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McConnell again squeezed all manner of electronic weirdness into the fray and a fair amount of hot piano as Trey simply ripped what remained into shreds. They played the song lovingly, coaxing an effervescence that sustained high spirits while still easing things down. Another tune that swings and swirls more than it rocks, Halfway is a stylish, modern pop song, not terribly unlike something you might hear from Ben Folds.
Trey still seemed to be figuring out what to do in this one, and his contributions pushed the song from a dreamy, lonely nightclub number toward a more traditional space launch. Another intriguing new composition, Halfway to the Moon is rife with interesting possibilities. It began with a sizzling, crackling Twist. Trey would have his way and Phish would start to employ their interstellar overdrive as Twist oozed into a smoking, Latin, low-rider groove, culminating in the familiar Oye Como Va tease, before returning to Twist again.
After a brief contemplative pause, Phish furiously started chewing on the maniacal Talking Heads track, Cross-eyed and Painless. Cover songs are always a consideration at Phish concerts and this was a top-shelf offering. Fishman provided a quite serviceable account of the lead vocals and the band did not stray too far from the original structure of the tune. Instead, they worked it—up, down and sideways—using it to flaunt their virtuosic layering of sounds. Cross-eyed created the Vulcan mind meld, locking each member of the band and audience into a tight, psychic grip.
Phish first established a pulsating, sticky, thick funk before drifting toward the ceiling, peeling back the roof and casting Close Encounters -like messages toward the stars. Harry Hood , a cornerstone of the Phish catalog, has served as the springboard for countless legendary Phish jams.
It is a perennial crowd favorite. They returned for a three-song encore, starting with another new track from Fuego , a stirring, languidly paced, Wingsuit. Phish are clearly not standing still. They are continuing to evolve. The long drought between Eugene performances only emphasized this realization.
Their new songs are exceptionally evocative, engaging and deliciously fresh. Phish appeared energized in Eugene. It is impossible to distinguish the quality of any individual member because they collectively played so well. The show may have lacked the spontaneity and sustained, exuberant lunacy of past Phish concerts, but it still packed a punch. The performance was structurally solid and covered a complex spectrum of material.
The band effortlessly produced a super-concentrated, epoch-spanning, sleek and vibrant Phish. Looking and sounding inspired, Phish 3. Grateful Dead. Throughout the evening, String Cheese repeatedly punctuated their songs with parenthetic musical excursions, often executing stop-on-a-dime changes in tone, tempo and feel. At the McDonald, String Cheese were at their blazing best when pushing their songs from one familiar place toward somewhere else entirely.
They showed a real knack for transforming pleasant, straight-forward rock songs into something decidedly more strange and compelling. Their most engaging musical moments frequently occurred during these transitions, when they left the grid and explored. Unfortunately, these eclectic, instrumental launches were at times more creative than their starting places. The incorporation of various electronic-music styles offers String Cheese a fresh prismatic lens to refract their existing influences.
African, Middle Eastern, world-beat, Latin and reggae sounds all integrate agreeably with trance, down-beat and techno. When organically evoked, rather than consciously applied, the club deejay aesthetic heightens the creative potency of the Cheese. However, it was not a direction SCI pursued consistently in Eugene, and its periodic presence seemed at odds with some of their more traditional rock material.
Kang took a few turns with his effects-laden fiddle, threatening another experimental mutation, but it never quite broke and the song held its familiar shape. The set lacked elements of danger and curiosity. The material was not predictable, but not altogether surprising either. Unquestionable masters of multiple genres, String Cheese often adhered too closely to existing musical templates without fully realizing their own creative vision.
In any case, at the McDonald, String Cheese managed to make a hangover sound strangely sublime. The song is a get-on-your-feet, feel-good rocker and full of familiar, inspirational, lyrical themes. This sojourn was a lengthy, transformative affair, shimmering with cosmic discoveries. All six members of String Cheese threw in their own flavorful ingredients and collectively, they cooked. Law contributed a couple of hot choruses of honky-tonk guitar and the whole countrified diversion proved satisfyingly refreshing.
Initially, the song unwrapped a slinky, dub-infused, reggae vibe, bubbling with funky organ flourishes from Hollingsworth, and driven by a mountain-grown, Jamaican rhythm from Travis and Hann. Guitarists Nershi and Kang intertwined alternating sequences of scrubs, chops and spooky, distorted stabs. String Cheese consistently hit their creative stride during these unrestrained instrumental passages. A simmering, bob-and-weave reggae song set sail and drifted once again toward an intriguing, intergalactic lounge.
Throughout the show, SCI repeatedly demonstrated a keen aptitude for employing the sonic overdrive. A fundamental feature of the jam-band ethos is a fearless sense of adventure and a Beat-bred commitment to the unending road. It is encouraging to find String Cheese stretching, reaching and continuing to refine their sound, even if the results are sometimes uneven.
They strolled amiably onto a stage decorated by a strip of barnyard fence and a quaint, nostalgic table-lamp. Chris and Oliver Wood come more from the mountain-top Boulder, Co. Multi-instrumental accomplice, Jano Rix kicked at a stripped-down skin-set while Oliver Wood carved a few lean slices of vintage guitar.
Chris eagerly plucked an endearing pattern on his upright bass. Oliver tenderly scratched at the sweet scruffy tune, and ribbons of warm light danced with creek water as the trio harmonized another ethereal prayer. The Wood Brothers appeared to astonish the mature, mostly seated and coupled crowd throughout their gripping performance.
Chris lit a brush-fire of low-end fury that threatened to incinerate the song, as well as the theatre. Oliver crept in and cooled things to a skin-tanning sizzle. The emphatic tempo raced like time. Crackling energy surged through the seated patrons, sparking all manner of unrestrained thigh-slaps, toe-taps and dancing knees. Make no mistake—the Wood Brothers are out to save souls starting with their own.
The pairing made for an entertaining combination of Nashville polish and free-spirited, festival charm. Williams took the stage without introduction and quietly went to work. Proficient on multiple instruments, Williams is primarily a guitarist who makes significant use of a technique invented or at least popularized by Les Paul—phase looping. Williams plays, captures and loops musical lines, essentially recreating multi-track recording capabilities in a live setting.
This enables him to no pun intended play with himself. These layers of musical ideas form a kind of psychedelic, folk-rock sound system. The thick, double-wide groove culminated with KW duplicating and stacking his own chanting voice into a strange, clone choir.
Williams has elevated the practice of busking on Dead tours to an engaging, entertaining art-form. It sounded almost country, yet owed just as much to folk and Southern rock influences. At the McDonald, the song jangled and whined at first, like an eerie, bluegrass death dirge. More defiant than sorrowful, it leapt off and glowed; an echo of an original template consumed and resurrected with new, multi-faceted significance.
His technique is more deliberately paced and favors lingering a little over individual notes rather than rapid, Scruggsian rolls. The Stringdusters eventually got back to basics with a series of choice covers. Shifting positions onstage in a succession of quick moves, showcasing various combinations of slick picking, fiddling and harmonizing, the Infamous Stringdusters reestablished their barnstorming bluegrass roots.
They concluded their exceptionally well-played, highly entertaining set by inviting Keller Williams to join them for the last few songs. Throughout the set, Panda demonstrated remarkable range and originality on this fairly type-cast instrument. They also gave these artists ideas about how to activate them within their music. The Infamous Stringdusters come from a different place than Bill Monroe or the Stanley Brothers, and you can undoubtedly hear that distinction in their sound.
The Infamous Stringdusters are making new use of bluegrass music, rather than simply recreating it. The result at the McDonald was inspired, appealing and a first-rate blast. Crisscrossing the country and appearing at well-received festivals and packed theatres for several seasons, this small but increasingly visible collection of like-minded groups has developed a following that recalls the rise of the H. Unplugged tries, like its predecessor, to replicate the sense of musical adventure and the shared, communal experience so thematically prevalent in the Grateful Dead.
Both the sense of belonging and a promise of something surprising appear integral to establishing the ravenous fan-base these acts enjoy. Yonder played six satisfying sets over three days all on the Main Stage filled with surprise guests, choice covers, a few old favorites and every song on their recently released studio recording, Black Sheep.
