Friday, December 17, 2021

Carlos Franzetti - In The Wee Small Hours (January 28, 2022 Sunnyside Records)

The world at large has experienced a life altering event throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which have touched nearly everyone in some way. There hasn’t been as far-reaching an event since the Second World War in terms of emotional impact on the population. Carlos Franzetti has turned to the optimistic torch songs of the 1940s and 1950s to bring listeners out of their pandemic induced gloom on his new recording, In The Wee Small Hours.

The great Argentine-American pianist, composer, and arranger experienced the full brunt of COVID-19’s destructive energies during the pandemic. Franzetti contracted the COVID virus. One of the effects of his infection was a loss of coordination, leading to several falls. When he couldn’t remember the changes to “All the Things You Are”, he knew something was wrong. CAT scans showed a subdural hematoma.

Three brain surgeries and months of physical rehabilitation brought Franzetti’s coordination back. He also saw firsthand what the solitude of quarantine meant, as he wasn’t allowed to see anybody, including his wife, for 10 days while he recovered in the hospital.

Once he was able, Franzetti felt motivated to not only prove his musical chops were still there, but he also wanted to make music emblematic of the struggles that people had gone through during this unforgettable time. Franzetti brought longtime collaborator, bassist David Finck, and the excellent drummer Billy Drummond in for a recording session at 360 Sound Studio in Orange, New Jersey in late May 2021.
The material that Franzetti chose to record was a mixture of pieces that were evocative of longing and separation from the decades surrounding the Second World War. The pieces were composed during a troubling and confusing time but instilled bits of hope in their listeners, messages of reunions and overcoming obstacles. Many of the pieces are ballads, but they are not somber. Franzetti explored material that he typically wouldn’t choose to play but that felt right under his fingers and in their message.

The recording begins with a poignant take of David Mann and Bob Hilliard’s “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” Franzetti showing off his delicate touch over the rhythms section’s subtle momentum. The performance of Eubie Blake and Andy Razaf’s “Memories of You” is inspired by Frank Sinatra’s timeless rendition, the trio’s easy swing is infectious. Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is The Ocean” is quietly insistent as Drummond’s drums push the band. The Gershwin classic, “How Long Has This Been Goin’ On,” follows in a sultry but introspective vein, while Charles Strouse and Lee Adam’s “Put On a Happy Face” stirs up the positivity in a gleeful dance.

The rhapsodic take on Bill Evans’s “Time Remembered” is a perfect addition to the emotion filled program. The gorgeous version of Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” is tearfully optimistic, while Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s “Alone Together” is bright and swinging. A second takes on “How Deep Is The Ocean” and “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” show the depth of the trio’s depth of interpretation and interplay.

Carlos Franzetti put the program to In The Wee Small Hours together to inspire some much needed hope, and emotional balance, to listeners using the wonderful torch songs of the past. Hopefully, the songs will be able to deliver as much solace now as they did in their heyday. 

1. In The Wee Small Hour of the Morning
2. Memories of You
3. How Deep Is The Ocean
4. How Long Has This Been Goin' On
5. Put On a Happy Face
6. Time Remembered
7. I'll Be Seeing You
8. Alone Together
9. How Deep Is The Ocean (Alternate Version)
10. In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning (Alternate Version)
11. Memories of You (Alternate Version)
12. Piccola Musica Nocturna

Carlos Franzetti - piano, Fender Rhodes, conductor (track 12)
David Finck - bass
Billy Drummond - drums
Allison Brewster Franzetti - celesta (track 12)
The City of Prague Orchestra (track 12)

Samuel Mösching - Ethereal Kinks (February 18th, 2022)

Guitarist Samuel Mösching’s fifth studio recording as a leader,
Ethereal Kinks,
features 11 new melodic originals and his inventive playing
on nearly all of the instruments.

Mösching’s relaxed style, melodic improvising,
and thoughtful solos are both accessible and creative.

A skilled jazz guitarist with his own sound, Samuel Mösching has used the Pandemic period to record his latest solo album, Ethereal Kinks. While four fine musicians (two bassists and two drummers) make one appearance apiece (there are guests on both bass and drums on “Winnemac”), otherwise Mösching plays all of the instruments (guitar, bass, drums and synth) in addition to contributing a full set of new compositions.
 
Ethereal Kinks begins with the joyful “No Dancing” (with bassist Renda “Victoria” Jackson) which is a fine showcase for the leader’s bright guitar tone and laidback musical personality. “Beauty And The Beast Roleplay” is a jazz waltz that builds up effectively while “Disconnect” is a medium-slow strut that is moody while having a strong forward momentum. The complex chord changes of “Mental Illness” contrast with its relaxed tempo while “Modesta” (with Juan Pastor on drums) is quite energetic and catchy.
 
