Friday, March 18, 2022

Survival Unit III - The Art of Flight: For Alvin Fielder (March 2022 Catalytic-Sound)

"To rush at the wind and having caught it, to soar." - Unknown

Astral Spirits and the Instigation Festival are proud to announce the first release on Instigation Records: "The Art of Flight: For Alvin Fielder" by Survival Unit III (Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello), Joe McPhee (tenor saxophone, pocket trumpet), Michael Zerang (percussion).

This set finds the trio breaking new ground - Lonberg-Holm going sans electronics for the first time in Survival Unit III's storied discography - while displaying the mastery of sonic shade and deft interplay that's been their hallmark over the past sixteen plus years.

Beautifully recorded at the New Orleans Jazz Museum during the 2018 Instigation Festival, the night was fittingly historic: Survival Unit III performed the middle set of a three act bill featuring Ken Vandermark's Marker (released as Roadwork 1 on Vandermark's Audiographic imprint) and the final performance of McPhee (filling in last minute for an ill Kidd Jordan) with legendary drummer and beloved AACM elder Alvin Fielder to whom this album is dedicated. That set - with James Singleton on bass to round out the trio - will be released on LP in 2023 as the third title on Instigation Records.

With precious few recordings of Survival Unit III, every new release is a cause for celebration, and a perfect encapsulation of the spirit of the festival: honoring the history by crafting the future.

1. Part 1 13:37
2. Part 2 07:15
3. Part 3 10:46
4. Part 4 03:45
5. Part 5 04:23

Joe McPhee - tenor saxophone, pocket trumpet
Fred Lonberg-Holm - cello
Michael Zerang - percussion

Recorded by Danny Kadar and Joe Stolarick at The Mint during The Instigation Festival, New Orleans on January 25, 2018

Mixed and Mastered by Jeff Albert

Produced by The Instigation Festival and Astral Spirits

Desing and cover photo by Federico Peñalva & Band photo by Marc PoKempner.

Manuel Valera New Cuban Express Big Band - Distancia (March 18, 2022 Greenleaf Music)

Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Manuel Valera (Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval, Steve Smith) hails from Cuba and is an integral part of the New York City’s vibrant music scene. ‘Distancia’ is the second album from his New Cuban Express Big Band, a spirited ensemble that fuses the music of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil to forge innovative sounds and textures.

The album draws upon searing personal experiences – going through personal loss, and having to pick up the pieces to move forward. Valera uses the broad palette of the big band to express a wide range of moods and emotions. From the haunting “From Afar,” to the buoyant “Expectativas”, and the fiery “Gemini,” the writing is dynamic and varied and the ensemble brings out the nuances with both grace and gusto.

The band features some of New York’s best creative musicians, including vocalists Camila Meza and Bogna Kicińska as well as standout soloists Charles Pillow, Remy Le Beouf, and Mike Fahie. Produced by Kabir Sehgal (Chucho Valdés, Arturo O'Farrill) and Doug Davis (Brian Lynch, John Daversa), Manuel Valera presents a very personal album of engaging contemporary big band jazz.

1. Expectativas
2. Gemini
3. From Afar
4. Pathways
5. From The Ashes
6. Impressionistic Romance
7. Distancia
8. Remembered


Camila Meza, voice (3, 4)
Bogna Kicińska, voice (7)

Brian Pareschi (lead)
Michael Rodriguez (3, 5, 6, 8)
Stuart Mack (on all except 5 & 8)
David Smith
Alex Norris (on all except 3 & 6)

Michael Thomas, alto sax, soprano sax & flute
Roman Filiu, alto sax & flute (3, 5, 6, 8)
Remy LeBoeuf, alto sax & flute (1, 2, 4, 7)
Joel Frahm, tenor saxophone (3, 5, 6, 8)
Jeremy Powell, tenor saxophone, clarinet (1, 2, 4, 7)
Andrew Gutauskas, baritone saxophone & bass clarinet

Matt Macdonald (lead)
John Yao (3, 5, 6, 8)
Mike Fahie (1, 2, 4, 7)
Andy Clausen (3, 5, 6, 8)
Sam Blakeslee (1, 2, 4, 7)
Jeff Nelson, bass trombone

Manuel Valera, piano
Alex Goodman, guitar
Ricky Rodriguez, bass (3, 5, 6, 8)
Hamish Smith, bass (1, 2, 4, 7)
Jimmy Macbride, drums
Samuel Torres, percussion

Production Credits
Executive Producer: Dave Douglas
Producer: Kabir Sehgal, Doug Davis, & Manuel Valera
Recorded at Orange Sheep Studios on December 8 & 9, 2019 and Oct 1 & 9, 2020
Recording engineer: Chris Berham
Mixing and mastering engineer: Oscar Autie

All compositions by Manuel Valera (ValeraMusic / ASCAP)

Marquis Hill - New Gospel Revisited (March 18, 2022 Edition Records)

New Gospel Revisited is the new album from the fearless and formidable American composer and trumpeter Marquis Hill. A live recording that revisits and reinterprets his debut 2012 album New Gospel, this time round employing a band of super-heavyweight musicians including Walter Smith III, Joel Ross, James Francies, Kendrick Scott and Harish Raghavan. Marquis Hill’s rise over the last few years has been striking and there’s no letting up. Since winning the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Composition award he has demonstrated full command of his art and built a reputation for synthesizing what he describes as the essential elements of the Africa-American creative heritage including contemporary and classic jazz, hip-hop, R&B, house and neo-soul. Now, his sights are set even higher. New Gospel Revisited, is an extraordinary live recording that reimagines his debut as a leader with a new band, a new focus and a sharpened ear as a bandleader, composer and performer. The set is breathtakingly good with a band that sounds as inventive and creative as it reads on paper.

