Preview of Early to Mid New Jazz Releases for 2022 by Braithwaite & Katz

January 2022
Tony Malaby’s Sabino – The Cave of Winds – Jan. 7, 2022  – Pyroclastic
Fred Hersch  Breath by Breath – January 7, 2022 – PalmettoCrosby Street String Quartet and Hersch with Drew Gress & Jochen Reuchert
Pete Malinverni – On the Town, Pete Malinverni Plays Leonard Bernstein  –January 14, 2022 – Planet Arts
OGJB – Ode to O – January 21, 2022 – TUMOliver Lake, Graham Haynes, Joe Fonda, Barry Altschul
Andrew Cyrille, William Parker & Enrico Rava – 2 Blues for Cecil – January 21, 2022 – TUM
Satoko Fujjii / Joe Fonda – Thread of LIght  – January 28, 2021 – FSR Fujii’s 99th album as a leader/co-leader.

February 2022

Natsuki Tamura – Summer Tree – Libra – February 11, 2022 Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Hero Trio – Animal Crossing (EP) – February 4, 2022 – WhirlwindDigital only – EP with four tracks. MOPDtK – Disasters Vol. 1 – February 18, 2022 – Hot Cup RecordsTrio album with both Kevin Shea and Ron Stabinsky playing Nord electronics in addition to drums and piano. All the tunes are named after Pennsylvania towns where disasters occurred.  Gordon Grdina’s Haram w. special guest Marc Ribot – Night’s Quietest Hour  – February 18, 2022 – Attaboygirl RecordsGrdina’s Arabic music ensemble Haram with special guest Marc Ribot.Just before the Pandemic hit Marc joined our ensemble for two concerts in Vancouver Feb 28 and Seattle on March 1st, with a recording session on the leap year Feb 29th. This was an incredible experience and Marc blended into the ensemble from the beginning. He played almost our entire repertoire with us and these tracks are the previously unreleased pieces. This album reflects our continued exploration of the Classic Arabic repertoire and new exploration of Sudanese music from the ’60s and ’70s. This was an already incredibly dynamic group, and Marc’s presence pushed the group’s delicacy, intensity, and explosive nature to new heights. An already incredibly dynamic group Marc’s presence pushed the group’s delicacy, intensity, and explosive nature to new heights. The process of creating this album has realigned the trajectory of the ensemble. Gordon Grdina – Oddly Enough – February 18, 2022 – Screwgun (digital) + AttaboyGirl Records (physical)Solo album featuring the music of Tim Berne.Near the beginning of the pandemic, Tim Berne had mentioned that he was writing a piece for solo guitar and sent it over. I sent him back a short recording of it and he sent me another piece. We went on like this for about a year or so. The pieces were incredibly challenging yet beautiful and aligned with what I had been exploring in my own writing on my last two solo albums.  I started getting the idea to record a predominantly electric solo album of his music. I wanted to explore the use of midi to create a sonic world that wasn’t completely unrecognizable but was connected in a different way than an ensemble or typical solo album would be. I designed a new guitar that could simultaneously record midi data, acoustic and electric. I recorded all of the pieces that Tim had sent me. This album is about half of that material with a combination of acoustic, electric, and midi sampler instruments. There are a couple pieces with overdubs but most of the music is live solo guitar. The compositions are incredibly complex, personal, and harmonically unique.Martin Wind –  Air – February 25, 2022  – Laika Records Rare bass quartet album featuring bassist Wind, Gregg August, Jordan Frazier, and Sam Suggs along with special guests Matt Wilson, Gary Versace, and Lenny White.Javon Jackson – The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni  – February 18, 2022 – Solid JacksonGospel music and spirituals are curated by Nikki Giovanni with Giovanni singing on one track.

MARCH 2022

Tomas Fujiwara’s Triple Double – March  – March 4, 2022 – Firehouse 12 Wadada Leo Smith –  String Quartets No. 1 – 12 – March 18 – TUM RecordsMajor box set with 7 CDs featuring RedKoral Quartet plus featured soloists including Smith, Anthony Davis, Alison Bjorkedal, Thomas Buckner and more. Wadada Leo Smith – Emerald Duets – March 18 – TUM RecordsBox set with 4 CDs, one each with Pheeroan akLaff, Han Bennink, Andrew Cyrille and Jack DeJohnette.  This set adds to Smith’s long history of duo recordings with some of the greatest drummers in the history of creative music.

