New York City Jazz Vocalist Zack Foley To Release Debut Studio Album February 16th, 2018

CD Release Show

Cornelia Street Cafe

February 1st, 2018

“When the Zack Foley Quartet performs,
improvisation goes transcendental.”

– Vanity Fair


One of the most sublime and delightful finds on New York City’s youth-infused jazz scene is the Zack Foley Quartet. The combo, all in their 30s—vocalist Foley, Jesse Elder on piano, Chris Tordini on bass, and Devin Gray on drums—can shift in mode or mood with felicity, from beguilingly relaxed to heavy improv to what they call their signature Zen-like “jazz/rock/chant.”

On their debut studio recording entitled LMSW, this long-standing band fearlessly explores their working songbook. Rollicking solos from all members abound. Renditions of songs such as Pearl Jam’s Release, Thundercat’s Is It Love?, and Radiohead’s Morning Bell coax out shadings of heartbreak and loneliness, hinting at life’s impermanence. “I’m very involved in the mindfulness tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh,” Foley admits, “and I have benefitted from his encouragement to take it easy on things that perpetuate craving and pain.”

The band, nonetheless, seems to summon a melancholy undertow that inevitably evolves, resolves, transcends. And perhaps the most melancholic—and effectively disarming— a facet of the quartet is Foley’s heartfelt vocal style. He is at once vulnerable, nuanced, and mournful. His attitude is ironic, defying romantic convention. He strips away the neat sentiments we associate with jazz standards and exposes the bare meaning—even
artifice—at their root. The result is to reveal songs as small treasures, often tinged with the acknowledgment and acceptance of loss, songs that sparkle amid the otherwise cynical cacophony of the age.

There are no traditional love songs on this record. As the album title suggests, the band chooses to explore more layered subject matter like parent-child relationships, release from oppression, and liberating insight. On the classic ballad Old Folks, Foley bends the lyrics towards a description of someone close to home. The original John the Captive aspires to bring light into darkness and is a nod to Foley’s day job as a social worker.

Betty Carter’s 30 Years is a reflection on the ending of a marriage. Unborn and
Indestructible explores Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on interconnection and
impermanence, while a playful rendition of These Foolish Things shimmers with the band’s dark sense of humor, paying homage to David Lynch’s masterpiece “Twin Peaks.”

Vulnerable. Mournful. Zen-mindful. It is no wonder, then, that Foley, an LMSW, works on an inpatient psychiatric unit. There is a depth of spiritual wisdom, psychic insight and struggle, and meditative practice that inform the music, throughout.

SOURCEStephen Buono Publicity

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Trombonist/Composer James Hall Weaves Together Diverse Styles and Inspirations To Form the Intricate and Stirring Lattice

Hall’s second album as a leader, set for release February 9, 2018 from Outside In Music,
beautifully melds trombone and flute, chamber music and jazz, passion and complexity

“James Hall and his band [have] an eclectic, but inviting, voice. Their music is accessible, but weaves in and out of some of the highest realms of Jazz and Classical tradition.”

– Makoto Fujimura, International Arts Movement

Intricately weaving together voices, melodies, ideas and genres, Lattice is the alluring and inventive sophomore release from trombonist/composer James Hall. Due out February 9, 2018 from Outside In Music, the album is built around the harmonious combination of Hall’s dexterous trombone and the virtuosic flute playing of Jamie Baum, a study in contrasts that proves remarkably pliable and expressive through Hall’s inspired vision.

 

Lattice follows Hall’s acclaimed debut, Soon We Will Not Be Here, in which he and his Thousand Rooms Quartet set the work of contemporary New York City-based poets to Third Stream-inspired music that struck a delicate balance between modern jazz and contemporary classical music. Lattice eschews the vocals of its predecessor and veers in a more recognizably jazz direction, though Hall’s richly detailed writing maintains the sophisticated architecture of chamber music without forsaking the passion and propulsion of the best modern jazz.

 

To achieve those ends, Hall enlisted a skilled band with an elusive chemistry to breathe life into his compositions. In addition to Baum, he’s joined by keyboardist Deanna Witkowski (Donny McCaslin), bassist Tom DiCarlo (Claudio Roditi, Sean Jones), and drummer Allan Mednard (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Aaron Parks). On two tracks the band is supplemented by in-demand saxophonist Sharel Cassity (Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis), whose fiery alto adds a new flavor to the often more contemplative styles of Hall and Baum.

A lattice necessarily begins with two pieces crossing, and for Hall that second piece was his now-wife, Kristen, to whom Lattice is dedicated. Their romance, engagement and marriage provided the spark that inspired him to begin writing this music. “I wanted to compose a project for two voices,” Hall explains. “The idea of two voices in close counterpoint seemed like a nice parallel to the love story that was happening in my life at the time. It all came together with the interweaving of melody lines reflecting the interweaving of two lives.”
More direct musical inspiration came from a few sources that Hall had long admired. One was legendary trombonist/composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer’s writing for two voices, exemplified by his work with Stan Getz and Jim Hall. Another was the interplay of bass trombone and flute on Herbie Hancock’s classic album Speak Like a Child. Baum shared Hall’s love for that album, and their bonding over it was key to her signing on for the project.