“… New Gospel was my debut album and my first completed production. To revisit this music in a fresh way, with a new band has been uniquely invigorating —and hugely rewarding.”
Marquis Hill

1. Intro (Live) 1.44
2. Law & Order (Live) 14.11
3. Walter Speaks (Feat. Walter Smith III) 2.16
4. The Believer (Live) 9.17
5. Oracle (Feat. Kendrick Scott) 2.1
6. New Gospel (Live) 6.04
7. Lullaby (Feat. Joel Ross) 3.21
8. Autumn (Live) 9.44
9. New Paths (Live) 2.24
10. A Portrait Of Fola (Live) 10.42
11. Perpetual (Feat. Harish Raghavan) 1.27
12. The Thump (Live) 8.03
13. Farewell (Feat. James Francies) 4.56

Marquis Hill - Trumpet
Walter Smith III - Tenor Sax
Joel Ross - Vibraphone
James Francies - Piano
Harish Raghavan - Bass
Kendrick Scott -Drums

Music composed by Marquis Hill - ASCAP (MHILLMUSIC)

Recorded live at Constellation, Chicago IL, by Anthony Gravino, 8th December 2019
Mixed by Dave Vettraino, 2019 in Chicago IL
Mastered by David Allen, 2019 in Chicago IL

Album Artwork by Oli Bentley, Split
Portrait Photograph by Chollette
Astrophotography — ‘The Butterfly Nebula’ by Gabe Shaughnessy

James Francies & Joel Ross appear courtesy of Blue Note Records

Produced by Marquis Hill
Executive producers Bryan Farina and Dave Stapleton

Kevin Eubanks & Orrin Evans Collaborate on 'EEE THE EUBANKS-EVANS-EXPERIENCE' due out March 18, 2022 (Imani Records)

Imani Records Announces the Release of EEE: The Eubanks-Evans-Experience, A Dauntless, Exploratory Duo Debut For Two World-Renowned Jazz Icons, Guitarist Kevin Eubanks and Pianist Orrin Evans

Bi-coastal Tour Announced; Dates in NYC, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Oakland, Phoenix and more!

Imani Records is excited to announce the forthcoming release of EEE (Eubanks-Evans-Experience), the debut duo recording by two of jazz’s most acclaimed and eclectic artists. Due out March 18, 2022, EEE brings together guitar great Kevin Eubanks with adventurous pianist Orrin Evans for a set that’s as wide-ranging and unpredictable as audiences have come to expect from these two risk-takers. Created in an atmosphere of spontaneity and try-anything experimentation, the repertoire veers from gut-rumbling blues to delicate, airy impressionism, mixing up on-the-spot originals with funk-jazz deep cuts and classic tunes by jazz masters. Audiences will have an opportunity to hear these two greats live during March and April of this year as they embark on a tour throughout California, the Pacific NorthWest and the NorthEast.
Eubanks and Evans share more than their Philly roots – though that’s not an aspect that can be discounted, and the city’s tension between brotherly love and gritty attitude courses through the album’s veins. Both also bring a wealth of experience to the table, along with a friendship of long standing. Eubanks, middle brother of the well-known jazz family, made his name through a series of electrifying releases in the 1980s before spending a decade and a half as bandleader for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Since that stint ended in 2010, he’s reemerged as a vital voice on the modern jazz scene leading his own bands along with resuming his partnership with bassist Dave Holland in the band Prism. Nominated for a 2018 Grammy Award for his Captain Black Big Band, Evans has been splitting his time recently between his own prolific performing career and newly appointed role as the Artist in Residence of the DC Jazz Festival. 

While EEE marks the pair’s recording debut as a duo, there’s an inviting ease and a scintillating chemistry to the meeting of Evans and Eubanks that speaks to their parallel histories as well as their shared fearlessness. That’s reflected in the offbeat choice of material on the album, most of which was decided upon at the spur of the moment – both in the studio and on stage at Philadelphia’s Chris’ Jazz Cafe. 

The album harkens back to Eubanks’ 1983 debut Guitarist with the album’s opening track “The Novice Bounce”, beginning the album with a sauntering improvisation which builds into a soulful bounce, wrife with moments of tasteful interplay. The duo continues with a reimagining of the Tom Browne song “Dream of Lovin’ You”. Departing from the funky upbeat feel of the original, this version is an introspective ballad, fully embodying the “dream” aspect of the title. Evans contributed the heartfelt ballad “Dawn Marie”, a tribute to his wife and creative partner, Dawn Warren Evans. 
Photos of Orrin Evans and Kevin Eubanks by Anna Webber

Freedom is a theme that runs throughout the DNA of this release, and the freedom of two like-minded, and deeply well-versed artists playing in a duo context allows for spontaneous creation of the highest echelon. “I like to play with musicians where you don’t have to talk much; you just find a feeling and a direction and go there together,” says Eubanks, “There’s a certain trust that the person is going to bring a vibe, a texture and a personality to the song, even if you’re making up as you go along. With Orrin, I feel confident that if we say, ‘Let’s just start a song,’ we can do that; but if we want something really articulate and planned out, we don’t have any problem with doing that either.” Tunes such as “I Don’t Know” and “And… They Ran Out of Bisquits!” tap into that freedom with spontaneous compositions stemming from a single melody or groove and blossoming into truly expansive works. 

Variations on The Battle” and “Variations on Adoration”, recorded live at Chris’ Jazz Cafe in Philadelphia, allow the duo to stretch out for nearly thirteen minutes, performing variations on Evans’ “Half the Battle”, then doing the same for “Adoration” a ballad from Eubanks’ Zen Food album that also served as his farewell performance on The Tonight Show.

“What I love about Kevin is he’s not afraid of the journey,” Evans says. “When you have nothing to prove, the possibilities of the music are just amazing, and that’s pretty much what’s happening here.”


