Geoffrey Keezer Returns to Piano Trio with On My Way to You – Available June 22

Keezer is Joined by Bassist Mike Pope, Drummer Lee Pearson
& Special Guest Vocalist Gillian Margot (on Five Songs)

 

 

Geoffrey Keezer’s peers and elders have considered him a master of the piano trio function since he burst on the scene as a 17-year-old wunderkind in 1988, when he made the first of 22 albums as a leader or co-leader. Surprisingly, Keezer has devoted few of those dates to the piano-bass-drums format, as he does on his latest, the self-released On My Way to You, serving as a major contribution to the idiom.

 

Throughout the dazzlingly intense proceedings, Keezer upholds a remark Christian McBride made in 2005 on the occasion of Keezer’s previous trio recording, Wildcrafted: Live At The Dakota: “Of all the pianists from our generation, Geoffrey is the one I always have to listen to twice,” McBride told DownBeat. “I’m not always sure it’s him, because he never repeats himself. Technically, I don’t believe there’s anything on the piano he can’t play. And in terms of interpretation, he comes up with the most brilliant ideas that you could ever think of.”

 

For On My Way to You, Keezer convened bassist Mike Pope, a member of his sparkling co-led quartet with vibraphone master Joe Locke, and drummer Lee Pearson, his bandmate in Chris Botti’s high-profile group for many years. They perform on nine selections, five of them with the individualistic, communicative singer Gillian Margot, whose last album, Black Butterfly, inspired the L.A. Jazz Weekly to remark that “her honey-toned voice delivers hints of a young Aretha Franklin.” That vibration comes through on the penultimate track, a Keezer-Margot duo on Ewan MacColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” before Keezer concludes with solo ruminations on the Beatles’ “Across The Universe,” then summons the trio to join him on John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance.”

 

Throughout the proceedings, Keezer applies his formidable technique, harmonic knowledge, rhythmic ingenuity, abiding soulfulness, and rigorous logic to conjure fresh approaches to new and old standards and several originals. Stevie Wonder’s “These Three Words,” a gospel-influenced pop ballad written for the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, is addressed as a 3/4 waltz. Keezer drew on John Coltrane’s anthemic “Dear Lord” as inspiration for the double-time swing feel he superimposes on Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic ballad, “May This Be Love,” from the 1967 album Are You Experienced?.

 

Keezer interpolates a plugged-in nod to Miles Davis’ early ‘70s funk-jazz hit “On The Corner” in the middle section of his quirky, irreverent arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “Brilliant Corners,” and then, over a drum’n’bass beat, uncorks a turbulent, precise piano solo that never strays far from the melody. He slows the pace on a highly reharmonized, phantasmagoric treatment of the oft-played American Songbook chestnut “All The Things You Are,” gradually building a steamy groove that propels a transition into Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Serpentine Fire.”

 

On the collaborations with Margot, Keezer touches on elements of love, longing and desire. As an example, consider how Keezer’s nuanced touch complements Margot as they navigate the ascendant arc of “Red Leaf,” an elegiac, affirmative song on which he collaborated with author Michael Perry, a fellow Wisconsin native. Piano and voice achieve an uncanny mind-meld on the co-composed “You Stay With Me” — Margot projects her magnificent contralto to equally compelling effect both when conveying her tender, sensuous lyric and then improvising in dialogue with the piano during the latter section. They also co-wrote the percolating “Guanajuato” (named for the Central Mexican city where they performed a duo concert several years ago), on which the protagonists engage in a protracted, intuitive musical conversation.

 

“Writing music together with someone is relatively new for me,” Keezer says. “I’ve always been fiercely autonomous as a composer. But I’m at a place now where collaborating is highly productive and rejuvenating.”

 

SOURCE: DLMediaMusic
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MARCUS MILLER RETURNS WITH NEW ALBUM “LAID BLACK” OUT JUNE 1

Bass great Marcus Miller brings the influence of modern urban music to his trademark sound on his highly-anticipated, genre-defying new album Laid Black, which will be released June 1 on Blue Note Records. The album pre-order launched today along with the lead single “Untamed” which is available to stream or download now.

It’s been three years since Miller’s last album, Afrodeezia, which The New York Times called “vibrant and expressive… music that frames his playing beautifully.” Miller says: “Afrodeezia was like a musical voyage through my history. I followed the journey of my ancestors by collaborating with musicians along the African Slave route – musicians from West Africa, North Africa, South America and the Caribbean. With Laid Black, I decided to bring the music right up to the present – using elements from what’s happening in urban music today. So you’ll hear hip-hop, trap, soul, funk, R&B and jazz on this album. The music is calm but also powerful and funky, drawing on the black musical experience. Laid Black.

