“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.

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

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

Pianist Martin Bejerano Releases Fourth Album, #CubanAmerican

The Miami native has been highly in demand as a sideman to GRAMMY-nominated Roy Haynes’ Fountain of Youth Band, As Well As Russell Malone, Dafnis Prieto, Roxana Amed, Ignacio Berroa & Many More

Fifteen years after the release of Evolution/Revolution, his first album as a leader, keyboardist, composer, and arranger Martin Bejerano still insists that he is not a great Latin piano player. His growing legion of fans, however, would respectfully yet adamantly disagree. Yes, his straight-ahead jazz chops dazzle with renewed energy and his way with a ballad is more than just arresting. But there’s no denying that he has come to terms with the special obligation he has to represent his Cuban heritage through his performances.

“I’m not someone who is satisfied with doing just one kind of music,” Martin readily admits, pointing to the broad stylistic diversity represented by the 10 tracks that make up the beguiling program of #CubanAmerican, his fourth release as a leader. Significantly, he is joined by the same two rhythm section partners who have been with him since the inception of his trio in 2007 – an example of longevity that’s rare in jazz today. Havana-born drummer Ludwig Afonso has performed with an eclectic group of artists, from Spyro-Gyra to guitarist Richard Bona and pianist Hector Martignon, while Edward Pérez is a first call bassist in New York City who has immersed himself in jazz, Brazilian, Afro-Peruvian, and Latin jazz styles and has performed with Paquito D’Rivera and Lee Konitz, among other notables. On several tracks, the presence of Colombian percussion whiz Samuel Torres adds extra rhythmic fire.

Born in Miami to a North American mother and a Cuban father, Martin began to show some interest in the piano when he was six years of age, picking out some tunes played by his mother. But it was not love at first sound. He preferred to spend his idle time playing baseball with his friends and dreamed about playing the drums. His mother put her foot down and offered her son a deal. If Martin would agree to take piano lessons for a year, he could switch to drums if, at the end of the year, he remained uninterested in the instrument. Happily, his mother’s intuition proved to be infallible, and the career of a budding keyboard talent was launched.

Growing up, Martin’s interest in music was fostered by both parents. His mother was particularly influential. Her great love was big band music, and Martin was exposed to the sounds of swing-era icons. He played trumpet as a youngster and began to solo on the instrument in junior high school long before he had an opportunity to solo on piano. He was infatuated with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson, who was then at the peak of his fame. He concedes that he was more drawn to horn players in high school than pianists. One that captured Martin’s attention was the hard bop saxophonist Charlie Rouse, noted for his collaboration with Thelonious Monk. Ironically, his knowledge of pianist Keith Jarrett came not through jazz sources but through his classical piano teacher. Martin admits that the first time he played a montuno – the repeated rhythmic pattern played on the piano in Afro-Cuban music – was in his high school jazz band.

By the age of 15, Martin was considered a professional, performing George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with the Mexican American Bi-National Symphony. He graduated from the esteemed New World School of the Arts and received a full scholarship to attend Florida State University. Martin earned a master’s degree from the University of Miami and today heads the jazz piano department at the university’s Frost School of Music.

An early 2000s tenure in New York City led to innumerable opportunities to perform with a succession of A-list jazz artists, further enhancing Martin’s reputation. Notably, he was engaged to perform, tour, and record with the quartets of guitarist Russell Malone and drummer Roy Haynes. Both associations proved to be long-term and further burnished Martin’s reputation as an accomplished pianist at home in both mainstream and Afro-Cuban settings.

The songs on #CubanAmerican reflect the pianist’s inherent curiosity and unique way of building a repertoire. “Ay Cosita Linda” (Oh Pretty Thing) and “Mi Cafetal” (My Coffee Plantation) are tunes that, although wildly popular in Cuba 70 years ago, were not of Cuban origin. Rather, they were penned by Colombian composers and originally set to rhythms not inherently Cuban. Martin’s circuitous methodology here is ingenious as he gives these venerable tropical music hits new life, transforming them into something thoroughly contemporary and compelling. His composition “Yo No Bailo” (I Don’t Dance) is a poignant admission that first impressions can be deceiving. “Origin Story” modulates between dreamy soundscapes and seething Afro-Cuban percussive jams, propelled by a relentless bass tumbao (ostinato). Curiously, he originally intended the session to be totally acoustic, but after critically listening to the takes, he realized the program “didn’t hit hard enough.” The solution? The 47-year-old musician added synthesizer voicings of various complexities on six of the session’s tracks, creating orchestral depth and well-focused energy that serve the date well.

