Saxophonist Dave McMurray Makes Blue Note Records Debut with Detroit-centric Album, Music Is Life – Available May 18

Album Serves as Pseudo-Reunion Between
McMurray & Blue Note President Don Was,
Former Bandmates in Was (Not Was)
Saxophonist Combines Experiences Playing with B.B. King,
The Rolling Stones, Herbie Hancock, Bootsy Collins, on Funk-Jazz-Soul Album Feat. “Seven Nation Army” & “Atomic Dog” Covers
“Naked Walk” Available Now to Stream or Download

 

Dave McMurray’s Blue Note Records debut,
Music Is Life,
is a reunion of sorts, given the long history the saxophonist shares with the label’s president, and fellow Detroit native, Don Was. McMurray was a member of Was’ genre-defying unit Was (Not Was), first working together on the band’s self-titled 1981 debut. He’s played on all of the band’s albums and many other Was produced projects in the years since.

 

When Was signed McMurray to Blue Note, the saxophonist says that he gave him no imperatives as to which artistic paths to take. “It was one of those situations in which he just said, ‘Do it,’” McMurray explains.

 

“I know Dave’s playing really well. He doesn’t bullshit,” Was praises. “He’s never playing licks for the sake of playing licks. He’s not trying to impress people with what all he knows about music or about his dexterity over the instrument. It’s all about honest expressions.”

 

McMurray proceeded by gathering a batch of strong originals and well-chosen rock and R&B staples then recruited musicians – bassist Ibrahim Jones and drummers Ron Otis and Jeff Canady – with whom he’s forged longstanding rapports. With minimum keyboard and string accompaniments on a few tunes, the music boasts an open, rugged sensibility that optimizes the leader’s burly tone and swaggering lyricism.

 

McMurray has cemented his reputation for versatility by playing with a vast array of musicians that include B.B. King, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Hallyday, Gladys Knight, Albert King, Nancy Wilson, KEM, Bootsy Collins, Herbie Hancock, Geri Allen, and Bob James. McMurray sounds as assured and inspired in a rock, R&B, funk, pop or folk setting as he does playing hard bop.

 

McMurray consolidates all of those aforementioned idioms on Music Is Life, creating a cohesive program of groove-based modern jazz that bristles with unalloyed soul. “I wanted it to have the spirit of a funk record,” he says, before rejoicing in the freedom afforded by having minimum chordal support. “I can just hold the melody down or go anywhere else in these songs.” Case in point, the joyous title track “Music Is Life (Live It),” which serves as his personal mantra.

 

McMurray attributes his saxophone sound and improvisational approach to growing up in Detroit. “Every time I hear an instrumentalist from Detroit play, it feels like they are singing. I don’t care if it’s Yusef Lateef, James Carter or Kenny Garrett. All of those saxophonists incorporated incredible technique too. But they had this singing quality in their playing. I think people hear that and connect with that aspect of it,” McMurray says.

 

“Dave absorbed a wide range of musical styles, which I think is something that’s consistent with Detroit musicians,” Was says. “You can trace it back to the boom of the auto industry after World War II. Workers not only from all over the country but from all over the world came to work in the auto plants. And they brought their cultures with them. There were so many different styles of music that you could hear; Detroit has such an eclectic blend of influences that I think what you find in music that comes out of Detroit is this genre-busting type music.”

 

For sure, McMurray stands on Detroit’s mighty music legacy that includes the influential Motown sound, P-Funk, numerous rock acts such as Stooges and the MC5, electronica-music pioneers Carl Craig, Moodymann and Theo Parrish; and hip-hop icons – J Dilla, Eminem and Slum Village. And let’s not forget the legion of jazz artists from Detroit that include Elvin Jones, Betty Carter, Milt Jackson, Regina Carter and Geri Allen.

 

In some ways, Music Is Life functions as much as a celebration of Detroit as it does a reunion for McMurray and Was. “Bop City D” is a burning hard bop number that tips its hat to the Motor City, while the album’s closer, “Turo’s Dream” is a tribute to the memory of one of McMurray’s best friends that he met in elementary school. Other noticeable Detroit references come by way of covers of songs by artists with connections to the city – George Clinton’s funk anthem “Atomic Dog” and the White Stripes’ rock hit “Seven Nation Army.”

 

McMurray’s hard-hitting “Naked Walk” opens the set. Distinguished by stabbing riffs and a strutting melody, animated by fiery hollers and wails, the song has long been in the saxophonist’s songbook and is frequently played as a crowd-pleasing encore. The album’s other bracing originals include the brooding “After the Storm,” the snapping, hip-hop-centric “Freedom Ain’t Free,” the prowling “Time #5” – which is a part of McMurray’s ongoing “Time” composition series – and the stirring, string-enhanced “Paris Rain,” an evocative homage to one of McMurray’s favorite cities.

