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.

“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.

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.

 

Sarah Bernstein Convenes All-Star VEER QUARTET To Play Her Adventurous Compositions, Out Sept 03 via New Focus      

Perhaps it’s due to what she’s referred to as her punk rock-inspired “kill-your-idols mentality,” but it seemingly never occurred to Bernstein to explore the setting most common to the violin, the string quartet. That changed when she presented an evening of her chamber music compositions at Brooklyn’s Firehouse Space, using a nine-piece ensemble that she divided into several configurations.

One of the groupings was a string quartet,” she recalls, “and I was really struck by how my music came to life with that instrumentation. The sound just popped – it was so rich.”

Inspired by that experience, Bernstein returned to the string quartet format in 2018 when she called on Nagano, Falcon, and Jozwiak to form VEER Quartet, aptly named for the ability of the individual musicians and the collective ensemble to swerve from one style or concept to the next. What makes the group unique is their shared experience, spanning chamber music, jazz, free improv, and other genres. That gave Bernstein free rein in following her compositional imagination wherever it led.

I wrote the music for the quartet with a range of approaches,” she describes. “Because I’m an improviser, my compositional imagination naturally includes improvisational sounds. Some of these pieces are almost like expressive and artistic games that the soloists play. And some of my pieces are very through-composed with just a small improvisational element.”

Frames No. 1,” for instance, presents a series of brief sketches meant to spark solo and group improvisations, whereas “News Cycle / Progression” pairs two pieces – a harmonic progression with improvisational rules of engagement and a wholly through-composed section built on that progression. Inspiration can come from the visual arts (“Clay Myth,” which puns on the name of painter Paul Klee) or dreams (“Nightmorning”). “World Warrior” instructs the players to be as chaotic as possible, while “Hidden” submerges a solo melody under dense layers of group harmony.

Ultimately Sarah Bernstein offers an expansive, daring vision of what a modern string quartet can be, unbeholden to tradition or genre but fully aware of and engaged with both. VEER Quartet is a vibrant, challenging, and exploratory album that introduces a thrilling new ensemble to several scenes at once.

RELEASE DATE: September 2, 2022

Carnegie Hall Announces Schedule for NYO Jazz’s First US Tour Following June 24 Release of Debut Album We’re Still Here Led by Artistic Director and Bandleader/Trumpeter Sean Jones

US Tour Kicks Off at Carnegie Hall in
New York City on July 28 Featuring
GRAMMY® Award-nominated Vocalist
Jazzmeia Horn as Special Guest
US Tour Dates Include:
July 28 | Carnegie Hall | New York, NY
July 30 | Tri-C Metro Auditorium | Cleveland, OH
August 1 | Chautauqua Amphitheater | Chautauqua, NY
August 2 | The August Wilson African American Cultural Center | Pittsburgh, PA
August 4 | Navy Pier, Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park | Chicago, IL
August 5 | The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center | Detroit, MI
August 7 | Wisconsin Union Theater | Madison, WI
August 9 | John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts | Washington, D.C.

Carnegie Hall today announced the schedule for the first-ever US tour by its acclaimed NYO Jazz set to take place on the heels of the June 24, 2022 release of the ensemble’s first full-length studio album, We’re Still Here. The album features NYO Jazz Artistic Director and Bandleader/trumpeter Sean Jones and special guest Melissa Aldana on tenor saxophone, plus an appearance by trombonist Wycliffe Gordon. Available for pre-order, the album will be released by Platoon and will be available for digital download and on all streaming platforms in standard and Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio formats.

Following NYO Jazz’s US tour kick-off concert at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, July 28, the ensemble—joined by this summer’s special guest vocalist Jazzmeia Horn—will tour seven US cities under the direction of Sean Jones. The tour stops include Cleveland, OH on July 30 (Tri-C Metro Auditorium); Chautauqua, NY on August 1 (Chautauqua Amphitheater); Pittsburgh, PA on August 2 (The August Wilson African American Cultural Center); Chicago, IL on August 4 (Navy Pier, Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park); Detroit, MI on August 5 (The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center); Madison, WI on August 7 (Wisconsin Union Theater); and Washington, D.C. on August 9 (The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts).

