Friday, January 14, 2022

OUT TODAY: Single from “Interpret It Well” / Ches Smith with Frisell, Maneri and Taborn (Pyroclastic Records)

Drummer/vibraphonist/composer Ches Smith leads a breathtaking all-star quartet with guitarist Bill Frisell, violist Mat Maneri and pianist Craig Taborn

Interpret It Well, due out May 6, 2022 via Pyroclastic Records, features stunning explorations of Smith’s ethereal compositions

“A smartly unruly drummer active in devious art-rock and outsider jazz."
– Nate Chinen, New York Times

"[The] nondescript term ‘drummer’ doesn’t get near the chemistry of earworm hooks, sharp-end jazz innovation and global-musical openness of New York percussionist/composer Ches Smith."
– John Fordham, The Guardian

Album Preview Concerts March 30 & 31 at The Stone at the New School, NYC

Interpret it well,” reads the script text in Raymond Pettibon’s mysteriously evocative drawing. A few thick black ink strokes describe an enigmatic landscape – the telephone poles, the railroad track and the building in the distance seem obvious enough as markers of desolation, but the swirl of lines on the horizon are more ambiguous. The steam from an approaching train? An oncoming tornado? Hope or dread, connection or destruction, all depend on interpretation.
 
It’s a fitting choice of cover art for drummer/vibraphonist/composer Ches Smith, whose entrancing new album Interpret It Well borrows Pettibon’s three-word prompt as both title and instruction, for bandmates and listeners alike. The album, due out May 6, 2022 from Pyroclastic Records, is his second with keyboardist Craig Taborn and violist Mat Maneri, the much-anticipated follow-up to the trio’s acclaimed 2016 ECM release The Bell. This time out the band becomes a quartet with the addition of master guitarist Bill Frisell, whose contributions bring additional depth, space and texture to a group already rich in all three qualities.
 
It was that sense of openness and exploration, in fact, which intrigued Frisell in the first place. The guitarist attended a Ches Smith Trio concert in late 2018, following which he contacted the drummer with questions about the compositions. “Bill was very nice about the gig – effusive, actually,” Smith recalls. “He told me that he felt the tunes were accessible but challenging at the same time. There's something about the way Craig and Mat and I play together, where we extrapolate to the max but the music feels like the pieces. So I thought Bill might be interested in playing them with us.”
 
It took more than a year for schedules to align, but Frisell was finally able to join the trio for a performance in early 2020. The combination gelled immediately – “Bill felt like a natural part of the band,” Smith writes in his liner notes – but the demands on everyone’s time meant that a recording with all four would prove next to impossible to book.
 
Everyone knows what comes next – the pandemic happened, and suddenly time was all anyone had. Smith reworked his compositions with the newly forged quartet in mind, and the band went into the studio that October when life began to resume some semblance of normalcy (for the first time, at least).
© Kesler Pierre

The results are absolutely striking. As he did for the trio incarnation on The Bell, Smith writes compositions that are minimal but indelible; skeletal enough to allow these remarkable improvisers space to roam far afield yet so vivid that the core image is never lost amidst the daring embellishments.
 
Which brings us back to the Pettibon drawing – what Smith’s music shares with the artist’s work is that idea of a distinctive landscape evoked with a few sketchy lines, with vast stretches of the mysterious left in the spaces between. “There are definitely maximal moments on this record,” Smith says. “But when I think of the music in my head, it's fairly minimal. I like a lot of music where nothing seems to be happening.”
 
That may be true of the music on Interpret It Well in broad terms, but listen closely and a great deal is happening just beneath the misleadingly placid surface. The album is bookended by “Trapped” and “Deppart” (“Trapped” spelled backwards), two alternate versions of the same brief piece, a haunting, repetitive melody that slowly accrues power one voice at a time. “That’s one of the most minimal things I've ever written,” Smith says. “It's simultaneously a bar, a melody and a chord, and people can approach it however they want.”
 
The title track begins with Smith’s tentative, querying vibraphone, with the other voices gradually gathering around him like a deepening fog. The picture eventually comes into focus only to give way to Taborn’s stuttering, agitated solo, which ushers in the urgent, ferocious final section. The piece has been inspiring to artists outside of the band as well – artist/filmmaker Frank Heath, whose works have been described as “poetic interventions into systems of communication, information and understanding,” has created a new film to accompany “Interpret It Well.” The piece will be available May 6 via the Ches Smith and Pyroclastic websites.
 
Frisell contributes a high lonesome intro to “Mixed Metaphor,” soon matched by Maneri’s forlorn bowing. Smith (on vibes) and Taborn then take over for a labyrinthine duet, ultimately leading into a spiraling vamp. The sparse “Morbid” is a ballad of sorts, an elegy unfurling at an achingly slow pace, luxuriating in the evanescent sound while all four take care not to shatter the exquisitely delicate atmosphere. “Clear Major” takes on a more forceful tone, beginning with Taborn’s insistent patterns. The piece is a three-part suite, the volleying first section followed by the lurching rhythms of the middle and the intricately woven lines of the final – each movement separated by clamorous improvisations that deconstruct the composition in order to rebuild again. The complex “I Need More” proceeds at a brisk pace rife with tension, finally exploding into Frisell’s razor-sharp, searing solo. 
 
Interpretation is central to Ches Smith’s compositional approach, and here it yields absolutely breathtaking results. “Bill, Mat and Craig can all turn the ensemble in a new direction on a dime by playing one phrase,” Smith says. “What I love about this band is the way that over time, they'll all change their parts – Craig adding harmony or Mat embellishing the written material to keep it fresh. I’ve played with the two of them a lot over the years, but the music turns out different every time. And I know Bill’s playing very well, but he constantly surprised me. Interpret It Well is really my way of encouraging them – it could be the unspoken credo of the band.”