The second half of the program has Mösching improvising over a drone stated by his synth on “Strict Dancer,” an infectious jam with bassist Jeremiah Hunt and drummer Reuben Gingrich (“Winnemac”), the bluesy “Indigenous,” an atmospheric “Melanie,” the mysterious mood of “Better Than Me,” and “The Belief In Magic” which has the guitarist really going for it during a rocking performance that perfectly wraps up his release.
Samuel Mösching was born and raised in Switzerland where he began playing guitar when he was ten, began writing music two years later, and at 13 started doubling on electric bass and drums. While he had begun playing jazz when he was 12, after he heard John Coltrane’s Crescent album three years later, Mösching really turned his main focus towards jazz. While he studied classical music, jazz and composition in school, he became an important part of the European jazz scene, recording several live albums with the group Sonic Fusion and releasing Punta Cana with his trio Aido. In 2013 he moved to Chicago.
 
Since then Samuel Mösching has worked with a wide assortment of artists (including drummer Rusty Jones, Ed Wilkerson, John Stowell, Zeshan B, Mars Williams, Indian folk singer Subhi, Wanees Zarour’s The East Loop, and Reuben Gingrich’s Blue Island), performed in the Chicago area, New York City, Washington DC and Europe, and led three albums (Up, Some Other Tree, and Room 3) prior to Ethereal Kinks. 
 
The release of Ethereal Kinks, arguably his finest recording thus far, should result in Samuel Mösching gaining much more recognition as a very original jazz guitarist and composer, one whose music has the potential to reach a very wide audience.

1. No Dancing feat. Renda “Victoria” Jackson 02:59 
2. Beauty And The Beast Roleplay 03:33 
3. Disconnect 05:27 
4. Mental Illness 04:09 
5. Modesta feat. Juan Pastor 04:06 
6. Strict Dancer 01:27 
7. Winnemac feat. Jeremiah Hunt & Reuben Gingrich 03:15 
8. Indigenous 04:28 
9. Melanie 02:06 
10. Better Than Me 02:01 
11. The Belief In Magic 03:42

All compositions by Samuel Mösching (SUISA)

Samuel Mösching - Guitars, Basses, Drums and Synths, except on:
“No Dancing”: Renda “Victoria” Jackson - Bass 
“Modesta”: Juan Pastor - Drums
“Winnemac”: Jeremiah Hunt - Bass, Reuben Gingrich - Drums 

Roddy Ellias Free Spirit Ensemble - Not This Room (December 17, 2021)

When music transcends the notes, it connects our inner and our outer lives, and takes us to another place. It’s a place you’ll want to inhabit for a while, and Not This Room will get you there. These nine songs combine the unique melodic artistry of composer and guitarist Roddy Ellias with unforgettable lyrics by Canadian writer Sandra Nicholls. Sung by Juno awardwinning vocalist Kellyee Evans, with the help of eight other musicians, the songs are a stirring testament to the power of creativity in the face of isolation, a musical light from the darkest days of the pandemic, a jazz-infused message of hope.

Ellias is a composer whose work defies a simple definition, and his musical journey has taken him from his early roots in pop and R&B bands, to the improvised world of jazz, through African and other world beats all the way to the classical world, even writing an opera, and everything in between. The songs on this latest album move seamlessly through different moods and styles, echoing the shifting experience of the pandemic itself. From the simple folky power of Prayer to the hypnotic beat of The Street, from the haunting, melancholy lyricism of the title track, Not This Room, to the luminous harmonies of Draw Me a Circle, the songs on this album linger on long after you first hear them.

This is not his first collaboration with Nicholls, an awardwinning poet and novelist, but they consider it their most important, with songs they hope will connect people in a time of profound disconnection. In addition to Ellias and Evans, the album features New York pianist Marc Copland, Juno-winner Petr Cancura, Richard Page, Pierre-Yves Martel, Guy Pelletier, Justin Orok, Chris Pond and Jose Garcia. It was recorded in the beautiful ambient setting of Mackay United Church in Ottawa.

