Friday, December 09, 2016



A treasure trove of work from Deniece Williams – one of the coolest, classiest soul singers to hit the mainstream at the end of the 70s! Williams has roots that go deep in the Chicago scene – including young work under the name of Deniece Chandler – but this set picks off from the time when she hit Columbia Records as a full-formed adult soul singer – one of the freshest talents of her generation – with an ability to hit some of the spiritual currents of Minnie Riperton, and some of the grooves you might expect from Cheryl Lynn! Both those sides and many more are featured here – in a 35 track set that's overflowing with gems, produced by soul music legends who include Maurice White, Charles Stepney, Thom Bell, Ray Parker Jr, George Duke, Jeff Lorber, and others. Titles include "Baby Baby My Love's All For You", "What Two Can Do", "I Can't Wait", "I'm So Proud", "Black Butterfly", "Silly", "God Is Amazing", "Free", "Healing", "All I Need", "Waiting By The Hotline", "Let's Hear It For The Boy (12" version)", "Do What You Feel (single version)", "When Love Comes Calling", "I've Got The Next Dance (12" version)", "That's What Friends Are For", and "It's Gonna Take A Miracle". Also features duets with Johnny Mathis on "Without Us", "Love Won't Let Me Wait", "Too Much Too Little Too Late", and "You're All I Need To Get By". ~ Dusty Groove


This album features Little Richard and his band with incredible songs from the mid-1970s. We all know about the iconic songs like "Good Golly Ms Molly," "Tutti Frutti," and many more, but this new album is a departure from that sound with elements of jazz, blues and funk. Producer Keith Winslow brought this project to life with a focus on the amazing band Little Richard was working with in 1970s. It features Johnny "Guitar" Watson, San Francisco Sound, Tower Of Power (horn section), Eddie Cornelius, Duane Winslow, Larry Williams, Ernie Watts, Tony Matthews, Jessie Boyce, Freeman Brown, Bobby "Youngblood" Forte, Melvin Wonder, Blood Sweat and Tears, and more.


One of the most hard-hitting albums we've ever heard from pianist Roberto Fonseca – a set that deeply digs back into an older Afro-Cuban sound – as you might guess from the title's backward-spelling of Cuba! The music here is surprisingly rich and full – not just Cuban flavoring on jazz piano lines, but a well-conceived, fully-formed approach that mixes Roberto's fierce piano lines with larger percussion and horns, and some very strong acoustic bass from Yandy Martinez – which really drives the harder-grooving songs in a great way! We're often a bit suspicious of projects like this, but we're totally in love with this record – as there's a vibe that's at once respectful of the classics, but totally brand-new – and produced to perfection, without any fakeness or gimmicks at all. Titles include "Soul Guardians", "Sagrado Corazon", "Family", "Tierra Santa", "Tumbao De La Unidad", "Afro Mambo", and "Asere Monina Bonco". ~ Dusty Groove

12th Annual Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival Announces 2017 Lineup ~ Jill Scott, LL COOL J feat. DJ Z-TRIP Also Performing: Common, The Roots, Esperanza Spalding, Andra Day, Morris Day & The Time, Herbie Hancock, Smokie Norful, Jazz All-Stars featuring Chante Moore, Will Downing & Marion Meadows on March 18th and 19th, 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

As the fastest growing jazz & R&B festival in America moves to celebrate its twelfth successful year, the City of Miami Gardens is excited to announce the lineup for the Annual Jazz in the Gardens (JITG) Music Festival, taking place on March 18th and March 19th, 2017 at the newly named Hard Rock Stadium (347 Don Shula Drive, Miami Gardens, FL 33056). Tickets are on sale now at

This year's performances will feature three-time Grammy award winning singer-songwriter Jill Scott, legendary hip hop artist LL COOL J feat. DJ Z-TRIP, socially conscious rap pioneer Common, smooth crooner Robin Thicke, hip hop legends The Roots, up and coming soul singer Andra Day, jazz royalty Herbie Hancock, sultry bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, funk music innovator Morris Day & The Time, the JITG All-Stars Chante Moore, Will Downing & Marion Meadows and gospel sensation Smokie Norful! Once again, JITG will be hosted by the hilarious radio personality Ricky Smiley, host of the popular nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show.

"The Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival is coming back to Miami Gardens with a bang!  We're excited to bring some of the hottest, most talented performers in music, such as Jill Scott and Common, and welcome hip-hop performers who are heavily influenced by jazz, like The Roots and LL COOL J feat. DJ Z-TRIP," said Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. "In our twelfth year, we feel positioned to evolve and reach across generations and genres to take Jazz in the Gardens to the next level."

Boasting an annual attendance of over 70,000 music fanatics from all over the United States and the Caribbean Islands, the City's signature event will also showcase local artists along with an array of tropical food vendors and a buzzing Marketplace. On both Saturday and Sunday, doors to the Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival will open at 3 p.m. and the show will start at 4 p.m.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

“Wrap This!” delivers a Grammy nomination to 4-time Grammy winner Gordon Goodwin

The big band leader will celebrate the season and his 21st Grammy nomination by performing with his Big Phat Band at Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood on Monday, December 12.

 Gordon Goodwin, the most decorated big band leader in the 21st century, asked “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and on Tuesday, NARAS voters answered affirmatively by bestowing another Grammy nomination upon the four-time Grammy winner. The 21st Grammy nomination of his distinguished career, Goodwin, who also has three Emmy wins, received the nod in the Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals category for his crafty work on the time-honored Christmas classic “Do You Hear What I Hear?” that features guest vocals from ten-time Grammy winners Take 6. The track appears on Goodwin’s Big Phat Band’s “A Big Phat Christmas - Wrap This!” album, which was released on the Music of Content label.

To celebrate the holiday season, Goodwin will lead his 18-piece Big Phat Band into Hollywood for a festive-themed concert showcasing music from “A Big Phat Christmas – Wrap This!” at Catalina Bar & Grill on Monday, December 12 at 8:30pm. On December 22, Goodwin will join trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval for a special appearance at Walt Disney Concert Hall where they will perform some of Goodwin’s arrangements from “A Big Phat Christmas: Wrap This!”  

It’s been a prolific year for Goodwin, a busy film and television composer and orchestrater who released the Christmas album as well as “An Elusive Man,” the debut disc by his Little Phat Band, a slimmed-down 8-piece jazz ensemble. In addition to producing “An Elusive Man,” Goodwin penned eight original compositions and re-envisioned a pair of standards that spotlight his animated piano and chatty tenor sax trading boisterous barbs and banter with seven members of the Big Phat Band. The musicians relished the liberating freedom to improvise and explore other dimensions of jazz that are not possible to invoke in tightly-scripted big band settings. The versatile, critically-hailed collection swings through tracks of jazz, funk, be-bop, soul and Latin rhythms.
Goodwin’s 2017 is already taking shape with the premiere of a new Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra, which he composed for trumpet virtuoso James Morrison. The concerto will debut in Australia on April 30 with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. A second orchestra piece, Fantasia for Soprano Sax and Orchestra, will premiere May 7 in Los Angeles. The soloist will be his Big and Little Phat Band colleague saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who will be accompanied by the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach. A second performance is slated to take place in July in Prague with the Czech National Symphony.   