“I’m very excited to perform with the amazing young musicians of Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz this summer,” said Jazzmeia Horn. “What a wonderful opportunity as this tour marks my first time playing an entire tour with a big band and I’m especially thrilled to sing selections from my new big band album, Dear Love. I’m curious to see how NYO Jazz will interpret my latest expression of love musically as we connect with audiences in cities around the US. This will be a fun journey to share with them!”

One of Carnegie Hall’s three acclaimed national youth ensembles, NYO Jazz—comprising outstanding young musicians ages 16–19 from across the United States—showcases the legacy and bright future of American jazz. Created in 2018 by the Hall’s Weill Music Institute, NYO Jazz annually brings together some of the nation’s finest teen jazz musicians to train, perform, and tour with world-class jazz masters while also serving as music ambassadors for their country. NYO Jazz’s successful international tours have included a 2018 inaugural European tour with Dianne Reeves as a special guest, and the ensemble’s debut tour to Asia in 2019 with Kurt Elling as a special guest. Although NYO Jazz was unable to travel during the past two years, the musicians convened virtually during the summer of 2020 and at Purchase College, State University of New York (SUNY) just north of New York City, in summer 2021, rehearsing and recording a wide range of repertoire, including its debut album.

We’re Still Here features four new works written for the band since its inception, a range of classic and contemporary charts that are hallmarks of its live concerts, and works exploring themes that include social justice, resilience, and the power of music to spark joy. The four Carnegie Hall-commissioned works on the album are: “Run with Jones” by Miguel Zenón, featuring Melissa Aldana as soloist; “Mr. Jones and Co.” by Ayn Inserto, featuring Sean Jones as soloist; “Fête dans la tête” by John Beasley; and “RPM’s” by Igmar Thomas. In addition to these commissions, among the album highlights include: “We’re Still Here” by—and featuring—trombonist and NYO Jazz faculty member Wycliffe Gordon, which has become the band’s rousing encore theme song; hence, the album’s title; “The Art of War” by Ralph Peterson; “Oyelo” by Miguel Zenón, featuring Melissa Aldana as soloist; “A Taste of Honey” by Duke Pearson; “Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool” by Duke Ellington, arranged by NYO Jazz ensemble coach Reginald Thomas; and “Transitions” by Sean Jones.

“You close your eyes and think they’re all 20 years older than they are,” said Sean Jones, who pays it forward through his passionate leadership of NYO Jazz, carrying on the tradition of mentorship in jazz.

The album—recorded during the ensemble’s summer 2021 training residency at Purchase College, SUNY, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic—is a declaration of resilience and longevity. A summer that began with the disappointment of a year without touring evolved into the opportunity to create this 97-minute showcase of the incredible artistry and enormous versatility of this remarkable ensemble, a recording poised to reach audiences around the world just as the ensemble resumes touring in summer 2022.

“We’re thrilled for NYO Jazz to release its debut album this spring—the first recording by any of our national youth ensembles,” said Sarah Johnson, Chief Education Officer and Director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for these gifted young players to train, perform, and now record alongside some of today’s leading jazz artists including special guest Melissa Aldana. It was especially meaningful for the musicians to gather for an extended residency last summer as it marked the first time many of them had the opportunity to come together to play in a full ensemble since the start of the pandemic. With We’re Still Here, we are proud to showcase the incredible depth of talent and high level of musicianship of these standout jazz musicians from across the country who will help ensure one of America’s quintessential art forms is preserved for generations to come.”

“The big band has always been America’s orchestral format and one of the most wide-ranging ensembles ever devised,” said Sean Jones, NYO Jazz’s Artistic Director, and Bandleader. “It can convey nearly any style of music in a sonically stimulating and interactive way. This recording exhibits that diversity by placing classics by Duke Ellington and Neil Hefti alongside pieces that utilize the big band as a vehicle for contemporary American music and represent a wide variety of genres.”