1. Novice Bounce (6:54)
2. Dreams Of Loving You (4:40)
3. I Don't Know (5:39)
4. And... They Ran Out of Bisquits! (3:36)
5. Dawn Marie (5:19)
6. Variations on The Battle (13:02)
7. Variations on Adoration (8:51)

Eubanks-Evans-Experience Spring 22’ Tour Dates

March 26, 2022 / Townhall (Seattle, WA) TICKETS / INFO
March 27, 2022 / The Old Church (Portland, OR) TICKETS / INFO
March 30, 2022 / Yoshi’s (Oakland, CA) TICKETS / INFO
March 31, 2022 / Kuumbwa (Santa Cruz, CA) TICKETS / INFO
April 1, 2022 / TBA (Los Angeles, CA)  
April 2, 2022 / Jazz at the Athenaeum (San Diego, CA) TICKETS / INFO
April 3, 2022 / Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix, AZ) TICKETS / INFO
April 22, 2022 / World Cafe Live (Downstairs) (Philadelphia, PA) TICKETS / INFO
April 23, 2022 / Le Poisson Rouge (New York, NY) TICKETS / INFO
April 24, 2022 / City Winery (Washington, DC) TICKETS / INFO
April 28, 2022 / One Longfellow Square (Portland, ME) TICKETS / INFO
April 29, 2022 / Jimmy’s Jazz & Blues Club (Portsmouth, NH) TICKETS / INFO

Matt Slocum - With Love and Sadness (March 18, 2022 Sunnyside Records)

With Love and Sadness, available on Sunnyside Records on March 18, 2022, was designed, recorded, mixed, and mastered as an all-analog experience (although it is also available on CD and as a high-resolution digital download for listeners who prefer those formats). The music was composed as a single work rather than as individual “tunes,” and the narrative arc is structured as a continuous whole with subplots shaped around and within the two sides of the LP. The result is as remarkable and rare as a fogbow, or a lenticular cloud; it is in accordance with Slocum’s overall aesthetic and his penchant for conveying beauty to the world, and a culmination of an immense talent (as a drummer and composer) and massive erudition. As Thomas Conrad wrote in JazzTimes Magazine (on Slocum’s Black Elk’s Dream), “A meticulous, deeply realized work, remarkable not only for its coherence as a single arc but also for its evolving, authentic poignancy...This dreamlike, lyrical, fervent, floating music is capable of erupting in joy or pain.”

Matt Slocum is a conjurer of emotions; lament, longing, contemplation, sadness, but also joy, hope and inspiration. After five acclaimed recordings of predominantly original music, “Slocum has emerged as one of the great young jazz drummers in New York City, and therefore all of jazz,” says The Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Slocum clearly places empathy and ensemble eloquence over solo fireworks, with sublime results.” While Slocum’s music carries much emotion and meaning, it also pulls from the listener’s own thoughts and feelings. As Ken Micallef reported in DownBeat Magazine, “like Wayne Shorter’s classic Blue Note albums, Black Elk’s Dream seems to ask questions, leaving the answers open to individual interpretation.” That is one of the gifts great artists bestow on us – to stimulate the willing into a greater awareness and inspired musing.
Photo: Chris Drukker

The structure of With Love and Sadness emerged during a trip to the Maine wilderness where Slocum reflected on the seemingly increasing depths of systemic racism in America and the possibilities for change. In his liner notes for the recording, Slocum writes, “As a result of pandemic-related closures, it was the first time my wife and I had traveled in many months. It felt like a new perspective, at least early in the journey. The shape of this composition outlines the evolution of my reflections throughout the course of that trip. The primary theme is introduced in the prelude and developed throughout the suite. Although the work journeys from B minor in the opening two movements to eventually reach D major in the final movement, most of the piece follows a sonic trajectory moving away from optimism, but clinging to a kind of blind hope and beauty (real or imagined) in our collective potential for change. The final movement, a rearrangement and development of the main theme, is inspired by Pat Metheny’s “Is This America?” It’s my understanding that Mr. Metheny composed that song as a musical response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Fifteen years later, I’m not sure that we’ve made a great deal of progress as a society.”

With Love and Sadness features Grammy-nominated pianist Taylor Eigsti, an important voice in the world of creative music and a musician whose “range of expression is not limited by illusory stylistic boundaries,” says Slocum; first-call bassist Larry Grenadier, who also appears on Slocum’s previous album, Sanctuary (Grenadier is a modern-day giant known for his 25-year association with the Brad Mehldau Trio, as well as consequential engagements with Pat Metheny, Paul Motian, Charles Lloyd, Joshua Redman, and Mark Turner); and saxophonist Walter Smith III, a modern master who is equally at home in a variety of musical settings – from performing with the Roy Haynes Quartet to co-leading an ensemble with Matthew Stevens and Joel Ross. Slocum writes, “There are shapes in Walter’s playing that I don’t hear anywhere else, and his dynamic range and depth of interaction with the rhythm section fill his music with mood, personality, and possibility.” Credit must also be given to the legendary recording and mixing engineer, James Farber, who, on an all-analog project such as this, is as much a part of the ensemble as the musicians. “Like great jazz musicians, James always brings his own identifiable sound to each project. He creates an inviting and inspiring sonic environment that allows the musical connection, as well as the balance within and between the instruments, to happen naturally in the recording studio,” states Slocum. 

1. Prelude
2. First Light
3. An Evolving Alliance
4. End of The Season
5. Precipice
6. An Abandoned Illusion
7. America Revisited

Matt Slocum - drums
Taylor Eigsti - piano & Fender Rhodes
Walter Smith III - tenor sax
Larry Grenadier - bass

Tyler Mitchell Octet & Marshall Allen Present 'Sun Ra’s Journey' - out March 18, 2022 (Cellar Music + SmallsLIVE Masters Series)

Cellar Music Group and the SmallsLive Living Masters Series Announce the Groundbreaking New Release From The Tyler Mitchell Octet, Sun Ra’s Journey Featuring Marshall Allen, due out March 18, 2022
Recorded Live at Smalls Jazz Club in New York City

Cellar Music Group, in partnership with the SmallsLive Foundation, is thrilled to announce the March 18, 2022 release of Sun Ra’s Journey Featuring Marshall Allen. Bass luminary Tyler Mitchell’s dynamic playing graced many stages alongside the legendary Sun Ra and Marshall Allen, and he can be heard on such iconic Sun Ra recordings as Reflections in Blue and Hours After. Mitchell is responsible for this multigenerational convergence of jazz greats, assembling this powerhouse small ensemble of musicians to celebrate the life and works of the legendary Sun Ra. ‘Sun Ra’s Journey’ captures potent and innovative reworkings of Sun Ra Arkestra classics, recorded live at Smalls Jazz Club. Bassist Tyler Mitchell is joined by tenor saxophonist Chris Hemingway, alto saxophonist Nicoletta Manzini, trumpeter Giveton Gelin, pianist Farid Barron, drummer Wayne Smith, percussionists Ron McBee and Elson Nacimento, and of course the inimitable Marshall Allen who, at 97 years old, proves to be as spry and imaginative as ever.