APRIL 2022

Lynne Arriale – The Lights are Always On  – April 8, 2022 – Challenge Live from Summit Rock in Seneca Village  – April 8, 2022  – Giant Step Arts (Date may be pushed back)Three albums – from groups led by Abraham Burton, Sarah Hanahan, and Jason Palmer – all recorded during Jimmy Katz’s outdoor concert series.Manel Fortià – Despertar – April 21, 2022 – Segell Microscopi Stunning young Barcelona-born bassist.April 23, 2022 – Special Project for Record Store Day.Info is embargoed, so please ask me about this.
May 2022
Ches Smith Interpret It Well – May 6, 2022– PyroclasticQuartet album with Bill Frisell, Craig Taborn, and Mat Maneri   Project conceived by Henry Threadgill – Baker’s Dozen – May 2022Baker’s Dozen is a project conceived by Henry Threadgill during the lockdown to try to do something for musicians by releasing music without using the normal business model. Baker’s Dozen is a set of 13 albums by 13 individual artists — some quite well known, others not — and at the moment there will be 3 “digital box sets” of these (it’ll be a digital-only release on Bandcamp).
Gordon Grdina’s Nomad Trio – Boiling Point May 2022 – Astral SpiritsThis is the second album for the group. We recorded this after our last North American tour in January 2020 just before the pandemic hit. The group had really come together over the course of the tour and the pieces took on a life of their own. It is some of the most challenging music I’ve ever written but through the tour, it reached that great state of still revealing new avenues to explore while becoming comfortable and second nature. Matt’s playing is always incredible and this record is no exception. He expresses a raw sense of abandonment while continuing to be completely in control at all times. Jim is astonishing throughout the album building a massive sonic world while making every note groove. We have delayed releasing the album until we can tour again which will be at the end of June.

June 2022

Josh Sinton – Title TBA – June 3, 2022 – Form is Possibility RecordingsReedist Josh Sinton (Ideal Bread, Nate Wooley quintet) and longtime friends Jed Wilson (pianist with Dominique Eade and Heather Masse), and Tony Falco (drummer with Tsiziji Munoz) reunited musically in the wake of Covid-19’s impact on the world. Affirming the invaluable ties of friendship and human closeness, they spent an afternoon playing free, lyrical, and inspired music that will provide a much-needed balm for everyone.Brian Landrus – The Red List – June 17, 2022 – Palmetto Records2022 Releases from Pyroclastic – Dates TBA
Nate Wooley – Columbia Icefield 2 – Date TBA – PyroclasticKris Davis – Diatom Ribbons –  Live at the Village Vanguard  – Date TBA – Pyroclastic
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Tenor Saxophonist Javon Jackson Joins Forces with Renowned African American Poet, Activist and Educator in Historic Collaboration with Nikki Giovanni

Why would one of poetry’s most revered voices want to curate a jazz saxophonist’s album of gospel hymns and spirituals? “These songs are so important,” says Nikki Giovanni, one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends” and a Maya Angelou Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2017. “They comforted people through times of slavery, and during recent years we needed them to comfort us again. But a lot of the students today do not know about the history of these songs, and they should. So I’m out here putting water on the flowers because they need a drink.”Giovanni’s historic collaboration with saxophonist-composer and former Jazz Messenger Javon Jackson has yielded The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni, available February 18, 2022, on his Solid Jackson label. “The spirituals have been around so long,” says the renowned poet, activist, and educator, who came to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s as a foundational member of the Black Arts movement following the publication of such early works as 1968’s book of poetry Black Feeling, Black Talk/Black Judgment and 1970’s Re:Creation. “Some spirituals have been updated and stayed around and some have been lost over time,” Giovanni notes “So for me, it’s just helping to keep something going. And I do it because there’s a need.Jackson brings his bold-toned, Trane-inspired tenor lines to bear on a series of hymns, spirituals, and gospel numbers hand-picked by Giovanni, who was also the first person to receive the Rosa L. Parks Women of Courage Award. And the 78-year-old poet makes a rare vocal appearance on the tender ballad “Night Song,” singing a song identified with her close friend, the late civil rights activist and High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone. “Nina was a friend of mine, and I knew that one of her favorite songs was ‘Night Song’,” she explains. “And even though I’m not a singer, I told Javon I wanted to sing it because I just wanted Nina to be remembered.” Jackson, who flew to Nikki’s home in Roanoke, Virginia, to record her vocal track on the existing instrumental tracks, says, “I sat beside her when she sang it and by the time she finished that chorus, I was deeply moved. I just love the fragile nature of the way she treated it. It was very emotional.”Joined by an outstanding crew comprised of pianist Jeremy Manasia, bassist David Williams and drummer McClenty Hunter — the same lineup that appeared on Jackson’s 2018 album For You and his 2020 follow-up, Deja Vu — Jackson interprets gospel staples like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,”Wade in the Water,” “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” with authoritative tenor tones, deep walking bass lines and an organic sense of group swing. “It’s the first time I worked in a collaborative manner,” Jackson says. “The project is personal for me. I come from a lineage of devout Christians, and that has afforded me the chance to connect with that ancestral stream.”