The very polished, clean sounding, new album contains several outstanding songs that should garner attention from industry awards. Yonder appears to have regained much of the footing lost after the sudden departure in of founding member Jeff Austin. The remaining original members, banjo player Dave Johnston, guitarist Adam Aijala and bassist Ben Kaufmann are all gifted musicians and capable singers, yet they each project a significantly softer stage presence than Austin.
Kral seemed the more likely of the two newer members to provide some embraceable energy. Her infectious enthusiasm brightened the impact of her heartfelt, hot-ass fiddle playing; and she sang really well too. Joliff offered award-winning, virtuosic mandolin in a style very different from the self-taught Austin. The eerie, old-time murder ballad seethed with damn-near cartoonish intensity and each soloist took expressive turns wrestling with the agony of every love that ever went wrong.
Music festival junkies all say the magic happens at the side-stages and often late at night. There was very little overlap and the timing of performances seemed to guide festival patrons naturally from stage to stage. The Revival Tent was reserved for afternoon workshops and after-hours burn sessions.
Greensky Bluegrass took their turn in the tent early Saturday morning and cooked at a rapid, rolling boil. Multiple generations of influences press and inform each other inside their songs. It resides beside and within, but not only. Song after song went down like cold beers on a hot afternoon.
Guitarist Dave Bruzza played in a rich, moody style rippling with connotations of cowboy cantinas, truck-stops and mountain jams. The affable Anders Beck thrilled festival-goers with his expressive, energetic dobro playing, snapping-off solos that screamed and spun like lured lines cast for deep water. Mike Devol kept the floor popping with his vibrant upright bass and gave the entire outfit a measure of reliable punch.
Their secret weapon is their songwriting which defies their current status as a niche band catering to Deadheads. Saturday proper was largely about legends, both living and Dead. There were some pleasant diversions, but the festival primarily belonged to the Hall-of-Fame talent of Del McCoury and the ubiquitous influence of the Grateful Dead.
One of the unexpected surprises of the early afternoon was the main stage appearance of Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers. Simultaneously bright and soulful, the Gramblers displayed a healthy balance between old and new; rowdy and refined. Grateful Grass is a revolving door of guest musicians collaborating with Williams on bluegrass versions of Dead classics. Their set delighted festival goers with a jam-grass jukebox full of skeletons and roses.
The band played fast and loose and were there to have fun. An amazingly spry, year-old Del McCoury flat-out killed it. Equipped with a razor-sharp outfit that included his two sons, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Rob McCoury on banjo, Del captivated the crowd with natural greatness. Their instrumental interplay shined. Their polished, antique treasures infused the String Summit with immediate, authentic ambiance.
His up-close, in-person execution of unfiltered source material offered an informative context for the new-grass expansionists on hand. Kaufmann continually kept things snapping and popping. His relaxed, amiable stage presence was, if not riveting, quietly endearing. The group is still searching for a strong vocal presence to reliably match their instrumental intensity.
His unique style suggests a stimulating conversation between old and new. He can be focused and deliberate, as well as lyrical and free-flowing. His fantastic songs and furious, five-string picking should continue to feature in the reformed group. The idea of a song or any idea really, being taken to the next level, beyond measurement or categorization can be connected to the Grateful Dead. YMSB are primarily about applying this expansive, psychedelic element to the alternating pathos and jocularity of hillbilly music.
Acts played on top of the bus at the completion of each Main Stage performance. A wonderfully organic, street-musician vibe infused with Prankster energy collected wandering patrons as they circulated the festival.
Heady, trance-inducing tracks turned the crowd into Joker-faced, booty-shaking zombies. They are enjoying a rich vein of form. Their tent show at the Summit shook the crowd and carried them over to the other side. Their spiritually charged music genuinely moved people. They offered a religious experience. They play a multi-layered style of bluegrass boogie, with feel-good familiarity on top and explosive rocket fuel underneath.
Guitarist Andy Falco was the initial thrust. Using his strings as a staircase, Falco climbed. The rest of the boys chased him and the whole tent started to float. Every song seemed to psychically slap hands with the audience. All of the Stringdusters simply sounded great, but Chris Pandolfi deserves special mention for his brilliant banjo. Pandolfi continues to surprise and excite, distinguishing himself, even among a current crop of gifted banjo artists.
The Infamous Stringdusters performed so spectacularly the fully juiced patrons refused to turn away. Time was irrelevant. There had to be more. The people screamed for it. At three-something a. The Stringdusters simply unplugged and waded into the audience for a few more, truly acoustic, tunes. Reactions were sincere but slightly muted. Mixing classic soul and electric blues with a busking jug-band vibe, the Honeydrops hosted an enjoyable afternoon party.
His encyclopedic understanding of conventional traditions and masterful technique only tell the half of it. Del and Dawg gave a fascinating demonstration. They were instructive and engaging. They swapped stories about themselves and their songs, relating details like Del starting on banjo before being moved to guitar and vocals by Bill Monroe.
Grisman comfortably recalled existing traditions imbued with suggestive subtext applied by his own distinctive touch and temperament. His influential presence at the String Summit connected the blueprint to the contemporary alteration. Their re-formed lineup is still getting acquainted. Any perceived shortcomings can likely be attributed to a necessary adjustment phase for both the band and their following.
The overriding message was clear—people are still doing it. There is an innate human impulse to escape the construct and discover heightened forms of experience. An overly processed and digitized culture is naturally being drawn to more organic outlets of expression.
Roots-based music offers an invigorating alternative to the soul-less corporate drone. The Northwest String Summit reiterated the immediacy of a timeless tradition. The Wood Brothers have developed a reputation for purveying a high-proof blend of primarily acoustic, American folk sounds.
Their best songs radiate the same emotional intensity as the best traditional blues. In Eugene, the trio guitar, stand-up bass and drums produced an enticing, spiritually-charged brand of bar-room boogie; but they also added more classic rock, funk and soul to the vintage mix, giving strong indications of their widening reach. The immediacy of this threadbare emotion riveted the audience into a contemplative stillness.
Bassist Chris Wood coaxed an otherworldly whine with his bow, and a shuffling concession— the struggle is real —set the show in thoughtful motion. The Wood Brothers appear to be gaining momentum. Rix offered soft hints of bayou, mimicking an accordion with his keys or maybe a melodica.
The Wood Brothers threw down a series of blistering shuffles and demonstrated their lip-smacking knack for finding a sick groove. At times their musicianship went unnoticed in support of their sensational songs, but as the show unfolded they began to let their instruments unwind. The Woods simply rocked it less like a baby and more like a house. The electricity equipped the band for even higher climbs, and they put the added thrust to good use. Live performance only intensifies the visceral effect.
Shifting masterfully from meditation to revelation to cathartic release, they moved the McDonald Theater. They shook souls loose and sent them soaring. The narrative of so many of their songs concerns a quest for something more—musically, the Wood Brothers have found it. Cuthbert Amphitheater for a pair of reliably freaky shows, though the first night's performance was the juicier, more driven and musically intriguing offering.
Those present on Saturday were treated to the Cheese at their mind bending best. The intimate riverside amphitheater sparkled in late afternoon sunlight as the band appeared on a stage adorned with freshly cut flowers. Guitarist Bill Nershi quickly went to work, combining with percussionist Jason Hann and drummer Michael Travis to create a bright, bouncy calypso feel that immediately generated an agreeable festival vibe.
Nershi is one of the few jam-band guitarists to rely primarily on an amplified acoustic as his axe of choice. His distinctively natural tone lent an innately organic flavor to the often otherwise otherworldly String Cheese sound. The band came right out of the gate bursting with enthusiasm and lit the fuse for a sizzling Saturday night Incident. The highlights were plentiful throughout the first night. The Cheese seemed to be in dance party mode, dropping a number of well-placed, popular covers into their two sets.
SCI is a terrific covers band. Their choices are widely eclectic and consistently satisfying. Even when SCI was not covering other artists, their musical influences were easily distinguishable by the references, even quotations, present in their exploratory jams. These allusions were obvious winks and high-fives for their knowing fans, though skeptics might call it pandering.
String Cheese has an enduring relationship with a rabid fan base, and they know each other very well. One unnamed, vibrantly buzzing admirer knew exactly what he wanted. Their space funk was a heady, high-proof variant that incorporated a dizzying array of sounds. Weird moments of French synth pop, Spanish guitar flourishes and dubbed up dance mixes intermingled with striding Irish fiddling, muscular Kangolin climaxes and propulsive tribal beats.
