[What the Jazz Funk?]… Organ-based trio Soulive’s Blue Note debut album Doin Something

Doin’ Something, Soulive’s Blue Note debut and second album overall, sees the organ-based groove-jazz trio creatively stretching beyond their heralded debut, Turn It Out. Where that session was a lean, live cooker that cemented the trio’s appeal to the acid-jazz and jam-band crowd, Doin’ Something reaps the rewards of time spent in the studio–there are overdubs and, more importantly, an ambitious, varied overall vision. Rather than just rattling off a dozen jams based on a single line, the tunes here are actual songs with memorable melodies that draw upon hip-hop, soul, funk, and pop to go along with the rump-shaking jazz grooves.

Furthering the funk foundation, the trio–guitarist Eric Krasno and brothers Neal and Alan Evans on organ and drums, respectively, also brought in James Brown-veteran trombonist Fred Wesley to lead a four-piece brass section (and contribute horn arrangements) on a few tracks. This is the sound of a hot young band putting its best foot forward, and the great thing is, you won’t be able to keep your foot from bouncing along. ~Tad Hendrickson | Amazon

Originally Released: March 13, 2001

At your leisure, check out this jazz-funk gem “DOIN SOMETHING” by Soulive


Vibraphonist Joel Ross is back with his 3rd album, an expansive album-length suite titled “The Parable of the Poet” which comes out April 15!

Vibraphonist and composer Joel Ross returns with stunning conviction on The Parable of the Poet, an expansive album-length suite composed by Ross which marks his 3rd release for Blue Note following his 2019 debut KingMaker and 2020’s Who Are You?The Parable of the Poet will be released April 15 on vinyl, CD, and digital formats, and is introduced today with the sublime opening movement “PRAYER” which is available to stream or download now.

Steadfast in his commitment to skewing perceptions of improvisation and written composition, Ross explores new territory with his 8-piece Parables band, bringing together young artists of sharply defined expression: Blue Note labelmate Immanuel Wilkins on alto saxophone, Maria Grand on tenor saxophone, Marquis Hill on trumpetKalia Vandever on trombone, Sean Mason on piano, Rick Rosato on bass, Craig Weinrib on drums, and special guest Gabrielle Garo on flute.

The album embodies Ross’ collaborative spirit. His lyrical aesthetic activates an ebb and flows from one movement to the next. Moments of intentional discourse drive sections of collective melody and spontaneous counterpoint. “This band is more than just the instruments,” says the Chicago-born, New York City-based artist. “Every person on here means something to me. They’re all my friends. Everybody involved committed themselves to the vision.”

Ross’ vision for the music is at once explicit and mysterious. He seeks to express themes present in parable tellings and retellings while leaving each story’s particulars open to interpretation. Each title of the 7-movement suite references an emotional decision or experience for Ross. But in the studio he focused on fresh interpretations, allowing his past experiences to exist without dictating the band’s present treatment of the music. “I told them, ‘This is what the music is and this is how I want you to approach it — let everything we play be inspired by the melody.’ Not much else was decided,” says Ross, who enjoys “blurring the lines between melody and improvisation,” in part, as a way to facilitate communication and meaningful musical discourse.

Obscuring divisions between scripted and spontaneous is more than a romantic notion. For Ross, it’s truthful and intrinsic. Each composition he explores on The Parable of the Poet represents a near intact improvisation, some dating back to 2017, all of which emerged during creative sessions with his friend and colleague, saxophonist Sergio Tabanico. “We would record it, then I would go back and flesh out the composition,” he says. “I tried my best not to change any harmonic information or add too much more than what was already there. I just tried to organize the information in a manner that would yield sensible improvised group interaction, while giving enough direction.”

That choice prompts striking moments of deep listening and self-orchestrating among Ross and his fellow artists. The first movement “PRAYER” sets a tone of rumination and collective inquiry. Apart from Ross’ tender solo introduction, the piece exercises restraint. “There’s no one person who’s taking the mic,” says Ross. “Everyone has a moment of playing the theme,” kindling shared navigation and discourse. ~BlueNoteReocords

At your leisure, check out “PRAYER” from the forthcoming album “THE PARABLE OF THE POET” by Joel Ross

Saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana set to make her Blue Note debut with 12 Stars out March 4

GRAMMY-nominated saxophonist and composer Melissa Aldana will make her Blue Note Records debut with the March 4 release of 12 Stars, her remarkable first album as a leader for the legendary Jazz label. The Brooklyn-based tenor player from Santiago, Chile has garnered international recognition for her visionary work as a bandleader, as well as her deeply meditative interpretation of language and vocabulary. 12 Stars was produced by guitarist Lage Lund, who also performs as part of a quintet with Sullivan Fortner on keyboards, Pablo Menares on bass, and Kush Abadey on drums. The album is available for pre-order now on vinyl, CD, or download.