Throughout #CubanAmerican Martin’s playing is unwaveringly virtuosic and joyous, sumptuous, and impassioned. And, as he reminds us once again, “It’s not Cuban music and not American music. It’s Cuban American music.”

martinbejerano.com

KIND FOLK, A BRILLIANT COLLECTIVE OF LIKE-MINDED EMPATHS, RETURNS WITH A TRIUMPHANT SOPHOMORE RELEASE, HEAD TOWARDS THE CENTER

Featuring John Raymond (trumpet/flugelhorn), Alex LoRe (alto saxophone),Noam Wiesenberg (bass), Colin Stranahan (drums)

The quartet Kind Folk, named after Kenny Wheeler’s piece from the 1997 ECM release Angel Song, debuted in 2018 with a program of original pieces, improvised duets, and interpretations of Wheeler and Charlie Haden. Titled Why Not and praised by Jazz Journal (UK) for its “consistently intelligent and arresting ideas,” the album was followed by a period of uncertainty. Trumpeter John Raymond took a position as Professor of Jazz Trumpet at Indiana University. Drummer Colin Stranahan relocated (albeit temporarily) to his hometown of Denver during the pandemic. No one could perform live in any case. But together with alto saxophonist Alex LoRe and bassist Noam Wiesenberg, Kind Folk was dedicated to finding a way forward.

Head Towards the Center, the quartet’s sophomore outing, is the result of a band reunion in Wiesenberg’s Brooklyn apartment followed by a one-day studio session with five originals, two free improvisations, and arrangements of “Mr. Hope” by Kurt Rosenwinkel and “Between the Bars” by the late Elliott Smith.

Titled for a piece co-written by Stranahan and LoRe, Head Towards the Center captures how special this group has become for everyone involved. “When we were deciding on a theme,” says Raymond, whose seven-year-old daughter created the artwork for the album, “this title rose to the top quickly. Musically it embodies our individual and collective experiences over the last few years — having our circumstances change dramatically yet trying to stay the course and flourish, much like the melody of this song and eventually the improvisation throughout.”

It’s notable that every member of Kind Folk is a capable and forward-thinking leader in his own right, able to grasp how a group can pool their wide-ranging experience to make a unified statement. That’s not to say that the music happened by itself: it took concentrated effort to learn and rehearse all-new material in two days, so the two fully improvised pieces, “Where Am I?” and “Distant Signal,” made at the end of the recording session, felt distinctly like a release. Raymond plays flugelhorn on both, as he does on his own lilting “Sweet Spot,” Wiesenberg’s moody “Mantrois” and Smith’s “Between the Bars,” a gem from the singer-songwriter’s 1997 classic, Either/Or.

Originally a solo acoustic number with an intimate double-tracked vocal, “Between the Bars” takes on new life here, with the melody being passed between the horns. “I had always wanted to arrange this song for a small group,” says Stranahan. “It calls for sensitivity as the melody dances around the beautiful chords, and it seemed fitting to have the improvisation be a collective effort.”

Stranahan also brings a unique perspective to Rosenwinkel’s “Mr. Hope,” having played it with the eminent guitarist himself. “Kurt is one of my favorite composers,” the drummer says. “I always wanted to work with him, and sure enough the time came. I was lucky to hear him play this tune many times, so I was able to play it from memory and felt like I could instantly inject my personality into it. The tune almost plays itself and is easily adapted into any musical configuration.” Raymond adds: “In some ways it’s hard to imagine a Kurt song without Kurt himself, but this challenged us to arrange it in such a way that fit our instrumentation and approach. This put the song into a totally new context.”

