Legendary Saxman Frank Catalano releases Birdland Jazz Club

In 2022, Legendary Saxman Frank Catalano will be touring the USA, Europe, and Asia extensively as well as releasing a collection of recordings from his many performances at New York’s legendary Birdland Jazz Club. These recordings feature Herbie Hancock Headhunters alum Mike Clark and will be Frank’s 5th album on the Ropeadope label.

Frank regularly teams up with his long-time friend and Smashing Pumpkins drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin. Forbes Magazine profiled Frank for his performances with The Violent Femmes including Riot Fest and Brooklyn Steel.

A documentary was made about Frank by Belgian director Colin Donner. The film is titled “Sugar Jazz” and will premiere at the Tokyo Lift off Film Festival.

“Tokyo #9” debuted at #1 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Charts, has garnered millions of streams and topped the Spotify and Apple Music playlists. “Love Supreme Collective” debuted at #1 on the iTunes Jazz Charts and honors John Coltrane. Frank recorded “Bye, Bye, Blackbird” with David Sanborn and teamed up with Jimmy Chamberlin of The Smashing Pumpkins to release “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”. Frank’s Savoy/Columbia recording “Bang!” debuted at #12 on the Billboard Jazz Charts, while his recording, “Mighty Burner” was on the Billboard Charts for 20 straight weeks.

When Frank was 18, he signed to Delmark Records and did a string of critically acclaimed recordings with Randy Brecker, Von Freeman, Ira Sullivan, Willie Pickens and Paul Wertico amongst others. Frank’s co-led album with Von Freeman, “You Talking To Me,” has become a cult classic. Catalano is the only known saxman to have performed with Miles Davis, Charles Earland, Elvin Jones, Junior Wells, Randy Brecker, Stan Getz, Betty Carter, Tito Puente, Tony Bennett, Les Claypool, and Louis Bellson while still in high school!

Frank has been profiled by countless media including: The New York Times, Forbes, Downbeat, CMJ, JazzIz, Jazz Times, NPR, PBS, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, etc. As a sideman, Catalano has been heard by millions of people thanks to his collaborations with Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Maurice Joshua, Destiny’s Child, John Legend, Tony Bennett, Seal, and others.

Frank has received his fair share of accolades, recently winning an IMA award at Lincoln Center and being inducted into the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame. He has appeared on 3 Grammy‐winning and 11 Grammy‐nominated recordings, plus in 2007 he received a Tech Grammy Award as part of the Yamaha Corporation for his numerous patents and developments. He was also the youngest saxophonist to be voted into the Downbeat Critics Poll at age 19.

No stranger to adversity, Frank cut off his right middle finger in an automobile accident. After several surgeries and much effort, Catalano relearned his signature technique, making him one of the most in‐demand musicians today. He regularly donates his musical services to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Peoples Music School, and Off The Street Club.

Frank has written a book series for publisher Hal Leonard, called “Modern Saxophone Techniques” and his song “Mighty Burner” is featured in “The Real Book Volume 6”. He also endorses Yamaha Saxophones, JodyJazz mouthpieces, D’Addario Reeds, and Rovner Ligatures.

Catalano loves composing music and holds a BA in Classical Composition from De Paul University. Frank is the spokesperson for Drambuie Scotch and has a signature cocktail named after him, “The Catalano Sidecar”, which has been trademarked and is featured at hundreds of clubs and music venues. Frank owns hundreds of vintage saxophones and is on the Board of Directors for the National Saxophone Museum in St Louis. Frank and his wife Sona split their time between their homes in Chicago and New York. For more information: visit www.catalanomusic.com – Bandcamp 

Released July 1, 2022

Producers: Frank Catalano and Sona Tazian
Manager: Ryan Paternite
Engineer: Lance McVickar
Mixing and Mastering: Dan Steinman
Cover Art: Tony Fitzpatrick
Layout and Design: Karmann Sloane
Saxophone: Frank Catalano
Piano: Randy Ingram
Bass: Julian Smith
Drums: Mike Clark
Birdland photos by Adrien Tillmann
Frank Catalano uses Yamaha Saxophones, D’Addario Reeds, JodyJazz
Mouthpieces and Rovner Ligatures

 

52nd Street Experimental Ensemble is an American project spawned by the pandemic and created in Philadelphia, PA by multi-instrumentalist Ihba Baskette

52nd Street Experimental Ensemble is an American project spawned by the pandemic and created in Philadelphia P.A, by Ihba Baskette a multi-instrumentalist playing all instruments on this recording. The recording takes of every instrument on this album were done in a few weeks; recording a song a day for 13 days as a way to combat the social turmoil, pandemic, and firecracker epidemics in urban areas in the city.

Ihba is known for world music specializing in abstract reggae world dance music and jazz-influenced hints. With 0” years of performing these songs are for an audience who loves the nonconformity and boundaries being juggled.