Throughout the first evening, keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth was in a mood to put some stank on the Cheese. He persistently pushed the energy in fun, crowd-pleasing directions. SCI, in good form, creates something exceedingly enjoyable from a careful assemblage of reliable parts. The simmering, spacey cowboy ballad about a run-in with the Man felt like a gentle reminder for departing travelers at the end of the tour. Over the course of the two concerts, The String Cheese Incident gave Eugene a healthy sampling of their multi-faceted and uniquely post-modern interpretation of the jam-band idiom.
Playfully shifting, shuffling and manipulating crowd-pleasing styles like a doppelganger deejay, String Cheese continues to provide entertaining excursions to the outer rim. Check out more photos from the show s : Saturday Sunday. The Nashville-based Wood Brothers are adroit practitioners of a timeless, exhilarating art. Like the mythical F. They combine essential, fundamental ingredients into a recipe both distinctive and satisfyingly familiar.
Like the best of their recognizable influences, the Wood Brothers inhabit songs so convincingly, they come alive. They are the much-needed bearers of Good News, and the enlightening message itself. Their songs contain more vintage influences than a Memphis record store, but the special regard they have for Helm is particularly apparent on this new disc.
While not entirely abandoning their penchant for earthy, acoustic blues, the Woods have increasingly embraced more electric sounds from the sixties and seventies. Helm and The Band provide a useful template for infusing early folk traditions with a more varied, muscular bite. The Band understood the naked, uncertain miracle of a rock-and-roll show. They existed as artists to turn people on. The Wood Brothers are cut from the same cloth. They thrive in front of an audience. They reach out and grab people with an engaging, tactile energy.
Their music moves. The Rambles were concerts Helm hosted on his Woodstock property that harkened back to his younger days in Arkansas. Names like the aforementioned F. Inspired by Helm's affinity for merging music and myth, the Brothers continue to carry on the Rambling tradition faithfully. Grateful Web : Thanks so much for visiting with us Oliver, I was hoping we could start by talking about the new, live record.
Could you tell us a little about the venue? Oliver Wood : Sure, no problem. It is a venue designed by Levon Helm on his property where he lived. People could come to him. He could have his band and his drum kit and everything ready to go, and then a couple of hundred people would show up and sit in the barn. He could walk out of his kitchen and right to the drum set and put on a show for people who would come up from the city, or come from around the world to see him.
It was designed as a little intimate performance venue. You could call it a private venue. People like Dr. John , Allen Toussaint , Elvis Costello would sometimes go and join his band. The Wood Brothers were lucky enough to be the opening act several times. It was really for Levon and his Rambles. Anybody can look up the Midnight Rambles. GW : So you got to hang out with Levon a little bit.
What was he like? OW : He was just a very humble and gracious guy. You could just watch him and tell that he loved playing music. I think he also just loved connecting people. When you talk with him off the stage, he was a very charming, normal, Southern gentleman. We always felt real welcome. He was just a very approachable and sweet man.
He was also very passionate about the music. GW : Did he ever give you any words of advice, about music, the business? What did you learn from hanging out with Levon? OW : Just words of encouragement, and a lot of times with guys like that, you just learn by example, you know what I mean?
Something I feel like I indirectly got from him was just to be yourself, to be real and be yourself. I kind of learned that from him. As we continued to talk about the new live album, it became clear how much the Wood Brothers enjoy playing in front of fans, and how much performance shapes their sound. Wood revealed how touring is itself a creative process that often forces the band to produce exciting stretches of new growth.
OW : This was a single show. The barn was set up also as a recording studio at one time. The room was made to sound good and to rock. It really does sound good in there. We played a two-hour show, and out of that, we had to get a minute album.
The whole night is not on the record. Instead, you did something interesting with the percussion. The song starts with a creative rhythmic pattern. It has some sort of Caribbean or New Orleans flavor. OW : I think we sort of had the Mardi Gras thing in mind. A lot of times your creativity comes out of your limitations. We love the song. A lot of times we try to get inventive.
How can we make this song our own, and some of my favorite covers, when a band covers a song, how do they give it their own touch? Due to our limitations, we sort of did our own thing with it. We maintained the fun story of it, but the music is quite different other than the chord progression. We like to do that with covers. GW : Could you talk a little bit about Jano Rix, your multi-instrumentalist and drummer? He seems to be a big part of your efforts to expand your sound.
How did you guys hook up with Jano? What does he bring to the table musically? OW : We met Jano about six years ago and sort of crossed paths when we were on the same bill. We stayed in touch and it turned out he was already a fan. When we decided we really wanted a full-time drummer touring with us, we called him up.
So anyway, we have this guy, who can do all of this stuff. All of that stuff is happening live. He brings a lot to the table. GW : That added dimension that Jano brings seems to be in line with an ongoing progression in your music. It sounds like you are moving slightly from the intimate acoustic based material and morphing more into a straight-up rock-and-roll band. That band had horns and leaned more on the funk and soul than folk and acoustic blues.
Do you see the Wood Brothers moving more in that direction? OW : Yeah, I think as we evolve and our career evolves and you start playing more festivals, larger venues, you just feel like these people want to rock and we want to reach everybody, so the psychology of it is partly what your environment is.
We still love that aspect of what we can do, but now, if we want to go to fifth gear, we can crank it up, and Jano can play full drum kit and we can all be on electric instruments. My dad had a record with them doing that. Those more acoustic blues, those early versions are some of my favorite ones.
I know you lived in Atlanta, you live in Nashville now. How did you get so infatuated with the Southern sound or culture? OW : Well it probably started with my dad. My dad is still alive and he plays acoustic guitar and he was a big folk kind of guy back in his day, so he knows a million songs. Some of that stuff was blues, so I heard him playing stuff like that. He also pointed me toward some of the records in his record collection. I always liked that, and even going through phases of country and gospel, and jazz I got really into, and of course my brother did too, seems like we always come back to that original stuff that made such an impression when we were younger.
When I was twenty years old, I moved to Atlanta. GW : I really hear the folk influence in your songwriting. Ghosts seem to circulate in those kind of songs. OW : Yeah, artists really live in those songs. He was a close friend and someone I really admired. He was a real artist. All of that stuff about Chicago and New Orleans is about an actual guy who I was directly influenced by.
OW : I love how songs can be interpreted and reinterpreted by different people and also in different times. When we played it in the Barn that night, that song made me think of Levon. Your songs have a very transportive quality. Your music sort of carries people away to another place and time. I feel like your shows reflect the closeness blues and country had with gospel in the early days of rock-and-roll.
In the early Elvis, fifties period, concerts had a rapturous, nearly religious, give yourself up to the Holy Ghost kind of effect on artists and audiences alike. Your music conveys elements of that exalted, gospel-like glory. Do you feel a connection to that type of music? You can obviously tell how blues and gospel are very connected.
And, for that matter so do people like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Loretta Lynn, and others coming from the country side of things. You can hear their gospel background in their country music. No matter what they got into, they sort of kept that in there. I feel like gospel music is one of those foundational ingredients to all kinds of American music. We love that kind of music. We definitely try to fit some in. Love album. For modern stuff, I love that stuff.
But, I tend to listen to older stuff. Kind of all over the place. GW : I think your original songs are one of the real strengths of the band. Can you talk about your songwriting process a little bit? Are you more of an inspiration guy, or a sit in the chair and sweat it out guy? OW : A little bit of both. My brother is a little bit more like sweat it out and work. We make it a point to do that once in a while just to come up with new music.
A lot of times that music will inspire lyrical ideas, or at least melodic ideas. A lot of times we combine old ideas with new ideas. I do feel like playing them live. A lot of our songs on studio albums are great and they come out beautifully, but you end up changing them live to be more effective because you can test them on people and that feels good. We really try to mix it up with stuff from all the different records, and all the eras of our little career.
Was it just too close to the release of that? OW : Yeah, we played a few that night but we decided you know, that record just came out. The instrumentation is different. Things evolve over the years. The Wood Brothers exist outside the artificial spotlight of commercial music, but they live in a corporate music town. They are working musicians, but they play a style often overlooked by radio and television.
GW : So you guys all live in Nashville now? Is there a rivalry between rockers and country cats? I feel like it really is a music business town. GW : It seems like the music business has really changed. When I was a kid in the seventies, the goal was just to make a record and get it on the radio, and that was it.
