Friday, April 20, 2018

RECORD STORE DAY IS TOMORROW, SATURDAY, APRIL 21 ALL OVER THE WORLD


Record Store Day is a celebration of the different groups that make up a record store- the store staff, the customers, and the artists. A very exciting part of the Day is the opportunity that it gives folks to come to a record store and get up close and personal with those who make the music. This year's Record Store Day has a fantastic lineup, at record stores all over the country. 

Speaking of all over the country, that's exactly where Mike Peters of The Alarm will be as he starts out in London with a Rough Trade in-store event, heads to Long Island NY for a stop at Looney Tunes, and then finishes his Record Store (Long) Day at Fingerprints in Long Beach!  Our first Transatlantic Record Store Day Tour! (More on that here: https://recordstoreday.com/NewsItem/7608)

About Record Store Day:

Record Store Day, the organization, is managed by the Department of Record Stores and is organized in partnership with the Alliance of Independent Media Stores (AIMS), the Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) and promotes independent record stores year-round with events, special releases and other fun things.

Record Store Day, the global celebration of the culture of the record store, takes place annually in April.

Record Store Day 2018 Sponsors:
ADA, Border City Media, Caroline, Crosley Turntables, Dr Martens Airwair USA, Dogfish Head Brewery, Furnace Record Pressing, Glowtronics, InGrooves, Music Business Association, MVD Entertainment, Okki Nokki, The Orchard, Redeye Distribution, Sony Music, ThinkIndie, URP Distribution, Universal Music Distribution, Vinyl Styl, Warner Bros. Records, WEA.

 

MIGUEL DE ARMAS QUARTET with WHAT'S TO COME

Cuban-born pianist Miguel de Armas proudly releases What's To Come, a debut album sure to expand his ever-widening audience. Long known as a stalwart in Havana, de Armas has synthesized the musics of his homeland with those from North America and Canada (where he now resides). It is an effortless weave of influences, fulfilling the promise of his working quartet and illuminating Miguel's mastery as an instrumentalist and group leader.
  
In 1988, Miguel was a graduate of the famed Instituto Superior de Arte, proving himself a rhythm master devoted to the multitude of sounds and influences surrounding Havana - rumbas, chants, the cadence of street life. They served as the basis for his own musical ideas.

He became a founding member of N.G. La Banda, the group that originated the Cuban salsa offshoot called timba. It proved successful, touring Lincoln Center, Montreux, Northsea and other festivals around the world due, in large part, to Miguel's innovations. He had defined an approach that utilized both acoustic and synthesized keyboards, a sound subsequently adopted in the development of Cuban music. That became his launching pad. Since then he has collaborated with a Who's Who of legends and appeared on more than 60 albums.

Miguel´s style draws heavily from the rich contributions of influential predecessors - among them, pianists Chucho Valdés, Emiliano Salvador and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. They have enabled him to create a sound distinctively his own.

Moreover, Miguel has become a musical activist from his new home in Ottawa, Canada, producing shows, inviting collaborations, encouraging stylistic partnerships that further his ideas and those of the greats who walked before him.

What's To Come provides the evidence. It's reach is varied and broad, encompassing elements of elegant danzón ("La Dama y el Perro"); bossas (the title track);and '80s symphonic rock ("A Song For My Little Son"). Special guests from Canada's musical community of Cuban specialists include recent Grammy nominee Jane Bunnett, guitarist Elmer Ferrer, trumpeter Alexis Baró, and bassist Roberto Riverón.

On this record, Miguel de Armas solidifies his place among Cuba's most distinguished musicians. The region that birthed the likes of Cachao, Omar Sosa, the multi-generational families of Valdés and O'Farrill, and countless others, now applauds another forward-thinker, a native son. Introducing Miguel de Armas.


Central Park’s SummerStage Presents: The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed: Classical, Jazz & Sanctified Soul

Photo Credit: Damien Seed.  Top row left to-right: Damien Sneed and Brandie Sutton.  Bottom row left-to-right Keke Wyatt and Stefon Harris



Central Park’s SummerStage Presents: The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed: Classical, Jazz & Sanctified Soul on June 30. The annual main stage concert event will feature Metropolitan Opera rising star Brandie Sutton and Grammy-nominated artists Stefon Harris and Keke Wyatt. Acclaimed vocalist Jazzmeia Horn will open the show.

“‘The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed’ is a milestone in my career,” said the Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient. “I’m finally able to showcase the various styles of music; I’ve been working hard at it since I was in elementary school. It hasn’t been an easy task trying to legitimately exist within three different genres [classical, jazz, and sanctified soul], but the journey has been worth it. I’m truly honored that I’ll be able to share the stage with Brandie Sutton, Stefon Harris, and Keke Wyatt, who are all at the top of their game. I am grateful to the Catskill Jazz Factory who connected me with SummerStage for this concert last year after my show they produced at the New York Botanical Gardens.”

Sneed has been putting the final touches on his three-album, multi-genre project, “The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed,” which is scheduled for release via his label, LeChateau Earl Records, on June 29.

“I didn’t want to release something too quickly,” said the music maestro. “My desire is that this project reflects the heart and soul of what I have been working towards my entire career.”

Joining the summer lineup for “The 3 Sides of Damien Sneed” is Brandie Sutton, who is hailed by Opera News for her “sumptuous, mid-weight soprano,” and the New York Times for her “warm, ample voice,” “ravishing performance” and “distinctive earthy coloring.” The young soprano began her professional career with a solo recital in the province of St. Maarten and numerous presentations of Handel’s “Messiah” across the United States. She has performed in European opera houses, including the Semperoper Dresden, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Grand Théâtre de Genève and Alter Oper Frankfurt. Sutton made her solo recital debut at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and Merkin Concert Hall in Lincoln Center, and her concert debut at Carnegie Hall. She has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra, the Radio Orpheus Symphony Orchestra in Moscow, and the Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. She has also performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. In 2017, Sutton joined the roster at The Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Stefon Harris, the four-time Grammy-nominated recording artist and acclaimed vibraphonist, is lauded as “one of the most important artists in jazz” by the Los Angeles Times. As a leader, Harris will release his eleventh recording, “Sonic Creed,” with his band, Blackout, in September 2018 on Motema Records. Currently, he serves as Associate Dean and Director of Jazz Arts at the Manhattan School of Music. Harris has also recorded as part of The Classical Jazz Quartet with Kenny Barron, Ron Carter and Lewis Nash, and as a member of the SFJAZZ Collective.

International and multi-genre artist Keke Wyatt has recorded a diverse collection of music throughout her career, including R&B, country, techno-pop, soft acoustic rock, gospel and contemporary inspirational—all served by the wallop of Wyatt’s dynamic vocals. Wyatt’s life has been an open book, as she has starred in the reality shows “Marriage Boot Camp” (WE Network) and “R&B Divas: Atlanta” (TV-One). Recently she made a calculated move from the reality world to scripted television, appearing in the episodic series “Saints & Sinners” (Bounce TV). Music remains Keke’s first love; she not only sings, she is a strong percussionist and is also adept at keyboards, guitar, and bass. Earlier in her career, Wyatt performed with various girl groups, even receiving an invitation to join The Dollz (the Houston group that evolved into Destiny’s Child). Wyatt is best known for hits with former duet partner, R&B singer Avant, including “My First Love,” “Nothing in This World” and “You & I.”

In addition to Sneed’s various projects; he and longtime music collaborator and renowned classical artist Audrey DuBois Harris recently released their current CD project, “God Bless America.” Produced by Sneed, the five-song EP features the title track along with classic and contemporary compositions: “Amazing Grace,” “Give Me Jesus,” “God Can Do Anything But Fail,” “Precious Lord Take My Hand,” which was recorded with Jerroll Lehman. “God Bless America,” released on April 6, is available at digital retail outlets everywhere. This summer, Sneed and DuBois Harris will perform a series of upcoming concert dates to promote the album.