“Making this album was an absolute labor of love for the musicians, our incredible faculty and guest artists, and everyone involved,” said Joanna Massey, Director of Learning & Engagement Programs for Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, who has worked with the NYO Jazz program since its inception. “From their individual preparation prior to coming together as an ensemble, through long days of rehearsals and then recording sessions, the musicians were unwavering and inspiring in their dedication to producing something meaningful for the world to hear. It’s particularly special that by recording all of the original music written especially for NYO Jazz, the album also pays tribute to the outstanding musicians from previous NYO Jazz ensembles—who, like the players heard here, embodies the future of jazz.” ~DL Media

About NYO Jazz:

Each summer, NYO Jazz, led by artistic director Sean Jones, shines a spotlight on the depth of talent found among teen jazz players across the United States. The program offers talented young musicians, ages 16-19, the opportunity to perform as cultural ambassadors for their country, sharing a uniquely American musical genre with people around the world through an international tour. The members of NYO Jazz have been recognized by Carnegie Hall as being among the finest jazz musicians in the country, following a rigorous and highly competitive audition process. After its Carnegie Hall debut in 2018, the ensemble embarked on its first-ever international tour for performances with vocalist Dianne Reeves at prestigious concert halls and music festivals in London, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Kassel, and Berlin. In summer 2019, NYO Jazz made its debut tour to Asia, joined by vocalist Kurt Elling, including performances in Taichung, Beijing, Shanghai, Zhuhai, and Hong Kong. As part of their travel schedule, NYO Jazz musicians also have opportunities to meet and collaborate with young local musicians and experience the richness of different cultures and music.

NYO Jazz builds on the success of the acclaimed National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA) and its sister ensemble for younger musicians NYO2—programs created by Carnegie Hall in 2013 and 2016, respectively—to bring together the finest young classical musicians from across the country each summer for training, performances and international touring. Each of these prestigious national programs—free to all participants—is dedicated to the proposition that talented young musicians thrive when they have the opportunity to expand their musical, social, and cultural horizons and share their artistry with audiences around the globe. Since 2013, Carnegie Hall’s national youth ensembles have performed in 15 countries on four continents, including tours to China, South Korea, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Russia, and across Europe.

Carnegie Hall’s NYO Jazz · We’re Still Here
Release Date: June 24, 2022

For more information on NYO Jazz, please visit:

April 27-30: Princeton University Jazz Festival features Gilad Hekselman, Alexa Tarantino, Seamus Blake, Tony Malaby

Jazz at Princeton University, helmed by acclaimed saxophonist/composer Rudresh Mahanthappa, announces the return of the Princeton University Jazz Festival. Presented in conjunction with Jazz Appreciation Month, the event, which takes place Wednesday, April 27 – Saturday, April 30, features guest artists guitarist Gilad Hekselman, and saxophonists Seamus BlakeTony Malaby, and Alexa Tarantino performing with Princeton University’s stellar student ensembles. ∙ Wednesday, April 27 – Jazz Vocal Collective directed by Trineice Robinson-Martin.The JVC is a small jazz ensemble highlighting solo voices and a rhythm section to create a collaborative musical experience. The 7:30 p.m. performance takes place at Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall. Admission is free. Please visit musicprincetoninfohub.com/covid for the latest safety requirements. For information go to https://music.princeton.edu/events/jazz-vocal-collective-5. ∙ Thursday, April 28 –Guest saxophonist Alexa Tarantino joins Small Group Zguest guitarist Gilad Hekselman performs with Small Group X. The 7:30 p.m. performance, under the direction of Matthew Parrish, takes place at Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall. Free admission. Please visit musicprincetoninfohub.com/covid for the latest safety requirements. For information go to https://music.princeton.edu/events/jazz-small-groups-x-z-0. • Saturday, April 30 – Titans of the Tenor SaxophoneA celebration of International Jazz Day the concert includes Princeton’s Small Group I featuring guest saxophonist Tony Malaby and Small Group A joined by guest saxophonist Seamus Blake. The 8 p.m. performance takes place in Richardson Auditorium, Alexander Hall. Tickets $15, $5 students. Please visit musicprincetoninfohub.com/covid for the latest safety requirements. For information go to https://music.princeton.edu/events/small-groups-i-and. “We are thrilled about the return of The Princeton University Jazz Festival,” says Mahanthappa. “In a trio of concerts during Jazz Appreciation Month, accomplished guest artists perform alongside our remarkably talented students, creating a truly special synergy that feels particularly significant given the curtailing of live music we’ve all experienced over the last couple of years.”