Miller recorded most of the nine tracks on Laid Black with his band in a New York studio and also recruited guest artists Trombone Shorty, Kirk Whalum, Take Six, Jonathan Butler, and Belgian singer Selah Sue. Of his band, Miller says: “My guys are incredibly talented. They play everything from bebop to hip-hop. All of the special guests I called have the same vision about jazz, which made it possible to create this mix of music. Oh and if you like bass, there’s plenty of serious bass work on this album too!”

Anyone who has listened to Miller’s music or experienced his concerts live knows that they are in for quite a treat. Miller’s powerful, jazz/funk bass playing is out in full force with this album – pushing boundaries and taking jazz to new levels. Miller, along with his incredible band of young musicians, will be sure to excite, challenge and transport audiences.

Miller has one of the most enviable and expansive musical careers in the industry. He is a two-time GRAMMY Award winner, winner of Holland’s Edison Award for Lifetime Achievement In Jazz (2013), winner of France’s Victoire du Jazz (2010), and he was appointed a UNESCO Artist For Peace in 2013.

Born and raised in New York to a musical family (legendary jazz pianist Wynton Kelly is a cousin), Miller’s characteristic bass sound can be heard on a limitless catalog of hits including Bill Withers’ “Just The Two Of Us,” Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much,” Aretha Franklin’s “Jump To It,” Snoop Dogg’s “Gz and Hustlas,” and Jay-Z’s “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” and Beyoncé’s “All Night.” to songs from Chaka Khan, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Elton John, and Bryan Ferry, to name a few. With his distinctive style—a unique combination of funk, groove, soul and pure technical skills—Miller has been referred to as one of the most significant bass players in jazz, R &B, fusion and soul.

Miller’s rich resume of collaborations include a 15-year songwriting and production partnership with Vandross which resulted in 13 consecutive platinum albums (of which Miller co-produced seven), as well as partnerships with artists as varied as David Sanborn, Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, George Benson, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter, to name a few. Most notable, after several years of touring in Miles Davis’ band in his early 20’s, Miller composed, produced and arranged the ground-breaking album and title song Tutu, which won two GRAMMY Awards and is considered one of the definitive late Miles Davis albums.

Miller has an endless list of film and television credits to his name. Most recently, he composed the music for the Oscar-nominated film Marshall (2017) directed by Reginald Hudlin and starring Chadwick Boseman as a young Thurgood Marshall and Emmy award-winning actor Sterling Brown. Miller composed the soundtrack to the now classic sitcom, Everybody Hates Chris, created by Chris Rock. Miller is also responsible for the soundtracks on landmark cultural classics such as Boomerang (featuring Eddie Murphy and Halle Berry), House Party (featuring Kid N’ Play), and he wrote “Da Butt,” the song that inspired the national dance craze from Spike Lee’s 1988 cult classic School Daze.

Miller broadcasts two weekly radio shows, Miller Time With Marcus Miller on SiriusXM which airs on Sunday evenings and Transatlantic Jazz With Marcus Miller which broadcasts each Wednesday in the UK on Jazz FM.

Miller is also the official host of several sold-out jazz cruises each year, put on by Entertainment Cruise Productions, including Blue Note at Sea, which sails next on January 26, 2019, featuring a stellar line-up including Miller, Robert Glasper, Terence Blanchard, Wynton Marsalis, and more. Miller has a global tour planned behind the release of Laid Black with concerts scheduled worldwide.

Visit marcusmiller.com for more details.

MARCUS MILLER – TOUR DATES:

June 1 – Capital Jazz Festival @ Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD

June 11 – SFJAZZ – San Francisco, CA

June 15 – Pittsburgh International Jazz Fest – Pittsburgh, PA

July 1 – Eddie Rosner Stage – Lviv, Ukraine

July 3 – Theatre Antique – Vienne, France

July 5 – Open Air Stage Jacka Hotel – Wadowice, Poland

July 7 – Ulmer Zelt – Ulm, Germany

July 8 – Prairie Du Bois D’Hyver – Fontainebleau, France

July 10-12 – Ronnie Scott’s – London, UK

July 13 – North Sea Jazz Festival – Rotterdam, Netherlands

July 15 – Dracula Club – St. Moritz, Switzerland

July 17 – Scala Ludwigsburg – Stuttgart, Germany

July 19 – La Pinede Gould – Antibes, France

July 20 – Cour D”Honneur Du Chateau Des Ducs De Savoie – Chambery, France

July 21 – Anfiteatro – Pompei, Italy

July 24 – Castello Di Udine – Udine, Italy

July 25 – Anfiteatro Del Vittoriale – Gardone, Italy

July 26 – Piazza Napoleone – Lucca, Italy

July 27 – Jardin Christian Dio – Granville, France

July 28 – Parc De L’Abbaye De Leffe – Dinant, Belgium

July 30 – Circus Tent on the Rugby Stadium – Marciac, France

August 9 – BAM R&B Festival at MetroTech – Brooklyn, NY

August 11 – Long Beach Jazz Festival – Long Beach, CA

September 2 – Detroit Jazz Festival – Detroit, MI

November 8 – Ardmore Music Hall – Ardmore, PA

November 9 – Exit Zero Jazz Festival – Cape May, NJ

November 10 – NJPAC – Newark, NJ

November 26 – Arena Sports – Gliwice, Poland

November 27 – Poznan Congress Center – Poznan, Poland

November 28 – Arena Sports – Gdynia, Poland

November 29 – Torwar – Warszawa, Poland

November 30 – Orbita Sports Hall – Wroclaw, Poland

December 2 – Opera House – Monaco, Monaco

December 3 – Palais Des Sports – Paris, France

December 5 – Salle De La Madeleine – Brussels, Belgium

December 7 – Thonex Live – Geneva, Switzerland

January 26-February 2, 2019 – Blue Note at Sea

February 2-9, 2019 – Smooth Jazz Cruise 2019

February 23-March 2, 2019 – Smooth Jazz Cruise 2019

SOURCE: Blue Note Records

IDRIS ACKAMOOR ☥ THE PYRAMIDS RECORD RELEASE SHOW with SK KAKRABA and DJ CARLOS NIÑO ZEBULON Thursday & Friday May 24–25, 2018

“The new album is complete fire — right in the moment”
– Gilles Peterson
IDRIS ACKAMOOR & THE PYRAMIDS RECORD RELEASE SHOW
Zebulon
2478 N Fletcher Dr.
Thursday ☥  Friday · May 24–25
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Idris Ackamoor☥The Pyramids will celebrate their acclaimed new album on STRUT RECORDS, “AN ANGEL FELL” with a Record Release Party & Concert THURSDAY andFRIDAY, MAY 24-25 at ZEBULON. The band will also perform music from their lauded 2016 release ‘WE BE ALL AFRICANS”! All Music and Lyrics Composed and Arranged by Idris Ackamoor made possible by the Gerbode Foundation’s 2016 – 2017 Composers Commission for Award.

“AN ANGEL FELL” is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2016 release, “WE BE ALL AFRICANS” which was celebrated by NPR PUBLIC RADIO. “It’s more like a Central African nightclub…or downtown Manhattan or Chicago’s South Side in the late ’60s and early ’70s, where free-improvising saxophones met electronics and rock music and Sly Stone amid the urgency of the civil rights struggle.” “AN ANGEL FELL” has already been called a “MASTERPIECE” by Andrew Matmusic and “The new album is complete fire — right in the moment” by noted DJ Gilles Peterson.

“AN ANGEL FELL” is a “concept” album for the 21st Century with each track building on the other and unified by a common narrative. Produced, recorded, and mixed August 14 – 18, 2017 by Malcolm Catto at Quatermass Sound Lab, London, UK. Strut Records now once again brings the band together for another new side of intergalactic jazz funk, afro-beat grooves and hypnotic licks. “Like Fela and Sun Ra had a massive party and the whole world was invited. And everyone was blissed out and happy. All the time. Forever….”

THE PYRAMIDS was founded close to FIFTY YEARS AGO in 1972! Alto saxophonist Ackamoor had originally left his hometown of Chicago to study music at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, where his teachers numbered legendary pianist Cecil Taylor. Via the Antioch Abroad Program, Ackamoor landed a year’s study overseas in 1972, which allowed him, and two Antioch students, to travel to Europe and Africa where he co — founded THE PYRAMIDS. The trip took in a musical spiritual journey up into Northern Ghana, the land of the Fra Fra of Bolgatanga and the Islam-influenced Dagomba in Tamale, where Ackamoor taped some field recordings. “We played with the King’s musicians in Tamale. I also undertook a healing ceremony in the bush of Bolgatanga with a Fra Fra traditional healer (a Juju Man).”

“If Alice Coltrane is for your chiropractor’s office, and Sun Ra is for your dorm, then The Pyramids are for the back room of a hidden meeting of the Masons in a nondescript building down by the Greyhound station. In a genre kept alive by people who thrive on knowing the unknown,
The Pyramids are deeply unknowable.”
– Carvell Wallace, MTV News
Sk Kakraba was born in Saru, a small farming community in the northern region of Ghana, an area known for its many great xylophone players. He undertook traditional training in xylophone from a young age. When he was very young he was always listening to xylophonists play and he would grab the beaters and start to learn what he heard them play, especially when his family members were performing. When SK played something incorrectly, he was shown the right way. Most of his family are also gyil players, in addition to his uncle Kakraba Lobi, one of the first gyil players to tour, lecture and record internationally.  Over time, he learned a large repertoire and became a working master of the instrument.