52 Street A/K/A Area 52 has collaborated and performed with Ra’oof Atelier presents: Ice Station Zero 2.0 @ “The House of Schlesinger “ – a collaborative art happening w/ Installation, sculptures, videos, photography & soundscape provided by Ihba Baskette-reeds & percussions & TR7 – applied piano & synthesizers. John Schlesinger – artworks. As well as Artist and Sculpture maker Anthony Bayne senior on Soprano Saxophone and Percussion. ~BandCamp

Release Date: 9/12/2022

All tracks by Ihba Baskette except Anthony Bayne senior on soprano saxophone on Stone Throw remix.
Schoichi Serigano: track 8.
Cover photograph: Bryant Eugene Varquez.
Additional artwork: Troy Williams and Ihba Baskette
Layout an design: Atharwa Deshingkar.

 

The long awaited project REROOTING by composer/leader, percussion, balaphone and kalimba MARILYN MAZUR

Marilyn Mazur’s collaboration with Miles Davis, Gil Evans, and Wayne Shorter established her worldwide reputation in the mid-to-late ‘80s, as did her career with Jan Garbarek later on. But even before that, percussionist and composer Marilyn Mazur had already realized significant projects of her own. Her Primi Band, an experimental music theatre group that existed from 1978 to 1986, left such a lasting impression that the Copenhagen Jazz Festival wanted to reboot the group four decades later. This was unfortunately not possible, but the evocative spirit of that band has been let out of the bottle through a new project.

Shamania is the name of the band that Marilyn founded in 2015. Its shamanic spirit is based on the idea of a modern tribal gathering of female musical forces that focuses entirely on rhythm, body, and voice in an experimental context and the challenge of finding a common ground.

The ten women of Shamania are among the most independent musicians on the Scandinavian scene and live in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. When they meet, they bring – through their formidable energies – a primal power and fascinating rhythms to the stage and enchant the listener with atmospheric moods and moments of pure amazement. The very same qualities have now been captured on their second album:

REROOTING combines 16 songs, a combination of both Marilyn’s brand new and older compositions, which have all been, with one exception, previously unreleased.

Each of these songs has its own story, such as an original song composed for Marilyn’s son when he was a baby, the sunset canon, the world situation, Nordic nights, April 1 – as well as the title track that was created at the first gathering of the Shamania musicians after pandemic-related self-isolation and many concert cancellations.

From the water phone, which combines the principles of the Tibetan water drum, the African lamellophone, and the nail violin from the 18th century, to udu clay pot drums, various bongos, congas, the kalimba, drums, and tuned gongs from all over the world, to the Norwegian goat horn: the extraordinary wealth of timbres, together with the other instruments, primes the songs, shining out of them, glowing and radiating, results in the unmistakable Shamania sound and, with the brilliant rhythms, form Marilyn Mazur’s trademark: often ritual-type music with an unmistakable instinct for outstanding dialogues, solos, and improvisations – as well as an energetic primal force, and the very personal musical language of the great musician that extends into a world that lies far beyond jazz.

JOSEFINE CRONHOLM vocals
SISSEL VERA PETTERSEN vocals and alto sax
HILDEGUNN ØISETH trumpet and goat horn
LOTTE ANKER tenor and soprano saxophone
LIS WESSBERG trombone
MAKIKO HIRABAYASHI piano and keyboards
IDA GORMSEN electric bass
LISBETH DIERS congas and percussion
ANNA LUND drums
MARILYN MAZUR composer/leader, percussion,
balaphone and kalimba

All compositions and lyrics by Marilyn Mazur,
except for the lyrics of Largo of Voices by Josefine Cronholm

Expected Release Date: 9/16/2022

Jazz Fusion Trumpeter & Composer Takuya Kuroda Returns With “Midnight Crisp” Via First Word Records

dense and cosmic” – Pitchfork

Kuroda stitches genres into a colorful patchwork while inventing a new composition process.” – Bandcamp, Best of 2020

He has a forward-thinking mentality that drives him to twist these old sounds into something futuristic” – Brooklyn Vegan

First Word Records is very proud to bring you a brand new mini-album from Takuya Kuroda!Takuya Kuroda is a highly respected trumpeter and arranger born in Kobe, Japan, and based in New York City. ’Midnight Crisp’ is Takuya’s seventh studio album, entirely self-produced and following the 2020s highly acclaimed ’Fly Moon Die Soon’, also released on UK label First Word (winner of the Worldwide Award’s Label of the Year in 2019). Consisting of six new tracks, this once again sees Takuya displaying his unique hybrid sound, blending soulful jazz, funk, post-bop, fusion, and hip hop.After following the footsteps of his trombonist brother playing in big bands, he relocated to New York to study jazz & contemporary music at The New School in Union Square; a course he graduated from in the mid-noughties. It was here that Takuya met vocalist José James, with whom he worked on the ‘Blackmagic‘ and ‘No Beginning No End‘ projects. Following graduation, Takuya established himself further in the NYC jazz scene, performing with the likes of Akoya Afrobeat and in recent years with DJ Premier’s BADDER band. Premier said “The BADDER Band project was put together by my manager, and an agent I’ve known since the beginning of my Gang Starr career. He said, ‘What if you put a band together that revolved around a trumpet player from Japan named Takuya Kuroda? He’s got a hip-hop perspective and respect in the jazz field…” Takuya Kuroda is already incredibly prolific, releasing six albums in the past decade and fortifying a solid reputation in the global jazz scene. 2011 saw the release of Takuya’s independently-produced debut album, ‘Edge‘, followed by ‘Bitter and High‘ the following year and ‘Six Aces‘ on P-Vine in 2013. Takuya was signed to the legendary Blue Note Records in 2014 for his album Rising Son‘, as well as appearing on their 2019 cover versions project, ‘Blue Note Voyage‘. He released his 5th album ‘Zigzagger‘ on Concord in 2016, which also featured Antibalas on a reimagining of the Donald Byrd classic ‘Think Twice.’His last album was the afore-mentioned ‘Fly Moon Die Soon’ on First Word, which received plays and support from the likes of Pitchfork, Earmilk, Bandcamp Weekly, Worldwide FM, All About Jazz, Apple Music, Tidal, Stereogum, Treble, Brooklyn Vegan, FIP (France), Tony Minvielle, Jazz FM, Huey Morgan (BBC 6 Music), BBC Radio 3, Novena Carmel, KCRW and tons more DJs, tastemakers, selectors, radio stations, bloggers & magazines.The new project ’Midnight Crisp’ will be released on October 21st, 2022 on vinyl, CD, and digital, worldwide via First Word Records.