Sneed recently signed with IMG Artists and will embark on a 36-city North American tour in 2019. “Damien Sneed: We Shall Overcome,” a tribute concert to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on  January 11, 2019, at the Empire Center at The Egg in Albany, NY, and will make stops at concert halls and universities in the U.S. and Canada. Other dates  on the two-month tour include: Jan. 13 in Toronto, ON; Jan. 15 in Pittsburgh, PA; Jan. 18 in Princeton, NJ; Jan. 23 in Irmo, SC; Jan. 25 in Mesa, AZ; Jan. 26, in Northridge, CA; Feb. 1 in West Palm Beach, FL; Feb. 7- 8 in St. Paul, MN; Feb. 10 in Overland Park, KS; and Feb. 14 in Omaha, NE. The tour will conclude March 3 in Modesto, CA.

Sneed was commissioned as a composer by the Lyric Opera of Chicago for the world premiere of “Empower” scheduled on May 31. The opera “Empower” is about a group of students who band together to change their south side neighborhood and fight against the negative media representation of a thirsty reporter obsessed with corruption. Members of the opera’s creative and artistic team include Ike Holder, librettist, Jess McLeod, director, Angela Brown, American operatic soprano and Will Liverman, baritone.

Sneed is also finalizing his fall CD release, “Damien Sneed: We Shall Overcome,” scheduled for September 2018. Previously, Sneed has toured with Aretha Franklin, Jessye Norman, Diana Ross and Wynton Marsalis. This year, Sneed will graduate from USC with a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting. 



NEW RELEASES: TERENCE BLANCHARD REATURING THE E-COLLECTIVE – LIVE; ROBERT GLASPER x KAYTRANADA - THE ARTSCIENCE REMIXES; KANDACE SPRINGS – BLACK ORCHID


TERENCE BLANCHARD REATURING THE E-COLLECTIVE – LIVE

Terence Blanchard has been a consistent artistic force for making powerful musical statements on painful American tragedies. With The E-Collective he addresses the epidemic of gun violence in America with his new album Live, 7 powerful songs culled from concerts performed in communities that have experienced escalating conflicts between law enforcement and African American citizens, reflecting bitter frustration while also providing a balm of emotional healing. With a title that carries a pointed double meaning, the album is an impassioned continuation of their GRAMMY-nominated studio recording Breathless.

ROBERT GLASPER x KAYTRANADA - THE ARTSCIENCE REMIXES       
  
Robert Glasper joins forces with the innovative producer KAYTRANADA on Robert Glasper x KAYTRANADA: The ArtScience Remixes, reimagining the songs on Robert Glasper Experiment's 2016 album ArtScience, which The FADER called "a freewheeling, genre-agnostic collection of feel-good songs." The ArtScience Remixes is available now to stream or download, and will be released as a Record Store Day vinyl exclusive on April 21. The set features cameos by Don Cheadle, Talib Kweli, Alex Isley, and Iman Omari, and takes the Experiment's trailblazing blend of R&B, Hip-Hip, and Jazz into new sonic realms.

KANDACE SPRINGS – BLACK ORCHID 

As singer & pianist Kandace Springs heads out on tour opening for music icons Daryl Hall & John Oates across North America this summer, she also gives fans a taste of her forthcoming album with the 3-song EP Black Orchid, featuring brand new tracks produced by Karriem Riggins. Springs delivers a pair of inspired covers with her simmering take on The Stylistics' "People Make the World Go Round " and a radiant performance of the Roberta Flack-popularized torch song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," along with the ruminative "Black Orchid" by guitarist-songwriter Jesse Harris.


60th ANNIVERSARY OF SARAH VAUGHAN SINGS GERSHWIN CELEBRATED WITH NEW VINYL RELEASE; ALBUM PRESENTED AS DOUBLE LP IN ITS ORIGINAL MONO MIX


In the annals of jazz history, few events have been more influential than the Jazz at the Philharmonic concert series, and the album series of the same name. From 1944 to 1957, pioneering impresario, Verve Records founder, Norman Granz organized a series of prestigious all-star concerts that featured a who's-who of the genre's most popular and influential artists. These shows were instrumental in raising jazz's public profile, and were among the first high-profile performances to feature racially mixed bands performing for integrated audiences.

Granz spun off Jazz at the Philharmonic into a series of album releases, which preserved historic performances from the JATP concerts. Granz licensed many of those live recordings to Mercury Records and later issued them on his own labels, Norgran, Clef and Verve. In the 1980s, Verve reached into the vault for an additional series of releases that included previously unissued performances. The JATP recordings have since attained legendary status, a status that was confirmed in 2010, when the series was chosen by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Recording Registry, which annually selects recordings that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

On April 20, Verve Records/UMe issues a trio of beloved vinyl gems from the legendary live series issued in the 1980s: Ella Fitzgerald's Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set, Jazz at the Philharmonic: Lester Young Carnegie Blues and the all-star Jazz at the Philharmonic: Blues In Chicago 1955, featuring Oscar Peterson, Illinois Jacquet and Herb Ellis. All albums are pressed on standard weight black vinyl.

Jazz at the Philharmonic: The Ella Fitzgerald Set shines the spotlight on one of JATP's favorite artists. The two-LP set is an updated version of its first vinyl release in Verve's original 1983 Jazz at the Philharmonic archival series, now matching the expanded CD edition issued in 2016. The stunning collection – now one dynamic set – incorporates Fitzgerald's performances from 1949, 1953 and 1957 concerts, with the iconic singer fronting all-star bands including such legendary players as Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Buddy Rich and Hank Jones, delivering classic interpretations of such standards as "Oh, Lady Be Good!" and "Lullaby Of Birdland," and the memorable jam session "Flying Home." The Ella Fitzgerald Set includes an essay by journalist Will Friedwald. 

Another jewel from the original Jazz at the Philharmonic series, Jazz at the Philharmonic: Lester Young Carnegie Blues is a loose, blowing set with the great tenor saxophonist Lester "Pres" Young sharing the stage with such jazz legends as fellow saxophonists Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker and Illinois Jacquet, pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Herb Ellis, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jo Jones. First issued in 1985 with tracks then previously unreleased, Lester Young Carnegie Blues features highlights from three JATP shows recorded at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1946, 1953 and 1957, including the title track, an extended "Tea For Two," and a medley of Young originals centered around "I Cover the Waterfront." 

The third JATP reissue is Jazz at the Philharmonic: Blues in Chicago 1955, a thrilling tour de force led by piano great Oscar Peterson, and featuring his frequent partner, guitarist Herb Ellis, and early saxophone innovator Illinois Jacquet. Recorded at Chicago's Shrine Auditorium in 1955, one side of the album is an audacious 20-minute piece entitled "The Blues," while the other side features a bopping "Modern Set" and a long "Ballad Medley," with appearances by Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Roy Eldridge and Flip Phillips. 

On April 20, Verve/UMe will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of Sarah Vaughan's classic Sarah Vaughan Sings George Gershwin, originally released by Mercury Records in 1958, with a fresh vinyl reissue of this beloved two-LP studio set, in its original mono mix. Throughout the sparkling 22-song session, Vaughan's unmistakable vocals soar over Hal Mooney's impeccable arrangements, bringing new life to such Gershwin standards as "Someone to Watch Over Me," "I've Got A Crush On You," "Summertime," "A Foggy Day," "The Man I Love" and many more. 

Shining as brightly today as when they were recorded, these four long out-of-print classics can once again be enjoyed on vinyl, sounding better than ever.