GUEST ARTIST BIOS New York-based saxophonist/composer Seamus Blake is recognized as one of the finest exponents of contemporary jazz. Seamus was born in December 1970 in England and raised in Vancouver, Canada. At age 21, while still a student at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music, he was asked to record with legendary drummer Victor Lewis. After graduation, he moved to New York, where he rapidly established himself on the New York jazz scene. In February 2002, Seamus took first place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. As the winner, he performed with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. His music is known for its sophistication, bold improvisations, and “sheer swagger.” John Scofield, who hired Seamus for his “Quiet Band,” called him “extraordinary, a total saxophonist.” Throughout his 24-year career, Seamus has garnered critical praise for his masterful playing, his fine compositional skills, and his facility as a leader. Since moving to Paris in February 2018 Seamus has been invited to perform the music of his CD Superconductor with a number of European jazz bands, including the Latvian Radio Jazz Band, the Trondheim Big Band, and The Sibis Alumni Big Band. In 2017 Seamus assembled a new quartet, The French Connection. The band (Seamus, Tony Tixier on piano, Florent Nisse on bass, and Gautier Garrigue on drums) recorded their first CD in Paris in November of 2017 and have toured in France and Spain. As a leader/co-leader, Seamus has released more than a dozen albums. He is featured as a sideman on over 70 releases. He has played and recorded with Bill Stewart, Kevin Hays, David Kikoski, Alex Sipiagin, John Scofield’s Quiet Band, Dave Douglas, Eric Reed, Ethan Iverson, Chris Cheek, and Matt Penman, among others. Gilad Hekselman is one of the leading voices in jazz guitar. Only a few years after his 2004 arrival in New York, this native Israeli was already sharing stages with some of the greatest artists on the scene including Chris Potter, Eric Harland, Mark Turner, Anat Cohen, Ari Hoenig, Esperanza Spalding, Jeff Ballard, Ben Wendel, Gretchen Parlato, Ben Williams, Avishai Cohen, Tigran Hamasyan, Aaron Parks and Becca Stevens among many others. In May 2019, Hekselman featured his quartet at the legendary NYC venue The Village Vanguard. He has also played at major jazz clubs including the Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club, and Smalls. He tours internationally and has played jazz festivals and venues including Montreux, North Sea, Montreal, and SFJazz. Hekselman has released nine critically-acclaimed records as a bandleader, many of which have made it into ‘best of the year’ lists in The New York Times, DowBeat, All About Jazz, and many other publications. His tenth record, Far Star, will be released on Edition Records in May 2022. It’s an all-original album in which Hekselman plays many instruments, and it features special guests such as Eric Harland, Shai Maestro, Ziv Ravitz, and more. The record release will be celebrated with a week-long engagement at the Village Vanguard in 2022. Gilad is the recipient of several prestigious awards and recognitions. In 2017, Gilad placed first in the Rising Star category of DownBeat. In 2018 Gilad was asked by guitar legend Pat Metheny to perform as part of his NEA Award ceremony at The Kennedy Center, alongside some of Metheny’s other favorite young guitar players. Gilad is also the winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition, which led to a string of performances including opening for guitar legend Paco de Lucia with his trio at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2006. In 2009, Gilad recorded three tracks for Walt Disney Records, one of which was included in the record Everybody Wants To Be a Cat (2011). The album features versions of Disney songs played by a top-shelf lineup of musicians including Dave Brubeck, Joshua Redman, Esperanza Spalding, Diane Reeves, Roy Hargrove, Kurt Rosenwinkel, The Bad Plus, and many other jazz legends.

