of 'Point of Inflection’ which wasn’t quite right for the main album, but set the stage for the very different vibe of the remix.

Also, while preparing the mixes for Fractal Guitar 2, it became clear that the extensive material for this album had the potential to be remixed and remodeled in many different ways. Knowing that some of my friends were excellent and creative remixers, I reached out to see who would be compelled to re-imagine the pieces. A big thank you to Bill Laswell, Jah Wobble, David Torn and Barry Cleveland for their incredible remix skills and musical imagination. In an e-mail written after hearing Bill Laswell’s remix, Barry wrote to me: „This is fascinating on multiple levels. A sort of master class, really …Even King Tubby would raise his eyebrows at that schnizzle.“ Of course, he’s right.

01 POINT OF INFLECTION (Stephan Thelen Remix)
David Torn: electric guitar, live looping
Jon Durant: fretless guitar, cloud guitar
Barry Cleveland: 6 &12-string guitars, bowed guitar, chopped guitar, fuzz orchestration
Markus Reuter: soundscapes
Tim Motzer: electric guitar
Andi Pupato: percussion
Andy Brugger: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, fender bass, granular synth, mix translation

Original Version written by Stephan Thelen and Barry Cleveland.

02 LADDER TO THE STARS (Jah Wobble Remix)
Henry Kaiser: electric guitar
Chris Muir: electric guitar, live looping
Markus Reuter: touch guitar U8, soundscapes
Jon Durant: filtered and sliced cloud guitar
Fabio Anile: electric piano
Andy West: bass guitar
Andi Pupato: percussion
Manuel Pasquinelli: drums
Jah Wobble: mix translation
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, keyboards

Mix translation by Jah Wobble at Airtight Productions, Manchester,
England, July 2020. Engineering by Seadna McPhail.

Original Version written by Stephan Thelen and Fabio Anile..

03 CELESTIAL NAVIGATION (Stephan Thelen Remix)
Markus Reuter: touch guitar U8, soundscapes
Bill Walker: electric guitar, lap steel
Andi Pupato: percussion
Manuel Pasquinelli: drums
Stephan Thelen: fractal guitar, fender bass, e-bow, keyboards, mix translation

Original Version written by Stephan Thelen.

David Torn: electric guitar, live looping, mix
Jon Durant: cloud guitar
Barry Cleveland: 6 &12-string guitars, bowed guitar, chopped guitar, fuzz orchestration
Markus Reuter: soundscapes
Andi Pupato: percussion
Andy Brugger: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, fender bass, granular synth

Mixed and Mastered by David Torn.

Original Version written by Stephan Thelen and Barry Cleveland.

05 MERCURY TRANSIT (Barry Cleveland Remix)
Barry Cleveland: 6 & 12-string guitars, bowed guitar, revox loops, zither, singing bowls, bowed cymbal, electronics, mix translation
Jon Durant: VCS3 guitar
Markus Reuter: soundscapes
Michael Manring: bass guitar
Andi Pupato: percussion
Andy Brugger: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, e-bow, keyboards

Mix translation by Barry Cleveland.
Mastered by David Torn.

Original Version written by Stephan Thelen.

06 POINT OF INFLECTION (Bill Laswell Mix Translation)
Bill Laswell: bass, electronics, mix translation
David Torn: electric guitar, live looping
Jon Durant: fretless guitar, cloud guitar
Barry Cleveland: 6 &12-string guitars, bowed guitar, chopped guitar, fuzz orchestration
Markus Reuter: soundscapes
Andi Pupato: percussion
Andy Brugger: drums
Stephan Thelen: electric guitar, fender bass, granular synth

Mix translation by Bill Laswell, Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey, June 2020. Engineering, editing and processing by James Dellatacoma.

Original Version written by Stephan Thelen and Barry Cleveland.

All tracks written by Stephan Thelen except Ladder to the Stars
written by Stephan Thelen & Fabio Anile and Point of Inflection
written by Stephan Thelen & Barry Cleveland.

