Friday, February 11, 2022

Saxophonist Adam Larson Presents “With Love, From Chicago” due out February 11, 2022 via Outside in Music

Celebrated Saxophonist and Author Adam Larson Announces the Release of the Fiery With Love, From Chicago, The First in the Instrumentalist’s Trilogy of Trio Releases on Outside in Music, out February 11, 2022

☆☆☆☆ - All About Jazz

" This is the first trio recording Adam Larson has released; his exciting thematic explorations and his powerful musicianship plus the joyful, intense, musical, rhythmical playing of Clark Sommers and Dana Hall makes one hope this is the first of many collaborations."
- Step Tempest

Outside in Music is pleased to announce the February 11, 2022 release of the spirited new album from saxophonist Adam Larson, With Love, From Chicago. This adventurous trio recording marks the first of a recorded trilogy that Larson plans to release over the next 18 months. Each consecutive release will feature the incomparable saxophonist alongside a new chordless trio, surrendering the support of harmonic accompaniment for the freedom and melodic interplay associated with trio outings of this nature. On With Love, From Chicago, Larson explores his relationship with a city where he gained the confidence to develop into the artist that he is today. On this release, Larson is joined by two of Chicago’s finest instrumentalists, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall.

Described by critic Howard Reich of The Chicago Tribune as “a player for whom the word ‘prodigious’ was coined”, and by Nate Chinen of The New York Times as “the sort of jazz musician who gets flagged early on as a promising talent and then hustles to meet every requirement for success”, Larson has garnered numerous awards that distinguish him as one of the most promising artists of his generation. A preeminent force on the jazz scene, Larson has released five critically acclaimed albums, and performs regularly at such notable venues as Birdland, the Village Vanguard, the Blue Note, The 55 Bar, and Smalls. Beyond maintaining an active touring and recording schedule, Larson continues to be a sought-after clinician and master class presenter at notable high schools and colleges throughout the country. Larson is currently on faculty at UMKC where he is the head of the Arts Entrepreneurship program, and has also authored 12 successful jazz etude books that are currently being sold in over 45 countries.

Growing up just two hours downstate of Chicago (in Normal, IL), Larson’s love affair with the city actually began after the saxophonist moved to New York City and began to regularly perform in Chicago as a member of the Winard Harper Group. Larson notes “It was on that tour that Howard Reich (former critic for the Chicago Tribune) gave me a favorable performance review, which gave me the confidence to proceed at that point in my career. In a way, Chicago became a city that provided me with some external validation that I feel was crucial in my development. I really do love the city of Chicago and I’m thankful for all of the opportunities to perform over the years as both a leader and a sideman, as well as the numerous educational events I’ve done in the Chicago-land area.”

“When I began to map out the idea of creating a trilogy of trio recordings I looked to capture different musicians in cities that have played historical significance in my development and success as a musician,” reflects Larson. After the saxophonist first collaborated with Sommers and Hall in 2014 at a performance at Chicago’s The Jazz Showcase alongside saxophonist and mentor John Wojciechowski (whose tune “Twirl” is included on this record as an homage), he knew that he needed to dig into these musical relationships deeper. “The main concept of the album is to showcase the musical and personal relationships and trust that has developed between the trio through various experiences over the years and I’m quite certain the result is one of the best recorded examples of my playing, to date.”
Photos of Adam Larson courtesy of the artist

Immediately perceivable by the listener is the trust and synergy between these three fine players. Chances are taken, split-second decisions are made, and every step of the way, the trio navigates its way through the harmonic landscape of these brilliant compositions with power and finesse. With Love, From Chicago begins with Larson’s sprightly “Angolan Babysitter”. Larson delivers the lively melody with a fervor, supported by the steadfast rhythm section’s tight-knit groove. Highlighting the diversity of Larson’s sphere of influences, the piece was heavily inspired by a rhythm that the composer heard and studied during a six-week tour in Africa, and the song’s B section is influenced by a 2Pac song called “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”, as both songs share similar bass motion. 

Twirl” is a composition by John Wojciechowski. This piece is one of many that really highlight the group’s stunning facility on their instruments and tremendous capacity for listening. In the fashion of some of the most essential chordless trio recordings such as Sonny Rollins Live at the Village Vanguard and Joe Henderson, State of the Tenor, the tenor saxophonist has to do much of the harmonic heavy-lifting, stating the harmony by outlining the chord changes within their improvisation. Larson has certainly proven himself up to the task, spinning melodic and rhythmic motifs in a staggering way, and using the inherent additional space created by the absence of a chordal instrument to his advantage. This is especially true on this bright-tempoed, vibrant, playful piece.

Larson notes “Tierney’s Song” is written for my wife, Tierney. It took me a long time to write a song that I felt confident accurately reflected the beauty of my wife. I try very hard with this song to keep the melody singable- my wife and I met at MSM as she was finishing her Master’s in vocal jazz performance while I was finishing up my undergrad. She’s got a beautiful voice and I really enjoyed the touring we did together for a bit right after school. I tried to write with something that was “singable” in mind.” The album concludes on a truly powerful note with Sommers’ “Firestarter”. The piece features Sommers’ blisteringly fast walking-bass alongside Hall’s commanding percussive musings, underscoring some virtuosic melodic invention from the bandleader.

“As a trio, I think our sound is rather unique as it’s very hard to find a core rhythm section that has played together for nearly 20 years, like Clark and Dana have”, Larson notes. With Love, From Chicago captures a thrilling inventive energy between Larson and his Chicago-based collaborators, the album is a testament to the vitality and vibrancy of the jazz tradition in the Windy City and beyond. 