He kept learning until Lobi brought SK to Accra to work as a performer and instructor at the International Center for African Music at the University of Ghana. As SK puts it, “When I moved to Accra in 1997, I was around 20, I had to make money for myself so I strapped on my xylophone and carried it around Central Accra or the zongos (Muslim ghettoes) and markets and people would throw money on the instrument. I made a living that way.” In the year 2000-2001, SK began touring internationally to share his culture, performing in Jordan, Switzerland, and seven African countries. In 2002, he released his first recording Gandayina: Xylophone Music of Ghana (Pentatonic Press). In 2012 SK relocated to Los Angeles and began working with local musicians to create a new blend of traditional and modern music. He also began performing for children in schools and giving workshops to American music teachers. He is working on a book with Doug Goodkin of Gyil music adaptable to Orff instruments.

Having completed his first European tour (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin amongst others), he performed at the 2016 World Music Festival in Chicago, Illinois. Just recently SK opened for two legendary musicians – Lee Scratch Perry and U Roy, both times at the Echo-plex in Los Angeles.

​​​​​​​

Carlos Gabriel Niño is an internationally celebrated producer, arranger, composer, musician, radio host, DJ, music consultant, writer, poet, and event organizer, based in his hometown of Los Angeles, California. He has been an important force in the contemporary independent music scene since 1995. A prolific artist, Niño has been involved in the production of more than 100 records and has toured with various bands and as a DJ throughout Europe, Japan and the United States.

SOURCE: STEPHEN BUONO PUBLICITY

Renowned Bassist Stanley Clarke Celebrates 45 Years Since Debut Album as a Leader with The Message, Available June 29 on Mack Avenue Records

Longtime Touring Band of Young Innovative
Collaborators Hunkered Down in Paris to Write Album
While Tour was Delayed due to Tunisian Terror Attacks
Album Features Cameron Graves,
Beka Gochiashvili, and Mike Mitchell Alongside
Special Guests Doug E. Fresh, Steve Blum, Skeyler Kole,
Trevor Wesley, Mark Isham, and Doug Webb

 

“Stanley Clarke is the reason you love music…
Conventional hagiography rightfully insists that Clarke liberated
the bass from the confines of steady rhythmic accompaniment. He proved
the bass slap could be a lead weapon, as dynamic as the electric guitar wail. Yet that doesn’t quite capture the full scope of Clarke’s chimerical imagination.” — Jeff Weiss, VICE Noisey

 