Tyler Mitchell recounts his years with the Sun Ra Arkestra as a tenure with one of the great bands of the time. “When I played with Sun Ra,” Mitchell recalls, “he was playing standards and doing Fletcher Henderson-type arrangements, years later when I came back from Mexico, we played a lot more full arrangements of new, original Sun Ra and Marshall Allen compositions. I always wanted to record this music in a small ensemble, really focusing on Marshall’s playing, and here, we finally had our chance.”
Marshall Allen (Photo by William Brown)

Demonstrating the tremendous power and reach of Sun Ra’s music and legacy, this diverse ensemble represents over four generations of musicians performing the work of the great bandleader. Mitchell is joined by a stellar rhythm section of Sun Ra Arkestra alumni including Wayne Smith on drums and Farid Barron on piano. Regarding Smith’s steadfast drumwork, Mitchell notes “We worked together for the last ten years or so, I can always count on him to be there with me, whatever I’m playing. He stays in the pocket and never sacrifices the groove.” On the topic of working with the great Marshall Allen, Mitchell notes “Marshall is from the swing era, there’s so much information to get from him, he puts fresh arrangements on tunes that he’s played for years – he’s 97 years old and playing at the top of his game.”

The album begins with Sun Ra’s vibrant “Care Free”, the album’s single, which will be released on February 4, 2022. From the very first downbeat, the listener is transported to the ethereal dimension of the Sun Ra Arkestra. Mitchell masterfully distills the Arkestra arrangements of many of these pieces down to an 8 piece ensemble, paying particular attention to the interplay of the front line. The harmonic jabs and intertwining of melody between Allen, Gellin and Manzini gives new life to these compositions. 
Tyler Mitchell (Photo by William Brown)

La Dolce Vita” is a composition born from improvisation between Mitchell and saxophonist Nicoletta Manzini. The piece prominently features Allen on the EWI and Manzini’s melodic musings on the alto saxophone. The theme of “La Dolce Vita” is built up from the melody and was directed by Allen. Mitchell notes “Nicoletta was a student of Marshall’s and I wanted to use her for this date, and she was instrumental in putting it together with me.”  Mitchell begins “Eddie Harris” with a bass solo. Mitchell initially heard this piece on a Clifford Jordan record. Here, the piece is performed as a conversation between bass and alto sax. The melody of the piece captures Eddie Harris’ way of including call-and-response within his phrasing.

New Dawn” is a Marshall Allen composition written for the Sun Ra Arkestra album Of Abstract Dreams. On the initial release, Allen recorded with strings. This take of “New Dawn” features Allen on the EWI and Mitchell bowing the melody on his bass. The group demonstrates its vibrancy and facility on the Sun Ra classics “Love in Outer Space” and “Fate in a Pleasant Mood”.

Musing on his former bandleader Sun Ra, Tyler Mitchell notes “When a lot of people think of Sun Ra, they think of free, abstract playing – These people forget about his compositional contributions.” On Sun Ra’s Journey Featuring Marshall Allen, Mitchell shines a spotlight on Sun Ra’s compositional prowess, and on the continuous innovation of his renowned bandmate Marshall Allen. 

Danilo Perez | "Crisalida” | March 18, 2022 Mack Avenue Records

GRAMMY® Award-Winning Pianist,
Composer, Educator and Social Activist
Danilo Pérez Reaches New Artistic Heights with Crisálida,
Featuring His New Formidable Ensemble,
The Global Messengers

Available March 18 via Mack Avenue Records

GRAMMY® Award-winning pianist, composer and educator Danilo Pérez hopes to usher in a new era of enlightenment that will unite all of humanity with his epic new album, Crisálida, which in English translates to “chrysalis.”

Incorporating multiple artistic disciplines that include works from Panamanian painter Olga Sinclair, Panamanian photographer Tito Herrera, and spoken word from his Chilean wife and saxophonist Patricia Zárate, Crisálida is a holistic inter-disciplinary package that invites listeners to reimagine a world in which we all create our own crisálida so that our individual light and humanity radiates regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. And, in turn, we nurture that prismatic iridescence to better care for the environment and human race.

“I envision Crisálida as a protected space where we all come together, whether we’re addressing immigration issues, climate change, environmental justice, science, interconnecting different art forms,” Pérez explains. “We need to work together to build our new crisálida, which, to me, is the emotional, mental and physical state of protection in our early development.”

Crisálida is composed of two engrossing suites on which he leads the Global Messengers, an intrepid new ensemble, consisting of alumni from Berklee College of Music’s Global Jazz Institute. Similar to Dizzy Gillespie’s United Nations Orchestra, which helped launched Pérez’s international career, the Global Messengers is a multicultural combo that features percussionist Tareq Rantisi (Palestine), laouto player Vasilis Kostas (Greece), violinist and vocalist Layth Sidiq (Iraq, Jordan), cellist Naseem Alatrash (Palestine) and singer Farayi Malek (United States). Guest appearing on several cuts are batá drummer Román Diaz (Cuba), Ney flutist Faris Ishaq (Palestine), Zárate (Chile), singer Eirini Tornesaki (Greece) and the Kalesma Children’s Choir of The Ark of the World (Kivotos tou Kosmou) (based in Greece).

“These musicians are very interested in cultivating their gifts to become role models for the betterment of humanity. I love this openness of wanting to explore and connect,” says Pérez, who in addition to being the founder of the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, is a UNESCO Artist for Peace, the Cultural Ambassador to the Republic of Panama, and the Founder and Artistic Director of the Panama Jazz Festival.
Photo: Tito Herrera

“In the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, we talk a lot about finding new sounds through the blues and connecting to your roots – expanding the folkloric elements of where you come from,” he adds. “The Global Messengers are a new family that explores the power of music as a tool for inter-cultural dialogue.”

With their intriguing, unconventional instrumentation (to jazz standards), the Global Messengers afford the music with an arabesque, “beyond category” quality that alludes to chamber music, cinematic score and, of course, the sparkling improvisation associated with jazz. The album’s four-part “La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite” occupies the first half, while the four-part “Frontera (Borders) Suite” concludes the program.

