Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer - Recordings from the Åland Islands (March 11, 2022 International Anthem)

In 2017 Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer traveled together to the Åland Islands (an archipelago that is host to around 6,500 islands) in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland. They headed to the islands with the intention of helping two friends (mother/daughter duo Jannika/Sage Reed) barn raise a small inn named Hotel Svala in Kumlinge (a municipality consisting of a small group of islands and a population of about 320). The idea was that, once completed, Svala would host artist residencies and workshop programs, creating a direct link between the islands and the USA.

The concept of recording music there came about as Honer & Chiu learned more and more about the islands. They were taken by the serene and strange quality of the place. The sun doesn’t set in the summer (and barely rises in the winter). The network of miniature islands is traversed by ferry which, according to Chiu, “casts a surreal horizontal movement through space and time, with islands shifting into and out of periphery, totally still and calm, yet always in motion.”

In 2019 they were awarded a grant from the Department of Culture to return and perform a concert at the Kumlinge Kyrka, a 14th century medieval church adorned with incredible frescos. The concert was recorded and became source material – along with improvisations on viola and electronics, pipe organ, pump organ, piano, synthesizers, field recordings and voice memos, all captured across both their trips at various locations on the archipelago – from which they meticulously crafted a post-script in the form of 'Recordings from the Åland Islands'.

Easing listeners into the feeling of the place, the album’s opening track “In Åland Air” is a dream-like haze that slows time, invoking the feeling of descending by plane onto the archipelago, a place Chiu recalls as “lush with a gentle, brackish breeze...” On “Snåcko,” a track named for the island next to Kumlinge, the music becomes a transportive portrait, painting in sound “the romantic and gentle atmosphere of the forests in Åland — a place where your eyes slowly adjust to the rainbow-colored moss covering granite boulders. Walking around, you find the forest floor blossoming with blueberries, currants, and flowers...”

The longest and darkest movement in the collection, “Archipelago,” encapsulates “the experience of being surrounded in the vast network of islands” with a dense cloud of slowly modulating string layers, improvised by Honer in an empty swimming pool at Svala. “The heaviness of the track,” says Honer, “is a reference to the deep darkness experienced during the Nordic winter days.” But the plaintive atmosphere of that penultimate piece is succeeded with the triumphant final movement of the album, “Under the Midnight Sun,” which bellows forth like a vibrant chorus of melodious sighs, echoing classic sounds from Jon Hassell’s 'Vernal Equinox', or Franco Battiato’s 'Clic', or Brian Eno’s 'Another Green World'.

Just as two eyes, two ears, and two halves of a brain work together to create a memory, on their duo debut, Honer and Chiu’s collective pallet produces a vivid three-dimensional hyperreality of painterly tones and textures – bright and kaleidoscopic, but with a deeply warm, earthen resonance. The music evokes a powerful sense of place, transporting and immersing listeners in the other-world of the Åland Islands. And though they achieve this in beautifully natural, organic manner, Chiu & Honer agree this album is quite unlike anything they’ve made before, and likely unlike anything they’ll make in the future.

...about Chiu & Honer...

The combination of modular synthesizer and viola is an uncommon one, but Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer manage to create a distinctive dyad that comes together with grace and truth. They’ve accomplished this by bringing much more than their respective axes to the table. Years of collaboration, cohabitation, shared experience, and separate but equally inspired commitments to utilitarian cultural work bind their disparate timbres together into a singular aesthetic reality.

The two artists met, appropriately, as members of a large ensemble performing Terry Riley’s “In C,” for an annual concert organized by Bitchin Bajas at Chicago modern music hub Constellation. Honer & Chiu had been living and working in Chicago for a long time, both active members of the notoriously interconnected improvisational and experimental music scenes, but they were somehow previously unintroduced. Chiu’s musical CV to that point included work with bands like Icy Demons and Chandeliers, but he was mostly known for his visual and graphic design work as Some All None. Honer had primarily worked as an instructor in Chicago, as well as a member of the ensemble Quartet Datura. In 2014, a year after their first collaboration, together, they decided to migrate to Los Angeles to continue developing their respective careers and crafts in sunnier climes.