Goodwin, who is profiled in the winter issue of Jazziz magazine arriving on newsstands nationally this month, hosts “Phat Tracks with Gordon Goodwin,” which airs Saturdays from 12-2pm PT on KJAZZ, America’s jazz and blues station. The Los Angeles-based artist will find out on February 12, 2017 if he’ll be adding a fifth Grammy statue to his trophy case. For more information, please visit

Below are excerpts from some of the Little Phat Band’s “An Elusive Man” album reviews:

“Lighter, quicker and with more pep, as most people are after dropping a few, this band is a nice break, and shows a different side of Goodwin’s skills.” – Jazz Weekly

“Goodwin once again shows why he can lay claim to being the hardest working man in jazz (if he wanted to make that claim) with this mostly original set that takes mainstream jazz to high and mighty places. Killer stuff throughout for anyone that wants to hear grand playing that just makes them feel good, you can expect Goodwin to set the world on fire once again with this smoking set.” – Midwest Record

“The entire recording presents the compositional integrity of Gordon Goodwin and his ability to lead smaller bands with the same finesse as his Big Phat Band…This one should definitely be in your jazz collection.” – Sounds of Timeless Jazz

“Goodwin has built a larger-than-life reputation throughout the music industry for his composing, arranging and playing skills. Here on ‘An Elusive Man,’ he showcases them all and along with his Little Phat Band.” – Exclusive Magazine

“Gordon Goodwin is one of America's most garlanded jazz men.” – Soul and Jazz and Funk



The best-ever collection we've ever seen to focus on the work of Linda Jones – one of our favorite female soul singers of the late 60s, but an artist who never fully hit the fame she deserved! Linda's got a hell of a voice – a sense of positive power that really stands out, right from the start – and even on the earliest material here, she's singing in a deep soul style that's stronger than most of her contemporaries – a mode that she'd only inflect with more emotion and sophistication as the 70s approached – where she cut some stunning sides for the Turbo/All-Platinum label! Those great cuts are here, alongside other gems from the Neptune, Cub, Blue Cat, Atco, and Loma labels – in a set that blows away some of the shoddier, cheaper collections of Jones material – especially the early 70s tracks. There's lots of material on here that wasn't on the Atco/Loma collection by Real Gone – only 7 of these 24 tracks are from that time – and titles include "That's When I'll Stop Loving You", "Stay With Me Forever", "Behold", "If Only We Had Met Sooner", "I Do", "Lonely Teardrops", "Your Precious Love", "Not On The Outside", "I Can't Make It Alone", "Can You Blame Me", "I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow", "Ooh Baby You Move Me", and "I'm So Glad I Found You" – which is a duet with The Whatnauts!  ~ Dusty Groove.


Vinyl Me, Please is releasing Nina Simone Sings The Blues as their December Record of the Month. This exclusive release, which has been remastered by Ryan Smith over at Sterling Sound, is pressed on 180-gram blue vinyl and features a gatefold jacket with an 8 page full-color booklet of archival photos. Sign up before December 15th to receive the special edition of Nina Simone Sings The Blues. "Pouring out through a voice as rich as fertile earth itself, the 12 songs on Nina Simone Sings the Blues feel like they weren't created, but rather have always existed, incubating beneath layers of soil until Simone decided she'd harvest them to share with the world. Maybe it's hard to conceptualize the fruition of these songs because the blues-as a sound, as a genre, as a feeling-are absorbing; they embody complex histories and an encompassing emotional state that spans generations of human conditions. Maybe it's difficult to imagine the creation of these songs because most of us have never known a world without this momentous 1967 album." - Vinyl Me, Please


Italian-born pianist and composer Maria Chiara Argirò is the author of some truly visionary contemporary jazz music, and her new album, The Fall Dance, takes the listener on a journey through her musical world. Maria frequently encounters nocturnal musical dreams, which form a substantial part of her inspiration. The songs on this disc draw us in to her musical world, allowing us to explore her night-time visions, as well as the dream-like interpretations of her real-life experiences. Each score has a story behind it, with musical boundaries being stretched through Maria’s collaboration with some outstanding musicians, including the Maria Chiara Argirò Group as heard on this disc – a London-based sextet which brings together fresh young talent from the international music scene with an original repertoire of new compositions, characterised by their unique lyrical and rhythmic identity. Working and touring with these musicians further inspired the compositions heard on this disc, which came to fruition in between tours. Collaborating with so many different types of artist acted as a driving force that compelled Maria to explore her own vision of music on this album. Blending classical music and folk traditions with her own approach to harmony and melody, the compositions call strongly upon the sounds and aesthetics of contemporary jazz. Performing with UK-based artists such as Coco Mbassi (BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards Nomination) and Barns Courtney (BBC Music Introducing), Maria has recorded at Abbey Road and BBC Studios Maida Vale, and has also toured alongside These New Puritans at festivals in Asia, the USA, Mexico, Europe, and at the Hollywood Bowl supporting Björk in Los Angeles, as well as at the Barbican in London. Watch The Fall Dance, thetrailer.

Lyric Fury, The Adventurous Octet Led by Pianist/Composer Cynthia Hilts, Debuts on Record January 13

Twenty years ago, Brooklyn-based pianist/composer Cynthia Hilts was seeking to form a band "that sounds like a celestial collision of Mingus and Debussy" as a vehicle for her brisk, striking originals. Her avant-meets-mainstream writing, as the band name Lyric Fury suggests, is demanding and defined by powerful contrasts.

Hilts and her octet have been honing a sound and a vision ever since, and their brilliant efforts are captured on their first recording together -- the like-named Lyric Fury -- set for January 13 release by Hilts's Blond Coyote imprint.

Lyric Fury boasts a lineup of top-drawer players with highly distinctive "A" games of their own. They include trumpet great and onetime Mingusite Jack Walrath, saxophonists Lisa Parrott and Lily White (who co-produced the album with Hilts), trombonist Deborah Weisz, cellist Marika Hughes, bassist Ratzo Harris, and drummer Scott Neumann.

The infectious opening track, "Those Basinites," was inspired by the quirky residents of Basin, Montana, where Hilts did several residencies. But much of Hilts's music, for which she writes her own poetic lyrics, responds to situations and events. "Previously a Thing," a brash invocation that turns Horace Silver-style hard bop on its ear (dig White's passionate tenor solo), was written after a breakup. The free-gliding "Blues for the Bronchs," featuring out-of-sorts voicings and a ripping, hard-edged solo by Walrath, had its genesis in an unshakable case of bronchitis.

A seasoned peace activist, Hilts composed the album's most lyrical and deeply affecting work, "Peace Now," following the outbreak of the Iraq War. Her vocal -- part scat, part chant, part heartfelt plea -- is framed by the dark tones of Parrott's baritone and Hughes's cello and carried by bright rhythms. "Teacher," with its delicate piano introduction and South African lilt, is a prayer for a spiritual leader.