1. Angolan Babysitter 6:23

2. The Time You Forgot You Knew 5:20

3. Kansas to Chicago 6:16

4. In Waiting 7:04

5. We See 5:25

6. Twirl 4:43

7. Portrait of Jennie 7:40
    J Russel Robinson

8. Root Fruit 5:28

9. Tierney’s Song 5:25

10. Firestarter 4:30

Adam Larson - tenor saxophone
Clark Sommers - bass
Dana Hall - drums

Trumpeter/composer Natsuki Tamura’s solo album “Summer Tree” (February 11, 2022 via Libra Records)

Trumpeter-composer Natsuki Tamura Builds a Startling Multi-Layered New Solo Album, Summer Tree

“extremely beautiful music, defined by its intelligence and risk.”
― Jason Bivins, Cadence

“wondrous facility and articulation,… a musical sense of humor … a fresh approach to improvised music… Adventuresome and rewarding.” 
— Stuart Kremsky, IAJRC Journal

Summer Tree to be released February 11, 2022 via Libra Records

Trumpeter-composer Natsuki Tamura adds a new dimension to his unaccompanied music, several in fact, on his new multi-tracked solo album, Summer Tree. Only his fifth solo album in a career that has spanned more than five decades, Summer Tree displays all the inventiveness, lyricism, and wit as his previous solo albums, but with a few new wrinkles. For the first time, he overdubs himself, creating dense, richly textured pieces. The piano and percussion that first made an appearance on his previous solo outing, Koki (Libra Records) return to enrich his sonic palate, adding more color and texture. He also invites pianist-composer Satoko Fujii to join him for one track, not on her expected instrument, but on vocals. The music at times goes to some very dark, un-summery places but is always superbly crafted and full of surprises. 

Tamura laid down a foundation track for each of the four lengthy pieces on the album, then added others on top, in a spontaneous but time-consuming process. Two of the tracks, "Summer Tree" and “Summer Dream” have composed themes played by Tamura’s muted trumpet. The other two tracks were completely improvised.

The result is unlike anything Tamura has done before. The title track and “Summer Dream” unfold slowly over low drones that resemble Tibetan horns or digeridoos, with layers of anguished howls punctuated by additional trumpet hisses and whoops. Expertly crafted and paced, they build tension that go unrelieved as Tamura’s exquisite muted trumpet melodies wend their melancholy way through the sonic turmoil. On Koki, Tamura debuted his homemade percussion setup comprised of pots and pans and wok. The metallic clang of Tamura’s kitchen-implement percussion returns on “Summer Color,” ringing like an alarm bell throughout. As the clamor relentlessly continues, faint drones hover in the background, low-register piano-note clusters explode and fade, while his trumpet snarls and grumbles.

On “Summer Wind,” pianists-composer Satoko Fujii joins husband Tamura, not on piano, but on vocals. This is just the second time Fujii has recorded her unique vocalizing, which she debuted on last year’s Underground. Here she stretches out more, deploying a wide range of non-verbal vocalizations, from shrieks, trills and barking sounds to longer phrases that sound like an unknown language. Tamura, playing just piano, maintains a menacing rumble in the lower register over which enigmatic piano phrases nervously tip toe. Each piece, no matter how uncanny, invites the the listener to pay attention to all the details and nuances of the sounds. The closer one listens the more there is to hear.

Remarkably, Tamura used no post-production mixing, editing, or other manipulations to create the album’s unearthly sounds. He drew exclusively on his huge bag of extended techniques and everything you hear is as it was played. 

No Tamura recording is complete without a touch of his impish humor. In this case you’ll find it in the album’s title, Summer Tree. “My name, Natsuki, is spelled by two Chinese letters, ‘Natsu’ means ‘summer’ and ‘Ki’ means ‘tree.’ I was born in summer and my parents gave me this name,” he explains.
Japanese trumpeter and composer Natsuki Tamura is internationally recognized for a unique musical vocabulary that blends jazz lyricism with extended techniques. In 1997, he and Satoko Fujii, who is also his wife, released their first duo album, How Many? (Leo Lab). They have recorded eight CDs together, including 2021’s Keshin (Libra). Tamura’s collaborations with Fujii reveal an intense musical empathy and have garnered wide popular and critical acclaim. Kurt Gottschalk writes in the New York City Jazz Record that their rapport “feels like a secret language … It’s rare to sense this level of intuition between musicians.”
2003 was a breakout year for Tamura as a bandleader, with the release of Hada Hada (Libra), featuring his free jazz-avant rock quartet with Fujii on synthesizer. In 2005, he made a 180-degree turn with the debut of his all acoustic Gato Libre quartet, focusing on the intersection of European folk music and sound abstraction.Now a trio, their most recent CD is Koneko (Libra), released in 2020. Writing in the New York City Jazz Record, Tyran Grillo said, “By turns mysterious and whimsical.”
In 1998, Tamura released the first of his unaccompanied trumpet albums, A Song for Jyaki (Leo Lab). He followed it up in 2003 with KoKoKoKe (Polystar/NatSat and in 2021, he celebrated his 70th birthday with Koki Solo (Libra), which Karl Ackermann in All About Jazz described as “quirky fun in an age of uncertainty.”
In addition to appearing in many of Fujii’s ensembles, Tamura also has worked with collaborative groups. Most recently, he joined Fujii and master French composer-improvisers, trumpeter Christian Pruvost and drummer Peter Orins, to form the collective quartet Kaze. With five CDs to their credit since 2011, Kaze “redefines listening to music, redefines genres, redefines playing music,” according to Stef Gjissels of Free Jazz Blog
Tamura’s category-defying abilities make him “unquestionably one of the most adventurous trumpet players on the scene today,” said Marc Chenard in Coda.