1. TRAPPED 2:27
2. INTERPRET IT WELL 13:39
3. MIXED METAPHOR 16:26
4. MORBID 7:20
5. CLEAR MAJOR 15:29
6. I NEED MORE 11:42
7. DEPPART 2:36

Ches Smith, drums, vibes
Craig Taborn, piano
Mat Maneri, viola
Bill Frisell, guitar

Ches Smith – Interpret It Well
Pyroclastic Records – PR 19 – Recorded October 12-13, 2020
Release date May 6, 2022

January 14: SINGLE from Legendary poet Nikki Giovanni and saxophonist Javon Jackson in historic collaboration

Tenor Saxophonist Javon Jackson Joins Forces with Renowned African American Poet, Activist and Educator in Historic Collaboration

The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni connects with the ancestral stream while putting a jazzy new perspective on timeless hymns and spirituals

Why would one of poetry’s most revered voices want to curate a jazz saxophonist’s album of gospel hymns and spirituals? “These songs are so important,” says Nikki Giovanni, one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends” and a Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2017. “They comforted people through times of slavery, and during recent years we needed them to comfort us again. But a lot of the students today do not know about the history of these songs, and they should. So I’m out here putting water on the flowers, because they need a drink.”

Giovanni’s historic collaboration with saxophonist-composer and former Jazz Messenger Javon Jackson has yielded The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni, available February 18, 2022 on his Solid Jackson label. “The spirituals have been around so long,” says the renowned poet, activist and educator, who came to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s as a foundational member of the Black Arts movement following the publication of such early works as 1968’s book of poetry Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgment and 1970’s Re:Creation. “Some spirituals have been updated and stayed around and some have been lost over time,” Giovanni notes “So for me, it’s just helping to keep something going. And I do it because there’s a need.”

Jackson brings his bold-toned, Trane-inspired tenor lines to bear on a series of hymns, spirituals and gospel numbers hand-picked by Giovanni, who was also the first person to receive the Rosa L. Parks Women of Courage Award. And the 78-year-old poet makes a rare vocal appearance on the tender ballad “Night Song,” singing a song identified with her close friend, the late civil rights activist and High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone. “Nina was a friend of mine, and I knew that one of her favorite songs was ‘Night Song’,” she explains. “And even though I’m not a singer, I told Javon I wanted to sing it because I just wanted Nina to be remembered.” Jackson, who flew to Nikki’s home in Roanoke, Virginia, to record her vocal track on the existing instrumental tracks, says, “I sat beside her when she sang it and by the time she finished that chorus, I was deeply moved. I just love the fragile nature of the way she treated it. It was very emotional.”

Joined by an outstanding crew comprised of pianist Jeremy Manasia, bassist David Williams and drummer McClenty Hunter — the same lineup that appeared on Jackson’s 2018 album For You and his 2020 follow-up, Deja Vu — Jackson interprets gospel staples like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Wade in the Water,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” with authoritative tenor tones, deep walking bass lines and an organic sense of group swing. “It’s the first time I worked in a collaborative manner,” Jackson says. “The project is personal for me. I come from a lineage of devout Christians, and that has afforded me the chance to connect with that ancestral stream.”
© Shaban_R._Athuman

The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni came about through a serendipitous meeting between the two principals when Jackson, a faculty member of The Hartt School at the University of Hartford and director of its Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, invited Giovanni to speak to his students there. As he recalls, “Ever since I’ve been at the University of Hartford, I felt that the school would be well-served to bring great scholars of color and scholars who were freedom fighters and activists, if you will. So I brought in Dr. Cornel West, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis and Michael Eric Dyson. Then in February of 2020, I brought Nikki Giovanni.”

The renowned poet’s appearance at the University coincided with her receiving an honorary doctorate there. And as Jackson recalls, “After Nikki spoke to the students, she noticed that the Hank Jones and Charlie Haden CD of hymns and spirituals (1994’s Steal Away) was playing in the auditorium. She said she loved it and wanted to hear more, and just then I was hit with the idea. Two days later, after she returned to her home in Roanoke, I contacted her and said, ‘Would you be willing to pick 10 hymns? And that’ll be my next recording.’ She got back to me in a few days and gave me the 10 selections.”

The collection opens with the driving shuffle “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,” a spiritual recorded by Paul Robeson in 1937. Jackson delivers the melody in straightforward fashion with golden tenor tones before Manasia “goes to church” on his piano solo. The minor-key “Wade in the Water” is lifted by a mid-tempo swing feel, paced by Williams’ deep walking basslines and Hunter’s steady, syncopated ride-cymbal pulse. After Jackson delivers a robust tenor solo and Manasia follows suit with an earthy piano solo, Christina Greer enters, dropping some wisdom from Giovanni’s poem “A Very Simple Wish.” As Jackson explains, “For this, I reached out to Markeysha Davis, an assistant professor of Africana studies and literature at the University of Hartford. She is really a fan and knows Nikki's work far better than I do. Nikki’s got 50 years’ worth of poetry, so I didn’t know where to begin. But I sent Markeysha John Coltrane’s ‘Spiritual’ to give her an idea of what we were trying to do, and she came back with that poem.”

The quartet’s rendition of the dirge-like “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” carries the somber feeling of Coltrane’s “Equinox,” while their interpretation of “Mary Had a Baby, Yes Lord” recalls Trane’s powerful civil-rights era requiem, “Alabama.” “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” one of Giovanni’s favorites from her own Baptist church upbringing, is rendered at a loping beat, conveying a distinctive Southern gospel feel. “A lot of times when I’ve heard this song in church, it's a little faster, a little more upbeat,” Jackson says. “I wanted to make it slower, where I could really expose the melody a lot more and lay on some of those phrases—so I could be as emotive as possible with the melody, as if I was playing in church with people in the audience.”