 

 
Two strands are not enough to make a latticework, however, and as a number of pieces intersect to form a pattern, so Hall’s project expanded to encompass other voices and inspirations. He crossed paths with Mednard while both were touring with the retro-pop ensemble Postmodern Jukebox, while DiCarlo was suggested by Baum. Witkowski was introduced to Hall at the release concert for Soon We Will Not Be Here, and her interest in his music was matched by her gifts for interpreting it on both piano and Rhodes.

 


The scale of Hall’s concerns expanded and intersected as well. While a new love – not to mention wedding planning – can be all consuming, eventually the outside world intrudes. Never has that been more true than in recent years, as a project conceived on an intimate personal scale inevitably took on a broader scope as harsh realities came to light. The injustices brought to light by the Black Lives Matter movement and the divisive aftermath of the 2016 presidential election forced Hall to widen his perspective. Again, Herbie Hancock proved inspirational; Speak Like a Child was released in the politically tumultuous year of 1968, its hopeful call for a more childlike and loving perspective a conscious refutation of the day’s clashing ideologies.
“It’s a pretty album produced at an ugly time,” Hall says. “So as the world was sliding into an abyss and I was working on what for me was ‘pretty’ music, I was thinking of Herbie as a precedent.”The lilting melody of “Shoy” opens the album, tipping its hat to another form of interweaving – the hybridization of grapes to create new wine varietals. While living in Germany more than a decade ago, Hall worked on a vineyard that specialized in the Sheurebe grape – the title is a transliterated shortening of the name – which is a cross between Riesling and Silvaner. Cassity’s supple alto kicks off Joe Henderson’s familiar “Black Narcissus,” which floats on Witkowski’s airy Rhodes while being driven by Mednard’s subtly roiling rhythm. The title track is patient about bringing its divergent voices together, finally melding into a hopefully melodious theme at the song’s halfway point. The simmering swing of “Brittle Stitch” muses on the fragility of any relationship and the care and attention they require, while “Gaillardia” does some of that work by hinting at Hall’s wife’s maiden name in the form of a flower.

The elegiac “Traveler” is dedicated to the composer’s great-uncle, whose passion for roaming the world and unconventional pairing with Hall’s great-aunt both offered models to emulate. “Kind Folk” is one of a few gorgeous Kenny Wheeler tunes that entered Hall’s songbook after the late trumpet great served as artist-in-residence during Hall’s time at Lawrence University, while the bluesy “Terrace,” featuring the full-throated moan of Hall’s muted trombone, closes the album with a portrait of his adopted neighborhood in Brooklyn.”A lattice is made up of many intersecting parts,” Hall concludes. “As this project matured, even if I composed a piece thinking about myself and my wife, the lattice grew to incorporate everyone I met, everyone I engaged with. It touches on the question of where I sit in the lattice that is New York City, or on a larger scale, that is America in the 21st century. I take heart in the fact that there can be as many strands and intersections in a lattice as there are people or relationships in my life. Maybe it starts with me and my life or my family, but it doesn’t have to end there.”


James Hall
A trombonist and composer from Nebraska based in New York City, James Hall is a versatile musician and composer whose projects have spanned jazz, classical, Latin, and popular music. As a composer and bandleader, James was named a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition, won three ASCAPlus Awards for composition, and was a featured performer/composer at the 2012 Chelsea Music Festival. He has appeared on several recordings with Postmodern Jukebox, with whom he has toured Europe and the United States. His first CD as a composer/bandleader, Soon We Will Not Be Here, was released in October 2013 and featured his Thousand Rooms Quartet. James holds degrees from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin and Aaron Copland School of Music in New York. His teachers have included Luis Bonilla, Hal Crook, Michael Dease, Nick Keelan, Ed Neumeister, and Fred Sturm.
For more information, please visit, jameshallmusic.com 
SOURCEbkmusicpr.com 

PIANIST/COMPOSER LESLIE PINTCHIK RELEASES SIXTH CD YOU EAT MY FOOD, YOU DRINK MY WINE, YOU STEAL MY GIRL! WITH STELLAR BAND, FEBRUARY 23, 2018

* Featuring Steve Wilson, Ron Horton, Shoko Nagai, Scott Hardy, Michael Sarin, and Satoshi Takeishi *