45 years after his album debut, four-time Grammy® Award-winning bassist Stanley Clarke shows he is still unapproachable on both the electric and acoustic, wielding a vision of fusion and funk, breakbeats and bass-interpreted cello suites with a little help from friends like rapper/beatboxer Doug E. Fresh and trumpeter Mark Isham. Backed by a young versatile band and a collection of tunes written in the midst of a tumultuous tour of Europe, The Message (available June 29 via Mack Avenue Records) swells with an abundance of strength, soul and astounding musicianship.
“I’m very excited about our work on this album. I wanted to include some of my band members’ contributions and the result is an album that is funky, melodic, musical, contemporary and fresh with a rich multi-genre influence,” Clarke commented. “The guys in this band are consummate young musicians with musical spirits that are very old.”
In 2015 Clarke brought a band through Europe consisting of keyboardists Cameron Graves and Beka Gochiashvili and drummer Mike Mitchell. When a terrorist attack in Tunisia prevented the band from continuing their tour (which was scheduled to go there next), they opted to hunker down in Paris and compose.
“We were in this great hotel and the owner was a fan,” remembers Clarke. “I said, ‘Can you put these three guys in a room where no one can hear them?’ He found a room and after two days, they wrote compositions that reflected their worldview and included their versatility in many different musical genres. A lot of this stuff I would have never written in a million years.”
A few days later the band entered ICP Studios in Belgium and recorded an abundance of material. Clarke returned to his home in Los Angeles with the tapes and began to tinker. “Once I got the raw material, I fleshed it out. My ability is to orchestrate and arrange. I’m very good with taking anything and turning it into something.”
Much of the material from their Paris adventure is collected on this album but the affair opens with a homegrown homage to several soulful great friends that Clarke has lost in the last few years including George Duke, Al Jarreau, Tom Petty, Leon “Ndugu” Chancler and Prince. Clarke slaps out a funky riff for “And Ya Know We’re Missing You” while renowned beatboxer Doug E. Fresh lays down an intrepid beat. A rare pairing that seems instinctual upon first listen.
“After the Cosmic Rain/Dance of the Planetary Prince” encompasses Clarke’s entire career and is the first on the album from those European sessions. The basis of the tune was written in the early ‘70s for his band Return to Forever, but this time the Planetary Prince is keyboardist Cameron Graves. The young keyboardist, a member of the West Coast Get Down phenomenon, has toured with Clarke for many years. His fleet-fingered tornado is the focal point of the performance. “Cameron played one of the most amazing synthesizer solos I heard in a long time. I had gotten blown out on synthesizer solos from all the fusion days in the ‘70s, but Cameron came up with a warm beautiful solo. One of the best synth solos I’ve heard in 10 or 15 years.”
Amid the barrage of drums and basses on “The Rugged Truth” is Gochiashvili, a native of Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, who has toured with Clarke for the past five years. His piano solos in this piece hold a breathless array of eclectic ideas and impeccable technique, integrating seamlessly with Graves’ battalion of keys.
Now 21-years-old, Beka Gochiashvili was an award-winning child jazz piano prodigy and has already performed with many of the jazz greats of our time. He was brought to the US in 2008 with the help of Condoleezza Rice, then Secretary of State and an accomplished pianist herself. Rice brought Gochiashvili to New York to participate in auditions at the Juilliard School and at the Manhattan School of Music. Not surprisingly, he was accepted in both schools. He has released two of his own albums, the most recent of which is Beck Logic Project: Chillin’ in Batums.
“Heavy, heavy heavy,” says Clarke with a smile speaking of Gochiashvili. “Beka is a tremendous solo pianist, who I predict one day will be as influential as Keith Jarrett. He is truly a hard worker and dedicated musician. I’m very impressed with him.”
The recognizable voice of Steve Blum narrates “Combat Continuum,” an 8-bit fusion fantasy that steps back beyond the galaxy and into a realm that burns with energy.
In a band full of powerhouses, young Texan drummer Mike Mitchell stands out as an incredible force. “He’s probably one of the most energetic drum geniuses that I have ever played with. I’ve never seen a guy that is so creative with drums. If he continues down this path, he could very easily be a Tony Williams or Elvin Jones,” says Clarke.
“The Message” and Bach’s “Cello Suites, No. 1” are two sides of the same coin for Clarke. He is as at home with the electric bass as he is with the upright. But they are still worlds apart. Here he ties them with an empathetic feel, virtuosic but controlled. “The Bach cello suite is like a serious thing to attempt. It’s a hard piece. I do it in the same key as the cello. I don’t change it to suit the bass or make it easier. I worked out the fingering and I’m just trying to make it sound pretty.”
The slow groove of “Lost In A World” is a laidback duet between vocalists Skeyler Kole and Trevor Wesley. Tight harmonies and Gochiashvili’s dreamy piano carry the tune on a cloud while “Alternative Facts” burns that same piano to the ground. The band is playful but centered. Gochiashvili shows off his acoustic chops with startling clarity and control.
“The Legend of Abbas and the Sacred Talisman” is a calming meditation from Clarke on upright bass and Gochiashvili’s piano. They dreamily float on the same wavelength, effortlessly drifting along as though they have played together for decades. The warmth and musicianship is undeniable as the ship points the way home to “Enzo’s Theme,” a track from the European session bolstered by the welcome additions of trumpeter Mark Isham and saxophonist Doug Webb.
The Message is unmistakably a Stanley Clarke record. Five decades of unapproachable bass mastery doesn’t come easy and Clarke has no interest in relinquishing his throne. Propelled by the youthfulness of his bandmates, Clarke reaches even deeper into his bag of tricks for an incredibly satisfying listen.
“Our message is simple. It is a message of love. There is nothing really profound about our message. It’s just love. A lot of artists have said it in their own way. This is ours.”
The Stanley Clarke Band · The Message
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: June 29, 2018

 

For more information on Stanley Clarke, please visit:

R+R=NOW NEW SINGLE “CHANGE OF TONE” OUT NOW; DREAM TEAM BAND TO PLAY CELEBRATE BROOKLYN, NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL & MORE

**NOT ORIGINAL ALBUM COVER*

Dream team band R+R=NOW has released “Change Of Tone,” the enticing lead track from their forthcoming debut album Collagically Speaking, which will be released June 15. “Change Of Tone,” which is available today to stream or download, moves with ease between its various sections and styles, highlighting each of this remarkable collective’s members along with vocal contributions by Goapele.

