Friday, March 4, 2022

GRAMMY-Nominated Vocalist Somi's 'Zenzile: The Reimagination Of Miriam Makeba' (Salon Africana)

Grammy-Nominated, Internationally Acclaimed Vocalist Somi's Zenzile: The Reimagination Of Miriam Makeba is out now

New Album Honors Groundbreaking South African Singer, Songwriter, And Civil Rights Activist Miriam Makeba

Special Guests Include Angelique Kidjo, Gregory Porter, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Seun Kuti and more

Album celebration at the Apollo Theater on March 19, 2022

☆☆☆☆ – Downbeat Magazine

“… a colorful portrait of Miriam Makeba’s diverse catalog.” – Jazz Times 
Photo of Somi by Chris Schwagga

On March 4, 2022, GRAMMY-nominated vocalist and songwriter Somi released her new album, Zenzile: The Reimagination Of Miriam Makeba,  a celebration of the late Makeba’s invaluable musical contributions and messages of social justice. The album, which will be released on the artist’s Salon Africana label, features Somi’s renditions of some of Makeba’s best known songs—both Makeba’s own compositions and covers. This updated release date is set to honor Makeba on what would have been her 90th birthday. On March 19, Somi will celebrate the release of this monumental album at the historic Apollo Theater. More information can be found here. 

Regarded as one of Africa’s first international superstars, Makeba (whose given name is ‘Zenzile’) elevated the spirit of a continent, including her native South Africa. Her courage, however, was met with three decades of political exile from her homeland followed by blacklisting in the United States after her marriage to civil rights activist Stokely Carmichael. Somi’s lifelong love of Makeba’s music and personal strength led to a record that she hopes will inspire a rediscovery of Makeba’s life and work. Somi adds, “This album is my attempt to honor the unapologetic voice of an African woman who inevitably made room for my own journey and countless other African artists. In short, I owe her. We all do.” 

In recognition of Makeba’s resonance throughout Africa and the diaspora, Somi invited a number of special guests to perform on the record. From South Africa, Grammy-winning male vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, singer-songwriter Msaki, vocalist and activist Thandiswa Mazwai, and jazz pianist-composer Nduduzo Makhathini join Somi for the tribute. Guests also include GRAMMY-winning American jazz singer Gregory Porter, Nigerian singer-musician Seun Kuti (Fela Kuti’s youngest son), and GRAMMY-winning singer-songwriter and activist, Angelique Kidjo.

To further celebrate the work of Makeba, Somi stars in Dreaming Zenzile, her original musical theater production based on the life of Makeba under the direction of Obie-award winner Lileanna Blain-Cruz. On September 10, this electrifying portrait of Makeba kicked off the ‘21-’22 theater season at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep). The rolling world premiere production journeyed on to the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton earlier this year, to ArtsEmerson in Boston last month, and to an Off-Broadway run in New York City co-produced by the National Black Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop and Apollo Theater, all in partnership with Octopus Theatricals, starting May/June 2022. The soul-stirring production includes a live jazz band playing original music and reinterpretations of Makeba’s remarkable catalog while telling the story of her extraordinary life journey.

In addition to Somi’s upcoming album and theater production, 2021 brought the artist her first GRAMMY nomination. Holy Room: Live at the Alte Oper, recorded with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album. The album also won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Vocal Album. 

Late last year, Spotify announced its partnership with Somi as the latest African singer to join its EQUAL Music Program. The EQUAL Music Program is a global initiative that Spotify has created to cultivate gender equality in music and support female creators under one brand. In celebration of the partnership and new music, Somi was featured on a billboard in Times Square.

In addition, Somi was recently featured in “The Arts Interrupted,” an episode of PBS Great Performances that examined artistic challenges and potential for growth during the Covid shutdown.

Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba Tracklist

1. Umhome
2. House of the Rising Sun
3. Milele feat. Seun Kuti & Thandiswa Mazwai
4. Hapo Zamani 
5. Love Tastes Like Strawberries feat. Gregory Porter
6. Khuluma feat. Msaki
7. Pata Pata 
8. A Piece of Ground
9. Kwedini
10. Lakutshon’ilanga
11. Olili
12. Mbombela
13. Jike’lemaweni feat. Angelique Kidjo
14. Nonqonqo feat. Ladysmith Black Mambazo
15. Malaika
16. Ring Bell, Ring Bell
17. Mabhongo feat. Nduduzo Makhathini

Roberto Occhipinti - The Next Step (March 4, 2022 via Modica Music)

Bassist Roberto Occhipinti presents The Next Step due out March 4, 2022 via Modica Music

Modica Music is delighted to announce the release of Roberto Occhipinti’s latest record The Next Step on March 4, 2022. Joining Occhipinti to explore a tightly synthesized collection of influences from his diverse career are two musicians with roots in the Toronto music scene – pianist Adrean Farrugia and two-time GRAMMY winning drummer Larnell Lewis

Bassist Occhipinti is an established presence on both the Canadian and International jazz scenes. A five-time Juno Award recipient, Occhipinti is in demand across an astounding range of contexts. The latter part of his career has seen Occhipinti recording with a number of Cuban musicians, on projects with Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnet in particular, but there are few formats Occhipinti hasn’t been involved in, from playing bass in Canada’s top-rate orchestras, to cutting-edge contemporary music, to Latin American performances, and work with top musicians from Africa and Asia. Performing credits span from John Cage and Terry Riley to Stevie Wonder, Tony Allen and Damon Albarn.

The Next Step, Occhipinti’s sixth release as leader, looks to synthesize his diverse collection of musical interests via a classic jazz format. During the pandemic, Occhipinti was fortunate to keep recording (he owns a recording studio, and heads up Modica Music). That precious time was used to consolidate the projects he was involved in, and move into a new creative space of his own – the piano trio: “I decided I would concentrate my own efforts on doing a piano trio project, one my favorite musical combinations.” This is Occhipinti’s first trio project as leader, taking inspiration from a host of the jazz greats. “It’s always been a favorite form of mine, from the time I started playing bass after hearing Ray Brown in the Oscar Peterson Trio, then moving on to the classic Bill Evans trio with Scott LoFaro, and finally in my work with the Hilario Duran Trio.”