Oleś Brothers & Dominik Strycharski - Koptycus (February 11, 2022 Audio Cave)

Marcin and Bartłomiej - the Oleś Brothers – are among the most creative artists on the Polish jazz scene. Undoubtedly, they are our genuine national treasure. A double bass player and a drummer, both have cosmic imaginations and unparalleled musical sensitivity. Of a pioneering character discovering new musical territories, their creative output often goes beyond the framework of jazz. A clear confirmation of this is the "Koptycus" project.

The Oleś Brothers invited Dominik Strycharski, a prominent figure on the Polish improvised music scene, flutist, singer and composer, to participate. Strycharski is one of the few to successfully incorporate the flute into jazz and intriguing musical experiments. He also does not shy away from balanced elements of electronics in his vocalism.

The music of the Copts - one of the oldest Christian communities in the world - became the source of inspiration and the main point of reference for this trio of extraordinary musicians. Thanks to centuries of isolation and keeping to themselves, the Copts created and preserved their original musical language, originating from pre-Christian times, assimilating Greek, Jewish and, slightly later, Muslim accents. The very word "copt", although of Arabic origin, has its roots in Greek and denotes an inhabitant of Egypt, but the religious Coptic community crosses borders - it also includes Eritrea and Ethiopia with all of their cultural, musical and performance traditions.

By searching for and exploring the musical codes of the first Christians and transliterating them into the language and aesthetics of modern times, the artists created an outstanding work. A colorful, multi-threaded story about the world of ancient Eastern Churches is read through the prism of territorially understood Coptic music. Using the patterns of narration typical of ancient Greece universal in our culture, an extraordinary story speaks to us in a modern and often innovative musical language.

Miron Zajfert

1. Bakaskut 05:11
2. Iom 05:51
3. Mazi 04:46
4. 'abraz 07:08
5. Ep-ou-roh David 09:34
6. Fildaman 06:03
7. Asoman 07:43

Bartłomiej Oleś – drums, percussions
Marcin Oleś – double bass
Dominik Strycharski – blockflutes, electronics

Marcello Carelli - The Era (February 11, 2022)

My debut release is the culmination of my first four years as a composer, with seven of the eight tunes being my original compositions. This memorable era was filled with challenges, tension, and uncertainty. However, I believe this time in my life has only been a vehicle for my creativity and self-growth. I had little desire to write music four years ago, but I now look forward to each time I get to sit down and compose at the piano or the drums. From slow ballads with cyclical harmony to up-tempo afro-cuban arrangements, “The Era” captures the rhythmic and harmonic authenticity that I strive for as a young artist.

“Marcello Carelli’s debut outing is courageously melodic, gentle, warm, smart, and yes…Resilient! Embedded in the music is both a sincere reverence for tradition and an honoring of the present. Carelli’s leadership provides steady, yet sensitive musical guidance, and the band’s performance and interpretations are equally mature. This group is unafraid to swing, bop, whisper, walk, strut, “sing”, and serve whatever the musical moment asks for.”

~John Daversa, multiple Grammy Award winning trumpet-player and composer

“Marcello Carelli is a rare triple threat: talented drummer, bandleader, and composer, and it really shows in his wonderful debut album “The Era”. With beautiful original compositions and inventive arrangements of standards, Marcello and this talented band of young musicians play with creativity, energy, and maturity. Marcello’s virtuosity as a drummer is clearly evident, but always in deference to the music. A fantastic first effort by a musician to watch out for!”

~Martin Bejerano, pianist for Roy Haynes and Russell Malone 

1. Distractions
2. It's All Right with Me
3. Just Sit Tight
4. New Dawn
5. Nuthin' to Do Blues
6. Desesperacion
7. Resilience
8. What Makes Me Smile

Dylan McHann - Tenor Saxophone
David Sneider - Trumpet
Sam Keedy - Trombone
Connor Rohrer - Piano
Max Schwartz - Bass
Marcello Carelli - Drums

Jack Maguire - Recording Engineer
Mike Marciano - Mixing and Mastering Engineer
Amanda Gargac - Album Artwork
Mackenzie Karbon - Album Design

Recorded on May 7th and 8th, 2021 at the Weeks Recording Studio, University of Miami, Frost School of Music, Coral Gables, FL

Kit Downes | Petter Eldh | James Maddren | "Vermillion" | February 11, 2022 ECM

Pianist Kit Downes Continues to Push
New Concepts through a Trio Format
in his Latest Release Vermillion

After his widely acclaimed ECM leader-debut Obsidian saw Kit Downes exploring a broad spectrum of organ timbres and the chamber-toned follow-up Dreamlife Of Debris substantially expanded the instrumental pallet, Vermillion now introduces us to Kit’s exceptional pianistic qualities in a trio context with collaborators Petter Eldh on bass and James Maddren on drums. 

The Guardian has praised Kit for his “uncanny ability to make difficult music sound natural” and Vermillion provides proof of that, capturing the trio in a carefully assorted piano trio programme that treads gentle lyricism and bold creative outbursts in equal measures and with a strong penchant for melody.