Bobby Broom Celebrates the Jazz Piano Greats With “Keyed Up,” Set for September 23 Release By Steele Records

Album Features Nine Compositions
By or For Iconic Pianists,
With Piano Player Justin Dillard Augmenting Broom’s Longtime Trio with
Bassist Dennis Carroll & Drummer Kobie Watkins
CD Release Show: Studio5 Performing Arts Center, Evanston, IL
Saturday, October 22

Master jazz guitarist Bobby Broom casts his ear on the masters of another instrument—the piano—with the September 23 release of Keyed Up (Steele Records). An exploration of compositions by (or associated with) great jazz pianists, the album is also Broom’s first in almost 30 years to itself feature an acoustic piano player. Justin Dillard, a youngish, fast-rising keyboardist from Broom’s home base of Chicago, joins his working trio with bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins.

 

In fact, it was an encounter with Dillard at a Chicago jam session that inspired Broom to realize the project (an idea he had long been nurturing). “I heard something intriguing in Justin that made me want to work with him,” he says. “It was a bit risky because I hadn’t played with him in such an intimate and crucial setting before we made this record. But it didn’t take long for me to know I had made the right choice.”

 

It doesn’t take the listener long, either. Dillard’s incandescent playing is a highlight of the very first track, Bud Powell’s “Hallucinations (Budo),” and maintains that high level throughout the album. From the blues-laden lines of James Williams’s “Soulful Bill” and McCoy Tyner’s “Blues on the Corner” to the exquisite tenderness of Erroll Garner’s “Misty,” Dillard earns his place in the spotlight. He also switches to his “laptop Swurlitzer,” an electronic keyboard, in a nod to fusioneers Chick Corea (“Humpty Dumpty”) and Herbie Hancock (“Driftin’”).

 

He’s not alone, of course. Carroll and Watkins are superlative as always, offering both sensitive support and lightning in a bottle that culminates in a spirited exchange of twelves, eights, and fours on “Blues on the Corner.” As for Broom, his excellence is understood—but he outdoes himself with his brilliant work on “Driftin’,” “Hallucinations (Budo),” and Horace Silver’s “Quicksilver.”

 

It’s the joining of these forces, however, that lets magic happen on Keyed Up. “When we make music, we’re never exactly sure how it’s going to turn out. It’s never a matter of ‘we’re just gonna play these tunes,’” Broom says. “In addition to the arrangements and preparation, there’s a great degree of intrigue and mystery in what we do. But we have developed such trust in each other, there’s never any doubt that the end result is going to be good.”

 

Bobby Broom was born on January 18, 1961, in New York City. When he was ten years old, he heard one of his father’s records—by organist Charles Earland—touching off his lifelong love affair with jazz. By the time he was sixteen, Broom was attending New York’s prestigious High School of Music and Art and gigging with pianist Al Haig; by the age of twenty-one, equipped with a freshman year of study at Berklee College of Music, and some already extraordinary pedigree, he began touring with Sonny Rollins.

 

By that time, Broom had also signed with GRP Records and recorded 1981’s Clean Sweep, which was a crossover jazz success. But rather than settle into a comfortable career in the emerging genre of “smooth jazz,” Broom took the road less traveled: He left the New York scene behind and established himself in Chicago.

 

In the 1990s Broom formed the first edition of his bass and drums trio, while also beginning to work with the members of what would eventually become the Deep Blue Organ Trio. During that decade he recorded a couple of quartet records before deciding to make a guitar-bass-drums trio his primary outlet. In 2000, a breakthrough year, he released the statement-making Modern Man (with organist Dr. Lonnie Smith, drummer Idris Muhammad, and Ronnie Cuber on bari sax), as well as the first of what would be many guitar-trio recordings, Stand!. He solidified a trio lineup with bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer Kobie Watkins with 2006’s Song and Dance (although Makaya McCraven filled in for the latter on 2014’s My Shining Hour). After establishing a new organ ensemble (the Organ-isation) with 2018’s Soul Fingers, Broom has returned to his longtime trio, but with the notion of supplementing it with pianist Justin Dillard for Keyed Up.

