Just in case, you missed it… Melbourne-based saxophonist-composer Anton Delecca makes his Earshift Music debut with The Offering

Melbourne-based saxophonist-composer Anton Delecca makes his Earshift Music debut with The Offering, an emotional yet powerful dedication to the passing of his parents. Recorded in New York City, the album features pianist Caili O’Doherty, drummer Cory Cox, special guest Blue Note artist, alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, alongside Melbourne ex-pat bassist Matt Clohesy. The album bursts with power, groove, and passion, paying homage to the memory of his parents who were major supporters of his life in music.

The Offering is the sister album to his award-winning 2013 release The Healer and represents the artistic culmination of living in NYC from 2017-19. Recorded over two freezing days in Brooklyn in December 2019, the album consists of seven original compositions from Delecca along with Barbara by the great Horace Silver, and Skylark, the Hoagy Carmichael classic ballad. “This album represents the spiritual connection and meaning that New York holds for me,” explains Delecca, “much of the music that I have connected to in my life has been made there.” He felt that his musical growth in Melbourne had stagnated. “This album represents the breaking free of some stagnation I was feeling. Living in NY was like coming into the daylight and this recording is the musical representation of that.”

The band consists of some of the best young musicians that New York has to offer. Matt Clohesy played on Anton’s first album released in 2001 and was a fixture in his band for several years. Caili O’Doherty and Delecca undertook their masters together during which time Anton met and played with her husband, drummer Cory Cox. Anton heard Immanuel Wilkins play during a masters recital of a friend at the Juilliard School. Blown away by his playing, and in particular his level of maturity, he asked him to be a part of this recording. “Recording this album was like hanging out with friends whilst making music for two days!” explains Delecca.

This album is the culmination of several years of writing and playing. Some of the material had already been played extensively in Melbourne by his quartet. There’s also a personal element to the album, as Delecca explains, “it is dedicated to the recent passing of both of my parents Marg and Bill. It is in a sense a gift to them both, as they had been major supporters of my life in music from the start.”

Anton Delecca has undergone some personal challenges over the years and music has always been a counterbalance to these. The creation and performing of music is a necessary, life-giving process for Delecca. His sister, who was a musician, studying at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, passed away when he was a child. He was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in his early 20s which has required ongoing treatment. Through the years he has encountered other challenges including, addiction, the passing of his parents and recently a major operation for bowel cancer.

Anton Delecca has performed with many local and international greats and appeared with his band at the Melbourne International Jazz Festival and the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz among many others. He was also a member of Melbourne funk outfit The Bamboos for 13 years which involved extensive touring and recording commitments.

“The strongest piece for me is the title track, ‘The Healer’……..It is lovely, transporting, spiritual, and has exactly nothing to do with the way much of jazz is played today. Which makes it a truly unique musical experience, beyond genre, as much great music is” ~ John Hardakeraustralianjazz.net  | Bandcamp

Anton Delecca – tenor saxophone
Caili O’Doherty – piano
Matt Clohesy – acoustic bass
Cory Cox – drums
Immanuel Wilkins – alto saxophone tracks 2, 6 & 8

All compositions Anton Delecca except Skylark composed by Hoagy Carmichael, lyrics by Johnny Mercer, arranged by Anton Delecca

Barbara was composed by Horace Silver, arranged by Anton Delecca

Original Release Date: November 5, 2021

[NOTEWORTHY]… Maroon Cloud, a powerful eight-part suite by Afrofuturist & celebrated flutist Nicole Mitchell, is a paean to the human gift of imagination

Maroon Cloud, a powerful eight-part suite by celebrated flutist Nicole Mitchell, is a paean to the human gift of imagination and its ability to foster resistance in our dystopian times. It features a drum-less quartet with Mitchell, cellist Tomeka Reid, pianist Aruán Ortiz, and vocalist Fay Victor, recorded live at National Sawdust in Brooklyn as part of John Zorn’s Stone Commissioning Series (March 29, 2017).