Relocation to Los Angeles has proven to be fruitful for both artists. Honer has since become a first-call session player for the likes of Adrian Younge and Beyoncé. She’s also played on recordings by Chloe x Halle, Angel Olsen, Fleet Foxes, and Stanley Clarke, among others, including five recordings with Grammy nominations. Along with her session work, Honer is on the music faculty at California State University. Chiu has expanded his visual work in numerous capacities, in addition to becoming an active intersectional community organizer, and refocusing his musical practice to electronic music composition and sound art. He’s also become an Assistant Professor at Otis College of Art & Design; has exhibited/performed at The Getty Center, LACMA, and other distinguished locales; has become a resident programmer for Dublab; and has generated a strong unit of regular musical collaborators that includes Celia Hollander, Booker Stardrum, Ben Babbitt, Dustin Wong, Takako Minekawa, and Sam Prekop. Chiu has also designed album artwork for several International Anthem releases, including Angel Bat Dawid's Transition East, Dos Santos's City of Mirrors, Jeff Parker's Forfolks, and JP's Myspace Beats. 

1. In Åland Air
2. On the Other Sea
3. Snåcko
4. Stureby House Piano
5. Rocky Passage
6. Kumlinge Kyrka
7. Voices
8. By Foot By Sea
9. Anna's Organ
10. Archipelago
11. Under the Midnight Sun

Written, performed, and produced by Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer.

Recorded in various locations on the Åland Islands.

Jeremiah Chiu – piano, organs, modular synthesizer, Crumar Performer, Juno-60, CS01, OP-1, bass guitar, and field recordings.
Marta Sofia Honer – viola, Crumar Performer, and hand chimes.

Processing on "In Åland Air" by John McEntire.

Additional field recordings on "Stureby House Piano," "Voices," and "By Foot By Sea" by Sean Pecknold.

Flute on "Archipelago" by Stephen Honer.

Edited and arranged in Kumlinge, Chama, and Los Angeles.

Mixed by Jeremiah Chiu, Dave Vettraino, and Regina Martinez at International Anthem Studios, Chicago.

Mastered by David Allen in Portland.

Cover image by Joyce Kim.
Verso images by Marta Sofia Honer.
Layout by Jeremiah Chiu.

Barney McAll (ft. Gary Bartz) - Precious Energy (February 18, 2022 Extra Celestial Arts)

When I was a child, I used to swim for hours in the shallows at Mt Martha beach. Mask, snorkel, flippers amazement. I would chase the baby flathead that would skim the sand and, was fascinated by all the beautiful sea life and the essence of nature. Intermittent warm currents would wash over me and it would feel so comforting and sanguine. This ebb and flow was accepted without question. Can I continue to accept it?

I used to love the early morning after a king tide at Silverleaves when I would chase the thousand soldier crabs that would burrow under the sand to be reclusive within an instant. Does it matter where they went?

As I delve further into music I see that in many ways, I have been trying to recreate those tides, currents and crustaceans with sound. As every wave is unique - I wish to be relieved of the bondage of self.

Thank you to every earthling who contributed to this batch of sun rays and warm currents during dark times. Thank you especially to the artists on this album: I am so grateful to have this music made real. Thankyou; Gary Bartz, Billy Harper, Hiatus Kaiyote, Greg Sher, Allysha Joy, The Merri Creek, Wat Artists, Si Gould, Julie Vecera, Daniel Merriweather, Mike Gurrieri, Gilles Peterson, Mother Tongue Records, Fred Wesley and the JB's crew, Luna Blu, McAll tribe, Melbourne tribe, New York tribe.

Especially thanks to my beautiful family Jendhi, Elias and Julius. In memory of Jack and Yvonne McAll Spirit Eternal Life.

1. Precious Energy - Homage To Leon Thomas and Pharoah Sanders ft. Julien Wilson, Rita Satch
2. Sweet Water ft. - Homage To Oshun Rita Satch, Julien Wilson
3. Wild Horses In The Morning Sky ft. Laneous, Rita Satch
4. Sweet Sweet Spirit ft. Homage to Doris Akers ft. Gary Bartz, Rita Satch, Belle Bangard
5. Sun Rays ft. Jace XL, Laneous
6. Stevland ft. - Homage to Stevie Wonder Gary Bartz, Jace XL, Rita Satch, Belle Bangard
7. John Coltrane Homage to Strata East ft. Gary Bartz
8. Precious Energy (Bonus 'Lord's Garden' Remix)