 

The use of a guitar-and-piano frontline remains somewhat novel in the jazz world, but Broom says overcoming that novelty is just a matter of seasoning. “When I first met Justin, he expressed some misgivings about operating with guitar,” he recalls. “I said to him, just listen and play. And he got better and better playing with me.” Lucky for us that we get to hear the results.

 

Bobby Broom and his quartet will perform a CD release show on Sat. 10/22 at Studio5 Performing Arts Center, 1938 Dempster Street, Evanston, IL. Broom is also appearing at the first annual Fretboard Summit (hosted by Fretboard Journal magazine), taking place at the Old Towne School of Folk Music’s Myron R. Szold Music Hall, Chicago, on Sat. 8/27; and at Western Michigan University’s “Jazz at The Crawlspace 2022” series at the Crawlspace Theater, Kalamazoo, MI, on Thurs. 9/8.

 

Photography: Todd Winters
 

 

“Remembering Tomasz Stańko” – a Free All-Star Memorial Concert for the Late, Great Polish Trumpeter, Composer & Bandleader – Will Be Held at Brooklyn’s Roulette on September 18, 2022

In what would have been his 80th birthday year, Stańko’s life and art will be celebrated in New York City – his spiritual home away from home – by 14 key peers and associates: Ambrose Akinmusire & Wadada Leo Smith (trumpet); Ravi Coltrane, Joe Lovano & Chris Potter (saxophone); Jakob Bro (guitar); Craig Taborn, David Virelles & Marcin Wasilewski (piano); Dezron Douglas, Sławomir Kurkiewicz & Reuben Rogers (bass); and Gerald Cleaver & Michał Miśkiewicz (drums)

“Nobody holds a single, long-blown trumpet note like the Polish pioneer Tomasz Stańko – a wearily exhaled, soberly ironic, yet oddly awestruck sound that is unique in jazz.”

— The Guardian, reviewing Stańko’s final album, December Avenue

Tomasz Stańko – one of Europe’s most original and beloved jazz musicians – was born on July 11, 1942, in Rzeszów, Poland, and he passed away in Warsaw on July 29, 2018. In many ways, his life traced the course of modern jazz in Europe, beginning with his tenure – when barely into his twenties – in the band of the great Polish composer-pianist Krzysztof Komeda. Those formative years included recording on Komeda’s timeless album Astigmatic, released in 1965 and soon recognized as representing a sea change for European jazz. Starting in 1975, Stańko began his association as a leader with the iconic German art-house label ECM Records which would produce a dozen masterful albums up to his final release, December Avenue, in 2017. That recording featured his New York Quartet, a band that reflected the trumpeter’s deep affection for its namesake town and the inspiration he found in New York City’s living history of jazz. To mark what would have been his 80th birthday year, an all-star memorial concert – “Remembering Tomasz Stańko” – will be held at Brooklyn’s Roulette at 8:00pm on September 18, 2022, with tickets free of charge. The event will include musicians who worked closest with Stańko in his last, highly productive decades and others who collaborated with him on special latter-day projects.

Remembering Tomasz Stańko” will include two illustrious soloists on trumpet: Wadada Leo Smith and Ambrose Akinmusire. The night’s revolving cast of musicians will be anchored by the rhythm sections from both Stańko’s New York and Polish quartets: pianist David Virelles, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Gerald Cleaver, from the former; and, from the latter, pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Sławomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michał Miśkiewicz. Stańko discovered the Poles when they were just teenagers; in addition to working as an established trio, they now play with saxophonist Joe Lovano – who will also join them for this event. Guitarist Jakob Bro, who played on Stańko’s Dark Eyes album, will be on hand, as will saxophonist Chris Potter and pianist Craig Taborn – who were part of a special band that Stańko put together for a concert at New York’s Jazz Standard in 2011. Saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Dezron Douglas will also perform; they, along with Virelles, featured in a quintet that recorded POLIN, a suite that Stańko composed for an exhibition at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

Stańko’s intensely lyrical sound and sensibility were easily identifiable, with his tone of Slavic melancholy, his expressive peals and smears, and the noir-ish atmospheres that he liked to conjure in his music. Although he was, above all, a darkly melodic improviser, the trumpeter was as at home playing in Cecil Taylor’s Big Band as he was performing with the likes of Dave Holland, John Surman, Lee Konitz, Gary Peacock, Edward Vesala or Bobo Stenson. “Tomasz Stańko is not the first jazz musician to negotiate a rapprochement between gorgeous melodies and free improvisation,” noted the San Francisco Chronicle. “But he is one of the most eloquent proponents of extemporaneous lyricism working today.” And JazzTimes declared: “Stańko writes melodies that pierce the heart like needles… His pieces are open forms, a few strokes or gestures that introduce a mood and set Stańko into motion. He needs musicians around him who can respond with independent creativity to his unique stimuli.”