 “Ša composer of emotional depth and effortless lyricism.” – DownBeat
“Getting lost in this music is simply a joy.” –
 AllAboutJazz
“A crafty, lyrically minded improviser and a compelling composer…” – The New Yorker
“…achingly beautiful…a level of intimacy that is rare today in jazz.” – JazzWax.com
CD Release concert at Jazz at Kitano in Manhattan on Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik found the title for her new album in one of those “only in New York” moments. While crossing Canal Street at West Broadway in the SoHo section of Manhattan, she heard a voice behind her yell, “You eat my food, you drink my wine, you steal my girl!” As it happened, she’d just completed writing a new composition, and at that very moment she knew she’d found its title. It was a perfect fit for the sharp-elbows vibe of the piece, with its samba-funk groove, understated humor and fender-bender of an ending. So with one gruff shout, serendipity handed her a bold, spunky title, for a bold, spunky tune.

With its implied but elusive narrative and personality to spare, the outburst also turned out to be a perfect title for Pintchik’s new recording, which features six of her original tunes and two standards. As on her five previous albums, Pintchik has penned a collection of songs overflowing with warmth, humor, tenderness, depth and smarts – without forsaking her razor-sharp edge. Pintchik is unique in combining a brisk energy and drive with a gift for accessible, infectious melodies – like that overheard accusation, her music strikes a unique balance between the sharp-edged and the charming. You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! will be released February 23, 2018 via Pintch Hard Records.

In his liner notes for the CD, Allen Morrison writes “As a composer, [Pintchik is] like a novelist, unspooling each song like a good story with twists and turns, and with a story-teller’s patience and sense of form. And, like a good novel, her songs appeal to both the head and the heart; they are subtle, sometimes wry, sometimes somber. I think they’re not-so-buried treasures, waiting to be discovered by other jazz artists.” In addition, the wide range of grooves (samba-funk with a touch of partido alto, swing, bolero, traditional samba, straight-eighths, and ballads-all played with exceptional skill and pizzazz by Leslie and her top-notch band members) is a great added pleasure.


For this outing, Pintchik returns once again with the musicians with whom she has played and recorded for many years: Steve Wilson on alto sax, Ron Horton on trumpet and flugelhorn, Scott Hardy on bass and guitar, drummer Michael Sarin, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. On accordion, Shoko Nagai is the newcomer and a wonderfully intriguing addition to the mix. Recalling the recording session, Pintchik said “I had the time of my life playing with these extraordinary musicians and people, all gems and superb players.”

“You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!” is not the only mouthful of a title on the album. It’s topped by “Your call will be answered by our next available representative, in the order in which it was received. Please stay on the line; your call is important to us,” which should instantly raise the blood pressure of anyone who’s ever wasted hours of their life on hold to fix – or at least attempt to – a problem that’s already wasted too much time. Fueled by that all-too-common experience, the tune swings hard with a fervor born of equal parts frustration and an antic comic spirit. Special kudos to the rhythm section for its drive amidst the unexpected stops and starts.


From the playful to the poignant: Pintchik’s ballad “Mortal” was written, she says, “to express a sense of life’s fragility, beauty, and especially shortness.” A highlight of the set, “Mortal” showcases a fearless use of space and silence, and gorgeous heart-on-the-sleeve solos from Pintchik, Wilson, Horton and Hardy. (Of particular note is Horton’s flugelhorn solo, which is both beautiful and wrenching.) On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, “Happy Dog,” as its name suggests, is a cheerful tune. Shoko Nagai plays the melody in unison with Pintchik, and the samba-based rhythm provides a simpatico backdrop for the wonderfully frisky solos of Pintchik, Hardy and Takeishi.
Like Pintchik’s tunes, Edward Hopper’s paintings are renowned for suggesting stories not quite told in full within the confines of their canvases. A tune with a straight eighths time feel that features Shoko Nagai on accordion, “Hopperesque” was inspired by the iconic artist’s work, especially those paintings that depict people in the kind of threshold moments that provoke the viewer to wonder what happened before, and what might come after, the scene we’re presented with. “I’ve tried,” Pintchik says, “to capture that feeling of mystery.”One of the earliest tunes written for the album, “A Simpler Time” was inspired by the composer’s trip to the Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts, where she was touched by the rare adult cradles that she saw, used to soothe the elderly and infirm. Pintchik characterizes the piece as “an adult lullaby.” In his liner notes, Morrison writes “There’s an emotional maturity to it that seems to acknowledge that life itself is not simple, that we are often overwhelmed with hard choices and mixed emotions, and we have a universal need for kindness. As with so many of Leslie’s songs, the melody is memorable, but not simple.”Approaching the album’s standards with the same unique perspective and wry insight that she brings to her own tunes, Pintchik plays the jazz and pop standard “I’m Glad There Is You” as a bolero, which affords the melody of this love song a lot of breathing room. In his liner notes to the CD, Allen Morrison writes “It’s one of the most tender readings of this great song (by Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Madeira) that I’ve ever heard.” The Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach chestnut “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” is played as a samba, with an added catchy rhythmic hook that bookends the melody. This version features a wonderfully relaxed rhythm section that, in the ending tag, builds up a strong head of caffeinated Brazilian steam, before the rhythmic hook returns, and it’s over and out.