"2020 and 2021 were tough - this music was made as a balm for me and can hopefully be one in some way for you too"
-Barney McAll
PRECIOUS ENERGY (Leon Thomas) Coburg Community Choir: Rita Satch, Angus Leslie, Grace Robinson, Barney McAll / Sax - Julien Wilson / Keys -Barney McAll / Drums - Ben Vanderwal / Drums recorded by Ben Vanderwal / Additional production by Theo Carbo /
Recorded at ExtraCelestial Arts by Barney McAll

SWEET WATER (Barney McAll) Lead Vocals - Rita Satch / Backing Vocals - Laneous / Drums - Perrin Moss / Guitar & Efx - Laneous / Bass - Paul Bender / Rhodes, Bul Bul Tarang, Percussion & Synth - Barney McAll / Saxophone- Julien Wilson / Bata and Percussion - Javier Fredes / Engineer- Ari Roze & Barney McAll /Mix Engineer- Nick Herrera / Mixed by Nick Herrera at The Grove, Coburg / Recorded at Plug Seven Studio, Collingwood /Additional recording by Barney McAll at ExtraCelestial Arts

WILD HORSES IN THE MORNING SKY (Barney McAll) Guitar & Lead Vocals - Laneous / Keys & BVs - Barney McAll / Keys - Simon Mavin / Guitars - Cameron Deyell / Bass - Paul Bender / Drums - Ben Vanderwal / Country Pickin’ Guitar - Theo Carbo / BVs -Rita Satch
Recorded by Nick Herrera at Headgap Studio / Vocals ,Guitar, Extra Keys Recorded at ExtraCelestial Arts by Barney McAll / Assistant Theo Carbo / Mixed By Gareth Thomson / Recorded at Headgap Studio

SWEET SWEET SPIRIT (Doris Akers arr. Barney McAll) Keys - Barney McAll / Alto and Soprano Sax - Gary Bartz / Bass - Paul Bender / Drums, Percussion - Hamish Stuart / Vocals - Belle Bangard / Vocals - Rita satch / Recorded at Extra Celestial Arts by Barney McAll / Drums Recorded Benjamin Rodgers at Apple Street Studios / Sax Recorded by Gary Bartz at OYO studios, San Francisco / Mixed by Theo Carbo / Additional production by Theo Carbo / Recorded at ExtraCelestial Arts

SUN RAYS (Barney McAll) Vocals - Jace XL / Keys, Talkbox - Barney McAll / Bass - Paul Bender / Drums - Perrin Moss / Guitar & Solo - Laneous / Vocals -Rita Satch / Cosmic Ventriloquist Choir: Rita Satch, Grace Robinson, Emma Volard, Matilda Abraham, Indigo King, Josh Kyle, Miro Lauritz, Damon Smith, Audrey Powne, Sylvie Evans, Isadora Lauritz / Mixed by Gareth Thomson / Rhythm Section Recorded by Ari Roze at Plug Seven Studios

STEVLAND (Barney McAll, Greta Gertler) Vocals - Jace XL / Keys - Barney McAll / Keys - Simon Mavin / Vocals - Rita Satch / Vocals -Bell Bangard / Alto and Soprano Sax -Gary Bartz / Bass -Paul Bender / Guitars -Cameron Deyell / Drums -Ben Vanderwal / Vocals and Additional Recording at ExtraCelestial Arts by Barney McAll / Mixed by Theo Carbo / Additional production by Theo Carbo / Recorded at Headgap Studio / Sax Recorded by Gary Bartz at OYO studios, San Francisco

JOHN COLTRANE (Bill Lee) Keys -Barney McAll / Keys - Simon Mavin / Alto and Soprano Sax - Gary Bartz / Bass -Paul Bender /Drums - Ben Vanderwal / Vocals - Gary Bartz with Rita Satch, Belle Bangard, Barney McAll // Vocals and Additional Recording at Extra Celestial Arts by Barney McAll / Mixed by Theo Carbo / Additional production by Theo Carbo / Recorded at Headgap Studio

Album mastered by Lachlan Carrick / Cover art by Tokio Aoyama / All songs Produced by Barney McAll

Indo Jazz Fusions with Larry Adler (February 2, 2022 British Progressive Jazz)

This is one of those occasions when we ‘labellers of music’ get stuck in our own glue. Consider the complication: A group called Indo Jazz Fusions containing Indian and British musicians, an American-born guest, and the result, a uniquely beautiful music which is patently not quite Indian, not quite jazz, not quite contemporary-American. I think the most accurate thing you can say is that it can only be played the way it is by men in contact with the jazz tradition.