Raymond’s “Power Fall” came about through an effort to create “density or the feeling of power” in an ensemble without a chordal instrument, said the trumpeter. “Around, Forever,” by LoRe, grew out of the altoist’s deep study of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations (check out LoRe’s hard copy and digital book of transcriptions, The Goldberg Variations for Saxophone Duets, Trios and Quartets). The alto playing on this track is gripping, a tour de force rooted in a legacy spanning Ornette Coleman to Lee Konitz.

The band name “could be taken literally,” Raymond muses, and it seems that being kind to themselves and each other would be a prerequisite for pulling off a project such as Head Towards the Center. “But I imagine it more abstractly for us,” Raymond concludes. “Maybe it’s the connotations of each of those words. They have a sort of folkloric feeling for me, almost an ethos of lyricism and sincerity.” LoRe concurs: “The name does capture a vibe, ultimately boiling down to the spirit of our band in whatever music we play.”

About the Players

Trumpeter/flugelhornist John Raymond was born and raised in Minnesota. He has released six albums and has performed with Billy Hart, Orrin Evans, Gilad Hekselman, Cory Wong, S. Carey and more. The Professor of Jazz Trumpet at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, he recently published The Jazz Trumpet Routine method book and is the creator and host of the podcast The Trumpet Summit.

Alex LoRe, a native of Florida, has released three albums of his own and appeared as a sideman on over two dozen releases by the likes of Marta Sanchez, Lucas Pino, Yuhan Su, Alex Goodman and others. He teaches at the New School College of Performing Arts in New York.

Noam Wiesenberg was born in Israel and has worked with artists such as Antonio Sanchez, Melissa Aldana, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Lage Lund, Ben Wendel, Chano Dominguez, and Shai Maestro. He released his debut recording Roads Diverge in 2018, and has created critically acclaimed arrangements for Camila Meza’s Nectar Orchestra, Ari Hoenig’s Nonet, and the Metropole Orkest.

A native of Denver, CO, drummer Colin Stranahan has performed in recent years with Kurt Rosenwinkel, Melissa Aldana, Terence Blanchard, Fred Hersch, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Gilad Hekselman, Jonathan Kreisberg and many more, appearing on over 75 albums with artists from around the world.

Dave Douglas to release SECULAR PSALMS, Commissioned for 600th Anniversary of van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece 

Dave Douglas to release SECULAR PSALMS featuring a newly commissioned suite of ten pieces, with cellist Tomeka Reid and young European musicians.

Inspired by Jan van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece, as well as music by 15th-Century Flemish composer Guillaume Dufay, and commissioned by Handelsbeurs Theater, Ghent to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the painting.

Douglas combines old and new music into a contemporary clash of the sacred and the profane.

Secular Psalms is a new Dave Douglas album featuring a newly commissioned suite of ten pieces, with an entirely new group of young international musicians.

Commissioned by the City of Gent and Handelsbeurs Theater to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the creation of the Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck, Douglas branched out into new instruments

including serpent, lute, organ, and sampler, providing a painterly panorama of new sounds.

Drawing on Latin Mass, on early medieval folk songs, on composers of the period, like Guillaume DuFay, and on improvised music, Douglas and his cohorts deliver a lyrical, mystical and spiritual score full of upbeat optimism for our times. Douglas says the title refers to “songs of praise for all of us.”

For this project, Douglas invited musicians Tomeka Reid, Marta Warelis, Berlinde Deman, Frederick Leroux, and Lander Gyselinck. A surprising and uplifting release was created during these pandemic times.

Dave Douglas’ Liner Notes:

“Inspired by and dedicated to The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan and Hubert van Eyck – a

the polyptych was originally painted for display in St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. Begun in the mid-1420s and was completed by 1432.

Secular Psalms took shape over a medieval-seeming time span. The first messages from Wim date to July 10, 2018, when we began to formulate a plan to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Altarpiece with the creation of new music. Research led to a few discoveries: elements of the polyptych were moved and/or stolen, then almost entirely recovered over the years. Restoration began in 2012 discovered that the work had been mostly overpainted around 1550—removal of the overpaint revealed an almost entirely new contemporary vision of the piece.