In an era when every headline carries some new horror or fresh worry, we need music that can clap back with immediacy, skill, and heart. We need a band so at home in its skin that it can play without ego and lead with love—artists whose very existence attests to resilience and hope. We need R+R=NOW, a supergroup assembled by Robert Glasper but functionally egalitarian, in no small part because its members are visionary players, composers, and producers on their own: Glasper on keys, Terrace Martin on synthesizer and vocoder, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah on trumpet, Derrick Hodge on bass, Taylor McFerrin on synth and beatbox, and newcomer Justin Tyson on drums. This genre-mashing outfit moves as one and, as their name reveals, with great purpose.

“R+R stands for ‘Reflect’ and ‘Respond’,” says Glasper. The idea came to him via Nina Simone while he was coproducing Nina Revisited, a companion album to the 2015 film What Happened, Miss Simone? Facing backlash for her politics, Simone was asked, more or less, why she didn’t just shut up and sing. Her answer: “an artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” Glasper adds: “When you reflect what’s going on in your time and respond to that, you can’t not be relevant. So ‘R’ plus ‘R’ equals ‘NOW’.”

In that spirit, Collagically Speaking isn’t some wonky thesis on the state of the nation. It’s a raw document that seamlessly adheres neo-soul to future-funk, West Coast jazz of the moment to astral electronica, instrumental hip-hop to musique concrète, avant-garde to classical—these are single-take songs, written live in the room, that go wherever this formidable crew’s mood goes. Guest voices get caught in that mix as well: actors Omari Hardwick (Power) and Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Expendables); actress Amanda Seales (Insecure); MCs Stalley and yasiin bey (f.k.a. Mos Def); and singers Amber Navran (of Moonchild) and Goapele. The themes that bind it all together are both spoken and inferred: romantic love, universal love, systemic bigotry, the women’s movement, quiet power, wild creativity, personal loss and growth.

The origin of the group came in 2017 when Glasper was asked to put together an all-star line-up for a SXSW show at Empire Control Room. With his history—producing for everyone from Common to Herbie Hancock to Seun Kuti, reinterpreting Miles Davis and Simone, exploding jazz boundaries with his Black Radio series—the Houston-born auteur could be choosy. Martin, of L.A., was best-known as a chief architect of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. NOLA native Scott turned heads with his socially charged 2017 Centennial trilogy, a comprehensive celebration of Africa’s sonic diaspora. Philly’s Hodge has scored for Spike Lee, music-directed for Maxwell, and won GRAMMYs alongside Glasper as the bassist on the Black Radio albums. McFerrin, born in Brooklyn, is Bobby McFerrin’s oldest son and rolls with Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder camp. Grand Rapids native Tyson plays with Esperanza Spalding and became the drummer in the Robert Glasper Experiment. Their diverse wealth of experience melded with profound ease.

“There was no rehearsal and no plan. Just a quick soundcheck,” says Glasper of R+R=NOW’s Austin debut. And yet, “We were vibing, listening to each other, and coming up with stuff on the spot that was so dope, when it was time to figure out what my next album for Blue Note would be, I was like, ‘We should do this.’ I needed to take that same band and method to the studio.”

So they came together for four days in Hollywood’s Henson Recording Studio, setting aside any expectation of what would come next. Fittingly, it was NBA All-Star Weekend, but despite being a veritable dream team themselves, Martin says, “everybody understood that the biggest ego in the room was the music. In that type of project, with that type of band, it’s easy for everyone to try and be jazz Olympic hero. The fact that we respected the air between us is something I think people will feel and see as an example: to display patience, to love each other, to move as one.”

R+R=NOW will play U.S. album release shows in Atlanta (Variety Playhouse, June 15), Washington DC (DC Jazz Fest, June 16), and Brooklyn (Celebrate Brooklyn, June 22) before launching an extensive European summer tour. The band will also perform a series of shows in Japan, and return to the US for additional dates in the late-Summer and Fall including an appearance at the Newport Jazz Festival on August 3. Further dates will be announced shortly.

R+R=NOW – TOUR DATES

May 13 – St. Lucia Jazz Festival – Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