BCUC (Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness) -‘EMAKHOSINI’


“BCUC will come correct with their energetic, unique and magic formula; the voices of their ancestors, mixed with funk, punk-rock vibrations, hip-hop, Fela-inflections and much more in between.” Gilles Peterson, BBC Radio 6 Music/Worldwide FM

A stone’s throw from the church where Desmond Tutu organised the escape of the most wanted anti-Apartheid activists of Soweto, BCUC rehearses in a shipping container-turned-community restaurant, where their indomitable outspokenness echoes in a whole new way.

Make no mistake, this buzzing township has lost none of the creative, rebellious energy it had when the “Rainbow Nation”, with its now less-than-vibrant colours, emerged twenty years ago. Like its elders, Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness sees its music as a hedonistic trance, but also as a weapon of political and spiritual liberation.

The seven-piece band has been mesmerising audiences both locally and globally with its indigenous funk and high-energy performances that have fast made it one of South Africa’s most successful musical exports. Artistic heirs to Philip “Malombo” Tabane and Batsumi, they seek to give a contemporary voice to the ancestral traditions of indigenous peoples. Jazz sounds of 1970s and ‘80s productions have been replaced by hip-hop influences and a punk-rock energy.

With new album ‘EMAKHOSINI’, to be released April 20th in the U.S. via Buda Musique, BCUC take the listener on an intriguing epic journey, sharing their controversial yet interesting views on modern Africa. They tackle the harsh realities of the voiceless, especially the plight of the uneducated workers at the bottom of the social food chain. BCUC taps into the elusiveness of the spirit world of ancestors by which they are inspired. The Africa portrayed by BCUC is not poor, but rich in tradition, rituals and beliefs.

Recorded at Back To Mono studios in Lyon, France in the summer of 2017, the band’s music derives from a blend of genres across the ages and they draw inspiration from indigenous music that is not exposed in the mainstream. The music refuses to be formatted and that’s the essence of “Africangungungu”, the name they’ve given to their “afropsychedelic” music. Their “incantations” in Zulu, Sotho and English and their funky modulations extend over twenty minutes in a whirlwind of sound reminiscent of Fela’s Afrobeat. “We bring fun and emo-indigenous Afro psychedelic fire from the hood,” says vocalist Kgomotso Mokone.

BCUC’s willingness to look at social and identity questions in the face has already led to the banning of one song from their only self-produced EP, which points the finger at a national idol. But neither this event, nor the criticism to which they are exposed by their refusal to belong to a specific movement, can change their minds. “Music for the people by the people with the people” –  a people they refuse to box into one community, to circumscribe to one skin colour.

BCUC toured Europe extensively in 2017 with an unforgettable performance at the Roskilde Festival, Denmark alongside the likes of Foo Fighters and A Tribe Called Quest. They were also the highlight of Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival, receiving critical acclaim for their performance with their hypnotic afro-psychedelia.


NEW RELEASES: JEFFREY OSBORNE – WORTH IT ALL; THIEVERY CORPORATION - TREASURES FROM THE TEMPLE; BRUBECK BROTHERS QUARTET - TIMELINE

JEFFREY OSBORNE – WORTH IT ALL

"I wanted to go back to my roots and do an old school R&B album...what I call a 'Grown Folks' record. I approached it like things from the past that influenced me then wrote my versions. For example, 'Let a Brotha Know' sounds like a song I would have done with my old band L.T.D. while 'Saving My Love' has an Island ballad vibe like things Lionel Richie used to write. I produced the whole album and wrote all of the songs except for one that I co-wrote with my son, Jeffrey Osborne Jr., titled 'Work it.' I wrote the melody and the words while he came up with the track and raps on it. I'm using the guys from my road band along with a few friends like Gerald Albright and Rick Braun. I believe there's still an audience for real music and songs about lasting love. It's important to me to to maintain integrity with our music." - Jeffrey Osborne


THIEVERY CORPORATION - TREASURES FROM THE TEMPLE

Thievery Corporation go back to the vaults – and come up with a host of unusual material from the Temple Of I & I sessions! The music here is a great extension of the sound of that record – and includes unused tracks, remixes, and dubplates – all with the same collaborative vibe of the original, thanks to appearances from Mr Lif, Sitali, Raquel Jones, Notch, Natalia Clavier, and others! As you'd guess from the title of the original album, there's a fair bit of influence from reggae and dub running through the music – and titles include "Music To Make You Stagger", "San San Rock", "Voyage Libre", "Waiting Too Long", "La Force De Melodie", "Joy Ride", "Guidance", "Destroy The Wicked", "Letter To The Editor (TC rmx)", "Water Under The Bridge", and "Road Block (TC rmx)".  ~ Dusty Groove


BRUBECK BROTHERS  QUARTET - TIMELINE

Chris Brubeck and Dan Brubeck are extensions of a remarkable jazz legacy. Although they toured and recorded with their father extensively, the immensely popular and influential jazz innovator Dave Brubeck, Chris and Dan have forged their own musical identities. Bass player and trombonist Chris and drummer Dan have previously released four albums with their band Brubeck Brothers Quartet. Along with their musical compatriots, Mike DiMicco on guitar and Chuck Lamb on piano, they are releasing their newest CD, Timeline, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Dave Brubeck’s seminal State Department Tour as an official jazz ambassador for the United States. Chris and Dan honed their chops working in Dave’s band for many years, but they also struck out on their own, with each touring and recording in different groups and styles through the years. The brothers’ fresh take on their father’s classic tunes as well as their own original compositions reflect the diversity of their experiences and their instinct to incorporate new ideas in their music. On Timeline the Brubeck Brothers Quartet explore odd time signatures while integrating the blues, contemporary jazz, and world music. The band is not afraid to take chances and pushes the envelope to create a rewarding and inventive musical journey.




Saxophonist Dave McMurray Makes Blue Note Records Debut with Detroit-centric Album, Music Is Life


Dave McMurray’s Blue Note Records debut, Music Is Life, is a reunion of sorts, given the long history the saxophonist shares with the label’s president, and fellow Detroit native, Don Was. McMurray was a member of Was’ genre-defying unit Was (Not Was), first working together on the band’s self-titled 1981 debut. He’s played on all of the band’s albums and many other Was produced projects in the years since.

When Was signed McMurray to Blue Note, the saxophonist says that he gave him no imperatives as to which artistic paths to take. “It was one of those situations in which he just said, ‘Do it,’” McMurray explains.

“I know Dave’s playing really well. He doesn’t bullshit,” Was praises. “He’s never playing licks for the sake of playing licks. He’s not trying to impress people with what all he knows about music or about his dexterity over the instrument. It’s all about honest expressions.”

McMurray proceeded by gathering a batch of strong originals and well-chosen rock and R&B staples then recruited musicians – bassist Ibrahim Jones and drummers Ron Otis and Jeff Canady – with whom he’s forged longstanding rapports. With minimum keyboard and string accompaniments on a few tunes, the music boasts an open, rugged sensibility that optimizes the leader’s burly tone and swaggering lyricism.

McMurray has cemented his reputation for versatility by playing with a vast array of musicians that include B.B. King, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Hallyday, Gladys Knight, Albert King, Nancy Wilson, KEM, Bootsy Collins, Herbie Hancock, Geri Allen, and Bob James. McMurray sounds as assured and inspired in a rock, R&B, funk, pop or folk setting as he does playing hard bop.

McMurray consolidates all of those aforementioned idioms on Music Is Life, creating a cohesive program of groove-based modern jazz that bristles with unalloyed soul. “I wanted it to have the spirit of a funk record,” he says, before rejoicing in the freedom afforded by having minimum chordal support. “I can just hold the melody down or go anywhere else in these songs.” Case in point, the joyous title track “Music Is Life (Live It),” which serves as his personal mantra.

McMurray attributes his saxophone sound and improvisational approach to growing up in Detroit. “Every time I hear an instrumentalist from Detroit play, it feels like they are singing. I don’t care if it’s Yusef Lateef, James Carter or Kenny Garrett. All of those saxophonists incorporated incredible technique too. But they had this singing quality in their playing. I think people hear that and connect with that aspect of it,” McMurray says.