Having grown up behind the Iron Curtain, Stańko relied on the Voice of America radio network to connect him to the American jazz scene – and the sounds he heard fostered his dream to someday make it to New York City and experience that scene for himself. It was almost exactly 20 years ago that Stańko finally made it to the U.S. for his first stateside tour, with New York everything he expected it would be. He was so inspired that he kept an apartment in the city for the last decade of his life, so that he could split his time between the Big Apple and Warsaw. Although an innovator in modern European improvisation, Stańko always maintained a strong sense of jazz history. “With Krzysztof Komeda, we would mostly listen to modal music, like Miles Davies and John Coltrane,” he recalled. “This was my inspiration. Ornette Coleman was important, too, of course, as an example of a certain attitude toward art – that of searching and rebellion.” Living part-time in New York also kept Stańko in touch with the ongoing vitality of jazz. “Originally, I just wanted to enjoy New York, the city where so much great jazz history has been made,” he said, but it wasn’t long before the trumpeter was interacting with local players and finding “the fantastic cats” he would work with so fruitfully in his New York Quartet, among other ventures.

New York Times critic Ben Ratliff wrote perceptively about Stańko embarking on the last chapter of his career: “It’s good to see an elder artist chase after a new idea. Until quite recently, Tomasz Stańko specialized in beautiful dirges, and rubato soul-ache ballads with rumblings of free jazz. They came out via a string of fine records for the ECM label over a dozen years or so… But the work has an overall unity of mood and purpose… Both as a soloist and as a bandleader, he can pull off the dark emotions in his music. His trumpet tone is steady and stark, crumbled around the edges, and he makes his strong, short themes anchor the arrangements… Without radically changing the character of his music – he still loves ballads, and still foregrounds a lonely melody – Mr. Stańko is allowing its balances to shift. The music can be hard to define but in an excellent way. It uses steady rhythms and vamps as well as free improvisation… Some extraordinary passages unfold without any of the players making them seem formal, almost as if natural forces were moving the musicians’ hands.”

Among the highlights of Stańko’s capacious discography is his deeply felt and beautifully arranged 1997 tribute Litania: The Music of Krzysztof Komeda, which featured a septet including an old Komeda associate, saxophonist Bernt Rosengren, along with Stenson and guitarist Terje Rypdal. In 2011, the Smithsonian Institution published the six-disc, century-spanning Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology – which, after beginning with the likes of Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, concludes remarkably with “Suspended Night Variation VIII,” a track from Stańko’s 2004 album Suspended Night. The trumpeter was honored with multiple awards across his career, including the inaugural European Jazz Prize in 2002; the jury stated: “Stańko has developed a unique sound and personal music that is instantly recognizable and unmistakably his own… A world-class player, a stylist, a charismatic performer, and an original composer, his music now assumes simplicity of form and mellowness that comes with years of work, exploration, and experience. Tomasz Stańko – a true master and leader of European jazz.”

Anna Stańko, Tomasz’s daughter and latter-day manager, recalls her father describing New York City as “a modern Rome – a place where all roads lead, especially musically. For him, it’s the place where new trails are blazed in jazz, the place where he wanted to be – and was. He just adored being in New York, walking the streets, experiencing the city, feeling the music in the air. Now, we’ll have the chance to remember him here, one of his favorite places on Earth.” She adds: “Music was the essence of my father’s life, the spice. He felt it so deeply that the language of his art communicated beyond any borders. That’s why we present this free concert here, with these amazing musicians who were like family for my dad.”

“Remembering Tomasz Stańko” is organized by the Tomasz Stańko Foundation thanks to funding from Adam Mickiewicz Institute (culture.pl) and the Kosciuszko Foundation, as well as the support of the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.

Just in case, you missed it… Mesmerism is the new album by drummer Tyshawn Sorey with his colleagues pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Matt Brewer.

Mesmerism is a beautiful, swinging trio meeting led by drummer Tyshawn Sorey featuring two musicians whom he has considered his closest colleagues: pianist Aaron Diehl and bassist Matt Brewer. Sorey – a 2017 MacArthur Fellow, Professor of Music at the University of Pennsylvania, collaborator with Vijay Iyer, Kris Davis, Roscoe Mitchell, Hafez Modirzadeh, Myra Melford, Marilyn Crispell, and other musical luminaries – puts forward his vision for Mesmerism as follows: “My intent was to record this project with only an hour or two of rehearsal and with a group of musicians who never performed on stage together. To that end, Mesmerism is a departure from the recordings I produced that contained thoroughly rehearsed, rigorously notated music for the piano trio. For a long time, I felt an intense desire to record some of my favorite songs from the Great American Songbook as well as those by composers whose work I feel should also exist in this canon. Recording Mesmerism with these two wonderful, inspiring musicians inevitably proved to become the finest occasion for me to document my lifelong connection to the ‘straight-ahead’ continuum of this music.

Diehl, known for his close association with GRAMMY winner Cécile McLorin Salvant and his acclaimed work as a leader for Mack Avenue, brings a refined touch and melodic sense to the project. “Aaron and I connected for the first time many years ago,” Sorey recalls, “and from the start, it felt like a brotherly connection. I wanted to make a recording with Aaron for several years after the first meeting and listen to his brilliant performances of all kinds of music from different eras. Aaron’s level of listening and interaction in this setting is unmistakably individualistic – very sophisticated and full of intention, soul, and depth. His playing never ceases to surprise or astonish me.