“This record is different from what I’ve done before. We pushed ourselves into an area that we haven’t played in before, which is a more chamber music-oriented sound. The complex rhythmic component is still kept intact, but it’s wrapped in a different aesthetic.” Kit traces his constant search for new musical challenges back to his early mentor, pianist John Taylor, who passed in 2016 and to whom Kit dedicated his first ECM recording: “John sought after real moments in the music, often by doing something unpredictable. He wanted to make new things happen and was obsessed with taking risks musically, which is what I think I did with Obsidian and what we’re doing now on Vermillion.”

Risk comes in subtle disguise as the trio navigates rich and varied structures. Powerful bass attack is intercepted by the softest piano touch, uneven meters veiled in rubato feel and Kit’s unique harmonic language hides its intricacies in patient timing and warm cadences. James Maddren’s percussive contribution is both assertive and adaptable, woven into the music’s fabric. 
No matter whether written and rehearsed at an earlier point or brought to the group on the day of the recording, the trio gives each idea definition and every impulse precise form. “Rather than just documenting everything we’ve done live, with Manfred Eicher’s help we picked what felt like a great collection of music – some music written a couple of years ago, other songs merely two days old. ‘Class Fails’ for example was brought on the day of the recording by Petter. Its bass line may sound like it’s free, but it’s actually in quite specific time. As we started playing the song it turned into what sounds like an organized rubato.” 

On Vermillion, construction and deconstruction exist in harmony with each other, creating organic shapes as the two extremes pull at opposite ends and yield gracefully melodious themes in the process. Kit and Petter each came up with five pieces, while the eleventh and final one is an abstract take on Jimi Hendrix’ “Castles Made Of Sand” – the trio joining in a careful unravelling of the song’s individual elements. Vermillion, recorded at the Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano in May and June 2021, was produced by Manfred Eicher. 

James Maddren and Kit Downes’ musical association goes back to their college days, when the two were flatmates, making music together on a daily basis. James studied with percussionist Martin France at the Royal Academy of Music in London and belongs to the most in-demand percussionists in today’s UK jazz scene – having contributed to recordings and performances by the likes of Norma Winstone, Marc Copland and Gwilym Simcock, on top of being the rhythmic backbone to the majority of Kit’s projects. 

Known as the bassist in pianist Django Bates’ Belovèd trio – the trio’s album Study of Touch was released on ECM in 2017 – Petter Eldh’s distinct lower-end contributions can be heard in a variety of contexts since joining Bates’ trio in 2010. Besides his work as an accomplished jazz player, Petter also experiments with electronics, hip-hop and other forms of popular music, which he combines with his jazz background in his Berlin-based group Koma Saxo.

Kit Downes was an organ scholar at St Peter Mancroft in Norwich before going on to study piano, organ and composition at the Purcell School and the Royal Academy of Music. He recorded and toured widely with the band Empirical while also working with – among others Django Bates and Lee Konitz. Besides Petter Eldh and James Maddren, over the years Kit has frequently collaborated with drummer Sebastian Rochford, saxophonist Tom Challenger and cellist Lucy Railton, who all appear on his last ECM outing Dreamlife Of Debris.

Kitt Downes | Vermillion
ECM Release Date: February 11, 2022

Diego Rivera - Mestizo (February 11, 2022 Posi-Tone Records)

With a stunning mixture of grace and power, tenor saxophonist Diego Rivera transcends cultural boundaries to deliver an emphatic message of intelligence and inclusivity on his 2022 release "Mestizo." Critical listeners may appreciate these performances as a series of engaged discussions employing the repartee of context and contrast between the leading voices of the horns and the affectionate support and retort from their immaculate rhythm section of pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Rudy Royston.

This assemblage of bright moments is also admirably enhanced by the presence of trumpet phenomenon Alex Sipiagin, who joins Rivera as his front line aide-de-cam, providing musical offerings of incisive intensity that steadily serve to escalate the entire proceeding unto another level. Nonetheless, if we overly focus on the interplay of elements, then we risk missing out on the point of the dialogue and mistake the medium for the message. Rivera's unmistakable talent as a songwriter is the real story, as he deftly transforms this dynamic quintet into a unified instrument and unleashes a powerful combination of swinging blasts juxtaposed with forays into the emotional parlance of subtle conversation.

From the opening salvo to the last hurrah, the melodic message of "Mestizo" moves effortlessly straightforward and affirms that Rivera is a shining star of unlimited brilliance to keep an eye on for many years to come.

1. Battle Fatigue
2. Rasquache
3. Teru
4. Bracero
5. Escapade
6. Canción De Cuna
7. Most From The Least
8. The Rose Window
9. La Raza Cósmica
10. Mestizo

Diego Rivera - tenor saxophone
Alex Sipiagin - trumpet, flugelhorn 6, 9
Art Hirahara - piano
Boris Kozlov - bass
Rudy Royston - drums, percussion 2, 4, 8

produced by Marc Free
engineered by Nick O'Toole
recorded September 16-17, 2021 & Teru on June 6, 2021, at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, NY
mixed & mastered at Woodland Studio, Lake Oswego, OR
photography by Anna Yatskevich
package design by Alex Koehler

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio - Cold As Weiss (February 11, 2022 Colemine Records)

Over the course of the last five years, the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio have established themselves as the world's premier funky organ trio. The organ trio, along with founder and manager Amy Novo, continues to devise the perfect blend of raw, passionate music and engaging industry practices. Through a firm partnership with label Colemine Records, the trio has garnered Billboard charting albums, sold out shows, tens of thousands of albums sold, and millions of streams. Lofty accomplishments for an instrumental organ trio.