Everyone heard you. Radio was much more powerful then, and seemingly more open to different kinds of bands? I mean, how do you measure yourselves? Your success? It is really different. I still discover cool music on the radio. Honestly, our goal is just to make good music that we feel good about.
The goal is definitely to keep people interested in the music and to be able to sell tickets at shows. Not that many people make their living by royalties. Playing live is still the most fun thing to me. GW : You guys play a lot of festivals with other groups Grateful Web covers. Have you developed any friendships with any of those guys? OW : Absolutely. We root for each other. So many more. Chet Doxas composed 10 tunes, wrote extensive liner notes and crafted an original sculpture see cover image for this intimate new trio album with pianist Ethan Iverson and upright bassist Thomas Morgan.
Highlights include the title-track opener, where threads of unison melodies result in a virtual 3D timbre-merger of tenor, piano and bass. Victor Gould is a pianist, composer and arranger with tremendous facility on the keyboard, and a big heart to match. And since then, Gould has been developing from an emerging talent to into a full-blown, fantastic artist.
With his trio mates Tamir Shmerling on bass and Anwar Marshall on drums, Gould dances through a program of 11 tunes, including nine originals, with inner urge and sophistication. He had such a big impact on my life, hiring me right after I moved to New York.
Each beautifully captures the spirit of the honoree. As for covers, Gould chooses well on a few fronts. Second, the guest artist on those tracks, tenor saxophonist Dayna Stephens, adds layers of lush to the proceedings with his velvety tone and fleet interpretations. Gould takes a giant leap as a major voice in this music and beyond. Here Gould writes for the trio with a string quartet. It is beautiful. His ideas, and talent, cannot be tied down by genre. Victor Gould is an artist of big ambition, and even bigger heart.
Among a certain type of Dylan-ologist, that appearance is the stuff of legend. In recent years, on YouTube, not only is the televised performance from the show available, but also his entire rehearsal for it. Apparently, Dylan was really working with this band.
This begged the question: Was there an entire Dylan punk album out there lurking the vaults? Second of all, what we do get unfolds strangely. This box starts with a full disc of Dylan rehearsing. But this is a disc of taped rehearsals. Things pick up from there, as disc two deals up an entire set of Shot Of Love outtakes. Discs three and four are all Infidels outtakes, exactly what some fans have wanted. Some of this is not exactly new. Every volume of The Bootleg Series takes a portion of his career and proves there was much more going on there than was released at the time.
This does that, wonderfully. It seems that only happens when a young David Letterman is sitting at his desk. Italian-born guitar virtuoso Pasquale Grasso continues a winning streak with this classy take on the music of Duke Ellington — joining the ranks of such archtop devotees as Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell and John Pizzarelli, each of whom has recorded notable tributes to the iconic big band composer. Consisting of five solo guitar performances, six trio tracks and two compelling vocal features, Pasquale Plays Duke is the second of three albums Grasso is putting out on Sony Music Masterworks this year and next.
An expertly produced project, it measures up to the high standards the master guitarist set for himself on a spate of recent recordings he has dedicated to the repertoires of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Billie Holiday. Grasso is a brilliant jazz improviser whose elegant melodic lines and speed-demon runs reveal the ever-present influence of historic jazz pianist Art Tatum.
He will also accompany Joy on a nine-gig European tour that begins Oct. And, he will take part in an Oct. This is heady, haunting, sexy, soulful, heartbreaking stuff. With a voice that suggests a cross between Mahalia Jackson and Nina Simone, Lady Blackbird tears your heart apart and puts it back together again on this song set. The ease, growl, coo and convincing nature of her voice come naturally as she has been singing in front of audiences since childhood, and was signed to a Christian music label as a teenager.
She has long since left that side of her career behind, but the soul of that music is always close by. The great Irma Thomas made the song a classic back in Lady Blackbird matches the authenticity and originality in this remake.
Her voice is an old friend confessing her secrets, drawing you into her world. Floating above it all is the voice and artistry of this new and incredibly exciting artist. Chicago-based Numero Group has long excelled at unearthing music that never should have disappeared from public consciousness, and the label has outdone itself with I Shall Wear A Crown , an archival box set summarizing the year career of Pastor T.
So, one might assume this is standard gospel music. The box then stretches even further, offering a bonus album of singles and sermons. Speaking to DownBeat, Barrett explained his unique perspective. My God is not up in the sky. My God is in my eye. Without You, No Me is a Philly-centric big band feast of the ears celebrating the life and legacy of local jazz hero Jimmy Heath, who passed last year at age Stafford regarded Jimmy as a friend, colleague and mentor ever since touring with him in the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Star Big Band some 30 years ago.
The musicians were able to convene in person in the spacious Temple Performing Arts Center in April , with filters and covers over the bells of their horns. That year-old pianist Matthew Whitaker is alive is a bit of a miracle. He was born prematurely and blind, given little chance of surviving with doctors saying that, even if he did, he probably would not be able to crawl, walk or speak.
His story has been well-documented by shows like 60 Minutes. Whitaker can speak, and he speaks well. He can walk, and walk well. But what this prodigy can do better than anything else, and arguably anyone else, is play piano, organ and keyboards. Hear for yourself on Connections Reliance Music Alliance , his third album, this one produced by bassist Derrick Hodge. It is astounding. This one takes him a full leap forward. Beyond his playing chops, his compositions have taken a leap forward, also.
The chuckle at the end of the song says it all: two amazing musicians simply having a good time with one of the greatest piano tunes in jazz. With bits of spoken word between songs to tell his story, Matthew Whitaker is an inspiration as a person and as an amazing young artist. It will be fascinating to see what the future brings. Electric blues trio GA — guitarist Matt Stubbs, guitarist, vocalist Pat Faherty and drummer Tim Carman — draw from a range of influences, but felt one in particular needed a big boost.
Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator for the specific purpose of recording and releasing it. They pointedly use vintage gear, including the Gibson GA amplifier. For this release, Alligator Records collaborated with Colemine Records, an expertly niche label out of Loveland, Ohio, that puts out funk, soul and beyond. Andrew Cyrille continues to produce compelling music with the release of a new quartet outing that further cements his legacy as a premier force in jazz improvisation over a span of some six decades.
Guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Ben Street are back onboard and all-in for this meditative and highly satisfying session from August The News is named after a conceptual piece that Cyrille originally recorded in the late s with newspapers spread out over his snare and toms, which he played using brushes. Originally a solo performance, it reappears here with Virelles, Frisell and Street conjuring a playful environment of crinkly textures and atmospheric wobble as Cyrille gleefully scratches, taps and slaps his way through the news of the day.
These guys make this music new again. He can play. I love his fire on this record, blissfully taking on seven jazz classics … and blowing them up. That said, jazz artists make a name on uptempo tunes but often enter the hearts of jazz fans on ballads. It exudes all the love of an Ella Fitzgerald turn, but all dressed up for At 24, Cole has plenty of room to grow and, as demonstrated on K no w Them, K no w Us, a firm foundation to launch from.
Cooper may be more well known outside of the improvisational jazz scene as the songwriter behind such bands as Ultimate Painting and Modern Nature. Their prior experience together is in evident here; this is complicated material that twists and turns with its own internal logic. The two flow through it effortlessly. The result feels conversational, neither overly composed nor overly improvisational.
The systems within feel as if they could go on forever in an infinite loop. Tributaries uses space and pacing to good effect throughout. There are so many recordings to catch up on from the dark days of the pandemic, and this is definitely one of them. Cecilie Strange is a tenor saxophonist from Denmark full of rich, thoughtful ideas, as she demonstrated on her album Blue April Records.
With Blikan , an old Icelandic word that means to shine or to appear, Strange weaves a beautifully Nordic jazz noir, never hurrying the music, letting it take a pace that is calming, folksy, bluesy and, yes, a bit mystic. Strange and her cohorts on this record and the last consistently choose nuance over throwing bombs.
She chose them based on what she heard them play in the past. Before recording Blue and Blikan , this group had not worked together. But work they do, beautifully, as an ensemble, listening, feeling and moving the music forward. You can hear the soul of each musician moving to complete the whole of the group.
The same can be said for each or the six tracks on this record, which is a breath of fresh air. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, it should be enjoyed in one sitting, like a late-night set from your favorite club, laid down for posterity. Cecilie Strange and the band certainly shine on Blikan. Telepathy is the third all-improvised duo album by Bay Area-based keyboardist Denny Zeitlin and drummer George Marsh, longtime friends who share a musical rapport that dates back to the s.
