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)
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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

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” – @

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


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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Brad Mehldau Trio Returns with “Seymour Reads the Constitution!,” Due May 18 on Nonesuch

Brad Mehldau Trio‘s Seymour Reads the Constitution! is due May 18, 2018, on Nonesuch Records. The pianist and his longtime trio, which includes drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier, perform three Mehldau originals combined with interpretations of pop songs (Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson), jazz tunes (Elmo Hope, Sam Rivers), and one work from the American songbook (Frederick Loewe’s “Almost Like Being in Love”). Seymour Reads the Constitution! is available for pre-order now at iTunes and the Nonesuch Store, where an instant download of the album track “Spiral” is included with purchase. The song also can be heard on Spotify, Apple Music, and below.

The Trio’s previous release, Blues and Ballads (2016), received critical acclaim, with the Guardian saying, “Mehldau is a genius (and a still-improving one) at taking predictable materials to unpredictable destinations … These are old songs subjected to an old jazz method, but brought scintillatingly into the here and now.” Mehldau released the solo album After Bach earlier this year; the album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Jazz Album chart, comprises the pianist/composer’s recordings of four preludes and one fugue from J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, each followed by an “After Bach” piece written by Mehldau and inspired by its WTC mate. The Financial Times said of After Bach, “As each piece gathers momentum, fresh melodies emerge, change shape and are developed anew over voicings that shimmer, fade and rumble to a peak. And, following Bach, Mehldau’s improvisations unfold with an iron inner logic, a reminder … that Bach, in his day, was admired more for his abilities as an improviser than for his written scripts.”

Brad Mehldau’s Nonesuch debut was the 2004 solo disc Live in Tokyo and includes six records with his trio: House on Hill, Day Is Done, Brad Mehldau Trio Live, Ode, Where Do You Start, and Blues and Ballads. His collaborative records on the label include Love Sublime, Highway Rider, Metheny Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet, Modern Music, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, Nearness with Joshua Redman, and last year’s Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau. His additional solo albums on Nonesuch include Live in Marciac and the eight-LP/four-CD 10 Years Solo Live, which the New York Times says “contains some of the most impressive pianism he has captured on record.”


Brad Mehldau Solo

Mar 28 Opéra National de Bordeaux Bordeaux, FRANCE
Mar 30 MC2 Grenoble, FRANCE
Apr 2 Philharmonie de Paris Paris, FRANCE
Apr 4 Le POC Alfortville, FRANCE

Brad Mehldau Trio

Apr 11 Manship Theatre Baton Rouge, LA
Apr 12 Paramount Theatre Austin, TX
Apr 13 Cullen Theater, Wortham Theater Center Houston, TX
Apr 14 Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building Richardson, TX
Apr 15 Boulder Theater Boulder, CO
Apr 17 Wassermann Festival Concert Series Logan, UT
Apr 19–21 Scullers Jazz Club Boston, MA
Apr 22 Swyer Theatre Albany, NY
Apr 24 The Academy of Music Theatre Northampton, MA
May 7 Konzerthaus Berlin Berlin, GERMANY
May 8 National Concert Hall Dublin, IRELAND
May 9–11 Bimhuis Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS
May 12 Sinopoli Hall Rome, ITALY
May 13 Hybernia Theatre Prague, CZECH REPUBLIC
May 15 Grande Salle Arsenal Metz, FRANCE
May 16 Théâtre de Privas Privas Cedex, FRANCE
May 17 Theatre de Sablons Neuilly, FRANCE
May 18 Wiener Konzerthaus Vienna, AUSTRIA
May 19 Onassis Cultural Centre Athens, GREECE
Jul 27 Auditorio Kursaal De San Sebastian San Sebastian, SPAIN
Journal Articles:Album ReleaseArtist News
SOURCE: Nonesuch

Edward Simon’s new album, Sorrows and Triumphs, out April 20, 2018 via Sunnyside Records

“One of the strongest pianists of his generation, with intuitive empathy and drum-like ingenuity, Simon solos compositionally with passionate elegance.”DownBeat