Brewer, a bandleader and accomplished player with the SFJAZZ Collective, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and many others, is as rock solid as he is creative and searching, having performed alongside Sorey in projects led by Steve Lehman, Ambrose Akinmusire, Lage Lund, Steve Coleman, and more. “Besides how proficient he is on the bass in so many styles of music,” Sorey declares, “I am constantly amazed by Matt’s ability to swing and groove hard, to play contrapuntally, and to be always fully present in the music. For example, I tend to sometimes play phrases that are considered extremely adventurous over song forms and Matt is always right there with me. He’s a musician who brings with him a well thought out sense of adventure, along with incredibly open ears and a solid approach to rhythm.”

Picking songs for Mesmerism would not necessarily become an excuse to make an album of deconstructed, highly clever reworkings. Put another way, “I wanted to keep things simple and let the beauty of these songs remain in our interpretations while including, to a small degree, simple alterations of the song materials,” says Sorey. While a straightforward approach applies to “Enchantment” by Horace Silver, “Two Over One” by Muhal Richard Abrams, and (on CD and streaming only) the closing “REM Blues” by Duke Ellington, such alterations become readily apparent on the remaining selections. On “Detour Ahead,” for example, Sorey, a self-described Bill Evans aficionado, tips his hat to the late master with an arrangement that “constantly ‘detours’ from the original key that we’ve established by harmonically modulating to other keys of the song within its entire structure.” Later, in Sorey’s treatment of Paul Motian’s “From Time to Time,” the song is nearly unrecognizable, in that “the original melody is suspended in feeling and is also simultaneously conjunct and disjunct with no reference to a particular key center until the song’s closing melodic statement performed by the trio.”

Making a jazz piano trio album like Mesmerism is something Sorey’s admirers might not have expected, but his intent was not to throw curveballs for the sake of doing so. The goal, he explains, was “not to reinvent the wheel or prove anything, but to document the unwavering love and appreciation I have for these songs in the most honest, earnest way I can. I have always welcomed the opportunity to play this music, and, after having been typecast as being a so-called ‘avant-gardist’ for nearly two decades, I decided that it was finally time for me to make this recording date happen myself with musicians I deeply respect and admire.

Tyshawn Sorey has been praised by Modern Drummer Magazine as a musician who “explores the inner and outer reaches of modern jazz and serious contemporary music…[y]et no matter how far he travels, he remains anchored by a firm sense of tradition.” Hailed by The New York Times as “an artist who is at the nexus of the music industry’s artistic and social concerns,” Sorey has numerous extended concert pieces to his credit, including Monochromatic Light (Afterlife), For Roscoe Mitchell, Songs for Death, and For George Lewis. He has also held composer and artist residencies with Opera Philadelphia, the Seattle Symphony, and Harvard University. His recent major appearances on disc as a drummer include Uneasy (with Vijay Iyer and Linda May Han Oh), Tyshawn & King (with Philly DJ and innovator King Britt), and On Common Ground (with Mike Sopko and Bill Laswell). Sorey’s trio with pianist Cory Smythe and bassist Chris Tordini has earned critical acclaim for their releases Alloy and Verisimilitude. His varied ensemble recordings The Inner Spectrum of Variables, Pillars, and Unfiltered have cemented his reputation as “an extraordinary talent who can see across the entire musical landscape” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker).

Credits

Released: July 8, 2022
Tyshawn Sorey – drum set
Aaron Diehl – piano
Matt Brewer – bassExecutive producer: Tyshawn Sorey
Producer: Michael Carvin

Rising star pianist/composer Connie Han brings the ancient Sumerian culture to the present day by channelling Inanna — the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, beauty and war — on her third release for Mack Avenue Records.

Rising star pianist/composer Connie Han brings the ancient Sumerian culture to the present day by channeling Inanna — the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, and war — on her third release for Mack Avenue Records.

Featuring Katisse Buckingham (alto flute and piccolo), John Patitucci (bass), Rich Perry (tenor saxophonist), and drummer Bill WysaskeSecrets of Inanna creates a new world open to interpretation, harkening back to the ethereal soundscapes’ of 1970s spiritual jazz with the modern composition Han has received praise for since her 2018 debut Crime Zone, creating a truly unique soundscape of great depth. ~MackAvenueRecords

At your leisure, stream her new single “PRIMA MATERIA” from her upcoming album

 

Renowned Saxophonist and Composer Miguel Zenón Releases Música de Las Américas, Inspired by the History of the American Continent

Out August 26, 2022, on Miel Music, Música de Las Américas features all-new music from Zenón for his long-time working quartet plus master percussionists from his native Puerto Rico Album release celebration August 23 – 28 at The Village Vanguard, NYC

This music is inspired by the history of the American continent: not only before European colonization but also by what’s happened since—cause and effect,” says Miguel Zenón of his latest album of all original works, Música de Las Américas. The music grew out of Zenón’s passion for the history of the American continent, and the resulting album pays tribute to its diverse cultures while also challenging modern assumptions about who and what “America” is.

