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 
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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

The Lao Tizer Band Set to Release Songs From The Swinghouse, Recorded Live at Conway Studios in Hollywood: Available March 16, 2018 via Yse Records

With more than five years since their last release, The Lao Tizer Band has taken the time to grow in every aspect. An updated larger band is exploring some new methods on their upcoming CD/DVD combo, Songs From The Swinghouse: recorded live in just three days at Conway Studios in Hollywood, the band explores three cover tunes with vocalist, a first for the group, alongside original instrumental tracks, bringing them to new heights of excellence and exuberance.

 

Featuring a thoughtful and at times surprising choice of tracks, while adding to an already stellar lineup of players with the addition of a seasoned vocalist, this is an album that has set a new path for the band and its dedicated fans. Songs From The Swinghouse features eight blistering original instrumentals and three iconic classic rock songs with reimagined arrangements. “We’ve never done anything with a vocalist and we’ve never done any cover songs, so this is the first time that I decided to delve into that realm, to basically expand the scope of our music,” says Tizer. Critically acclaimed music-film director, Andy LaViolette (Snarky Puppy, Bokante, David Crosby, etc), documented the entire session in a simultaneous, 8-camera HD video shoot for the included DVD.

 

From the 2007 album Diversify, which showcased the multi-faceted richly textured musicality of an already celebrated career, to 2009’s Passages in which the keyboardist and composer focused on a minimalist expression of his musical journey in a virtually solo piano recording with the barest of accompaniment, and then back to a pulsating full band on the 2012 release Downbeat, this ensemble of world-renowned musicians has taken Tizer’s vision to a new level on the latest album. The jazz and world-fusion group now adds rock to its repertoire with a sizzling new collection of eleven songs.

 

Hailing from Boulder, CO, with a career that now spans nine albums over nearly a quarter of a century — he was a teenage prodigy — Tizer is the son of hippies with a Russian-Jewish background, and the mix of that ethnic family heritage, parental new age influence and growing up with the sights and sounds of ’80s and ’90s pop culture (alongside the music of the ’60s and ’70s he heard from his parents) have brought him to a place in his artistic life where he was ready to embrace a wider range of influences and stretch himself and his players to pull off such an ambitious project.

 

If the choice of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and Cat Stevens’ “Sad Lisa” seem astonishing, Tizer’s arrangements render them almost entirely original. They are taken to the transcendent through the warm and soulful vocals of Tita Hutchison, who sang with the likes of Michael McDonald, Rick Rubin, Michael Jackson, and Foreigner, among others.

 

Hutchison joins Tizer’s regular collaborators who are celebrated in their own right: Chieli Minucci, the three-time Emmy-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated guitarist and composer; Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who is a permanent member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band; longtime member and EWI/saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Nieves; and violinist Karen Briggs, who has graced the stage with Yanni, Diana Ross, Wu-Tang Clan, Chaka Khan and more. Tizer also credits the powerhouse rhythm section (bass players include Grammy® Award-nominee Ric Fierabracci and Cheikh NDoye, Grammy® Award-nominated drummer Gene Coye, and percussionist Munyungo Jackson) with underpinning the dynamic force and arrangements for the project.

 

The group in fact stretches to 15 members at times with the addition of a string quartet, horn section and a marimba player. Just watching the video of “Metropolis” shows the vast ambitiousness of the undertaking, the concentration of so many musicians in the studio playing live together and feeding into work that was so much grander than the breathtaking individual performances, while the sultry and intimate duet — just piano and violin — on “Forever Searching” reminds the listener and viewer of the purity of Tizer’s jazz beginnings.

 

“It was all recorded live at Conway Studios,” Tizer says. “So this is as authentic as it could possibly be. It’s a star-studded cast, a lot of pros, and they all came in with their A-game. We got just the right mix of players in the band at this time to make this particular set of music come to life and be artistically deep in an accessible way. And that’s always what my favorite music has been — well written, well composed, but also with that room to stretch, that’s the improvisation and the jazz of it.”