It’s an important contribution to the world of bass-led trios, to which Occhipinti adds his own individual colorings. “My other recording projects were for larger ensembles with winds and strings. For The Next Step, I would be the string section, using techniques I learned in my career playing classical and contemporary music.” The result is a thoughtful, thorough synthesis of elements from a diverse and successful career.

The album opens with title track “The Next Step”, written as a memorial to recently departed friends, which introduces Occhipinti’s core sound – expressive bow-work and lightly textured string overdubs. Adrean Farrugia balances the roles of supportive accompanist and thoughtful soloist with ease, and the track breaks out into a loose jazz waltz, packed full of misty extended harmonies.
Every year on August 1st, Occhipinti celebrates “Emancipation Day” in Owen Sound, Ontario at the terminus of the Underground Railroad. Opening with Lewis’s expectant drums, the track has a Tony Allen-esque Afrobeat flavour, another chance to hear the twisting, turning piano trickery of Farrugia. “The Peacocks” is a ballad by Jimmy Rowles, to which Occhipinti adds atmospheric overdubs to his tenderly expressive solo work.

Though the record was partly an opportunity for Occhipinti’s solo delivery to shine, there is equal space for pianist Adrean Farrugia too. Occhipinti wrote Il Muro (The Wall) for him: “In a challenging year, he was always enthusiastic about playing, always wanting to move forward.” There are hints of Mulgrew Miller in the inlaid counterpoint and flowing piano; Lewis too throws himself into his solos in what becomes a sequence of open-hearted contributions. 

“O Cessate Di Piagarmi” sees Occhipinti reach for another of his multitude of influences. The piece was originally written by Alessandro Scarlatti in 1640, and takes shape in a cool ballad featuring singer Ilaria Corciani’s voice, inventively arranged and reharmonized by Occhipinti. 

Where O Cessate began as a film commission, “Three Man Crew” responded to a different brief – Occhipinti was challenged by collaborator Manuel Valera to write a piece in 30 minutes, and threes run through the track – triple time, three bar phrases, and performed, in its refined version, by the trio. It lilts along, Lewis and Farrugia sensitively accompanying Occhipinti’s dynamic touches, before settling on a groove that Lewis tries his level best to break out of.

“Opus Pocus” is Occhipinti’s hat-tip to Jaco Pastorious (“a major influence on my musical aesthetic, not only for the bass playing but also his composing and breadth of musical interests.”) It creeps along with a slinky beat, as a twisting folk melody works its way round the ensemble, moving into a grooving, blues-rock track closer to a Weather Report or Herbie cut. “Steveland” is another dedication – to Stevie Wonder, whom Occhipinti got to work with on his legendary Songs in the Key of Life tour. A tender Stevie-esque melody emerges after a quieter and freer opening, and there are clutches of Wonder-ish harmonic language scattered throughout.

Another foundational piano trio Occhipinti managed to see in the flesh was that of the great McCoy Tyner. “A Tynerish Swing”, the closing track, is a joyous tribute to the Real McCoy, a jaunty end to an album that covers a lot of ground and sees a new trio in sparkling form.

1. The Next Step (8:13)
2. Emancipation Days (6:12)
3. The Peacocks (3:51)
4. Il Muro (6:37)
5. O Cessate Di Piagarmi (4:25)
6. Three Man Crew (7:15)
7. Opus Pocus (4:57)
8. Steveland (7:39)
9. A Tynerish Swing (6:07)

Roberto Occhipinti - Bass
Adrean Farrugia - Piano
Larnell Lewis - Drums

Ilaria Crociante - Vocals on “O Cessate”

Kalí Rodríguez-Peña - Mélange (March 4, 2022 Truth Revolution Records)

Trumpeter and composer Kalí Rodríguez-Peña blurs the lines between genres as he pays homage to the 21st-century mindset with his hard-grooving debut, Mélange, out March 4, 2022 via Truth Revolution Records

Trumpeter and composer Kalí Rodríguez-Peña has become a steadfast part of the New York music scene. From his upbringing in Cuba to his time at the Manhattan School of Music, from his open-minded approach to the concept of genre to his clear vision of musicality as a bandleader, Kalí has a determination, a passion, and an optimism in his music that dance and flow around each other like the audiences to whom he plays once his melodies enter the air. Now, after leading the consistent entourage he’s proud to call his band and musical family over the past five years, Kalí deemed it high time to step into the studio and capture the vivacious interplay and unpredictably joyous musical discourse that has so enraptured his live listeners over the previous half-decade. With musical influences that reach far beyond the Americas and a perspective on music that remains grounded in tradition yet distinctly relevant to the present, Kalí is proud to release Mélange on March 4, 2022 on Truth Revolution Records.

Like many of the musicians who come to New York and thrive, Kalí found that the experience of adapting and learning to understand the monumental city and its plethora of nuance was one that was defining. “Coming to New York,” Kalí tells, “I wanted to grasp all the knowledge I could about the city, its people, and its culture.” During his drive for knowledge, Kalí quickly saw a striking similarity to Havana, where he had previously lived in Cuba: everyone was fighting in their own way for a chance to make it every day. As he spent more time in New York, this became one of the driving factors that led him to empathize with and understand the bustling city around him, and it is in this common ground that connected him both to the music and the wider world. It was these experiences and these lessons from the city that began to inspire him and, ultimately, the music he would create. “Each song was inspired by an experience, a story, and life lesson,” Kalí says, “So I [can] say that the music aims to be descriptive, and even autobiographical.”