Van Eyck worked in the court of Philip The Good of Burgundy, speaking multiple

languages. It’s likely he would have encountered composer Guillaume Dufay and writer Christine de Pisan in the same court. Bringing in elements of both these artists helped give me a connection to the atmosphere of those times. With a band and instrumentation in place, we were on our way.

Then all work came to a halt. Initially, like for so many of us, it was unclear how work would carry on. I kept writing. The meaning of the piece (and the title) took on a new scope as we dealt with the global crisis. Close communication with the assembled musicians, shut down in their own home countries, helped cement the message and the meaning of Secular Psalms: sacred songs for all of us as we are. We continued working. The first parts were recorded around May 2020. Over the course of a year and a half, my score came to life as I worked with each musician to create their performances. New techniques had to be invented to capture interactive improvisations. And new texts came in as I began to write them myself, in addition to the Latin Mass, Marvin Gaye, and Christine de Pisan.

This music came to life as a result of many forces: artistic, spiritual, pragmatic, physical, psychic, poetic, and interpersonal. In a visual sense, the piece begins in the space of the outer panels, with muted colors and dank interiors. Subsequent sections explore the inner panels, full of light, showing people from all walks of life. With Edge of Night, the piece returns to the mysterious and darker panels of the Arrival, where Van Eyck’s Gabriel and Mary play out this mystery for all eternity.”

 

Commissioned by Handelsbeurs Concert hall (Gent, Belgium), in co-production with 

KAAP/Concertgebouw Brugge; Jazzfest Berlin; November Music, the piece premiered Europe November 2022.

Stereogum, WIRE, Bandcamp Writer, Burning Ambulance Founder, PHIL FREEMAN To Release Ugly Beauty: Jazz in the 21st Century

A vital guide to the contemporary jazz landscape, Freeman’s fourth book will be published by Zero Books on January 28th, 2022.

Featuring interviews with Kamasi Washington, Vijay Iyer, Thundercat, Tyshawn Sorey, Shabaka Hutchings, Linda May Han Oh, Ambrose Akinmusire, Nubya Garcia, Makaya McCraven, Moor Mother, Christian Scott Atunde Adjuah, Thandi Ntuli, JD Allen & Many More

PHILIP FREEMAN has written Ugly Beauty: Jazz in the 21st Century, a vital guide to the contemporary musical landscape which will be published by Zero Books in January 2022.

Freeman has been writing about jazz, metal, world music, and modern classical for 25 years. WBGO’s Nate Chinen describes him as “a free-thinking jazz critic, wary of the majority opinion and allergic to conventional wisdom” and the New York Times’ Giovanni Russonello has praised his “thoughtful, ear-first, socially attuned music criticism.” His work has been published in DownBeat, JazzizThe WireJazznytt, the L.A. Times, and the Village Voice, and on Stereogum, Bandcamp Daily, and many other sites. He is the co-founder of the independent arts and culture website, podcast, and record label Burning Ambulance, and his previous books include New York is Now!: The New Wave of Free Jazz (The Telegraph Company, 2001), Running the Voodoo Down: The Electric Music of Miles Davis (Backbeat, 2005) and the anthology Marooned: The Next Generation of Desert Island Discs (Da Capo, 2007).

Ugly Beauty, which shares its title with the monthly column Freeman has been writing for Stereogum since 2017, consists of profiles and analyses of 43 musicians, divided into five sections. As Freeman says in the book’s introduction, “I encourage you to think of [Ugly Beauty] less as an encyclopedia and more as a collection of postcards”.

The artists in the first section are traditionalists, placing themselves in the creative lineage of jazz as it’s been played since the 1950s, and even before. They are trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, saxophonists JD Allen and Wayne Escoffery, and pianists Orrin EvansVictor GouldEthan Iverson, and Jason Moran.

The second set of artists blurs the lines between jazz and modern composition, creating fully scored pieces or platforms for rules-based improvisation, and expanding the parameters of “jazz.” They are trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum, flutist Nicole Mitchell, pianist Vijay Iyer, guitarist Mary Halvorson, cellist Tomeka Reid, bassist Linda May Han Oh, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey.