12 Stars grapples with concepts of childrearing, familial forgiveness, acceptance, and self-love. “This is a really important album for me,” says Aldana. “I felt like I had so much to say because of all the experiences I had during 2020. After the personal process I went through, I feel more connected to myself and my own imperfections—and I’ve discovered that it’s the same process with music. Embracing everything I hear, everything I play—even mistakes—is more meaningful than perfection.”

The album presents seven striking new original compositions by Aldana that were either or arranged or co-written by Lage including the dynamic opening piece “Falling,” which is an available stream or download today. Aldana explains was “the tune I was writing when I felt that everything in my life was falling apart.” The piece introduces Lund’s bold harmonic and textural presence immediately. Between statements and inquiries, Aldana develops her solo rapidly, Fortner’s spontaneity connecting to hers at every turn.

Just before the lockdown, Aldana went through personal struggles with the end of a relationship. Alone in Harlem, she told herself she’d be busy for years, with plenty of distractions from dealing with her complex emotional response. “But then,” she says, “the pandemic hit, and I hit bottom.” She needed to make changes, so she turned inward. “Because of that personal process, I feel even more connected to my music.”

Inspired by the arcs and nuances of tarot, 12 Stars features a series of tributes to moments of challenge and triumph in Aldana’s New York life. “For some time, I had been very curious about tarot — the symbols, and the actual story of the tradition,” she says. “So I took the lockdown as an opportunity to learn more about myself through the process of learning tarot, whose focus is the journey of an individual. As I studied the cards, I started writing music about each of them, individually. And I found that the process described on the tarot is a process that we all deal with somehow throughout our journey here on earth.”

Aldana titled the album after the 12 stars that adorn The Empress’ crown. “In numerology and tarot, The Empress is a symbol of creation,” she says. “She represents my essence as an individual and this entire journey.”

Aldana has also announced extensive upcoming tour dates across the U.S. and Europe including her first-ever headlining week at the famed Village Vanguard in New York City from March 1-6. See below for a full list of tour dates. ~BlueNote


Jan. 29 – Furman University – Greenville, SC (special guest artist)

Feb. 3-4 – Cuyahoga Community College – Cleveland, OH (with Jazz Gallery All-Stars)

Feb. 9 – Stevens Point Country Club – Stevens Point, WI

Feb. 10 – Gibson Music Hall – Appleton, WI

Feb. 11 – Logan Center Performance Hall – Chicago, IL.

Feb. 17-18 – University of Northern Iowa – Cedar Falls, IA (special guest with University of Northern Iowa Big Band)

Feb. 24 – USAF Band Airmen of Note Jazz Heritage Series – Washington DC (special guest artist)

Feb. 26 – McKinney Theatre – Mission Viejo, CA (special guest with Saddleback College Big Band)

March 1-6 – Village Vanguard – New York, NY

March 7 – Dizzy’s Club @ Jazz at Lincoln Center – New York, NY (with New York Youth Symphony)

March 24 – Modlin Center for the Arts – Richmond, VA

March 26 – The Nash – Phoenix, AZ

March 28 – Caine Performance Hall – Logan, UT

March 30-April 3 – Jazz St. Louis – St. Louis, MO

April 7- University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI (special guest with University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble)

April 8 – Caffe Vivace – Cincinnati, OH

April 9 – The Jazz Kitchen – Indianapolis, IN

April 19 – Theater del’Athenee – Paris, France

April 21 – Teatro Ristori – Verona, Italy

April 23 – Jazz Dock – Prague, Czech Republic

April 24 – The Tivoli – Helsingborg, Sweden

April 25 – Stenhammarsalen – Goteborg, Sweden

April 27 – Club Atlantis – Basil, Switzerland

April 28 – Theater Russelsheim – Hessen, Germany

April 30 – Jazzahead – Bremen, Germany

May 13 – Exit Zero Jazz Festival – Cape May, NJ

Sept. 17 – Pittsburgh Jazz Festival – Pittsburgh, PA

Listen to Aldana’s new single “FALLING” from her forthcoming debut on Blue Note “12 STARS.”

