Saturday, January 29, 2022

Sean Fyfe Quartet - Late Night (January 2022 Cellar Live)

Sean Fyfe is a New York based Canadian pianist. He began playing piano at age 5, and was immersed in jazz at age 14 in high school. He has completed performance degrees in piano at McGill University, and Manhattan School of Music, and brings a style to the piano heavily influenced by Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly and McCoy Tyner. He has worked with some of Canada's finest musicians, including Andre White, Dave Laing, Kevin Dean, Tony Genge, Sean Drabitt, Al McLean and Sam Kirmayer.

Here's some album background from Dave Laing.

It never fails to amaze how a musician’s personality comes through so clearly in their music. This is especially true for improvisers. Composers may write the most wistful, or coltish, or uninhibited of melodic themes (and Sean certainly does all of that and more with this musical offering); but the performer in the act of improvisation really has nowhere to hide. Even if they wanted to only offer up well-worn clichés, or drench their solos in complex harmonic decoration, or devoutly channel past musical heroes, the very act of performance still inevitably reveals the soul behind the sound. And in fact what Sean and his bandmates all do instead is express their individuality with a deep knowledge of the tradition, a hard-earned understanding of music’s mechanics, and the absorption of lessons learned from past masters.

Sean Fyfe has become something of a vagabond as he roams about the globe and it is coming through in the cosmopolitan nature of his music. He originally hails from the expansive natural beauty of Vancouver Island before formative residencies in Montreal and New York, prior to his current home base of London, England. The group Sean has assembled here comprise his Montreal collaborators: veteran rhythm section masters Adrian Vedady on bass and drummer André White, along with guitarist Sam Kirmayer—a close contemporary of Sean’s who has performed and recorded with Sean on numerous occasions.

This collection of original compositions starts off with the aptly titled Happy, a bright and open melody that sets tone for the whole outing. The mood shifts on Late Night, a wistful and nostalgic composition set in ¾ time navigated by Sean and guitarist Sam Kirmayer together before Sean, Sam, and Adrian knit together assured solos. Another change of direction leads us to the bluesy Little Pants, and here Adrian and André set up a deep groove for Sean and Sam to tell their heartfelt stories.

Sean’s solo reading of Billy Strayhorn’s Lush Life is a capricious tour-de-force. The introduction is delivered with textbook pianistic melancholy before Sean takes us through the main melody in a more orchestral arrangement with momentary stops and starts along the way, all the while revealing his deft touch and abundant soulfulness.
We return to the ensemble with Needful, and Sean’s solo displays a ranging, impatient virtuosity that is a joy for us listeners back down here on the ground to follow.

Sam and his singing, vibrant tone lead the way on Stella, another of Sean’s clever compositions. Sam and Sean provide contrasting yet equally elegant, polished solos before Adrian offers the final word prior to the return of the melody.

Next up is To Wes, a tribute to American guitarist Wes Montgomery, a major influence for both Sean and Sam alike. The tempo-shifting razzle-dazzle provided by André and Adrian sets the stage for spacious explorations by Sam and Sean before André is released on his own to maneuver the maze.

The set ends with Sean’s bop-inspired composition Validation, a melody crafted on Charlie Parker’s Confirmation. I would suggest that this tune and this recording as a whole validates his presence as player and composer to admire and celebrate. Among the many moods that Sean calls forth with his music, perhaps joyfulness is the most dominant. And we come full circle from the opener Happy, as Sean makes a sly musical reference to Harold Arlen’s Get Happy, during his solo on Validation. No doubt he was feeling particularly pleased to share his abundant talents while leading such a stellar group of players through his music. Forget your troubles, indeed. 

1. Happy 05:34
2. Late Night 06:32
3. Little Pants 08:10
4. Lush Life 04:11
5. Needful 06:50
6. Stella 07:00
7. To Wes 06:05
8. Validation 04:36

Sean Fyfe - Piano
Sam Kirmayer - Guitar
Adrian Vedady - Bass
Andre White - Drums

Executive Producer: Cory Weeds
Produced by Sean Fyfe
Recorded at Planet Studios on May 3 - 4th, 2021
Engineered by Juan Gomez
Mixed and mastered by Eli Krantzberg
Design and layout by John Sellards
Cover Photo by Jeff Spielman

David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Wide Eye Culture (March 18, 2022 BBE)

BBE Music announces the first ever reissue of jazz bassist David Wertman’s rare 1983 Sun Ensemble LP ‘Wide Eye Culture’, carefully remastered and presented as a deluxe expanded edition, with 8 bonus tracks.

Five years after the release of his Sun Ensemble debut ‘Earthly Delights’, also reissued on BBE Music, spiritual jazz bassist and prolific composer David Wertman returned to the studio in 1983 to record the follow-up, ‘Wide Eye Culture’. Now, thanks to David’s wife and musical partner Lynne Meryl, in this special deluxe edition of the album we’ve been able to include three more obscure independent releases by Wertman and Meryl, which bridge the gap between the two LPs. Two impossibly rare 1981 flexi-discs and one 1982 two-track ’45 serve to chart Wertman’s musical evolution as he settled in the lush Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts and surrounded himself with a whole new array of talented collaborators and musical influences.

