Thursday, March 17, 2022

Karolina Strassmayer & Drori Mondlak - Freescapes (March 20, 2022)

With their latest recording Freescapes, drummer Drori Mondlak and alto saxophonist and flautist Karolina Strassmayer, continue their creative adventure that began in New York City in 2000. In their eighth recording together their vision has further crystallised their original and deeply personal sound.

Freescapes describes the open musical landscapes that offer complete creative freedom.

The album includes a spontaneous improvisational suite in 3 movements, two solo drums & percussion pieces, a saxophone and drum duet and three original Strassmayer compositions.

Mondlak and Strassmayer consider Freescapes their most powerful and authentic recording to date.

Freescapes reflects the live performances of their quartet KLARO!, weaving together group improvisations and composed pieces while remaining dedicated to lyricism, melody, and the creation of beauty.

The sound quality is exquisite. As always, they have taken great care in the recording process–in this case, in a great concert venue. The mastering quality is superb and offers the best and truest sound of the quartet.

If you’d like the CD signed with a dedication inside the digipack, please specify this in your order

Internationally renowned journalist Doug Ramsey writes,

“This international quartet is one of the most interesting small groups at work today.”

1. Sing To Me Of... 03:32
2. Mallets And Air 03:48
3. Sticks And Flurries 03:17
4. Brushes Dancing 04:22 video
5. Courage 07:33
6. Hands And Feet Talking 03:47
7. Aahhh! 09:38
8. Both Held And Free 08:08
9. Octopus Dance 04:29

Drori Mondlak - drums, percussion
Karolina Strassmayer - alto saxophone, flute, compositions
Rainer Böhm - piano
Thomas Stabenow - bass

Barnett / Anning / Keller - Between Panic & Peace (March 17, 2022)

A trio featuring Australian musicians Shannon Barnett (trombone), Sam Anning (double bass) & Andrea Keller (piano). Recorded in Melbourne in early 2020. The track list features compositions and improvisations by all three musicians.

1. Between Panic & Peace 05:08
2. In Solidarity 05:22
3. Eibohphobie 03:59
4. Urkraft 06:46
5. Petals 08:23
6. Mantra II 03:30
7. Treasured Angels 06:18
8. Life is Brut[if]al 09:15

Shannon Barnett – trombone
Andrea Keller – piano
Sam Anning – double bass

Recorded on February 26, 2020
Recorded at Brian Brown Studio, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne, VIC Australia
Recorded by Jem Savage
Mixed & Mastered by Dave Darlington at Bass Hit Recording, NYC
Designed by Florian Ross

Machado Mijiga - Gradient (March 2022)

Gradient is a culmination of a year of planning, a decade of composing, and a lifetime of artistic and interpersonal relationships weaved into a 78-minute package.

In 2020, I released, "Journal", where I enlisted a team of 23 drummers to play a mix of old and new compositions of mine. Journal was entirely self-produced, and I played all instruments except for drums.

Gradient is more of an "Essay"– I enlisted a team of 13 instrumentalists to play a mix of old and new compositions of mine, but Gradient was entirely a community effort. This time around, I only played drums, and I outsourced all production elements to specialists.

Gradient isn't just mine; it was made possible through the efforts of a sonic dream team, hand-picked from within Portland's vibrant and diverse jazz scene. Some of the finest musical minds in the city agreed to be a part of this process, and worked tirelessly to interpret and breathe life into the lines and dots I gave them.

I have mild synesthesia, and often hear sounds as colors, patterns, or even shapes. It's why a lot of my compositions have had colors or shapes as a name (e.g., "Auburn", "Isosceles", or "Ultraviolet")

Gradient got its name because a wide variety of the colors I see/hear for the pieces in this album are not a solid, but a spectrum or color group– the music is a bit harmonically, rhythmically, and texturally ambiguous. Some of the compositions have strong memories or emotions attached to them, and some are purely fictional. I hope that this music creates entirely new narratives in the capable ears of you listeners. 