The “La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite” begins with the gorgeous “Rise from Love,” which features stunning vocals from Malek along with Kalesma Children’s Choir of The Ark of the World. Underneath the alluring strings and Pérez’s suspenseful piano improvisation and jabbing accompaniment is Diaz’s surging batá rhythms, symbolizing Africa’s arrival to the Western world and worldwide influence on music.

On “Monopatia (Pathways),” Pérez initiates a suspenseful musical dialogue with Kostas before the rest of the band enters, establishing a 21st century universal blues that connects the dots between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean sonic imprints, African American sensibilities and Latin America’s rhythmic and melodic flourishes. The composition also showcases Zárate’s commanding spoken-word artistry as well as Tornesaki’s poignant singing.

An increased sense of urgency arrives with “Calling for the Dawn” as Rantisi begins with an intricate percussion introduction, followed by a triumphant melody delivered by Malek and Sidiq. Pérez’s embroidered passages, hammering across the rumbling rhythmic bedrock, heighten the suspense, which is intermittingly interrupted by Malek’s asking, “Where are we going? Is it up or down?” “It’s a call to the divine,” Pérez explains of the composition. “It’s a warning that if we mess with nature and the environment, then we are responsible for what comes afterward.”

Muropatía” closes the “La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite” as the strings animate a coruscating rhythm, based upon a folkloric Panamanian dance that Pérez discovered had very striking similarities of some of Palestine’s folkloric rhythms. Pérez’s hypnotic piano accompaniment anchor the interlocking polyrhythms, concocted by the strings, vocals and percussion. After he pecks a dramatic solo, Zárate enters the fold to deliver an incisive rap in Spanish.

Pérez says that the “Frontera (Borders) Suite” was based, in part, by a series of dreams, touching upon the emotional plight of immigration. It begins with the somber “Adrift,” which tells the story of a mother seeking to reunite with her daughter after being separated for 20 years. Malek wrote the evocative lyrics and articulates them splendidly as her voice soars across the arresting arrangement.
Photo: Tito Herrera

The Global Messengers summon the universal blues again on “Al-Musafir Blues,” which deals with a Palestinian man trying to travel to the U.S. to study but gets stuck in the airport. Alatrash’s prowling cello rhythm conveys the sense of determination, while the violin and voice melody evoke the weariness that often comes with seeking better opportunities across international borders.

“With ‘Al-Musafir Blues’ I wanted to find a connection and understanding to the blues from another perspective,” Pérez says. “We need to understand that the blues were created by African Americans – but also that its values and concepts can connect with other cultures. I’m trying to create this musical space where the blues can be the connector in which worldly sounds emerge.”

A call-to-action arrives with “Kalesma (True Calling)” on which Pérez declares that the world is in a humanitarian crisis. Beginning with a faint violin melody that gives way to a plaintive laouto melody and vocals, the soul-stirring composition unfolds gradually, concluding in a haunting rhythmic and melodic recurring motif.

The “Frontera (Borders) Suite” ends with the energetic “Unknown Destination,” a composition that begins like a casual conversation as Pérez ricochets improvisational passages with the Global Messengers’ strings and vocals, underneath Rantisi’s percolating rhythms. The composition coalesces into a dynamic collective improvisation that’s as cohesive as it is capricious.

History will reveal Crisálida as yet another one of Pérez’s crowning achievements. Now after four decades as a professional musician, some of which has been spent with the world-acclaimed Wayne Shorter Quartet and leading his own projects, Pérez has now achieved living legend status. Most recently, he won the prestigious 2021 Doris Duke Artist Award of $250,000.

When asked to assess his career at this moment, Pérez responds: “I want to continue my journey of exploring this pathway of using the power of music to unite and humanize. I want to promote music that acts as a bridge and to inspire younger artists to continue the journey and leave something positive that other generations can draw upon.”

With the Global Messengers and Crisálida, Danilo Pérez is succeeding in that mission.

1 La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite Rise from Love 05:56
2 La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite Monopatia (Pathways) 07:07
3 La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite Calling for the Dawn 06:58
4 La Muralla (Glass Walls) Suite Muropatiá 04:35
5 Fronteras (Borders) Suite Adrift 03:53
6 Fronteras (Borders) Suite Al-Musafir Blues 11:57
7 Fronteras (Borders) Suite Kalesma (True Calling) 05:25
8 Fronteras (Borders) Suite Unknown Destination 04:26

Danilo Pérez · Crisálida

For More information on Danilo Pérez, please visit:

Michael Formanek Drome Trio - Were We Where We Were (March 18, 2022 Circular File Records)

Were We Where We Were is a recording of set of compositions by Michael Formanek, and performed here by him, saxophonist and clarinetist Chet Doxas, and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza, collectively as the Michael Formanek Drome Trio. These pieces were loosely grouped together as Palindrome Series 1 and Palindrome Series 2, from 2020. They started out as a series graphic scores that were then reinterpreted as conventionally notated music for this trio. The Drome trio learned the music and rehearsed outside during the pandemic of 2020, and then recorded in the studio in early December of 2020. Since then the trio continues to work and develop the music whenever possible.

The incredible artwork on the physical packages are by Stewart III, and design is by Stephen Byram and Warren Linn.

Were We Where We Were will be released by Circular File Records on Vinyl, CD and digital formats on March 18th, 2022.

Like most of the musicians I know, the initial pandemic lockdowns of March 2020 were a huge wakeup call on many levels. Levels on which I’m still trying to sort out. As I write this in mid-September of 2021, things still largely unresolved, the return to any kind of normalcy seems unlikely. By that I mean, the already abnormal version of the freelance musician is a lifestyle in which a regular income has always been a difficult thing to count on, only to be further compromised by the pandemic. Musicians learn to thrive when things are good, but also learn to remain creative and productive when they are not. In fact, during the good times, the musicians on my end of the musical spectrum tend to reinvest their earnings back into their own creative work, even if this work lacks the chance at being profitable. Outside of music, to even consider this as a possibility, could be viewed as a folly. But such is the life of an artist; passion over reason.