The title of the album, Mélange, is taken from the French word for “mixture,” and was chosen by Kalí as an apt way to succinctly understand the music that has brought him to where he now is, as well as how he sees his music as positioned in the present. Drawing from bebop and post-bop; Cuban timba, salsa, and rumba; and world music from India and the Caribbean, Mélange truly does stand by its translated definition and creates an eclectic yet seamless blend of musical traditions and heritages that, when combined, shine with a mosaic ebullience. In addition to representing the blend of traditions present on the album, Mélange also embodies Kalí’s unique perspective on music and its reception in the present. “The way most people listen to music today – the playlist – is a mélange of different albums and artists,” explains Kalí. “By doing this, one’s mind eventually blurs what we call genres, and starts associating different styles of music as choices of how to combine notes and rhythms.” Kalí’s view has led him, both in performance and composition, to think of his genre-fluid music not simply as the sum of its myriad influences, but as an entirely new category in the listening experience. “I call it 21st century music, millennial music, or playlist mode music,” he says.
Kalí’s 21st century music view notwithstanding, the music present on Mélange draws on a distinctive lineage and heritage to which Kalí seeks to pay homage with his debut. “Something that makes this album special is its focus on rhythms and groove,” Kalí tells. While Mélange does indeed feature the harmonic depth and breadth that has so long been associated with jazz and creative music, it also seeks to honor the African and Afro-Caribbean roots from which many jazz elements stemmed. “Many musicians come from an academic world where the focus is more on the European elements, which are also a part of this music of course, but by doing so they forget sometimes the [elements] that correspond to Africa and the Caribbean which were fundamental in the conception of jazz and all kinds of Black American Music,” says Kalí. “The joy that the audience feels when listening to something they can tap their feet to is something that I can’t describe in words and I’m proud to say that we captured some of that in this album.”

As a performer and composer, Kalí was heavily influenced by the stylings of trumpeters Freddie Hubbard, Fats Navarro, Woody Shaw, Miles Davis, and Clifford Brown, and the compositional intricacies of writers spanning a range from Wayne Shorter and Thelonious Monk to Chucho Valdés, Ambrose Akinmusire, and most everything in between. These influences become noticeable when one sees the opening track of Mélange is none other than Shorter’s immortal standard, “Yes or No.” Artfully arranged by Kalí to leave his distinctive spin on the track, this piece was considered a must-have tip of the hat to one of his great influences. “To not have a Wayne song on my first album would have been like a sin for me!” proclaims Kalí. Shorter’s writing is immediately followed by “A Student is Not a Disciple,” the first of many breathtakingly imaginative original compositions by Kalí. Based on a specific raga and tala from the Indian Carnatic music tradition, Kalí composed this piece after studying under Samir Chatterjee at the Manhattan School of Music. Its title is derived from the traditional Indian method of studying music: finding a guru, living with them and becoming their disciple, and finally, through emulation of their holistic practices, earning the right to be called a musician. Showcasing his ability to orchestrate through timbres and tone, Kalí wrote “La Historia de Eréndira,” a composition based on a short story by the Colombian author Gabriel García Marquez. This piece audibly captures and conveys the magical realism that is so beloved in the author’s writings. Another standard on the album, “Like Someone In Love” was arranged by Kalí as a challenge for himself. Demonstrating to listeners that his musical styles and aesthetics can be applied to something familiar, Kalí took the familiar melody of the standard but reharmonized it, adjusted its form, and added timba elements. “It sounds like something I would have written,” Kalí laughs, “but I’m still playing a standard.”
The personnel on Mélange are taken from the consistent working band Kalí has been leading for the past five years. A mix of nationalities, backgrounds, and musical personalities, Kalí’s band unites through their shared professionalism and love for the music.  Mélange boasts a scintillating cast and features Kalí’s long-time friends Kazemde George on tenor saxophone and Zack O’Farrill on drum set, as well as Gabriel Chakarji on piano and keyboards, Bam Bam Rodríguez on bass, and Víctor Pablo García on percussion. Each musician on the album Kalí views as family, and he respects their input as such. “In my music every musician is an integral part of the composition,” Kalí says. “I believe that trusting the instinct and the knowledge of the people you have chosen to play with is an essential component in playing creative music.” One of the quintessential elements Kalí praises his band for is their communication and the powerful, energizing spontaneity that is derived from that. “They are always going to different places in the gigs, so every song feels fresh at every performance,” Kalí says.

With Mélange, Kalí establishes himself not simply as a powerful trumpeter, but firmly asserts himself as a holistic creative voice to be heeded. Armed with his unique take on genre and music in the present, Kalí is able to build worlds within songs that are both familiar and entrancingly new with a vivacity that keeps audiences moving, hollering, and listening again and again.

1. Yes or No 06:32
2. A Student is Not a Disciple 08:03
3. La Historia de Eréndira 07:16
4. Drume Mobila 06:12
5. Like Someone in Love 07:09
6. Interlude 02:38
7. Thinking of the Universe 08:16
8. Las Memorias de las Calles 07:39
9. Se Acabó 06:39

Tomas Fujiwara’s Triple Double album March 4, via Firehouse 12

Drummer/composer Tomas Fujiwara reconvenes his unique sextet Triple Double for a collection of exhilarating new music inspired by dance and protest

March, due out March 4, 2022 via Firehouse 12 Records, features drummers Fujiwara and Gerald Cleaver, guitarists Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook, and trumpet/cornet players Ralph Alessi and Taylor Ho Bynum

"Deliberately seeing double in the cause of exploratory jazz, Fujiwara brings together instrumentalists primed to rub each other in all the right and creatively wrong ways."
– The New Yorker

"[The six musicians’] collective talent and Fujiwara’s innovative leadership make for a tonic of unpredictability… A triple scoop of great music."
– Britt Robson, JazzTimes

Tomas Fujiwara’s Triple Double celebrates album Friday, March 4 at The Stone, NYC
Tomas Fujiwara, photo by Brian Cohen