The book’s third section deals with jazz as it’s interpreted outside New York, and outside the US, by artists from across the global Black diaspora and beyond. They are trumpeters Yazz Ahmed and Ndabo Zulu; saxophonists Nubya GarciaShabaka HutchingsDarius JonesLinda Sikhakhane, and Kamasi Washington; trombonists Ryan Porter and Siya Makuzeni; pianists Cameron Graves, Nduduzo Makhathini, and Thandi Ntuli; guitarist Shirley Tetteh; bassists Miles Mosley and Thundercat; harpist Brandee Younger; drummer/beatmaker Makaya McCraven; and vocalist Dwight Trible.

The fourth section profiles five trumpeters raised on hip-hop and reshaping the role of the trumpet in modern jazz. They are Christian Scott aTunde AdjuahAmbrose AkinmusireTheo CrokerKeyon Harrold, and Marquis Hill.

The final section examines artists whose work embraces punk-rock, DIY experimentalism; despite being steeped in history, they’re as happy making beat tapes or electronic noise as improvising on acoustic instruments. They are trumpeter Jaimie Branch, saxophonists James Brandon Lewis and Matana Roberts, bassist Luke Stewart, drummer/beatmaker Kassa Overall, and poet/electronic musician Moor Mother.

The chapters frequently take live performances witnessed by the author as their jumping-off point, and are based on interviews conducted between 2010 and 2020. In between, Freeman asks vital questions: If jazz’s mission is to “make it new,” then why is there still so much attention paid to the music of the distant past? What does music made for spiritual reasons mean to a listener who approaches it without understanding of or interest in the faith that inspired it? Is jazz a sound, or just a marketing term? Where are its boundaries, and what happens once a musician breaks them?

Ugly Beauty: Jazz in the 21st Century will introduce the reader to dozens of artists making genuinely new music in what is undeniably one of the strongest eras in jazz history. It will change the way you listen, and the way you hear.

RELEASE DATE: January 28th, 2022 

PUBLICITY CONTACT: Matt Merewitz / matt@fullyaltered.com

ACCLAIMED CHAMBER JAZZ TRIO REVERSO TO RELEASE LIVE, ITS FIRST CONCERT RECORDING

Pianist Frank Woeste, trombonist Ryan Keberle & cellist Vincent Courtois, captured on a special night at Le Triton in Paris, ending a three-week 2020 tour — the very last gig before lockdown

Available from OutNote Records on November 19th, 2021

“Flush with ideas to engage the ears and evoke emotion.” — PopMatters

Debuting with Suite Ravel in 2018, Reverso established itself as a virtuosic, trans-oceanic chamber jazz ensemble premiering new compositions inspired by French classical composers. In support of the group’s 2019 sophomore release The Melodic Line (an homage to the 20th-century composers known as the Group of Six or Les Six), Reverso toured to over 10 cities on two continents in February and March of 2020. The music grew and deepened every night, culminating in a performance for the ages at Le Triton in Paris on March 13, 2021, recorded in high-definition audio and video by France Musique (the rough equivalent of NPR) for nationwide broadcast later that spring. After listening back, the members of this unique trio — pianist Frank Woeste, trombonist Ryan Keberle and cellist Vincent Courtois — agreed that what transpired that night was magical enough for a full-fledged album. The resulting Live puts Reverso’s melodic gifts, expansive sonorities, and undeniable chemistry on full display.

We had toured all over but now we were coming home,Courtois recalls of their night at Le Triton. “The venue is very close to my place, I had a lot of friends in the room, my sister was there. It was also special because it was our last concert before the pandemic — people were saying that tomorrow everything was shutting down, and we still couldn’t really believe it.”

Drawing on repertoire from The Melodic Line (five pieces by Woeste, four by Keberle), Reverso continues a century of mutual inspirations between two expansive and overlapping musical worlds, tracing the intersection of jazz and classical music. The sinuous blend of cello and trombone, not an everyday sound in the jazz world, is here a prominent focus, with Woeste’s poetic touch and rhythmic spark at the piano lending a veritable orchestra’s worth of tonal color and clarity.