Marsh plays acoustic drums and percussion throughout, while Zeitlin supplements his Steinway piano with a massive pallet of electronically generated tones he can access on the fly from his keyboards and breath controller: electric basses, synth basses, nylon- and steel-string guitars, pipes, wooden flutes, human voice samples, celestial choirs, analog horns, sci-fi synths, organs and lush, ambient pads aplenty; like a master painter, he always seems to find interesting combinations in his selection of tonal colors, and he deploys appropriate playing techniques to match the character of each virtual instrument he emulates.
Other tracks smack of more traditional free-improv conversations. All taken together, Zeitlin and Marsh collectively succeed at assembling wildly divergent sounds and rhythms into coherent working structures while allowing the music — their music — to emerge entirely on its own. Just to be clear, I love the work of Marc Ribot. Hope is not a jazz record, other than its anything-goes sensibility, but Ribot has credentials as a guitarist and artist who can morph into any style and still come out sounding only like himself, which is central to the jazz aesthetic.
Much music has been made in the last year and a half with a mind toward coping with the state of the world and oneself. Some of this music sought to make you dance — even if it was home alone — and some of it sought to make you think, feel and beyond. Here, Joshua Abrams and Chad Taylor seek to maintain their minds and ours. The duo, who have been playing music together in one form or another since , take up guimbri and mbira, instruments African in origin, with the end result proving almost meditative.
By limiting themselves to these two ancient acoustic instruments, they exhibit brilliant use of space. Sometimes one does wish these song would reach out a bit. Still, this recording feels like a great choice for an evening of close listening on the home stereo system, or as a pleasant distraction in your earbuds as you go about your daily routine. Proving itself well worth the wait from the initial needle-drop, Gurgle features the fusion team supreme of Chris Siebold guitar , Vijay Tellis-Nayak keyboards , Chris Clemente bass and Kris Myers drums , longtime collaborators based out of Chicago and Nashville whose camaraderie dates back to the late s.
The result is a tasty mixture of prog-rock tones, advanced harmonies, angular melodies, cerebral improvisations, cathartic ostinatos, funky hooks, fuzzy analog warmth and extra-dimensional atmospherics. An abundance of musical humor lightens the mood of this seriously ambitious track program, which consists of all original compositions written by band members Clemente five , Tellis-Nayak four and Siebold two.
The Little Bird is an album with a lot of history, and a lot of freedom, behind it. This is immediately apparent in their music. The three practiced constantly, feeling untethered by their technical abilities and rather set free by the desire to play. When it came time to make and The Little Bird in , the production was, by all accounts, casual and inexpensive, and only released on CD-R. Seventeen years later, the time has come for this bird to fly — at least as a digital release and cassette.
Funk bands lost to history are legion, as the recorded works of many were issued as singles and one-off albums that landed in dustbins all over the U. From then on, Christian would be the sole remaining member of the group, accompanied by a variety of touring and session musicians.
The music is immediately less scrappy, tighter, more social in its politics. Christian name-calls other leaders in his field like Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles. Dyke died young. On March 13, , the year-old artist was fatally shot in Phoenix. At the time, he was prepping for a tour of the U. One wonders what might have been. Tenor saxophonist Charles Owens can blow — fast, furious and flowing — with just the right dollop of soul.
They actually make it kind of cool, in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. This time around, the year-old Hagans takes on the roles of composer, conductor, arranger and performer in a five-movement concerto that revolves around a single concept: the exchange of ideas. With A Conversation , Hagans experiments with a truly fresh approach to big band arranging and recording, whereby he physically groups musicians together not according to instrument type, but by sonic and emotional divisions.
Each grouping is charged with different artistic objectives determined by Hagans, adding to the instrumental intrigue. One grouping that Hagans calls Ensemble I includes two woodwind players, three trumpeters and a trombonist. The slightly smaller but equally vital Ensemble II consists of two woodwind players, trumpet and trombone, while the four-piece Ensemble III has one reed player, one trumpeter, one tenor trombone and a bass trombone.
Ensemble IV is the full rhythm section of drums, guitar, piano, bass and percussion. The music builds from simple ideas and minimalist concepts into complex constructions of towering and deep proportions. On this new release from Alex Conde, the virtuoso Spanish pianist puts his personal spin on nine landmark compositions by the legendary pianist and bebop architect Bud Powell.
Throughout Descaraga For Bud , Conde demonstrates his prowess at the keyboard, each note landing right on top of the beat in an inspired fusion of the classic bebop lexicon with traditional Caribbean and Iberoamerican stylings. For his supporting cast, Conde brings back percussionist John Santos and bassist Jeff Chambers from his Monk outing, and adds drummer Colin Douglas to the mix. Impressively, Taylor plays everything himself on the mostly instrumental album, moving between guitar, bass, synth, omnichord, percussion and drums.
His reference points here include funk, Afrobeat, jazz, blues, fusion, soul and electronic music, a blend that feels both vintage and futuristic. And this is effective. Elsewhere, this is perhaps a bit too vague. Regardless, there are interesting things happening here. One hopes that as live music opens back up Taylor can assemble a band that can replicate this odd concoction onstage. For those outside of Chicago, know this: Shawn Maxwell follows the long lineage of Windy City reed players and composers with a big, brawny sound and thought-provoking art.
He includes a family of 29 players on this recording, each laying down their parts alone and shipping them off to Maxwell, COVID safe. This is a truly personal, absolutely beautiful piece of pandemic art that goes down easy to soothe and uplift the soul.
If only our elected officials could make such harmonious music. The album truly sounds like a travelogue of Maxwell and friends speaking for all of us. It must be said that you can listen to this recording without notes or titles and thoroughly enjoy the ride. The intersections of music and poetry, jazz and hip-hop, art and popular music always risk the chance of running afoul of one and other. Is it honest or forced?
Is it too much or too little? Is it authentic, in the parlance of this day and age? This is the rare piece of art that captures the times — our times — full of confusion, righteous anger and absolute beauty. It rivets, shakes and bakes with crazy rhythmic drive. How could it not? A demand for social justice lies at the core of this recording and this band. It envisions our progression towards a future in which indigenous knowledge and wisdom is centered in the realization of a harmonious balance between the human, natural and spiritual world.
Sons of Kemet naturally meld jazz with the rhythms and music of Africa, hip-hop and the Carribbean. There is an intensity to this music that has been missing, in this way, for far too long. Black To The Future speaks a truth that should be heard. But this recording and these artists never forget to move us musically as well as mentally. Hutchings understands that the best way to educate as a musician is to put your message to music.
The album has been released on his own Onyx Productions label following his passing earlier this year. Peterson recorded this album in December with his working trio featuring brothers Zaccai and Luques Curtis on piano and bass, respectively. As one of many written in response to the murder of George Floyd at the knee of a police officer, the tune envelopes — without words — all the anger, chaos, angst and sorrow so many have experienced in trying to understand why this happened, and why it continues to happen.
He pumps the bass drum to give life to the heartbeat of the man and this music. Zaccai Curtis plays in a pleading call-and-response fashion, with beautiful chordal and melodic passages tinged with just enough dissonance to express feelings of lament. Peterson was an amazing drummer who could simply overpower most musicians. Not true with the Curtis Brothers. But if it is, this is a perfect way to finish. His passing is a great loss to the jazz community, but his music lives on.
The basic concept is acoustic instruments doing electronic music, an idea many have approached but likely few have executed this well. It was made with the acoustic sounds of the clarinet, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet using minimal effects, and it was recorded during lockdown in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens, New York, during April to May of You can hear this in the music. And his technique is certainly effective. You picture him tapping on a drum machine and a keyboard instead of playing a clarinet.
Vocalist Nnenna Freelon has always had a powerful instrument, but rarely, if ever, has she employed that voice in such an intimate way. On Time Traveler , the Grammy-winner wastes no time in grabbing your attention and pulling you in close. Her vocals are pure, powerful magic. You can feel her loss as well as the joy of her memories.
Here we have the young and amazingly talented tenor saxophonist Jack Brandfield taking us on a swinging trio journey with Randy Napoleon on guitar and Rodney Whitaker on bass. As a group, the three are a wonder of rhythm, time and musicality. Each solo aches of a melodic time gone by, when songs could be instrumental, hip and danceable all at the same time. For his part, Brandfield has a juicy, smooth tone on tenor.