One thing the pandemic did afford creative musicians though was time….lots and lots of time! Time to learn how to teach private students on Zoom. Time to work on remote projects with other like-minded collaborators. Time to practice your instrument, or to learn one that you hadn’t even played before. Time to compose and experiment with ideas that, outside of a global shutdown, would otherwise seem impractical due to the usual lack of rehearsal and time for players to embrace them. Thanks to the availability of unemployment payments and several other funding sources, many musicians were able to weather the storm and continue to increase their levels of proficiency.

In mid-Summer 2020, I noticed that my perception of the passage of time had changed and was affecting the way I heard and thought about music. I was hearing music that included voices that moved at differing velocities, sometimes in sync by specific metric ratios, others freely moving with more fluid temporal relationships, and at other times completely random. I was also starting to hear fragments of music that moved forwards and backwards through time. While contemplating these musical fragments, the initial effect that struck me reminded me of the sound of playing a recording of a short music phrase forwards then immediately backwards. Upon further study, I started to become interested in the reversal of all of the musical information afforded to me: pitches, rhythms, dynamics, notation and group interaction. This eventually turned into a fascination and mild obsession with musical palindromes.

The early versions of the Palindrome Series compositions were conceived by using the technique of graphic notation. This is a method of composition that uses pictorial representations to convey musical information rather than the typical five-lined staff. I began composing the suite by drawing two musical staffs onto an iPad with an Apple Pencil. The first staff was in black and white, and was roughly the shape of a horseshoe lying on its side but with the bottom of one side extending vertically upwards towards the beginning, but without touching it. I had seen many beautiful examples of contemporary graphic scores that were very carefully drawn and with the utmost of precision. These were clearly not that, and were never intended to be. My intention was to write down my musical ideas and consciously bend them back around to where they started. This psychological trick that I played on myself was to try and keep me from thinking only in a strictly linear way. As I completed the first staff I wrote the words “repeat backwards or forwards” into the score because I wasn’t yet sure how the material would be interpreted by the performers, only that it would somehow involve bi-directionality. In writing the second staff I incorporated two different colors, red and blue. I drew a treble clef symbol in red at the beginning (upper left corner) of the staff, and a reversed bass clef in blue at the end of the staff so it would not only be interpreted as the beginning of a part. With this second staff my original idea was to have the treble part moving forward and the bass part moving backwards. These visual works are what ultimately led to creating the written palindromic material for the suite, please see Ex.1 of graphic scores.
I then printed out copies of both staves, #1 and #2, and began to compose directly onto them, constantly hearing the music going in both directions. Once I had several versions of these études, I chose ones that I thought worthy of further exploration and translated them using conventional music notation. These newly notated scores allowed the performers to read the music in a format that they were more accustomed to, without having to decipher the hieroglyphic nature of the graphic scores. Furthermore, since the graphic versions included almost no bar lines, I could take more liberties in the process of writing these notated parts. The result was one of a more abstracted flow which included just enough organization to frame and contain the form of the statements. Finally, staying true to the original concept of the graphic scores, the written material (and for that matter, the work in its entirety) can be performed exactly the same way left to right as right to left.

I was now ready to get to work on developing these ideas into something playable by humans. To my surprise and delight, in mid-August of 2020, I was notified by the Jazz Coalition that I was among fifty composers to be awarded their recently established commission grant. It just so happened that during this same period two of my favorite humans (who also happened to be great musicians) had begun to make weekly treks from Brooklyn to my home in Northern New Jersey. Chet Doxas, a fantastic tenor and soprano saxophonist, clarinetist, and composer and I had been playing together occasionally before the lockdowns, and we had already started to develop a musical rapport. Drummer and composer, Vinnie Sperrazza, and I have been playing together for several years. During 2017-18 my wife, Sandi, and I were planning our move back to the New York area after many years away, first in rural Pennsylvania and then in Baltimore. I was actually Vinnie’s tenant at his apartment in Kensington, Brooklyn, and having Vinnie’s place during that period was amazingly beneficial for my return to the freelance creative musician life that I had been away from for many years. Playing duo with Vinnie in his music studio before heading out to do our daily rehearsals, sessions and gigs was one of my favorite things to do during that time. This period greatly served to help build the foundation that supports this recording and many of the other projects in which we continue to be involved with together.

To stay on the safe side, during the height of the pandemic Chet, Vinnie and I began playing weekly sessions outside in my backyard. Our repertoire ranged from jazz tunes, to standards, and free improvisations. It would be months before we began playing the palindromic pieces that would eventually become the music on the album Were We Where We Were. Special thanks to my gracious neighbors in West Orange, New Jersey for their generosity and enthusiasm while we rehearsed, especially since I know that this music did not sound so great in the beginning. I really appreciate that no one complained about it! After all, it was a very unusual time for all and we seemed to be working it, one day at a time.

Michael Formanek

Tracks for Digital and CD Release:
1. Tattarrattat - (Formanek) 27:00
2. Never Odd or Even (Formanek) 12:10
3. Is It What It Is (Formanek) 6:28
4. Tattarrattat (Vinyl Version) (Formanek) 19:22

Michael Formanek - Double Bass
Chet Doxas - Tenor and Soprano Saxophones, Clarinet
Vinnie Sperrazza - Drums

Recorded on December 02, 2020 at Sound On Sound Studio, Montclair, New Jersey by David Amlen
Mixed by Chet Doxas in January-February 2021
Mastered by Alex DeTurk
Produced by Michael Formanek

Art: Stewart III - Design: Stephen Byram & Warren Linn

Tattarrattat was composed with support of the Jazz Coalition Commission Grant in August 2020

DAVE GISLER TRIO with Jaimie Branch and David Murray - See You Out There (March 18, 2022 Intakt Records)

Two years after the acclaimed live album Zurich Concert, which featured trumpeter Jamie Branch, the Dave Gisler trio adds another guest for a studio album – the giant of modern jazz – David Murray. Just as the trio immediately hit it off with Branch, Murray is furiously integrated into the band's punchy music, with the presence of both the trumpeter and tenor saxophonist opening up the group's sound. the resulting body of sound, propelled by punkish energy and the driving force of rock, the free-form aesthetics of the sixties and the cadences of modern jazz, navigates into open musical realms. "But there’s no doubt that as Branch’s final note resounds, Gisler and his collaborators will soldier on driven by a need to make music together," writes Peter Margasak in the liner notes.