Now, with permanent drummer Dan Weiss behind to kit, DLO3 is proud to present Cold As Weiss, their third studio album to date that finds them tighter than ever, and continuing to push funky instrumental music to a new generation of fans.

1. Pull Your Pants Up
2. Don't Worry 'Bout What I Do
3. I Wanna Be Where You Are
4. Big TT's Blues
5. Get Da Steppin'
6. Uncertainty
7. Keep On Keepin' On
8. Slip 'N' Slide
9. This Is Who I Is

Stefan Pasborg - Ritual Dances (February 11, 2022 Sunnyside Records)

Danish drummer/composer Stefan Pasborg grew up in a household of ballet dancers, allowing him to have an intimate relationship with their lifestyle and performances. One of his first formative musical experiences was witnessing a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s legendary ballet, The Rite of Spring, by The Danish Royal Ballet. The experience embedded a love for Stravinsky’s work that has manifested in Pasborg’s new recording, Ritual Dances.

Pasborg has been an important voice in the European jazz and improvised music scenes for the past two decades. His dynamic drumming and eclectic tastes have pushed him into collaborations with many stellar musicians, including Wadada Leo Smith, Tomasz Stańko, Miroslav Vitouš, amongst many others. Pasborg has also led a number of celebrated ensembles, the most notable being Ibrahim Electric.

Even though his compositions were seen as dangerously revolutionary when they premiered, Igor Stravinsky’s music has inspired listeners for generations. His many works have become part of the canon for many philharmonic orchestras but are still presented in more challenging programs. Stravinsky was a key figure in avant-garde symphonic writing, but it was his ballets, The Rite of Spring, The Firebird, and Petrushka, that solidified his legend.

The Rite of Spring and The Firebird were the two ballets that inspired Pasborg to reinterpret the Stravinsky’s work for a jazz big band. Ritual Dances takes music from these two works as a basis for Pasborg’s re-structuring. The pieces are heard performed by two large ensembles: the UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra on two live cuts and Blood Sweat Drum+Bass for the complete studio recording. The bands are augmented by a number of soloists and electronic musicians.

The program begins with UMO’s take of “Spring Round Dance,” a bombastic and grooving piece with winding Rhodes and aggressive horns. “Sacrificial Dance” introduces the Blood Sweat Drum+Bass ensemble with a marching cadence, which builds into a rocking ending with Jeppe Kjellberg’s wailing guitar. Mystery and intensity are intertwined on “Ritual Dance,” while Pasborg’s subtle drums lead into “Adoration of the Earth,” where Stravinsky’s famous theme can clearly be heard on Fredrik Lundin’s tenor sax.
Overdriven guitar ambience leads to the edgy, martial cadence of “Dances of the Young Girls;” swirling crescendos feature a brilliant Ståle Storløkken organ solo. Ethereal percussion provides an aural bed for Goran Kajfes’s trumpet on “Introduction,” while “Princess’ Game” borrows from The Firebird in an enticingly spastic jaunt. The slinky sound of “Infernal Dance” has a noirish tinge. The laconic “Tableau” features a warm and slightly western duet between tenor player Anders Banke and guitarist Kjellberg before launching into a challenging rhythmic workout. Blood Sweat revisit “Spring Round Dance” with Lundin’s sax singing over the infectious, churning rhythms. The recording concludes with UMO’s intense and episodic performance of “Dances of the Young Girls,” featuring standout performances by Seppo Kantonen and Jussi Kannaste.

Stefan Pasborg’s reinvention of Igor Stravinsky’s iconic works from The Rite of Spring and The Firebird are as brilliant as they are invigorating. Ritual Dances doesn’t rewrite Stravinsky so much as bring his work into the 21st century in bombastic style. 

1. Spring Round Dance (Live)
2. Sacrificial Dance
3. Ritual Dance
4. Adoration of the Earth
5. Dances of the Young Girls (Studio)
6. Introduction
7. Princess' Game
8. Infernal Dance
9. Tableau
10. Spring Round Dance (Studio)
11. Dances of the Young Girls (Live)

Stefan Pasborg - drums
Anders Banke - tenor sax (tracks 3, 5, 6, 8, 9), clarinet (tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7)
Anders Filipsen - keyboards (tracks 2-10)
Fredrik Lundin - tenor sax (tracks 3, 4, 10)
Goran Kajfes - trumpet (track 6)
Jeppe Kjellberg - guitar (tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10)
Jeppe Tuxen - Hammond B3 organ (tracks 6, 8)
Jussi Kannaste - tenor sax (tracks 1, 11)
Mikael Myrskog - Moog bass (tracks 1, 7, 8, 11)
Rune Harder Olesen - percussion (tracks 7, 10)
Seppo Kantonen - keyboards (tracks 1, 11)
Ståle Storløkken - Hammond B3 organ (track 5)

UMO Helsinki Jazz Orchestra (tracks 1 & 11):
Ville Vannemaa - conductor
Mikko Mäkinen - soprano, alto sax
Sampo Kasurinen - tenor sax, flute
Teemu Salminen - tenor sax, bass clarinet
Max Zenger - baritone sax, bass clarinet
Marko Portin - flute
Teemu Mattsson - trumpet
Timo Paasonen - trumpet
Tomi Nikku - trumpet
Tero Saarti - trumpet
Kasperi Sarikoski - trombone
Mikko Mustonen - trombone
Pekka Laukkanen - trombone
Mikael Långbacka - bass trombone
Aarne Riikonen - percussion