There is a connection, Woeste notes, between his “Blue Feather” and Darius Milhaud’s 1917-19 solo piano cycle Saudades. “Milhaud spent time in Brazil,” says the pianist, “and I was so inspired by some of these pieces he wrote, which are named after neighborhoods in Rio. For ‘Blue Feather’ I extracted four notes of one of his melodies and changed all the rest.” Keberle, for his part, wrote “Major Jack” after delving into the music of Germain Tailleferre, the only woman of Les Six, an unheralded figure who composed everything from solo piano works to film scores over a long career. “On Suite Ravel,” the trombonist recalls, “there were ideas fairly directly derived from Ravel. But the things I’ve written for the group recently might have no literal connection to their original inspiration at all. Rather they try to channel the character of that music.

Typically, Keberle and Woeste will compose material specifically for Reverso’s instrumentation, though Woeste’s contemplative “Clara” is a preexisting piece dedicated to his daughter — it appeared in duet form with trumpeter Eric Vloeimans to lead off Woeste’s 2020 outing Pocket Rhapsody II. (Woeste also included it on 2019’s Libretto Dialogues, Vol. 2, as a duo with tenorist Walter Smith III.) What made “Clara” fit was its strong sense of melody, a quality that permeates the world of Les Six. “That’s what attracted me to Les Six, a sense of song that is not far off from Broadway composers,” Woeste adds.

Other inspirations came into play for Keberle, including the pioneering jazz orchestra leader Maria Schneider on the aptly titled “Exemplar.” The tune is perhaps an implicit homage as well to the late Frank Kimbrough, Schneider’s pianist of many years and a musical and life mentor to so many in Keberle’s generation.

This is my first live album,” Keberle observes, “and it’s so fulfilling that it documents such a special night for the three of us. On a tour like that, the music becomes much greater than one person and takes on a life of its own. We knew we were recording for radio but not for an album, so there wasn’t anything like the pressure of a ‘recording session,’ and we also had the confidence that comes with having played the music so much. So what we ended up capturing is that magical live element where nothing is edited or fixed or touched.

Live is Reverso’s second offering on the Belgian OutNote label, which has released albums by Amir ElSaffar, Samuel Blaser, and others. The group is currently planning its next project with a focus on the art and aesthetic of Gabriel Fauré.

 

Trumpeter/composer Adam O’Farrill – Visions of Your Other – Out November 12th on Biophilia Records

TRUMPETER ADAM O’FARRILL AND HIS STRANGER DAYS QUARTET CHART A FRESH COURSE ON THIRD RELEASE, VISIONS OF YOUR OTHER

Coproduced by O’Farrill and Curtis Macdonald
with Xavier Del Castillo (tenor sax),

Walter Stinson (bass), Zack O’Farrill (drums)

After garnering high acclaim for his previous outings Stranger Days (2016) and El Maquech (2018) — plus sideman credits with trailblazing artists Mary Halvorson, Anna Webber, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Kevin Sun, and more — Adam O’Farrill (#1 Rising Star trumpeter, 2021 Downbeat Critics Poll) is proud to release the third album from his quartet Stranger Days, Visions of Your Other. The group’s musical language continues to evolve with a new member as of 2019: tenor saxophonist Xavier Del Castillo, filling the formidable shoes of tenorist Chad Lefkowitz-Brown as he joins bassist Walter Stinson and drummer Zack O’Farrill in the fold. “Xavier is deeply inquisitive, as an artist and a person,” O’Farrill says. “Walter, Zack, and I had built a strong foundation on principles of rawness and spontaneity, and Xavier brings a slightly more analytical approach, revealing to me layers of the music I didn’t even know were there.”

 

Visions of Your Other highlights the band’s creative growth with a set of four O’Farrill compositions (“Blackening Skies,” “Inner War,” “Ducks,” the D.H. Lawrence-inspired “Hopeful Heart”), an abstractly funky reading of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “stakra,” and a piece by Stinson (“Kurosawa at Berghain”) that “merges the propulsive rigidity of house music with the amorphous sound of the chord-less quartet,” O’Farrill notes. The album title stems from a line of dialogue in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2012 film The Master (starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman) that O’Farrill found seductive: “The visualization of potential scenarios — past, present, and future — is a very powerful current in all of us. It can motivate us just as easily as it can delude us. This theme of juxtaposition has been at the core of my work thus far, and this album is no exception.”