 

Tizer praises each musician for his and her contribution to the whole. Conceptually focused while always generous as a composer, arranger and band-leader, Tizer produced Songs From The Swinghouse on his own and wrote all of the instrumental tracks himself, aside from one co-write, “A Prayer For Unity” with the band’s other guitarist, Jeff Marshall. They wrote it just after the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, and the significance at this particular time amid current events is imperative for Tizer. “It’s a message that the world needs on a much more macro level, and music is one of those few mediums that can bridge some gaps.”

 

It’s also a nice counterpoint to the groups Gospel, funkified arrangement of U2’s, “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” the civil rights-inspired song that Tizer had loved since first hearing it in the movie In The Name Of The Father. “Ramble On” was, says Tizer, “the one tune I wanted to do because I’m not sure that there’s any classic rock group more iconic than Led Zeppelin, and I wanted a song that we could take and put our stamp on, which I felt really strongly that we could with that tune, take it to another place.” As for “Sad Lisa,” dedicated on the album to the late daughter of a friend, “I had Cat Stevens’ album Tea For The Tillerman since I was in high school, and right away I knew I could do something with that.”

 

The evolution of the Lao Tizer Band is revealed joyously in Songs From The Swinghouse. Now incorporating a vocalist into the recording and touring band, the road ahead is enthralling to the group’s founder. “I spent my whole life writing instrumental music, and now I’m working on original material for the group including vocals.” Ultimately, Lao Tizer eschews being formulaic. “I try and just stay true to my muse and to use every bit of my facility to create great music that hopefully has its own voice and continues to evolve as I continue to evolve as a person. It’s very reflective of me, it’s all I’ve done all my life.”

 

The Lao Tizer Band U.S. Performances
 
January 20 | Spaghetinni Jazz Club | Seal Beach, CA
February 9 – 10 | Myron’s Cabaret Jazz @ The Smith Center | Las Vegas, NV
February 24 | Punta Gorda Wine & Jazz Festival | Punta Gorda, FL
March 9 | The Baked Potato (LA RELEASE SHOW) | Studio City, CA
March 10 | Oxnard Performing Arts & Events Center | Oxnard, CA
March 22 | Desert Willow Golf Course | Palm Desert, CA
March 28 | Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill & Jazz | Bel Aire, CA
April 21 | Chino Hills Jazz & Blues Festival | Chino Hills, CA
April 27 | Bakersfield Jazz Festival | Bakersfield, CA
May 11 | Atlas Center for the Performing Arts | Washington, DC
** more dates to be announced **
The Lao Tizer Band · Songs From The Swinghouse

 Yse Records · Release Date: March 16, 2018

For more information on Lao Tizer, please visit: LaoTizer.com
Find Lao Tizer on: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
 
SOURCEdlmediamusic.com 

Cellar Live Presents drummer/composer Phil Stewart, his debut album Introducing Phil Stewart Melodious Drum

Too often, over the last twenty years or so, jazz has drifted from the rhythmic hipness of the blues-drenched, dance-inflected tenacity of its origins. Regardless of ambitions toward artistic seriousness in multiple shapes and iterations, jazz began as good time fun entertainment is driven by propulsive allure. Its fundamental identity never strayed too far from an incisive swing.

No matter what name was hung on it, jazz was a music of surging uplift. Listen to Pops late-’20s sessions, Earl Hines, Bechet, Ellington, Lunceford, Basie and the astonishing depth of melodic brilliance and percussive joy that emerged when Monk and Diz, Bird and Roach revamped expressive possibilities. Bud Powell galvanized that revolution. It’s not a stretch to say that jazz gained full maturity in the era that explored tonal, metrical and harmonic options at Minton’s in the early ’40s.