Leslie Pintchik Short Bio
Before embarking on a career in jazz, Leslie Pintchik was a teaching assistant in English literature at Columbia University, where she also received her Master of Philosophy degree in seventeenth-century English literature. She first surfaced on the Manhattan scene in a trio with legendary bassist Red Mitchell at Bradley’s, and in the ensuing years Pintchik formed her own trio which performs regularly at New York City jazz venues. Pintchik’s debut CD So Glad To Be Here was released in June 2004, followed by Quartets in 2007.

About So Glad To Be Here, Ken Micallef wrote in DownBeat “Pintchik’s music is fresh, full of light and instantly invigorating (4 stars).” In the fall of 2010, she released her third CD We’re Here To Listen, as well as a DVDLeslie Pintchik Quartet Live In Concert.  Jim Wilke, creator of the nationally syndicated “Jazz After Hours” radio show included We’re Here To Listen on his “Best CDs of 2010” list, and the jazz journalist and scholar W. Royal Stokes included both projects in his “Best of 2010” list. Pintchik’s fourth CD In The Nature Of Things was released on March, 2014. Steve Futterman, in The New Yorker magazine, called it “…one of the more captivating recordings to come out so far this year…”, and Gary Walker of WBGO jazz radio called it “…a gorgeous display of the trio.” In his review of Pintchik’s fifth CD True North-released in March, 2016-Dan Bilawsky in AllAboutJazz.com wrote “Leslie Pintchik’s music has a magical draw to itŠ Getting lost in this music is simply a joy. If 2016 has a more pleasurable listen to offer than True North, this writer hasn’t heard it yet. (4 1/2 stars)”

In addition to composing the music for her band, Leslie has also written the liner notes for some notable recent jazz CDs, including Duologue by saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash (on the MCG label), and Daybreak by pianist Bruce Barth (on the Savant label).

SOURCEAnn Braithwaite

Pianist/composer Hal Galper lands on solid ground in 2018 with his seventh project on Origin Records aptly titled CUBIST

With his focus on ‘the art of the trio’ since moving on from the Phil Woods Quintet in the late ’80s – the last decade incorporating his innovative development of trio ‘Rubato‘ playing into 7 albums on Origin Records – pianist Hal Galper made a major, personal musical statement in adding his old friend and saxophone titan Jerry Bergonzi to a late 2016 tour and live recording.

Diving into the ‘Rubato’ deep end with the trio, Bergonzi provided another dimension and added spark, opening unforeseen avenues to the trio and quickly becoming an integral part of Galper’s musical concepts going into the future. Thus, the Hal Galper Quartet, featuring Jerry Bergonzi! Recorded at Cleveland’s Tri-C, Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts, the quartet recorded live in an open session format with a small but involved audience.

Bassist Jeff Johnson contributed much of the music for the tour and four of the tracks for the recording. His tune title ‘Cubist,’ provided the implied visual of a subject with many parts out of place or overly-dramatized, offering new perspectives on a familiar image, and a fine metaphor for the music. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Expected Release Date: February 16, 2018

Pianist/composer Victor Gould returns with “Earthlings,” his highly anticipated sophomore album on Criss Cross

On his sophomore leader CD and Criss Cross debut, pianist Victor Gould joined throughout by bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Eric McPherson, with guest appearances by Tim Warfield on soprano saxophone, Godwin Louis on alto saxophone, and percussionist Khalil Kwame Bell presents a diverse, well-paced program comprised of originals and a cohort off-the-beaten-track numbers from the Great Jazz Songbook.

Gould has spent consequential time apprenticing in groups led by such modern masters as Donald Harrison, Ralph Peterson, Terri Lyne Carrington and Wallace Roney, and you can hear it in his fresh, harmonically erudite approach to the repertoire, which he addresses and inhabits on its own terms of engagement while retaining an entirely 21st century perspective. ~Editorial Review  | Amazon

Expected Release: February 16, 2018 

HAPPY NEW YEAR JAZZ ENTHUSIASTS!! 

Greetings music aficionados, first of all, I’m truly grateful for your time visiting Nouveauflux Music in 2017.  Regardless of the challenging and uncertain times, we’re faced with, we can count on God, family, close friends and great jazz to lift us up with encouragement as we endure these struggles.

Although, some may say otherwise 2017 was indeed a fruitful year for releasing quality jazz by familiar voices and emerging new artists as well. With that said, I’m sure creative musicians in 2018 will meet the challenge and surprise us with even more inspiring music.