In his two decades as an integral member of New York City’s improvised music community, saxophonist and composer Tony Malaby has emerged as a wholly unique and singular voice. DownBeat’s “80 Coolest Things in Jazz” article said “[Malaby] is a formidably accomplished soprano and tenor saxophonist with enviable tone and an endless font of compelling ideas [who] steers his music away from perfection” and “his considerable gifts as a melodist tend to sneak up on you.” JazzTimes called him “a hero of today’s improvised music scene.” These accolades are unsurprising given the number of projects Malaby has been involved in since arriving in New York in the early 1990s. Career highlights include being the leader of Tamarindo Trio with Nasheet Waits and William Parker; Tubacello with John Hollenbeck, Chris Hoffman, and Bob Stewart; Paloma Recio with Ben Monder, Eivind Opsvik, and Nasheet Waits; and an improvising trio with Angelica Sanchez and Tom Rainey. Malaby has worked as a sideman in Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Fred Hersch’s quintet and Walt Whitman project, Mark Helias’s Open Loose, Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth, Eivind Opsvik’s Overseas, Ches Smith’s These Arches, Michael Formanek’s Elusion Quartet, and Kris Davis’s Diatom Ribbons quintet. His latest release The Cave of Winds (Pyroclastic Records, January 2022) features Malaby’s Sabino Quartet with Ben Monder, Michael Formanek, and Tom Rainey. Alexa Tarantino is an award-winning, vibrant young jazz saxophonist, woodwind doubler, composer, and educator. Alexa’s “high-octane [performance]” (Jazziz Magazine) and “sharply plotted but gracefully unencumbered straight-ahead jazz [compositions]” (The New York Times) establish her individual voice which shines through as a dynamic performer and educator. Tarantino was recently named one of the “Top 5 Alto Saxophonists of 2019” by the JazzTimes Critics’ Poll and nominated as a “Rising Star – Alto Saxophone” by DownBeat Magazine’s 2021 and 2020 Critics’ Poll. She has appeared with a wide variety of ensembles including the Wynton Marsalis Septet, Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Cecile McLorin Salvant Quintet and OGRESSE ensembles, Ulysses Owens Jr.’s Generation Y and Big Band, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, and leads the Alexa Tarantino Quartet. Firefly, Alexa’s third record for Posi-Tone Records was released April 2021, hitting #6 on the JazzWeek charts. Her previous album, Clarity, peaked at #9 on the JazzWeek charts and landed at #54 for JazzWeek’s Top 100 records of 2020. Tarantino is currently on faculty for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Youth Programs (High School Jazz Academy, Let Freedom Swing/Jazz for Young People) and represents the organization as a Clinician and Educator for various schools, festivals, and workshops. She holds a Master’s degree in Jazz Studies from The Juilliard School and Bachelor’s degrees in Jazz Saxophone Performance and Music Education from the Eastman School of Music. Alexa is Founder and Director of the Rockport Jazz Workshop in Rockport, Massachusetts, and Co-Founder of A Step Ahead Jazz with pianist Steven Feifke. In February 2021, Alexa launched her new virtual community-style jazz education platform, The Alexa Approach. Alexa Tarantino is a Vandoren Artist and Yamaha Performing Artist. Learn more about her at www.alexatarantino.com. Jazz at Princeton University serves to promote this uniquely American music as a contemporary and relevant art form. Its goals are to convey the vast musical and social history of jazz, establish a strong theoretical and stylistic foundation with regard to improvisation and composition, and emphasize the development of individual expression and creativity. Offerings of the program include academic coursework, performing ensembles, master classes, private study, and independent projects. They also have the opportunity to participate in academic courses from the music department curriculum that encourage the study of the historical, social, theoretical, stylistic, and creative issues that pertain to the jazz idiom.