This album introduces an astute percussionist in the line of Max Roach, Art Taylor, Philly Joe Jones and Louis Hayes . . . PHIL STEWART. This is his professional recorded debut, but anyone paying attention here locks into the explicit grooves delineated across this disc – sharp and beguiling, more seductive than admonitory – that carve understated trenches, each inviting welcome.

Stewart is the sort of leader who goads and teases, His beckoning rhythmic clarity shines an unobtrusive laser somewhere out beyond. That’s a good trick. Vernel Fournier made a career of such prescient stealth in his time with Ahmad Jamal. So did Jo Jones with Basie and Ed Thigpen with Oscar Peterson. Those with this album nearby probably know Phil’s brother Grant, one of the most lyrical, flat out joyful tenor saxophonists on the scene. I regard Grant as one of the three or four essential players on his instrument at present. On Bud Powell’s Dance of the Infidels, Grant takes the first sax solo. On George Coleman’s Apache, a revision of the classic blowing vehicle, Cherokee, Grant lets loose. His noir peek-a-boo swagger on Josh Benko’s The Sumo brings out a previously suppressed Charlie Rouse vibe from Grant’s willing

Monkishness. Gordon Jenkin’s chestnut, This Is All I Ask, reveals amor’s compelling amoroso. Joe Magnarelli’s trumpet virtuosity brings rare octane to the feel underway: a horn that carries its own message while, without derivation, invoking steadfast others . . . in this instance, Booker Little, Stu Williamson and Kenny Wheeler. Notice, too, Chris Byars’ sax along with Grant on Infidels and Apache. More to the point, Byars digs in with serious ferocity on his own tune. The Doctor Is In as well as on Sacha Perry’s jaunty recollection of Minton’s jam scene, Erratic. A final word about Phil Stewart’s inaugural album: Sadik Hakim’s long mis-attributed line, Eronel, recalls the impish flair and cheerful outlook of the era that brought Minton’s to the fore and, with it, bop’s intrepid self-confidence. Paul Sikive’s arch bass pulse drives this foxy supple ride.

Perhaps the subtle genii in this masterful convivium are the nimble brilliance of Sacha Perry’s effortless magnificence. This is not routine piano work . . . it demands careful witness. Play this album. Then punch up the concluding blues, Livin’ With Hobson, once more.  ~Editoral Review | Amazon

Expected Release Date: February 9, 2018

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

David Murray & Saul Williams to Release New Album, “Blues For Memo,” Available February 2 on Motema Music

Project Pays Homage to Turkish
Jazz Impresario Mehmet “Memo” Uluğ (1959-2013),
Inspired by Avant-Garde  
Jazz Legend Butch Morris (1947-2013)
& Poet Amiri Baraka (1934-2014)
Features Jason Moran, Orrin Evans, Nasheet Waits,
Craig Harris, Jaribu Shahid & More

At Amiri Baraka’s funeral in 2014, Saul Williams recited a poem imploring the iconic poet, author and social critic to “get out of the coffin” and continue his important work. Sadly, Baraka was beyond hearing the younger poet’s words, but they did reach the ears of one of his closest collaborators: saxophonist David Murray.

Williams’ impassioned reading made such an impression on Murray that a day later he was on the phone, proposing a new collaboration. “Saul was one of the most dynamic speakers at the funeral,” Murray recalls. “His words were violent, but Baraka used violent words too.”

Williams sent several of his works to Murray, mostly pieces that were soon to be published in his politically scathing 2015 collection, US(a.), which powerfully confronts issues of race, class, gender, economics and culture in modern-day America. The saxophonist responded to the poet’s words with his trademark vigor, resulting in their new album, Blues for Memo, due out February 2 (digitally). Recorded in Istanbul at the end of a three-week European tour by request of the legendary Turkish producer Ahmet Uluğ, the album features a stellar band – pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and drummer Nasheet Waits – performing road-tested versions of these newly-penned compositions. Trombonist Craig Harris, keyboardist Jason Moran, guitarist (and Murray’s son) Mingus Murray, kanun player Aytac Dogan, and vocalistPervis Evans offer striking contributions as well.