 

Speaking of France, Music Is Life also features a soaring reading of “Que Je T’aime,” a torch ballad that McMurray performed regularly with French rock legend, Johnny Hallyday, who passed away in 2017. “When we played that song live, everybody would be standing up. You’d see guys out there with tears in their eyes while singing along to that song. It was so emotional when he sang it,” McMurray recalls.

 

McMurray’s journey into music began when he started playing clarinet as kid, and inspired by his older brother’s interest in the saxophone he decided he wanted to learn that instrument, too. He counts seeing Cannonball Adderley perform on The Steve Allen Show as a defining moment in his childhood. While in high school, McMurray attended Cranbook Academy of Arts’ noted summer program, Horizons Upward Bound. He eventually got a scholarship to attend the private school. McMurray furthered his education by attending Wayne State University, where he earned degrees in psychology and urban studies.

 

While making his way on Detroit’s bustling music scene, McMurray played with the avant-garde jazz ensemble, Griot Galaxy, founded in 1972 by saxophonist Faruq Z. Bey. But McMurray’s catholic taste in music opened the doors for him to explore beyond the realms of jazz. “Any music that I heard – and continue to hear – I can see myself playing it,” McMurray asserts. “It could be rock, jazz, R&B, whatever.” And that’s a good explanation for his multifaceted career.

 

Dave McMurray · Music Is Life
Blue Note Records · Release Date: May 18, 2018
SOURCE: DLMediaMusic
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KANDACE SPRINGS RELEASES “BLACK ORCHID” EP; SET TO OPEN FOR DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES’ SUMMER TOUR

Singer and pianist Kandace Springs offers her fans a taste of her forthcoming sophomore album due out later this year with the release of her Black Orchid EP, featuring three brand new tracks produced by Karriem Riggins that are available to stream or download today. Kandace delivers a pair of inspired covers with her simmering take on The Stylistics’ “People Make the World Go Round” and a radiant performance of the Roberta Flack-popularized torch song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (a crowd favorite at Kandace’s live shows), along with the ruminative “Black Orchid” which highlights the acoustic strum of guitarist-songwriter Jesse Harris (who struck GRAMMY gold with Norah Jones by penning her breakout hit “Don’t Know Why”). Watch the video for “People Make The World Go Round” HERE.

Kandace will be opening for multi-platinum and award-winning artists Daryl Hall & John Oates and Train along their co-headline North American summer tour, which kicks off May 1 in Sacramento, CA and wraps August 11 in Seattle, WA. Produced by Live Nation, the extensive trek will make over 35 stops across the U.S. and Canada including Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Kandace’s hometown Nashville. Tickets are on sale now at LiveNation.com.

* * *

Prince once said that Kandace Springs “has a voice that could melt snow.” The music icon heard her cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” online and invited her to perform with him at Paisley Park for the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain, becoming a mentor to the young singer and pianist. Another legend, Daryl Hall, also discovered Kandace early on, inviting her to perform on his TV show Live from Daryl’s House.

Kandace’s 2014 self-titled EP turned even more heads and led to performances on Letterman, Kimmel and Fallon, as well as the Afropunk and Bonnaroo festivals. Okayplayer called her as “a vocal force to be reckoned with” and Afropunk dubbed her “a versatile and vital artist.”

Kandace’s 2016 debut album Soul Eyes presented an already remarkably mature artistic voice with an album that touched upon soul and pop while channeling her jazz influences as well as her Nashville upbringing. MOJO marveled at the album’s “sensuous vocals with minimalist yet elegant arrangements” while The Guardian raved that “she has a rare ability that can’t be taught – to sound like an old soul, just doing what comes naturally.”

Kandace draws much of her musical inspiration from her father, Scat Springs, a respected session singer in Nashville. It was due to him that Kandace grew up surrounded by music, and he encouraged her to take piano lessons after he watched her peck out melodies on the instrument when she was 10. Yet as a girl, she was equally interested in other creative outlets, especially visual art and, more unexpectedly, automobiles. “My dad gave me a Matchbox car, and my mom gave me a Barbie,” she says. “I drew a mustache on the Barbie and never played with it again, and I still have the Matchbox car.” (Her obsession with cars, which she collects, rebuilds, and resells, continues to this day.)

Something deeper in the young musician was sparked when she heard Norah Jones’ 2002 Blue Note debut, Come Away With Me. “The last song on the record is ‘The Nearness of You’ and that song really inspired me to learn to play piano and sing. It was just so soulful, simple and stripped down. That really moved me and touched me. It’s when I realized, ‘This is what I wanna do.’”