In part, Maroon Cloud refers to the realm of creativity that we can enter simply by closing our eyes — an ability no one can take away from us. Imagination, especially black imagination, is a really vital and undervalued resource, the composer states. It’s very clear that we can’t continue in the same direction that we’ve gone, but we need to return to where imagination and creativity come from, because if we don’t have another vision then we can’t make a different future. What makes us special as human beings are our ability to imagine things that don’t even exist yet. Those future-seeking visions, for now, exist in what we might call the cloud. Maroon, meanwhile, has a number of meanings: it ties into the theme of resistance by referencing the Maroons — those Africans who escaped slavery in the Caribbean and banded with indigenous people to form their own communities as early as the 16th century. Mitchell also cites the alternate meaning of marooned, i.e., people being abandoned to their fate. And then there’s maroon, the rich dark color we might see with eyes closed, imagining social and political renewal. Nicole Mitchell, a longtime Chicagoan, and professor of music at the University of California-Irvine, recently received a Champion of New Music Award from the American Composers Forum. She has been hailed for her Afrofuturist vision and credited as the most inventive flutist in the past 30 years of jazz by The New York Times. Her varied projects and leadership as the first woman to chair the AACM have widened the scope of improvised music. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

[Just in case, you missed it]… the versatile voice of pianist-composer Zela Margossian’s music rises above all these labels as a product of her own unique constellation of influences and lived experiences on her latest recording The Road

Variously described as “ethno-jazz”, “world-jazz”, and “folk-jazz fusion”, Zela Margossian’s music rises above all these labels as a product of her own unique constellation of influences and lived experiences.

Raised in Beirut of Armenian heritage, her childhood years were marked by the conflict and political instability of the region; themes she would later explore in her music. In her early twenties, Margossian moved to Yerevan, Armenia to study classical piano at the Komitas Conservatorium. But it was after class, in the local jazz-clubs listening to artists the likes of Arto Tunçboyacıyan and Vahagn and the Cats, that her love for jazz was stoked. A move to Australia some years later saw her take the bold step to fully transition from her classical roots and find recognition among her jazz peers, as a composer and improviser of note.

In 2017, the Zela Margossian Quintet (ZMQ) was formed and quickly found a warm embrace in the Sydney jazz scene. Comprising renowned, versatile performers: Stuart Vandegraaff (woodwinds), Jacques Emery (double bass), Adem Yilmaz (percussion), and Alexander Inman-Hislop (drum kit), the band has appeared on Australia’s mainstages and internationally including at: the Beirut International Jazz Festival (2018), SIMA’s Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival (2017, 2019 and 2020), Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues (2020), the Sydney Opera House (2020), and Sydney Festival (2021).

In 2019 the band’s debut album, Transition, was released by Art As Catharsis to critical acclaim, also receiving an ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) nomination for Best World Music album.

The Road is their much anticipated second album, promising the rich instrumental textures, the distinct compositional voice, as well as the narrative and thematic depth Margossian, is known for. ~Bandcamp

Released: February 25, 2022

‘Agua de Jamaica’ is the first collaborative project between producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II AKA Sly5thAve and pianist and composer Roberto Verástegui.

Agua de Jamaica’ is the first collaborative project between producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger Sylvester Uzoma Onyejiaka II AKA Sly5thAve and pianist and composer Roberto Verástegui. The pair originally met whilst studying Jazz in Texas and began piecing together the release on Sly5thAve’s first visit to Mexico, over a drink of Agua de Jamaica – a drink made with water, hibiscus flower, and sugar. Recorded during the lockdown in Mexico, the LP is built from a passionate and comprehensive understanding of Jazz, a love of Hip Hop, and Mexico City’s ever-vibrant artistic culture, Latin flavors, and the African roots from which these sounds grew.

