[Just in case, you missed it]… Charles Owens Trio will release 10 Years, a set of passionate, hard-grooving recordings that showcase the group’s signature jazz-funk sound

On June 11, 2021, the Charles Owens Trio will release 10 Years, a set of passionate, hard-grooving recordings that showcase the group’s signature jazz-funk sound. Traversing a constellation of styles — from afrobeat to jazz ballads, to psychedelic rock — the Trio brings the unbridled energy and fierce musicality that have made them a mainstay of clubs in New York, Charlottesville, and their beloved hometown Richmond, VA.

At the heart of 10 Years is a decidedly celebratory spirit. The Trio went into the studio to toast a decade of existence together, and to document the powerful chemistry they’ve cultivated through countless hours on the bandstand. They built their tracklist as a loving ode to some of their favorite songs, drawn from all across their lives. “The music you learn when you’re really impressionable — like when you’re a child — it sticks with you forever,” says bandleader and saxophonist Charles Owens. “It’s in your soul. When I choose all these songs now for the record, I choose them because they mean a lot to me.”

From the opening note, Owens, bassist Andrew Randazzo, and drummer Devonne Harris pack a gut punch. They kick off with Cameron the Wise, an afrobeat original and live-show favorite captured for the first time in studio. Track after track, they flex their unique ability to be both supremely melodic and deeply groove-oriented. Owens can go tender and mystical on John Coltrane’s classic Central Park West, then turn around and throw haymakers on Jimi Hendrix’s psychedelic trip If 6 Was 9. Randazzo can anchor tunes like Caught Up in the Rapture, then bust out a gorgeous, extended electric bass solo such as he does on Continuum. And Harris moves seamlessly between funk, swing, thundering solos, and more — sometimes within one track like he does on Angelica.

Recorded in a single, blistering six-hour session, 10 Years is a legitimate musical journey and a testament to the powerful connection that exists between members of the Trio. “What was going on in the studio that day was me being really vulnerable and okay with it because I have a band that I’ve been together with for ten years, and man, they were so right there for me the whole time,” recounts Owens. Rarely can a group take on such a diverse slate of material and sound so utterly themselves at every turn? This is an album not simply for lovers of a certain genre or time period, but for people who enjoy music played with skill and the realest of passion. ~BandCamp

Original Release Date: June 11, 2021

Just in case, you missed it… the first release Different, Us captures the experiences of the 4 artists thriving in this context Bo!led

Bo!led is the 4-piece group that has come out of the most contemporary jazz scene in Milan, which brings together the use of electronics and is instrumental to the vibrant nature of the multicultural generation. The first release Different, Us captures the experiences of the 4 artists thriving in this context; Bo!led epitomized their sound in a genuine and moody mini-album that easily recalls the expansive blend of jazz and hip hop of Badbadnotgood as well as the rawness of the UK jazz scene.

Broken Days is the first track: syncopated drums, slick guitar chords, and rich textures set the pace for the bustling life in the city. Just around the corner is She’s Lying, with its delicate modulations and whimsical turns creating an intimate connection with the listener. The alternating rhythms roll into the smooth synths of Interi Ora that along with Tales sound like the most playful sequences. Blue Room does the trick: bouncy bassline, sparse drums, and the exotic feel take the groove to an impromptu jam session in the backyard of a familiar location. The plot ends with Different, Us which sums up a busy day in the metropolis shifting from high to low peaks, reflecting the variety of shades we encounter when living outside of the box. ~Bandcamp

Meet the band...

Matteo Castiglioni | Keys, Synth
Maurizio Gazzola | Bass
Amedeo Nan | Guitar
Andrea Gamba | Drums, Electronics

Different, Us is written and produced by Bo!led.

Originally Released: November 11, 2021

At your leisure, check out Different, Us by Bo!led

[NOTEWORTHY] …take the plunge with modernjazz master guitarist and composer John Scofield’s 60s style blend of jazz and funk with A Go Go

“Joined by Medeski, Martin, and Wood, [Scofield] attacks funk-meets-New-Orleans-ish tunes with his typical blend of the brainy and gutsy. . . .”  ~  Entertainment Weekly

John Scofield’s stature as a modern jazz master on electric guitar puts him in a sweet spot for this simmering, sexy collaboration with acid jazz pathfinders Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Scofield’s taut and spicy lines striking sparks against the soulful grooves pitched by drummer Billy Martin, keyboard colorist John Medeski, and bassist Chris Wood.

