Brooklyn-based Red Piano Records is proud to announce the release of Whispers and Cries from tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger and pianist Frank Carlberg. This album features Preminger and Carlberg in an intimate duo setting. Recorded at the historic Jordan Hall in Boston, with its exquisite acoustics, on this program they explore standards and jazz classics.
On Whispers and Cries Preminger and Carlberg engage in a musical dialogue that ranges from hushed whispers to roaring expressions of emotions. The duo has a deep simpatico and rather than follow each other, they compliment each other with unerring ease. The listener is treated to a private recital, as if eavesdropping on these two remarkable improvisers making music together.
The program opens with a delicate reading of George Gershwin's Someone To Watch Over Me. The piano introduction with its icy chords and fleeting allusions to I Got Rhythm and Rhapsody In Blue (also by Gershwin) leads to Preminger's entrance with the melody. His sound luscious and his expression soulful, making for a memorable reading of the tune. After improvised statements the melody is given a short recap before the last yearning cries fade away in to silence.
Billy Strayhorn's classic Take The A Train starts with a humorous variation on the familiar intro. Preminger and Carlberg engage in a lively and playful exchange constantly shifting tempos and ideas around before finally settling in to a medium tempo that leads to the piano solo.
With Embraceable You we return to Gershwin. The song is given a straightforward reading except for the rare delicacy and sensitivity exhibited by both the saxophonist and pianist. It is with a sense of maturity that they trust in the music and let their sounds and expressiveness lead us to a rarefied air of intimacy.
Thelonious Monk's Reflections starts with some searching harmonies and a hint of It Never Entered My Mind. The duo has a rubato conversation around the melody until the last A-section when they settle in to tempo. After lively sax and piano statements the melody reappears before a tongue-in-cheek multi-phonic by Preminger ends the track over piano ruminations.
Bobby Troup's The Meaning Of The Blues, maybe best remembered from some Miles Davis/Gil Evans collaborations (think Miles Ahead...), is given an energetic reading here with a sense of sustain and suspense. The track starts with Preminger's solo sax statement before the duo converges on a pedal tone. Some extensive improvised statements follow until the propulsion finally slows down to a halt as the melody fades in to the ether.
The old standard These Foolish Things gets a treatment here that owes more than a little to the Monk version on his celebrated trio recording on the Prestige label. The stride-like piano gait leads the music forward while Preminger hoots and hollers on top.
Otis Redding and Frank Sinatra introduced Try A Little Tenderness to many new listeners. The track opens with a virtuosic extended solo sax intro with shades of the melody always close by. As the piano enters Preminger seems to be channeling Redding's treatment of the song. After the piano takes over and the melody is restated the solo sax ends with echoes of the intro. A true tour-de-force by Preminger.
Aura Lee is given a spacious and impressionistic treatment here. A folk melody, known to many from Elvis Presley's (Love Me Tender) version, finds the duo in a contemplative mood. Carlberg reaches inside the piano and Preminger is at his breathy best before the two build to an emotional climax and then quickly fade away.
On the old classic Tea For Two Preminger gets things started. The duo then tumble phrases at and around each other. Carlberg takes over and Preminger rejoins, and just like their idols (Monk, Rollins, Young etc.)the duo improvise in close proximity to the melody. After more resourceful melodic variations we get a final hint at the original at the end.
To close the album the duo treats us to I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face (of My Fair Lady fame) a delicate and hushed reading. This performance, a heartfelt tribute to the memory of Carlberg's mother, finds the duo at its sensitive best; not a phrase or gesture too much - just a sincere dialogue between two musicians happy and comfortable with each other's company.
More on Noah Preminger and Frank Carlberg:
Noah Preminger has recorded numerous critically acclaimed albums and is steadily listed as one of the best tenor saxophonists by critics and readers on the annual DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll.