Forming the octet proved a dream achievement in many ways. "I have always been a loner," Hilts says. "I didn't understand the value of community. But I certainly do now, having benefited so much from the openness and contributions of these musicians. When I bring in a new piece, they understand not to try and do something new with it right away, even in cases where I haven't written something right. They sublimate their individuality for a moment or two. And during performances of the music, they're always coming up with surprises. But it all works out in the end."

Cynthia Hilts Born and raised in Tucson, Cynthia Hilts grew up in a musical family. She went on to study jazz composition and arranging at Berklee College of Music with, among others, the late trumpeter and big band leader Herb Pomeroy, who also taught the likes of Gary Burton, Gary McFarland, and Toshiko Akiyoshi. "I was so excited to be there," she says. "Herb taught harmonic subtleties with great precision and humor, for instance in his class 'Writing in the Style of Duke Ellington.'"

Hilts moved to New York City in the early '90s. After appearing on a free jazz album, Invite the Unexpected, with Mike Ellis, George Garzone, Graham Haynes, and Cecil McBee, she wrote and recorded her first album, Stars Down to the Ground, in Montana. Featuring local players, the 2000 release was commissioned by the Montana Artists Refuge -- "the first time I'd been treated as a royal composer," Hilts jokes.

Her self-produced second album, Second Story Breeze (2008), showcased her distinctive singing, soulful postbop piano playing, and sometimes daring arranging in a heady trio setting featuring bassist Ron McClure and drummer Jeff Williams.

After her time at Berklee, Hilts gained valuable experience in such places as San Francisco, Florida, Sweden, and France. She has performed in a variety of settings, including reggae and calypso bands (hear the reggae-fied "Jam & Toast" on the new album). She has contributed to film documentaries and has served as musical director for theater productions. She's also an active visual artist.

Hilts is most at home, however, in Lyric Fury -- the name of which came to her without any brainstorming or fanfare. "The group only expands my version of what the music should be, of who I am musically as a person," she says. "It's a real labor of love."

Cynthia Hilts and Lyric Fury will celebrate the release of their new CD with a performance at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn on Thursday 1/12. Looking ahead, the band is also booked at New York's Baha'i Center, part of the Jazz Tuesdays series, on 4/18; and at the Jazz on the Lake Festival in Lake George, NY 9/16-17.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Celebrating 60+ Years of the Magic of Johnny Mathis with Essential Releases Planned for 2017

Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, announce an ongoing 60th Anniversary celebration of the enduring musical achievements of Johnny Mathis (who first signed with Columbia in 1955) with definitive catalog and archival releases set for 2017 and beyond.

Columbia/Legacy has been working closely with the artist on the curation of his Columbia Records catalog, pouring through the label's deep archive of studio and live material, restoring and remastering tracks for digital release.

The Johnny Mathis 60th anniversary project kicked off in September 2015 when Columbia/Legacy celebrated the legendary singer's original signing with Columbia & his 80th birthday with the release of Johnny Mathis: The Singles, a definitive four disc anthology bringing together, for the first time, every Mathis recording which was first issued for the singles market, as well as tracks released exclusively on compilations.

While 2016 marked the official 60th anniversary of the release of the singer's groundbreaking debut album, Johnny Mathis ("A New Sound in Popular Song"), 2017 signals 60 years since Johnny Mathis's breakout year: 1957, when an unbroken string of Billboard charting singles-- "Wonderful! Wonderful!" (#14), "It's Not for Me to Say" (#5), "Chances Are" (#1), "The Twelfth of Never" (#9), "No Love (But Your Love)" (#21) and "Wild Is the Wind" (#22)--secured his reputation as AM radio's Voice of Romance while setting the standard for traditional pop music for decades to come.

1958 proved to be a watershed year for Johnny Mathis who enjoyed the release of two game-changing Columbia Records blockbusters: Johnny's Greatest Hits and Merry Christmas.  Johnny's Greatest Hits, considered the first "greatest hits" collection ever created by the music industry, spent an unprecedented 490 consecutive weeks (nine-and-a-half years) on the Billboard Top 100 album charts, earning him place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Merry Christmas, an essential seasonal perennial, established Mathis as a warm and familiar holiday presence on home and car radios around the world, eventually achieving a 5xs multi-platinum RIAA certification. To this day, few recording artists are more associated with the sound and spirit of the Christmas season than Johnny Mathis.

With 60+ years as traditional pop music's Voice of Romance (and Sound of Christmas), Johnny Mathis is still going strong as a recording artist and a must-see live performer. The Johnny Mathis 60th & 61st Anniversary Concert Schedule has been posted at

About Johnny Mathis
Born September 30, 1935, a then-teenaged Johnny Mathis signed with Columbia Records in 1956, first entering the Pop charts with his inaugural Columbia single, "Wonderful! Wonderful!" the following year. Peaking at #14, "Wonderful! Wonderful!" laid the foundation, and predicted the future, for one of the most remarkable careers in pop music history, leading to a string of singles successes which includes perennials like "It's Not For Me To Say," "Chances Are," "The Twelfth Of Never" and many others.

Johnny Mathis is one of the longest-signed artists on the Columbia Records label, with 17 million RIAA certified album and singles sales in the US alone. A sublime vocalist whose approach to pop music transcends passing fads and trends, Mathis has performed songs in an incredible variety of styles and categories -- from music composed for stage and film to golden era jazz standards, contemporary pop hits, and holiday music both sacred and secular -- assuring his reputation as one of the most enduring traditional pop vocalists in music history.

Perhaps best-known for his landmark singles (three of his recordings--"Chances Are," "It's Not For Me To Say," and "Misty"--have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame) Mathis was one of the very first musical artists to embrace the album concept and record fully-realized thematically and sonically coherent collections of songs. His 1958 release, Johnny's Greatest Hits inaugurated the ongoing "greatest hits" anthology phenomenon becoming one of the most popular albums of all time. 1959's Heavenly spent 295 consecutive weeks on the same chart.  In honor of his contributions to music history, Johnny Mathis was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 2003.

Mathis had 18 Top 40 hits between 1957 and 1963 and 19 Top 40 albums between 1957 and 1978. He has earned 10 gold, 4 platinum and 2 multi-platinum awards from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

While growing up in San Francisco, Mathis was a star student athlete who sang weekends at local jazz clubs. Columbia Records' George Avakian was in attendance during one performance, and famously wired back to the label office: "Have found phenomenal 19-year old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts." After his debut jazz LP was largely ignored upon its release in 1956, Mathis began working closely with Columbia's vice-president and producer Mitch Miller to develop an unbeatable lush pop style, picking romantic ballads that made extensive use of his recognizable, vibrato-heavy vocal style.

During his time on Columbia, Mathis was essentially recording for two markets: the singles market and the albums market. While he would enjoy success in both realms, it was his non-LP singles that first introduced the world to his distinct gifts: in 1957, his first Columbia single "Wonderful! Wonderful!" peaked at No. 14; follow-up "It's Not For Me To Say" rose to No. 5, and "Chances Are" topped the charts.