“I’ve Been ’Buked,” a spiritual sung by Mahalia Jackson in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King also delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, opens with some dramatic unaccompanied arco bass work by Williams before the full band enters with Jackson conveying the melody simply and deliberately. “In a perfect world, I would love to have had David bowing with Paul Robeson singing that melody,” says the leader. “The bow is so beautiful because, to me, it’s close to the human voice in a way.”
© Shaban_R._Athuman

Jackson and company render the normally somber “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as a buoyant calypso. In fact, you can hear the saxophonist directly quoting from Sonny Rollins’ most famous calypso, “St. Thomas,” midway through the song. Bassist Williams, being from Trinidad, is uniquely qualified to provide the requisite bounce on this ebullient calypso rendition of this well-known African American spiritual. “Doing that song this way is a reminder that the departure or the transition doesn’t have to be one of sadness,” says Jackson. “We don’t want it to be where the person or persons listening to the CD become downtrodden. We want it to be celebratory. It’s like what Art Blakey always used to tell us: ‘You cry when they come in, and you rejoice when they go out.’ I never forgot that.”

The most intimate piece of the collection is the gentle hymn “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian,” performed as a rubato duet between Jackson’s tenor sax and Manasia’s piano. The quartet closes on a rousing note with a swinging “I Opened My Mouth to the Lord,” which again features Williams’ deeply resonant bass carrying the melody and Jackson in strong ‘speechifying’ mode on tenor sax. Manasia also turns in an exhilarating piano solo here, and even drummer Hunter gets a solo taste near the end of this triumphant closer.  

Captured live at Telefunken Studios in South Windsor, Connecticut, the 10 tunes on The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni were all done without the use of headphones, another first for Jackson. “I’ve never done a recording before in a studio where I didn’t use headphones, so it felt like performing a gig,” he says. “We never counted off a piece and there were no endings, where I might dictate or give a direction towards an ending. I really wanted to do it just like if you’re in church, where there’s a preacher talking and all of a sudden the choir begins. So each time, whether the bass would start the tune or the piano or myself, there were no count-offs because I wanted to make it as natural as possible.”

“This music is something that people will probably be a little surprised to see coming from me,” Jackson says. But given the state of the world, it could be just in time. Both poet and saxophonist stand on the shoulders of their ancestors on The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni.


Dirk Serries & Trösta - Island On The Moon (cd & lp) January 28, 2022 CONSOULING SOUNDS)

DIRK SERRIES & TRÖSTA - ISLAND ON THE MOOND
(cd & lp, CONSOULING SOUNDS)
 
DIRK SERRIES (worldwide renowned for his ambient alter-ego Vidna Obmana from 1984 till 2007) returns to this expansive sound universe with a new collaborative album that redefines the genre. Together with alto saxophonist TRÖSTA the duo delivers a breathtaking album just in time to comfort, soothe and challenge in these darker times. ISLAND ON THE MOON is a symphony of harmony, depth and nuance. A solace drenched in melancholy and light, made without the aid of computers but by the hands of two crafted musicians on respectfully guitar and saxophone, and some outboard effects. Immerse yourself.

The impressive photography is by Martina Verhoeven in a subtle but striking design by Rutger Zuydervelt.

The album will be released on January 28th, 2022, on both cd and vinyl through Belgium's main independent label CONSOULING SOUNDS.

In pre-order available through the label or through Dirk Serries' bandcamp.
 
Live Performance on Youtube

To highlight their duo debut the duo will share with you a glimpse of how they create their unique realm of what is ISLAND ON THE MOON. This 3 part live performance premieres on January 29th, 2022 at 10pm (CET).  Bookmark your agenda for this exclusive live performance on youtube.

A New Wave of Jazz: LAST CALL

Last call and a kind reminder for our pre-order bundle as this one expires this Saturday January 15th when all 3 cds are officially out. So grab this one and support our little label. Keep the fire burning.

ANTON MOBIN & MARTINA VERHOEVEN - CURE AND MOUND (cd)

JOHN EDWARDS & DIRK SERRIES - MELANCHOLIA (cd)
 
TOM JACKSON & COLIN WEBSTER - THE OTHER LIES (cd)
 
Order/listen to the album on our bandcamp or our website.

The album is part of the pre-order bundle : 30 EUR for all 3 new titles (incl.worldwide postage), valid through January 15th, 2022.  Official date of release : January 15th, 2022.

NEW RELEASE + NEWS: Bill O’Connell Announces New Album + GRAMMY® Nomination ('A Change is Gonna Come' - January 28, 2022 - Savant Records)

GRAMMYⓇ Nominated Pianist, Composer and Arranger Bill O’Connell Announces the Release of A Change Is Gonna Come, A Jazz Luminary’s Musings on a Fraught World, Out January 28, 2022 via Savant Records

Savant Records is pleased to announce the January 28, 2022 release of A Change is Gonna Come, the powerful new release from esteemed pianist, composer, arranger and newly-minted GRAMMYⓇ nominee Bill O’Connell. This particular moment in history is a fraught one; A Change Is Gonna Come brings that point home with impassioned music reacting to the rampant racial and political injustice and pandemic-fueled turmoil of the present moment. A Change is Gonna Come features O’Connell alongside bassist Lincoln Goines, drummer Steve Jordan, percussionist Pedrito Martinez, and special guest Craig Handy tenor and soprano saxophone.

Lauded for his boundless, uncompromising prowess in the realm of Latin jazz, O’Connell’s fruitful musical journey began in 1977 when O’Connell began his tenure as the keyboardist for the legendary Mongo Santamaria’s Latin jazz band. A departure from the clavé-driven Latin jazz pocket that so often permeates O’Connell’s work, the pianist is heard here displaying his remarkable facility in the straight-ahead jazz idiom. The release of A Change is Gonna Come comes as O’Connell is fresh off the heels of his thrilling GRAMMYⓇ nomination for ‘Best Arrangement (Instrumental or A Capella)’ for the song “Chopsticks” on Richard Barratta’s album Music in Film: The Reel Deal.

This impassioned release is intrinsically tied to the unique and trying times in which it was created. O’Connell remarks: “I look at recordings this way: each one is a snapshot of how I’m feeling at this particular time in my life... Each song reflects a different feeling at a particular moment.” The pianist and composer channels his frustration, anger and grief for the medical, racial, economic and political turmoil that plagues our country into electrifying compositions that feature the masterful interplay of this tightly-knit outfit of jazz notables.