“Dave absorbed a wide range of musical styles, which I think is something that’s consistent with Detroit musicians,” Was says. “You can trace it back to the boom of the auto industry after World War II. Workers not only from all over the country but from all over the world came to work in the auto plants. And they brought their cultures with them. There were so many different styles of music that you could hear; Detroit has such an eclectic blend of influences that I think what you find in music that comes out of Detroit is this genre-busting type music.”

For sure, McMurray stands on Detroit’s mighty music legacy that includes the influential Motown sound, P-Funk, numerous rock acts such as Stooges and the MC5, electronica-music pioneers Carl Craig, Moodymann and Theo Parrish; and hip-hop icons – J Dilla, Eminem and Slum Village. And let’s not forget the legion of jazz artists from Detroit that include Elvin Jones, Betty Carter, Milt Jackson, Regina Carter and Geri Allen.

In some ways, Music Is Life functions as much as celebration of Detroit as it does a reunion for McMurray and Was. “Bop City D” is a burning hard bop number that tips its hat to the Motor City, while the album’s closer, “Turo’s Dream” is a tribute to the memory of one of McMurray’s best friends that he met in elementary school. Other noticeable Detroit references come by way of covers of songs by artists with connections to the city – George Clinton’s funk anthem “Atomic Dog” and the White Stripes’ rock hit “Seven Nation Army.”

McMurray’s hard-hitting “Naked Walk” opens the set. Distinguished by stabbing riffs and a strutting melody, animated by fiery hollers and wails, the song has long been in the saxophonist’s songbook and is frequently played as a crowd-pleasing encore. The album’s other bracing originals include the brooding “After the Storm,” the snapping, hip-hop-centric “Freedom Ain’t Free,” the prowling “Time #5” – which is a part of McMurray’s ongoing “Time” composition series – and the stirring, string-enhanced “Paris Rain,” an evocative homage to one of McMurray’s favorite cities.

Speaking of France, Music Is Life also features a soaring reading of “Que Je T’aime,” a torch ballad that McMurray performed regularly with French rock legend, Johnny Hallyday, who passed away in 2017. “When we played that song live, everybody would be standing up. You’d see guys out there with tears in their eyes while singing along to that song. It was so emotional when he sang it,” McMurray recalls.

McMurray’s journey into music began when he started playing clarinet as kid, and inspired by his older brother’s interest in the saxophone he decided he wanted to learn that instrument, too. He counts seeing Cannonball Adderley perform on The Steve Allen Show as a defining moment in his childhood. While in high school, McMurray attended Cranbook Academy of Arts’ noted summer program, Horizons Upward Bound. He eventually got a scholarship to attend the private school. McMurray furthered his education by attending Wayne State University, where he earned degrees in psychology and urban studies.

While making his way on Detroit’s bustling music scene, McMurray played with the avant-garde jazz ensemble, Griot Galaxy, founded in 1972 by saxophonist Faruq Z. Bey. But McMurray’s catholic taste in music opened the doors for him to explore beyond the realms of jazz. “Any music that I heard – and continue to hear – I can see myself playing it,” McMurray asserts. “It could be rock, jazz, R&B, whatever.” And that’s a good explanation for his multifaceted career.

Dave McMurray · Music Is Life
Blue Note Records · Release Date: May 18, 2018



Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Colombian Bandleader Juan Andrés Ospina Captures the Soul-Stirring Grace and Inspiring Power of the Mediterranean Wind Known as Tramontana


"It's very hard to get a personal, identifiable sound when orchestrating for a Big Band, but - almost miraculously - Juan Andrés Ospina makes it happen. Bingo!" - Paquito D'Rivera

Powerful yet invisible, momentarily ferocious yet leaving behind idyllic, crystal clear skies; the Tramontana is a true force of nature, a gale force wind that lashes Spain's Catalan coastline. It serves as an apt inspiration for composer and bandleader Juan Andrés Ospina, who has experienced its strength and beauty firsthand and has translated the wind's stirring and awe-invoking qualities into music for Tramontana, the debut release by his phenomenal big band. Soul-stirring and vigorous, a family affair as well as a multinational congregation, the Juan Andrés Ospina Big Band embodies the contradictory essence of this formidable natural phenomenon.

Due out April 20, 2018 Tramontana is the extraordinary fulfillment of nearly a decade of dreaming and a lifetime's immersion in music. Born into a musical and artistic family in Bogotá, Colombia, Ospina chanced into his gift for big band composing and arranging while a student at Boston's Berklee College of Music. The album's realization follows a successful, inventive Kickstarter campaign and the enthusiastic encouragement of renowned bandleaders Paquito D'Rivera and Maria Schneider. It brings together a gifted ensemble of artists of ten different nationalities, performing Ospina's striking originals, one radically transformed standard, and a passionate song by Colombian singer Lucia Pulido.

"This is something that I've felt for a long time that I had to do," Ospina says. "I just needed to find the courage to finally do it."

One listen to the majestic and richly textured pieces that make up Tramontana and it's obvious why Ospina felt so compelled to pursue the daunting task of assembling a big band to record his music. He never set out to become a bandleader on this scale, however; his first piece for big band, in fact, was nothing more than a classroom assignment. It was under the tutelage of Greg Hopkins at Berklee that Ospina crafted the dramatic rendition of "Like Someone In Love" that appears on the album, reharmonized and with the well-known melody stretched to unrecognizable lengths, creating something that feels both familiar and fresh.

That description also applies to the ensemble itself, which combines longtime collaborators and new acquaintances. Several of them were on stage alongside him when Ospina premiered his original big band pieces at his Berklee graduation in 2007; others met for the first time in the studio when these tracks were recorded. The members of the band hail from such far-flung locales as the U.K., Cuba, Canada, Israel, Switzerland, Greece, Portugal and Argentina, as well as Ospina's native Colombia and his adopted home of New York (he splits his time between the two when not on tour).

"I thought it would be interesting to have so many different nationalities playing in this band, all bringing their influences to the music in some way," Ospina says. "It's something that might be very common in New York, but from a Colombian perspective it's pretty crazy."

Ospina's homeland is well represented on the album; aside from one turn by Ospina himself, the piano chair is filled either by Colombia native Carolina Calvache or by the composer's brother Nicolás Ospina, with whom he collaborates in a comedy-music duo that's found viral success online. Their sister Silvia designed the artwork for the album. Acclaimed Colombian singer Lucia Pulido's heart-wrenching vocals bring the album to a stirring close on her own "Ver Llover," one of three pieces in Ospina's repertoire commissioned by Bogotá's Jazz al Parque festival. The composition is based on the currulao rhythm from the Pacific coast of Colombia, for which Ospina invited Argentinean drummer Franco Pinna, a master of that tradition, to join the band.

The soaring wordless vocals on the opening title track are by the remarkable Portuguese singer Sofia Ribeiro. Ospina has been a key member of Ribeiro's band for seven years, serving as musical director and producer as well as pianist for her last two albums. Two other members of that ensemble also join Ospina for Tramontana: Greek bassist Petros Klampanis, who appears on "Recuerdos de un Reloj de Pared," and percussionist Marcelo Woloski. "She's an incredible singer and her music is amazing," Ospina says of Ribeiro. "Working with her has been one of my most important musical experiences."

"Todavía No," an Ospina composition based on the Pasillo rhythm found in Colombia's Andes Mountains, originally appeared in a small band arrangement on Ospina's 2009 debut, BBB: Barcelona, Bogotá, Boston. Christopher Lyndon of Radio Open Source called the album, "a landmark. It stands with authority as a milestone pointing back and forward [and marks] the 'arrival' of Juan Ospina as a young master already having a uniquely valuable impact on listeners, professional musicians and ambitious artists of all kinds." David Sumner of All About Jazz hailed BBB as "an absolutely welcome addition to the jazz landscape."