Far from a cheap commercial shot, the leader’s plunge into this reheated ’60s style is appropriately redolent of its funk heritage and his own astringent command of sharp lyrical and smart harmonic asides.  ~Sam Sutherland

Originally Released: January 1, 1998

At your leisure, check out “A GO GO” by John Scofield

[NOTEWORTHY] …with Collagically Speaking, R+R=NOW offers a distinct blend of urban musical elements

R+R=NOW is a collective of like-minded boundary-breakers featuring Robert Glasper, Terrace Martin, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Derrick Hodge, Taylor McFerrin & Justin Tyson. The “R+R” in the band’s name stands for Reflect+Respond and was inspired by Nina Simone who said an artist’s duty is to reflect the times. With Collagically Speaking the band presents an urgent musical hybrid that is distinct from the now.

As Glasper says, R+R=NOW tells “our story from our point of view… It’s a very honest, fluid sound that rings of hip-hop, EDM, jazz, at times – hell – reggae… a bunch of cats that respect each other so much that we always pass the ball.” The album features guest spots by Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Stalley, Amanda Seales, Amber Navran, Goapele, Jahi Sundance, and Yasiin Bey. ~Editorial Reviews | Amazon

At your leisure, spin “COLLAGICALLY SPEAKING” by R+R=Now

Just in case, you missed it…Trombonist Nathaniel Cross’ smokin’ debut ‘The Description Is Not The Described’ is on target

First Word Records is incredibly proud to welcome Nathaniel Cross to the label, here with his debut solo EP ‘The Description Is Not The Described’. Once dubbed ‘the Quincy Jones of Catford‘ by Rolling Stone magazine, the South Londoner has been a prominent force behind the scenes for several years now as an arranger and trombone player. His skill set has seen him perform and record with a wide range of luminaries including Solange, Emile Sande, Stormzy, Zara McFarlane, Kano, David Murray, LCSM, Swindle, and Macy Gray to cite a few, additionally to working on both of Moses Boyd’s albums, including the Mercury Prize-nominated ‘Dark Matter’. Growing up in a musically focused family, Nathaniel has been playing the trombone since the age of 10 and studied at Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Two decades since first picking up the trombone, it’s now finally time for Nathaniel to release his own compositions into the world. So to the EP – a four-track instrumental opus that falls within the cracks of contemporary jazz, whilst encompassing a wide range of black music sub-genres that he heard growing up in a British-Caribbean household. ‘The overview for this EP at the core of each track is jazz arranging, but disguised under a range of styles of music from the black diaspora’ says Nathaniel. Sonically, the full-set threads in strains of Bruk, calypso, dancehall, neo-soul, hip hop, gospel, Afro-Cuban, and West African music. The title itself ‘The Description Is Not The Described’ comes from a quote by Jiddu Krishnamurti. In Nathaniel’s words ‘the title is a reflection of where we are in the world today. So many of us are caught up in labels and descriptions that we end up looking at people for WHAT they are, rather than embrace them for WHO they are. No matter how detailed the description is, it will never capture the essence.

The EP’s track subjects encompass a range of topics, from grief and loss (‘Goodbye For Now’, dedicated to Nathaniel’s late father), to overcoming the trials and tribulations of life (‘Charge It To The Game’), to remaining positive in challenging times (‘Light In The Darkness‘), to looking for validation internally instead of externally (‘Who Looks Inside, Awakes’, named after a Carl Jung quote). ~Editorial Review | Amazon

At your leisure, spin this gem “THE DESCRIPTION IS NOT DESCRIBED” by trombonist/composer Nathaniel Cross

 

NOTEWORTHY: Moving Cities is an authentic blend of aesthetic grooves without boundaries featuring Antoine Berjeaut & Makaya McCraven

Bridging the spaces between the Paris and Chicago scenes, Moving Cities brings together the best of both worlds and is emblematic of a new, utterly modern jazz going through a true aesthetic revolution. Moving Cities started as a live laboratory set up by Berjeaut and McCraven; it echoes the recent evolution of international metropolises constantly torn between individualism and collective endeavors, in disrupted geography.