Emerging from the ferment of New York’s infamous free jazz loft scene, where the music was free and ‘out’, the sessions went on for hours and the characters were dangerous and wild, David Wertman had spent his young adulthood attending what he described as “the college of ‘da streets’.” Having sharpened his skills against those of Billy Bang, Arthur Blythe, Steve Reid and Charles Tyler, among others, during the late ‘70s, Wertman made the move to Northampton, MA where his irrepressible, magnetic energy quickly drew a diverse, openminded and talented group of players into his orbit.

Alongside a core trio of vocalist Lynne Meryl, pianist Tom McClung and Wertman himself, the Wide Eye Culture album features future Sting/Don Cherry collaborator Tony Vacca on drums and Aretha Franklin/Tony Bennet band member turned music lecturer Tim Atherton on trombone. Other local musicians and friends feature on the 1981 flexi-disc ‘You Are My Love’, recorded under Lynne Meryl’s name only; the Sun Ensemble’s ‘Up In The Sky’, recorded that same year at Smith College’s John M. Greene Hall; and 1982’s 7” ’45RPM release, ‘Blessing of Love/Golden Light’, recorded as David Wertman & Lynne Meryl. Soon after these recordings, Tom McClung left for Europe to perform with Archie Shepp and Steve McCraven, where he remained until his death in 2017.

With the addition of McClung’s lyrical, effortless piano playing, Lynne Meryl’s acrobatic vocals and Vacca’s expressive, visceral drumming, Wide Eye Culture is perhaps more accessible than Wertman’s earlier works, although flashes of his experimental freeform style still remain throughout these discs. “What Dave played was like nothing I’d heard before. I was inexperienced as a jazz singer, but I opened up quickly and started to improvise and scat. Coming from the New York loft free jazz scene, Dave had never played structured tunes before. So, he lifted me up and I grounded him. It was perfect.” – Lynne Meryl 

1. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Forest Dance
2. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Camel
3. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Flute Song
4. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - New Earth
5. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Sing My Love Song
6. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Dance Of The Mid-East Madness
7. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Summer Heat
8. Lynne Meryl - How Come?
9. Lynne Meryl - Political Science
10. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Up in the Sky
11. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Sci-Fi Fantasy
12. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Blessing of Love
13. David Wertman & Sun Ensemble - Golden Light
14. Lynne Meryl - You Are My Love
15. Lynne Meryl - Near My Heart

Koichi Matsukaze Trio (feat Ryojiro Furusawa) - At The Room 427 (January 2022 BBE)

The ninth album in BBE Music's J Jazz Masterclass Series presents ‘At the Room 427’ by Koichi Matsukaze Trio Featuring Ryojiro Furusawa, a rarely heard exemplar of post-modal power bop and free jazz.

Delivered by a trio playing with an intensity and energy that draws on classic Eric Dolphy and mid-era Coltrane but definitely with its own particular vibe, At the Room 427 is an exemplar of febrile improvised jazz that could only come from Japan.

This deluxe reissue sees a welcome return to the J Jazz Masterclass series for saxophonist Koichi Matsukaze. Originally issued in 1976 on the cult ALM label, At the Room 427 is the debut album from one of the most exciting and forward-thinking instrumentalists to emerge in the mid 1970s. Matsukaze's distinctively angular, deconstructive style adds an unpredictable quality to the session that is balanced by the muscular bass of Koichi Yamazaki and the kinetic drumming of Ryojiro Furusawa, who provides a sound footing for Matuskaze’s fiery solos and free-form chemistry.

The album opens with the epic Acoustic Chicken, a 20-minute tour de force of dynamic and explosive interplay. Featured on J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan volume 3 and written by Furusawa, Acoustic Chicken's strong melody lines and scorching sax finely mesh with the driving rhythm section. Furusawa’s Elvin Jones-like rolls and batteries of percussion are underpinned by Yamazaki’s driving and rounded bass.

At the Room 427 also includes a radical deconstruction of the Billie Holiday classic Lover Man and three more original compositions by Matsukaze. The album was recorded live in November 1975 before a small audience in – as the title states – Room 427, a classroom in Chuo University, the alma mater of both Matsukaze and Furusawa. However, despite the rudimentary surroundings, the recording by Yukio Kojima, founder of ALM, manages to give the listener the feeling of being in the room itself, up close to the band, bristling with an intense energy.

This reissue of a long-lost rarity of post-bop/free playing maintains the exceptionally high standard set by the previous releases in the BBE Music J Jazz Masterclass Series. As with all releases in the series, At the Room 427 comes with full reproduction artwork and extra sleeve notes, with artist interviews and biographies.

The J Jazz Masterclass Series is curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden for BBE Music. 