1. 21cc 09:01
2. Sepia 06:39
3. Rev 06:27
4. Gradient 06:27
5. Legacy 09:58
6. Sarcophagus 03:28
7. Solace 08:06
8. Adversary 08:04
9. Rembrandt 06:24
10. Back Home 08:12
11. Archipelago 06:10

Machado Mijiga, drums [all tracks]

"Focus Group":

Dario LaPoma, piano [1,3,5,6,9]
Andrew Jones, bass [1,3,5,6,8,9]

"Reading Rainbow"

Dylan Hayes, piano [2,7,11]
Garrett Baxter, bass [2,4,7,8,10,11]


Justin Copeland, trumpet [1]
Jack Radsliff, guitar [3]
Darrell Grant, piano [4]
Todd Marston, Rhodes [4]
George Colligan, piano [8]
Noah Simpson, trumpet [8]
Rob Araujo, piano [10]
Sam Arnold, bass guitar [10]
Matt Sazima, vibraphone [11]

Mix by Sacha Müller
Master by Dana White
Produced by Machado Mijiga & Sacha Müller
Album Artwork by Machado Mijiga (original portrait by Douglas Detrick)

Recorded Jan 7th-10th, 2022 at Crossroads Productions in Vancouver WA

Arkadia Jazz All-Stars - The Stars of Jazz #1 (March 2022 Arkadia Records)

Featuring: Pat Metheny, Benny Golson, Branford Marsalis, Bill Frisell, Lee Konitz, Michael and Randy Brecker, Randy Weston, and Django Reinhardt.

This album “The Stars Of Jazz, Volume 1”, showcases some of most prolific musicians, all still casting the indelible shadow of their sound. These original recordings by Arkadia Jazz’s most preeminent artists, serve as an introduction to our artist’s unique musical visions and legacy. This extraordinary album is a collection of the best modern Jazz has to offer.

1. Caravan 04:54
2. Body and Soul* 06:20
3. Heaven’s Gift 04:28
4. A Night in Tunisia 05:21
5. Stella By Starlight 02:51
6. If I Were a Bell 05:47
7. Good Morning, Heartache 05:22
8. Visions of Gaudi 05:26
9. Bernie’s Tune 05:57
10. The Emergence 05:57
11. Nuages 03:14

Billy Taylor: Piano; Pat Metheny: Guitar; Joanne Brackeen: Piano; Randy Brecker: Trumpet

Lee Konitz: Alto sax; Bob Brookmeyer: Trombone; Gary Peacock: Bass; Bill Frisell: Guitar

Benny Golson: Tenor sax; T.K. Blue: Alto sax; Eric Reed: Piano; David Liebman: Soprano sax

Randy Weston: Piano; Branford Marsalis: Tenor sax; Harold Land: Tenor sax; Bill Henderson: Piano

Geoff Keezer: Piano; Dwayne Burno: Bass; Cecil McBee: Bass; James Leary: Bass; Ray Ellis: Arranger

Billy Hart: Drums; Steve Kuhn: Piano; George Mraz: Bass; Tom Harrell; Trumpet; Al Foster: Drums

Michael Brecker:Tenor sax; Ted Rosenthal: Piano; Ron Vincent: Drums; Alan Pasqua: Piano

Dave Holland: Bass; Paul Motian: Drums; Django Reinhardt: Guitar

Kika Sprangers - Mind's Eye (March 2022 ZenneZ Records)

Kika Sprangers is one of The Netherlands’ most captivating jazz musicians. After her full album debut, Human Traits (2019, nominated for an Edison Jazz Award – the Dutch equivalent of the Grammy), her new album Mind’s Eye is another example of Kika's artistic quest for what makes us human. For her, imagination is key.

During several periods of lockdown, Kika was found in an abandoned TivoliVredenburg – the concert hall that she is working at because of a two-year Jazz Artist In Residence Program, with the support of Performing Arts Fund NL.