In today’s musical landscape, there is a strong push to reassess and redefine musical genres. Incorporating all kinds of influences has become a driving force, and jazz, like other genres, is now experiencing an explosion of its aesthetic boundaries. It has moved away from its ponderous legacy and now fully channels the spirit of the times – as it once used to. ~Editoral Reviews | Amazon

Original Release Date: December 6, 2019

At your leisure, check out this explosive gumbo of genre-bending grooves “MOVING CITIES” by Antoine Berjeaut and Makaya McCraven 

 

Makaya McCraven Puts A Modern Bounce on Blue Note Classics with “Deciphering The Message”

With his new remix album, Deciphering The Message, the Chicago-based drummer, producer, and beat scientist Makaya McCraven digs through the vaults of the legendary jazz label Blue Note Records to put a modern bounce on classics by Art BlakeyHorace SilverHank MobleyKenny Burrell, and Eddie Gale, among others. The album’s lead single Frank’s Tune” (AKA “De’Jeff’s Tune”) is available to stream or download today. Deciphering The Message will be released November 19 and can be pre-ordered now on vinyl, CD, and digital download.

Across numerous albums and mixtapes, McCraven has proven his mastery of the loop akin to hip-hop’s most celebrated beatmakers like J Dilla and Madlib, both of whom also found inspiration in the Blue Note catalog. With acclaimed releases like In The Moment (2015) and Universal Beings (2018), McCraven created his own lane in jazz by sampling his band playing improvised sessions throughout the world, then molding the audio several times to pull contrasting moods from it. For his most recent project McCraven remixed Gil Scott-Heron’s final album I’m New Here into the equally emotive LP We’re New Again (2020).

McCraven has always been a collaborative artist and Deciphering The Message features newly recorded elements from vibraphonist Joel Ross, trumpeter Marquis Hill, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, guitarists Matt Gold and Jeff Parker, bassist Junius Paul, and De’Sean Jones on tenor saxophone and flute. In that way, Deciphering The Message connects the past and present, proving that musicians become legends by trekking the same roads with like-minded creators all moving toward the same goal.

That throughline is evident on the lead single in which Jack Wilsons hard bop cut Frank’s Tune—from the pianist’s little-known 1967 album Easterly Winds—is remade into De’Jeff’s Tune, an ‘80s R&B-inspired arrangement with a two-stepping dance groove, wafting guitar chords courtesy of Parker, and delicate flute from Jones. The track opens and closes with the voice of Blue Note legend Art Blakey, the irrepressible bandleader of The Jazz Messengers, addressing his audience: “We want you to leave your worldly troubles outside and come in here and swing… So as the message is being delivered, ladies and gentlemen, you may pat your feet and have a ball.”

While Deciphering The Message collects songs from several years of Blue Note history, it plays like a continuous set taking place in one show at one venue. “When piecing everything together, I wanted to create a narrative that made the listener feel like they were falling into this space or a movement,” McCraven says. “I was really trying to make a record out of it, not just a series of tracks.”

McCraven hopes the album is both educational and an outright good listen. “I always want to make music that will connect with people in one way, where it makes them nod or feel something or transport them somewhere,” he says. “I also hope this makes them check out the source of this music if they have it. The music that we’re making now is part of the same route and is connected, so I want to honor tradition and release something that people can vibe to.”

The tracklisting for Deciphering The Message is as follows:

  1. A Slice Of The Top (AKA “Sliced Off The Top”)

[from A Slice Of The Top by Hank Mobley]

  1. Sunset (AKA “Son Set”)

[from Whistle Stop by Kenny Dorham]

  1. When Your Lover Has Gone (AKA “When You’ve Left Your Lover”)

[from A Night In Tunisia by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers]

  1. Ecaroh (AKA “Revlis”)

[from Horace Silver Trio by Horace Silver]

  1. Tranquillity (AKA “Corner Of The World”)

[from Components by Bobby Hutcherson]

  1. Wail Bait (AKA “Wait Bail”)

[from The Memorial Album by Clifford Brown]

  1. Coppin’ The Haven (AKA “At The Haven Coppin’”)

[from One Flight Up by Dexter Gordon]

  1. Frank’s Tune (AKA “De’Jeff’s Tune”)

[from Easterly Winds by Jack Wilson]

  1. Autumn In New York (AKA “Spring In Chicago”)

[from Blue Lights, Vol.1 by Kenny Burrell]