Parsing out the various combinations possible within Tomas Fujiwara’s Triple Double feels something like wandering through a hall of mirrors. Look at it one way and you might see two horn/guitar/drum trios; turn slightly and suddenly it becomes three paired artists taking their shared instruments in radically different directions. Despite the unusual instrumentation of the ensemble, however, Triple Double is at its core a group of six distinctive individuals, each among the most innovative and singular voices in contemporary creative music – drummers Tomas Fujiwara and Gerald Cleaver, guitarists Mary Halvorson and Brandon Seabrook, and trumpeter Ralph Alessi and cornet player Taylor Ho Bynum

On the sextet’s second album, March (due out March 4, 2022 via Firehouse 12 Records), Triple Double has also become a band in the most thrilling sense, sharing a scintillating chemistry and a sense of musical mission that remains evident no matter how far apart the various pairings and triplings stretch the music in far-flung directions.
Tomas Fujiwara's Triple Double, photo by Nicki Chavoya

“On the first album [2017’s Triple Double], the band was still relatively new,” Fujiwara explains. “There were a few people in the group that had never played together before. Since then we’ve spent a lot more time touring and playing together, so I feel like those connections and the rapport within the group have really deepened. That influenced my writing for this album because now I had a reference point for different places the band had gone, and I was also conscious of where else I wanted to push us as a group.”

The formation of Triple Double did bring together some new pairings – Alessi and Bynum had never crossed paths, and the drummers had never had the opportunity to share the stage despite Fujiwara’s longheld admiration for Cleaver. At the same time, the grouping also reconvened some well-established hook-ups (to borrow the name of another Fujiwara ensemble). Bynum and Halvorson are both among Fujiwara’s most frequent collaborators, in each other’s ensembles as well as (in Fujiwara and Halvorson’s case) in the collective trio Thumbscrew. Triple Double grew out of a trio that the drummer formed with Alessi and Seabrook.

“When I first put the band together I made a pretty exhaustive list of all the different combinations of the six of us,” Fujiwara says. “On this album I really wanted to hone in on the subtle shifts that can happen with the addition and subtraction of different musicians in the ensemble. It feels like there are endless possibilities, which is really exciting.”

Opener “Pack Up, Coming For You” offers perhaps the most explicit example. The tune begins with the trio of Fujiwara, Bynum and Halvorson. After they trade improvisations their counterparts emerge and the second trio takes over for a time. Finally all six combine and the full scope of the group dynamic is revealed. Like its predecessor, March includes an improvised duet by Fujiwara and Cleaver in tribute to the bandleader’s childhood teacher, Alan Dawson.

The unique combination of instruments is in some ways a challenge, offering little guidance for a composer. At the same time, Fujiwara found the lack of precedent refreshing. “Not having a blueprint can be challenging,” he explains, “but at the same time it can be quite liberating and inspiring. If you’re leading a guitar trio and want to do something personal with it, it can be difficult to get out from under the shadow of all the great guitar trios that came before. With this there isn't that history, so it takes away expectations. That challenge is fun for me.”
Tomas Fujiwara's Triple Double, photo by Nicki Chavoya

Fujiwara took on several disparate challenges in the crafting of March. His vibraphone playing is given a much more prominent role, while the floating, airy “Life Only Gets More” was instigated by the fact that drummers are so rarely asked to solo over ballads. The album was also recorded fairly quickly and spontaneously, despite the challenging material – an approach prompted by Fujiwara’s love of classic Blue Note Records.

“On many of the sessions they would just call in a group of musicians, they’d show up, the bandleader would have some charts on the music stand, they’d run through them and just record them. And yet they're now eternal classics that we love. I wanted to capture some of that magic.”

Like the name of the ensemble, the new album’s title also folds multiple meanings into a deceptively simple word. At its most basic, March is the month of the album release – but of course it’s a loaded date, falling exactly two years after much of the world went into pandemic lockdown and ensembles like Triple Double were suddenly indefinitely separated. The gulf has proved a long one for this band in particular, having recorded the album in late 2019.

But March also implies movement, as suggested by the felt assemblages that grace the album’s colorful artwork. The multi-hued group embracing on the cover could be dancers stepping in rhythm or protesters parading for a cause. All of those meanings danced in Fujiwara’s head as he penned the music for March, especially as he titled the tunes in the midst of the tense protests that erupted throughout 2020.

“There's something about marching that is very evocative to me,” the drummer explains. “It's a coordinated activity that always has a group intent behind it – which could be peaceful, violent, revolutionary, stifling or joyful. Marching can take on so many different forms, but it's always a group activity for a group cause that represents those intentions or feelings by a show of numbers together in one direction. Oftentimes it's not about getting from point A to point B, it's simply the act of marching and of being together that expresses the point.”

Tomas Fujiwara
Described as “a ubiquitous presence in the New York scene…an artist whose urbane writing is equal to his impressively nuanced drumming,” Brooklyn-based Tomas Fujiwara is an active player in some of the most exciting music of the current generation. He leads the bands Triple Double (with Gerald Cleaver, Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook, Ralph Alessi, and Taylor Ho Bynum), 7 Poets Trio (with Patricia Brennan and Tomeka Reid), and Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up (with Jonathan Finlayson, Brian Settles, Halvorson, and Michael Formanek); has a collaborative duo with Bynum; is a member of the collective trio Thumbscrew (with Halvorson and Formanek); and engages in a diversity of creative work with Anthony Braxton, John Zorn, Halvorson, Matana Roberts, Joe Morris, Bynum, Nicole Mitchell, Ben Goldberg, Reid, Amir ElSaffar, Benoit Delbecq, and many others. In 2021, he won the DownBeat Critics Poll for Rising Star Drummer, and premiered two suites of new music as part of his Roulette Residency: “You Don’t Have to Try” (with Meshell Ndegeocello) and “Shizuko” (with Bynum, Reid, Rafiq Bhatia, and Davi Vieira). “Drummer Tomas Fujiwara works with rhythm as a pliable substance, solid but ever shifting. His style is forward-driving but rarely blunt or aggressive, and never random. He has a way of spreading out the center of a pulse while setting up a rigorous scaffolding of restraint…A conception of the drum set as a full-canvas instrument, almost orchestral in its scope.” 