It was there - after discovering the pianist through one of the comic videos he made with his brother - that Cuban jazz great Paquito D'Rivera first heard the song and decided to add it to his own repertoire. Ospina expanded the tune with D'Rivera in mind, and the legendary saxophonist contributes a graceful yet fervent soprano solo for the occasion. "It's so inspiring for someone that has so much experience and has been on the music scene for more than 50 years is still so thirsty for new sounds," says Ospina, who seized the opportunity to put down his conductor's baton and take over the keyboard for one tune. "Paquito has a very strong personal identity that comes out in every single nuance that he adds to the melody, the small details or grace notes that add so much to the music."

The simmering tension of "102 Fahrenheit" was born from the arduous experience of its own composition. Ospina wrote the piece in an un-air conditioned apartment during a summer heatwave in New York City, with deadlines looming and technology refusing to cooperate. "It was a very stressful month," he recalls. "My computer was crashing all the time it was crazy hot. I couldn't open the windows because so much noise was coming from the street that I couldn't concentrate, but if I closed them it was like a sauna. The intensity of the tune came from the stress of having to meet a deadline and not being able to work in comfort." That personal experience of extreme weather led him to create a piece that comments on the more global issue of climate change and the urgently needed (but too widely neglected) response.

"Recuerdos de un Reloj de Pared," which translates as "Memories of a Grandfather Clock," was inspired by a timepiece that has stood watch in the house of the composer's grandmother for decades, a silent witness to generations of stories. The recording features the expressive accordion of Magda Giannikou, who also co-produced the album. The two have worked together since 2005, with Ospina playing in her ensemble Banda Magda. She, along with guitarist Nadav Remez and drummer Dan Pulgach (both from Israel), all played the same piece ten years ago at its Berklee premiere.

The recording of the album at New York City's iconic Sear Sound Studio was filmed by Grammy-winning director Andy LaViolette, who has produced a series of videos to accompany the release. Far from simple "music videos," these pieces combine candid interviews with the composer set against the backdrop of the city, interspersed with key moments from the studio. The videos reveal a picture of an emerging composer as he crafts his modern take on big band music, as well as what it takes to pull off an independent project on such a massive scale."

Juan Andrés Ospina
Currently living in between New York and Bogotá, Colombia, pianist, composer, arranger and producer Juan Andrés Ospina is one of the most active and prominent exponents of an outstanding generation of Colombian musicians. His debut album as a leader, BBB: Barcelona, Bogotá, Boston (Armored Records, 2009) was named one of the "best jazz albums of the year" by the prestigious All About Jazz website. In the past several years, Ospina has produced, arranged and played the piano for Colombian singer Marta Gómez' Este Instante (2015), which won a Latin Grammy; Portuguese singer Sofia Ribeiro's Mar Sonoro (2016) and Ar (2012) - which won the "Revelation" prize from the prestigious French magazine Jazzman; and Portuguese singer Luisa Sobral's debut CD, The Cherry on my Cake (2011), which went Platinum and garnered two Golden Globe nominations. He also co-leads the comedy/musical duo "Inténtalo Carito" with his brother Nicolás Ospina. Together they composed the famous song "Qué difícil es hablar el español," and their YouTube Channel has garnered more than 22 million views to date. Ospina started his musical studies at the Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá), then moved to Barcelona, Spain, where he continued his classical and jazz studies at the Escola D'Angel Soler and the Taller de Musics. In 2005 he received a scholarship to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he studied with = musicians such as Danilo Pérez, Maria Schneider, Greg Hopkins and Dave Samuels among many others.




WorldService Project Is Here to Serve on 4th Album / Irreverent Group Delivers Punk-Jazz with a Dash of Humor


As a followup to 2016's For King and Country, WorldService Project delivers another powerful punk-jazz manifesto with a sly grin on Serve, their second RareNoise release and fourth album overall. Showcasing their signature blend of discipline and chaos, the edgy London-based avant-funk quintet combines throbbing grooves, huge backbeats, grinding fuzz-bass onslaughts and ferocious free blowing on eight potent tracks, with just a dash of Monty Pythonesque's irreverence thrown into the mix. "WorldService Project is a very intense, high-energy live show," says keyboardist-vocalist and principal composer Dave Morecroft, who is also the creator and artistic director of London's Match&Fuse festival. "We throw ourselves into it and hope to come out alive at the other end. And if you're not bleeding by the end of it, you haven't tried hard enough."

You can feel that kind of intensity on the fusiony opener, "Plagued With Righteousness," the slamming "Dai Jo Bo" and the Zappa-esque "Ease." WSP offers pointed takes on Trump, Brexit and the state of the world on the cathartic, politically-tinged "Now This Means War," which has Morecroft delivering the chilling message in English, French, Italian and German. And the sinister Mr. Giggles, previously heard on 2013's Fire in a Pet Shop and 2016's For King and Country, makes a return appearance on the frightfully raucous "The Tales of Mr. Giggles." As Morecroft explains, "Mr Giggles is a clown character who has been featured in live shows since 2013. I adopt the character for a theatrical moment in the set, and it's gone down a storm particularly in other parts of the world (China, India, Japan etc). He is a mischievous character who may or may not eat children. I wanted to flesh out his story a bit more on this record, take the narrative surrounding him to the next level by addressing society, the 'norm', bullying, mental illness and so on." (Find the lyrics here: http://www.worldserviceproject.co.uk/who-is-mr-giggles). 

Rounding out the WorldService Project cast on Serve are tenor saxophonist Tim Ower, who erupts with fierce abandon on "Runner" and "Now This Means War," trombonist Raphael Clarkson, who offers unbridled solos on "The Tales of Mr. Giggles" and "Ease," bassist Arthur O'Hara, who fuels these jams with his heavy-duty, fuzz-inflected lines, and drummer Harry Pope, a powerhouse player who grounds the mayhem with slamming authority while also showing his jazzier side on "Runner" and the haunting closer, "False Prophets." Morecroft offers a wild synth solo on "To Lose The Loved One" while providing multiple tones and textures throughout Serve. "I'm definitely into the idea of stretching the soundscape that one instrument can provide, in both pre and post production," he says. "I'm using a Nord Stage and Roland AX synth keytar on this album, and thats it! Compared to previous albums, I'm using more patches with different bases on the Nord with some Hammond, synth, Rhodes and Wurlitzer based patches appearing across the record. We did a lot in post-production as well, as the keys are often the instrument that give that 'base colour' to each track. We worked with (producer) Liran Donin on this record and he was fantastic in getting a great sound in the studio and then enhancing that in the mix."

Morecroft addresses the seemingly disparate qualities of discipline and chaos that emerge from tune to tune on Serve: "I think it reflects my personality to a great extent. Funnily enough, I've just moved my life to Rome from London, and the Italians are very into the Zodiac signs. It's not something I've ever subscribed to, per se, but I have to say that in this sense I am a true Gemini, split down the middle of my personalities! I do love this mix of tight ensemble discipline and absolute mayhem. I think the mayhem has been reigned in quite a lot since, for example, Fire in a Pet Shop. But it is still a feature of my writing for sure and comes out more in live shows."

Adds the WorldService Project leader, "I think it's always the balance that intrigues me; thinking with the head or with the heart, enjoying something as a musician or as an audience member, giving strict limitations versus freedom, democracy versus dictatorship. These subjects interest me by themselves, but it's also how/where/why one draws a line in the sand between the two things that I find most fascinating. Quite simply put, it's also life, no? We perpetually plan our lives and live in frameworks whilst relentlessly trying to live in the moment and take things as they come, more chaotically. I think to make this work musically I've always tried to think about the 'gesture' of each section, and find the purest form of that gesture for that moment in a musical form."