  1. Monaco (AKA “Monte Negro”)

[from ‘Round About Midnight At The Cafe Bohemia by Kenny Dorham]

  1. Mr. Jin (AKA “Mr. Gin”)

[from Indestructible by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers]

  1. C.F.D. (AKA “D.F.C.”)

[from Something Personal by Jack Wilson]

  1. Black Rhythm Happening

[from Black Rhythm Happening by Eddie Gale]

Stream our playlist Deciphering The Message: The Originals

 

Acclaimed LA / New York bassist, producer, and songwriter Joshua Crumbly joins Shahzad Ismaily’s figureight records for the release of beautiful new album ForEver

ForEver is a letter to tomorrow,” Joshua tells us. His music embodies this sentiment with eloquent gravitas. It is certainly as personal as a letter, handcrafted in the most expressive and affecting ways. Like a letter, it speaks not only of its own words but of the writer, a soul-baring important truths. And it is addressed to “tomorrow”; a sense of hope and conviction illuminate its gentle musical miniatures. “ForEver is a reflection on love, legacy, and happenings in the world. A warm hug in inner space.

Joshua made his musical debut aged 10, playing alongside his saxophonist father. A gifted performer, even as a pre-teen, he enjoyed mentorships with renowned bass players Reggie Hamilton (Whitney Houston, Seal) and Al McKibbon (Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins) before moving from LA to New York to attend the prestigious Juilliard music school. After years of honing his musicality alongside seminal players, Joshua finally embarked on recording his own solo pieces, beginning with 2020’s Rise album. The starting place of ForEver quickly followed, beginning with encouraging words from friend and collaborator Shahzad Ismaily. “ForEver began with an out of the blue call from Shahzad. He told me that I needed to record a solo bass album. It started out as such, then I added some other instruments. It branched out even further when I reached out to a few friends, whose voices I was strongly hearing on particular songs. I’m grateful they were down to be a part of the record.”  ~BandCamp.com 

Expected Release Date: October 8, 2021

Anonymous Performer and Composer Recruits All-Star Cast for High Energy Project; Encourages Artists to Respond Instinctually with First Take Recordings

Eponymous Release Ex-Vitamins
Features Mark Guiliana, Nate Smith, Ben Wendel,
Tim Lefebvre, Shayna Steele, and more

There is something both soothing and terrifying when a schedule clears. The opportunity to reclaim a bit of time that had been put aside for someone else can feel like an unexpected vacation. How we react and what we create during those unexpected and challenging breaks is what sets us apart. Ex-Vitamins was on that perpetual touring/recording/touring carousel before everybody’s schedule cleared. They worked tirelessly in front of crowds that could rival the population of most American towns.

A curious anonymity can wash over a tight band playing before a stadium crowd. The personality in the spotlight becomes oversized while the rest of the band focuses on that amplification, holding up mirrors to create an even brighter center point. Ex-Vitamins knows those crowds weren’t there to see him. They were there to see his boss. Ex-Vitamins has a lot of friends who did that for a living; musicians who once referred to David Bowie, St. Vincent, Paul Simon, Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, or others as the boss.

During the world’s unexpected hiatus, Ex-Vitamins set about creating a project that resulted in a series of songs and hypnotic music videos that untangle a funky brain far from rehearsals and shows and tours. “I had always wanted to take what I’ve learned in those musical situations and do something creative with it. I kept referring to it as a laptop side project,” the elusive composer said from his modest New Jersey studio. “I didn’t want the attachment to any preconceived notions about how it should sound or what lane it goes into. I just wanted to make music.” So, with the spotlight off and the world retreating to their electrified caves, Ex-Vitamins assembled some friends and created a whole different beast.

The energy of contact-less collaboration bursts through from the very first seconds of the album and never slows down. “Some of these guys play in situations where they need to play the same kind of thing night tonight. When they did whatever they wanted to, I got some unexpected results. I never had to say, ‘can you try something else?’ I value these guys’ voices so much on their own instruments. I called them for a reason. I didn’t just need a guitar. I needed Max Bernstein on this. I didn’t just need drums. I need what Mark Guiliana or Nate Smith can bring. These are guys that have their own voice.