It was while performing with Sonny Rollins that the pianist first crossed paths with renowned drummer Steve Jordan. “We had an immediate chemistry going, but it was short-lived—about a month. Ever since then we’ve been trying to get together on a project. I finally called him up and I said, ‘Steve, I think it’s time.’ So he was into it, and we finally got it together to do this, so I’m very pleased that he’s on the record,” O’Connell notes. Jordan, who recently joined The Rolling Stones in place of the late Charlie Watts, is the album's co-producer.

A more frequent presence on O’Connell’s dates is bassist Lincoln Goines, with whom he spent some thirty-odd years in flutist Dave Valentin’s rhythm section—before he became the pianist’s go-to bassist. “Lincoln and I have a long musical relationship, and I can’t say enough about what he brings to my music,” he says. “I love what he does on both acoustic and electric bass.” Guest saxophonist Craig Handy puts rich veins of both adventure and soul into O’Connell’s compositions, A Change is Gonna Come is the third album of O’Connell’s that features Handy. The pair first worked together in trombonist Conrad Herwig’s Latin Side big band… which is where O’Connell first encountered Pedrito Martinez, the record’s other guest. 
O’Connell stirs the grey-matter with thoughtful original compositions such as “A Prayer For Us”. The piece is a vulnerable, gospel-inspired number. “I didn’t write it out this way, but you could also think of it as ‘A Prayer for U.S.,’” O’Connell muses, looking back on episodes of turmoil that fell through his country like dominoes. His improvising on the tune’s gentle swing has a bittersweet cast; one isn’t sure whether to be sad or hopeful. Perhaps that’s appropriate, too. “Covid Blues” is a B-flat blues with a plaintive soprano line that captures the anxiety, the ennui, the claustrophobia we’ve all been cycling through. Yet in its playful three-way duel between O’Connell, Handy, and Jordan, it also has a glimmer of hope. “We have to remain optimistic in the crazy time we’re going through,” says O’Connell. “Sun For Sonny” is a tip-of-the-hat to the great Sonny Rollins who once employed each member of the trio. The calypso groove and “St. Thomas” quote in O’Connell’s melody was your answer. It’s also suitably (for a Rollins tribute) percussive—with Martinez returning and Goines switching to the electric bass—and suitably sunny and danceable. After Handy and O’Connell reinforce that feeling in their solos, Goines and Martinez double down on it with two rounds of upbeat funk.

“Moment’s Notice”, which opens the album, is filled with nuance, immediacy and harmonic intrigue. The group takes the classic piece into funk territory which O’Connell indicates is about not wasting valuable resources. “Steve Jordan is one of the greatest funk drummers on the earth. If I didn’t have him playing some funk in there, it’s almost a crime.” For their solos, however, O’Connell, Goines, and Jordan ease off the gas a bit; there’s still plenty of swing, but also plenty of space.” The Sam Cooke anthem for which this album is titled “A Change is Gonna Come” arrives in an arrangement that O’Connell first wrote years ago for Charles Fambrough. It’s charged with gospel but also a surprising delicacy: a vulnerable aspect that tempers the song’s built-in resolve. If anything, the issues the song grappled with 60 years ago have only intensified since. The pianist takes centerstage with a jubilant solo on “My Foolish Heart” which once again features Jordan’s brilliant funk drumming within a sublime arrangement by O’Connell. 

As jazz journalist Michael J. West remarks in the album’s liner notes “It’s what artists do: process the darker aspects of our lives and world into something beautiful and worth holding on to. If it’s true that a change is gonna come, it will be all of us who will have to make it. But it will be the gifts of people like Bill O’Connell who shine their lights on the path to that change.”

1. Moment's Notice 8:08
2. Loco-Motive 6:06
3. Covid Blues 5:08
4. A Change is Gonna Come 6:37
5. Sun for Sonny 4:21
6. Enough is Enough 7:51
7. Sweet Peanut 6:13
8. A Prayer for Us 7:10
9. Chaos 5:11
10. My Foolish Heart 4:40

Bill O'Connell – all arrangements, piano & Fender Rhodes
Craig Handy – tenor & soprano saxophone
Lincoln Goines – acoustic & electric bass
Steve Jordan – drums
Pedrito Martinez – percussion


NEWS: Pianist Bill O’Connell Celebrates GRAMMY® Nomination for Composition “Chopsticks” on Richard Baratta’s Music in Film: The Reel Deal
“Chopsticks” is nominated for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella at the 64th GRAMMY® Awards

“Chopsticks,” the fourth track off of drummer Richard Baratta’s album Music in Film: The Reel Deal, which was released in September of 2020 on Savant Records, has received a GRAMMY® Nomination for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella. The song was arranged by the record’s music director, the masterful jazz pianist Bill O’Connell. The 64th annual GRAMMY® Awards will take place on January 31, 2022 in Los Angeles. 

Baratta, who has spent over three decades as a Hollywood film producer, celebrates the coalescence of his two artistic worlds of film and jazz on Music in Film, an assortment of songs notably used in major motion pictures such as Mrs. Doubtfire, Midnight Cowboy, Big and The Wizard of Oz. O’Connell’s killer Latin arrangement of the Euphemia Allen composition “Chopsticks” is a tribute to the classic Tom Hanks-Robert Loggia piano dance scene from the movie Big which Baratta also worked on. On the track, the band blazes through a bright-tempoed montuno, adding melodic and rhythmic intrigue to the classic piano piece.

“It’s always fun for me to conceptualize a song in a way that no one has ever heard it,” O’Connell shares. “That was my thought when Richard Baratta asked me if I could arrange “Chopsticks”… I surrounded the tune with a deep Latin vibe, a few new harmonies and melodies and the band gave a great performance. I am so appreciative of this Grammy nomination.” 

“For this album to be nominated for a Grammy… well that’s off the charts,” Baratta added. “‘Thrilled’ falls far short of describing my emotion.” 

Baratta’s dazzling work across so many artistic genres over the years has not gone unnoticed. He was recently interviewed by Jazziz Magazine to discuss his music portfolio and film production credits, which include the Academy Award nominated films The Irishman, Donnie Brasco, Joker and The Wolf of Wall Street. 