1. Acoustic Chicken 20:08
2. Theme Of Seikatsu Kojyo Iinkai 07:46
3. Little Drummer 11:45
4. Lover Man 09:45
5. Theme Of Seikatsu Kojyo Iinkai (Version) 02:03

Jazzanova - Creative Musicians (Waajeed & Henrik Schwarz Remixes) January 2022 BBE

Announcing new album ‘Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit – Reimagined by Jazzanova’, BBE Music, DJ Amir and 180 Proof records present the first single from the project, ‘Creative Musicians, featuring remixes by Waajeed and Henrik Schwarz.

‘Strata Records – The Sound of Detroit – Reimagined by Jazzanova’ is no ‘covers’ album, rather a brand-new celebration of the iconic imprint, as Jazzanova’s take on Lyman Woodard Organization’s musical manifesto ‘Creative Musicians’ makes clear from its Afrobeat-inspired horn arrangements, drum track, and syncopated tempo.

The vocalist for these sessions is Sean Haefeli, who originally hails from Indianapolis, and brings a relaxed urgency to his contributions, sounding like a young Gil Scott-Heron.

Leveraging his 20 plus year friendship with legendary Detroit DJ/Producer extraordinaire, Waajeed, Amir enlists him for a special four-to-the-floor mix that not only keeps that organic vibe but also adds a unique contemporary Detroit flavour!

Henrik Schwarz needs little introduction to fans of eclectic electronic sounds. For over thirty years, his amazing body of work has packed dancefloors worldwide. Henrik takes ‘Creative Musicians’ in a slightly different direction, retaining many of Jazzanova’s original elements while adding his signature sound to the mix, providing another dance floor scorcher!

And just to give you proper context, we have included the cult-classic, much-loved original version of ‘Creative Musicians’ by the Lyman Woodard Organization. 

1. Creative Musicians 03:38
2. Creative Musicians (Waajeed Remix) 06:09
3. Creative Musicians (Henrik Schwarz Remix) 04:34
4. The Lyman Woodard Organization - Creative Musicians 02:37
5. Creative Musicians (Waajeed Remix Instrumental) 06:10
6. Creative Musicians (Henrik Schwarz Dub) 04:35

Historic Don Friedman release from our First Season (Newvelle Records)

A remembrance and celebration of Don Friedman

This week at Newvelle we are featuring a historic record from our first season.  

Don Friedman's "Strength and Sanity"
Don Friedman recorded on two of the most groundbreaking jazz albums of the 1960's: Booker Little's "Out Front" and "Victory and Sorrow" both from 1961.  Don returned to these masterpieces 55 years later with his trio in 2016.  

"It’s a thoughtful revisiting of some brilliant music that still isn’t heard as often as it should be. It also glows with personal significance, suggesting the efforts of an accomplished and worldly artist returning to a pivotal moment from his youth." –Jazz Times

On sale this week for $50 with the offer code FRIEDMAN

Buy Don Friedman's "Some Other Time" for $50 (enter offer code FRIEDMAN)

Feb 5-6: Mara Rosenbloom, Peter Evans lead ensembles in livestream 'Meditations on Freedom' concerts

Feb 5-6: Mara Rosenbloom, Peter Evans lead ensembles in livestream 'Meditations on Freedom' concerts

Artist-focused non-profit Giant Step Arts partners with The Hunter College Music Department to Present

Meditations on Freedom

Saturday, February 5 – The Mara Rosenbloom Quartet 
with Darius Jones, Sean Conly and Michael Sarin

Sunday, February 6 – Peter Evans Being & Becoming 
with Joel Ross, Nick Jozwiak, Savannah Harris

Live seating for Hunter College students only; streamed for the general public at 7:30 p.m. via 


• Monday, February 14 – Tarbaby 
with Orrin Evans, Eric Revis and Nasheet Waits

• Wednesday, March 2 – Reverso 
with Ryan Keberle, Frank West and Vincent Courlois

• Thursday, March 3 – Nasheet Waits Quartet 
with Mark Turner, Steve Nelson, Rashaan Carter

Giant Step Arts, an innovative, artist-focused non-profit organization, launched by a renowned photographer, Jimmy Katz, presents one of a kind performances by modern jazz masters. These concerts are presented with the generous support of the David and Minnie Berk Foundation.

Joe Morris, Ben Stapp & Dan O'Brien - Amphibious Not By Nature (January 29, 2022 Phonoemulsion Records)

1. it can be done
2. sink or swim
3. through tests and trials
4. there is much work yet to be done
5. who am i?

Joe Morris - guitar
Ben Stapp - tuba
Dan O'Brien - clarinet, alto, tenor, baritone saxophones

Recorded July 2021 at Glacial Erratic Studios, Guilford, CT
Engineered by Joe Morris
Mixed and mastered by Dan O'Brien
Layout and design by Dan O'Brien
Copyright 2022 Phonoemulsion Records, Glacial Erratic and Uqbar Music