Copyright © 2022 Braithwaite & Katz, All rights reserved.

Toronto-based octet EUCALYPTUS Announce New Album Moves Out May 13th, 2022 via Telephone Explosion Records

“Time stands still on the utterly beguiling first missive from Eucalyptus’s forthcoming album, Moves.” – Foxy Digitalis

Toronto-based octet Eucalyptus has been steadily gathering a devoted cult following since the release of their debut10” Eeeeeuuucaaaaaaallyyypppptus in 2012. Led by acclaimed saxophonist and composer Brodie West, the band’s languid, kaleidoscopic jazz is very much a collective endeavor, the product of an internal network of improvisational synergy they’ve built over more than a decade together.Moves is their sixth release, and somewhat of a milestone. In addition to it being the octet’s most psychedelic and arrestingly soulful release thus far, it’s also their longest—their first, in fact, to cross into the bonafide full-length territory. They’re marking the occasion by joining the roster of Toronto’s favorite Telephone Explosion Records.Touted as “innately personal” by DownBeat MagazineBrodie Wests unique vision has been nourished by a bafflingly diverse array of sources. Meeting the legendary Dutch drummer Han Bennink in 2000 at age 24 not only sparked an ongoing creative partnership (including two records) but also led him in a number of other fruitful directions. Bennink was the connection to exploratory punks The Ex, who brought West aboard for their collaboration with Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya, which produced recordings and tours worldwide.Where the Brodie West Quintet (Astral Spirits, Ansible Editions) trades in clever jazz asymmetry and his duo Ways is a stark and focussed exploration of rhythm, Eucalyptus is where this eclecticism is most audible. The band simmers with polyrhythmic percussion, laid-back jazz sweetness, various strains of psychedelic wonk, and subtle tropical aromas from dub on “Rose Manor,” named after the retirement home of his musical grandmother Lorna (ever a source of inspiration for West) to Bossa Nova, as heard on “It’s In A Move.” Its streaks of free-form bedlam and pure sonic texture keep listeners poised for perplexity and cheerful volatility.

Moves manage to approximate the playful, intoxicating warmth the band conjures in their beloved local live appearances. Eucalyptus has made a tradition out of mounting month-long residencies at Hirut, a cozy east-end eatery that serves delicious Ethiopian cuisine. Hirut even gets a nod in the credits. Perhaps it’s because this record’s subtle whimsy and inviting disarray draw so much from the spirit of those evenings.A large part of this odd concoction’s success comes down to West’s co-conspirators, a veritable who’s who of Toronto’s underground music community. Trumpet player Nicole Rampersaudwho has since relocated to Fredericton, New Brunswick, has sculpted her unique tone as composer-in-residence at Halifax’s EVERYSEEKER Festival and in collaborations with the likes of Rakalam Bob Moses, Anthony Braxton, Joe Morris, and Telephone Explosion’s own Joseph Shabason. Ryan Driver (clavinet) has cut a series of gorgeous song records for Tin Angel Records and collaborated with Eric Chenaux (Constellation) in various projects while leading a number of his own imaginative outfits. Michael Smith (bass) plays with Toronto psychonauts the Cosmic Range and has toured and recorded with MV+EE, Sandro Perri plus countless others. Fellow Perri collaborator, percussionist Blake Howard brings the palpable joy of his playing to collaborations with Marker Starling, Little Annie, and the surrealist mischief of GUH. 2021 saw Nick Fraser (drums) leading a disc on Hat-Hut’s Ezzthetics imprint. It follows a string of other celebrated recordings with international out-jazz heavyweights like Tony Malaby and Kris Davis for Clean Feed, Astral Spirits, and more. In addition to pursuing his delicate solo song work, drummer Evan Cartwright plays in both of West’s other projects and has performed and recorded with Tasseomancy, The Weather Station, US Girls, Badge Époque, and Andy Shauf.Another exciting development unveiled on Moves is the presence of guitarist Kurt Newman, who replaces longtime member Alex Lukashevsky. Newman’s whirling treatments and colorful array of tones figure prominently into the ensemble’s new and disorienting sound. Newman was the co-founder of the premiere Austin improv festival No Idea alongside Chris Cogburn. A ceaseless collaborator who’s worked with the likes of Sarah Hennies, Tetuzi Akiyama, Mats Gustafsson, he also leads his own projects such as Country Phasers and the Nashville Minimalism Unit. ~Words by: Nick Storring