Altogether, Johnny Mathis logged 18 singles on Billboard's Top 40 between 1957 and 1963 (and has seen 43 of his singles chart on Billboard Hot 100 from 1957 to 1981). After a tenure on his own Global label from 1963 to 1967 (initially distributed by Mercury and chronicled by Legacy in The Complete Global Albums Collection box set), Mathis returned to Columbia, where he records to this day.


 The Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble is: Kirk Knuffke, John Carlson, Dave Smith, Jonathan Powell - trumpets; Alan Ferber, Brian Drye, Chris Washburne, Max Seigal - trombones; John O'Gallagher, Jeremy Udden, Sam Sadigursky, Adam Kolker, Brian Landrus - saxophones; Christine Correa - voice; Frank Carlberg - piano, Johannes Weidenmueller - bass, Michael Sarin - drums; JC Sanford - conductor
MONK DREAMS, HALLUCINATIONS AND NIGHTMARES, the new large ensemble recording from Frank Carlberg (on Red Piano Records, February 10, 2017), draws its inspiration from the work of Thelonious Monk. The album taps into the atmosphere and orbit of Monk; infected by, informed by, in awe of Monk, and presented as an act of love and respect. The pieces generate their shapes from splinters, cells and feelings found in and around Monk's music, as well as from his verbal utterances in the form of advice and/or cryptic observations. MONK DREAMS, HALLUCINATIONS AND NIGHTMARES is not intended as a tribute album, but rather as, "a celebration of the beauty and vitality of his music that has impacted me profoundly," explained Frank Carlberg. "I thought it fitting to present this recording during the Monk Centennial year, 2017."

Why Monk? Carlberg explains: "For me, a Monk-inspired project is quite personal. Monk's music has been central to my musical life from very early on. The clarity of his thought, the uncompromising nature of his art, the emotional impact Monk's music has made on me; this recording is a culmination of all these elements, and being able to record this music with these remarkable musicians is really a dream come true for me!"

The opener, DRY BEAN STEW, borrows shapes and snippets from Monk's, "I Mean You". It begins with mysteriously pulsating sounds and noises that gradually develop into a restless rhythm, alternating between longer and shorter beats. This tempo with an irregular gait meets up with a descending motif that echoes "I Mean You." After several shifts the pulse slows to half-time and features resonant wind voicings. Suddenly the metrically unsettled tempo returns with cascading figures in counterpoint hurtling towards a blistering solo by John O'Gallagher on alto. The end of O'Gallagher's solo leads back to the half-time feel and a piano excursion by Carlberg. The band's swinging statement then concludes with a transition to a tutti rhythmic romp serving as a back drop to trumpeter John Carlson's soaring, emotive lines. A long ascending line is followed by the cascading horn lines, with increased counterpoint, before the band delivers one more short statement in half-time. A humorous wink to the classic Monk intro ends the piece on a light note. 

RHYMES features a lyrical a cappella bass solo by Weidenmüller as an introduction. Once the band enters, Clark Coolidge's evocative poem, "Rhymes with Monk" (read here by poet Paul Lichter), permeates the whole piece. The band commentary features brief solo spots by Jeremy Udden on alto saxophone, and David Smith on trumpet, as well as many allusions to Monk-like shapes by the horn sections.

SPHERE is an energetic romp centered around the pitch of Bb. Washburne's trombone sets the tone before the horns gradually enter in playful rhythmic counterpoint with occasional interruptions. A hint of "Straight No Chaser" enters the fray but disappears just as quickly. After a metric modulation and some tonal shifts Udden's alto takes over with a lyrical disposition. The horns re-enter and build to a climax of organized chaos. After a brief tempo change Washburne and the simmering rhythm section bring the tune to a playful ending.

After some bird-like textures on A DARKER SHADE OF LIGHT BLUE the melancholic melody enters gradually bringing the whole band together in a short tutti statement. Brian Landrus takes over with a yearning bass clarinet solo supported by bass and drums. Clustered voicings provide a backdrop to the solo. A tempo is established with Sarin setting the stage for a bass line with bass trombone and bass clarinet. Carlson solos with gusto on trumpet and a lively sectional counterpoint leads to a rambunctious finale that quickly dissipates into silence. 

BEAST, with its distant echoes of Monk's "Ugly Beauty" evokes a somber merry-go-round atmosphere. Alan Ferber's trombone is featured to great effect, building the intensity before the re-entry of the thematic material.

YOU DIG! is a lively verbal Monk quote, sung by Christine Correa. The music rushes forward with reckless abandon, and after breathless woodwinds and relentless brass, O'Gallagher matches the intensity in his brilliant alto solo. After the band returns, drummer Michael Sarin has the spotlight and dispatches a delightfully inventive solo turn before a last humorous slow reiteration of the text.

NO FEAR, MY DEAR opens with stately low winds and bass providing the environment for Sarin's percussive ruminations. After a gradual orchestral build Adam Kolker's tenor plays a beautifully crafted call and response solo with the band. Eventually the ensemble takes over and borrows some phrases of "Ruby, My Dear" in rich orchestration. An open wind pyramid of perfect fifths brings the piece to a close.

The motivic and harmonic materials of INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY are mostly derived from the interval of a sixth (the interval also structurally significant in Monk's "Misterioso"). Udden provides solo commentary to the orchestral setting before giving way to a Frank Carlberg piano solo. The cornet of Kirk Knuffke then builds to the orchestral high point of the piece. A few more sixths in mixed winds end the piece in a ritardando.

Another Monk quote provides the text for the setting in ALWAYS NIGHT. Trumpeter Carlson blows over a churning rhythm section background before Correa enters with the short declamatory yet mysterious vocal line. After some instrumental interruptions the line re-appears twice more. The piece ends with a collective improvisation where Correa and Carlson lead the way.

Thelonious Monk's classic ROUND ABOUT MIDNIGHT gets an extended, creative treatment here. Carlberg says: "I wanted to include this piece here in all its glory. Being probably Monk's most famous composition (and most frequently recorded...) I wanted to honor the exquisite design of the piece while adding a personal take on it. I also wanted to incorporate a hint of the traditional intro as well as coda with a certain compositional transformation of the original." Knuffke is the featured soloist throughout and turns in an exquisite performance on cornet. The band is richly orchestrated and brilliantly performs the dynamics from a hush to a roar.

MONK DREAMS, HALLUCINATIONS AND NIGHTMARES is not your grandfather's Big Band music. Specifically, it offers new perspectives on Monk's music, and on compositions for large jazz ensemble in general. It celebrates Thelonious Monk on his centennial while forging new paths in modern jazz by balancing the improvisational impulses with exciting orchestral and structural designs.


“Best Jazz Instrumental Album” and “Best Improvised Jazz Solo”

Internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch has received two 2017 Grammy nominations for the Fred Hersch Trio’s recent Palmetto Records CD Sunday Night at the Vanguard. Hersch has been nominated in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo (Monk’s “We See”, Fred Hersch, soloist). The Grammy Awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 12, 2017.

Hersch has now earned a total of ten Grammy nominations since 1993 in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Best Instrumental Composition and Best Improvised Jazz Solo.