Preminger grew up in Canton, Connecticut, released his debut album, Dry Bridge Road, just after his 21st birthday which was named Debut of the Year in the Village Voice Critics Poll. The saxophonist has performed on key stages around the world, and he has played and/or recorded with the likes of Billy Hart, Dave Holland, John Patitucci, Fred Hersch, Dave Douglas, Rob Garcia, Joe Lovano, Victor Lewis, John and Bucky Pizzarelli, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Roscoe Mitchell, and Dr. Eddie Henderson.
The Finland-native, Brooklyn-based Frank Carlberg has an extensive catalogue of compositions including pieces for small jazz and improvisational groups, big band, orchestra, music for dance companies, and over 150 songs with settings of contemporary American poetry. He has over twenty recordings to his name as a leader and countless others as a sideman, and has worked with the likes of Kenny Wheeler, Steve Lacy and Bob Brookmeyer. He owns and operates Red Piano Records.
Wednesday, March 28th, Jazz at the Kitano, New York NY
Friday, March 30th, Dimensions In Jazz @ Woodfords Church, Portland ME
The Questions, Kurt Elling's newest studio recording, is his musical response to this moment in history and the widespread anxiety of our times. It touches artfully on challenges -- personal, political, global, spiritual, and existential -- and on hopes and aspirations for the future. Elling offers a vibrant and surprising choice of songs, from Bob Dylan and Paul Simon classics to jazz, Broadway, and the Great American Songbook, plus two new originals. The Questions, Elling's second recording for OKeh Records/Sony Music Masterworks, will be released on March 23, 2018.
The Questions unfolds into a rich and irresistible musical conversation, encouraging listeners to join Elling in living with big questions and finding courage to face our fears in difficult and uncertain times.
Of the ten songs on The Questions, Elling says, "At first I didn't understand how they were going to relate to each other." The title finally came to him as the album was being mixed. NEA Jazz Master and celebrated saxophonist Branford Marsalis co-produced The Questions with Elling and performs on three tracks. As Elling and Marsalis worked together on the mix and sequence of songs, Elling realized that they all lined up on various sides of some big, deep questions:
What is this life?
Does meaning have being?
Why is there such suffering and pain?
Where is the wellspring of wisdom?
The Questions opens with the powerful, insistent questions and stark, disturbing answers of Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." What follows is the surprising assurance of "A Happy Thought," a poem by the American poet Franz Wright, set to music by Elling's collaborator, pianist and arranger Stu Mindeman. This establishes a kind of back-and-forth on The Questions -- searching inquiries and thoughtful responses that both challenge and inspire us to find our own answers.
The world-weary resignation of Paul Simon's "An American Tune" is followed by falling, loss, and redemption in Peter Gabriel's "Washing of the Water." The Jaco Pastorius instrumental, "Three Views of a Secret," becomes the celebratory "A Secret in Three Views" with Elling's lyric inspired by a poem by the 13th century mystic Rumi. Elling's lyric concedes that quests to find meaning and purpose may all be for naught, but it also encourages us to take heart and awaken to the transforming power of love. In contrast, "Lonely Town," from the Broadway musical On the Town, by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, reflects the empty inner landscape when there is no love to come home to.
Carla Bley's "Lawns" becomes "Endless Lawns," with Elling's new lyric interposed with a poem by Sara Teasdale, bearing the weight of emotional suffering and then finding an uplifting freedom. Rodgers and Hammerstein's "I Have Dreamed," from the musical The King and I, is followed by "The Enchantress," a new song by pianist Joey Calderazzo with Elling's lyric adapting parts of a Wallace Stevens poem. This pair touches on the fluid, shifting boundaries between dreams, imagination, and reality. The Questions closes with the gentle, wistful wonder of Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer's "Skylark."