Finally, prayerfully in the coming NEW YEAR, one of my goals is to do better in regards to writing more jazz reviews and posting more music-related content! Thanks again, and may all of you have a safe, peaceful and prosperous 2018!

Acclaimed guitarist/composer Julian Lage returns in 2018 with Modern Lore on Mack Avenue

Modern Lore finds Lage playfully flipping the script he followed on his acclaimed 2016 Mack Avenue debut, Arclight. That album — produced, like Modern Lore, by Lage’s friend and collaborator, the singer-songwriter Jesse Harris — was his first trio set on electric guitar and found Lage inspired by the sounds and the attitude of the freewheeling, pre-bebop jazz era, when, as he puts it, “country music and jazz and swing were in this weird wild-west period.”

This time he incorporates the sensibility, if not the outright sound, of early rock and roll, a similarly hybrid form driven by rhythm, personality and a passion for the electric guitar.

~SOURCE: Mack Avenue

BIGYUKI (Talib Kweli, Matisyahu & A Tribe Called Quest Collaborator) Announces Debut Album Reaching For Chiron

Available February 2 on Likely Records

Featuring: Chris Turner, Bilal, Taylor McFerrin, 
Marcus Gilmore, Louis Cato, Randy Runyon,
Justin Tyson, 
J. Ivy, Reuben Cainer, Bae Bro,
Stu Brooks, Javier Starks, 
Celia Hatton
Torn between the ferocity of the equine and the civility of man, Chiron was considered to be the noblest of the centaurs. His front legs were not of a horse but of a man. He trotted about mythological worlds as a refined anomaly, forged with the best traits of both beasts. For keyboardist and songwriter BIGYUKI we are all on the verge of that transformation with our digital devices amplifying and polishing our intellects. His debut album Reaching For Chiron is a perfect synthesis of heart and technology, heavy beats and buoyant melodies.
“We don’t memorize phone numbers anymore. We don’t memorize maps. It’s like a part of the brain now,” says BIGYUKI. “There is an ongoing discussion about AI creating a god or summoning a devil. I kind of feel like in the near future there is no way a human will develop themselves without help from AI. It’s a unity between human and machine.”
BIGYUKI is naturally the perfect embodiment of that modern man. Raised in Japan, he moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music. Up until that point, a majority of his keyboard experience had been with the classical masters. “Playing classical music I learned how to depart from this realm. Me becomes not me. That’s when I learned that. I love Chopin. I could really relate as my young self. He has beautiful melodies. I loved it. I think that part is still in me. Whatever music I play, it’s always there.”
Not long after arriving in Massachusetts, BIGYUKI began to see the changes, expanding and acquiring the knowledge that would create his powerhouse sound. An encounter with the much sought-after drummer Charles Haynes at Wally’s Cafe landed BIGYUKI a church gig in the Boston suburb of Dorchester, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the state. “People seemed to like my enthusiasm, attitude and maybe my playing. I didn’t know any songs but I have an ear that doesn’t suck. I can figure it out.” And he did. He played that gig for six years, lasting far longer at the church than at the college. “That really kind of gave me a sense that maybe where you are from and what your background is doesn’t really matter.”
A move to New York helped to solidify BIGYUKI’s transformation. He worked regularly with hip-hop artists like Talib Kweli and Matisyahu and made numerous contributions to the long-awaited return from A Tribe Called Quest. All of these elements — Chopin, jazz, gospel, hip-hop — reside between the keys on BIGYUKI’s debut, trampling anyone who stands in the way.
The album opens by tuning into an intergalactic transmission with the ethereal “Pom Pom,” a malleable swim through space dust that is engulfed in a storm of synths, Randy Runyon’s panic attack-inducing guitar and drummer Justin Tyson’s driving hi-hat. Despite its intensity, “‘Pom Pom was one of the simpler ones,” BIGYUKI explains.
He gets an assist from Taylor McFerrin on two tracks. “Eclipse” features vocalist Chris Turner in a swoony mood, crooning poet J. Ivy’s impassioned lyrics over drummer Louis Cato’s thundering presence. Drummer Marcus Gilmore sprinkles the funk on “Missing Ones,” a chill-out crawl that blinks breathlessly from the atmosphere.
“Coming up with the bass lines and the changes was the easy part. Harmonies and melodies are very simple but then coming up with a form? Figuring out how to make the four-minute piece interesting enough so that you don’t stop in the middle of it? That’s the hard part.” “Belong” and “In A Spiral” both showcase BIGYUKI’s more sensitive side.
“Belong” features some of BIGYUKI’s most delicate work on the album. Amid the clipped rhythms programmed by Reuben Cainer, BIGYUKI channels an inner calm that becomes even more stripped down on “In A Spiral,” a virtual cabaret performance amidst the unrelenting futurism found throughout the album.
“I wanted to come up with something that was straight fire. That was the idea. Let’s make something that hits people hard.” There isn’t any mystery to “Burnt N Turnt.” BIGYUKI is aiming straight for the club floor with help from producer Bae Bro. The two mix samples and synthesizers for a menacing spin. “Boom,” the duo’s second collaboration further along the record, is equally indebted to the heavy jam, vocal samples twisted into place by dense drum programming.
“It was after one of those taping sessions for Stephen Colbert’s late show. I was part of the house band for two months. I started jamming over my piano figure with Louis Cato and I recorded it on my phone.” That sample made its way into the final recording of “NuNu.” Drummer Lenny “The Ox” Reece lays down a skittering track that melds seamlessly with a distant vocal sample manipulation. There is a latin-ish vibe simmering beneath the surface throughout. “Reuben Cainer sprinkled a little bit of his flavor to it and the rest is blood and tears.”
BIGYUKI first worked with Bilal years ago. The soul singer is the main guest on “Soft Places” making the tune decidedly his own. “You know that it’s Bilal as soon as you hear his tone. He gives musicians such a freedom to stretch. He makes the music his playground.” With help from co-producer and sound designer Stu Brooks, BIGYUKI presents a post-apocalyptic love song that veers through time to create a soundscape that ears can easily tumble into.
“Simple Like You” puts hip-hop in the center of BIGYUKI’s universe. Javier Starks brings a swagger to the album that is refreshing and unexpected. A staccato riff keeps everyone on their toes while Celia Hatton’s top melody on viola packs a hard-left turn with a symphonic break.
The album closes with “2060 Chiron,” another floating collaboration with Cainer. An industrial pulse surrounds the futuristic song that is also incredibly indebted to the science fiction soundtracks of the 1980s. And as quickly as it arrives it goes, taking with it the future of BIGYUKI, the shape-shifting keyboardist, part man, part beast, all soul.
BIGYUKI · Reaching for Chiron