Kandace began gigging around Nashville, and eventually an early demo she recorded caught the ears of Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, the production team who have written hits for Shakira, Christina Aguilera, and Kelly Clarkson, and are best known for discovering Rihanna as a teen and signing her to their production company SRP. Rogers flew to Nashville with an offer to sign Kandace. Still only 17 years old at the time she and her family decided that it wasn’t the right time to pursue a recording career, instead taking a job at a downtown Nashville hotel where she valet parked cars by day and sang and played piano in the lounge at night.

A few years later, Kandace was talking about going to automotive design school, but her mother suggested that she get back in touch with Rogers and Sturken. She instead moved to New York and started working seriously on new songs and demo recordings. She eventually landed an audition with Blue Note President Don Was at the Capitol Records Tower in Los Angeles, winning him over with a stunning performance of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” (the original of which he had coincidentally produced).

As Kandace continues to develop as an artist, she’ll surely win over many other hearts. “I would like to be known as one of the younger people that are keeping jazz and soul alive and vibrant, “she says. “I love the realness of jazz and soul.”

SOURCE: BlueNoteRecords

Listen too BLACK ORCHID

ADAM O’FARRILL’S STRANGER DAYS – EL MAQUECH DOCUMENTS A WORKING BAND ON THE ROAD, CONTEMPLATING PAST AND PRESENT

Album Includes O’Farrill Originals and Covers of Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Irving Berlin, and Efrain Salvador 

Refining their risk-taking interplay and grappling with Mexican folk sources, the quartet ripens into one of the
most compelling on the scene

Biopholio™ (20-Panel Origami Foldout)
+ Digital Downloads & Streaming Formats

Hailed by The New York Times for “establish[ing] both a firm identity and a willful urge to stretch and adapt,” trumpeter Adam O’Farrill has gained renown as one of the strongest emerging talents in jazz by age 23. He debuted as a leader in 2016 with the captivating Stranger Days, and his quartet has now retained that name, following up with El Maquech. Joined again by Chad Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor saxophone, Walter Stinson on bass and Zack O’Farrill (Adam’s older brother) on drums, the trumpeter displays not only uncommon virtuosity and tonal clarity, but a restless and probing artistic temperament, evident from start to finish.

O’Farrill and the group open with a bold, modernist take on the Mexican folk tune “Siiva Moiiva.” Also of Mexican origin is the title track “El Maquech,” which refers to a beetle that is used to make “living jewelry,” O’Farrill explains: “The beetle is covered in gold and gemstones and sold, and worn traditionally by Yucatecan Mayan women on their nights off.”

The immediate catalyst for this exploration of Mexican musical sources was twofold: Adam’s father, the acclaimed pianist, bandleader and composer Arturo O’Farrill, is partly of Mexican origin, and “naturally I felt a duty to explore my own background,” says the trumpeter. Fortuitously, the Stranger Days quartet was brought on board to play at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx during the highly regarded exhibit “Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life,” giving O’Farrill’s current interests organizational support and a larger platform.

O’Farrill first heard “El Maquech” on an album by Orquesta Jaranera Sonora Yucateca, “and there was this shaky bounce in the rhythms and performance,” he recalls, “and a very boisterous but waltz-like feeling to it. It was tricky to arrange at first, because there were several horns and percussion, and we were just a quartet. But I was so enamored by the character of it — it struck me as similar to something I’ve always strived to realize with this band.”

O’Farrill heard “Siiva Moiiva” from a classmate at Manhattan School of Music, while taking drummer John Riley’s rhythmic analysis class and studying recordings of indigenous music from Mexico’s Sonora region. “These were more like melodies than full songs,” O’Farrill says, “repeatedly sung with minimal variation. I wanted to take a similar approach, except the variation is of a chromatic nature.”

Furthering the daunting legacy not only of his father but also his grandfather, legendary Cuban bandleader Chico O’Farrill, Adam has gained recognition for his work with some of the most groundbreaking jazz artists of our time, including Rudresh Mahanthappa (Bird Calls), Stephan Crump (Rhombal) and more. As co-leader of the O’Farrill Brothers Band he documented his bond with drummer Zack O’Farrill on the albums Giant Peach and Sensing Flight. Ever since, his music has grown and taken on new shadings of sophistication and adventurism.

One of O’Farrill’s first breaks was appearing on Imaginary Manifesto by Chad Lefkowitz-Brown, and their tenor-trumpet chemistry has only deepened since, through touring with the Arturo O’Farrill Quintet and other experiences. “Chad and I are very different players,” O’Farrill remarks. “He can be outwardly expressive, and I err on the side of introspection, but we’ve figured out how to make it work without having to really figure out anything!”