Elling notes, "I began experimenting with 'A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' in November of 2016, just after the U.S. election. Today I wonder what I can possibly say that's relevant now." He adds, "Branford brought in 'Washing of the Water' and 'Lonely Town.' I was doing some Sinatra shows during his 100th birthday year, and I love his rendition of 'I Have Dreamed.' Guitarist John McLean came up with the gorgeous arrangement, and Branford has his big solo moment there. I like to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am who can fill in the blanks. John also arranged 'Skylark.'"
"'The Enchantress' began as a song called 'The Lonely Swan,'" he recalls, "but what brought the new title to mind was a poem by Wallace Stevens ('The Idea of Order at Key West') that I draw on. It's dedicated to Branford's mother, who died last year, and to my aging mother. The lyric becomes clear once you have that in mind."
Elling collaborated with Marsalis on their 2016 GRAMMY Award-nominated recording, Upward Spiral (OKeh Records), and now Marsalis has collaborated on The Questions. Elling speaks of their musical partnership, "We're two musicians who have dedicated ourselves to a similar task -- to be jazz musicians to the greatest extent of our abilities. We pay attention to the real heroes of the music, we play in the style and spirit of the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived, and we don't cut corners. We're here to play great melodies and express authentic emotion -- to be the real deal as much as we can."
Kurt Elling - The Questions Tracklist:
1. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (feat. Branford Marsalis & Jeff "Tain" Watts)
2. A Happy Thought (feat. Stu Mindeman)
3. American Tune
4. Washing of the Water
5. A Secret in Three Views (feat. John McLean & Stu Mindeman)
6. Lonely Town (feat. Joey Calderazzo & Marquis Hill)
Two-time Grammy–winning composer and saxophonist Ted Nash releases his first live recording in over 25 years. Known for his larger works (Presidential Suite, Chakra, Portrait in Seven Shades) this much anticipated release provides an opportunity for Nash to share his improvisational side. His inspired solos are impassioned and interactive. On this album he finds new areas of expression that will excite and move you.
These three nights at Dizzy’s were electric for me. I think you’ll hear in it the combination of great players, with history letting loose on music that has grown with me over the course of my career. On this album we share not just a night of music but the history of collaboration.
It was a wonderful opportunity to make music again with many of my favorite musicians. I have known Rufus Reid since I was 24, when we recorded an album featuring my mother and father (which never was released). Rufus always plays with tremendous instinct and flexibility and brings decades of experience to the music. Rufus appeared on my Mancini Project album (Palmetto).
I first met Matt Wilson when I was 18 and he 14, when I came to Rock Island, Illinois to play with Louie Bellson’s quartet. Of course I had no idea the skinny teenager I met that night would become one of jazz’s greatest contributors, appearing on more than 250 recordings. Matt has played on several of my albums, including Sidewalk Meeting, Still Evolved, La Espada de la Noche, In the Loop, and The Mancini Project.
This is the second time Warren Wolf and I have played in a quintet at Dizzy’s together. He is one of the most consistently killing vibraphonists I have heard; at once fiery and cool. He is also one of the most melodic players – on any instrument. I have always had a connection with the vibes, as my jazz teacher was the great vibraphonist Charlie Shoemake, with whom I also played my first small band gigs, at the long-gone Donte’s in Los Angeles.
I have known Gary Versace for years, hearing him with many great ensembles, and have always wanted the chance to play in a small group with him. I got that chance, and the experience is something I will never forget. The moments he found on Emily, for example (which we played as a clarinet and piano duo) were rich, inspiring and truly original. I feel Gary is on the cusp of being acknowledged as one of piano’s superstars.
This performance was also a chance to revisit a couple original compositions in an entirely new context, and re-explore music by some of my favorite composers: Chick Corea, Thelonious Monk, Herbie Nichols, Johnny Mandel, and Henry Mancini.
Before he walks out the door on his way to a gig, 77-year-old trumpeter Eddie Henderson always gets two words of advice from his wife: be cool. The legendary trumpeter has taken that mantra to heart, and on Be Cool, his new release on Smoke Sessions Records, he shows just how hot cool can get.