1. Bastards on the Run
2. Can You Hear Me?
3. See You Out There
4. The Vision
5. Get it Done
6. Medical Emergency
7. What Goes Up...
8. High as a Kite
9. Get a Döner
10. Better Don't Fuck with the Drunken Sailor

Dave Gisler: Guitar
Raffaele Bossard: Bass
Lionel Friedli: Drums
Jaimie Branch: Trumpet
David Murray: Tenor Saxophone

All compositions by Dave Gisler (Suisa). Recorded November 1 and 2, 2021, at Rotfarb Studio, Uznach, Switzerland, by Lara Persia. Mixed by David Torn. Mastered at Hardstudios Winterthur by Michael Brändli.
Cover art & graphic design: Fiona Ryan.
Liner notes: Peter Margasak.
Photo: Palma Fiacco.
Produced by Dave Gisler and Intakt Records.
Published by Intakt Records.

The Jazz Defenders - King Phoenix (March 18, 2022 Haggis Records)

Bristol's jazz daddies The Jazz Defenders drop their second album for Haggis Records (home of UK funk kings The Haggis Horns), in March 2022 and it's a real departure from their debut release "Scheming" (released in 2020). Whereas that album was a homage to the late 1950s/early 1960s classic jazz style known as hard bop, this release moves into new territory with hip-hop/jazz, cinema soundtrack flavours, Latin rhythms and soul-jazz all upfront in the mix. Two taster singles from the album released in mid/late 2021, "The Big Man/Love's Vestige and "Live Slow" (featuring US rapper Herbal T), received great radio support from the likes of Craig Charles (BBC 6 Music), Helen Mayhew (Jazz FM), Jamie Cullum (BBC Radio 2), Ashley Beedle (Worldwide FM), Colin Curtis (Worldwide FM) amongst many others, all loving the Jazz Defenders' musical fusion of retro meets modern.

The classic sound that has inspired the band this time is very much from the mid-late 1960s era and the merging of soul and funk beats with jazz solos/improvisation. Tracks like "Wagger Jaunt" and "Munch" nod to the piano and organ-led soul-jazz of artists like Ramsey Lewis, Herbie Hancock, Reuben Wilson and Jimmy Smith. Meanwhile "Saudade" and "Love's Vestige" feature Brazilian bossa rhythms but with some added film soundtrack overtones. Speaking of movie soundtracks, "The Oracle'' is a pure homage to the classic cinematic compositions of maestros like John Barry (James Bond, The Ipcress File) or Lalo Schifrin (Mission Impossible, Bullitt) right down to the very impressive string arrangement, beautifully scored and orchestrated by bandleader George Cooper.

A big departure from the previous album comes via the two hip-hop/jazz tracks, both of which feature guest MCs. "Live Slow" has US rapper Herbal T blessing the mic over an uptempo soul-jazz number whilst "Perfectly Imperfect" features London MC/actor Doc Brown rapping on a nice and slow 90's style head-nodding hip-hop groove. Both compositions show George Cooper's love for old school boom-bap hip-hop (by the way, he also plays keys with renowned UK hip-hop big band Abstract Orchestra). For classic jazz lovers who dug the first album, there are two pure jazz tracks that join the dots between that debut release and this sophomore one - "Twilight" and "From The Ashes" - with plenty of vibrant solos for the discerning listener.

"King Phoenix" is a statement in itself from the Jazz Defenders. After 2 years of music being destroyed by the pandemic and many musicians inactive, the band has risen from the ashes with new vigour, energy, and vision to try something new and not just repeat past musical glories. A band that sticks to the same script every release might just end up having a short shelf life but the Jazz Defenders are planning on being around for a long time. 

1. Wagger Jaunt 03:50
2. Munch 04:17
3. The Oracle 05:01
4. Twilight 04:06
5. Love's Vestige 03:21
6. Perfectly Imperfect (feat Doc Brown) 04:16
7. Reprise Queen Bee 00:58
8. From The Ashes 04:15
9. Saudade 02:43
10. Live Slow (feat Herbal T) [album version] 04:32

George Cooper - Piano, Organ, Wurlitzer & Percussion
Will Harris - Double & Electric Bass
Ian Matthews - Drums
Nick Malcolm - Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Nicholas Dover - Tenor Sax

Doc Brown - Vocals on track 6
Herbal T - Vocals on track 10
John Pearce - Violin on tracks 3 & 9
Atholl Ransome - Flute on track 9
Leigh Coleman - Vocals on track 6

All tracks written by George Cooper except for track 6 written by George Cooper & Doc Brown and track 10 written by George Cooper & Chris Jones
Additional composition on tracks 4, 5 & 8 by Will Harris
String arrangements by George Cooper
Mix facilitated by Kate Sanders
Mixed by Nicolas Dover
Additional mixing by George Cooper
Mastered by Andy Miles at Stardelta Audio Mastering
Photo by Jonny Green
Artwork by Si Paull

Sabertooth Swing - Delta Bound (March 18, 2022, Slammin’ Media)

Sabertooth Swing to release ambitious “Delta Bound”, a meditation on the violent history and complex culture out of which jazz first emerged

How does music carry memory? How does New Orleans music carry memory differently? Is there meaning in historical violence? What is the meaning of Louisiana’s historical violence?”

These are the questions being asked on New Orleans-based Sabertooth Swing Band’s upcoming Delta Bound (March 18, 2022, Slammin’ Media), an ambitious album that brings together the work of poets, activists, and historical figures to become a meditation on the violent history and complex culture out of which jazz first emerged. Produced by Sabertooth’s Romain Beauxis and Chris Butcher and writer Holly Devon, featured guests include Sister Helen Prejean, Bruce ‘Sunpie’ Barnes, Jeffery Broussard, Cedric Watson, Paul Chéene, The Daiquiri Queens, Zachary Richard, Kid Chocolate, Daiquiri René Jones, and Big Queen Mary Kay of the Original Wild Tchoupitoulas, who contribute thoughtful spoken word essays, readings of works by Sidney Bechet and Frank Stanford and excerpts from Spanish soldier Luis Hernandez de Biedma’s first-person account of the 16th Century De Soto expedition, and who perform songs whose lyrics address the history of violence in Louisiana- and by extension, all of American society. 