The darting counterpoint and pinpoint unisons of the Stranger Days frontline is a distinctive feature for the band, but the churning interplay of the rhythm section is just as key. “When Zack and I met Walter,” O’Farrill remembers of bassist Stinson, “he had access to this shed in Park Slope, and that was usually where we played. There’s one night I recall as one of the most absorbing musical experiences I’ve ever had, just playing crazy grooves and letting loose. The experience of meeting someone for the first time in that way was so enlightening. I also think Walter and Zack bring a lot out in each other — Zack’s playing feels very broad, whereas Walter’s is more pointed in comparison. It creates a balance that is key to the sound of Stranger Days.”

Stinson contributes the off-kilter “Verboten Chant,” a musical reflection on Buddhist monks being forbidden to chant, based loosely on the story of Nichiren Daishonin. O’Farrill’s “Erroneous Love” is based on “Eronel” by Thelonious Monk, composed for the 2017 Winter Jazzfest, which marked Monk’s centennial that year. “Shall We?” is a brief sketch for trumpet and drums, while Irving Berlin’s “Get Thee Behind Me Satan” yields a solo trumpet feature: “I heard the song played in my favorite film, The Master — it was the Ella Fitzgerald version, with amazing string writing from Paul Weston. The narrative placement of the song is perfect, and I knew there was no way I could replicate that, but it stuck with me anyway.”

“Henry Ford Hospital” was also written for the Stranger Days residency at the Bronx Botanical Garden. “It’s inspired by the Frida Kahlo painting of that name,” O’Farrill explains. “It plays with a traditional Yucatecan 6/8 groove, but there was a darkness in the story behind the name, and the colors and objects were fragmented in a way that I wanted to recreate with the form of the tune.”

The closing “Pour Maman,” a luxuriant theme by singer-songwriter Gabriel Garzon-Montano from the 2014 EP Bishounè: Alma Del Huila, came about through the influence of Zack. “My brother has always turned me on to music that I later fell in love with,” Adam notes. “I listened to this so much and I don’t really remember how it clicked in my head to do an arrangement. It’s the one tune in our repertoire that we don’t have sheet music for, which makes it special. It feels more collaborative.” It is, in other words, exactly the right kind of ending, and a portent of further growth to come.

SOURCE: Fully Altered Media 

Trans-formative Latin Jazz pianist/composer Harold López-Nussa arrives on June 15th with Un Día Cualquiera, his hypnotic new recording on Mack Avenue Records

Un Día Cualquiera is a forceful statement from a Cuban musician leading his tight-knit Cuban band, recorded in the U.S. (at WGBH Studios in Boston, Mass.), and influenced by music from both countries in ways that transcend narrow notions of “Latin jazz.”

The album nods to classic Cuban composers and musicians but it focuses mostly on pianist Harold López-Nussa’s original compositions and his distinctive trio concept. These compositions are mostly new, save for one or two, such as the opener, “Cimarrón,” which are older pieces reinvented for the present moment. ~Mack Avenue Records 

Pre-order today!!

An Empowered Tia Fuller Returns After Six Year Recording Hiatus: Saxophonist Withstood Extreme Pressures, Came Out Radiating Pure Light

Diamond Cut, Available May 25 via Mack Avenue Records
Pre-Orders Available This Friday, April 20

Produced by Terri Lyne Carrington,
Album Features: Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland,
James Genus, Adam Rogers, Bill Stewart, and Sam Yahel

“Scalding and propulsive, Ms. Fuller always seems to be testing the
limits of her own power… It’s not every alto saxophonist’s way, but with
Ms. Fuller’s blend of impeccable straight-ahead-jazz chops and
gospelly inflections, it’s engrossing.” — The New York Times

Saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Tia Fuller uses the process of diamonds forming under four levels of extreme pressure and heat as a metaphor for the time she spent honing her artistic craft. When looking up the term ‘diamond cut,’ you’ll learn that it was not necessarily pertaining to the shape but to the proportioning and the balance as to which the highest amount of light is reflected through the diamond. The process serves as a direct correlation to her teaching and playing.

While the phrase “diamond in the rough” often describes burgeoning talents brimming with potential, Fuller has exhibited impending greatness since emerging on the international jazz scene more than a decade ago. Now, her artistic capacity has blossomed tremendously, resulting in her fourth Mack Avenue Records release — the aptly titled Diamond Cuther first album as leader since 2012’s Angelic Warrior. In those six years, she’s transitioned from being a member of Beyoncé’s touring band to becoming a full-time professor at Berklee College of Music, while still juggling a demanding career as a solo artist and touring with the likes of drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, bassist Esperanza Spalding, and Ralph Peterson Jr., among others.