Pianist Edward Simon – a native of Venezuela who has made a name for himself over decades in America as a jazz pianist, bandleader and composer-arranger, along with being a Guggenheim Fellow and member of the hit SFJAZZ Collective – presents his latest album, Sorrows and Triumphs, via Sunnyside Records on April 20, 2018. The recording showcases his virtuoso quartet Afinidad, featuring alto saxophonist David Binney, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade; the album’s color-rich arrangements also include special guests: vocalist Gretchen Parlato, guitarist Adam Rogers and the chamber quintet Imani Winds, along with percussionists Rogerio Boccato and Luis Quintero. The album’s material blends two bodies of music commissioned by Chamber Music of America’s New Jazz Works program: the suites “Sorrows and Triumphs” and “House of Numbers,” their individual movements re-sequenced to form a holistic listening experience that brims with a lyricism both intimate and majestic. This release follows Simon’s Latin American Songbook, with the four-and-a-half-star DownBeat review for that 2016 album praising its “grand and sophisticated” sound. Latin American Songbook also won Simon an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Jazz Album. JazzTimes has said: “Simon is less talked about than many other important jazz pianists from the Caribbean and South America, but he may be the most complete creative artist among them.”

The three tracks on Sorrows and Triumphs drawn from the original title suite – “Equanimity,” “Rebirth” and “Triumphs” – feature Afinidad with Parlato, Rogers and Baccato, the compositions inspired by Simon’s studies of Buddhism over two decades. Afinidad first performed the “Sorrows and Triumphs” suite in 2009 at Walton Performing Arts Center in Arkansas and later at New York’s Jazz Standard, with performances broadcast on NPR’s Jazz Set. “The music isn’t narrative in any way,” Simon explains. “But it was inspired intuitively by the effects Buddhist practice has had on me, the perspective and the little bits of enlightenment that come every day. I wrote my own words for ‘Triumphs,’ but Gretchen has also studied Buddhism, so when I asked her to contribute lyrics to ‘Rebirth,’ she knew exactly how to convey the message. Gretchen is such a special singer, who has the gift making the most of small details to expressive effect. She knows that just a whisper can have a big impact. As for the compositions, I wanted them to bring joy to the listener, to be direct and accessible, with singable melodies.”

The album’s tracks taken from the suite “House of Numbers” – “Uninvited Thoughts,” “Triangle,” “Chant” and “Venezuela Unida” – feature Afinidad with Quintero and award-winning classical group Imani Winds. The ballad highlight “Chant” also includes words and vocals by Parlato. Simon’s compositions explore the cross-cultural resonance of numerology, as well as the musical possibilities that arise when jazz and classical artists combine. The music draws on traditions from Europe, Africa, North America and South America, blending composed structures with sections for improvisation; the numbers 3, 4, 5 and 7 – and their cultural and musical implications – form the basis of the suite’s four pieces. The composer explains: “The number 3, for instance, can suggest triple meters, such as 3/4, 6/4 or 6/8, which in turn can suggest certain grooves, particularly in the music of South America. It can also point to the use of triads and three-bar phrases. Above all, the number 3 points to the even distribution of forces into three equal parts, which suggests balance – an ideal in nature and life.” Afinidad and Imani Winds unveiled House of Numbers in 2016 at California’s University of the Pacific.

Simon Rowe, executive director of Roots, Jazz & American Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, attended the premiere of “House of Numbers,” saying afterward that the blend of the five Imani Winds with Simon’s jazz quartet was “mesmerizing,” as the “writing juxtaposed the lyrical and often dense textures of the quintet with the ever-changing, percolating rhythmic drive of Afinidad.” Reviewing Afinidad’s music-making, All About Jazz described the band’s sound as “wonderful, accessible and deep.” Simon remarks on his bandmates: “Their musicality, openness, and breadth give me the greatest freedom as a composer. I write with the sound and sensibilities of Dave, Scott and Brian in mind, and I depend on our instant empathy and almost wordless communication in the studio. It is our artistic bond of trust, built over many years, that underpins and encourages my exploration in these pieces.” Simon and Binney co-founded Afinidad in 2000, with the kindred-spirit rhythm section of Colley and Blade there from the start. The quartet has previously released the albums Afinidad (Red Records, 2001) and Océanos (Criss Cross, 2007).