 

On the opening “stakra,” from Sakamoto’s evocative 2017 album async, O’Farrill builds texture and mood with a 20-second electronic sample of the quartet’s performance fed through Paulstretch, a sound design software application used by Sakamoto and other composers. “It’s no exaggeration to say that Sakamoto’s async album changed my life,” declares O’Farrill. “It made me rethink all of the elements of music and the way they’re prioritized. I realized that melody can involve many possibilities, and that texture is not just that — it can actually be the musical protagonist. It’s fair to say it will take a long time to fully process the impact that async has had on me.”

“Blackening Skies,” accompanied by an animated film short from German artist Elenor Kopka, is “both apocalyptic and humorous,” says O’Farrill, who composed the song after a brutal New York heatwave and an experience of summer monsoons in Los Angeles. “I told Elenor all this and she showed me the work of Hieronymus Bosch, using that as a reference point for the tone of the piece.” The staggered staccato rhythms in the horns as they play slightly out of sync is “a concept that Xavier and I have explored in previous projects, such as my large ensemble piece ‘Bird Blown Out of Latitude.’ It’s inspired by electronic music, trying to humanize something very mechanical. There’s a perfection to a lot of electronic music that allows for its ideas to be flexibly interpreted by live instruments, which opens up an exciting and endless world of sound.”

The son of GRAMMY-winning pianist and composer Arturo O’Farrill and grandson of legendary Cuban bandleader Chico O’Farrill, Adam O’Farrill has received composer commissions and grants from The Jazz Gallery, The Shifting Foundation, Metropolis Ensemble, and ASCAP. He co-led the O’Farrill Brothers Band with his older brother Zack on the albums Giant Peach and Sensing Flight. He continued his rise with Rudresh Mahanthappa on Bird Calls, as well as appearances on Mary Halvorson & Code Girl’s Artlessly Falling, Anna Webber’s Idiom, Arturo O’Farrill’s …dreaming in lions…, Chad Lefkowitz-Brown’s Imagery Manifesto, Stephan Crump’s Rhombal and more. He can also be heard on recent releases by Glenn Zaleski (The Question), Tarun Balani (The Shape of Things to Come), Gabriel Chakarji (New Beginning), Onyx Collective (Lower East Suite Part One), and Aaron Burnett & The Big Machine (Jupiter Conjunct), among others.

RELEASE DATE: November 12th, 2021

TROMBONIST JOE FIEDLER CONTINUES SPINNING JAZZ GOLD FROM HIS STORIED SESAME STREET CAREER WITH FUZZY AND BLUE

Following up 2019’s warmly received Open Sesame, the EMMY-nominated Fiedler highlights an expansive trombone voice, richly interpretive arrangements, and keen orchestration chops.

With Steven Bernstein (trumpet), Jeff Lederer (tenor/soprano sax & clarinet), Sean Conly (bass), and Michael Sarin (drums), plus guest vocalist extraordinaire Miles Griffith.

Available from Multiphonics Music on November 12, 2021

Left to right: Michael Sarin, Sean Conly, Joe Fiedler, Steven Bernstein, Jeff Lederer
(Photo: Scott Friedlander)

In 2019 trombonist Joe Fiedler released Open Sesame, packed with inventive jazz readings of material drawn from his longstanding “day job” as an EMMY-nominated music director and staff arranger for the famed children’s show Sesame Street. The effort was equally beloved by lay listeners and the jazz world alike. DownBeat praised the music’s “diverse aesthetic,” in which Fiedler blends “elements of funk, rock, free-jazz and New Orleans polyphony into a potent mix that gives depth and texture to the lighthearted compositions.” When Fiedler and the band toured the music, including a stop at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola with guest luminaries Wynton Marsalis and none other than Elmo himself, the realization set in that the project would be no one-off. “I have these songbooks from the Sesame Street office,Fiedler says, “and if you whip through the first 30 tunes, absolutely everyone knows them. But there are six or seven thousand songs they’ve done over the past 50 years, with plenty of gold in there to do a second album for sure.”