Giovanni & Jackson, © Shaban_R._Athuman

The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni came about through a serendipitous meeting between the two principals when Jackson, a faculty member of The Hartt School at the University of Hartford and director of its Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, invited Giovanni to speak to his students there. As he recalls, “Ever since I’ve been at the University of Hartford, I felt that the school would be well-served to bring great scholars of color and scholars who were freedom fighters and activists, if you will. So I brought in Dr. Cornel West, Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis, and Michael Eric Dyson. Then in February of 2020, I brought Nikki Giovanni.”The renowned poet’s appearance at the University coincided with her receiving an honorary doctorate there. And as Jackson recalls, “After Nikki spoke to the students, she noticed that the Hank Jones and Charlie Haden CD of hymns and spirituals (1994’s Steal Away) were playing in the auditorium. She said she loved it and wanted to hear more, and just then I was hit with the idea. Two days later, after she returned to her home in Roanoke, I contacted her and said, ‘Would you be willing to pick 10 hymns? And that’ll be my next recording.’ She got back to me in a few days and gave me the 10 selections.”The collection opens with the driving shuffle “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel,” a spiritual recorded by Paul Robeson in 1937. Jackson delivers the melody in a straightforward fashion with golden tenor tones before Manasia “goes to church” on his piano solo. The minor-key “Wade in the Water” is lifted by a mid-tempo swing feel, paced by Williams’ deep walking basslines and Hunter’s steady, syncopated ride-cymbal pulse. After Jackson delivers a robust tenor solo and Manasia follows suit with an earthy piano solo, Christina Greer enters, dropping some wisdom from Giovanni’s poem “A Very Simple Wish.” As Jackson explains, “For this, I reached out to Markeysha Davis, an assistant professor of Africana studies and literature at the University of Hartford. She is really a fan and knows Nikki’s work far better than I do. Nikki’s got 50 years’ worth of poetry, so I didn’t know where to begin. But I sent Markeysha John Coltrane’s ‘Spiritual’ to give her an idea of what we were trying to do, and she came back with that poem.”The quartet’s rendition of the dirge-like “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” carries the somber feeling of Coltrane’s “Equinox,” while their interpretation of “Mary Had a Baby, Yes Lord” recalls Trane’s powerful civil-rights era requiem, “Alabama.” “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” one of Giovanni’s favorites from her own Baptist church upbringing, is rendered at a loping beat, conveying a distinctive Southern gospel feel. “A lot of times when I’ve heard this song in church, it’s a little faster, a little more upbeat,” Jackson says. “I wanted to make it slower, where I could really expose the melody a lot more and lay on some of those phrases—so I could be as emotive as possible with the melody, as if I was playing in church with people in the audience.”“I’ve Been ’Buked,” a spiritual sung by Mahalia Jackson in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King also delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, opens with some dramatic unaccompanied arco bass work by Williams before the full band enters with Jackson conveying the melody simply and deliberately. “In a perfect world, I would love to have had David bowing with Paul Robeson singing that melody,” says the leader. “The bow is so beautiful because, to me, it’s close to the human voice in a way.”

Jackson and company render the normally somber “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as a buoyant calypso. In fact, you can hear the saxophonist directly quoting from Sonny Rollins’ most famous calypso, “St. Thomas,” midway through the song. Bassist Williams, being from Trinidad, is uniquely qualified to provide the requisite bounce on this ebullient calypso rendition of this well-known African American spiritual. “Doing that song this way is a reminder that the departure or the transition doesn’t have to be one of sadness,” says Jackson. “We don’t want it to be where the person or persons listening to the CD become downtrodden. We want it to be celebratory. It’s like what Art Blakey always used to tell us: ‘You cry when they come in, and you rejoice when they go out.’ I never forgot that.”

The most intimate piece of the collection is the gentle hymn “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian,” performed as a rubato duet between Jackson’s tenor sax and Manasia’s piano. The quartet closes on a rousing note with a swinging “I Opened My Mouth to the Lord,” which again features Williams’ deeply resonant bass carrying the melody and Jackson in strong ‘speechifying’ mode on tenor sax. Manasia also turns in an exhilarating piano solo here, and even drummer Hunter gets a solo taste near the end of this triumphant closer.  Captured live at Telefunken Studios in South Windsor, Connecticut, the 10 tunes on The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni were all done without the use of headphones, another first for Jackson. “I’ve never done a recording before in a studio where I didn’t use headphones, so it felt like performing a gig,” he says. “We never counted off a piece and there were no endings, where I might dictate or give a direction towards an ending. I really wanted to do it just like if you’re in church, where there’s a preacher talking and all of a sudden the choir begins. So each time, whether the bass would start the tune or the piano or myself, there were no count-offs because I wanted to make it as natural as possible.”

“This music is something that people will probably be a little surprised to see coming from me,” Jackson says. But given the state of the world, it could be just in time. Both poets and saxophonists stand on the shoulders of their ancestors on The Gospel According to Nikki Giovanni.