“Not that I’ve arrived by any means, but I think I’m in a space of empowerment, knowing that I’m walking in my purpose,” says Fuller as she reflects on her multifaceted career. “I’m in the fullness of my purpose. Now, I’m more able to directly reflect the light toward others because of what other people have poured and reflected into me. I feel that I’m in a solid place to give back things of substance.”

Produced by GRAMMY® Award-winner Terri LyneCarrington, the album finds Fuller leading two superb rhythm sections, both of which contain some of jazz’s brightest luminaries — bassist Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, then bassist James Genus and drummer Bill Stewart. Adding texture and harmonic support of several compositions are guitarist Adam Rogers and organistSam Yahel.

While touring together in 2014, Carrington encouraged Fuller to recruit some of more seasoned musicians for her forthcoming disc. “Terri said, ‘I really would like for you to see you house yourself amongst the greats on the next album so that you can really hone in on playing jazz. You’ve done it with your peers. But I would like to see you with some elders,'” Fuller recalls. The net result is a sparkling, cohesive album that optimizes her iridescent tone and supple, sometimes rhythmically aggressive, improvisations through an enticing program of mostly originals firmly rooted in the language of 21st-century modern post-bop.

The actual day of recording Diamond Cut marked the first time Fuller worked with both DeJohnette and Holland. “Seeing them arrive at the studio and set up, I was definitely nervous,” Fuller says. “But as soon as we started playing, it was all about the music. One thing that I appreciated from both of them was that they approached the music in a very humble way and really honored it.”
 

Indeed, Fuller sparks an electrifying rapport with DeJohnette and Holland on the pneumatic waltz “Queen Intuition,” on which Rogers and Yahel provide subtle harmonic cushioning, and the capricious “Joe’n Around,” on which Fuller unravels various improvised, melodic fragments associated by three of her saxophone mentors — Joe Lovano, Joe Henderson and Joe Jennings. They’re also featured on the episodic “The Coming,” of which Fuller uses Clark Atlanta University professor Daniel Black’s The Coming: A Novel as inspiration in the retelling of the Middle Passage that brought captured African slaves to the Americas; a prancing reading of Mal Waldron’s signature composition, “Soul Eyes,” on which she tips her hat to John Coltrane; and the soothing “Delight,” which takes its inspiration from the Christian Biblical scripture, Psalms 37:4 — “Delight in the Lord/And he will give you the desires of the heart.”
 

The album also marks the first time Fuller has recorded with Genus and Stewart. And again, she strikes a winning accord, indicative of the album’s searing opening piece, “In the Trenches,” on which she rides a turbulent momentum steered by Stewart’s jagged rhythms and Genus’ hefty, propulsive bass lines. “That was the first song that I wrote for the album, while I was literally in the trenches of transitioning and balancing my work schedule and dealing with personal family challenges,” Fuller explains. “I literally felt like I could not move. I remember being in my office feeling like I was all the way in the trenches, trying to dig myself out.”

 
From there, Fuller along with Genus and Stewart render “Save Your Love for Me,” the first of only three jazz standards on Diamond CutThe soulful makeover-arranged by vibraphonist, drummer and fellow Mack Avenue Records artist Warren Wolf allows Fuller to pay homage to yet another significant lodestar, Cannonball Adderley. Also powered by the Genus-and-Stewart rhythm team, Fuller delivers the majestic ballad “Crowns of Grey,” which honors her parents — Fred and Elthopia Fuller — both of whom encouraged her formative musical growth while living in Aurora, Colorado.

Fuller praises Carrington for her production ingenuity, which helped guide Diamond Cut from its early conception to completion. “Terri really pays attention to minutia while being able to see the big picture,” Fuller says. “And she can enhance the big picture by having an endless arsenal of ideas for sounds and song structures. Even while I was writing the tunes, she was on the front lines saying, ‘Tia, you want each and every song to be the best song that you’ve ever written.’ She was always strongly encouraging me to not just lapse into what I’ve done before. She really helped shape the finer points of the compositions, then as the producer she put her magic touch on it.”

This newest outing illustrates that Fuller continues to etch away at her inner diamond as a saxophonist, composer, bandleader and educator. History will surely reveal Diamond Cut to be a landmark chapter in her artistic journey.
Tia Fuller· Diamond Cut
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: May 25, 2018
For more information on Tia Fuller, please visit:
SOURCE: DLMediaMusic

Javier Santiago Muses on Bi-Coastal Life, Shedding Inhibitions, and Rising From the Ashes on All Original New Album, Phoenix

Available June 29 via Ropeadope Records

Album Features Dayna Stephens, Ben Flocks, Nir Felder,
Zach Brown, and Corey Fonville with Special Guests
Nicholas Payton, John Raymond, and J. Hoard

“All throughout my life, I feel like I have gone through a series of personal deaths. I begin something new, a new life or a new community, then at some point there is an inevitable crash or fall — one that cleanses, renews and marks a turning point of change and growth. This natural cycle of death and rebirth is like the Phoenix. It’s a process that all beings go through, whether it be humans, animals or Gaia, the earth itself.”