The lack of a drummer gives the group plenty of room to play with time and space, all the while keeping the proceedings right in the pocket. His Waterwheel ensemble, which finds Thatcher in the company of drummer Devin Drobka and electric guitarists John Kregor and Matt Gold, flies in tight formation over the course of 10 originals that blur the lines separating jazz, chamber music and rock. Throughout the program, Gold and Kregor maintain a delicate balancing act, the guitarists dovetailing neatly as they share the air space above the Thatcher—Drobka bedrock.
All four members of Waterwheel are eager, experienced improvisers who embrace freeplay and structured soloing with aplomb and enthusiasm. Thatcher has said that once he settled on this lineup of musicians to perform his compositions, new tunes started coming to him quickly. OK, confession time. I have not seen the Netflix series Babylon Berlin , but I can tell you that the music is awesome because the Moka Efti Orchestra, a member ensemble cast in the series, has just released a new album called Erstausgabe.
The music is of the crazy-good cabaret variety that might just remind you of a certain famous musical by the same name because of the setting and the sound. The band draws from a vast lexicon of swing-feel, ragtime, Chanson and even the blues, and blows it all through your ears with hyper-cool energy and tongue-in-cheek nonchalance over the course of 13 tunes brimming with throw-back reverence and send-it-way-up camp.
If you ever get a jones for some highly theatrical, masterfully played big band noir, this is a record for you. A few months later, the trio gathered under very strict COVID rules and started to lay down what would become the album. It is breathtaking. The title track begins with Gilkes multi-tracking his trombone before Penn and Yasushi join in. Beyond the title track, there is so much to like here. Gilkes has a rare and wonderful mastery of his instrument.
Indeed, Waiting To Continue , which was released back in February, could have easily suffered that fate. Luckily, I was encouraged to go back and check it out. This is honest, hopeful, uplifting music for rising above and beyond the challenges of the past year as we all await the green-light to continue our lives and careers once again.
Canadian guitarist Lorne Lofsky, deeply versed in the bebop language and long admired for his straightahead jazz chops, is a sporadic composer by his own admission. So, he only composes when an idea comes to him. A recent mini-binge of writing led to the recording of This Song Is New , his first album as a leader in more than 20 years.
Here we have one of the most ambitious projects to cross these ears in a long time. Five years in the making, British electronic producer, DJ and musician Sam Shepherd, better known as Floating Points, enlisted the help of the entire London Symphony Orchestra as well as Pharoah Sanders, one of the greatest shamans in jazz history, to create art for the ages.
Promises tears down the walls between the electronic and acoustic worlds; classical, jazz and pop. The synthesis of all of this demonstrates that music — all music — can be distilled to beauty. Shepherd performed on a dozen keyboards in the making of this piece. The crescendo is just stunning. Promises is fantastic meditation music for restless minds. It demands to be heard in concert halls around the world. Until then, a good pair of headphones will do the trick. Broder contributed to the concepts and perspectives explored in the video.
An audio-only digital release of Our Highway is also available. More and more artists are foregoing the time-honored tradition of releasing a full album of music, opting instead for an even older time-honored practice: releasing singles. Here we have pianist and composer Alfredo Rodriguez getting into the game with his longtime musical partner Munir Hossn. Congrats to both artists. This is a shiver-and-sigh record. Need to chill out at the end of a long day? Midnight Shelter is a go-to.
Want to share an amazing listen with someone you love? Here we find Sachal Vasandani easing his way into the mode of singer-songwriter. His voice is clear. His intentions are pure. The music of some of the best songwriters in recent history flow effortlessly alongside original tunes penned by Vasandani, pianist Romain Collin and their writing cohorts.
Pre-pandemic, the group sustained its profile by playing weekly gigs and serving as host to events in support of the educational community. Solos catch fire right after a strong initial statement from the full ensemble, with tenor saxophonist Ian Nevins, alto saxophonist Steve Schnall, trombonist Andy Baker and trumpeter David Katz all contributing fiery choruses. For anyone who has ever said nothing good happens at 4 a.
This is an album packed with groove to spare. Sung mostly in Creole, the music has the drive of a variety of cultural touchpoints — from the Caribbean to Mississippi blues down into New Orleans. The song is said to capture the tragedy of immigrants dying at sea while trying to reach a new home. It rings throughout songs about pain, struggle and freedom, but even these heavy topics cannot suppress the joy and hope that rise above the struggle chronicled in this music.
It was an ambitious project, probably too ambitious for the DIY nature of this beast. But he did it, and it turned out to be a beautiful beast—the music, unparalleled; the musicianship, incredible; Southside, at his full-throated, barroom bard best. Johnny had a secret weapon, an accomplice, on this improbable journey. And his work on this record shimmers. With all that buildup, the project never got its due, but it did get a feature in DownBeat by this writer, which you can read HERE.
Bravo to all on this one, and special credit goes out to Sascha Peterfreund, the remaster engineer on this project. The sound has been completely revamped. The Brooklyn-based violinist, whose compositions here work to render an aural depiction of the 8-bit, sci-fi tableau shown on the album cover, oversees a quintet that relies as much on jazz-world facility as it does on rock aesthetics.
New York-based alto saxophonist and educator Peter DiCarlo makes an auspicious leader debut with the release of Onward. The title track starts the album out on an energetic note, with a driving ostinato in the bass and piano establishing a firm foundation for the horn section. DiCarlo really lets it rip during his alto solo, pushing his range ever higher and revealing the gritty side of his tone. If you like your jazz with a heaping helping of swirling, wondrous rhythm, Samba de Maracatu by the legendary Joe Chambers will fill you up.
Be it on drums, percussion or mallets, Chambers has been one of the great sidemen in jazz history, providing the beat for everyone from Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson and Sam Rivers to Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson and Chet Baker … just to scratch the surface. Even so, Samba de Maracatu is miraculous in its ability to be both timely and timeless, worldly, yet intimate. For his part, Chambers serves as a one-man percussion machine, overdubbing himself on drums, vibes and percussion to turn this trio into a small, pulsating orchestra.
It features Merritt and Chambers running parallel lines on piano and vibes in front of a deep-running groove. The recording also features two great vocal spots. And they let nothing get in their way during this animated April blowing session. These baritone masters make a sport of navigating the fast-moving changes, zigzagging lines and skippy syncopations that define the genre.
Tough Baritones buzzes with one-take excitement. The guys simply go for it, indulging their affinity for classic Pepper Adams-style bari sax bebop. He released it on his own Gretabelle Music last November, but the set is just now getting out to the public. That said, this batch of chestnuts is worth the wait. Pasqua demonstrates amazing touch and technique on the 10 tunes recorded for this document.
And, when he solos on the tune, oh, my, the chops are tasteful and transcendent. Jane Monheit is a potent antidote to a certain brand of jazz snobbery. Was Ella Fitzgerald as good a musician as Count Basie? Debate that over a Zoom chat sometime. Harburg seems suited to our pandemic era in a particularly bittersweet way. Catching this virtual gig might not be as fun as hearing her vocals reverberate around a jazz club or a festival crowd, but that will come, hopefully soon. A year-old Donald Byrd comes in a bit hot for his spotlight, but recovers quickly and helps push the tempo up a bit, granting Trane a new platform to re-enter.
The pair end on a descending harmony line, giving the song its dour denouement, but one that seems significantly less dire than Strayhorn might have intended. On Lush Life , though, the saxophonist seems more occupied with wringing the emotional meaning from a classic, and does so gracefully and profoundly.
The album is actually inspired by the emotionally evocative and highly accessible music of s Hollywood, when brilliant session players like saxophonist Tom Scott and trumpeter Jerry Hey ruled the studio scene and helped craft moody TV and film scores by legendary composers like Quincy Jones and Pat Williams.
Covering a multitude of styles, time signatures and song forms, The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful is sophisticated, uplifting big band music executed with precision and passion by some of L. But that one show, played before a small audience with little preparation except a few soundcheck run-throughs, turned out to be an epic performance. By turns ethereal and aggressive, this music is a weird wedding of dreamy soundscapes and churning mechanics that produces a consciousness-heightening effect and encourages focused listening.