Fuzzy and Blue, Fiedler’s second volume of Sesame Street songs, shines still more light on the extraordinary wit and melodic gift of the foundational Sesame Street composers Joe Raposo and Jeffrey Moss, among others. The album boasts the same top-tier lineup as Open Sesame, with a couple of twists. Trumpeter Steven Bernstein, who played on only part of Open Sesame, now becomes an integral cog in a nimble three-horn section, expanding and varying the palette and allowing Fiedler to bring his seasoned orchestration skills to the foreground. Reedman Jeff Lederer plays tenor and clarinet and relies more heavily on soprano sax this time out, helping achieve the ideal blend of colors and registers that Fiedler was seeking. Drummer Michael Sarin and bassist Sean Conly keep the rhythms locked and creatively churning, from Dr. John/Professor Longhair vibe of “Fuzzy and Blue” to the reggae feel of “Elmo’s Song” (by Tony Geiss), to the Hugh Masekela-inspired Afropop of “Ladybug’s Picnic” (originally a peppy country novelty by the late William “Bud” Luckey).

The ensemble also gets a visit from vocal powerhouse Miles Griffith, the very model of a guest on Sesame Street. On the “I Love Trash/C Is for Cookie” melange (a one-two shot of Moss and Raposo), Griffith’s singing is unabashed, larger than life, uproariously funny but insightful, and firmly in control. He’s equally compelling in a sociopolitical vein on “I Am Somebody,” in which Fiedler combines an original song with the lyrics of Reverend William Holmes Borders — words recited to powerful effect on Sesame Street in 1972 by Reverend Jesse Jackson. Fiedler felt a need on Fuzzy and Blue to acknowledge social tumult at the close of the Trump presidency and the still-tentative aftermath of the COVID pandemic. “We Are All Earthlings,” a gentle and idyllic Jeffrey Moss folk ballad from 1993, accomplishes this as well, though Fiedler brings a stark added tension with his Stravinsky-esque horn voicings.

Together, Bernstein and Fiedler present a veritable master class in the use of mutes for endless color and timbre subtlety, in the spirit of early jazz. “We’re playing these Harmon mutes with the stems in,” Fiedler says, “which nobody does — that’s from the ’20s.” Bernstein plays his signature slide trumpet on Raposo’s “X Marks the Spot” (the only minor-key song) but otherwise is heard on valve trumpet and flugelhorn, not to mention the lower and darker G-trumpet on Raposo’sI Am Blue.” That song opens with beautiful muted trombone and is distinctly Ellingtonian in orchestration, with horns placed outside their more common registers.

Throughout the album there’s an atmosphere of fun, “a sense of burlesque” as Fiedler put it in the Open Sesame liner notes, that flows from the trombonist’s deep love of Ray Anderson, the Jazz Passengers, Carla Bley, and other major influences. Steven Bernstein’s Sexmob is another. The improvisational openness and risk of Fiedler’s trio dates Sacred Chrome OrbThe CrabI’m In and Joe Fiedler Plays the Music of Albert Mangelsdorff also carry over to this more song-oriented endeavor. Fuzzy and Blue, like its predecessor, is Fiedler’s way of bringing it all together, reminding himself and all of us that inspiration can and does come from everywhere and that everything is connected.

A native of Pittsburgh, Fiedler is an accomplished jazz improviser and bandleader with sideman credits including Andrew Hill, Charles Tolliver, Satoko Fujii, Eddie Palmieri, Celia Cruz, and a host of others. In addition to his trio and other small-group lineups, Fielder leads the low-brass quartet Big Sackbut (three trombones & tuba), which has released the albums Big SackbutSackbut Stomp and Live in Graz. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in a Children’s Series in 2013 and 2016. He plays lead trombone on the 2021 movie soundtrack album for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, contributing horn orchestrations for five major numbers and underscoring cues as well. While playing the In the Heights stage production in 2008 he met chief arranger Bill Sherman, who went on to hire Fiedler for a reboot of The Electric Company and then Sesame Street as well.