As for the tag of 'punk jazz' that has been associated with WorldService Project since their 2010 debut, Morecroft opines: "We've adopted 'punk jazz' because for us the 'punk' represents an adjective more than a genre. We are the punky, underground, do-or-die, DIY side of UK jazz for sure, and the music and the live show is also becoming increasingly more political/anti-establishment, so there is that too. I think generally people are moving away more from labels or genres on the whole I think, which I welcome. So, essentially, I'm happy for people to call it whatever it means to them! It's certainly provided some amusement for us in the past. WSP definitely began much more in the 'jazz' arena than it is now, and in a way I think this is what I wanted to form - a jazz quintet, but playing modern music that had a different sound. As time went on, I just reacted to my musical influences and what each member brought, and I grew in courage and conviction to do what we're doing now."

The band's flexible, turning on a dime nature is perhaps best reflected on the closer, "False Prophets," which builds slowly from an understated intro with drummer Pope displaying some sensitive brushwork against haunting vocals to a grandiose, pulse-quickening crescendo. "'False Prophets' is, for us, an incredibly powerful journey to go on, and in a way was one of the hardest pieces to get together," says Morecroft. "I think that 'turning on a dime' thing is something I've always admired in other ensembles, and again reflects some of my personal qualities, being a Gemini. I think the flexibility of the ensemble is also due to the fantastic musicians that they are. We all have a unique set of diverse influences, and in a way we've been teaching each other all of these on the road and at gigs for the last couple of years, which I think has resulted in this album. And all of the guys are open-minded musicians and incredibly talented, so I'm very lucky in that respect."

WorldService Project will be on tour in April and May through the U.K., Italy and France. And watch for an upcoming music video on "The Tales of Mr. Giggles" later this year. Meanwhile, savor the unexpected sounds of Serve on RareNoiseRecords.



Gypsy Jazz group LES PETITS NOUVEAUX'S new album, STOCKHOLM


Les Petits Nouveaux’s sophomore release is an exciting breath of fresh air in a genre that is often mired in traditionalism. The album’s namesake is a tribute to both Django Reinhardt and the group’s connection to the Swedish capitol through band member, Mikko Hilden. Half recorded in Toronto and half in Stockholm, it captures the musical journey of a Jazz Manouche ensemble that is set on pushing the envelope while respecting the traditions. Fusing Django Reinhardt’s infectious swing and the modern advancements of the post-war jazz era, Stockholm is a record that sounds nostalgic yet current. The group collaborated with many of Canada’s well-established personnel to produce this record; including virtuoso vibraphonist, Michael Davidson, award-winning mix engineer, Don Kerr (Ron Sexsmith, Bahamas, Rheostatics), and Canadian Jazz Manouche ambassador, Denis Chang. The album is released with support from the Ontario Arts Council.

Les Petits Nouveaux is a Jazz Manouche collective based in Toronto. The band's founder, Mikko Hilden, joins Aline Homzy, Andy Mac, and Tak Arikushi and overcome geographic challenges (Mikko now lives in Stockholm and Andy lives in Monteral) to create music. The band's name means "A little bit of new" in French, and they continually strive to introduce bits of modern influences while respecting the traditions of the genre. Influences as diverse as Astor Piazzolla, Julian Lage, and even Dr. Dre can be found in their repertoire.



Guitarist LENI STERN Weaves Rhythms of Senegal With The Music of NYC on New Album "3"


Guitarist and composer Leni Stern is an unstoppable force of energy, a beacon of inspiration and a nomadic virtuoso; spreading the beauty of her music from her native Europe to her adopted home of NYC. Her devoted fans know her from a successful jazz career that saw her touring the globe on the stage of every major festival and legendary club with bands that included some of the most revered heavyweights on the scene (Dennis Chambers, Paul Motian, and Bill Frisell... to name just a few). Everything changed for Leni in 2005 when the guitarist was invited to perform at the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu, Mali. It was there that she would meet Bassekou Kouyate and his wife Ami Sacko. Embraced by their family and their bands, she dove headfirst into the traditions of West African guitar and later the n'goni (African banjo). It was a natural path into the music of West Africa. For Leni, a personal journey began, a spiritual exploration coupled with devoted study and practice. Stern followed her heart to Africa and her travels have harvested many rewards, not the least of which is her brilliant new album, "3".

Over the past 13 years Leni has worked diligently, forging a new sound that is all her own; composing, studying, practicing the rhythms and tonalities of West Africa through the chops of a superlative jazz guitarist. It is on "3" that her most authentic voice can be experienced. Joined by her regular NYC-based band in a pure trio collaboration, featuring Mamadou Ba on bass and Alioune Faye on percussion and vocals, Leni's compositions pay humble homage to the drum patterns of traditional Senegalese folk songs. What emerges is a new repertoire of cross-pollinated ideas with reverence to jazz, blues, and Africa, woven into the music of NYC, creating a brilliant follow up to the critically acclaimed Dakar Suite (2016). 

More on the music on "3" with Leni Stern:
Side one of "3" opens with the infectious Senegalese rhythm of mbalax, and that beautiful, sophisticated, worldly, NYC guitar sound that could only belong to Leni Stern, on "Khavare" ("party"). Sabar (a Senegalese drum) parties typically start at midnight and go all night until dawn, all over the world, even here in the U.S. "Barambai", featuring guest Gil Goldstein on accordion, is the Senegalese rhythm of the baby naming ceremony. "While studying n'goni and voice in Bamako, Mali, Ami Sacko and Bassekou Kouyate's children took me to play guitar at similar ceremonies, and I felt incredibly privileged to be part of this. The baby naming and wedding ceremonies played a big part in how I learned to play African music." Leni heard the scale she used to compose "Wakhma" for the first time when checking out flamenco players from Spain (The first two chords of the song are typical of that style. There is a n'goni tuning in Mali that is used for the same scale.) "Wakhma" features Leni's intimate, plaintive vocals - a wonderful treat, as if she's letting us, just us, into her heart. Closing out side one of the album is "Calabas", featuring a stunning solo from husband, the great Mike Stern. "I have tried for years to learn a percussion instrument that would not be detrimental to my guitar playing. Finally while in Mali I discovered the calabas. It can take the place of the bass drum and the snare drum, if you look at it from a western standpoint. Now I can be part of a percussion ensemble!" On Calabas Leni sings: Coumba n'ge duggi marche, Leket chi diggu bobbi (Coumba went to the market with a calabas on her head).

Side two of "3" begins with the magnetic groove and interwoven melodies of "Spell." "I made friends with the Vodoun community and got their blessing to teach the children. The Marabou (sorcerers) of the Vodoun community told me many secret stories. One of them that I liked in particular, because it found its way into the blues, was the story of the spirits meeting at the crossroads at night. This is the reason why people should stay away from there come dusk. In the light of day the Marabou can leave gifts, gold mostly, and requests on people's behalf in a hole in the ground. I can't tell you any more about it, because I promised I would keep the secrets, but let me tell you this: there's a world behind the world we see." "Colombiano" is for Samuel Torres, and features a lovely lullaby-like melody. "We toured in South America last year and got to witness firsthand the influences of African rhythms on the music of the continent. On my return to NYC I asked my friend and composer/percussionist extraordinaire Samuel Torres, who hails from Colombia, to explain all the new rhythms I had learned. He also taught me the musical history of South America, and how the complex and bloody history of Colonialization explains the different musical influences. After Samuel left, I sat down and tried to capture all the stories as I wrote this song." "Assiko" is the Senegalese soccer/football rhythm. "I have always felt that all over the world we have much more in common that what sets us apart. Soccer was the sport of my childhood. I grew up in Munich, which made me very popular in Africa, because Munich is the current world champion in soccer." "3" closes with "Crocodile". In Senegal, similar to many states here in America like Florida, cities and villages have expanded into the wildlife habitat, encroaching on the animals whose very existence is threatened. The animals sometimes fight back! The Walla Walla people are believed to be able to speak with the crocodiles through rhythm and chants. They have done so since as far back as anyone can remember. "We start our song with the chant of the Walla Walla: diggi diggi m'baye diggi nata m'baye, atchoum nya nyama nya momin."