Simon and Binney share a 25-year affinity, their musical visions as simpatico as their personalities. “Dave is eclectic, open to all sorts of influences, and has the ability to put them together into something personal, as a player and as a composer,” Simon remarks. “We have both composed for Afinidad over the years, even though this album is mine as a composer. But David’s sharp ear for aesthetic beauty makes him a great sounding board in the studio – in addition to being a featured player, he has real producing chops. He co-produced the track ‘Triumphs’ with me, adding electronics.” For his part, Binney says: “I’ve always enjoyed Ed’s sensitive musicality. His musical concept sums up the way I hear things, and because of his Latin American roots, his rhythmic sense is very strong, which complements the way I play. Sometimes I play with more abandon, and he locks things in. And his compositions have such thought behind them.” About Colley and Blade, who are leaders in their own right, Simon adds: “Musicians who are composers interpret other people’s music in a more informed way, so Scott and Brian have the sensibility to articulate my music with sensitivity to space, to quality of sound, to textural nuance.”
Guitarist Adam Rogers has been part of the extended Afinidad family for years. “He’s such a strong improver,” Simon explains, “and his versatility as a player, whether on electric or acoustic, adds a lot to what we can do texturally.” About the extra percussion of Boccato and Quintero, Simon adds: “Groove has always been a vital aspect of music for me, and with a lot of this music influenced by classical minimalism – especially Steve Reich – the extra percussion helps articulate the groove. And in ‘Venezuela Unida,’ Luis plays the culo’e puya, a long, narrow drum, played in sets of three, associated with Afro-Venezuelan music. This composition is dedicated to my homeland. Venezuela has undergone tremendous socio-economic and political changes during the past decade. It pains me to see the strong divisions that have emerged as a result and the great difficulty people are going through. I wish for my fellow Venezuelans to elevate themselves beyond differences in views and hope they manage to find peace, understanding and unity once again.” 

SOURCEAnn Braithwaite | DLMedia 

Trio Laccasax In Music at Home internalizes influences from different cultures at this juncture

It is part of a musician’s everyday life that you are constantly on the move. The music often becomes the only place where you can always feel at home. The new album by Trio Laccasax In Music at Home internalizes influences from different cultures at this juncture. Musical genres such as tango, klezmer, jazz, classical and modern meet in the so-called chamber world music – world music with a claim on chamber music. The listener seemingly effortlessly commutes between sincerity and entertainment, between simplicity and complexity, profoundness and lightness, and the trio also likes to call this combination of serious (e-music) and popular music (u-music) casually EU music.

On their first CD Passe Partout Trio Laccasax played in his regular cast. The second album makes it clear that the musicians feel at home on different instruments and the regular cast is dissolved. In the new program, which developed mainly during and from the 2017 tour, Timofey Sattarov plays piano for almost a third of the time instead of the accordion, the saxophonist Adrey Lakisov alternates between guitar and saxophone and the bassist Bernd Gesell often uses his double bass also for percussion. The limits of conventional playing techniques are exceeded, modern playing techniques of the respective musical instruments are used. All this extends the sound spectrum. It is, if you will, the fourth dimension in the three-dimensional cast.

At the center of IN MUSIC AT HOME are original compositions this time, such as the melancholic Le Petit Prince, or Suse (derived from the suspended chords it contains), which can be described as a 5-minute musical encyclopedia. B. Gesell creates a sonorous low level at Horizontale with an extensive bass solo, whereby one could confound the double bass with a cymbal at the first listening impression. As always, there are Astor Piazzolla’s compositions included, as the Le Grand Tango and Reminiscence, which appear in a Trio Laccasax-typical fashion. ~Editorial Reviews | Amazon

Expected Release DateMay 4, 2018