Cameron Undy - Ghost Frequency (March 4, 2022 Earshift Music)

Ghost Frequency is Cameron Undy’s solo guitar album showcasing his fascination with ancient rhythms of the African diaspora, what he refers to as “ghostly artefacts”. The music’s apparent simplicity hides the inner geometric workings by this deep thinking artist. Ghost Frequency is a major work that sheds new light on Undy’s musical vision with 11 original compositions that present an exquisite and original musical statement.

From the artist:
The Ghost Frequency project is born from my fascination with ancient rhythms of the African diaspora. The idea that these rhythms evolved over thousands of years through human dance, ceremony and ritual is such a powerful one. That the vast majority of this evolution has gone unrecorded and never to be heard again, yet enriches such a wide variety of contemporary music is somewhat mind-blowing!

These rhythms are like ghostly artefacts, that when I ‘pick them up’ and ‘play’ them I can never be totally certain that I am ‘seeing’ them for what they are/were. And yet these distant relics of aeons past fill me with inspiration and imagining, of an everlasting connection with ancient civilisations. Like looking at the light from a star that burnt out millions of years ago they are as real and present as a footprint in the sand from a morning walk yet the sources of each are intangible in the present.
If you go looking for specific African rhythms in my music you may struggle because what I am playing are reflections, shadows and stellations of these ‘ghosts’. Rhythms I have created using natural sequence and generative, rule based principles of analog transformation. They are geometric distortions of the original archetypes, allowing me to enter ‘other places’ in my mind and body previously unknown. I am very grateful to African ritual culture and to Western scientific thinking for the paths made available to me to reach this ‘place’.

Widely known with a deep love of funk, afro-beat, avant-garde jazz and 20th century Classical music, Undy has performed as bassist on countless albums and released two albums with his afro-funk-jazz cult band 20th Century Dog, Bone and Mad Stream. In 2021 he released a self-produced beats album, Blood Shot (Earshift Music). Undy is also known as co0owner of the former Sydney club Venue 505 and Acoustic Ritual.

1. Ghost
2. Footprint
3. Orbit
4. Stars
5. Reflection
6. Sand
7. Shadow
8. Jellyfish
9. Wood
10. Magnolia
11. Shed

Cameron Undy - acoustic guitar

Recorded by Richard Belkner at Free Energy Device Studios, 2021
Cover image by Gordon Undy
Inside image by Sally Flegg
Design by Brodie McAllister

All compositions by Cameron Undy

About the Music

Ghost - The mind may think of music and the body play it so the soul may express.
Footprint - A footprint in the sand is like a shadow of movements past.
Orbit- The balance of the cosmos is unseen yet the most powerful force we know.
Stars - Distant relics of aeons, filled with imagining
Reflection - Reflections are distortion, sometimes more beautiful than reality.
Sand - Time, dissolved into a billion grains.
Shadow - Shadows reveal light, time, space and dimension.
Jellyfish - Their form is unaltered by the flow of the ocean yet never appears the same twice.
Wood - Wood records everything from birth to death.
Magnolia - An ancient genus, symbolic of everlasting connections.
Shed - Any place or time, where and when I practice music (usually not a shed)

Max Andrzejewski - Mythos (March 4, 2022 Backlash Music)

Few works in the operatic canon can match the ambition, excess, and grandeur of Wagner’s hefty Der Ring des Nibelungen (aka Ring Cycle), four iconic operas built upon German myth that have either riveted, angered, awed, or exhausted listeners since the composer completed the cycle in 1874. German percussionist and composer Max Andrzejewski is among those with deeply ambivalent feelings toward the cycle, repulsed by the composer’s anti-Semitism and sexism, to say nothing of the work’s crushing bombast. That critical position partly explains his decision to accept a commission from acclaimed German theater director Ersan Mondtag to create four new overtures for an adaptation of Thomas Köck’s “W̶ ̶A̶ ̶G̶ ̶N̶ ̶E̶ ̶R̶ ̶ ̶ –̶ ̶ ̶D̶ ̶E̶ ̶R̶ ̶ ̶ ̶R̶ ̶I̶ ̶N̶ ̶G̶ ̶ ̶ ̶D̶ ̶E̶ ̶S̶ ̶̶ ̶N̶ ̶ I̶ ̶B̶ ̶E̶ ̶L̶ ̶U̶ ̶N̶ ̶G̶ ̶E̶ ̶N̶ (A PIECE LIKE FRESH CHOPPED ESCHENWOOD),” a wild slice-and-dice recasting of the mythical tropes that saturate the original opera cycle. “It's really sarcastic in a way, so it's really destroying the piece” he explains.

Andrzejewski sparingly and creatively repurposed some of the leitmotifs from the four overtures as a point of departure for his work, and, as he says, even the most devoted Wagner connoisseur would have trouble picking out any trace of the original overtures in Andrzejewski ́s gripping Mythos cycle. His blend of composition and improvisation, as well as acoustic and electronic sounds, stand in stark contrast to Wagner’s aesthetic. Instead he mined his predecessor’s writing for raw material. The operas are left behind, a series of grandiose husks representing smug hatefulness. He’s replanted a handful of musical seeds to generate something completely contemporary and classic at the same time.