Another highlight is the hypnotic title track, a group improvisation that sounds like it was performed underwater in the company of singing whales. On June 24, , at the Tri-C JazzFest in Cleveland, this writer had the good fortune of catching a performance by guitarist Diego Figueiredo, who initially played solo before joining bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton for a mesmerizing trio set that merged jazz with bossa nova.
Figueiredo composed the song while traveling via cruise ship. The penguins, the silence, the beautiful sky and the icebergs—it was all a unique and new experience for me. Some of the music here would be an appropriate soundtrack for deep thinking and even meditation, but the melodies are consistently compelling.
In its incarnation as a trio, as well as a big band, the sparks igniting Fire! In a trio format here, Fire! But the fact that Fire! Gifted with a voice that combines power with an elastic range, Lewis delivers a program centered around her original compositions, all of which nod to tradition. Eschewing tender ballads in favor of rowdy barn burners, she offers up a rarity in the blues world nowadays: an album without any type of guitar.
She recruited five musicians for the sessions, but the instrumentation remains consistent throughout the program: a trio of piano, saxophone and drums. The label only would last until , but during its run, Russell was able to offer an in-the-moment sketch of what was happening in the soul-jazz universe. Guitarist Calvin Keys—who released his leader debut on Black Jazz the year the imprint was founded—would go on to tour and record with Ahmad Jamal, and solidify his spot as a ranking elder in the Bay Area jazz scene.
With a steady stream of records flowing since , the work of Ibiza, Spain-based saxophonist Muriel Grossman invokes nature as easily as the sturdy history of spiritual-jazz. Two of the compositions on Quiet Earth , though, first appeared on Awakening, a live recording from the Eivissa Jazz Festival that featured freedom-focused drummer Christian Lillinger behind the kit. Guitarist Radomir Milojkovic continues to factor into the ensemble sound, comping where straightahead acts likely would have a pianist slotted.
The album serves not only as an entertaining escape during the long days of the pandemic, but also a poignant reminder of the brand of Latin jazz that New York City venues have been missing on a nightly basis during the COVID crisis. The Shape Of Things is one big chain-reaction, a wild ride whose core essence can be best described as geometry in motion.
The latest release by singer Janis Mann and pianist Kenny Werner, Dreams Of Flying , combines studio sessions and live performances, recorded three years apart, on opposite U. On paper, that hardly sounds like a recipe for a cohesive program. And yet, thanks to the simpatico rapport by these two veteran musicians, the result is a marvelously congruous minute album. The duo teamed up with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca for a session at Samurai Hotel recording studio in Queens, and in , the co-leaders presented a set of duo and trio songs with guitarist Larry Koonse in front of a quiet audience at the Capitol Studios building in Hollywood.
Our connections sustain us during the most difficult of times. Roots keep us grounded and nourish our spirits, making them one of the most vital connections of all. White and Driscoll have made it their mission to lay down roots together—not only in their day-to-day lives as a happily married couple but also in the simpatico music they make on this brilliant new album.
The album opens with the Cedar Walton-penned title track, a tricky tune with a deceptively catchy melody that rings through loud and clear. White, usually on the left side, crafts more aggressive lines that tend to weave inside and outside the harmony. Thing is, though, the bandleader seems as comfortable—and moreover, effective—working through any of these kaleidoscopic modes.
Americana and blues practitioner Danielle Miraglia wisely avoids fuss and clutter on her latest album, Bright Shining Stars. Fingerpicking and strumming on acoustic guitar are central to her sound, with percussion frequently provided by the infectious stomp of her foot. Three of the 11 tracks here are solo recordings, reinforcing a truism that the artist frequently has proven on Boston-area stages: A charming voice and fluid guitar prowess are all an artist needs to keep a listener rapt.
Anyone who has paid attention to the blues scene of the past 20 years is fully aware that singer Shemekia Copeland can belt with gusto. Her artistry has reached a new level with Uncivil War , thanks to Will Kimbrough, who produced the album, plays electric guitar throughout the program, and co-wrote seven of the 12 tracks.
Penned by Kimbrough and John Hahn, the song is a fitting tribute to Dr. And after self-releasing a handful of albums, the troupe lit out for New York, falling in with a growing contingent of performers discarding genre boundaries and working to encompass the breadth of Black music birthed of the fraught American experience. Tango tunes and Bix Beiderbecke compositions are two seemingly disparate ingredients that blend together beautifully on Candlelight—Love In The Time Of Cholera , the new duo album by classical violinist Juliet Kurtzman and jazz pianist Pete Malinverni.
The track program showcases exquisite melodic lines from both instrumentalists, as well as brilliant bouts of dialog. Their shared aesthetic is one born in the 21st century, an approach that dually exploits the emotional resonance of jazz and the keen precision of classical music. Pop-culture aficionados who recognize the name Loudon Wainwright III might know him as a wry singer-songwriter, an actor, an acclaimed memoirist or a musical patriarch with numerous children who are performers, including Rufus Wainwright.
Here, the Nighthawks coax charming vocal performances out of Wainwright, who is well suited to sing witty ditties like the title track penned by Irving Berlin. Tony is singing the song in a spiffy Italian tailored suit, but the director has him situated indoors on the deck of some kind of simulated, fully rigged windjammer. At the very least Mr. Benedetto should have been sporting an eye patch.
In his musical performances and in his prose, that mixture of quirky quips and emotional depth is part of the reason that Wainwright, 74, still has the ability to surprise us. The instrumental, slowly paced offerings—enduringly placid, appealing and contemplative—arrive as untouched clay, waiting for listeners to etch their impressions on the surface.
Even shorn of company, pianist still manages to burrow deeply into ideas on Appearance , gently churning up shifting embellishments to each extended cut comprising the album. But the allure of his performance here is that the listener can project their own ideas and predilections across the backdrop of beautifully wrought sound. As her art matured in the s, she began working with some of the top jazz players of her time, including Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny.
Now comes a sparkling new recording by Scottish trumpeter Colin Steele that consists entirely of Mitchell repertoire, sparingly arranged for jazz quartet. The 11th album by the Boston-based Jazz Composers Alliance Orchestra adheres to a tradition that dates back to presenting original works by some of the most forward-looking and innovative writers and arrangers of the times.
Recorded live at the Berklee Performance Center, the new album is a diverse program of compositions by JCA members David Harris, Darrell Katz, Bob Pilkington and Mimi Rabson, played by a large ensemble that puts a modern twist on traditional big-band instrumentation with the inclusion of strings, French horn and EWI. The compositions themselves are the stars of this program, brought to life in a live-performance context featuring several remarkably inventive instrumental solos.
He has been a leader of several jazz groups in Paris including the Fairweather Quintet and recently appeared in New York at the Cornelia Street Cafe with his quartet. Barkatz, schooled in classical and jazz guitar and fluent in bossa nova, performs and records regularly in the States and his native France.
Influenced by Muddy Waters, B. King, Wes Montgomery and Jimi Hendrix, the year-old taught himself how to play the blues at a young age. Together, these two transatlantic collaborators cut right to the heart of the blues on 10 original, emotionally charged tracks tinged with elements of jazz and American roots music. Recorded with everyone in one big room, the music on Shadow Man conveys a communal experience, where spontaneity rules the day and collective moods range from sorrow and regret to flirtatious whimsy and liberating redemption.
Margitza and Bergeron are old friends who spent time making music together in New Orleans and New York, as well as studying at Frost School of Music, where the leader and many of his band members are currently on faculty. Cheap Thrills is a testament to the strength and longevity of their musical connection. Two decades ago, Steve Spiegl arranged compositions by Bach, Brahms and Scriabin for Enigma , an album by his namesake big band.
Despite the disparate sources of material, Spiegl sculpted a cohesive minute program; all the arrangements reflect the distinctive sound of his artistic voice. A spin of this excellent disc, however, reveals it to be a fine entry point for casual fans curious to know what the band sounds like today, more than 50 years after it was founded.
Over the past seven years of tours, Yes frequently has built set lists that include the performance of an album in its entirety, such as Fragile , Close To The Edge and Drama. But for the tour, the group took a different route, as reflected by the track listing here. But neither Davison nor Sherwood is required to mimic their predecessors; their job is to honor the compositions. And the same is true for Yes. That three-hour session served as source material for two recent albums. The first six cuts on Soundtrack were helmed by Amon Drum, and the final five by Rubin.