June 15 – Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, GA

June 16 – DC Jazz Fest – Washington DC

June 22 – Celebrate Brooklyn – Brooklyn, NY

June 28 – Leopolis Jazz Festival – Lviv, Ukraine

June 30 – JazzTM – Timisoara, Romania

July 1 – La Defense – Paris, France

July 4 – Vienne Jazz Festival – Vienne, France

July 5 – Warsaw Summer Jazz Days – Warsaw, Poland

July 6 – Istanbul Jazz Festival – Istanbul, Turkey

July 7 – Locus Festival – Locorotondo, Italy

July 8 – Montreux Jazz Festival – Montreux, Switzerland

July 11 – Vicar Street – Dublin, Ireland

July 13 – North Sea Jazz Festival – Rotterdam, Netherlands

July 14 – Dour Festival – Dour, Belgium

July 15 – Citadel Festival – London, UK

July 16 – Shephed’s Bush Empire – London, UK

July 17 – Nice Jazz Festival – Nice, France

July 18 – Mode Jazz Festival – Molde, Norway

July 20 – Pori Jazz Festival – Pori, Finland

July 22 – Black Sea Jazz Festival – Batumi, Georgia

July 24 – Jazz Festival at Barts – Barcalona, Spain

July 26 – Heineken Jazzaldia – San Sebastian, Spain

August 3 – Newport Jazz Festival – Newport, RI

August 28-29 – Billboard Live – Tokyo, Japan

August 30 – Billboard live – Osaka, Japan

September 1 – Tokyo Jazz Festival – Tokyo, Japan

January 26-February 2, 2019 – Blue Note at Sea

Listen to the single release “CHANGE OF TONE” …..

SOURCE: Blue Note Records 

Ars Nova Workshop to Premiere Nels Cline and Lovers (for Philadelphia) Saturday, June 2 at Union Transfer

Wilco Guitar Virtuoso to Perform a One-Night-Only Love Letter to the City of Brotherly Love with Interpretations of Compositions by Philly-born Musicians Across Generations, Including McCoy Tyner, Paul Motian, Ethel Waters, The Delfonics, Uri Caine, and Eddie Lang
“One of the top 100 Guitarists of All Time”
Rolling Stone

(Philadelphia, PA) — Ars Nova Workshop, “Philadelphia’s most reliable and ambitious presenter of new jazz and improvised music” (Wire Magazine), is proud to present a new commission to be performed by Nels Cline, lead guitarist for the band Wilco and one of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists.”

Lovers (for Philadelphia)” has been created specifically for and inspired by Philadelphia, and is an expansion of Cline’s ravishing project “Lovers,” released on Blue Note Records in 2016, which “puts an elegant, knowing spin on orchestral jazz” (The New York Times). “Lovers (for Philadelphia)” will be performed on Saturday, June 2, at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street. Tickets ($20 standing room, $25 seated, $125 VIP) are now on sale.

“I have been dreaming about, planning, and re-working my rather obsessive idea for well over 25 years,” says Cline. “It is meant to be as personal in its sound and in its song selection as it is universal in its endeavor to assay or map the parameters of ‘mood’ as it once pertained, and currently pertains, to the peculiar and powerful connection between sound/song and intimacy/romance. In this, I hope ‘Lovers’ offers something of an update of the ‘mood music’ idea and ideal, while celebrating and challenging our iconic notion of romance.”

The first “book” of Lovers material featured originals by Cline along with renditions of love songs by a wild assortment of composers ranging from Rogers & Hammerstein to Hungarian gypsy jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo to noise-rock pioneers Sonic Youth. With support from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Ars Nova has taken Cline on a rich yearlong journey to explore Philadelphia’s extraordinary musical legacy and landscape, not only artistically but in the context of Philadelphia’s long history of innovation. As “Workshop of the World,” Philadelphia has been home to a grand spectrum of developments that have influenced every facet of American life.

Research trips have led Cline on an inspiring journey, through uniquely Philadelphian moments, artifacts, and sites—Jimmy Smith’s organ; Paul Motian’s childhood home; the beginning of Dizzy Gillespie’s career and end of Lee Morgan’s; the continuing home of the Sun Ra Arkestra—and into the memories housed in uniquely Philadelphia institutions—such as the Sigma Sound archives, the Blockson Collection, the Free Library’s orchestral music holdings, and the Curtis Institute archives. He has explored the outstanding minds of Dr. Albert Barnes, Louis Kahn, and three generations of Calder. This only scratches the surface. What has emerged is an autobiographical “second book” of Lovers material, performed one night only, and featuring interpretations of material composed and/or performed by McCoy Tyner, Benny Golson, Paul Motian, Eddie Lang, Sol Kaplan, Ethel Waters, The Delfonics, Brenda & The Tabulations, and more.