 Likely Records · Release Date: February 2, 2018

 
For more information on BIGYUKI, please visit: bigyuki.com
 
For more information on Likely Records, please visit: LikelyRecords.com

John Raymond & Real Feels Expand on Original Compositions & Indie-Rock Meets Jazz Arrangements for Sophomore Studio Album Joy Ride

Available February 9 on Sunnyside Records
“Mr. Raymond….has fluent technique 
and a strong but pliable tone…” – The New York Times
 
“He’s got an almost New Orleans-style flair that keeps the blues front and 
center at all times, and focuses on melody rather than 
explosions of virtuoso technique” – Stereogum
“Electrifyingly new and strangely familiar at the same time.
With his 
mix of modern sounds and old-fashioned feeling, Raymond
is steering 
jazz in the right direction.” – DownBeat
In the unfettered world of the jazz musician, having a long-time working group with a unique identity and sound is a rare thing. But for over four years now, Minnesota-born trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer John Raymond has done just that. His bass-less trio Real Feels, which includes guitarist Gilad Hekselman and drummer Colin Stranahan, evokes a sense of home, companionship and comfort that his Midwest roots might suggest. However, bringing together three musicians from three distinct musical backgrounds make the group a model of what defines American music — a melting pot of influences tied together by a close bond of warm-hearted kinship. Their newest album Joy Ride accomplishes this in its fullest sense.
The majority of the music on Joy Ride was written during a self-imposed, month-long retreat in which Raymond spent hours composing each day. Among the priorities for the music was Raymond’s desire to connect to his listeners, so rather than compose “heady” or complex songs, he focused on simplifying and writing music that people could sing along with. When the group was ready to record the new music, Raymond brought in Matt Pierson as producer to help streamline the recording process and help craft a stronger musical presentation.
John Raymond Photo Credit: Matthew Johnson 

The recording begins with the title track, “Joy Ride,” a jaunty original that keeps both the band and the listener on the edge of their seats for the entire tune. The group’s interpretation of Paul Simon’s “I’d Do It For Your Love” provides a perfect setting for Raymond’s flugelhorn on the sing-song melody and intriguing harmonic underpinning. Raymond’s “Follower” evokes a Radiohead-esque vibe, with a steady groove and winding, mysterious melody. Justin Vernon’s music is a huge influence on Raymond, as he was in Eau Claire when Bon Iver was just in its nascent form. Taking hints from a live Bon Iver performance in Brooklyn, the trumpeter rearranged “Minnesota, WI” into an incredibly poignant and resonant piece which features Hekselman stretching over his own guitar loops. The group’s take on the hymn “Be Still, My Soul” starts out calm but gradually becomes more edgy and dissonant, ending with a collectively improvised release of acoustic and electronic sounds.