Although Andrzejewski’s steady expansion from his jazz and improvised music roots into contemporary music occurred through a series of collaborations with Mondtag beginning in 2013, he felt he had left the theatre world behind. His ambitious work Zauberburg, commissioned by Podium Festival Esslingen and premiered in 2020, signaled his arrival as a serious composer, where his music stood firmly on its own rather than as a component in a theatrical setting. But he says he couldn’t resist Mondtag’s offer, which not only allowed him to comment on Wagner, but to work with a larger group. He was able to put together a 12-member ensemble drawn from both the classical and jazz worlds, neatly bringing together his two primary stylistic threads in a single piece.

His work in the jazz and improvised world has never been conventional, whether he’s embraced an art-song ethos in his long-running ensemble Hütte, which put a unique, lyric gloss on the songs of Robert Wyatt with its 2019 album Hütte & guests play the music of Robert Wyatt, or built compositions from microscopic, unconventional field recordings in his collaborative duo Training, with saxophonist Johannes Schleiermacher featuring John Dieterich from Deerhoof as special guest and producer. Over the last decade he’s worked with an impressive array of improvisers, including old-school firebreather Charles Gayle and acclaimed reedist and composer Anna Webber, who also blends contemporary music and improvisation in her own writing. He’s also been a crucial percussionist in groups led by guitarists Julien Desprez and Kalle Kalima, among others. His superb 2020 project with Austrian keyboardist Elias Stemeseder, light/tied, provided compelling evidence of his developing interest in fusing contemporary music with improvisation, although retrospectively he realized his own investment in composing the music resulted in less time on his own improvised contributions.
“I was so preoccupied with writing that I didn't really think so much about my drumming,” he says. “So I didn't feel really fulfilled on both layers. I kind of stepped back from the drumming part, and then I realized in the rehearsals, “Oh shit, I didn't think about what I'm going to play to this music that I wrote” That ceases to be a problem on Mythos. In fact, the entirety of “Mythos III” was constructed from a solo drum improvisation he played and recorded while listening to the overture from Wagner’s Siegfried on headphones, so while his work shares a tempo with the Wagner original, every other element was brand-new, including the bracing post-Cecil Taylor piano solo by Jörg Hochapfel, generating a tension one might expect in a suspense film. The Wagner reference in “Mythos I” is relegated to compressing and distorting the Rheingold overture into a second-long electronic blast, with strings and winds toggling between aerated and needling passages, tattooed by throbbing, acidic electronic tones before a solemn dialogue of strings, vibraphone, and piano, as bassist James Banner and guitarist Arne Braun improvise colors and tactile gestures that complement the chamber-like elegance.

The viola and violin figures in “Mythos II” are borrowed from Wagner’s Die Walküre, but Andrzejewski soon stacks up the motif, surrounded by hypnotic see-sawing passages and juddered by percussive snaps on bass and guitar. The French horn figure is also purloined from Wagner, yet it’s buffeted by the composer’s explosive drumming and a burst of electronic noise that’s also a digital abstraction of the original. Motifs from Götterdämmerung turn up in “Mythos IV,” overlapping into a swarming buzz. “Basically the whole ensemble is kind of improvising with the small Wagner snippets in the beginning, but it's arranged in a way that it sounds composed,” says Andrzejewski. “I conducted it, so there are hard cuts and stuff, but everyone had a lot of freedom in that.”

The musicians he worked with from classical music haven’t much experience improvising, so Andrzejewski guided them along, giving them a set of pitches to create spontaneous lines with. He knows something about learning on the job, because although he was taught arranging skills in school, composing for a classical ensemble was something he absorbed through trial and error. “I didn't imagine writing for stringed instruments,” he says. “I was always like, ’Yeah, let's do free jazz, with loud instruments.’ Then I found out that these instruments are amazing. I got more and more interested in classical instruments. I found out that possibilities are just endless and it's beautiful to dig into that world.”

Mythos doesn’t sound like the product of someone stumbling his way through an alien landscape. Andrzejewski wasn’t cowed by the Wagner legacy, and he boldly disregarded convention in digging out little pearls from which to construct his own music. “I’m working on two strange things at the same time, playing drums and writing chamber music,” he explains. “I always try to bring it together.” The seams between disparate traditions and practices are increasingly invisible in his work, and the possibilities only seem to broaden under his assured, feverish creativity.

Peter Margasak

1. Mythos I - eio
2. Mythos II - aüe
3. Mythos III - ieie
4. Mythos IV - öeäeu

Performed by:

Moritz Ter-Nedden, violin
Grégoire Simon, violin
Friedemann Slenczka, viola
Ragnar Jónsson, violoncello
James Banner, double bass
Laure Mourot, flute
Miguel Pérez Iñesta, clarinet / bass clarinet
Isaac Shaw – french horn
Maria Schneider – vibraphone
Arne Braun – guitar
Jörg Hochapfel - keyboard, piano
Max Andrzejewski - composition, drumset, electronics

All music composed by Max Andrzejewski

Recorded by Martin Ruch at Bonello Studio Berlin, march 2021
Recording assisted by Tobias Ober
Mixed and mastered by Martin Ruch at Control Room Berlin

Max was assisted by Gerrit Netzlaff

Cover design by Ragnar Jónsson

Commissioned by Berliner Ensemble

℗ 2022 Backlash Music

Tony Catania - Songs Ad Libitum / Three Pieces for Electro​-​Acoustic Duo / Portal (March 4, 2022)

The improvised songs that comprise “Songs Ad Libitum” are born from that pure moment of artistic clarity, when the portal of creativity and inspiration from within is open and the music…just…flows. For me, the process of capturing this music was simply euphoric and I am excited to share this with you.

The acoustic/electronic collaborations that follow “Songs” are pure improvisations with two of Milwaukee’s most creatively brilliant musicians that I have been wanting to collaborate with for some time. As I had suspected, these duo sessions produced some very adventurous and inspired music!