“Lovers (for Philadelphia)” will be performed by Cline and an all-star 17-piece ensemble including conductor-trumpeter Michael Leonhart, drummer Alex Cline, and keyboardist Yuka C. Honda, best known for her work in Cibo Matto. The event will also mark the debut of a new Tired Hands Brewing Company beer co-created and brewed by Cline himself. Additional surprises are in store, with many more details to follow.
Lovers (for Philadelphia)
Saturday, June 2, at Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden Street. Philadelphia, PA

SOURCEStephen Buono Publicity 

Expansive WILLIAM PARKER Box Set With Illuminating Focus On Singers and Song: Voices Fall From The Sky

To Be Released by Centering Records

June 15, 2018

Presently deep into his fifth exceptionally active decade as an essential jazz artist, William Parker ought need no introduction. However, one of the intrinsic aspects of his oeuvre that bears mentioning here, and which continues to surprise both new listeners and those already familiar with some of his extensive body of work as a multi-instrumentalist–composer–improviser–leader, is the vast range thereof. From era-defining statements of free music to soulful organ quartet; from his seamless incorporation of indigenous folk forms to his composing for symphony orchestra; exhilarating and mind-expanding work for jazz orchestra to the joyous accessibility of his Quartet; scoring for dance and film.

Voices Fall From The Sky is an expansive 3 CD Box Set (and download) comprising three distinct and complementary albums whose focus is on the voice: the singers, 17 of whom are featured herein -&- the songs, all composed by William Parker. Half of the work presented here are brand new recordings made in 2017/18 and half are Parker-curated selections of previously released material, much of which has been unavailable for far too long.

It all springs from the understood reality that voice is the first instrument of communication that humans possess from birth. Accompaniment on these 31 pieces ranges as widely as the voices, from duet to large ensemble, and a multitude of approaches are employed: art song to operatic, pop sensibilities to gospel, heart-stopping ballads to dance numbers, silence to exuberance. The lyrical content expresses love of nature and its vital importance to a whole life, compassion, anti-oppression, anti-war, anti-violence of any kind, praise of the creative spirit, and, Love. These themes are foundational in all of Parker’s work; the forefront spotlight on a multitude of expressive voices makes them that much more salient.

William Parker has been working with singers since his beginnings as a creative artist in the early 1970s. His creations featuring voice have found greatest renown with the groups/projects, Raining On The Moon [“In suggesting an alternate past, where Nina Simone jammed with John Coltrane, Parker finds another future.” – The Sunday Times], and The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield [“A superb example of how a pop songbook can be transformed … a fierce and awesome display of musical prowess … among the broadest, deepest and richest listens of 2010.” – JazzTimes].

The featured singers on Voices Fall From The Sky.

As this collection is comprised of three distinct and complementary albums, it ought to be listened to as such. Each presents a different focus, and each has one “exception to the rule.”

Album/CD 1, also entitled Voices Fall From The Sky, features all-new work predominately recorded and mixed in December 2017 and January 2018, with an opening invocation from the earlier release, Long Hidden.  The featured singers here are: Timna Comedi • Morley Shanti Kamen • Amirtha Kidambi • Kyoko Kitamura • Bernardo Palombo • Omar Payano • Jean Carla Rodea • Raina Sokolov-Gonzalez • Fay Victor • Andrea Wolper. Accompanists include: Karen Borca • Angelo Branford • Rob Brown • Gerald Cleaver • Jean Cook • Jason Kao Hwang • Masahiko Kono • William Parker • Dave Sewelson • Heru Shabaka-Ra • Steve Swell • Dario Acosta Teich • Eri Yamamoto

Album/CD 2Songs, is comprised of duets (the one exception again being the lead track), and features three singers with whom Parker has had decades-long creative relationships with. Vintage recordings with Ellen Christi and Lisa Sokolov from the early 1990s which have been unavailable for far too long, are here re-sequenced / re-contextualized together with more recent work with Leena Conquest, plus a piece each feat. Ernie Odoom and Mola Sylla.  Accompanists: Yuko Fujiyama • Cooper-Moore • William Parker • Eri Yamamoto.

Album/CD 3Essence, focuses on the voice within large ensemble, and features selections from previously released albums together with a new suite / recording entitled The Blinking of the Ear, performed by mezzo-soprano opera singer AnnMarie Sandy. The previously released work is here presented in special edits from longer-form works and features the singers Ernie Odoom, Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay and Leena ConquestAccompaniment is by four very different versions of the William Parker Orchestra, and his Double Quartet. The one exception here is the brand new suite, which features Eri Yamamoto on piano and Leonid Galaganov on drums, although how they and AnnMarie Sandy fill the silence is practically orchestral.

The creation of this incredibly rich collection has been a very important project for Parker, who spent a good deal of time this past winter writing, producing & sequencing its totality. It is being released on his own Centering Records imprint.

In addition to the aforementioned work with his Raining On The Moon ensemble, Voices Fall From The Sky is the definitive statement of William Parker’s work with singers and song to date. It is packaged in a beautiful box featuring commissioned artwork by Lois Eby, with individual album sleeves and full-color 40-page booklet featuring extensive notes, song annotation, and lyrics.This is a treasure box; abounding with gems.

SOURCE: Fully Altered Media

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

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