The bare, yet moving original “Fortress” further reinforces Raymond’s indie-rock influences. Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” is a perfect pop song set up with a repetitive guitar riff that the group modulates both harmonically and metrically throughout. Raymond’s soulful “En Route” is a lighthearted piece that breezily traverses the musical back roads. A tribute to a Minnesota legend, Raymond’s pastoral take on Bob Dylan’s iconic “The Times They Are A-Changin'” (to this day, still a powerful political statement) subtly shifts and bends, yet retains, the essential sentiment of the song. The recording concludes with “Hymn,” a duo performance with Hekselman leaving the listener with yet another simple and sincere melody resonating in their ears.
“From the very beginning this band has had a special connection, not only to each other but also to listeners — both jazz and non-jazz inclined,” Raymond states. “The process of recording this album gave way to an even more tangible realization of this connection, and upon completion we all remarked to each other how unique this music was going to be.” The urge to create a band with a deep chemistry was of high importance to John Raymond. The desire to play music that develops a unique and memorable connection to the listener was also a priority. Both of these are on full display in Joy Ride, a distinctive and highly listenable new recording that will further establish Raymond and the group as an important voice in jazz today.
About John Raymond & Real Feels
Originally from Minneapolis, MN, John Raymond grew to appreciate musicians who wanted not only a connection with their audience but also with their associates on the bandstand and, taking this to heart, the trumpeter applied the sentiment when he created his own band, Real Feels.
Raymond moved to New York City after spending some time time studying music in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He was able to establish himself in the New York scene playing alongside well-known musicians like Billy Hart, Orrin Evans, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dan Tepfer and Linda May Han Oh among others. He also began to establish himself as a bandleader by releasing four albums since 2012, all of which receiving critical acclaim including nods from the Stereogum, New York Times, and Downbeat Magazine who named him a Rising Star Trumpeter in 2016.
Raymond formed Real Feels in 2014 by piecing together a trio comprised of flugelhorn, guitar and drums. Influenced by albums done by Art Farmer and Jim Hall, as well as the collaborations of Ron Miles, Bill Frisell and Brian Blade, Raymond called guitarist Gilad Hekselman who was a frequent contributor in Raymond’s past projects. Raymond’s decision to play as a trio without a bassist allowed Hekselman free reign to interpret the harmony of the compositions any way he chose. Providing the glue between Hekselman’s harmony and Raymond’s melody would be drummer Colin Stranahan, a formidable but elastic timekeeper who had an instant connection with Raymond and Hekselman. Together, the group would go on to release two albums in 2016, the self-titled Real Feels and a live follow up Real Feels: Live, Vol. 1.
John Raymond & Real Feels Upcoming 2018 Tour Dates:
January 17 – 18 / Indiana University Residency / Bloomington, IN
January 19 / Rudy’s Jazz Room / Nashville, TN
January 20 / The Velvet Note / Atlanta, GA
January 21 / White Horse Black Mountain / Asheville, NC
February 7 / Jazz Standard / New York, NY
February 10 / The Liberty / Cincinnati, OH
February 11 / Mabel Tainter Theater / Menomonie, MN
February 12 / The Icehouse / Minneapolis, MN
February 13 / Jazz Showcase / Chicago, IL
February 14 – 15 / Luther College Residency / Decorah, IA
February 16 / The Mill / Iowa City, IA
February 17 / Noce / Des Moines, IA
April 4 / Twins Jazz Club / Washington, D.C.
April 5 / The Bop Stop / Cleveland, OH
April 6 / Cliff Bells / Detroit, MI
April 7 / BLU Jazz / Akron, OH
May 10 / The Dark Room / St. Louis, MO
May 11 / Dazzle Jazz / Denver, CO
May 12 / The Nash / Phoenix, AZ
May 14 – 15 / Blue Whale / Los Angeles, CA
John Raymond & Real Feels · Joy Ride
Sunnyside Records · Release Date: February 9, 2018
 
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For more information on John Raymond & Real Feels, please visit: JohnRaymondMusic.net

THIEFS RELEASE GRAFT, A MUSICAL-POETIC TREATISE ON IDENTITY AND MIGRATION (out January 26, 2018 on jazz&people)

Follow-up to the band’s celebrated 2013 debut features
bassist Keith Witty, saxophonist Christophe Panzani
drummer David Frazier, Jr

Mike Ladd, Gaël Faye and other poet MCs appear, with pianist Aaron Parks & original Thiefs member Guillermo E. Brown expanding group’s sonic parameters

Hailed by The New York Times for its “startling mash of natural and synthetic, resonant and fractured,” and by JazzTimes for “transcending the concept of idiom altogether,” Thiefs returns with Graft, an evocative odyssey informed by jazz, hip-hop, electronic, experimental music and more. The subject matter, so pertinent in this political moment, is identity, dislocation, migration, and otherness. “‘Graft’ is the idea of being augmented, stripped bare, transformed by cultural experiences, by places, by the movement of people,” bassist and co-leader Keith Witty explains. “It refers to the mixing of roots, sometimes violently, sometimes quietly and unremarkably.”