For years, keyboardist Javier Santiago has ping-ponged across the country, searching for his sound in New York and California but he has always stayed true to his soulful roots in Minneapolis, Minnesota. For his Ropeadope Records debut, Phoenix, Santiago offers an album full of snow-dusted funk and a refreshing approach to jazzified-fusion.

The opportunity arose when an arduous journey for education took him from his Midwest home to study at the Brubeck Institute in California and then New York City’s New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. His journey out west started in 2007 and proved to be a very freeing experience, opening up the young composer and arranger both personally and musically. Two years later, the transition to New York and reality of hard work was more jolting. “It shocked me,” he admits, “in the best way possible.”

After six years on the New York scene, Santiago found allure and unique welcoming vibe back in his hometown and returned to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. There, he applied through the MacPhail Center for Music for the McKnight Artist Fellowships Program — a program that is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country — and received a $25,000 un-restricted cash grant.

From there, Santiago called on a mix of Bay Area and Big Apple musicians he met through his studies and work to assemble a stellar cast for this auspicious debut. On Rhodes and synthesizers, he’s joined by saxophonists Dayna Stephens (his former teacher) and Ben Flocks, as well as guitarist Nir Felder, bassist Zach Brown, and drummer Corey Fonville (a rhythm section which Santiago recorded with several times before). The album also features special guest trumpeters Nicholas Payton and John Raymond, as well as vocalist J. Hoard to further push Santiago’s rebirth to the welcome ears of the open mind.

Initial sessions for the album were recorded at the legendary Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California: “Bill Evans! McCoy Tyner!” Santiago was no stranger to the history of the space. “I thought it would be great to record in California and the band agreed we would feel different recording in New York or Minnesota. I think this music went in the direction it did because of that room and that location.”

The churning title track, “Phoenix,” has become an anthem for Santiago. Synthesizers hum from all sides as Felder puts down solid emphasis amidst the groove. “It’s about that process of crashing and burning and rising up again,” he explains. “This part is the rise up.” The ten-minute track is a tour-de-force for Santiago employing tight horn harmonies, searing instrumental solos and a persistent groove from Fonville’s unyielding cymbals. That was no coincidence.

“Before the session, Corey (Fonville) was telling the studio manager, ‘I have a package coming in,'” says Santiago with a chuckle. “‘Let me know when it gets here.’ He had bought this flat ride cymbal just for the session. He had a particular vision about how he wanted the music to sound and the vibe he wanted to bring. The flat ride is sort of a retro sound. A lot of great fusion records had a flat ride vibe. He was really excited about that.”

The bursts of harmonies point “Autumn” towards one last blast of heat before the final leaf falls to the ground. “I originally wrote that piece electronically on a computer. It struck me as something sort of melancholy about it. Winter represents a sort of death. Autumn is the phase right before that — preparing for death,” says Santiago. “Autumn (Reprise)” returns later on the record, because some material is too good to pass up. “We cut up this track and originally left it out but I just had to include it on the record because of how good Ben and Corey sound.”

Opening track “River Song” brings memories surging back to Santiago. “I grew up near the Mississippi. It never ends. It’s always flowing. There’s no finite ending for the waters that flow in it — and it’s one of the longest rivers in the world. There’s something very healing about being near bodies of water.” The water motif struck vocalist J. Hoard separately, with his off-the-cuff lyrics pushing Santiago’s vibe into deeper, darker waters. Like a simple but convincing illusion, this track still swirls even after it is gone.

Later, Felder plucks ominously as the band settles in on “Gaia’s Warning” as Santiago’s ethereal keys dance at top speed. He dashes off springy lines that weave alongside the tenor saxophones of Stephens and Flocks. “It reminded me of a forest,” Santiago says of the tune. “It was almost like crying out. It was a cry of desperation. The earth is one giant organism — Gaia — and it’s calling out to the human race: ‘Hey, I’m literally dying over here.'”

The band is joined by trumpeter Nicholas Payton for “Alive” in a playful but forceful track. “Corey took that in a direction I was not expecting. He played this swing beat under there. I was originally thinking it could be sort of a straight feel and kind of like a hip-hop thing,” explains Santiago. “It clearly still has some of that but it’s a little more old-school.”