[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

Johnathan Blake Releases New Single “LLL” from his Blue Note Debut “Homebound”

Homeward Bound—the remarkable Blue Note debut by drummer, composer, and bandleader Johnathan Blake due out Octo. 29—is a celebration of life and legacy featuring Blake’s quintet Pentad with alto saxophonist Immanuel Wilkins, vibraphonist Joel Ross, keyboardist David Virelles, and bassist Dezron Douglas. The album’s 2nd single “LLL” is a dedication to the late drummer LawrenceLo” Leathers. Blake introduces the track in a swinging gesture of grace and conviction. Limelighting the highest level of interactivity among band members and solos from Virelles and Ross, the tune is a channel for the vibraphonist’s signature arcs and turns and high-velocity lyricism.

Blake assembled Pentad with the intention of composing for a fuller, more chordal sound than his past projects have featured. The result is a wildly intuitive, tight sound that embraces spontaneity and relies on trust. “The name represents us as five individuals coming together for a common cause: trying to make the most honest music as possible,” he says. “I wanted to create a record where people would get inside my head. I want them to see the story I was trying to tell. That’s my hope.”~BlueNote.com

At your leisure, check out “LLL” from the album “HOMEBOUND” by Johnathan Blake


[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

[COMPARED TO WHAT?]: Page One introduced the jazz world to the unusually mature and original young tenor saxophonist, Joe Henderson

While Joe Henderson seemed to arrive fully formed on his auspicious 1963 debut Page One, the album was really a showcase for the transcendent collaboration between the tenor saxophonist and trumpeter Kenny Dorham who would form a potent frontline team on numerous classics. Besides, Durham the incomparable McCoy Tyner, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Pete La Roca are on hand to add the proper punch and balance needed.

The album opens with a pair of indelible Dorham compositions (Blue Bossa/La Mesha), the 6-song set penned by Henderson includes “Recorda-Me.” Page One is also available on Blue Note Classic Vinyl Edition is 180g all-analog, mastered from the original tapes. ~Editorial Review | Amazon

Listen to this amazing classic “PAGE ONE” by tenor hornist Joe Henderson.

COMPARED TO WHAT?: Accomplished pianist Kenny Drew’s definitive 1960 Blue Note release Undercurrents

Kenny Drew was a brilliant pianist who worked with the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Buddy DeFranco, Dinah Washington, and Art Blakey. By 1960 when he recorded Undercurrent for Blue Note, Drew had already recorded ten albums of his own, mostly with duos and trios. Oddly enough he only had the opportunity to only record two albums in his life for Blue Note, an early effort from 1953 and the classic Undercurrent. Matched in a quintet with the young firebrand trumpeter Freddie Hubbard and the always-stimulating tenor-saxophonist Hank Mobley, the 32-year old pianist was ready to truly make his mark.

All six songs on this album are his, and in his accompaniment of the passionate horn men and in his soulful solos, Drew shows that he was one of the major hard bop stylists. Kenny Drew’s playing on Undercurrent, a superb and very well-recorded Blue Note album that is arguably his finest work, is timeless. The definitive versions of Blue Note are on XRCD24 – the optimization of CD mastering and manufacturing. Plays on all standard CD players. ~Editorial Reviews | Amazon

Spin this classic, “UNDERCURRENTS” by Kenny Drew

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


NOTEWORTHY: Saxophonist Mark Shim’s distinct tone and angular phrases are emboldened throughout TURBULENT FLOW

Mark Shim’s dark tone and angular phrases on tenor sax, often set to odd time signatures, have fostered a distinctive style reminiscent of a young Joe Henderson, a kinship made plain by his cover of the elder’s “Recorda Me.” This follow-up to Shim’s well-regarded 1998 debut, Mind over Matter, occasionally gets aeration from Stefon Harris‘s vibraphone and marimba and Edward Simon’s acoustic piano and electric Rhodes. As one of the last of vocalist Betty Carter‘s many protégés, Shim has developed spry, rhythmic reflexes.

While his more cerebral numbers (like the title track) can be a bit too diffident and cool, his exchanges with Harris’s marimba (“Survival Tactics“) and Simon’s piano (“Scorpio”) deliver joyful spunk without stinting on sophistication. The closing homage, “Eminence (For Betty Carter),” however, has a placidity uncharacteristic of Carter and suffers from Shim’s switch to the soprano horn. ~Britt Robson | Amazon

At your leisure, be sure and check out “TURBULENT FLOW” by Mark Sim