Epitomizing this fusion of sounds and collaborative talents on the introductory single “Tie Break”, Sly5thAve reworks a track originally written as a big band chart for the Orquesta Nacional de Jazz de Mexico by Roberto. Beginning with the original lead sheet, laced with nods to Funk and Hip Hop, the pair improvised a Jazz reworking before taking it home to layer synths, piano, and beats. With a constant backbeat and harmonic pattern courtesy of Sly5thAve, Roberto’s Hammond organ takes the experimental Jazz center stage.

At the heart of ‘Agua de Jamaica’ is the title track; the moment Sly5thAve and Roberto realized they had something to pursue. Thought of by both Sly5thAve and Roberto as the fullest collaboration on the release, “Agua de Jamaica” considers the constant artistic and cultural exchange between the US and Mexico, despite the political differences. It draws the listener in with a Hip Hop loop intertwined with hypnotic vocals from local artist Silvana Estrada; “she has a voice, unlike anything I’ve ever heard. She has the ability to effortlessly float between genres”, Sly5thAve adds.

Having moved to Mexico City at the beginning of 2020, Sly5thAve stayed with Roberto and his wife Yuki during the first Covid-19 lockdown; outtakes of their time together BBQing can be heard on the serendipitous “Empeño (lil’ bop)” if you listen closely. This time allowed for the pair to build on their ideas and explorations of different sounds and places centered around Jazz. Their combined voice, emotions, and way of working are perfectly presented in the Afrobeat-inspired “La Tormenta”. “I stayed up all night working it out and it came together last minute,” Sly5thAve recalls. “After we had finished recording everything we went back in and started to piece it all together like a Hip Hop record. Thinking about how it all came together, “La Tormenta” (or “The Thunderstorm” in English) made the most sense”. This energy carries through to the interweaving melodies of the Modern Jazz-inspired “The Wanderer” – built from unused demos of a Jazz album Sly5thAve had been working on – and onto the improvised big, tough city vibes of “Past Thoughts”. “We decided to improvise over some Jazz changes that get played pretty often, but with an ‘IN YOUR FACE’ edge”, Roberto says, highlighting the freely played nature of the Jazz tune which peaks with the perfected communication between the rhythm section and Sly5thAve’s sax sound. ~Bandcamp

Released: March 25, 2022

Portico Quartet announces Next Stop, a dynamic 4 track EP recorded at the same sessions as 2021’s acclaimed Monument release

Released in November 2021, Monument was acclaimed as one of Portico Quartet’s most accessible, direct records to date. Carefully crafted as an ode to better times, it pulsed with the energy of dance music and was one of the most melodic and carefully structured records the band has ever released. Next Stop is the brilliant follow-up, a pulsing powerful four-tracker that also features a wistful, elegiac side and perhaps provides a coda to Monument.

Captured Time is a melodious and atmospheric tune that erupts out of layered synthesizers and strings. It’s the contrast between melodic simplicity and textural density is that lets it push through to an elated, ecstatic conclusion as the band draws you into an emotional journey as only they can.

Next Stop is Portico Quartet at full power. Arguably the most rhythmically dense tune they have ever made. It’s a hypnotic groove driven by an off-kilter 7/8 drum and bass groove that ducks and dives with relentless intensity.

Youth is a deceptively simple tune, nostalgic in tone, It’s a paean to childhood and simpler days, with Wyllie’s wistful sax melody perfectly offset by the low-slung slow-mo hip-hop beat of Bellamy drums. But is the beautiful strings that really turn this tune into something special. ~Bandcamp

Released: March 18, 2022

Multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Jiyane stands at the vanguard of his prodigious generation of jazz musicians with his debut UMDALI

A generous sideman and bandleader, multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Jiyane stands at the vanguard of his prodigious generation of jazz musicians. Operating from the center and the fringes of the South African jazz scene, the trombonist (and pianist) is an enigmatic yet charismatic galvanizer of his contemporaries, able to put them through their paces in his own compositions while giving them enough room to interpret them anew.