“Tomorrow” was another electronic composition that transforms into a live instrumentation. It sounds like pandemonium: panic and anxiety reminiscent of police sirens. The armed guards eventually stand-down but only in the face of Fonville’s merciless attack. He pummels at full strength on this track, drawing in backbeats and a noble groove throughout. John Raymond guests on flugelhorn, introducing a new tone to the band that soars over their blistering attack.

“I feel like ‘Abyss (Light)’ is the moment at which one wakes up from the crash,” explains Santiago. He swirls on Rhodes over surging drums and steady bass work from Brown. Felder returns for an equally potent solo take, further solidifying the band’s sound as a unit. The blistering fire that has torched Santiago’s past is gone; in its place, only light.

Santiago’s modern sound, forged from his own unique experience, is a welcome addition to the scene. His perspective, charged by growth and an ethereal energy, is shorn of its inhibitions and focused squarely on pushing the groove. All rise.

Javier Santiago · Phoenix

Ropeadope Records · Release Date: June 29, 2018

For more information on Javier Santiago, please visit: JavierSantiagoMusic.com
Follow Javier Santiago on: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
SOURCE: DLMediaMusic

The Quest is guitar virtuoso Andreas Varady’s debut on Resonance Records and his clarion call statement as an artist

The Quest is guitar virtuoso Andreas Varady’s debut on Resonance Records and his clarion call statement as an artist. Discovered by the legendary producer Quincy Jones at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2012 at a mere 15 years of age, Varady has gone on to wow established music icons such as George Benson and Marcus Miller, as well as fans around the world.

His self-titled debut was released on Verve in 2014 to great critical acclaim, and The Quest marks another evolution with Varady stating, “I feel like I’m giving you a piece of me on this album.” Varady’s father, Bandi, plays bass and his younger brother, Adrian (15), plays drums, joined by the fiery duo of Venezuelan pianist Benito Gonzalez and Slovakian saxophonist Radovan Tariška.

The CD booklet includes an essay by acclaimed jazz critic and author Bill Milkowski, along with an introduction by Quincy Jones. ~Editorial Reviews  | Amazon

Release 4/6/2018

Listen too “THE QUEST” – @ https://open.spotify.com/album/0uZFqb1HGlIyyofc5mwkq7?si=sX9vttm-Qq2a07fUl07q9w

Justin Brown Makes His First Statement As Bandleader With NYEUSI

Available June 29, 2018

on Biopholio™ format from Biophilia Records

Featuring Jason Lindner and Fabian Almazan on Keys,

Mark Shim on Wind Controller,

and Burniss Earl Travis on Bass

Drummer Justin Brown makes his much-awaited bandleader recording debut with Nyeusi on Biophilia Records to be released June 29, 2018.

After years as an essential member of groups led by Ambrose Akinmusire, Thundercat, and Flying Lotus – he’s also been tapped to round out the sound for Esperanza Spalding, Terence Blanchard, Bilal, Vijay Iyer, and many others – Brown is finally ready to extend his reach beyond the drum set to lead his own band, Nyeusi.

“Being a bandleader, specifically, is very important because I want to give back,” Brown says. “I want drummers to see themselves in the front line, full effect, composing and artistry. We’re more than drummers. We can write, compose, and lead a band. There is no Justin Brown band; it’s featuring everyone.”

Rounding out Nyeusi are Jason Lindner and Fabian Almazan on keys, Burniss Earl Travis on bass, and Mark Shim on wind controller. Brown on drums is the engine propelling an intoxicating synthesis of varying influences that offers deep groove and charged improvisations.

“I cannot think of a more highly anticipated debut by an artist right now that is also a lynchpin in today’s creative music scene. I will be first to listen.” says The Checkout from WBGO’s Simon Rentner.

Nyeusi, pronounced Nee-yo-see, is Swahili for the word black. Brown studied the African language at high school in Berkley California instead of taking the usual courses of French or Spanish. He doesn’t remember much, but that word always stayed with him.

It’s also the word Brown uses to describe the album’s sound. “The color black alone has so much beauty and darkness. That’s ultimately what I’m trying to convey,” he says. “I’m a black man living in a black/dark time. My experiences through that color always come up, always rooted in blackness.”

  As Modern Drummer points out about Brown, “there’s nothing about the way he plays that boxes him into any particular era or camp.” Nyeusi is a modern-sounding and forward-thinking record in every respect, not defined by genre, style, or groove.

Brown says, “it’s a jazz album, it’s a hip hop album, it’s an instrumental album. Jazz is living in the now.” He says he can’t help adapting to all kinds of styles. “You have to have one foot in the past and one foot in the future, and that’s what I hope for people to hear when they hear this album.”