In our current political climate, it is now even more essential to celebrate the immigrant experience that brought Leni Stern to the U.S. from Germany and her African band mates from Senegal and to revere the diverse languages that she speaks and sings in. It is Leni's unique goal to trace the interconnectedness of music, history, and our humanity.


British-Jamaican Soul Diva Shirley Davis Returns With Powerhouse Funk Outfit The Silverbacks On New Album ‘Wishes & Wants’


An authentic helping of funk and sweet-soul with a touch of Afrobeat, ‘Wishes & Wants’ sees London diva Shirley giving it her all, with vocals carrying scorned fury, heartfelt longing and joyous celebration. Davis’ vocal reach, echoes the greats of soul music such as Marva Whitney – whom Davis has sung backup vocals for – and Gladys Knight, as well as contemporary artists such as Macy Gray and Sharon Jones – the latter a friend and mentor to Davis and a pivotal figure in her incredible tale.

The album was written by Davis in tandem with the Silverbacks musical director and lead guitarist Eduardo Martínez, plus song-writer Marc Ibarz, and it’s a welcome new addition to the lineage of classic soul albums defined by the struggle of a black woman in life, love and loss. Says Davis “We write together – they understand my life story and all I’ve been through”.

Davis was born in 1974 to Jamaican parents in northwest London – in the shadow of concert venue Wembley Arena, a center of music superstardom that was to have a defining effect on her life. Aged just 12 she started her “best job ever” selling programs and tee-shirts at concerts given by Prince, Michael and Janet Jackson, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and most memorably for her, Stevie Wonder, “My biggest inspiration”.

At the age of just fifteen Davis fell in love, marrying a year later and subsequently moving to the Australian outback where her new husband was from. Life was not easy for this young, black Londoner: “I felt like an alien”. At the age of 20 she had a daughter and by 23 she was divorced, moving to Melbourne, a single mother in a foreign land: “I didn’t know who I was”. A friend suggested she start singing and within weeks of moving to Melbourne she landed herself a gig as lead vocalist for a local soul and funk band: “when I started singing I found myself – it was a life-line”.

Encouraged to take formal singing classes, studying jazz, blues and other black music styles Davis soon became a fixture on Melbourne’s local soul and funk scene performing with various outfits such as Deep Street Soul and the acclaimed Grand Wazoo – Australia’s premier retro soul and funk outfit. This led to Davis becoming the go-to-backing vocalist for soul royalty such as Wilson Pickett, Marva Whitney and Lee Fields – as well as contemporary soul bands such as Osaka Monaurail – when they toured Australia.

In 2005 Australian pop-dance outfit Deepface enlisted Davis as vocalist – they eventually signed to Warner Music, scored a few chart hits and regularly performed to crowds over 30,000 – yet Davis’s most important musical experience was still to come. In the crowd at a Sharon Jones show in Melbourne in 2007 she was plucked out of the crowd by Jones to sing with her – and so began a decade of friendship “She was a mentor to me. She told me I could sing – she encouraged me. She had the biggest impact on my life”.

When Davis’s daughter moved to London in 2011 Davis found herself rudderless and on the spur of the moment quit everything and enlisted as a singer on a cruise ship, sailing the world for three years – until a chance encounter with Jones, her “guiding light’ changed everything. On vacation in Madrid in 2014, she went to see Jones in concert and ended up performing alongside her. In the crowd that night were Alberto “Tuco” Peces and Genesis Candela from Tucxone who were floored by this voice – Davis returned to Australia yet the label tracked her down and invited her to come to Madrid and record an album. Davis jumped at the chance and moved to Madrid later that year. Introduced to the Silverbacks, the connection between them was instant and after weeks of rehearsals, they recorded their debut album ‘Black Rose’ in a few weeks late in 2015. Released to great acclaim in 2016 the album put Davis and her band firmly on the modern soul and funk map – yet with ‘Wishes & Wants’ they take it up a notch.

The album opens with the gritty, righteous funk of ‘Wishes & Wants’ before moving into the red hot soul of ‘Like Fire’. Davis channels her inner Winehouse on the aggrieved soul stomper ‘Treat Me Better’ before turning the tables on the male protagonist in the uptempo funky dancer ‘Kisses’ describing him as someone who is “ugly…. but kisses so good!”. On “Silverbacks theme” Davis lets the band do the talking on a rolling groove where organ, horns, guitar and drums battle it out whilst “Nightlife” is a deliciously bumping slice of heavy Afro-funk and ‘All about Music” is heavenly Southern Soul of the caliber Marva Whitney was famous for.

With ‘Wishes & Wants’ Davis and the Silverbacks keep the torch of funk and soul burning bright as they carve their names into the lineage of contemporary greats. “The new album benefits from our confidence, from our mutual respect and appreciation of each other as musicians and performers. I’m not going to get this sound from any other band in Europe” states Shirley. “This is the only thing I know how to do here, and this is what I believe I will do for the rest of my life. I am meant to be the soul diva of Europe”. The spirit of Sharon Jones lives on…

Track Listing
“Wishes & Wants”
“Fire”
“Treat Me Better”
“Kisses”
“Nightlife”
“All About Music”
“Smile”
“Trouble & Trials”
“Woman Dignity”



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NEW RELEASES: PRAISE POEMS 6 - A JOURNEY INTO DEEP SOULFUL JAZZ & FUNK FROM THE 1970s; SOULIVE – CINEMATICS; MONKEY - INTERMITTENT WAVES


PRAISE POEMS 6 - A JOURNEY INTO DEEP SOULFUL JAZZ & FUNK FROM THE 1970s

Fantastic sounds from this always-great series – one that's always got an unassuming title, but which always turns us onto a great range of songs we've never heard before! As with previous volumes, the approach here is really unique – not really spiritual jazz, or righteous soul – but often somewhere in between – the kinds of cuts that maybe never fully got noticed at the time because they were so unique! There's a very deep vibe to the whole thing – music that lifts the spirit and heals the mind – but never in a way that's as hokey as that might sound. Instead, the set's full of work by artists who got great inspiration from the more righteous new trends of the late 60s, then really took the music in their own direction with these recordings. Titles include "Going Crazy" by Fusion, "For What It's Worth" by Cesar's Children, "Things I Could Be" by Monopoly, "Cherokee" by Verses, "For All The Good Times" by Rama Dyushambee, "White Bird" by Flood, "Melting The Ice" by Michael Kiser, "Sunshine You'll Love It" by Alan Burton, "Betcha Never Knew" by Federico Cervantes, "Freeom" by Daybreak, and "Feeling The Sunshine" by Waves.  © 1996-2018, Dusty Groove, Inc

SOULIVE – CINEMATICS

The cover here is a bit different than usual for a Soulive release, and the sound is a bit different too – as the trio definitely explore some of the cinematic funk modes promised in the title! The drums are heavy and the keyboards are warm, but there's also modes here that go back farther than their usual 70s-styled groove – as the keyboards of Neal Evans and drums of Alan Evans mix with these flowing, chromatic lines from the guitar of Eric Krasno. The set's just an EP, but all the songs are great – and titles include "Kings March", "Bluebird", "Waves", "Millers Last Stand", and "Sidekick". (Includes download!) ~ Dusty Groove


MONKEY - INTERMITTENT WAVES

SquidHat Records has announced the release of Intermittent Waves, the new album from Monkey. Availalble digitallly, on CD or limited edition orange vinyl nationally and internationally through MVD Entertainment. The street date is 5/5/18.The hardest working band on the West Coast is back with their sizzling sixth album! This 5 piece high-energy ska group from the SF Bay Area is famous for intense live shows and rock-steady rhythms that not only get the crowds dancing but have won them several awards, including the prestigious California Music Award. Monkey sets the pace for in-your-face ska, performing over 200 shows per year, while constantly recording and touring. and promote their music or performances, develop their brand and image, and increase their exposure to a larger audience.