1. The Wind Blew It All Away
2. Giving Thanks
3. Junco III
4. Sandstone
5. Snake Potential
6. Breathe
7. Hiding Place
8. Bliss
9. Primal Bug
10. Parched
11. Floating
12. Nothing Imminent
13. Count to Zero
14. House of Mirrors
15. Portal

Tony Catania - Tenor Saxophone/Found Objects
Nicholas Elert - Baritone Guitar/Bastl Microgranny (tracks 12-14)
Jay Mollerskov - Electronics (track 15)

Songs Ad Libitum was improvised, recorded and mixed by Tony Catania at home 2021

Three Pieces for Electro-Acoustic Duo was improvised by Nicholas and Tony, recorded by Nicholas at Howl Street Studios, Milwaukee 2021.

Portal was a virtual collaboration composed, improvised and recorded by Jay and Tony 2021

All music mastered by Nicholas Elert at Howl Street Studios, Milwaukee 2021

Fatima & Joe Armon-Jones - Tinted Shades (March 4, 2022 Aquarii Records)

Fatima and Joe Armon-Jones unite for Tinted Shades; a three track EP that asserts personal truths whilst juxtaposing dark times with hopeful optimism - spanning soul, hip hop and R&B.

1. #1
2. Tinted Shades
3. Love Life Hope

Vocals - Fatima
Production, Keyboards, Bass Synth - Joe Armon-Jones
Drums on 'Tinted Shades' and 'Love Life Hope' - Moses Boyd
Drums on '#1' - Morgan Simpson

Engineer - Gilles Barrett
Mixed by Oli Barton-Wood
Mastered by Frank Merritt at The Carvery
Recorded at Soup Studios and Aquarii Studios
Artwork by Ralph Berryman

Emmeluth / Knedal Andersen / Skavhaug Nergaard - The A​-​Z of Microwave Cookery (March 4, 2022 Astral Spirits)

"If a fire starts in your microwave, press the stop pad and leave the door closed. Then turn off the power at the switch and pull out the plug."

1. Artichoke and Prawn Starter
2. Boiling Water
3. Shortcut Clam Chowder
4. Drying Flowers
5. Amazing Fudge
6. Glitter (edible)

Signe Emmeluth - Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard - Double Bass
Dag Erik Knedal Andersen - Drums, Percussion

All music by Signe Emmeluth, Dag Erik Kendal Andersen and Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard.
All rights reserved TONO/NCB.

Recorded at Flerbruket, December 2020 by Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard.
Mixed by Magnus Skavhaug Nergaard, January 2021.
Mastered by Lasse Marhaug at the best studio in Oslo, February 2021.

Artwork and Layout by Robert Beatty.

Dikeman / Gonzalez / Håker-Flaten / Horne - Texas Butt Biters (March 4, 2022 Astral Spirits)

1. Kreptik Epoch
2. Midnight Photosynthesis
3. Pu Erh Gaze

John Dikeman - saxophone
Stefan Gonzalez - drums
Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten - bass
Jonathan F Horne - guitar

Recorded live at ZAAL 100, Amsterdam, October 29, 2019
Recorded and Mixed by Ron Ruiten
Insert Artwork by Amber Rijcken

Lina Tullgren & Alec Toku Whiting - Unfamiliar Ceilings (March 4, 2022 Astral Spirits)

1. 47
2. polly chainsaw
3. every finger, an eye

Lina Tullgren: violin
Alec Toku Whiting: koto, bass koto
Ted Reichman: synthesizer, pedals (track 3)

Engineered and mixed by Ted Reichman at Subtext Sound System
Mastered by Jack Callahan

Artwork & design by Robert Beatty

GOATFACE! - Akhenaten Bazucas (March 4, 2022 Astral Spirits)

1. Câmara 1 - O Bode sem Face
2. Câmara 2 - As Doze Vidas de Paco
3. Câmara 3 - Num3ro5
4. Câmara 4 - Amarna
5. Câmara Secreta

Guilherme Granado - keyboards, synthesizers, electronics, percussion
Leandro Archela - keyboards, synthesizers, percussion
Thomas Rohrer - soprano saxophone, rabeca, futes, objects, percussion
Rogerio Martins - bass clarinet, clarinet, flute, percussion
Ricardo Pereira - percussion

Recorded in 2019 at estudio fitacrepe by Leandro Archela
Mixed and edited by Guilherme Granado at toca do conart and Leandro Archela at formigaz garden.
Mastered by Fernando Snaches at El Rocha studios.

Artwork & Layout by Robert Beatty.

Freudian Slurp - The Getaway Car (March 4, 2022)

The Getaway Car was recorded in front of a live audience and filmed on January 25th, 2020 at the Chapel Performance Space in the Good Shepherd Center in Seattle, Wa.

1. I Dream of Jammie
2. In Bloom
3. The Wrecking Crew
4. The Art of Revenge
5. The Getaway Car
6. Let's Not and Say We Did
7. Into the Sunset

Performed by Freudian Slurp:
Ian Hughes - Guitar
Dylan Hughes - Bass Guitar
Adam Robb - Trumpet
Jon Goneau - Keyboards
Tyler Musgrave - Drums

Recorded and Mixed by Carl Martí Germain
Mastered by Rachel Field at Resonant mastering
Produced by Ian Hughes

Scott Metzger - Too Close To Reason (March 4, 2022 Royal Potato Family)

Scott Metzger's debut album, Too Close To Reason, presents 12 solo-acoustic guitar recordings of pastoral and ambient beauty. Fans of Metzger's work with bands like Joe Russo's Almost Dead, WOLF! and The Showdown Kids will be captivated by an entirely reimagined side of his range and vision as a guitarist.