1. Not This Room 5:11
2. The Street 3:46
3. Draw Me A Circle 4:44
4. Closer 5:50
5. Blood and Bone 4:42
6. Suddenly 6:24
7. What You Needed 3:04
8. Hold On 5:31
9. Prayer 3:34

All compositions by Roddy Ellias (music) and Sandra Nicholls (words)

Roddy Ellias - Acoustic Steel String Guitar
Kellylee Evans - Voice
Marc Copland - Piano
Justin Orok - Nylon String Guitar
Chris Pond - Bass
Jose Garcia - Percussion
Petr Cancura - Soprano & Tenor Sax, Clarinet, Mandolin
Guy Pelletier - Bass Flute, C Flute
Richard Page - Bass Clarinet
Pierre-Yves Martel - Viola da Gamba

Ed Pettersen - The Problem With Livia (December 17, 2021 577 Records)

In 2019, guitarist Ed Pettersen was given the opportunity to explore the incredible acoustic space of the Emmanuel Vigeland Mausoleum in Oslo, Norway, a dark room covered in frescos of naked figures, with his electric lap steel guitar. As something that had mainly been a bucket list experience, the opportunity represented both a satisfying accomplishment and a deeply spiritual, haunting experience. The freedom of the mausoleum’s arching, hallowed space is paralleled in the exploratory wandering of Pettersen’s guitar, moving with confidence and curiosity through the abstract. The tracks, played on his 8-string Weissenborn guitar, keyboards and modular synth are both relaxed and intense, making equal uses of silence and clarity of sound.

Pettersen is not usually drawn to playing solo, preferring the energy of collaboration—and hadn't been planning to play again until French improvisor Christian Vasseur asked me to contribute to his weekly pandemic collaborations in November 2020. After recording for Christian, Pettersen let the tape roll, and this project documents the winding and wistful improvisations created in memory of his experience at the mausoleum.

1. The Problem With Livia
2. Get Out of Here
3. Completely Unaware
4. Facts Don't Lie
5. C'mon, C'mon, C'mon
6. Can It Really Be You
7. Gimme' a Break
8. Green, Green, Green
9. If I Had a Dollar
10. It Doesn't Matter Anymore
11. Let's Go to the Video
12. Like I Used To
13. Stop Me if You've Heard This
14. Stop, Wait, Don't
15. We Are the Sunset 

Ed Pettersen - 8 string Weissenborn, keyboards and modular synth

Recorded on November 24, 2020 by Ed Pettersen in Nashville, TN
Mixed Ed Pettersen
Mastered by Bob Olhsson

All music by Ed Pettersen, High Line Riders Music (ASCAP)

Jacob Jolliff - Standards, Vol. 1 (December 17, 2021)

1. I'll Be Seeing You 06:59
2. Moose The Mooche 04:58
3. Everything Happens To Me 05:28
4. Have You Met Miss Jones? 06:52
5. Tricotism 04:55
6. Nica's Dream 05:41
7. Inner Urge 05:51
8. Turn Out The Stars 04:55

Jacob Jolliff, mandolin
Randy Porter, piano
Jeff Picker, bass
Alwyn Robinson, drums

Produced and Engineered by Randy Porter
Mixed by Dave Sinko
Mastered by Randy LeRoy at Tonal Park
Graphic Design by Setty Hopkins

Sarah Marie Hughes / Stephen Arnold / Kelton Norris - Still Life (December 17, 2021)

This recording took place in a late Summer afternoon in Alexandria at Jack Kilby’s home studio the Crab Shack. Once all the microphones were set up we asked Jack to just let the tape roll, and we improvised for about an hour with some fun, but mixed results. We took a break and hung out on the porch for a while, catching up and listening to the cicadas. When we came back in, the music really started to gel, and we recorded all the pieces on this record, which are presented in chronological order.

It is difficult to describe the uncertain feeling of that Summer. This session was our first time being together in months, and we didn’t discuss any real plans or expectations beyond wanting to play.

So much in our lives had changed and has changed since this recording, but this is how we were then. I remember thinking in that moment that we were like the buzzing cicadas, but instead of buzzing, we made this music. It’s just what we do.

- Stephen Arnold

1. Re-Entry
2. Plaza Sésamo
3. Stop Making Me Celebrate
4. Tunes, Songs, Pieces, Works
5. Still Life
6. Where's It Gonna Go?
7. Word Association

Sarah Marie Hughes: soprano saxophone, voice
Stephen Arnold: bass
Kelton Norris: drums

Recorded by Jack Kilby at the Crab Shack, Alexandria, VA on Aug. 24, 2020
Mixed by Ben Miller in New York City, NY
Mastered by Mike Pope at Vatican City Sound, Marriottsville, MD

Produced by Stephen Arnold

Cover Art: "Chimera" by Sarah Marie Hughes

All songs by Sarah Marie Hughes, Stephen Frederick Arnold, and Kelton Norris