In UMDALI, his debut album as frontman, Jiyane delivers not only a major contribution to the canon — one shaped around dedications to key figures in his personal and professional life — but an honest snapshot of his personal circumstances at the time of recording. In that period several years ago, Jiyane was dealing with the death of a band member, the birth of a daughter, and the passing of his beloved mentor Johnny Mekoa, founder of the Music Academy of Gauteng, which Jiyane attended from a young age. These life-altering events give shape to the music’s emotional register and its thematic concerns. Positioned at the edge of this precipice, Jiyane turned to a core of talented musicians mostly based around Soweto’s jamming scene, as well as to key figures in his own creative trajectory.

The coterie of bassist Ayanda Zalekile, drummer Lungile Kunene, percussionist Gontse Makhene, pianist Nkosinathi Mathunjwa, saxophonist Nhlanhla Mahlangu and trumpeters Brandon Ruiters and Tebogo Seitei shrouded him in his time of need, providing intuitive musicianship through which to execute his ideas, and, more importantly, life-affirming comradeship.

Jiyane is nothing if not the product of astute mentorship from elders and peers alike. Given the late Mekoa’s stature in South African jazz, trombonist Jonas Gwangwa (also late) would have been among regular visitors to the academy, imprinting on the young Jiyane not only the breadth of South African music traditions but also the science of how to lead musical ensembles without stifling individual contribution.

In Gwen Ansell’s memorable Mail and Guardian obituary of Gwangwa, she quotes saxophonist Steve Dyer on the elder trombonist’s approach to music-making as such. “For him, it was not about the notes. It’s not about the theory. It is about the feeling and emotion behind the notes.” This valorizing of comradeship and warmth over technical wizardry is noticeable throughout UMDALI. It can be felt, in particular, in the swaggering gait of Ntate Gwangwa’s Stroll, in which Jiyane channels the elder, and can be heard shouting encouragement to Nkosinathi Mathunjwa as he carefully feels his way into a keyboard solo towards the song’s end.

That Jiyane is informed by a frame of reference that extends beyond the trombone, goes without saying. Moshe courses with late pianist Moses Molelekwa’s harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic idiosyncrasies. “I found myself thinking about how he would approach certain songs,” said Jiyane. “It’s like being in someone’s shoes kind of a thing, looking into what they have achieved musically. He’d play piano the way he feels it. He gave me the motivation to pursue what I’m feeling.”

In Black Music, his book of essays and critiques, Amiri Baraka makes the point that jazz musicians, be it in the construction of solos or in other aspects of composition, always draw on the works of their contemporaries or elders. How much outsiders pick up on that is really dependent on how au fait they are with the music. In this album especially, Jiyane finds comfort in this well-trodden path. Two songs make for great examples. Umkhumbi kaMa, a jazz-funk track celebrating the creative force as inhabited by women, the motif to Herbie Hancock’s Ostinato (Suite for Angela) is a clear reference, connecting in one swift move, not only the musical traditions of the Black Atlantic but also the struggles and triumphs of women across space and time. On the same note, the free-form Solomon, Tsietsi & Khotso, conjured in the same jam session that yielded SPAZA’s UPRIZE!, appears here in a more fleshed-out form as Senzo seNkosi; a tender dedication to Malcolm Jiyane Tree-O bass player Senzo Nxumalo.

Jiyane’s own path to the realization of UMDALI is nothing if not fraught with tests along the way. But his generosity of spirit means that the offering is more than merely one individual’s breakthrough. Workshopped and recorded within two days in Johannesburg, UMDALI, not unlike Miles Davis’ landmark Kind of Blue, stretches our idea of what it means to improvise within the context of jazz.