The group is led, and all the compositions save one were written, by John Mayer. Born in Calcutta, trained first in Indian music, then in classical European music, he came to England about twenty years ago to pursue an orchestral career as a violinist. More recently he has devoted his time entirely to composition and to his Indo Jazz Fusions unit, an idea dating from four or five years ago. As a group it’s been through a number of changes so that now it’s a very fiery, jazzy unit indeed, which doesn’t mean that it’s no longer Indian, as can be heard in the first piece - Raga Malika, based on the rules of the classical Indian raga, a set scale of notes - a kit of parts almost - from which all the resulting solos are built. The rhythm in that case, twelve beats. Not to a bar so much as twelve beats in a recurring cycle.

In Serenade you’ll notice the pastoral nature of the sound of Larry Adler’s harmonica against Stan Sulzmann’s flute. In John Mayer’s composition Romance, from which guitar, sitar and tabla are absent, it reaches a degree of intensity seldom heard outside the music of Vaughan Williams, and the piece has one of the most sinuous, unpredictable melodies I’ve ever heard.

Larry Adler is the first man as far as I know to have made the harmonica a concert instrument, a feat he achieved in the 1930s, and it’s from the late Thirties that George Gershwin’s Summertime comes. It’s the first time that John Mayer has ever arranged a standard number for this group, and the results are very beautiful indeed.

Sarabande by John Mayer is a little more Indian in flavour, though it has a familiar title. In this, John Mayer himself plays violin.

The final piece is a return to the raga form, in this case built on a rhythm of eighteen beats. Among the things you’ll hear is a kind of duetting between Jim Moyes on guitar and Clem Alford on sitar. A technique known as the Raga Mehga.

I think that Britain is the only place where so many elements could be brought together so successfully.

Peter Clayton - July 1970 

1. Raga Malika
2. Serenade
3. Romance
4. Summertime
5. Sarabande
6. Raga Megha

Recorded 'live in-studio' in London, July 1970
Previously unreleased

Larry Adler - harmonica (tracks 2-6)
John Mayer - piano, violin
Stan Sulzmann - alto saxophone, flute
Jim Moyse - guitar
Clem Alford - sitar
Jeff Clyne - bass
John Marshall - drums
Keshav Sathe - tabla

Tape transfer by Ian Priston

Restored and mastered by Matt Parker for British Progressive Jazz

Don Rendell Sextet - The Odysseus Suite (February 2, 2022 British Progressive Jazz)

1. The Odysseus Suite part 1: Intro / Farewell Penelope
2. The Odysseus Suite part 2: Odysseus, King of Ithaca
3. The Odysseus Suite part 3: Siren's Song
4. The Odysseus Suite part 4: Veil of Ino

Live studio session recorded in London, October 1970

Based on Homer's Odyssey
All tracks composed by Don Rendell

Don Rendell - saxes/flute
Stan Robinson - saxes/flute
Peter Shade - vibes/flute
Michael Garrick - piano
Jack Thorncroft - bass
Trevor Tomkins - drums

Tape transfer by Dave Harwood

Restored and mastered by Matt Parker

John Taylor Sextet - Eye To Eye: Live 1971 (February 2, 2022 British Progressive Jazz)

1. And Think Again 08:53
2. Wait For Me 10:50
3. Awakening 04:31
4. Eye To Eye / Aw 04:58

Recorded live in London, April 1971
Previously unreleased

John Taylor - piano
Kenny Wheeler - trumpet, flugelhorn
Chris Pyne - trombone
Stan Sulzmann - alto sax, flute
Chris Laurence - bass
Tony Levin - drums

Tape transfer by Dave Harwood

Resorted and mastered by Matt Parker

John Dankworth Orchestra - Composition With Colour: Live 1971 (February 2, 2022 British Progressive Jazz)