Saxophonist/reedist and Thiefs co-leader Christophe Panzani elaborates: “From the violence of the cutting of the branch, and that inflicted on the host by this forced addition, is born a new, unexpected, previously unheard-of element. The botanical analogy applies to human destinies.” Given this, the introductory leadoff track functions as a subtitle for the album as a whole: “The Limbs They Acquired Over Years and Continents.”

To the band’s instrumental core of bassist Witty, saxophonist Panzani and newly recruited drummer David Frazier, Jr. (each credited on electronics as well), Thiefs has added the riveting hip-hop poetic verse of Mike Ladd and the Parisian-Rwandan Gaël Faye, with poet MCs Grey Santiago and Edgar Sekloka appearing on the panoramic “Beat One.”

Original Thiefs drummer/vocalist Guillermo E. Brown, an unforgettable presence on the group’s eponymous debut, returns for the eerie and adventurous “Anthro.” And the acclaimed Aaron Parks, on acoustic piano but also a bit of Butterfly Wurlitzer on “Beat One,” brings Thiefs’ orchestrational concept to the next level, playing a subtly coloristic role on six tracks.

Graft is the end result of a 2015 residency Panzani undertook at L’Arsenal, a performing arts center in Metz, France, near the German border. “I wanted to do a project with Thiefs featuring some poet rappers,” Panzani recalls. “I zeroed in on the idea of déraciné and re-raciné — ‘uprooted’ and ‘re-rooted’ — and the way people and populations get shuffled around and become different. I wanted to offer that topic to these poets, and use it as a compositional framework. We did the residency, everyone you hear on the album was there, and we all had the feeling that this was too good, that we had to keep it going.”

The band members embodied the very concepts they were exploring: “We scanned the room,” says Witty, “and realized that everybody in this band is a transplant, everybody is mixed. I’m the Irish Jew in New York, Christophe is the Italian in France, Gaël is the Rwandan in France, Mike is the black American living in Paris.” Panzani adds: “Each member of the group has family histories of displacement, so it was easy for everyone to jump into this subject and be very personal and honest.”

In some cases the poets were given specific ideas that would guide or inform their original lyrics: “With ‘I Live in Fear,’ I templated it, I said, ‘This is how I want it to go’,” Witty remembers. “Even just the opening line, ‘I Live in Fear,’ I wanted it to be a clear, openhearted statement of terror regarding one’s otherness in society… not even about why, just what it feels like.” Ladd’s cool, offhanded delivery and striking sociopolitical reference points mark him as “a jazz musician of words,” as Witty calls him. “A lot of poets use jazz frameworks but Mike is the only one I know who’s a real improviser and that’s his strength. I think he’s our greatest living jazz poet.”

Witty and Panzani each wrote roughly half of the compositions on Graft. One hears a rhythmic hybridity that speaks to the album’s theme of dislocation. Texturally, the mix of electric and acoustic, with jazz trio ensconced in a larger and less familiar grouping, makes it beguiling and uncommonly ambitious.

After the polyrhythmic pulse of the opening “I Live in Fear” comes the rock-like energy of Panzani’s “Fields,” which Ladd devours. “Mike is a rock poet too,” Witty notes. “He’s got a lot of punk rock influence. And if you dig into those lyrics about the displacement of the African diaspora, the list of slave ports at the end — he really delivered the song to its most potent conclusion.”

The three-part “Pas d’ici” (“not from here”) came about via the Metz residency. “We wanted to make good use of the ensemble and its versatility,” says Witty. “We made sure to switch the duets up: nobody could get too comfortable with their duo partner.” Four or five variations in the live setting proved too much, so they were narrowed to two: one between Faye and Frazier, the other between Ladd and Aaron Parks. “Mike being the total abstractionist that he is, he and Aaron did a full-on improvisation,” Witty marvels. “Those words had never been spoken before.” Part III, coming at the end, is finally the trio itself, pointing toward at least temporary closure.

Panzani contributes the slower, woodwind-enhanced “I.W.B.A.H.” and the rhythmically multilayered “The Leaf Node,” reinforcing the botanical imagery of the theme. The leaf node is the start of the vein network in a leaf, its irrigation system. Faye’s accompanying lyrics relate to being a boy growing up in nature, a theme he explored in his well-known young adult novel, Petit Pays (“little country”), recently a bestseller in France.

These references deepen the fundamental inquiry into our basic humanity expressed in Graft. As Sekloka sums up so eloquently in “Beat One” (translated from the French): “Infinite miscegenation … I will become that thing tomorrow, that I do not know today… identity is in motion… identity is a movement.”

RELEASE DATE:
JANUARY 26TH, 2018

SOURCE: Fully Altered Media