With this debut, Malcolm Jiyane Tree-O has created a work that is not only keenly aware of what came before it but blazing a trail to the future.  ~BandCamp

At your leisure, check out “UMDALI” by Malcolm Jiyane Tree-O



[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]… two reasons modern jazz matters from the perspective of acclaimed saxophonist Donny McCaslin

Acclaimed saxophonist Donny McCaslin takes a bold leap forward with his tenth album as a leader, Casting for Gravity. McCaslin’s gargantuan tenor sound finds an ideal setting to rampage through in the ferocious grooves and electronic textures of keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and drummer Mark Guiliana.

Couching his trademark gift for brawny melodies in lurching dub rhythms, swirling electronica-inspired atmospheres, and arena-rock power, McCaslin has crafted a game-changer of an album, fusing a wealth of forward-looking influences into one wholly new modern jazz sound. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Original Release Date: August 21, 2012

At your leisure, listen to “CASTING FOR GRAVITY” by Donny McCaslin

Fast Future finds McCaslin and company – keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Tim Lefebvre, and drummer Mark Guiliana, along with longtime producer David Binney – hurtling further into the relatively unexplored crossroads between jazz and electronica with virtuosic musicianship.

Long influenced by fusion pioneers like Weather Report and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, McCaslin integrates those hybrid instincts with innovative modern artists like Aphex Twin and Skrillex. ~Editoral Reviews | Amazon

Original Release Date: February 13, 2015

Listen to “FAST FUTURE” by Donny McCaslin

[NOTEWORTHY]: If haven’t yet, meet the incomparable Young Jazz Giants, Cameron Graves, Stephen Brunner, Kamasi Washington & Ronald Bruner

This group of extremely talented young black musicians from South Central Los Angeles has devoted their lives to playing traditional jazz music. Pianist Cameron Graves has been playing for 16 years, and has performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival; with the Amistad Choir; with jazz legends such as Erie Andrews; with film composer Danny Elfman, along with many other great musicians. Bassist Stephen Brunner has been playing for nine years, has performed in the Playboy Jazz Festival twice; with Wayne Shorter, Diane Reeves, Terry Lyne Carrington, Patrice Rushen, and others. Saxophonist Kamasi Washington has been playing for nine years and has performed at the Playboy Jazz Festival; with the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; with Gerald Wilson, Wayne Shorter, Diane Reeves, N’dugu Chancler, and many others. He was the winner of the John Coltrane competition at the age of seventeen when the competition was meant for eighteen- through-forty-year-olds. Drummer Ronald Bruner has been playing for sixteen years. He has performed with Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Diane Reeves, and many others. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Original Release Date: ‎ February 1, 2007

Listen, embrace, and enjoy the “YOUNG JAZZ GIANTS” self-titled album.


[NOTEWORTHY]: The mulit-colored Animation/Imagination by trumpeter Tim Hagans fuses post-bop w/electric-era of Miles

Word is that when Blue Note Records urged trumpeter Tim Hagans to dig in for a neo-drum & bass session, the brass maestro immersed himself in Roni Size‘s oeuvre. The sprinting palpitations of Size’s music is certainly all over Hagans’s Animation, as is the oft-neglected electric 1970s-era Miles Davis. Despite influence, Hagans’s conception is sharp and fresh. His trumpet playing reaches far higher than Miles, topping out in fast runs that maintain a tonal fullness that sounds more colored by free jazz than by bop.

The acoustic musicians who back Hagans include Billy Kilson and Ira Coleman, each of whom plays with tight, crackling intensity. As for the drum & bass elements, they’re certainly reminiscent of On the Corner, with smeary electronic lines and crunchy guitar fronting layered beat samples and breathless speed. Some might associate Hagans’s methodology with that of Ben Neill or Bob Green’s Grassy Knoll or even Amon Tobin, but Hagans is the most clearly jazzed of the bunch. And as his tribute to fellow brassman Freddie Hubbard, Hagans is a supreme technician and inventive improviser. ~Andrew Bartlett | Amazon

Original Release Date: January 1, 1999

Check out the electro jazz-funk flavored “ANIMATION/IMAGINATION” by Tim Hagans