Pianist Bill O’Connell has enjoyed a 40-year long career as a leader, soloist, arranger, musical director, and accompanist for some of the most celebrated names in jazz and Latin music including Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Mongo Santamaria, Gato Barbieri, and Emily Remler. O’Connell is a four-time recipient of the “Jazz Writer of the Year” award from SESAC, the performing rights organization and is presently a member of the jazz faculty at Rutgers University. His upcoming album, A Change Is Gonna Come is slated for release on January 28, 2022 via Savant Records.

Richard Baratta and Bill O’Connell are represented by Redwood Entertainment.

Marcel Baliński Trio - Opalenizna i Wiatr (January 14, 2022)

Founded by a Polish jazz pianist and composer Marcel Baliński, the Marcel Baliński Trio made its debut appearance at the Warsaw SPATiF Club in the early winter of 2019, presenting compositions included on this album.

The sonoristic explorations, and the intelligent manipulation of primitivist harmony, which is scuppered into dissonance by the ebb and flow of emotion, betray the group’s chief inspirations – the neoclassicism of Igor Stravinsky and the achievements of the post-war European avant- garde.

Although Baliński writes for the traditional jazz trio, he rejects the conventional division of labour presupposed by the format. As a result, Baliński’s music moves away from the standard head-solo-head framework, towards organically developing structures. Most compositions presented on Opalenizna i Wiatr (Suntan and Wind) weave successive layers of improvisation around the kernel of short, asymmetrical phrases. The trio tows a powerful cargo of harmonic contrasts, untamed improvisation and tender, yet subtle, melody. By seeking innovation in the realm of jazz trio expression, Baliński presents a well thought out and persuasive debut.

1. Spadochroniarz 06:46
2. Żołnierzyk 05:46
3. Marmur 05:20
4. Opalenizna i Wiatr 09:50
5. Nienamolny Aksamitny 04:15
6. Wariacje 09:32

Marcel Baliński - upright piano, keyboard (6)
Franciszek Pospieszalski - double bass
Krzysztof Szmańda - drums, vibes (5)

Recorded in 2020 at the Tonn Studio in Łódź, Poland

Pete Malinverni 'On the Town – Pete Malinverni plays Leonard Bernstein' – Jan 14 via Planet Arts Recordings

 

Pianist Pete Malinverni pays tribute to iconic composer Leonard Bernstein with his all-star trio featuring bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jeff Hamilton

On the Town – Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein, due out January 14, 2022 via Planet Arts Recordings, harkens back to an inspiring “only in New York” meeting between
the two passionate musicians
 
" Pete Malinverni is a pianist with a forthright and elegant style."
– Nate Chinen, New York Times
 
" Pianist Pete Malinverni is a wild cat. [His] playing can be dark, gritty and oddly rapturous…he digs into the piano and emerges with exotic treasure."
– Karl Stark, Philadelphia Inquirer

Having spent four decades on the New York City jazz scene, pianist Pete Malinverni has crossed paths with countless revered artists and come away with a host of tales to tell. But few moments measure up to the time that Malinverni met the iconic composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein.
 
The seeds planted in that meeting decades ago come to fruition on Malinverni’s stunning new album, On the Town – Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein. Due out January 14, 2022 via Planet Arts Recordings, the album reimagines nine Bernstein favorites, along with a new Malinverni original penned in tribute to the composer, for an all-star trio featuring bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jeff Hamilton.
At the time of that fateful meeting, Malinverni had a steady gig at an upscale restaurant in the city. One night the swanky nightspot was chosen as the site of the opening night cast party for Franco Zeffirelli’s production of “Tosca” at the Metropolitan Opera. As Malinverni played through a selection of arias at the piano, Bernstein walked in, and the young pianist immediately launched into the composer’s “Lucky To Be Me.” Bernstein recognized the homage and, following a trip detour to the men’s room (where a friend of Malinverni’s broke the protocols of polite society and touted the pianist’s virtues), proceeded to spend a considerable portion of the evening hanging around the piano.
 
“Real musicians want to hang out with the band,” Malinverni says, recalling those magical hours. “Bernstein was this gray eminence I’d see on TV, and I’d listened to his ‘Young People’s Concerts’ in high school. So he was a definite presence in my life even though I’d never met him.”
 
Malinverni still recalls that encounter – which included introductions to other notables at the party, including legendary songwriters Betty Comden and Adolph Green – as “one of the great moments of my musical life.” To this day he remains touched by Bernstein’s magnetic attraction to musicians of any stature.
 
“His public image was of a guy who knew his stuff and was super passionate about it. But I found out that night that as passionate as he seemed, he was even more so. When I saw him in the flesh, it was electric. His head poked through the clouds, and the piano somehow seemed a more exalted place then and thereafter.”
 
If that weren’t inspiration enough, the story takes another slight twist: some time later, Malinverni befriended a bartender at one of the nightclubs where he performed regularly, whose wife happened to be Bernstein’s personal chef. The composer had given her a sheaf of blank staff paper, which the bartender then gifted to Malinverni. The pianist hung onto it for nearly thirty years, finally using it to write the arrangements for the present recording. “The last arrangement I had to write turned out to use the last piece of staff paper I had left,” Malinverni recalls. “I'm always looking for signs, and that made everything feel right.”
Exploring these brilliant songs with such a gifted and intuitive trio felt incredibly right as well. Malinverni’s first opportunity to pay tribute to Bernstein arrived on the occasion of the composer’s 2018 centennial, when the pianist was commissioned to arrange many of these pieces for a four-horn ensemble featuring Joe Lovano at Purchase College, where Malinverni is Chair of the Jazz Studies Program. But when it came time to record the music, he determined to pare the music down to a trio setting.
 
“I love playing trio, and the music really took on a life of its own in this format,” Malinverni says. “Ugonna Okegwo and Jeff Hamilton are real artists. You know, if you go scuba diving you discover that there are just as many colors underwater, but the spectrum is the reverse of what you see up here on the surface. I found that in playing Bernstein’s music with these amazing musicians: there were all these textures and colors underneath the music that they could really bring to light.”
 