Soundtrack embraces a fuzzy analog vibe with a low end that frequently pushes into the red zone. Barre Phillips has been releasing solo bass recordings for about 50 years. Maybe some of the most malevolent sounds Phillips cajoles from his instrument on Thirty Years In Between come off like wildlife field recordings interspersed with arco finesse.
To craft her fourth solo album, Heart On The Line , the Dallas native did some heavy lifting: She composed eight of the 11 tracks, played six instruments, wrote the horn arrangements, produced the disc and sang lead vocals, as well as the multitracked background vocals. A graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and a musician comfortable blurring genre lines, Collier is artist whose music can generate some much-needed smiles during this pandemic.
As much as any other contemporary bandleader, James Brandon Lewis devises thematic ideas for each of his albums. He now takes on science with Molecular. But at some point, he also dismisses it, making the premise seem like just another intellectual pursuit among many.
But the post-bop setting—however space-aged—recalls the best of quartet interplay, as pianist Aruan Ortiz and drummer Chad Taylor bounce rhythms off each other. It adds a bit of welcomed texture to an album otherwise given over to muscular yet thoughtful displays of blowing.
It was no small feat, and Lefkowitz-Brown proves to be the perfect artist to spearhead such a venture, judging by the quality and spirit of the music on Quarantine Standards. Ensemble passages are tight and dynamic, with plenty of locked-in swing feeding the collective feel of a traditional big band and helping to erase any sense of physical isolation. The old saw goes like this: Jazz is a conversation. Casa is a quiet take on the piano-trio setting with a subdued bearing that belies its acute musicality.
While some of their predecessors nodded to the complex sonic tapestry that George Martin stitched together on the original album, Wolff, Clark and Dorsey scale things down, utilizing a less-is-more recipe: three musicians, eight cherry-picked songs and zero glossy production touches. The result is a master class in recasting classic pop tunes in a straightahead, piano-trio setting.
The latter arrangement zigs at junctures when one would expect it to zag. Throughout the minute program, the trio succeeds in making the source material easily recognizable while still expressing an adventurousness that prevents the proceedings from feeling overly reverential. Pepper altar. Throughout Faune , Pannier plays to his strengths as an imaginative colorist and a master of textures whose light touch on the drum kit brings to mind the delicate brushstrokes of an impressionistic painter.
Any project that archivist Christopher C. King works on is bound to arrive with some backstory as interesting as the Ganges River is long. How The River Ganges Flows covers a not too dissimilar span of time, but in a region then being carved up following another chapter of British colonialism. Since that initial period of discovery, Rousseau has refined his taste for prog-rock indulgence, incorporating ideas inspired by bands like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and other prominent artists of the era into his vast creative arsenal.
With a wealth of experience as a genre-hopping player dating back to the late s and a more recent reputation as a prolific composer and ambitious bandleader, Rousseau takes listeners on a nostalgia trip with Fragments , a collection of all original pieces with just a bit of borrowed material from influential guitarist Robert Fripp and star singer-songwriter David Crosby , teeming with mechanical arpeggios, blazing Moog synthesizers, bombastic big-kit drumming, virtuoso-level electric bass lines and haunting, heavily compressed electric guitar solos.
Elsewhere, the versions of songs by B. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Chelsea Williams is a keen observer of the human condition, and perhaps her years busking on the streets of Santa Monica helped hone that aspect of her personality—along with the ability to craft catchy melodies that could grab the attention of busy pedestrians. Although her style has a thoroughly engaging accessibility, the album features some quirky instrumentation and deft production touches—including cello, glockenspiel, toy piano, Mellotron and musical saw—that distinguish Williams from many of her better-known peers.
Armed with a lovely voice, an impressive vocal range, a deep understanding of songcraft and a newfound willingness to write protest material, Williams definitely is an artist to watch. The tracks featuring Camilo stand out in particular. Even without a prodigious catalog to point to, the composer moves through music framed by strings and more compact ensembles, switching among saxophones, flutes and clarinets. For Samadhi , his fifth album as a leader, the Sacramento-based performer and educator enlists a new group to help him wend his way through a cultivated combination of jazz and nuanced classical touches.
On the title track—a word intrinsically linked to deep thinking and meditation—pianist Joe Gilman directs a ruminative meeting of slow-rolling saxophone lines and a subdued rhythm section. Violinist and bandleader Tomoko Omura delivers on that guarantee, forging jazz compositions on Branches, Vol. When the mountain witch eventually shows up and starts pounding on the door, you can tell.
Reaching the end of Branches Vol. Multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter and TEST slot into a space where gut-bucket improv and jazz meet, a place that, despite its remove, worked to invigorate rock-related acts interested in exploring something beyond what most expect from guitar, bass and drums.
This is work of a collective accelerated heartbeat, the frontline uncorking diabolic screeds—frequently simultaneously, overlapping in pungent wailing. Twenty years ago, brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson burst onto the national blues scene as members of what was then a blues power trio called the North Mississippi Allstars.
Today, that band is still going strong and the siblings continue to find fresh ways to revitalize blues-rock, as evidenced by Below Sea Level , the new trio album by singer-songwriter Eric Johanson. Luther produced the disc, Cody plays drums on it, and Johanson recruited electric bassist Terrence Grayson for this collection of a dozen original compositions. But Johanson also shows a deeper side to his compositional acumen with a pair of socially conscious numbers.
Johanson ends the program with two tunes that are lighter, both thematically and sonically. Its beauty lies in its simplicity: four well-established artists playing the music they love in an intimate jazz club for an appreciative audience. All four players draw from deep reserves of bandstand experience and demonstrate thorough knowledge of the straightahead jazz canon; they speak the same language with remarkable fluency, and always seem to have appropriate musical references—whether serious or lighthearted—at the ready.
Like many other sterling big-band albums released this century, the secret sauce for Message is not the instrumentation or the arrangements, but rather the material. Among the original tunes on this this eight-song program, several were written in the summer of , when Zaleski was in an especially reflective frame of mind, and a couple were written during his college years at The New School in New York where he matriculated after studying at the Brubeck Institute.
It all comes together nicely and bodes well for Zaleski as he personally looks to a promising, more grounded future while reckoning with his ambitious past. The liner notes to his new album, Delhi To Damascus , provide a mini-course in history and philosophy, and the minute program gracefully mixes elements of Indian classical music with traditional styles that originated in Syria.
Surrounding himself with players deeply immersed in ethnomusicology, Das has crafted tracks that showcase the shared timbral colors of the four instruments, resulting in an organic set of music that not only warrants repeated spins, it practically demands it. In the hands of others, this type of culture-mixing music might sound dry or overly academic, but empathetic leaders like Ma and Das know that getting listeners to bob their heads is just as important as sparking their intellectual curiosity.
The program consists of original compositions by band members, as well as their arrangements of traditional material, including some Indian ragas. Sculpting an organic program that can be both soothing and exciting is no easy task, but this quartet was more than up for the challenge on this, its recorded debut. With Delhi To Damascus , Das and his fellow travelers have delivered a road map for some irresistible aural adventures.
Hollywood is filled with directors who lament missing the opportunity to work with such legendary film composers as Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith and Ennio Morricone, who died on July 6 at age But filmmakers today can collaborate with Seigel, who not only has an original voice but who also possesses the ability to write in the style of departed icons.
Beyond Images includes a batch of nine original compositions, each one directly inspired by an artist known for film scores, including Henry Mancini, Thomas Newman and John Williams. However, these tracks are so compelling that any of them would be a fine addition to the soundtrack for a TV show or film, perhaps with a note in the credits similar to the ones in the CD packaging, which clearly indicate that each tune was inspired by a specific film composer.
But even that project sits alongside ensemble work with saxophonist Caroline Davis, and Lisbeth Quartett, another group where Greve serves as the main melodic voice. Six integrally linked compositions constitute Originations , on which Chicago-based pianist and composer Ryan Cohan explores the assimilation of his reawakened Arab lineage and his Jewish upbringing. Created with the support of a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works commission, Originations brings a broad spectrum of disparate musical influences and sensibilities into focus as Cohan assimilates Middle Eastern and North African themes, Western classical music elements and modern jazz into a series of intricately crafted pieces that add up to one extended work.
And in so doing, Cohan makes his most complex compositional statement to date. Originations was recorded by an piece chamber-jazz group deliberately assembled by Cohan to bring his multicultural, multinational vision to life.
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