“In New Orleans, memories linger in the humid air. But not all memories hanging in the air are benign.”

History is felt here; it’s close to everything you look at. The histories recorded in the archives of institutions and written by figures of authority always have a shadow, and so often it’s a shadow of violence. Delta Bound’s look into the cultural wealth of New Orleans is a one of a kind collection that doesn’t pull any punches. It invites the shadow of violence in and insists that the cultural wealth would not exist without it. As writer and liner note contributor Holly Devon asserts, “What’s so important about this album is that it’s showing the continuity of the story of New Orleans. There are all these different time periods that are filtering through, but the place is the constant that binds it all together. It’s the making of the reality that we’re all living through in New Orleans right now. And there’s been no break. Delta Bound asks, ‘Can we all face this violent history and can we all face the truth of it?’ With the power of art, you get a chance to actually touch the depths of this music and you can’t do that if you’re not willing to face that reality.”

After a brief spoken introduction from Devon that sets the premise of the trip we’re about to embark on, we’re invited into history by Dan Ruch growling out a brooding version of Alex Hill’s “Delta Bound”. The album’s focus track, Sabertooth’s version starts out with a trumpet shout into a chromatically descending line that sets the mood for Ruch’s sardonic, gravelly delivery of the desire to get back to the Delta “where there’s no shelter, no helter skelter”. Background horns quoting Wayne Shorter’s “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum” illustrate the continuity of Black American music and make one take pause and observe that this already isn’t a typical ‘New Orleans Classics’ kind of album. After a rockin’ trombone solo from Sabertooth’s multi-talented trombonist/engineer/co-producer Chris Butcher, special guest Bruce ‘Sunpie’ Barnes lays down a mostly dark, minor key accordion solo before Ruch boldy reasserts the last verse, “I’m on my way now, most any day now, I’m delta bound” and by the end of the last horn licks, we’re there. 

And as soon as we get there, the history sets upon us.
As the first source of documentary evidence of the Lower Mississippi Valley, the 16th Century de Soto expedition offers a window into the world of indigenous Louisiana, albeit through severely prejudiced colonial lenses, and is therefore a kind of historical ground zero for Louisiana as we know it. Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who, in the 1540s, made the first contacts with the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern region of America — encounters that always wound up with the Europeans visiting unspeakable brutality and violence on the people they found already living there. Set to a bouncing shuffle, Armando Leduc-Cruz’s reading of Luis Hernandez de Biedma’s original account of de Soto’s meeting with Chief Tuscaloosa and the resulting massacre of the inhabitants of Mobila on “De Soto Pt 1” sets up the arc of the narrative of the shadow of violence. It’s a brutal accounting of the atrocities, putting us face-to-face with the violent history of this land. 

Romain Beauxis of Sabertooth Swing Band, the originator of the concept of Delta Bound, wanted to make sure to include the de Soto history. “I’ve been in the New Orleans region for over 10 years, and I love it.” Beauxis explains. “But I want to face all the dark elements of it. “De Soto Pt 1” is the opening of the whole arc of violence that that has always been a background, a backdrop, for a lot of histories. Sister Helen Prejean says, ‘We’re a very young country and violence has worked for us in the past.’ And it started with the genocide of Native Americans. De Soto is here to represent that part of the story.” 

At roughly the halfway mark of Delta Bound, Sister Helen Prejean herself ties de Soto directly to the present day by reading her 1997 letter to Pope John Paul II. After thanking the Pontiff for speaking out against the death penalty, Sister Helen goes on to call out former New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. for stating that, in his view, the application of the death penalty is “all too rare”. She points out the stark reality of the discrepancy between punishments for the same crime: “In the decision to seek death as a punishment, the vast majority of people on death row, 85%, are chosen for death because they killed white people.” Prejean notes. “Whereas, when people of color are killed- fully 50% of all homicides- not only is the death penalty seldom sought but often there is not even vigorous prosecution of such cases.” 

One might conclude that when the District Attorney for the City of New Orleans doesn’t think we use the death penalty enough against our poor citizens- and 99% of the souls on death row are poor- maybe we’re not so far from de Soto trying to eradicate every indigenous person he encountered.

Different threads of New Orleans and Louisiana history are explored on Delta Bound through the inclusion of poems like “St Malo”, which Cedric Watson reads in the original French Creole to represent the Haitians who settled in southern Louisiana after the Haitian revolution. Another standout reading is Jeremy Thomas’s reading of “Free Day”, Sidney Bechet’s recollection about the music played by slaves in Congo Square on Sundays, that speaks from inside the memory of Africa itself.

Bringing the histories of the Haitian and African progenitors of Zydeco tradition into the mix is Clifton Chenier’s “I’m On the Wonder” (single, out Feb 18), sung here by Zydeco accordionist and fiddle player Jeffrey Broussard. Zydeco combines European, African, and Caribbean musical traditions with syncopated rhythms, and Sabertooth takes it even further afield for Delta Bound with the addition of pianist Ryan Hanseler, who contributes gutbucket stylings to the down and dirty blues accordion Broussard brings to the mix. If New Orleans music is a gumbo, “I’m On the Wonder” is a trusted family recipe. 

Although Delta Bound deals with difficult themes, it is not without rays of hope peeping through the cracks. Halfway through our journey, we are reminded by “Joie de Vivre” how Zachary Richards’s grandparents were able to channel happiness dancing in their kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. The flip slide of the shadow is the joy and warmth found in the South, and Sabertooth Swing reminds us that if one gives people a chance, change and understanding can happen. Sister Helen Prejean herself tells the Pope that despite all the difficult matters that she has witnessed “I am full of hope. I have found that when people can get real information about the death penalty, not just rhetoric from politicians or sound bites from media, overwhelmingly, they reject the death penalty and choose life.”

Delta Bound will be released March 18 in digital, CD, and vinyl formats on Slammin’ Media/Believe Digital.