Recorded at various locations across Europe and North America
between November 2019 and July 2020.

Recording engineer at MegaSonic, Oakland, California: Jeremy Goody.

Andy Brugger’s drums recorded by Reto Muggli at Powerplay Sudio B,
Zürich, Switzerland. Manuel Pasquinelli’s drums recorded by Benno
Kaiser at his studio in Aarau, Switzerland.

Jah Wobble’s remix performed at Airtight Productions,
Manchester, England, July 2020. Engineering by Seadna McPhail.

Bill Laswell’s mix translation performed at
Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey, June 2020.
Engineering, editing and processing by
James Dellatacoma.

David Torn appears courtesy of ECM Records.

Anthony Wonsey - Lorraine’s Lullabies (2021 Cellar Live)

When I think of the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child," I often think of my music training and all of the great musicians and people I have come across throughout the years, starting with the great trumpeter Zilner Randolph, who was Louis Armstrong's musical director in the '40s. I was five years old when I met the master, and the piano lessons he gave me were really life lessons - I just did not realize it at the time. The village raising a child soon grew, and I entered high school, where Reginald Willis became my mentor. Because of this, I won a four-year scholarship to Berklee College of Music. Mulgrew Miller and James Williams as well as my peers and other members of the village became my teachers and mentors. Now, living in New York City since '95, I continue to be inspired in this great city by great musicians and great people. One of those great people is Lorraine Tiezzi, who is a real lover of this Black American art form. This album is about saying thank you to all the people in the village who continue to raise that child. Since the pandemic, it has really humbled me in many ways - this is my way of saying thank you. I bring you Lorraine's lullabies.

-Anthony Wonsey
New York City
Photo: Sergio Santillán

1. Sweet Lorraine 04:59
2. Giving Rise to Doubt 07:03
3. I Didn't Know What Time It Was 07:04
4. Little Mouse 07:33
5. Blues for Hiroshi 06:59
6. It Might As Well Be Spring 08:17
7. Blacker Black's Revenge 05:12
8. Avo's Blooze 04:13
9. Do You Remember Me 08:03
10. Melancholy Mind 06:44

Anthony Wonsey – piano
Dmitri Kolesnik – bass (2 – 7, 9)
Brandi Disterfheft – bass (8 & 10)
Chris Beck – drums (3 – 10)
Antoine Drye – trumpet (8, 9)
Zet Harris – tenor saxophone (8, 9), soprano saxophone (10)
Milton Suggs – voice (10)

Produced by Jeremy Pelt
Recorded at GB’s Juke Joint in Astoria, NY on January 24, 2021
Engineered by Glen Bluey
Mixed and mastered by Ian Hendrickson-Smith
Cover Art by Gerald Cannon (
Photography by Carolin Rechberg
Design and layout by John Sellards

Cory Weeds - With Strings: What Is There To Say? (2021 Cellar Live)

What a perfect time for Cory to give us this album, What is There To Say?, his 18th record as a leader. It's his most ambitious project to date and, in my opinion, his most impressive. Ever since Charlie Parker recorded his iconic Bird with Strings album, the saxophone-with-strings format has become a sort of Mount Everest for those saxophonists brave enough to take on the challenge. Cory has been climbing to increasingly greater heights for years now and he is clearly ready for this ''Everestine'' expedition. Listening to him interpret this carefully curated set of compositions, we really get to know him for the musician he has become: an expressive saxophonist with a unique and personal voice on his instrument. A visceral strength to his delivery on the tenor, while at times exposing a beautifully honest vulnerability as well.