And that sound is not bound by time or travel restrictions. This album was recorded by musicians in New York, California, Arizona, Tennessee, and France. Smith, who was in Nashville, pounds out a strong backbeat for “Intro” that makes way for an orchestra of sounds: New Power Generation horns rise up in waves; a limber and soulful piano solo fights for space. “On some of these tunes, when I sent the music out it was, ‘don’t listen to it until you are ready to record. First take. Have as many toys as you can in the room. Send it back.’”

Guitarists Robin Macatangay and Bernstein join Smith for “Are You Proud.” Together they engage in a funky rhythm guitar battle whose essence floats through the next two tracks as Bernstein stays for “Toronto” and “Ism.,” the latter of which takes the affair down a different ‘80s avenue. Visions of Morris Day and Rick James dance above Guiliana’s unmistakable drum kit. “Some of these songs initially felt like I was waiting for someone to come lay a topline melody, but the more I played them the more I got used to them existing on their own. Now I think adding anything else would get in the way,” says Ex-Vitamins.

“Hello, Let’s Go” features haunting synthesizers amid pounding drums. As the tune builds, another voice enters that shifts the whole experience. “I wrote a bridge to it and sent it to saxophonist Ben Wendel and he put the whole thing into outer space. There’s something very fulfilling about that arpeggiated bassline, that pulsing feel. It feels like it could go on forever.”

Vocalist Shayna Steele provides the swagger for “Fake Out,” her enthusiasm carrying the tune with a force that evokes great shouters like Tina Turner and Merry Clayton. Like any funky endeavor, a lot of weight falls on the bass player. Tim Lefebvre does here, as he does elsewhere on the album, just what makes him such an in-demand low-end master. “Every time I think I know what Tim’s going to play, he plays something else that’s even hipper. That’s the mark of an unbelievably creative musician,” says Ex-Vitamins. Drummer Chris Kimmerer is no slouch either. His driving push makes this collaboration a standout.

Ex-Vitamins bookends the album with a nod to their jazz roots in moments of lithe dexterity. “I wanted something athletic,” he says of the unexpected solo, his sound is aggressively showered with a weighty grind. “You Are #9” brings back a few of the album stand-out performers – Lefebvre, Guiliana, Kimmerer, Bernstein – for one last hurrah, an ascending thump in an optimistic direction.

This past year was a time when everybody got a lot of perspective on what it is they do and what it is they like to do. That informs what I asked for from them, and it informs what they gave me. I was more open than ever to say, ‘do your thing.’ I want to have even less say in how it is that you do it,” says Ex-Vitamins on his first, self-titled album Ex-Vitamins. And that’s the point. Music for music’s sake. What secrets lie stacked in the basement studio? Who wants to help find out? The results may surprise you.

Ex-Vitamins| Ex-Vitamins
Release DateAugust 27, 2021

For more information on Ex-Vitamins, please visit:

Listen to the single, “ARE YOU PROUD” by Ex-Vitamins 

 

NOTEWORTHY: Many Worlds contains a myriad of influences featuring Melbourne, Australia ensemble Menagerie

Nine-piece Melbourne-based Jazz ensemble Menagerie features some of Australia’s finest musicians, including pianist Mark Fitzgibbon, drummer Daniel Farrugia, and saxophonist Phil Noy, and was founded by producer, guitarist, DJ, Lance Ferguson. Inspired by both the post-Coltrane generation of the ’70s, labels like Strata-East, Impulse! and Tribe, along with the current ‘New Wave Of Jazz‘, Menagerie aligns with the world of Kamasi Washington, Shabaka Hutchings, and Nubya Garcia, whilst also bringing their own unique twist. Lead single ‘Free Thing‘ leans heavily into the spiritual side of the band’s sound.

The hypnotic spoken word poem is evocative of The Last Poets, an earthy yet futuristic meditation on the universal theme of freedom itself, set to a backdrop of insistent percussion, double bass, and brooding piano voicings. ‘Hope‘ carries forward the sound of spiritual jazz into the 21st century, with its epic vocal harmonies and melodic fanfare, it is an uplifting anthem for this period of global worldwide upheaval and uncertainty. The title track ‘Many Worlds’ is a perfect example of how Menagerie incorporates their myriad influences but manages to create a sound that feels uncannily fresh and contemporary. Book-ended by ambient, ethereal sections, the slow-burning groove builds over its 11-minute duration to create a standout crossover track. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Check out, “MANY WORLDS” featuring the poetic lyricism and flavors of Menagerie