A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is a pervasively influential creative force who has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist. A ten-time Grammy Award nominee, he continues to earn jazz’s most prestigious awards, including recent distinctions as a 2016 Doris Duke Artist and 2016 Jazz Pianist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association.

Hersch has long defined jazz’s creative edge in a wide variety of settings, from his breathtaking solo recitals and exploratory duos to his extraordinary trios and innovative chamber settings. With some three dozen albums to his credit as a leader or co-leader, he consistently wins an international array of awards and lavish critical praise for his albums. The 2015 Palmetto album Fred Hersch SOLO won a Coup de Coeur from L’Academie Charles Cros – his third such award – as well as the French Grand Prix de L’Académie de Jazz.

The feature documentary The Ballad of Fred Hersch premiered at the prestigious Full Frame Film Festival in March 2016 to a sold-out house and rave reviews. His memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, will be published in 2017 by Crown Books/Random House.

Sunday Night at the Vanguard featuring Hersch with his trio of bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson, has earned wide critical acclaim.

 “The resulting album…confirms that he’s still one of the most insightfully lyrical searchers in his field. It also underscores how his bond with the bassist John Hebert and the drummer Eric McPherson, while never less than strong, reaches a rarefied plane in this particular room.” – Nate Chinen, New York Times

“His sparkling tone, harmonic inventiveness, dynamic control, and mastery of rubato are striking from the opening seconds of the first track.” – Fred Kaplan, Stereophile

“It is, perhaps, his trio work that will be his legacy to the jazz pantheon. He is Hersch. A combination of fearless determination and sensitive interpretation. *****” – Mark Corroto, All About Jazz

“…’Sunday Night At The Vanguard’ takes the trio’s propensity for dramatic lyricism, harmonic exploration and rhythmic experimentation to new levels of poise and audacity.” – Ed Enright, DownBeat Magazine (Editor’s Pick)

“Like the Modern Jazz Quartet, the Fred Hersch Trio is an entity where the indiidual parts coalesce into a greater whole. Sunday Night at the Vanguard is an instant classic, and the best piano trio album I have heard in years.” – Thomas Cunniffe, Jazz History Online

“This is as good as it gets.” ***** – Cormac Larkin, The Irish Times

“You’ll hear a Monk tune that sounds nothing like Monk, and you’ll hear originals that sound like standards and standards that sound like originals.” – Rick Anderson, CD Hotlist (Rick’s Pick)

“Fred Hersch chose to give listeners what he thought was the ‘lightning in a bottle’ of a night when the band was ‘in the zone’ - this glorious album should make you want to see the band live. And, do go see and hear them, as the Fred Hersch Trio is among the best ensembles of any size playing in this day and age.” – Richard Kamins, Step Tempest

“Hersch is one of the major living jazz pianists but he has never quite become a star.  Perhaps because he is so technically refined, so comprehensive in his coverage of the maistream piano universe, he evades categorization. In a perfect world where you were king, you would sit Fred Hersch down and make him play every song you ever loved.” – Thomas Conrad, New York City Jazz Record

“.... their empathetic interplay makes them the natural heirs to the Evans/LaFaro/Motian unit the revoloutionized the jazz-piano trio on the Village Vanguard stage.” – Matt R Lohr, Jazz Times

“A pianist of uncommen senitivity combined with sn infinite capacity to swing, Hersch benfits greatly from a remkable intective, elastic rhythm section in bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson.” – Bill Milkowski, Absolulte Sound

 “Pianist Fred Hersch is a painter of musical portraits that are infused with tonal color and harmonic depth, all presented within a frame of originality, sophistication, and virtuosity.  His latest trio recording, Sunday Night At The Vanguard continues to demonstrate his commitment to these traits.”  – Pierre Giroux, Audiophile Audition

“Few pianists have possessed a more comprehensive, magisterial technique or musical integrity.... Fred Hersch is both the grandest and most lyric of virtuosos.” – Raul Da Gama, Jazz DaGama

“It’s a good thing then that Hersch’s disc is filled with so much lyricism, creative sparkle and personality. We’ll leave it to a later date to figure out where Sunday Night at the Vanguard fits in the jazz pantheon, but for now, let’s call it a richly satisfying listen that represents this latest edition of Hersch’s trio, which has already recorded once at the Vanguard, in full bloom, striving and succeeding in many musical directions.” – Peter Hum, The Ottawa Citizen

“After all their years together, take it for granted that pianist Hersch, bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson listen intently to one another and mesh with elegance on every level. However, taking for granted anything about the Hersch trio can only open you up to surprises. Close listening to this album brings great rewards.” –Doug Ramsey, Rifftides

Hersch has earned similar distinction with his writing, garnering a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition. He’s collaborated with an astonishing range of artists throughout the worlds of jazz (Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Bill Frisell); classical (Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Christopher O'Riley); and Broadway (Audra McDonald). Long admired for his sympathetic work with singers, Hersch has joined with such notable jazz vocalists as Nancy King, Janis Siegel, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Norma Winstone and Kurt Elling.


“Simply put, Canto América is a certified masterpiece – one of the most aurally-arresting and culturally-distinctive recordings in recent memory.” – Mark Holston, Latino 

World-renowned trombonist Wayne Wallace and percussionist Michael Spiro have earned a GRAMMY ®  nomination for “Best Latin Jazz Album” for their CD Canto América on the Patois label. The Grammy Awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 12, 2017.

"We are extremely proud of this recording, and would like to take the opportunity to personally thank the Academy and all of the musicians who participated in the making of this project,” say Spiro and Wallace.

Wallace, Spiro and La Orquesta Sinfonietta (consisting of 35 performers, many of whom are affiliated with Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music where Wallace and Spiro teach) weave a colorful tapestry of classic-to-modern rhythms – bolero to timba, Haitian petro to Cuban rumba, mambo to guiro – refreshed by traditional and newly composed compositions, along with surprising treatments of 20th-century standards. Thus the Great American Song “Stardust” is recast as a danzón, while the familiar John Coltrane vehicle “Afro-Blue” transforms into a Creole masterpiece.

Canto América artfully balances African and Western influences by way of “a strong rhythmic base over which orchestral elements of European classical music are featured,” write Wallace and Spiro in their engrossing liner essay. But here, the rhythmic base combines folkloric rhythms with the modern grooves of Wayne Wallace’s well-established Latin Jazz Quintet. This fusion forms the foundation for Canto América, upon which the co-leaders use post-bop harmonies, emblematic compositions, and their own eclectic experiences to create music far removed from the usual Latin Jazz formats.