Produced by Brodie West and EucalyptusCo-producer Matt Smith

“Curious, melody-rich tropo-jazz bursts into an experimental frenzy in a melange of fragmentary moods, from languorous to psych-tinged; masterfully agitated trumpet, clavinet and guitar and sax trilling thoughtfully. Pure imagination at play.” — COMMEND NYC on Kick It Till You Flip It

#5, Best jazz/improv releases of 2019 — Bill Meyer, MAGNET, on Kick It Till You Flip It

“Alto saxophonist/composer Brodie West makes music that’s both exploratory and engaging, growing from varied experiences playing jazz and its transmutations in Toronto and further afield… The entire LP testifies to West’s artful concision” — Stuart Broomer, The WholeNoteon Kick It Till You Flip It

 

Pianist Tord Gustavsen Returns with New Trio Album, Opening, Featuring Steinar Raknes and Jarle Vespestad

Available April 8 via ECM Records

Tord Gustavsen’s album Opening develops the traits and styles explored in his earlier works while introducing a broader spectrum of suppleness and a transformed sense of interplay to the trio’s repertory. It is the first Gustavsen Trio recording with Steinar Raknes on bass and the newcomer feels quite at home supporting his colleagues in the deep end, settling in quickly between Tord’s refined chordal studies and Jarle Vespestad’s delicate stick- and brushwork.

 

There’s a particularly striking openness to the music, marked by spacious improvisations and a tendency to reveal the secrets and melodies at their own pace. “The urge for saying something, be it abstract or lyrical, has to come from within,” Tord reasons. “During the recording of the album, it felt better to do the breathing first, open up the soundscape in more organic ways and let the melody enter when it comes naturally.“

 

Multiple causes may account for the shift in temperament on Opening – the change in the lineup certainly being one of them. Bassist Steinar Raknes establishes a firm counterpoint in the music. “He’s an extroverted bass player, who likes to take center stage, while also being an incredibly supportive and humble accompanist, so he moves very swiftly between background, collective, and soloist roles.” An ideal counterbalance to the variable basslines, Jarle’s percussive rumination acts as a mediator, guiding his fellow musicians through alternating straight-ahead and rubato passages.

 

Here more than ever Tord dwells on minuscule fragments, brief chord chains, and scarce hints of motifs, developing the material patiently: “It’s something I’ve been doing a lot in solo concerts. Having themes just appear out of the dark and disappearing back into a shady undercurrent…

 

In a way picking up where the prior trio album The Other Side left off, album-opening “The Circle“ presents a hymnal refrain, fashioned with a humble design. “I was sitting at the piano and the first four bars just came to me. I worked out and developed the remaining structure deliberately, but more and more I find that the best tunes I’ve written over the years basically just came to me, like gifts. I then have the responsibility to shape the gift, make it grow and turn it into a complete piece”.

 

The trio offers spontaneous moments of dense rubato interplay on “Opening” and “Findings,” the latter of which ends on an instrumental quote of the Swedish folk song “Vis Fran Rattvik,” “It shows that I was listening to the classic Swedish Folk-tune arrangements by the late Jan Johansson, who also happened to be one of the greatest Swedish jazz pianists. I’ve been learning many of his arrangements by heart, just as an exercise and that influence is in evidence here.” These are also the most freely improvised exhibits of the record, as is counterpart “Findings II.” “I really enjoy building these miniatures — it’s something we often do in live situations. It’s about creating a shape, not about free improv in the sense of showing everything you’re capable of doing,”

 

With each song, the trio shifts focus, presenting the reduced, most skeletal shape of composition on “The Longing,” the gentle untangling of melody on “Shepherd Song” and the subtle deconstruction of dance with “Helensburgh Tango” – “to the point where it almost doesn’t qualify as a tango anymore.” Like “Re-opening,” most songs have prescribed harmonic changes and general shapes, “but when to move from one chord or section to the next isn’t pre-composed, but decided between us, in the spur of the moment.”