Another bond that Malinverni shares with Bernstein is a deep love for New York. Through his selection of tunes from the composer’s oeuvre, Malinverni also made the album a love letter to the metropolis that he’s called home since trekking down from his hometown of Niagara Falls in 1980. Titles like “New York New York,” which opens the album, and “Lonely Town” make the reference explicit; other pieces are culled from Big Apple-centric shows like “Wonderful Town,” “West Side Story” and “On the Town.”
 
The sole exception is the trio’s heartfelt take on “Simple Song,” from Bernstein’s “Mass.” The piece is in keeping with Malinverni’s tradition of including a spiritual piece on every one of his albums, a nod to his 18-year tenure as Minister of Music for Brooklyn’s Devoe Street Baptist Church. The album closes with Malinverni’s “A Night On the Town,” a playful refraction of Bernstein themes and ideas that spotlights the composer’s enduring influence.
 
“I always tell my students, ‘They don't say silence is golden for nothing,’” Malinverni says. “So if you're going to disturb the silence, you better be playing something. Starting with Bernstein’s compositions, every note you add better serve that song. But this is also my record, and I think he would have appreciated that. Bernstein was cool with seeing how things go today as opposed to sticking with how they went yesterday. He was a real jazzer in a lot of ways.”

1. New York New York 5:05
2. Lucky to Be Me 5:37
3. Somewhere 5:18
4. Cool 5:33
5. Simple Song 6:05
6. I Feel Pretty 6:00
7. Lonely Town 5:56
8. Some Other Time 5:04
9. It`s Love 8:04
10. A Night on the Town 6:09

(by Pete Malinverni, Malinverni Music)

Pete Malinverni, piano
Ugonna Okegwo, bass
Jeff Hamilton, drums


Ilaria Capalbo - Karthago (January 14, 2022 Bluenord Records)

Ilaria Capalbo's first work as a leader is inspired by the story of Karthago, a powerful city founded on the southwest coast of the Mediterranean by a legendary queen and doomed by its closeness to the colliding empire of Rome. The lingering motives in this tale, part ancient history and part myth like many of the stories that the Mediterranean tells, are the courage, resiliency and vulnerability needed to grow in the light of uniqueness, to pursue a vision and to stand by it — regardless of odds — not to be forgotten.

The band is a quintet featuring Ilaria on bass alongside Thomas Backman and Fredrik Nordström on reeds, Andreas Hourdakis on guitar and Fredrik Rundqvist on drums. It occasionally grows into a septet with the addition of Tobias Wiklund on cornet and Mats Äleklint on trombone. Together, they give life to music with a narrative depth, as though outlining a story: ample room is given to the imaginative force of some among the most creative musicians on the Swedish scene, whose different personalities create a powerful and original balance under the steady guide of a leader from the rhythm section. The tunes are crafted at the intersection between free improvisation, rock riff-building and echoes of contemporary classical repertoire: the band delivers them through a cohesive and fearless sound.
1. Belóved
2. Part I: Ab radice
3. Karthago
4. Mare Nostrum
5. Scintilla
6. Moth
7. Part II: Ago Radices
8. What Remains Of Those Days

Ilaria Capalbo: bass & compositions
Thomas Backman: alto sax, clarinet
Fredrik Nordström: tenor & baritone sax
Andreas Hourdakis: guitar
Fredrik Rundqvist: drums
Tobias Wiklund: cornet (on Belóved)
Mats Äleklint: trombone (on Belóved)

Recorded at BAS Bandhagen on April 25-26, 2021 by Mats Äleklint
Mixed and mastered at Bluenord Studio by Fredrik Nordström
Artwork: Gabriele Cernagora
Photography: Klaudia Rychlik
Design: LOUP Studio

Dom Minasi - Me Myself and I (January 14, 2022 Unseen Rain Records)

Sometime during the early part of 2000, I thought it would be a good idea to lay down some tracks of my tunes. I also decided to use my acoustic guitars. My Takamine 6 sting and 12 string guitars. Since I was able to play bass lines and rhythm at the same time, the recording became Me Myself and I. I called my friend Marty Dunayer, who owns Musecat Recording Studios, and explained what I wanted to do. We set a date and the first hour I recorded the rhythm parts and in hour two, I recorded the melody and the improvisations. My biggest concern was that the time stayed constant. It was not an easy thing to do, but fortunately I did it. it. I also thought you seldom hear a 12 stringed acoustic guitar play jazz.

Within the next few weeks Marty mixed it and I gave him the OK to master the recording and it has been sitting on my shelf since then. Since the Pandemic I haven’t been able get back in the studios to record again, so I searched my files to see what I have that can be re-mastered and released. What you are listening to are compositions I wrote between 1976 and 1995.

1. Samba De Domingo: Written as a fun tune to play with the modulations from A minor -Bb minor to D minor. (12string rhythm)

2. Brown Eyes: I wrote the melody first and then years later I named it. I thought Brown Eyes was a good name since there was Soul Eyes and Infant Eyes. It took me 20 years to write lyrics to the tune. (two12 stringed guitars)

3. Gentle: I love Bossa Nova’s and this spilled out. (Two 12 string guitars)

4. Inside Out: was written in 1975. Hoping I could record it on my second Blue Note Record, but the powers that be thought I should go a different commercial route. (Two six stringed guitars)

5. The Color of Her Eyes Are Gray: I wrote this for my then fiancé, Carol Mennie, who has the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen (two 12 stringed guitars)

6. Angela was written for a friend who tragically died in a car accident. Since then, Randy Johnston recorded it as an instrumental. My wife Carol recorded it as a vocal and two years ago I recorded with my Argentinian friend, Juampy Juarez, on a recording called Freedland. (12 stringed guitarrhythm)

7. Be Op Be Op Be Ah: I wanted to write a Be Bop tune but with a different, more modern set of chord changes. (12 string solo)

8. Ballad for Carol: The first jazz ballad I wrote for my wife around 1996. (12 stringed guitar plays lead)

9. Sometime Samba I got the idea from Roger Kelloway. He composed a tune for me on Blue Note called Sometime Boogie. I thought it would be a great idea to do one as a Samba with bridge going into a jazz swing. (Two six stringed guitars). 