Blues for Memo was commissioned by Ahmet Ulug, of Pozitif music in Istanbul to commemorate his late brother Mehmet Uluğ – affectionately known as “Memo” – who co-founded the music promotion company Pozitif (with a third partner, Cem Yegul), and opened the well-known Istanbul club Babylon. Pozitif opened the doors to experimental jazz in Turkey, and have presented such artists as David Murray, Butch Morris, Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders.  The album is a labor of love from Murray to the Ulug brothers in response to their many years of friendship and support. Saul Williams knew Memo from his shows in Babylon in the late ’90s with saxophonist Ilhan Ersahin’s Wax Poetics project.

The session also provided an opportunity to pay homage to another longtime Murray collaborator, conduction innovator and cornetist Butch Morris, who lived and taught in Istanbul for several years in the late 1990s. Williams adds his words to “Obe,” one of nearly 30 Morris compositions that Murray has recorded over the decades. “We were all really close,” Murray says. “So we all put our heads together and ended up making a tribute to Mehmet and Butch Morris at the same time.”

The union between Williams and Murray becomes even more meaningful as it allows the two to continue poet Amiri Baraka’s mission. “As someone who had grown up extremely familiar with and inspired by the works of Amiri Baraka, I was honored when David asked me to work with him,” Williams says. “I stepped into this very much aware of the fact that I was collaborating with someone who had worked with Amiri.”

When Williams began performing in the mid-90s, as part of the thriving New York slam poetry scene, he consciously avoided working with jazz musicians. He saw the pairing of poetry and jazz at that time as somewhat cliché, especially in light of the thrilling merger of poetry and hip hop then underway. “I was eager to find a way to make sure that my work was not easily connected to some passé idea,” Williams says. “I never really wanted to dive too deeply into jazz because it seemed to fit an existing idea.”

Two decades later, Williams could count a wealth of experiences stemming from his widely acclaimed work: a half-dozen books, appearances in films including Slam (1998), the lead role in the Tupac Shakur-based Broadway musical Holler If Ya Hear Me, and several albums fusing his poetry with hip hop, rock and electronic music. So with an established reputation, years of distance, and a deep respect for Murray’s work, he undertook his first substantial jazz collaboration – and was surprised by what he found.

“As a poet who’s very often tied to the page, collaborating with David has freed me up,” he says. “What’s beautiful about jazz is that it’s a celebration of improvisation. It has so much to do with listening, how you hear and what you hear, and how you respond to that. It keeps me fresh, so it’s the opposite of what I was afraid of when I was dodging performing with jazz musicians. It has invigorated the creative process.”

For Murray, the collaboration with Williams took on a similar form to his work with Baraka and other poets, whether living writers like Ishmael Reed or his adaptations of work by long-dead authors like Alexander Pushkin. “I let a poem just sit on my piano for a week, and the next thing I know it turns into a song,” Murray explains. “The words are like water; they find their own way.”

The band also takes a few pieces without Williams’ words. The title track pays homage to Memo with a blend of blues and classical Turkish music with the addition of Aytac Dogan on the kanun, a zither-like stringed instrument from the Middle East. Murray’s “Positive Messages” offers an uplifting yet forceful message, with a laid-back groove fueled by Moran on Rhodes; Sun Ra’s “Enlightenment” tips its hat to the Uluğ brothers’ love of the cosmic bandleader and the influence of his teachings on Murray’s formative years.

At a challenging time, Williams’ interpretation is understandably confrontational and incisive. Commissioned by Simon & Schuster upon Williams’ return from a four-year sojourn in Paris, US(a.) was intended to be a celebration of being an African-American living in Obama’s America, but the string of police shootings that led to the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of Donald Trump led to a much darker tone.