The recording earned rave reviews:

"[Wallace], Spiro, and Orquestra Sinfonietta deliver something nearly peerless in Canto America. Though highly disciplined and carefully plotted, it is far from an academic exercise. Jazz improvisation and individual acumen shine through while feel and groove consciousness are paramount. Ultimately, this is more than the knowledge and practice of traditions; it is the collective expression of human imagination and heart. Brilliant." – Thom Jurek,

“Simply put, Canto América is a certified masterpiece – one of the most aurally-arresting and culturally-distinctive recordings in recent memory.” – Mark Holston, Latino

Five stars: " ambitious and panoramic engaging narrative of the Afro-Caribbean experience on a grand scale.... Michael Spiro and Wayne Wallace have done a tremendous favor to those interested in not only the music, but also the academic and intellectual approach to its formation and evolution as well." – James Nadal, All About Jazz

"What beauty! What a rarity!....prodigious work..." – Eric Gonzalez, Herencia Latina

"...joyous, celebratory.... a vision of groundbreaking jazz. The longtime collaborators are in top form in this fusion of ancient folkloric rhythms, modern Latin jazz grooves, post-bop harmonies, and stunning orchestral work." – Monarch Magazine 

"...sweeping and gorgeous.... Never unwieldy in its largeness, the music is focused, unpretentious, and heartfelt. Highly rewarding." – Jeff Potter, Modern Drummer

In his four-decade career, San Francisco native Wayne Wallace has collaborated with artists ranging from Count Basie to Stevie Wonder, Sonny Rollins to Carlos Santana, Tito Puente to Lena Horne and Aretha Franklin – as sideman, composer, arranger, and producer. His debut album as a leader, 2000’s Three In One (Spirit Nectar), showcased his writing skills and his encyclopedic knowledge of Afro-Cuban rhythms, the result of years of music-making in the close-knit Bay Area jazz community, where Wallace has played an oversized role. He has earned particular notice for his approach to Latin Jazz, a vision shaped by his work with Latin Jazz percussion giants Pete Escovedo and John Santos, in whose Machete Ensemble he served as music director for more than 20 years. This is the eighth time that Wallace — a San Francisco native who splits his time between the Bay Area and the Midwest where he’s a professor at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music — has been on a GRAMMY nominated album.

Michael Spiro has performed on each of those nominated albums – a mere fraction of the literally hundreds of wide-ranging albums on which he has worked, which include GRAMMY-nominated albums by John Santos, pianist Mark Levine, and vocalist Karrin Allyson. He has also performed with Ella Fitzgerald, Carlos Santana, and McCoy Tyner. Internationally recognized for his expertise and his exploration of African and Latin rhythms, he has authored three books on Afro-Caribbean percussion. The first album under his own name, BataKetu (with Mark Lamson), released in 1996, was named by DRUM! Magazine as one of the “Top 50 Drum Records” of all time.

Wallace and Spiro met more than 30 years ago in San Francisco, forging a personal and professional relationship tempered by their shared interest in the music of Cuba. In 2008, Spiro joined the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at IU, and under his direction the percussion department grew from its emphasis on orchestral work to include the world’s rhythms. He soon began leading a Latin Jazz big band at the school, which used many of Wallace’s acclaimed arrangements, which led to a guest appearance with the band -- and eventually to the school hiring Wallace as a professor in 2013.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016



One of the best albums we've ever heard from this legendary Brazilian singer – at least within the past decade or so – a fantastic reunion with pianist/arranger Geraldo Flach, who gives the music a jazzy flow that's totally wonderful! Both Ivan Lins and Geraldo play piano and keyboards – so most tracks have a keys-heavy sound that's great, with mostly acoustic underpinning the music – creating waves of sound, even on the mellow cuts, which seem to unlock the jazziest side of the singer's vocals! The whole thing almost feels more like some lost live date from the 70s than a 21st Century performance – and is a reminder of that special sophistication that some of the true geniuses in Brazilian music can give us. Titles include 'Novo Tempo", "Ultimo Desejo", "O Mapa Da Cidade", "As Pastorinhas", "O Voo Da Aguia", "Estrela Guia", and "Lembra De Mim". ~ Dusty Groove


Actor and vocalist Karl Bynes waxes his debut single with an inviting gospel, R&B, and jazz flair on the holiday classic, “Christmas Time is Here.” For those YouTube devotees, Karl Bynes is a regular contributor with several videos filmed at intimate New York establishments and an audition for Adult Simba in The Lion King. Theater goers may have also noticed his acting chops with the sketch comedy, Satire Off Broadway, depicting life in the Big Apple. Yet his true heart leans towards his flexible tenor voice, who currently makes his theatrical acting debut as a lead choir vocalist in the holiday comedy, Almost Christmas. Besides his debut movie appearance, the Florida native also marked his recording debut, accompanied by his regular pianist, Densen Curwin, to share a deeply personal holiday favorites, “Christmas Time is Here,” one of the musical highlights from the 1965 holiday chestnut, A Charlie Brown Christmas. As a veteran vocalist, Bynes enjoys injecting jazz phrasing, one case in point being “Grateful” by Hezekiah Walker & L.F.C., anchored by influences such as Frank McComb (who accompanied him at the piano for “Knocks Me Off My Feet”), gospel legend Daryl Coley and contemporary jazz icon, Anita Baker. The same applies with “Christmas Time is Here,” with an interpretation spotlighting all of Bynes’ extensive range and vocal colors. ~ Peggy Oliver/The Urban Music Scene


Sharon Lewis has plenty of Texas fire here – but she's also got a good Chicago mix of blues and soul – almost a west side vibe, but with a contemporary approach – and a level of grit that makes her one of the strongest blues talent in the current Delmark Records roster! Lewis can really put a lot of growl into her vocals, but also never gets too fixated on that mode either – and instead can come across with almost a deep soul vibe on some numbers, especially when the band isn't bluesing it up too much. The core combo features Roosevelt Purifoy on piano and organ, and Steve Bramer on guitar – and guests include Sugar Blue on harmonica and Hank Ford on tenor sax – on titles that include "Chicago Woman", "Can't Do It Like We Do", "Hell Yeah", "Old Man's Baby", "High Road", "Soul Shine", and "Freedom".  Dusty Groove

Brazilian-born guitarist/composer Ricardo Grilli explores personal, musical and cosmic history on 1954

Past and future necessarily collide in the work of any jazz musician. On his second album 1954, São Paulo-born, New York-based guitarist/composer Ricardo Grilli takes stock of his own history - both personal and musical - while also imagining how the modern day and its art would look from the perspective of the past. To realize that time-traveling vision he's enlisted an all-star band of deeply-rooted yet forward-thinking contemporaries: pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Eric Harland.

The title of 1954 (Tone Rogue Records) comes from the year in which Grilli's father was born - one possible beginning point for his own story. It also falls at the dawning of the Space Age, a time when people were looking optimistically forward to a future full of innovation and exploration. Significantly for the music contained within, it was also a time when jazz - bebop in particular - was thriving in Grilli's adopted home of New York City, ghosts of which he can't help but encounter as he walks through the city today.

"It gets a little mystical as you imagine it in your head how things were back then," Grilli says. "I wonder if those musicians ever thought that the music they were shaping would evolve to become the way it is now. The concepts we use in today's jazz still very much use the format of the bebop and hard bop era, even though they have more modern harmonies and meters."

No matter how much he engages in a dialogue with the past, Grilli's music is decidedly of the moment, replete with sleek, captivating melodies over tense, balance-challenging rhythms, combined in intricate but emotionally engaging structures. His compositions reveal the influence of modern masters like Kurt Rosenwinkel and Mark Turner alongside adventurous pop experimentalists like Radiohead and Sigur Ros, with a relaxed but expressive melodicism imbued by a youth spent absorbing the tropical sounds of Jobim and Elis Regina.