Cory, as he is known to do, has surrounded himself with only the best company. Phil Dwyer's crafty lush string arrangements inspire Cory to search for new and ever more lyrical melodic lines while also giving him ample space to get lost exploring the nooks and crevasses of the music. Cory has compiled some real musical gems here including the somewhat obscure chestnut 1906 Ballad At Dawning (I Love You) while also contributing an eclectic trio of original compositions to round out an extremely enjoyable musical program.
1. At Dawning 05:44
2. Waltz For Someone Special 04:46
3. Alana Marie 06:33
4. I Wish You Love 06:35
5. The Phantom / The In Crowd 06:12
6. Love Is Wild 06:06
7. What Is There To Say? 05:58
8. There's A Boat Leavin' Soon For New York 06:54

Cory Weeds – tenor saxophone
Phil Dwyer – piano
John Lee – bass
Jesse Cahill – drums
Cam Wilson – violin (lead)
Llowyn Ball - violin
Elyse Jacobson - violin
Molly MacKinnon - violin
Jiten Beairsto- violin
Madeline Hocking- violin
Meredith Bates - violin
Andrea Siradze - violin
John Kastelic – viola
Genevieve MacKay - viola
Finn Manniche - cello
Doug Gorkoff – cello
Maggie Hasspacher - bass

All arrangements by Phil Dwyer

Executive Producer: Cory Weeds
Produced by Phil Dwyer and Cory Weeds
Recorded at The Armoury Studios in Vancouver, BC on Feburary 13, 20 and 21, 2021
Engineered by Sheldon Zaharko, assisted by Spencer Bleasdale and Ricardo Germain
Mixed by Sheldon Zaharko
Mastered by João Carvalho
Cover Art by Lori Popadiuk
Photography by Cory Weeds
Design and layout by Perry Chua

Steven Feifke & Benny Benack III's SEASON’S SWINGIN’ GREETINGS is out via Cellar Music Group

Cellar Music Group Announces Release of Season’s Swingin’ Greetings – A Spirited Big Band Holiday Celebration Featuring Renowned Trumpeter and Vocalist Benny Benack III with Acclaimed Pianist, Arranger and Big Band Leader Steven Feifke

“There’s an attractive mixture of sincerity and humor to be found in the way this crew addresses the holidays, but don’t let the lightheartedness fool you: The musicianship is serious, and seriously on point.” 
—Dan Bilawksy, All About Jazz

Cellar Music Group is thrilled to announce the November 19, 2021 release of Season’s Swingin’ Greetings, a holiday album that celebrates the traditional big-band sound and hallmark compositions of yesteryear while also introducing brand-new pieces and arrangements to the holiday jazz pantheon. Acclaimed trumpeter and Vocalist Benny Benack III joins forces with heralded pianist and big-band leader Steven Feifke, marking the first release as co-leaders for these two close friends and long-time collaborators. This auspicious holiday recording sees the inimitable confluence of Feifke’s compositional/arranging prowess and Benack’s lyrical pen, yielding rousing arrangements of timeless holiday classics as well as original compositions written in the spirit of the season.

This Deluxe Edition package of Season’s Swingin’ Greetings is the culmination of a 3-year process, built on the vision of composing, recording and refining holiday jazz anthems for a new generation. With some tracks initially released as an EP for La Reserve back in 2019, Feifke and Benack utilized their time during the COVID-19 lockdown to continue to record additional tracks for the album, adding lush string arrangements and additional moments of levity and expert instrumental performance. Feifke recalls the exhilarating week leading up to the 2019 recording session, when Feifke and Benack were sharing a Manhattan apartment. “Benny would run down the hall, knock on my door and tell me that he finished the lead sheet for the next track right as I finished arranging and orchestrating the previous – it was a real tin-pan alley kind of atmosphere,” recalls Feifke. 

While Season’s Swingin’ Greetings marks Feifke and Benack’s first release as co-leaders, the two have a long and fruitful history of collaboration including on Feifke’s most recent critically-acclaimed release Kinetic, which featured Benack prominently alongside Feifke’s big-band. About that outing, Jack Bowers of All About Jazz notes, “for those who appreciate contemporary big bands whose guiding purpose is swing, Kinetic should furnish ample excitement and pleasure. If Herman, Basie and Buddy Rich were still around, it is reasonable to surmise that this is the path they would have followed.”