Of course, if you're going to be cool it helps to surround yourself with the coolest of the cool, and Henderson has done just that: his smokin' quintet also features saxophonist Donald Harrison, pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Mike Clark. Together, the band conjures smoldering funk, lush ballads, broad-shouldered swing, and bristling bop -- in all, a prismatic display of the many facets of cool.
"For me, 'be cool' means compose yourself and don't act jagged, musically or personally," Henderson offers. "One connotation is to not play so erratically, to push the envelope to the edge but not go over. It's like going fishing: if you're not prepared when you throw your line out there, you might catch Jaws instead of a minnow. Personally, it's about playing with people who love each other and share a good chemistry."
That's undoubtedly the case with the group Henderson has convened for his second Smoke Sessions outing as a leader. His relationship with Barron stretches back more than three decades, to the early days following his return to New York in the mid-'80s after a decade spent practicing medicine in San Francisco. He's been working regularly with Clark in recent years, especially in the Wolff & Clark Expedition, the drummers co-led band with pianist Michael Wolff. But they also share roots in the fusion bands of Herbie Hancock -- Henderson with Mwandishi and Clark immediately after with Headhunters. Essiet, meanwhile, has been a constant in Henderson's recent bands, while he's shared stages with Harrison under the auspices of the super-group The Cookers.
With compositions by Barron, Clark and Harrison, not to mention Henderson's wife and daughter, Be Cool recalls the title of the trumpeter's previous album, Collective Portrait. "I like my albums to have a wider scope than to just be a self-portrait of my musical taste," he explains. "This really is a collective portrait with a much wider spectrum of music. That's the nature of the game: you always want to grow each time you play, rather than just sit back and play what you feel comfortable with."
Henderson asks the same of his sidemen; hence, Barron's uncharacteristically funky "Smoke Screen," which opens the album on a lively note. "Usually you don't hear Kenny playing funky like that," Henderson says. "He's a consummate pianist and a consummate trio player, but he really rose to the occasion on this Horace Silver-type tune."
Penned by Henderson's wife Natsuko, "Be Cool" follows, its anthemic melody echoing her titular words of warning. A true family affair, the album also includes a contribution from Henderson's daughter, Cava Menzies -- the mysterious "Nightride," its intriguing contours enticing searching solos from the trumpeter as well as Harrison and Barron.
The familiar standard "After You've Gone" is usually played up-tempo, but Henderson transforms it into a poignant ballad, reimagining the classic melody as a funereal memoriam for lost loved ones. "Every time I play that tune people in the audience have tears running from their eyes," Henderson says. "Maybe they're remembering people they've lost. Sometimes it reminds me of my mother who passed and it's hard for me to finish playing the melody."
Clark's "Loft Funk" restores the buoyant mood with its gritty, deep-in-the-pocket groove. In the Wolff & Clark Expedition the song is typically taken at a breakneck pace, so Henderson opted to slow it down and evoke the taut pace of contemporary hip-hop. Henderson brings a similar feel, albeit with a more slippery melody, to his contribution, "The Sand Castle Head Hunter," highlighted by a captivating Essiet solo, exquisitely paired by Clark's coloristic accompaniment.
The burnished warmth of the leader's muted trumpet is a perfect match for Miles Davis' classic "Fran-Dance," which evokes memories of the iconic trumpeter's visits to San Francisco. "I grew up with Miles as a staple of my musical diet," Henderson says. "When he was playing at the Blackhawk he would stay at my parents' house, so seeing him play when I was a teenager is indelibly printed in my brain. I've always wanted to record that tune."
Another piece by a trumpet great follows: Woody Shaw's "The Moontrane." Henderson and Shaw were close friends, meeting shortly after Shaw recorded this piece with organist Larry Young. "I had a little group in medical school," Henderson recalls, "and we used to play that tune. I wanted to record it to pay homage to my friend, the late, great Woody Shaw." The trio of compositions by jazz giants concludes with John Coltrane's immortal "Naima," its achingly beautiful melody here accompanied by a more urgent, steelier tempo.