 

“Stream” uncovers a ‘classic’ piano trio ballad in shape and execution. “Though seemingly counterintuitive, in the studio, our interplay grew densest during Steinar’s solo, then we move into a collective crescendo – both spontaneous decisions that really shed a different light on the track.” “Ritual” follows, seeing Steinar taking the lead with guitar-like treble and Gustavsen being in charge of the lower frequencies, applying subtle electronics in the process.

 

The group goes full circle with the one subject that pulls through Tord Gustavsen’s entire ECM oeuvre, as Opening closes with Norwegian folk themes: “Fløytelåt” (the flute) by composer Gveirr Tveitt and Egil Hovland’s “Vær sterk, min sjel” from the Norsk Salmebok, the Norwegian Hymnal. Instead of stating the obvious and immediately going for the melody, Gustavsen and his accompanists again broach the songs with openness, trading strict organization for thoughtful and effortless improvisation.

 

Opening was recorded in Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in November 2021 and produced by Manfred Eicher.
Tord Gustavsen Trio | Opening
ECM Release Date: April 8, 2022
For more information on ECM, please visit:

Composer Chase Elodia Explores Digital Identity on “Portrait Imperfect” – Out May 13th on Biophilia Records       

Portrait Imperfect is notable for the way it foregrounds the voice, with Elodia’s sensitive and insightful lyric writing taking center stage on most tracks. Dickson’s singing, with its airy expressivity, has a way of guiding Elodia’s creative ruminations throughout the album. “I love the drums, and most of my first musical heroes were drummers,” says Elodia, “but I also have a deep and abiding love for language. I studied English literature in college in addition to music, and these days I find myself perhaps just as inspired by the writings of Fernando Pessoa, Jane Hirschfield, and Natasha Shüll as I am by the drumming of Terri Lyne Carrington, John Hollenbeck, and Deantoni Parks. For this project in particular, I was inspired by texts such as Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves To Death, Susan Sontag’s On Photography, and Byung Chul-Han’s Good Entertainment, each of which provides a unique perspective on how we might conceptualize our digitally-mediated subjectivities

These literary influences are apparent throughout Portrait Imperfect, in lyrical references to the “spotless decay” of digital archives, the “placeless modernity and pageantry” of social networking, and the “contingencies of salvation” that are woven into our productivity-obsessed culture. “I’m continually asking questions about the affordances of digital technologies – both in regard to how we live our lives, but also in thinking about the role of music and art in our hyper-connected moment. In what ways do these technologies propagate an increasingly avaricious and materialist cultural disposition? And how, as musicians and artists, might we be able to both attend to and challenge that way of relating to the world?

About Chase Elodia:

Based in Brooklyn, composer-drummer Chase Elodia has garnered critical acclaim since his move to New York in Fall 2019. In 2021 he received ASCAP’s Young Jazz Composers Award for his song “The World Is Now Your Own,” composed in honor of the birth of pianist Glenn Zaleski and violinist Tomoko Omura’s child. In July 2020, he received a grant from the Boulder County Arts Association to record his forthcoming debut album Portrait Imperfect. He was also awarded the MacDowell Artist Residency Fellowship for Spring 2022. In addition to his own projects, Chase has shared the stage with Emma Frank, Morgan Guerin, and Allegra Krieger. He performs regularly with the Alex Hamburger Quartet and the ensemble Echoes. His writing has been published in Music & LiteratureDrum! Magazine and the Percussive Arts Society.

Release Date: May 13, 2022, on Biophilia Records