“Benny is such a brilliant lyricist. The stuff that he comes up with is nothing short of virtuosic – and so for me to be able to jump in and contribute my compositional and orchestrational voice is  fantastic. It’s  a really great match in terms of both of us complimenting each other’s artistic  skill-sets,” Feifke reflects.  

The co-leaders will release three singles including a October 29th release of “Sleighride”, the November 19th release of “Ma’oz Tzur” and the December 17th release of “When Christmas time Comes Around”. The classic “Sleighride” was co-arranged by Benack and Feifke. This sprightly arrangement demonstrates Benack’s lightning-fast facility on the trumpet, soaring over Feifke’s thoughtful harmonic refrains. Feifke displays his immense melodic acuity as well with a sublime solo. The triple-meter bridge and melodic playfulness from the duo sets the stage for a truly innovative release. “Ma’oz Tzur” is a modern arrangement of a traditional Jewish liturgical poem, the duo bring this Chanukah classic into present day with a 3/4 power-ballad feel within a marvelous big band and strings arrangement.
“When Christmas Time Comes Around” is a joint composition between Feifke (music) and Benack (lyrics), the two worked together to craft this holiday story and interpret it in song. “This album was filled with firsts”, Benack indicates, “this was the first time that I’d ever written lyrics for jointly-written piece”. “My Girlfriend is an Elf” is the album opener, a jubilant and comical vocal showcase for Benack. The vocalist notes “My Girlfriend is an Elf is a tune where the verse [setting up the premise that his girlfriend is an elf] came to me first.”

“My Wishlist is You” features a wonderful performance from vocalist Alita Moses alongside Benack. Benack composed and wrote the lyrics for this Christmas-themed waltz. Moses was also featured in a duet context on Benack’s recent critically-acclaimed album A lot of Livin’ to Do. The outfit returns to the Chanukah spirit for “The Dreidel Song”. Feifke’s arrangement harkens back to the spirit of the craps game in ‘Guys and Dolls’, fitting for a reimagining of a traditional song based on a gambling game.

“A Midnight Wish”, the album’s final track, is an original song co-written by Benack and several other fantastic new composers. The piece concludes the album on a lush, reflective note, showcasing Benack’s sultry vocals singing powerful and poignant lyrics underscored by the phenomenal Steven Feifke Big Band.

Aside from the two esteemed co-leaders, Season’s Swingin’ Greetings features an array of notable musicians throughout its tracks. Vibraphone great Warren Wolf takes a wonderful solo on the classic “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”, Sasha Berliner is featured on “The Christmas Song”, acclaimed multireedist Alexa Tarantino is featured during a flute solo on “When Christmastime Comes Around”, saxophonist Sam Dillon is a featured soloist on “The Dreidel Song”, celebrated trombonist Javier Nero is a featured soloist on “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and drummer TJ Reddick is featured on “Sleighride”.

Season’s Swingin’ Greetings captures the tremendous synergy and interplay between two close friends and collaborators dedicated to creating a perfect atmosphere in which to compliment one another. Benack notes “I consider the bond between a crooner and his arranger to be as sacred as it comes in the annals of Jazz music…Sinatra had Nelson Riddle, Mel Tormé had Marty Paich, and I’m grateful to have Steven Feifke’s pen providing the musical wind in my sails. I wouldn’t entrust my music and arrangements to just anyone, but with Steven we have complete trust in each other, and really share a similar vision for how we want to present this familiar format in a fresh, exciting way.” A modern-classic, Season’s Swingin’ Greetings celebrates the holiday music of multiple religions, and adorns each track with an infectiously jubilant energy fitting for the upcoming season.

1. My Girlfriend Is An Elf 03:55
2. I'll Be Home For Christmas 05:04
3. My Wishlist Is You 03:26
4. The Dreidel Song 04:04
5. What You Doing New Year's Eve 04:56
6. The Christmas Song 04:39
7. Sleigh Ride 03:40
8. When Christmas Time Comes Around 04:53
9. Ma'oz Tzur 04:49
10. A Midnight Wish 04:04