Blood Sweat Drum+Bass (tracks 2-10):
Jens Christian "Chappe" Jensen - conductor, saxophones (track 9)
Michael Mølhede - trumpet, flugelhorn
Bent Hjort - trumpet, flugelhorn
Malte Pedersen - trumpet, flugelhorn
René Damsbak - trumpet, flugelhorn
Ole Visby - soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
Julie Kjaer - alto sax, flute, alto flute
Jacob Rønne Danielsen - tenor saxophone, contrabass clarinet, clarinet
Nikolaj Schneider - tenor sax, clarinet
Harald Langåsdalen - baritone sax, clarinet
Jens Kristian Bang - trombone
Jonathan Bruun Meyer - trombone
Kirstine Kjaerulff Ravn - trombone
Jonathan Henneveld - bass trombone
Rasmus Svale Kjaergård Lund - tuba
Sisse Foged Hyllestad - bass
Magnus Lindgaard Jochumsen - percussion
Søren Lyngsø Knudsen - electronics

Tomasz Dąbrowski - Tomasz Dąbrowski & The Individual Beings (February 11, 2022 April Records)


Tomasz Dąbrowski makes his April Records debut with an all-star septet, presenting music inspired by Tomasz Stańko and reflecting on his lasting legacy, lessons learned, and making music on one of the legend’s own storied instruments.

“There are several layers of connection with Stańko,” Tomasz Dąbrowski (b.1984) explains. Both celebrated Polish musicians with the same first name were also wired in similarly creative ways – each forging ahead in their own unmistakable voices on the same instrument (literally the same trumpet… more on that later). Stańko (1942-2018), the recently departed legend, imparted artistic wisdom through his example during their time working together.

In addition to listening to Stańko’s music while growing up in Poland, Dąbrowski had a poster of the jazz titan in his bedroom for years and remembers the first time they met: “He knew who I was… that was very encouraging,” the younger Tomasz says.

This new album is also connected to Stańko in multiple ways. The band was initially created for a concert in Lodz in May of 2020 when Dąbrowski was commissioned to write (and assemble an ensemble to present) new music for the closing concert at the Letnia Akademia Jazzu in Poland that year. He used it as an opportunity to honor his late hero, mentor, colleague, bandmate, and friend. The concert was a success and a recording session was planned for the following year, giving Tomasz time to write and polish new material. The result of the session is the deeply moving and exciting album available to listeners today.

“For a long time, I thought that it was important to be able to play ‘everything’ and make it sound ‘right,’ but after I met Stanko and had some time to reflect on this, I realized that what’s most important is to have your own voice – a voice so strong that it can exist in whatever context you choose and it will still be you,” Dąbrowski shares.

The band’s name and album’s title, Individual Beings, is also a reference to a Stańko quote – taken from Desperado, a print biography available only in Polish – which Dąbrowski translates for us: “I don't feel lonely. I am an individual being… I am Polish, I was born here, Polish is my main language, I am deeply connected with this land, but most of all I feel I am Tomasz Stańko. Individual Being. I am a unique gathering of atoms, there is no one else like that in the world, in the cosmos. Here I am.”

That resonated deeply with Dąbrowski, who took it even further: “we’re all Individual Beings, and our individuality is the strongest thing we have to offer the world – it has to be protected and developed.”
Dąbrowski has honored that mindset and responsibility throughout his career, and never more so than on this new album. The music on this recording, which he describes among other things as a “search for simplicity,” is brought to life by the trumpeter/composer/arranger and six other musicians – apart from saxophonist Fredrik Lundin (Denmark) and drummer Knut Finsrud (Norway), the rest of the group’s members are Polish or based in Poland (Irek Wojtczak on tenor/soprano saxophone & electronics, Grzegorz Tarwid on grand piano & keyboards, Max Mucha on double bass, and Jan Emil Mtynarski on electric & acoustic drums). Each musician arrived into the bandleader’s life sometime over the last half-decade or so, and was chosen for this project, specifically, for their representation and manifestation of one of the things most important to Dąbrowski: “personality, both on and off stage.”

Finally, there’s the horn. During the recording session for the new album, Tomasz (Dąbrowski) played one of Stańko’s horns – his primary instrument in the 1990s, on which he did some of his best work – on loan from Anna Stańko, daughter of the dear departed. “It gave a lot of power to me,” the bandleader says.

That power can be felt, heard, and celebrated throughout Tomasz Dąbrowski’s first release on April Records – as he and the other six other Individual Beings in a powerful, brilliantly and acutely attuned septet present a program that traverses a vast sonic soundscape. This is the next riveting chapter in the story of a real-time rising star and a mature, reflective homage to a late, great legend. 