“What is left of the human aspect in a large building with closed doors, where the lights go out automatically after an hour or so and where it should be buzzing with noise in the corridors, caused by a steaming crowd? I never expected this silence and emptiness to be inspiring to me. There was literally no one and nothing, and it triggered my imagination. And then I realized, this is exactly what makes us human: the ability to imagine.”

The outcome is a rich conceptual album that explores the cross overs between modern jazz and neo classical.

1. Mind's Eye 06:31
2. All We Have Left 05:53
3. Building Castles in the Air 06:46
4. Film Noir 09:24
5. Placebo 03:55
6. Reflections 01:47
7. Mirage 07:23
8. What If 02:40
9. A Picture Paints a Thousand Words 03:53
10. Mind's Eye Echo 01:17

Kika Sprangers – soprano & alto saxophone
Anna Serierse – vocals
Koen Schalkwijk – piano
Alessandro Fongaro – double bass
Willem Romers – drums

Shreyas Iyengar - OST (March 2022)

Composer and multi instrumentalist. The goal is to spend as much time writing and playing music as possible.

1. Pinocchio 03:41
2. Glitter Gang ( feat. Pratika ) 04:13
3. Plastic Joys ( feat. Pratika ) 04:13
4. Weird Flex 05:29

Pratika Gopinath - Voice, Lyrics
Jayant S - Upright Bass, Lyrics
Varun Venkit - Conga, Djembe, Dunun, Percussion
Vinay Kaushal - Electric Guitar
Shreyas Iyengar - Alto Saxophone, Drums, Piano, Keys, Synth, Lyrics

Niels Jørgen Steen & Monday Night Big Band - Swinging In Paradise featuring Bobo Moreno (March 2022 Storyville Records)

Pianist and conductor Niels Jørgen Steen – a Danish jazz institution – is now immortalized on ‘Swinging In Paradise’, a new album from Storyville Records featuring vocalist Bobo Moreno and the ever so swinging Monday Night Big Band.

In the Danish jazz world, Niels Jørgen Steen is the personification of an institution. As pianist, bandleader and arranger he has worked with all the giants like Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Shavers and Lockjaw. He has been a stand-in for Count Basie on a tour of Italy and has fathered his own bands like Saxmaniacs and the A-Team, but his big baby these days is Monday Night Big Band, now over 20 years old and beautifully immortalized on this live album.

“If we play Singin’ in the Rain”, says Steen, “the audience already knows the tune, so we can ‘play with it´ and take the listener out of their comfort zone, but we always bring it home to the melody. Sure, the arrangements can be difficult, but the musicians love playing something good. It gives a special sense of fulfillment.”

While the line-up has changed over the years, some have been in MNBB since the beginning. These include Roger Berg, Peter Marott, Vincent Nilsson and Jan Harbeck, all of whom smile as they reminisce about how this unique, continuously morphing entity of collegiality, competition, enthusiasm, stress and satisfaction was the catalyst for their careers. It’s the magical, fat sound of a real big band, of a real Danish institution that swings its ass off. Brace yourself…

1. Lover Come Back To Me 05:31
2. All The Things You Are 08:38
3. Cold Cold Heart 03:22
4. It Might As Well Be Spring 06:20
5. Blue 16 05:36
6. Lil Darling 06:11
7. It's All Right With Me 05:31
8. Cry Me A River 04:03
9. Every Day I Have The Blues 04:33
10. The Nearness Of You 05:08
11. The Rhythm 05:36
12. Some Other Time 06:21
13. Shake Rattle And Roll 03:01

Johan Bylling Lang, Jens Søndergaard - as, Tomas Franck, Jan Harbeck - ts, Katrine Suwalski - bars, Carsten Larsen, Andre Bak, Rolf Thofte, Peter Marott – tp, Vincent Nilsson, Rolf Mandiz, Petter Hängsel, Niels Gerhardt – tb, Ida Hvid – b, Morten Højring – g, Marie Louise Schmidt – p, Roger Berg – dr, Niels Jørgen Steen – dir & arr and Bobo Moreno - vo