Cuban Pianist HAROLD LÓPEZ-NUSSA Bridges Cuba and the U.S. with New Album, Un Día Cualquiera


For more than a half-century, the embrace between Cuba and the United States has been subject to an odd dance of politics, including a still-standing embargo. Nevertheless, the bond between the two nations is deep and strong as ever, expressed most forcefully through the dance of culture-especially music. 

It's hard to imagine the U.S. jazz scene without the influence of the many Cuban musicians living here. Yet the musicians who remain in Cuba-whose relationship with jazz and other musical forms stays grounded in their native island's cultural traditions and daily life-maintain a unique perspective. They tell a specific story.

Un Día Cualquiera (Just Another Day), pianist Harold López-Nussa's second release for Mack Avenue Records, represents this musical vantage point with force and innovation. He tells this story - his story - with drama, heartfelt emotion and consummate skills.

López-Nussa was born 1983 in Havana, where he still lives. "I need the kind of relaxed life that Havana gives me," he said. For López-Nussa, whose award-winning music has led to international tours and who holds dual citizenship in Cuba and France. "Every time I return to Cuba, I feel something special-not just a connection with my family and friends, but with the place itself. This is where my music comes from, what it talks about."

His previous Mack Avenue album, El Viaje (The Journey), was released on the heels of President Obama's historic 2016 visit to Havana, against a backdrop of newly relaxed trade and travel restrictions. Un Día Cualquiera arrives as U.S. restrictions regarding Cuba again tighten under the Trump administration; considered in that light, the album is an affirmative statement that music will always cross borders and defy obstacles. "I want to grow closer to the American people," López-Nussa said. "This has always been an important desire for Cubans, especially musicians. It's impossible for us to be separate because we have so much in common, so much to share."

Musically, Lopez-Nussa's last album augmented his band with additional instruments and influences, including Senegalese bassist Alune Wade, to achieve a globalized sound. For "Un Día Cualquiera," Lopéz-Nussa sticks to his core trio, with his younger brother Ruy Adrián López-Nussa on drums and percussion, and bassist Gaston Joya-a group the pianist first convened a decade ago in Cuba.

"These are my closest friends and two of the greatest musicians of my generation in Cuba," he said. "We've played a lot together through the years, but this is the first time that we've toured and recorded as a working trio. When we play to together, something special always happens and I feel comfortable and free, because they know how my music works and where I will go even before I get there."

The island of Cuba is dotted with families known for musical achievement. López-Nussa grew up in one such home. On May 18, 2018, Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center will pay tribute to this legacy within its sprawling "Artes de Cuba Festival" through a concert showcasing the Lopéz-Nussa family. Harold Lopéz-Nussa and his brother will perform alongside their father, Ruy López-Nussa, an esteemed drummer and educator, and their uncle, Ernán López-Nussa, an acclaimed pianist. (Their late mother, Mayra Torres, was a highly regarded piano teacher.)

Harold López-Nussa's music reflects the full range and richness of Cuban music, with its distinctive combination of classical, folkloric and popular elements, as well as its embrace of jazz improvisation and interaction. His career gracefully spans styles. Early on, he recorded Heitor Villa-Lobos ́ Fourth Piano Concerto with Cuba's National Symphony Orchestra (2003) and won First Prize at the Jazz Solo Piano Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Switzerland (2005). He was featured on the album Ninety Miles, playing alongside jazz stars David Sánchez, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris, and Esencial(of compositions by revered Cuban classical guitarist, composer and conductor Leo Brouwer). He spent three years in the touring band of the beloved Cuban singer Omara Portuondo.

At the age of eight, López-Nussa began studying at the Manuel Saumell Elementary School of Music, then the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory and finally graduating with a degree in classical piano from the Instituto Superior de Artes (ISA). On two tracks here, he dips into the repertoire of Ernest Lecuona-"one of the greatest Cuban composers of all time," he said, who, like Gershwin in the U.S., brought indigenous and popular forms to bear on classical repertoire. Lopez-Nussa's interpretations of "Danza de los Ñañigos," which is based on Afro-Cuban religious rituals, and "Y la Negra Bailaba," which, he said, "is somewhere between Cuban son and danzón styles," represent less liberties taken than the unfolding of a deep understanding of Lecuona's towering legacy.

López-Nussa grew up in Centro Habana, a neighborhood known for its folkloric Afro-Cuban ceremonies. "There would be two or three ceremonies each week, and I could hear them from my house," he recalled. "What I soaked in there has never left me." His original composition, "Elegua," translates batá drum rhythms and chants for a Yoruba deity to a jazz-trio format, and forms one of the album's dramatic high points.

The ease and invention with which he improvises at the piano, and the suppleness with which his trio swings make it hard to believe that López-Nussa didn't really take up jazz until he was 18 years old. "Jazz was scary," he said. "Improvisation was scary." Yet he felt emboldened by Herbie Hancock's 1996 album, The New Standard, of jazz interpretations of pop, rock and R&B songs. "That gave me new ideas about what was possible, and what I could do," he said. He found inspiration, too, from Cuba's great jazz pianists-the ongoing work of the reigning master Chucho Valdés, as well as recordings of Chucho's father, the late Bebo Valdés. Here, López-Nussa's composition, "Una Tarde Cualquiera en Paris," pays homage to the calm, reflective quality of Bebo's pianism. Another López-Nussa original, "Mi Son Cerra'o" is meant to evoke the sound and spirit of the early descargas (jam sessions) on which Bebo played, the earliest Cuban jazz recordings. López-Nussa's tender rendition of "Contigo en la Distancia" a bolero written by Cuban singer-songwriter César Portillo de la Luz in 1946 (covered in the decades since by singers ranging from Plácido Domingo to Christina Aguilera) reveals lessons learned on bandstands accompanying Omara Portuondo. "She showed me how to put all of your passion, your whole existence, into a single song," he said.

Un Día Cualquiera is a forceful statement from a Cuban musician leading his tight-knit Cuban band, recorded in the U.S. (at WGBH Studios in Boston, Mass.), and influenced by music from both countries in ways that transcend narrow notions of "Latin jazz." The album nods to classic Cuban composers and musicians but it focuses mostly on pianist Harold López-Nussa's original compositions and his distinctive trio concept. These compositions are mostly new, save for one or two, such as the opener, "Cimarrón," which are older pieces reinvented for the present moment.

López-Nussa chose the new album's title, which means "Just Another Day," because, he said, "the idea is to put the music and the trio together in a studio and just play, the way we three do every day, any day-like a concert in the living room of your house."

Tour Dates:
May 10: Coutances Jazz Festival / Coutances, France
May 18: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts / Washington, DC
July 7: Salle Yves Montan / St. Canaat, France
July 9: Jazz A Porquerolle / Fort St. Agatha, Hyères, France
July 15: North Sea Jazz Festival / Ahoy Rotterdam, Rotterdam, Netherlands
August 4: Shalin Liu Performance Center / Rockport, MA
August 5: Newport Jazz Festival / Newport, RI
August 8: Boothbay Opera House / Boothbay Harbor, ME
September 2: Detroit Jazz Festival / Detroit, MI
September 22: Monterey Jazz Festival / Monterey, CA
February 10, 2019: Arts Garage / Delray Beach, FL

Harold López-Nussa · Un Día Cualquiera
Mack Avenue Records · Release Date: June 15, 2018



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