1. JR 06:19
2. Old Habits 05:10
3. In Transit 03:36
4. Sandy 06:06
5. Troll 06:41
6. Queen of Mondays 04:21
7. Short Gesture 05:08
8. Spurs of Luck 04:25

Tomasz Dąbrowski – Trumpet and Electronics
Fredrik Lundin – Tenor Saxophone
Irek Wojtczak – Tenor and Soprano Saxophone plus Electronics
Grzegorz Tarwid – Grand Piano and Keyboards
Max Mucha – Double Bass
Knut Finsrud – Acoustic Drums
Jan Emil Młynarski – Electric and Acoustic Drums

Produced by Tomasz Dąbrowski and Michał Kupicz
Recorded by Michał Kupicz
Mixed by Michał Kupicz
Mastered by Kæv Gliemann
Photos by Filip Ćwik (front) and Sisi Cecylia (back)
Liner Notes by Peter Margasak, DownBeat
Cover design by Enrico Andreis

All compositions by Tomasz Dąbrowski

Ilmiliekki Quartet - Ilmiliekki Quartet (February 11, 2022 We Jazz Records)

Ilmiliekki Quartet from Helsinki return with their new self-titled album on We Jazz Records on 11 February 2022. The group, including Verneri Pohjola (trumpet), Tuomo Prättälä (piano), Antti Lötjönen (bass) and Olavi Louhivuori (drums) is a mainstay in the Finnish scene and the band has been steadily developing their sound for nearly two decades now. It could be said that the group's musicians, each also a solo artist of note these days, has grown with and through performing together with this regularly working quartet. Ilmiliekki Quartet's music has a song-like melodic quality, which pairs naturally with their often freeform search for new musical landscapes.

As testament of Ilmiliekki Quartet being a Band with a capital B, the songs on the new album come from each of the four members. As before, the band also takes a borrowed tune in for a loving rendition, this time tackling "Aila" by the Finnish dream pop group Karina. All in all, there's a deep, moody element to the music, yet at the same time, their sound flows with remarkable ease and lightness of touch. This brings out a wide range of color in their music, which is easy to fall in love with.

1. Three Queens
2. Sgr A*
3. Aila
4. Follow the Damn Breadcrumbs
5. Night Song
6. Kaleidoscopesque

Verneri Pohjola, trumpet
Tuomo Prättälä, piano
Antti Lötjönen, bass
Olavi Louhivuori, drums

"Three Queens" composed by A. Lötjönen, "Sgr A*" & "Kaleidoscopesque" composed by T. Prättälä, "Follow the Damn Breadcrumbs" composed by V. Pohjola, "Night Song" composed by O. Louhivuori, "Aila" composed by H. Tikkanen, K. Mäkiranta [Karina]

Arranged by Ilmiliekki Quartet
Recorded at Kallio-kuninkala, Järvenpää, Finland on 25.–27. Jan 2021
Recorded by Markus Bonsdorff
Mixed & mastered by Tommi Vainikainen
Design by Matti Nives

James Newton - Flute Music (February 11, 2022 Morning Trip Records)

Jame’s Newton’s 1977 self-released solo-debut, ‘Flute Music’ is an unheralded gem of the 70’s jazz underground. An album that showcases a diverse range of styles and fervent cross-pollination, while retaining a clear sense of direction and cohesion. An artist funnelling their wild expression into multiple facets of “The New Music”, crafting an auspicious and artistic debut. Newton would later go on to record with revered jazz labels like India Navigation and ECM, and collaborate with fellow creative luminaries like Sam Rivers, Anthony Davis, Andrew Cyrille, David Murray, and John Carter. But ‘Flute Music’ captures Newton’s fiery creativity and experimental nature in its earliest blossom.

The album’s opener, Arkansas Suite, finds Newton’s flute unaccompanied, but densely layered. Folding and cascading upon itself, he creates a ricocheting web of dense woodwind harmonics. The effect is deeply immersive and meditative. From first blush, it seems this could be an album of blissful new age. But after this track, Newton’s influences explode outwards. On the same LP side, Darlene’s Bossa welcomes a full band into the fold. The track expounds upon a latin-jazz groove as if the group were seasoned experts of the form. The next track once again finds Newton’s flute on its own as he upends Duke Ellington’s jazz standard, Sophisticated Lady. And finally, on the sidelong b-side track, Poor Theron, the band is suffused with free-jazz electricity - quietly roiling in the midst of musique concrete clatter, and exploding into a din of spiritual fervor.

Flute Music pushes in many directions at once, and yet it revolves firmly around a singular smoldering core. That core is Newton’s unmistakable talent and musicianship. His flute anchors the whole affair, whether it’s in cascading sheets of unaccompanied wind, or flitting between the breathmarks of his backing band.

With ‘Flute Music’, James Newton casts himself as a potent force on the creative-jazz scene, and the rest of his career has certainly given credence to that promise. Reissued for the first time since its scarce private-press issue in 1977, Morning Trip are exceedingly proud to present the debut solo work by a renowned and prestigious jazz luminary. 
1. Arkansas Suite (Bennie)
2. Arkansas Suite (Solomon's Sons)
3. Skye
4. Darlene's Bossa
5. Sophisticated Lady
6. Poor Theon

Kuhl / Ballou / Dierker / Stewart - KRAFT (February 11, 2022 Out Of Your Head Records)

Kraft is a German word that means energy, strength, force. KRAFT is a creative, improvisational quartet formed by drummer Mike Kuhl in 2018. Joining Kuhl are long-time collaborators and some the most stalwart improvisers on the scene today - Dave Ballou (trumpet), John Dierker (reeds), and Luke Stewart (bass).

Over the past ten years, Kuhl hosted a weekly gig at Bertha’s Mussels in Baltimore with his trio of Ballou, Jeff Reed (bass) and later John Lee (guitar). During that time, legendary players including Dave Liebman, Tim Berne, Michael Formanek, Tony Malaby, Drew Gress, Mark Giuliana and many others have performed with the group.