 

Featuring his longstanding quartet of pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Hans Glawischnig, and drummer Henry ColeMúsica de Las Américas represents a broadening of scope and ambition for Zenón, who is best known for combining cutting-edge modernism with the folkloric and traditional music of Puerto Rico. In realizing such a wide-ranging project, Zenón engaged the illustrious Puerto Rican ensemble Los Pleneros de La Cresta to contribute their unmistakable plena sound to the album, with additional contributions by master musicians Paoli Mejías on percussion, Daniel Díaz on congas, and Victor Emmanuelli on barril de bomba.

 

Zenón’s compositions on Música de Las Américas reflect the dynamism and complexity of America’s indigenous cultures, their encounters with European colonists, and the resulting historical implications. Zenón immersed himself in these topics during the pandemic, reading classics like Eduardo Galeano’s Venas Abiertas de América Latina (Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent), which details Western exploitation of South America’s resources and became the inspiration for Zenón’s “Venas Abiertas.”

 

Other sources of inspiration include Sebastián Robiou Lamarche’s Taínos y Caribes”, referring to the two major societies who inhabited the Caribbean prior to European colonization and who are the subject of the album’s opener. “They were the two predominant societies but were very different: the Taínos were a more passive agricultural society while the Caribes were warriors who lived for conquest,” says Zenón, who captures the clashing of the societies in the interlocking rhythms of the piece.

 

Following the thread of indigenous Caribbean societies, “Navegando (Las Estrellas Nos Guían)” pays homage to the seafaring culture that existed across the region. “One thing that blew my mind was how they could travel the sea at long distances just using canoes while being guided by the stars,” says Zenón. “That opens conversations about what’s ‘archaic’ versus what’s ‘advanced’ in terms of scientific achievement between the ‘New World’ and ‘Old World.’”

 

Zenón referred to the star formations used for navigation by those societies as the musical foundation of the song, which prominently features the percussion and vocals of Los Pleneros de la Cresta, who sing and accompany the titular chorus: “Navegando vengo, sigo a las estrellas.”

 

Possibly the most challenging piece on the album in its harmonic dissonance and complexity, “Opresión y Revolución” evokes the tension and release of revolutions on the American continent, notably the Haitian Revolution among others. Featuring the percussion of Paoli Mejías matched with the percussive piano work of Perdomo, the piece also reflects the influence of Haitian vodou music, which Zenón was heavily exposed to while working with drummer Ches Smith and his ensemble “We All Break.”

 

Although for many the term “empire” brings to mind the contemporary Western world, Zenón composed “Imperios” with the various indigenous empires of America in mind, including the Incas, Mayans, and Aztecs. “They were some of the most advanced societies at their time; as a matter of fact, they were in some ways more advanced than what was happening in Europe in terms of contemporary mathematics and astronomy, society and politics,” says Zenón. “There was something there already that was really advanced, and it makes me think about what could have been: what would have come out of that?” The melody derives from Zenón’s transcription of music from a ceremony of Aztec descendants, which is the counterpart to the rhythmic structure of the song.

 

“Bambula” features percussion virtuoso Victor Emmanuelli, whom Zenón lauds for pushing the musical envelope as a bandleader in his own right. The term “bambula” refers to a dance that was brought over by African slaves to the Americas. Over time, bambula became the rhythm commonly referred to as “habanera,” which is found in much of Latin American music today. Here, Zenón captures the feeling of connection across time and space that is carried by this single rhythmic cell:

 

“It’s a thread from New Orleans to Brazil to Central America back to Africa, across all these eras from the past to contemporary pop,” says Zenón. “For me, I wanted it to feel like you’re out at the dance, but at the same time hearing this more modern harmony and melody.”

 

In highlighting these connections across geographical regions, Zenón also returns to a major theme throughout the album: the conception of America not as a country—that is, only referring to the modern United States—but as a continent. “América, el Continente” makes that point clear while reminding listeners of the political implications of the United States assuming ownership of the term “America,” with its subtle erasure of the remaining Western hemisphere.

 

“Antillano,” named for the residents of the Antilles, showcases what Zenón is best known for: bringing together past and present in a forward-thinking, musically satisfying way. Ending the album on an optimistic note, the piece emulates aspects of contemporary dance music while serving as a feature for Daniel Díaz on congas. Some odd-meter surprises may fly past the ear of a casual listener, but they do so without any interruption to the musical flow so naturally conveyed by Zenón’s quartet.

 

In confronting often challenging historical topics on Música de Las Américas, Zenón has created a masterwork, whose musical delights will inspire and uplift while spurring a conversation about the problematic power dynamics across the American continent. The premise that modern jazz cannot be both grooving and emotionally resonant to the casual listener while formally and intellectually compelling is patently false, which Zenón proves here as he has time and again throughout his career.