Henderson looks back on his days in Mwandishi with Hancock's "Toys," while "Easy Living" is another old favorite, especially in versions by Lee Morgan and Clifford Brown. The album takes a more exotic detour to close, with the entrancing Eastern European romance of Polish drummer Tomek Grochot's "Dla Juzi."
From now on, Eddie Henderson has a ready response whenever his wife chimes in with her regular reminder. With scintillating interpersonal chemistry, tasteful but captivating soloing, and a stellar melodic sense, one spin of this album is enough to prove that Henderson has taken the words Be Cool deeply to heart.
"Be Cool" was produced by Paul Stache and Damon Smith and recorded live in New York at Sear Sound's Studio C on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to ½" analog tape using a Studer mastering deck. Available in audiophile HD format.
Eddie Henderson · Be Cool
Smoke Sessions Records · Release Date: May 4, 2018
Sensitive storytelling, in the opinion of many, is the most significant test of a singer. If that is the case, then a song has found a friend in Robin Grant. A native of Chattanooga TN, Robin has been delighting local audiences for many years. With the upcoming radio release of her first CD, 'Good Girls' there's no doubt she is about to garner international acclaim. Good Girls is a collection of original jazz songs reminscent of the all-time great standards but with a modern flair. Robin's soulful stylings may take her listeners back to the great Tinpan Alley days of the 1920's 30's and 40's, but it's with an edgy delivery and sizzle that resonates with the youthful in body & spirit. Her live shows showcase her flaming vocals throughout her diverse repertoire of all-time-favorites mixed with her popular original compositions. Robin began her music career at an early age. She developed her performance ability through classical training, by earning her degree in Vocal Performance and by embracing musical theater. She later transitioned into jazz with the help of her mentor, bassist Wilfred Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks is also a native of Chattanooga and toured for many years with Ella Fitzgerald. Robin's meticulously phrased singing and controlled but inescapable intensity is supported by her talented band, The Standard. Over and over they have proven their ability to captivate and move any audience.
JAN STURIALE - ROADMAPS
A new release from jazz visionary Jan Sturiale entitled "Roadmaps" which features 6 original songs performed by an outstanding band. "It was a privilege working with pianist Marko Churnchectz, saxophone player Jure Pukl and Miha Koren and Klemens Marktl as rhythm section. We recorded all my new music in 1 day at the Bunker Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y. a fantastic studio owned by John Davis. The record has been mastered by Alex De Turk at Strange Weather studio in Brooklyn. I started playing with Jure back in 2011 and we did lot of gigs together in these years so I decided to put together a band with him and go into the studio. I wrote a few new compositions and adding a few covers we've played live. I'm talking about Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street and Frank Zappa's Blessed Relief. For me music it's all about enviroment and creating relationship with other musicians...it's a huge aspect that's why I try to stay as active as possibile and challenge my self as much as I can. The record is out from December 23rd 2017 on all digital sellers." - Jan Sturiale
CHARLIE PEACOCK – WHEN LIGHT FLASHES
Recognized as “one of the most prolific cultural influencers to come out of Nashville” (Bright Revolution), Grammy® award-winning record producer Charlie Peacock adds another chapter to his diverse musical story – When Light Flashes, his 4th jazz recording (2/16/18). The album features saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones), Jim Black collaborator Hilmar Jensson on guitar, bassist Felix Pastorius, drummer Ben Perowsky and trumpeter Matthew White. As the sonic architect behind best-selling music duo The Civil Wars, Peacock is largely known for his deft and moving productions, including “Misery Chain” by the late Chris Cornell from the soundtrack of Twelve Years a Slave and “Hush,” the title theme to the AMC drama Turn: Washington’s Spies featuring Joy Williams and The National’s Matt Berninger. Peacock’s special guests on When Light Flashes include Nashville neighbors Jeff Taylor on accordion (The Time Jumpers, Elvis Costello), fiddler/mandolinist Andy Leftwich (Ricky Skaggs) and A-Team session phenom Jerry McPherson on electric guitar. Bassists Matt Wigton and Scott Mulvahill, synthesist Tony Miracle and drummer Jordan Perlson also contribute. In honor of his northern California roots, When Light Flashes includes a Peacock composition titled “Automatt” dedicated to producer David Rubinson and pianist Herbie Hancock. The Automatt was a Rubinson-owned studio in San Francisco where Hancock was based for several years. Peacock gives a nod to his mid-south Nashville roots, too, with “Wendell Berry in the Fields at Night,” a tribute to the celebrated southern agrarian-poet of the same name. Six more songs round out the collection including two covers, “Still Water” by Daniel Lanois and “Masters of War” by Bob Dylan.