One Tuesday in the summer of 2018, Kuhl took the opportunity to showcase a group he always wanted to play with – the group to be known as KRAFT. There was an instant, beautiful, and natural chemistry to the quartet. On February 19, 2021 KRAFT was invited to perform and record a live stream concert at An Die Musik in Baltimore. That night the group realized they had created a special recording. Stewart, who holds a degree in audio production, offered to mix the recording of the concert during his week-long residency at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, New York.

Upon hearing the final mixes, their intuitions were confirmed. What is presented on this recording is completely unedited as it was performed that evening.

1. Ageless One
2. Scoop the Moon
3. Stick and Move
4. A Real Mensch
5. Underneath

Dave Ballou - trumpet
John Dierker - reeds
Luke Stewart - bass
Mike Kuhl - drums

NEW RELEASE: Alex “Apolo” Ayala's ‘Bámbula’ is out February 11, 2022 (Truth Revolution Records)

Alex “Apolo” Ayala pays tribute to his ancestors with debut as a bandleader Bámbula, due out February 11, 2022 via Truth Revolution Records

Truth Revolution Records is proud to announce the upcoming release of Bámbula, the debut album from New York-based bassist and composer Alex “Apolo” Ayala. Due out February 11, 2022, Bámbula is a remarkable celebration of his Afro-Puerto Rican culture, a rumination on identity and a stirring tribute to his late mother and grandmother. Over the course of seven original compositions and one reimagination, the San Juan-native artfully blends Afro-Caribbean styles with jazz language, making an impactful and impressive musical statement. 

While Bámbula may be his first formal introduction as a leader, Ayala has established himself as an in-demand and distinctive artist on the New York City Latin Music and Jazz music circuits. His impressive resume includes performance credits with renowned Latin music giants such as Gilberto SantaRosa, Roberto Rohena, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Mambo Legends Orchestra, Paoli Mejias, Ralph Irrizary, Giovanni Hidalgo, Edsel Gomez, and many, many others. Currently, he plays with the Antonio Hart Quartet, Mike Eckroth Latin Jazz Quartet, Trombeatz, Flavio Silva’s Break Free, and serves as the Musical Director of Los Pleneros de la 21. 

With Bámbula, Ayala comes into his own as a leader. The album was heavily inspired by the social unrest that unfolded in the summer of 2020 as a result of the killing of George Floyd. “I found myself reflecting about both my race, and my ethnicity. A word that kept resonating in my mind was ‘identity.’ Specifically, Afro-Puerto Rican identity”,” Ayala shares. He also thought about his ancestors. With these sentiments in mind, Ayala began to construct what would become his debut album. 
The title Bámbula means “the memory of a forgotten place.” Ayala shares that the Kikongo (Bantu language) word is “the act of re-remembering who you are as a person, tapping into the collective unconscious. The Bámbula is the oldest known rhythm of the Bomba complex.” Bomba is Puerto Rico’s oldest and purest musical art form. “Bomba is the music that our African ancestors brought with them to the Americas. It is the most authentic expression of Puerto Rican Blackness,” he reflects. Each song on Ayala’s debut has a purpose, and each is an homage and tribute to these ancestors, and specifically, his late mother and grandmother. 

For the occasion, the bandleader turned to the rich Puerto Rican diaspora in New York City, employing an impressive crew of talented musicians. Consummate improviser and instrumentalist Ivan Renta displays an arresting lyricism and rhythmic control as the main melodic voice, supported by the vigorous drums and percussion of Fernando García and Nelson Mateo Gonzalez

“Renta on saxophone was my first option from day one,” Ayala says while discussing his band. “He is a multilingual player equally at home in jazz and Afro-Puerto Rican languages. Garcia is a master in applying the languages of Bomba and the barril de bomba vocabulary into the drum set and Nelson Mateo Gonzalez is to me, the premier Afro-Puerto Rican drummer in town. His vast knowledge of the language Bomba and the bomba drum is amazing to behold.”

The bright “Café y Bomba” features the sultry voice of Anna Louise Andersson singing both lyrics and melodic parts that blend beautifully with the ensemble. “Anna Louise is like a breath of fresh air. Her voice is clean, her intonation is remarkable, and her vocal range and skill are incredible,” Ayala adds.

As a composer, Ayala finds compelling ways of orchestrating, resulting in the small ensemble truly maximizing the potential of their instruments. On “Bozales,” one can hear Renta doubling bass lines with the bandleader and playing rhythmic background parts while García and Gonzalez play intricate drum breaks in perfect unison. This is just one example where the sound is greater than the sum of its parts. Another highlight is “Jíbaro Negro” which features an outstanding solo by Ayala and displays the excellent synchronicty between García and Gonzalez. The record ends with an enigmatic arrangement of the “TiteCuret Alonso Catalino classic “Las Caras Lindas,” a profound song about the beauty of Afro-Caribbean heritage. The group’s rendition offers a more subdued approach, making it a master stroke as the album’s closer.
Photos of Alex "Apollo" Ayala by Nick Carter

1. Bámbula (To My Ancestors) – 6:10
2. Jíbaro Negro – 7:57
3. Bozales – 7:38
4. Café y Bomba Eh (feat. Anna Louise Andersson) – 8:22
5. Matriarca (For Esther Pastrana Audaín) – 7:23
6. Agosto – 6:51
7. Ma, Bendición (For Cirita Berrios Pastrana) – 6:06
8. Las Caras Lindas – 9:45