A piece like “Red Summer” is directly inspired by the 2015 mass shooting in a Charleston church. “Citizens (The River Runs Red)” takes an excerpt from “Said the Shotgun to the Head,” urging a shift from a patriarchal society to a female perspective. “Cycles and Seasons” draws from Williams’ poem “Coltan as Cotton,” which parallels the mining of coltan – a precious mineral found in smartphones and other technology – with more traditional forms of mining.

Reflecting on Blues For Memo and their work together, Murray says, “Saul is a very forward-thinking visionary. I’ve always tried to be very accommodating to poets and their vision of what the world is. I’ve tried to make it a clearer and truer vision through music.”

 
2018 TOUR DATES
January 30 – February 2 New York (NY) Birdland
February 6  Paris (FR) Sons d’Hiver
February 7  Saint Jean de Védas (FR) Victoire 2
February 8  Zurich (CH) Moods
February 9 Salzburg(AT) Jazzit
February 10 Vienna (AT) Porgy & Bess
February 11 Antwerp (BE) Arenberg Theatre
February 13  Stockholm (SE) Fasching
February 14  Oslo (NO) Victoria
February 15  Helsinki (FI) Selo Hall
February 16  Bergen (NO) Sardinen

February 17  Goteborg (SE) Nefertiti

David Murray featuring Saul Williams· Blues For Memo 
Label: Motéma Music · Digital Release Date: February 2, 2018
Physical Release Date: February 16, 2018
For more information on David Murray, visit davidmurraymusic.com
For more information on Saul Williams, visit saulwilliams.com
For more information on Motéma Music, visit motema.com
For more information on Blues For Memo and Motéma Music, contact:
Jordy Freed at (e) jordy@jordyfreed.com 

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 

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

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
 
Connect with John Raymond: 
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For more information on John Raymond & Real Feels, please visit: JohnRaymondMusic.net

Internationally Renowned Saxophonist/Composer Miguel Zenón Earns 2018 Grammy Nomination for “Best Latin Jazz Album” Zenón’s album Típico celebrates his longstanding quartet

“One of the great jazz discs of the year….”  – Jeff Simon, Buffalo News4-stars. “Zenón’s appreciation for intricacy always creates sparks, but it’s his buoyancy that keeps things intriguing. That balance is everywhere on one of his most engaging adventures… insightful, passionate, and don’t sound quite like anyone else in Latin, jazz, or their hyphenate.”
Jim Macnie, DownBeat

4-stars. “Zenón himself has one of the most instantly distinctive sounds in jazz today, as has his band…An enthralling recording by a great group.” — Tony Hall, Jazzwise Magazine

Típico is a portrait of a band lost in thought with smiles on their faces as they reach that elusive moment when it all comes together and they are thinking, and playing, as one.” – Felix Contreras, NPR


Internationally acclaimed saxophonist/composer Miguel Zenón has earned a Grammy nomination in the category of “Best Latin Jazz Album” for his recording Típico (Miel Music).  The album is a celebration of his longstanding quartet featuring pianist Luis Perdomo and bassist Hans Glawischnig who have been with Zenón since the turn of the millennium, and drummer Henry Cole who joined the band in 2005. This is Zenón’s fifth Grammy nomination.

“I am extremely excited and honored to receive this nomination along with such a distinguished group of musicians,” says Zenón. “I look forward to attending the ceremony in January.”

A multiple Grammy nominee and Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow, Zenón is one of a select group of musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often-contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. Widely considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, Zenón has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American folkloric music and jazz. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has recorded and toured with a wide variety of musicians including Charlie Haden, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, Bobby Hutcherson and Steve Coleman and is a founding member of the SFJAZZ Collective.

Zenón’s past several releases have generally fleshed out his quartet with additional instrumentalists as Zenón has looked outward to explore various aspects of his Puerto Rican heritage. Típico is more intimate. Its focus stays closer to home, with nods to Zenón’s own personal and professional life as it zeroes in on what makes his band unique.

“I was thinking about what this band and the guys in the band mean to me as I was writing the music,” he explains. “I kept going back to this idea of us developing this common language that identifies us as a band.”