1. Samba De Domingo
2. Brown Eyes
3. Gentle
4. Inside Out
5. The Color of Her Eyes Is Grey
6. Angela
7. Be Op Be Op Be Ah
8. Balad for Carol
9. Sometime Samba

Dom Minasi - 6 and 12-string guitars

Recorded March 2005
Produced by Jack DeSalvo and Dom Minasi
Recording Studio: Musecat Recording Studios -New York City
Recording and mastering Engineer: Marty Dunayer
Re- Mastered: October 2021
Design by Qua's Eye Graphix
Liner Notes: Dom Minasi

Matt Lambiase / Jack DeSalvo / Tom Cabrera - Jhana (January 14, 2022 Unseen Rain Records)

A fascinating journey on the nexus of contemporary classical, free jazz and folk music. Three master improvisers who are virtuosi on their respective instruments. The center of the music is silence. Musical gestures emanating from the void. This is an album of gentleness and depth.

1. Jhana - Piece 1
2. Jhana - Piece 2
3. Jhana - Piece 3
4. Jhana - Piece 4
5. Jhana - Piece 5

Matt Lambiase - cornet, flugelhorn, trumpet, conch and Native American flute
Jack DeSalvo - guitar
Tom Cabrera - drums, percussion

Recorded at Woodshedd Studio, Westbury, NY
Mixed and mastered by Larry Hutter, Orlando FL
Design by Qua's Eye Graphix
An Unseen Rain Production

Bernie Senensky - Don't Look Back (January 14, 2022 Cellar Live)

A previously unissued recording of legendary Canadian pianist Bernie Senensky, featuring saxophonist Bob Mover and trumpeter Sam Noto

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1944, pianist Bernie Senensky has been a stalwart member of the Canadian and international jazz scenes for over 50 years. He has toured with a multitude of his own ensembles over the years, and has played with a diverse array of internationally celebrated jazz artists, from Chet Baker to Moe Koffman, and from Elvin Jones to Pharoah Sanders (to name but a few). Senensky continues to play and tour extensively. Despite his kind and soft-spoken personality, his asser tive keyboard style and consummateN melodicism has ensconced him as a lynchpin of the current jazz scene.

Senensky fits smack dab in the middle of the hard bop tradition. For those looking for a delightful romp through some new tunes in the style of the masters, you could do worse than to try out the Bernie Senensky Quintet. Bernie's style sparkles with a lightness and playfulness that makes his solos so easy and fun to listen to. You don't have to reach for anything; it’s all there.

Don’t Look Back will be released worldwide on
January 14th, 2022 by Cellar Live.

1. Don’t Look Back 9:05
2. I Hear a Rhapsody (J. Baker, D. Gasparre) 8:49
3. Floating 6:35
4. Together 6:02
5. May in June (B. Mover) 6:07
6. The Mover 6:24
7. Jump for Joe 7:31
8. The Latest (H. Mobley) 4:33
9. Danse Encore 6:48
10. One is Enough 6:26
11. Who Cares? (G. Gershwin) 6:17

All songs composed by Bernie Senensky unless otherwise noted

Bernie Senensky - Piano
Bob Mover - Alto Saxophone
Sam Noto - Trumpet
Neil Swainson - Bass
Barry Elmes - Drums

Anna von Hausswolff - Live at Montreux Jazz Festival (January 14, 2022 Southern Lord)

Anybody who has witnessed a live performance of Anna von Hausswolff and band can attest to the extraordinary and commanding nature of the experience. The distinctive music, as captured across five full-length albums, comes to life, shifting from hypnotic and mantra-like moods to thunderous drama, dissonance and cacophony. The musicians master playful dynamics and wield immense power.

Across six pieces, Anna von Hausswolff performs sensational renditions of fan-favourites from the two beloved albums; The Miraculous and Dead Magic, with the backing of a full band including additional vocals from her sister / cinematographer Maria von Hausswolff.

1. The Truth, the Glow, the Fall (Live at Montreux)
2. Pomperipossa (Live at Montreux)
3. The Mysterious Vanishing of Electra (Live at Montreux)
4. Ugly and Vengeful
5. Källans Återuppståndelse
6. Come Wander with Me / Deliverance

Recorded at Montreux Jazz Festival in 2018, in Auditorium Stravinsky

Anna von Hausswolff – vocals, organ, acoustic guitar, octatrack
Maria von Hausswolff – vocals
Filip Leyman – synth, percussion
Ulrik Ording – drums
Karl Vento – electric guitar
Joel Fabiansson – electric guitar
David Sabel – bass
Justin Grealy – sound engineer

Mixed by Filip Leyman and Anna von Hausswolff
Mastered by Hans Olsson Brookes
Illustrations by Zezeah / Zeynep Kis
Sleeve design by Magnus Andersson and Anna von Hausswolff
Special thanks to Montreux Jazz Festival, John Harris and Mathieu Jaton

Mixed on the “Queen Neve” desk, previously owned by Queen ( thus the name ) and situated at the Mountain Studios in the casino of Montreux, now ­located at Svenska Grammofonstudion, Gothenburg.

John Hébert - Sounds of Love (January 14, 2022 Sunnyside Records)

Composer and bassist Charles Mingus’s legendary status is undeniable. Tributes to his genius tend to come up short because there isn’t a way to improve what he has already wrought. One element of Mingus’s vision that tends to get overlooked was his ability to create singular ensembles of strong, individual performers to play his music, ensembles that have gone down in history as some of the greatest of all time.

Bassist John Hébert has long been influenced by Mingus’s music. It was Mingus’s 1975 Atlantic recording, Changes One, that etched the clarity of the legend’s vision and tone into Hébert’s mind. Using the music and ensemble fluidity of the album as a direct inspiration, Hébert assembled an incredible band to play with the spirit of Mingus as a beacon for a number of performances from 2011 to 2013. The recording, Sounds of Love, presents the ensemble in their element, in a thrillingly dynamic live performance.