Born in Richmond, California to a gospel musician mother, Brown was introduced to music in the womb, where she says he would kick to the beat. He started drumming at two years-old  in church and began his formal jazz education at 10 with the Young Musician’s Program at UC Berkeley and later Berkeley High. Encouraged to attend Juilliard after being awarded a full scholarship, he moved to New York in 2004, but withdrew on the first day to pursue a life-changing career experience over education, playing on the road with Kenny Garrett and Josh Roseman.

Trust, patience, and persistence have been instrumental to Brown’s artistic maturity. Gaining the confidence and support from some of today’s premier music-makers have only sharpened his clarity, purpose, and philosophy as a bandleader.

SOURCE: Fully Altered Media 

Eliane Elias Perfoms Music From Man of La Mancha a 1964 musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh

Music From Man of La Mancha is a 1964 musical with a book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh. It is adapted from Wasserman’s non-musical 1959 teleplay I, Don Quixote, which was in turn inspired by Miguel de Cervantes and his 17th-century masterpiece Don Quixote.

The original 1965 Broadway production ran for 2,328 performances and won five Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The musical has been revived four times on Broadway, becoming one of the most enduring works of musical theatre. The principal song, “The Impossible Dream“, became a standard.

Eliane previously recorded these tracks at the request of the original composer, Mitch Leigh, Guest artists are talented and GRAMMY Award-winning jazz artists Marc Johnson (bass), Satoshi Takeshi (drums), Manolo Badrena (percussion), Eddie Gomez (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums). ~Editorial Reviews | Amazon

Expected Release DateApril 13, 2018

Terence Blanchard Feat. The E-Collective to Release New Album “LIVE” on April 20th, 2018

ALBUM RECORDED LIVE AT VENUES IN THREE COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE EXPERIENCED ESCALATING CONFLICTS BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT & AFRICAN AMERICAN CITIZENS

2018 USA Fellow and five-time Grammy-winning trumpeter/composer Terence Blanchard has been a consistent artistic force for making powerful musical statements concerning painful American tragedies – past and present. With his band The E-Collective he once again addresses the staggering cyclical epidemic of gun violence in America with the April 20 release of his new album Live (Blue Note), 7 powerful songs recorded live in concert that both reflect the bitter frustration of the conscious masses while also providing a balm of emotional healing. With a title that carries a pointed double meaning, the album is an impassioned continuation of the band’s GRAMMY-nominated 2015 studio recording, Breathless.

The music of Live was symbolically culled from concerts performed at venues in three communities that have experience escalating conflicts between law enforcement and African American citizens: The Dakota in Minneapolis (near where Philando Castile was pulled over and shot by a cop on July 6, 2016); The Bop Stop in Cleveland (near where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot by police on November 22, 2014); and the Wyly Theatre in Dallas (near where police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson and Patricio Zamarripa were assassinated while on duty covering a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest on July 7-8, 2016). The E-Collective’s Live project condemns gun violence of all manner whether against profiled citizens of color or targeted members of law enforcement.

Experimental, electric and exotic, E-Collective consists of Blanchard on trumpet, Charles Altura on guitar, Fabian Almazan on piano and synthesizers, Oscar Seaton on drums, and new addition David “DJ” Ginyard on bass. Discussing the origin of E-Collective, Blanchard states, “I didn’t put this group together to be a protest band. We started out wanting to play music to inspire young people… However, while we were on tour in Europe, Mike Brown got shot. Trayvon Martin had already been murdered. And back then it seemed like these shootings were happening every month. That’s when I felt we had to stand up and make a statement with our 2015 album, Breathless [named in honor of Eric Garner who pleaded in vain to a pile of police officers with their knees in his back that he could not breathe]. After touring that music for two years, we couldn’t just let it go.”

“This band represents the best of America’s ideals,” says Blanchard. “We’re five very different personalities with different visions who play together for a common goal: creating music that hopefully heals hearts and opens minds. Live is an album for these troubled times yet it’s also an album filled with hope. We want to encourage listeners to speak out and talk to those around them, discuss with those around them and heal with those around them.”

A true Renaissance man, Blanchard is currently in the studio scoring the new Spike Lee film, Black Klansman, and is also at work on a new opera, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, in tandem with Director Kasi Lemmons and esteemed writer Charles Blow to premiere in 2019. He continues to teach at Berklee School Of Music for the third year in a row as Artist-In-Residence, working with students in the areas of artistic development, arranging and composition. Blanchard also participates in master classes around the world as well as local community outreach activities in his beloved hometown of New Orleans.

The track listing for Live is as follows:

1. Hannibal (Marcus Miller)
2. Kaos (Terence Blanchard)
3. Unchanged (Charles Altura)
4. Soldiers (Terence Blanchard)
5. Dear Jimi (Terence Blanchard)
6. Can Anyone Hear Me (Terence Blanchard)
7. Choices (Terence Blanchard)

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