Their language is thoroughly fluent modern jazz, with all the instrumental prowess and rhythmic and harmonic complexity that that implies. But the dialect they’ve created together through the years is distinctive.

“‘Típico’ refers to something that’s customary to a region or a group of people,” Zenón says. “Or something that can be related to a specific group of people. And when I was writing the music, I was thinking about music that identified us and this band.”

Each of the album’s final three tracks, Zenón notes, was composed around a solo or signature rhythmic line that one of the band members had played before. “My approach was more systematic on those three compositions specifically. But the whole record essentially is about representing the sound of the band. The sound of our band.”

Típico has received extensive critical acclaim:

Editor’s Pick: “Típico is a welcome showcase for Miguel Zenón’s longstanding, yeoman quartet…. shorn of any sidemen or abiding thematic adornment, the distinctive character, energy and joy of their interaction—their sheer jazz—is spectacular…. Típico eschews grand themes for ensemble intimacy, but Zenón’s latest triumph is no less resonant.” – Britt Robson, JazzTimes

Típico, Zenón’s new album, is a dedicatory project that celebrates the unity and invention of the alto saxophonist’s longtime quartet, now approaching its second decade as a fierce modernist ensemble. The leader’s lapel-grabbing playing may remain the focus, but his bandmates—the pianist Luis Perdomo, the bassist Hans Glawischnig, and the drummer Henry Cole—having thoroughly absorbed Zenón’s integration of Latin musical sources and jazz, are invaluable contributors, each worthy of his obvious pride. – Steve Futterman, The New Yorker

“…one of the standout jazz albums of 2017…. Their decade together has given them a rare degree of sensitivity and understanding that greatly enhances their work. And their shared sense of purpose results in a keen musical focus that illuminates their aural excursions.” – George Varga, San Diego Tribune
Editor’s Pick:On Típico high points arrive as sure as the sun on each of the eight tracks on the album…. [Zenón’s] melodic and extended improvisational lines contain qualities allied to a personality of exceptional purity, muscularity, and creative intelligence.” – Raul da Gama, Jazz Global Media
“After using his last few albums to elaborate on the musical folklore of his native Puerto Rico, Zenon designed Típico without a conceptual framework, instead opting to simply show off what it means when a band locks in and fires on all cylinders…. All eight pieces are tricky in their own way, but in the end Zenon proves his point: his technical dexterity and virtuosic flash never undermine the fiery group interplay.” – Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

“…at the core Zenon’s ensemble is defined by the translucency of its tone, the alacrity of its approach to rhythm and the intimacy of Zenon’s solos on alto saxophone.” – Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

“…this is exactly how a quartet should sound. It’s inventive, exciting, powerful, intriguing and thoughtful in turns. The band seem to employ their own unique musical language, creating a distinctive feel and sound through the obvious kinship and music they are performing…this recording can be easily summed as this; thoroughly fluent, mouth-watering modern jazz.” — Mike Gates, UK Vibe

“Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón has maintained one of jazz’ steadiest working units for well over a decade…While the quartet is back down to its core, it has never sounded so huge. The music rushes forth in a near-blizzard of rhythmic detail and yet conveys looseness and breath-in a word, alma (soul)…galloping rhythmic twists; gorgeous modern harmony; and relentlessly difficult ensemble writing that somehow always sounds unruffled.” – David Adler, NYC Jazz Record

4 stars: “The pure-toned alto saxophonist continues to explore his Puerto Rican heritage through the prism of jazz with this beautifully crafted set of originals…. Each track bursts to the seams with intimate dialogue and finessed technique, and with Zenon in peak form and pianist Luis Perdomo a match, the blend of Latin music and jazz is unusually complete.” – Mike Hobart, Financial Times

“…one of [Zenón’s] most sophisticated collections yet of kinetic, genre-bending post-bop.” – Matt Collar, Allmusic.com

Winners will be announced at the Grammy Awards ceremony on