Having set roots in New York in the mid-1990s, Hébert became one of the most in demand bassists of his generation, upholding duties in bands led by Andrew Hill, Paul Bley, Mary Halvorson, and Uri Caine. Hébert continues to participate in a longstanding musical relationship with piano great Fred Hersch and has found himself in academia as a professor at Western Michigan University.

Assembling cohesive lineups of musicians is an art form that Mingus mastered. For this band, Hébert wanted to put together a shocking combination of musicians that would make the music come to life. Fred Hersch was a natural selection for the piano chair, as he had even studied with Mingus’s longtime pianist, Jaki Byard. The singular saxophonist and composer Tim Berne is a key fixture on New York’s Downtown scene where Hébert immersed himself and Berne makes a rare appearance as a sideman on Sounds of Love. Trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum proves a fitting foil to Berne and Hébert’s Halvorson rhythm section partner, drummer Ches Smith, proves once again that he can handle any musical challenge.

The musicians hadn’t played with each other before the first rehearsal. Their contrasting sounds were what Hébert wanted to make the music come together and still stand apart. It was a true balance of personalities and styles that would have made Mingus proud.

Hébert did not intend for the group to be a repertory band. They did develop arrangements of a handful of Mingus pieces, mostly from the Changes recording. Other pieces were written by the leader as vehicles for improvisation, with more than slight nods to the Mingus’s style, as he was obviously on Hebert’s mind.

The first performance of the group was in 2011 and, based on the strength of the ensemble, Hébert was able to take them on a short tour of Europe in 2013. The Sounds of Love recording comes from a live performance at Jazz in Bess in Lugano, Switzerland on March 27, 2013.

The recording begins with Ho Bynum’s vehement trumpet and Hersch’s pointillistic piano leading into Hébert’s “Constrictor,” an ominous waltz that sets the mood of noirish mystery as it builds to dynamic heights with Berne’s solo. Smith’s drums introduce the leader’s “Blank Faced Man,” a loose, subtle piece that shows the ensemble’s interplay. A fantastic solo bass feature from Hébert leads into Mingus’s “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love,” the ensemble keeping their intensity at simmer, allowing Mingus’s melody to sing.

Hébert’s “Love What?” was written in response to Mingus’s “What Love?” The piece pushes and pulls, the ensemble staying dramatically malleable before ramping up the energy in an off-kilter groove. The rhythmic structure of Mingus’s bluesy “Remember Rockefeller at Attica” makes the piece incredibly exciting to solo over and the ensemble takes full advantage, as the band members sing and shout. The recording concludes with the leader’s “Frivolocity,” a piece that contorts and twists over a bassline that was loosely based on Mingus’s “Sue’s Changes.”

Perhaps the best method to honor Charles Mingus’s work isn’t through imitation. John Hébert looked to the legend’s ability to match musical personalities in service to the music as inspiration for his band on Sounds of Love, though with plenty of Mingus DNA in their output. 

1. Constrictor
2. The Blank-Faced Man
3. Duke Ellington's Sound of Love
4. Love What?
5. Remember Rockefeller at Attica
6. Frivolocity

John Hébert - bass
Taylor Ho Bynum - cornet
Tim Berne - alto saxophone
Fred Hersch - piano
Ches Smith - drums & percussion

Fazer - Plex ( January 14, 2022 City Slang)

Fazer’s music cannot simply be described as Jazz; the Munich band is shaped by the experimental pop music of Talk Talk, the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, the Krautrock of Can and the dub techno of Rhythm & Sound, but masterfully take aspects of all this and more, to create their own sonic identity. Each player and their instrument has an individuality, but together they blend into an organic and flowing overall sound.

Coming from different musical backgrounds, the members of Fazer met while studying jazz at the Academy for Music and Theatre in Munich. The German city has a rich history of improvised music; home to labels ECM (Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Steve Reich) and Enja (Archie Shepp, Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard, Elvin Jones) as well as Krautrock icons Amon Düül II, Popol Vuh & Embryo.

1. Ghazal
2. Thea
3. Dezember
4. Grenadier
5. Morning
6. Prague
7. Cuentro
8. Jaculysses
9. Fannie's Theme
10. Cycle
11. Nago

Oli Astral - From the Astral (January 14, 2022)

Oli Astral is a musical universe where the sound of modern jazz guitar merges with digital music technology and visual projection. The musicians of the trio  are : Frédéric Alarie on the double Bass, William Regnier on the Drums and Olivier Grenier Bedard on guitar.

The group keeps a balance between technology and a more organic approach to music. Some elements like computers on stage, virtual instruments, MIDI controllers, and Frederic’s Modular Synthesizers serve the imagination of the musicians. The musical values thought, are still deeply rooted in the tradition of Jazz. Things like Improvisation, group interaction, and risk-taking are very important in the creative process of the trio. The importance of Melody might be the number one thing. If poetry is the only truth in the world of words, then Melody is the only truth in the world of sounds.

During the production process of the album, digital audio processing techniques were used to create musical textures. The audio artists who worked on that are Thibaut Quinchon, Derek Orsi, and Olivier Grenier-Bédard. These techniques are: creative mixing, creative editing, and computer sound design. The purpose of these is to widen the sound of the Trio with musical textures, loops, and overdubs.

The Live experience is a little more immersive. After recording, the group worked with Visual Artist Bruno Scabini, From Buenos Aires. He illustrated and animated the music with creative drawing techniques and cinematic effects.  In addition to the rest, there is a video image on stage that merges with the music. This video image transforms the Live experience into a journey into the universe of the group. 

1. From the Astral
2. L'envol
3. From the Deep
4. Avec Plaisir
5. From the Heart
6. Spectre Sonore

Guitar & MIDI controllers: Olivier Grenier-Bédard (Oli Astral)
Double Bass &Modular Synthesizers: Frédéric Alarie
Drums: William Régnier