The album’s title is a homage, sidestep and claim all at once. It is the literal translation of Giant Steps, the legendary John Coltrane standard from 1959, which Camille Bertault made her own in a YouTube video, including every note of the saxophone solo and marking the start of her rise in spring 2015.
In the album Pas de géant, she turns this virtuoso exercise into a phenomenal, liberated vocal display, explaining, sharing and declaring her passion - the astonishing song Là où tu vas [Wherever You Go]. This funny, erudite text is both humble and provocative. She asked Ravi Coltrane for permission to put it over Giant Steps and record - “We met up, I explained my approach and he accepted”.
And what was her approach? Words, rhythms, notes, a staggering way of having its meaning rush around at breakneck speed over music at the top of its game; sweet, free and unbridled in style. In truth, Coltrane has a bigger influence on her than do singers, even Betty Carter or Ella Fitzgerald.
But it's also worth listening out for the clear paradoxes she writes into the lyrics for Certes [Sure] (“Certes, il faut ne pas trop penser / Penser en s’remplissant la panse / De vide gras et d’existence / Et se concentrer sur sa chance” [“Sure, don’t think too much/Think while you fill your belly/With fatty nothingness and life/And concentrate on your luck”]). And then there’s the textual farce of Comptes de fées [Fairy tales] (“Elle c’est la fée, lui c’est le comte / Des contes de fées, il en raconte / Sur le contrat, il conte fleurette / Vite fait bien fait à fée Clochette” [“She’s the fairy, he’s the noble/He tells fairy tales/About the contract, he woos Tinker Bell/Quickly and masterfully”]).
And she sings the aria from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations at full speed, covers Serge Gainsbourg’s Comment te dire adieu, the surrealist Conne by Brigitte Fontaine and La Femme coupée en morceaux by Michel Legrand, written and sung in Brazilian over some Wayne Shorter and in French over Bill Evans.
Her giant steps go in ten different directions at once, weaving Les Double Six together with Helen Merrill, Claude Nougaro with Meredith d’Ambrosio, the films of Jacques Demy with Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Jacques Loussier with André Minvielle... Her thoughts: “I wanted an album which reflected me rather than one which reflected its own genre.”
Roberta Piket West Coast TrioRoberta Piket, one of the most virtuosic and versatile pianists on the current international jazz scene, revisits the iconic jazz piano trio format with the April 6 release of West Coast Trio on her label 13th Note Records. Joining Piket is the consummate rhythm section of drummer Joe La Barbera and bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz -- part of the vibrant West Coast jazz scene centered in metro-Los Angeles and whose presence inspired the album's title. Guitarist Larry Koonse guests on two tracks.
In addition to debuting two new Piket originals ("Mentor," "A Bridge to Nowhere"), West Coast Trio includes inspired interpretations of an eclectic set of songs ranging from standards like "Falling in Love with Love," "Windmills of Your Mind," and "My Buddy" to the samba "Flor de Lis" by Brazilian singer-songwriter Djavan, as well as works by fellow modern jazz pianist-composers Chick Corea ("Humpty Dumpty"), John Hicks ("Yemenja"), and George Shearing ("Conception").