1. The Imaginary Mirror
2. Altisidora
3. A Family Joy
4. Orinoco
5. Eleven Plus
6. Composition with Colour
7. Earth Man

Recorded live in London, March 1971
Previously unreleased

John Dankworth - alto sax, clarinet
Martin Drover, Kenny Wheeler, Hank Shaw, Henry Lowther - trumpets
Mike Gibbs, David Horler - trombones
John Jenkins - tuba
Tony Cook - french horn
Don Fay, Duncan Lamont, Stan Sulzmann - sax & flutes
Bruce Graham - piano
Chris Spedding - guitar
Tony Campo - bass guitar
Kenny Clare - drums
Ray Cooper - percussion

Tape transfer by Dave Harwood

Illustration by Piergiorgio Cupellini

Restored and mastered by Matt Parker

Miles Okazaki - Thisness (March 20, 2022 Pi Recordings)

"convulsive beauty, propulsive rhythm, elusive meaning...a spontaneous and unpredictable work of art, accordingly discordant, subversively accordant, a pendulum crushing the cage of temporality. This is Surrealism in practice. This is jazz. This is freedom."
- from the liner notes by Robin D.G. Kelley

Thisness is Miles Okazaki's third volume of compositions for Trickster, a quartet featuring Matt Mitchell on piano, Anthony Tidd on drums, and Sean Rickman on drums. The album is a set of themes that are shuffled and connected in different ways to make four large movements. Okazaki describes the process in the liner notes:

"Our previous albums were made up of what I would simply call "songs," but for this project I decided to expand the format. The intention was to make something like an exquisite corpse, the collective improvisations developed by the Surrealists. So for this album my job as composer was to bring in some ideas, set them in motion and then listen, trying to recognize the value of serendipitous events at transitional points in the music and lead the band down whatever path may be opening. The borderlands are where the Trickster hangs out, the undefined space where logic dissolves and creativity thrives. My hope was that the listener would enjoy the experience of passing through these boundaries between contrasting episodes."

The music draws on a few sources of inspiration that have connected creative elements: a magical "far off place" called Salt Creek, from a watercolor by Linda Okazaki, the writings on Surrealism by Robin D.G. Kelley, architectural concepts from producer David Breskin, and the poetry of Sun Ra. The idea that this band has been working toward since their first album is most fully realized on Thisness, a sound that discards notions of logic and control and strives toward something more like collective dreaming.
1. In Some Far Off Place
2. Years in Space
3. I'll Build a World
4. And Wait for You

Miles Okazaki – Guitar, Vocals, Robots
Matt Mitchell – Piano, Fender Rhodes, Prophet-6
Anthony Tidd – Electric Bass
Sean Rickman – Drums

Jami Templeton - The Shape of My Heart (4 February 2022)

“This record brought me back to life. After living through a long battle with chronic lyme disease, and subsequently covid, a dear friend suggested I return to my first love of singing, and to the genre I held so sacred, I was almost afraid to touch it.”

Shortly after returning to Los Angeles in 2021, vocalist Jami Templeton met the musicians who would become her band. After running through dozens of her favourite songs with producer and pianist Andy Langham, Templeton settled on a book of music that helped tell the story she had to tell. Having spent much of her singing life in the world of big, bold arias, Templeton had reached a softer musical phase.

Every piece on this album holds a special meaning for Templeton. Each song, carefully selected from the American songbook, reflects a sliver of time in her life: treasured moments of love, mischief, and heartbreak.
“I’m a Jazz and Blues vocal purist, and Jami’s got it”
-Marion Cowings, Clio Award Winner, Co-Founder of the Vocal Jazz department at NYU

“Her voice is beautiful in any genre. Jami can sing anything”
-Yvette Nicole Brown, Emmy nominated actress

1. Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground (Nelson) 3:42
2. Shape of my Heart (Sumner/Miller) 5:19
3. Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man (Kern/Hammerstein) 3:24
4. Black Velvet (Ward/Tyson) 5:12
5. Let’s Stay Together (Green/Mitchell/Jackson) 6:00
6. Need You Now (Scott/Kelley/Haywood/Kear) 3:42
7. Room at the Top (Petty) 5:16
8. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning (Mann/Hillard/Evans/Kent ) 5:36
9. Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Waller) 3:11
10. I Fall in Love Too Easily (Styne/Cahn) 3:33
11. The Dance (Arata) 5:44

Joel Frahm - Tenor Saxophone
Andy Langham - Piano & Melodica
Edwin Livingston - Bass
Charles Ruggiero - Drums

The Shape of My Heart will be released worldwide on Friday, February 4th 2022