Grilli's 2013 debut, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, captured the guitarist in a transitional moment. It documented not only his move from Brazil to Boston and then New York, but also his emergence onto the jazz scene after graduating from Berklee College of Music. Having picked up the guitar for the first time at the relatively advanced age of 20 and starting school at 23, five years later than most of his classmates, he recorded the album feeling like an underdog facing an uphill struggle.

That notion is left behind on 1954, which finds a more mature, self-assured Grilli in sophisticated communication with some of modern jazz's most renowned musicians. "For the longest time I felt like I had missed the start of the race and had to catch up to the competition," he says. "However, I have been very lucky to be able to play with so many of my heroes, and this record is, hopefully, a statement of my acceptance of my own playing and thinking myself worthy of playing with the musicians on it."

 Long fascinated with astronomy and the cosmos (Stephen Hawking sits on his bookshelf beside the likes of Italo Calvino, the surrealist author who lent both If On a Winter's Night a Traveler and the current album's "Vertigo" their titles), Grilli weaves interstellar concepts throughout the tunes on 1954. Opening track "Arcturus" is named for the brightest star in the eastern celestial hemisphere, its gradual build in intensity (thanks to Harland's subtly insistent rhythms) suggesting the massive star's gravitational pull. "Cosmonauts," meanwhile, was inspired by the story of "phantom cosmonauts," an unconfirmed theory suggesting that Yuri Gagarin's successful flight may have been preceded by other ill-fated attempts.

"It's a terrifying story," Grilli says. "I imagined the fear of going into the unknown and not coming back. Jazz has a bit of that feeling, but not in the deadly sense. So I wanted to write an eerie, sad song, something a little somber, dark and mysterious."
That combination of the cosmic and the intimate is echoed throughout 1954. Especially poignant is the lovely, ethereal "Rings," which suggests the celestial rings surrounding Saturn and other planets as well as being a musical analog for the rings that symbolize union between people. The simmering, atmospheric "Radiance," partially inspired by Brian Blade's soulful Fellowship Band, evokes the far-off glow of heavenly bodies while pondering the loss of loved ones. "Breathe," essentially a cha cha cha with modern contours, provides a respite from the frantic "Arcturus," replicating the moment that a shuddering spacecraft breaks through the atmosphere into weightlessness.
Grilli also pays homage to some of his peers and mentors on 1954. "Pogo56" was written for trumpeter and Berklee professor Jason Palmer, while "Far Away Shores" is an homage to pianist Julian Shore, a close friend and collaborator. The album closes with "Pulse," a final word on the idea of looking backward to look forward: a modernist bop tune that swings hard over contemporary harmonic movement.

Grilli's scintillating quartet combines four artists who are bandleaders in their own rights and who all approach the creative process in similar, equally enthralling fashion. "When I write a song," Grilli explains, "I'm trying to write a soundtrack to a different world. I hope when people listen to it they get taken to a different place, and these guys are all amazing at that. You can give them any piece of music and they'll create new worlds and stories out of it."

GUITARIST/COMPOSER YOTAM SILBERSTEIN Announces The Release of His Fifth Recording As a Leader: THE VILLAGE Yotam Silberstein (guitar), Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass) & Gregory Hutchinson (drums)

Upon arriving in NYC in 2005 from his native Tel-Aviv on a full scholarship to The New School, word spread like wildfire that an exciting new player, guitarist Yotam Silberstein, had arrived on the scene. None other than the legendary James Moody took him under his wing (providing an instant endorsement of his prowess with jazz and all of its off-shoots/sub-genres), and he quickly bonded with musicians such as Antonio Hart and Roy Hargrove. His early success in NYC wasn't without precedent however, with Silberstein winning the coveted "Israeli Jazz Player of The Year" award at age 21, and quickly following that up with a critically-acclaimed debut album, a performance at the prestigious Umbria Jazz Festival, and an extensive tour of Europe and the Middle East. But having the nod from Moody raised his profile to the extent that within six years of settling in the Big Apple, Silberstein had been called upon to work with such luminaries as The Heath Brothers, Paquito D' Rivera, Monty Alexander, Hargrove, the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars and others. Most recently, Silberstein has been in the studio with the great John Patitucci, laying down tracks for the bassist/composer's new trio recording, Irmãos de Fé. 
Now, Silberstein, along with guitarists such as Lage Lund, Peter Bernstein and his fellow countryman Gilad Hekselman, represents one of the inspiring and influential forces of jazz, and guitar, in NYC and around the world. Following up four recordings as a leader (The Arrival  - 2003, Next Page - 2009, Resonance - 2010 and Brasil - 2011), and dozens of recordings as a sideman, Silberstein is quite proud and happy to present his new recording, The Village, to the world. It is by far his finest work, in that Silberstein was able to bring together many influences that are meaningful to him, including music from the Middle East, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Uruguay and of course jazz and blues, all fully absorbed and forged into a unique and coherent voice. The Village will be released on the jazz & people label on January 27, 2017 (released in Europe on December 2). 

For the recording of The Village Silberstein surrounded himself with close friends,
Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Greg Hutchinson (drums), who collectively could only be described as a world-class, dream-team rhythm section, allowing the grandeur of the guitarist's mastery to shine through unadulterated. "I was so happy in the studio looking around and seeing my band members who are each virtuosos on their instruments, and dear friends; they understand and support my musical vision, and play my music as if they wrote it!," said Silberstein.

Yotam Silberstein and The Village offer additional, unequivocal proof that Israel is a promised land for jazz musicians, and testimony that the art form of jazz guitar, and the harmonic language of jazz, brought to life by Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, Lennie Tristano and many others, is alive and evolving in the music of Yotam Silberstein. 
More about the music on  The Village with Yotam Silberstein:
1. Parabens - "Congrats" in Portuguese. I wrote this little blues two years ago on my birthday, and because of that, and because the rhythm is "baião" from northern Brazil, I decided to name it "Parabens".

2. Milonga Gris.  The first time I heard this haunting piece, composed by one of my biggest influences, the great Carlos "Negro" Aguirre, I was completely blown away. I wanted to do something different with it, later I got to play it with my dear friend and incredible musician Andrès Beeuwsaert, who also contributed this arrangement.

3. Nocturno is a little lullaby, a night song. I first recorded this tune on my album Brasil with Roy Hargrove and Toninho Horta, but I felt the need to do something different with it, and I really like this quartet's version of it.

4. The Village is dedicated to Greenwich Village, NYC, which is a very important place for me. Musically and spiritually, it is the vibrant center of jazz scene and this song reflects that, to me. It also refers to the fact that the world has become one global village, with easy access through the Internet and social media to different styles of music and musicians from all over the planet.

5. Stav - "Autumn" in Hebrew. I originally wrote this for a film soundtrack (the film never came out), so I decided to keep it for this album. Originally I wrote the melody for cello, but Reuben Rogers plays it more beautifully than I could have imagined.