1. Appropriate Wattage
2. Don't Be A Stranger
3. Asking For A Friend
4. Talk Like That
5. Damage
6. Dream Room (Part One)
7. Dream Room (Part Two)
8. Waltz for Beverly
9. When Katie Smiles
10. Cafe Hidalgo
11. Only Child
12. At Your Service

Julieta Eugenio - JUMP (March 4, 2022 Greenleaf Music)

JUMP is the debut album from astounding tenor saxophonist and composer Julieta Eugenio, who began her music journey in Argentina before relocating to New York City almost a decade ago. At the height of the pandemic, Eugenio began collaborating with bassist Matt Dwonszyk and drummer Jonathan Barber, meeting regularly to workshop her music. The trio soon developed an intricate trio chemistry forged around Eugenio’s brilliant and insightful compositions.

Once it was safe to do so, the group hit the studio and recorded eight originals that cover a range of sentiments, from the introspective “Tres” to the ambiguously funky “Raccoon Tune.” The strength and maturity of Eugenio’s tenor concept comes across on two standards that round out the album; “Flamingo” and “Crazy He Calls Me.” This group takes the tenor-bass-drums trio configuration to new heights, covering a broad sonic palette and cementing Eugenio’s reputation as a composer and saxophonist.

“Eugenio's tenor tone is round and polished as she plays about sadness with an ever-present tint of hopeful[ness].”
- Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz

1. Efes
2. Jump
3. La Jungla
4. For You
5. Racoon Tune
6. Flamingo
7. Another Bliss
8. Crazy He Calls Me
9. Snowbirds
10. Tres

Julieta Eugenio, tenor saxophone
Matt Dwonszyk, bass
Jonathan Barber, drums

Production Credits:
Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Producer: Julieta Eugenio
Recorded March 30, 2021 at Big Orange Sheep Recording Studios in Brooklyn, NY
Recording, mixing, and mastering by Michael Perez Cisneros
Photography by Nicolas Manassi
Graphic design by Lukas Frei

All compositions by Julieta Eugenio (Julieta Eugenio Music / BMI) except:
“Flamingo” by Ted Grouya & Edmund Aderson (Grouya Publishing Int. & Edwin H. Morris & Company / ASCAP)
“Crazy He Calls Me” by Carl Sigman & Sidney Keith Russell (Music Sales Corporation / ASCAP)

Bon Voyage Organisation - (Loin des) Rivages (March 4, 2022)

"Our last album, La Course (2020) was released during the lockdown. Inspired by the feedback from listeners, who received the music with special attention, the idea and need for (Loin des) Rivages was born. We got out of confinement to join the musicians in the studio."

Bon Voyage Organisation is above all the story of the construction of an ensemble, the quest for harmony, through music, between beings. A central leitmotiv in Adrien Durand's composition and production work for almost ten years.

Emancipated from all constraints and affirming the radical choice - previously initiated with La Course - of an entirely instrumental sound, (Loin des) Rivages was recorded over five days in June 2020 at Jean-Benoit Dunkel's Studio Atlas (Air) and mixed the following summer by Adrien Durand in his Parisian studio, Bureau 12. It was an orchestrated performance considering that all ten tracks were played live, gathering up to thirteen musicians in the same room.

This close collaboration allowed Adrien Durand and the members of the ensemble to transcend themselves. Together, they deliver the incredible energy of Sentier des Orpailleurs (and Adrian Edeline's superb solo), the depth of melancholy of Apacheta (co-written and co-arranged by Adrien Durand and Gustave Rudman), and the originality of Et s'éveillent...

Inspired by the great explorers of the soul: Sun Ra, Moondog, Coltrane - a cover of his Naïma actually opens the album - Adrien Durand mixes humanity’s first instruments (the percussions and the winds) with its latest ones (the mixing tables and the synthesizers). Thus, he continues the most interesting yet rewarding artistic journey: The journey inward, far from the standards of civilization, in the heart of what some can take for madness, reaching into a jungle of the soul so marvelously represented in Clément Vuillet’s artwork.

This is not an intellectual record but rather a spiritual effort, because, as Adrien Durand likes to repeat in his concerts: "Let us step into music as we step into a sanctuary." 

1. Naïma
2. Yuseef (Trouver le soleil dans chaque jour de pluie)
3. Pyramis
4. Et s‘Eveillent
5. Première vue d‘Apacheta
6. Les Joncques
7. Les Pêcheurs
8. Apacheta
9. Le Sentier des Orpailleurs
10. Passage

Rhythm Section :

Adrien Durand : Piano, Bass Synthesizer, Organ, Synthesizers, Vibraphone.
Maxime Kosinetz : Additional Synthesizers on Yuseef.
Adrian Edeline : Acoustic and Electric Guitar.
Pedro Barrios : Congas, Percussions, Cavaquinho, Vibraphone.
Wendy Killman : Drums, Timbales, Glockenspiel.
Arnaud Biscaye : Drums, Marimba, Kayambe, Triangle.

Additional Musicians :

Emma Broughton : Alto & Bass Flute.
Julien Cavard : Soprano Saxophone, Flute.
Arnaud Sèche : Alto & Soprano Flute.
Adrien Soleiman : Tenor & Baryton Saxophone.

Tanguy Jouanjan : Trumpet, Flugelhorn.

Malvina Meinier : Baldwin Harpsichord (Apacheta).
Gustave Rudman : Solina String Synthesizer (Apacheta).

All tracks Composed & Arranged by Adrien Durand except :
Naïma composed by Saint John Coltrane arranged by Adrien Durand & Julien Cavard; Yuseef composed by Adrien Durand & Maxime Kosinetz, Woodwind arrangements by Adrien Durand & Julien Cavard; Et S'éveillent arranged by Adrien Durand & Pedro Barrios; Apacheta composed & arranged by Adrien Durand & Gustave Rudman; Le Sentier des Orpailleurs Woodwind arrangements by Adrien Durand & Julien Cavard

Recorded @StudioAtlas June 2020
Engineer : Maxime Kosinetz
Assistant engineer : Michael Tainturier

Mixed by Adrien Durand @Bureau12
Produced by Adrien Durand for L’Invitation Musicale
Mastered by Antoine "Chab" Chabert