 

© Adrien Tillmann
~Copyright © 2022 Braithwaite & Katz

Yellowjackets Enter Fifth Decade Sounding as Fresh as Tomorrow on Upcoming Album: Parallel Motion

Parallel Motion is out on CD / Digital on August 26, 2022

Maintaining a distinct group identity for 40 years is an exceedingly rare achievement, but what sets Yellowjackets apart isn’t their longevity so much as the consistently inspired quality of their music. Born in the age of fusion, the band has thrived through the decades by steadily seeking out new sounds and approaches, combining elliptical lyricism with a sophisticated and evolving harmonic palette all their own. Slated for release on August 26, Parallel Motion is Yellowjackets’ sixth album for Mack Avenue Records and it captures a vibrant creative communion that shows no signs of an impending midlife crisis.
Since Yellowjackets’ eponymous 1981 debut album, the group has hewed its own creative path, influencing colleagues with enviable compositional craftsmanship and an ever-shifting blend of influences. In many ways Yellowjackets embody both continuity and renewal, with founding­ pianist/keyboardist Russell Ferrante providing the four-decade thread first joined by Will Kennedy­, who took over the drum chair from 1987-99 and returned to the fold in 2010. Bob Mintzer, a Jacket since 1990, contributes on tenor and soprano saxophones and EWI. By the band’s standards Australian-born electric bass virtuoso Dane Alderson is still the new kid, though he’s already anchored the quartet for seven years. Parallel Motion is a Technicolor portrait of a working band that’s still stretching its wings.
“The last two projects were collaborations,” Ferrante said, referring to 2018’s luminous Raising Our Voice with extraordinary Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza, and 2020’s orchestral Jackets XL with the WDR Big Band of Cologne, Germany. “We wanted to do a project focusing on the quartet. In terms of the material, we wanted to broaden the contributions from everyone. Dane is represented by several tunes. Will is in the mix. Everybody’s involved in every aspect.”
While Yellowjackets recorded the album in the midst of the pandemic, the music looks forward rather than exploring the angst and isolation that accompanied the advent of COVID-19. Of course, resilience and optimism in the face of tragedy is in itself a profound statement. For Mintzer, the new work “represents the commitment to stay together and keep moving forward. It’s really about this four-cornered square that functions no matter what. With each record, all four of us are on the hunt for new ways to put the notes together. The music keeps growing. The focus is this band. A clear, identifiable sound. Four equal parts.”
Indeed, every Jacket is well represented on Parallel Motion. The album opens with Mintzer’s “Intrigue,” a lithe but stutter-stepping tune that offers a little surprise around every shifting groove. Lyrical and street smart, the piece showcases all four players at their most responsive. “There’s a singable component, but these little splashes of dissonance,” Mintzer said. “It doesn’t fit into any categories, which is one of the M.O.s of this band.”
Ferrante’s passionate “Il Mio Amico” is a heartfelt ode written in response to his recently acquired Fazioli piano. It’s a spectacular instrument “and the resonance and overtones and response you get is really inspiring,” he said. “We brought it to the studio and used it on the recording, the first workout it got, and as the title says, it’s really my new friend.”
Alderson’s slyly grooving “Early” grew out of a sketch that had been languishing on his laptop for more than a decade. “I brought it to the band and the guys brought it to life,” he said. “It’s a jammy party tune with an R&B flavor that really evolved in the studio.”
Kennedy transformed a tune originally written with vocals into the ravishing “Samaritan,” a piece that expands on Yellowjackets’ long history of singable lines. “The goal was to have a melody that was simple and warm and I think we achieved that,” Kennedy said. “It’s a really calm and relaxing sort of song. As Dane was saying, it’s always an interesting adventure to present a tune to the band and have it take on a life of its own.”
If Parallel Motion offers a snapshot of a band in mid-flight, it’s also a family portrait that includes Ferrante’s “If You Believe,” a track featuring the supremely soulful vocalist Jean Baylor. No stranger to Jackets fans, she’s recorded with the group several times, and of course her husband, drummer Marcus Baylor, was a member of Yellowjackets from 2000-2010. Her gospel-steeped performance adds another incandescent track to Yellowjackets’ deep roster of vocal collaborations, a list that includes Bobby McFerrin, Kurt Elling, Bobby Caldwell, Randy Crawford, Brenda Russell, Michael Franks, Gino Vannelli, Jonathan Butler and Luciana Souza.
Recorded after a brief European tour, the album documents the process of discovery. “We rehearsed the tunes on the album maybe three times,” Alderson said. “I believe we’re only now on this tour performing these songs live, so what you’re hearing are about as fresh as they can be. Everything really came to life in the studio in those three days.”

Parallel Motion — the new album from jazz fusion legends Yellowjackets — is a true testament to the longevity and resilience of a band that debuted over 40 years ago. Consistently reinventing themselves through elevated instrumentation in their signature electro-acoustic soundscape, the current lineup consists of Bob Mintzer (tenor & soprano saxophone/EWI), Russell Ferrante (piano/keyboards), Will Kennedy (drums, keyboards), and Dane Alderson (electric bass, MIDI Sequencing) showcases a collective at their prime. This album features 9 new original compositions and guest vocalist Jean Baylor (4x GRAMMY® Award Nominee of the Baylor Project and R&B duo Zhané) on “If You Believe.” ~Mack Avenue Music Group

At your leisure, check the single “INTRIGUE” by the Yellowjackets.