6. Fuzz is dedicated to my friend and great tenor player Asaf Yuria. The guys are swinging really hard on this one!

7. I wrote Albayzin after a very inspiring visit to the beautiful city of Granada, Spain. After the death of the great Paco de Lucia, I decided to dedicate this one to his memory.

8. Changes - meaning chords/harmony, and this song has a lot of them!

9. O Voo da mosca - "the flight of the fly" in Portuguese, was written by one of my favorite musicians and biggest influences, Jacob do Bandolim, from Brasil. This song was so difficult to translate from mandolin to guitar, that it took me about two years to work on it, but I'm very happy with the result.

10. October was written on a beautiful Fall day in October. I was sitting in Prospect Park in Brooklyn with my guitar and felt very inspired to write this.

11. Lennie Bird was composed by another one of my major influences, the great Lennie Tristano. It's based on the chord changes of the standard, "How High the Moon."

Upcoming Tour Dates in Celebration of The Village:
December 29 - Bar Next Door, NYC - Duet with Peter Bernstein
January 16 - 12 on 14 - Warsaw, Poland
January 18 - Unterfahrt - Munich, Germany
January 20 - Jazz Club Lustenau - Lustenau, Austria
January 21 - Zigzag, Berlin, Germany
January 26 - Sunset/Sunside Jazz Club - Paris, France
February 8 - The Jazz Standard - NYC CD RELEASE CELEBRATION!
W/Glenn Zaleski, Matt Penman & Eric Harland
February 20-26 - Velenje Workshop, Slovenia
March 5 - Atlanta Jewish Music Festival, Georgia
March 18 - Copernic - Paris, France

NEC Jazz Studies Chair, composer and bandleader Ken Schaphorst bids farewell to mentors on new big band release How To Say Goodbye

Composer and bandleader Ken Schaphorst, chair of the Jazz Studies Department at New England Conservatory since 2001, pays tribute to some of his most profound influences on his fourth big band release, How To Say Goodbye. The deeply moving and wide-ranging album includes homages written in honor of jazz and education visionaries Bob Brookmeyer and Herb Pomeroy, both of whom went from mentors to NEC colleagues during Schaphorst's tenure at the Conservatory. Those compositions join an emotional ode to another formative influence, Schaphorst's late grandmother, in a richly diverse set that draws on influences from Ellington and Gerry Mulligan to African mbira music.

How To Say Goodbye, due out December 2 on JCA Recordings, features an all-star lineup, many of whom can trace their relationships with Schaphorst back to his earliest large ensemble efforts 30 years ago. Veterans of the composer's True Colors Big Band like tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, trumpeter John Carlson, trombonist Curtis Hasselbring and percussionist Jerry Leake sit alongside rising stars like saxophonists Brian Landrus, Jeremy Udden and Michael Thomas who studied with Schaphorst at NEC and played some of these pieces in student ensembles during that time.

The ensemble is also studded with current and past colleagues from the NEC faculty, including McCaslin, Leake, trombonist Luis Bonilla, guitarist Brad Shepik and trumpeter Ralph Alessi, as well as alumni including Hasselbring, trumpeter Tony Kadleck and bass trombonist Jennifer Wharton. More than just a source for collaborators, Schaphorst says that his time at New England Conservatory has played a fundamental role in shaping his compositional voice. "These pieces have been profoundly influenced by my interactions withŠ many tremendously talented students," he writes in the liner notes.

Of course, Schaphorst's music can't help but be impacted by the many long-lasting musical relationships represented on the album, many of which date back decades. "I've worked with almost every member of this band many, many times," he explains, "and all that history is imprinted on me. I've learned so much over the years from hearing these guys, and I think they've been influenced by hearing and playing my music. As I get older I realize how important and irreplaceable that is."

The results of such deeply-rooted and intimate knowledge is evident from the outset of How To Say Goodbye, which opens with the title track that Schaphorst wrote to feature trumpeter John Carlson. The composer describes the piece's constant changes and shifts as tracing an autobiographical tale, with fellow trumpeter Carlson playing a surrogate narrator. The varying tempos and moods play out as the up-and-down chapters of a relationship, and while the title becomes more sentimental over the course of a full album containing loving farewells to lost loved ones, in this case the abrupt and somewhat discordant finale suggests another, less polite way of saying goodbye. "It's not a happy ending," Schaphorst says with a laugh.

The lush Ellingtonia of "Blues for Herb" was penned in tribute to influential trumpeter and educator Herb Pomeroy. Schaphorst first encountered Pomeroy in a summer jazz studies program in 1979, beginning a musical relationship that would last for the remainder of Pomeroy's life. "I was blown away by him on a human level," Schaphorst recalls. "He was an amazing educator and a very musical, sincere, lyrical player. I learned so much from him, and he was always very supportive of me and my music." During his final years, Pomeroy coached jazz ensembles at NEC at Schaphorst's request. "Blues for Herb" is a showcase for the boundless tenor playing of Donny McCaslin, whose talents have been crucial to music by everyone from Maria Schneider to David Bowie. McCaslin was also a student of Pomeroy's, a personal connection that shines through in his jaw-dropping, virtuosic solo.

The folksy shuffle of "Take Back the Country" is Schaphorst's homage to legendary trombonist/arranger Bob Brookmeyer, whom Schaphorst came to know quite well through their work together at NEC until Brookmeyer's passing in 2011. If the rhetoric of the title sounds over-familiar in this presidential election year, that's no accident - it's the composer's acknowledgement of Brookmeyer's outspoken political views, which found him actually buying property in Canada following the 2000 election (though he never ultimately made the threatened move). The folk-jazz inflections reflect music that Brookmeyer made with both Gerry Mulligan and Jimmy Giuffre.

The swaying rhythm of "Amnesia" is inspired by Argentinean tango master Astor Piazzolla, but more importantly serves to memorialize Schaphorst's grandmother, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 90. Her memory was fading, the composer recalls, but she still loved to dance. A similar, if less mournful mood is summoned by "Float," a ballad whose name is self-explanatory as soon as one hears Matt Wilson's weightless rhythms and the soaring horn lines.

Schaphorst essays a solo Rhodes intro to the first of two "Mbira" pieces on the album, both influenced by the characteristic rhythms of the African thumb piano. Integral to both is the percussion mastery of Jerry Leake, a colleague at NEC throughout Schaphorst's tenure and a crucial influence on the composer's integration of West African and Indian traditions into his music. Leake's tabla playing also adds an intoxicating texture to the album's closing tune, "Descent," offering an exotic atmosphere for Ralph Alessi's bold trumpet solo to explore.

The gentle swing of "Green City" is a cheerful celebration of Boston, the city that Schaphorst has called home for much of his life - first through most of the 1980s and then, following a decade-long stint at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, since 2001 and his assumption of the Jazz Studies chair at NEC. Finally, the impressionistic "Global Sweat" is meant less as a comment on global warming, though Schaphorst has no problem with that interpretation, than as a vivid sonic depiction of a swelling storm, which finally breaks into a torrential group improvisation.

With ten vivid, memorable pieces and an abundance of outstanding musicianship, How To Say Goodbye ends by suggesting one more way - leave 'em wanting more, and keep the door wide open for those we'll be happy to see again.


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