Serendipitously, West Coast Trio's release comes almost 22 years to the day that Piket entered the studio to record her debut album as a leader -- 1996's Unbroken Line (Criss Cross), primarily a quintet session, with Donny McCaslin, Javon Jackson, and Michael Formanek, among others -- and embarked on a career path now in its third decade. Along the way the pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader has explored with equal ease and equanimity a spectrum of stylistic settings ranging from the mainstream to the avant-garde, from acoustic to electric, from the solo recordings Solo (2012) and 2015's Emanation (Solo: Volume 2) to 2016's critically acclaimed One for Marian: A Tribute to Marian McPartland, a loving homage to one of her champions and mentors and, until now, the crown jewel of a multifaceted discography. A sextet project featuring Steve Wilson, Virginia Mayhew, Harvie S, Bill Mobley, and Billy Mintz, One for Marian celebrated McPartland's underappreciated body of work as a composer while offering Piket meaty material as an arranger.
Piket's first love and the format that inspired her early love for jazz was the piano trio, and she is at her most relaxed and commanding when she's stretching out with a bassist and drummer -- something she demonstrates with authority throughout West Coast Trio. "I definitely feel the most at ease in a trio," Piket confides. "What the trio means to me is intimacy. There's such a directness of communication between the three musicians. It's all about interaction and not knowing what's going to come next. It's the essence of jazz."
"The last few records I've done had more of an agenda with regard to the repertoire," Piket reflects. "On the two solo records I was thinking of ways of challenging myself. I wanted to choose pieces that force me to stretch, not just a bunch of standards. West Coast Trio is the first record in a while where I chose several tunes that are simply fun to blow over. Our only agenda was to make some beautiful music."
Roberta Piket Born in Queens, New York in 1965, Roberta Piket inherited a passion for music from both of her parents. Her father was the Austrian composer Frederick Piket, who made significant contributions to both the musical liturgy of Reform Judaism and the concert hall. Her mother, Cynthia, introduced her to the treasures of the Great American Songbook, and she learned by ear the tunes of Porter, Gershwin, Kern, Rodgers, and Berlin.
Piket enrolled in the joint five-year double-degree program at Tufts University and New England Conservatory, graduating with a degree in computer science from the former and in jazz piano from the latter. After a year as a software engineer, she realized that her calling was music and returned to New York, where an NEA grant set her up to study with pianist Richie Beirach. Piket made her recording debut on an album by jazz legend Lionel Hampton and gained invaluable experience during the formative years of her career performing as a side-woman with David Liebman, Rufus Reid, Mickey Roker, Benny Golson, and Ted Curson.
She performs regularly with the Scott Reeves/Jay Brandford Tentet and the Virginia Mayhew Quartet, in duo with Mayhew, and with Mintz's quintet/quartet with saxophonists Tony Malaby and John Gross, and bassist Hilliard Greene (with whom she also plays in his In & Out Ensemble) as well as focusing on solo piano performance.
Roberta Piket will perform with her trio -- bassist Harvie S and drummer Billy Mintz -- at Mezzrow, NYC, on Thursday 4/19. She'll also be appearing at Maureen's Jazz Cellar, Nyack, NY, on Saturday 4/21.
Four decades into an accomplished career that has seen him record and tour with many of the brightest stars in the contemporary jazz, R&B and pop galaxies as well as front his own bands and solo albums, keyboardist, songwriter, producer and arranger David Garfield still feels like an outsider.
“All my life, I’m just trying to make music that I really believe in and can get really excited about. It’s never fit into one particular category thus, in many ways, I’ve spent my whole music career outside the box. It’s never been intentional and it’s not like I’m trying to be different just to be different. I’m just trying to be creative while striving for the highest level of musical and artistic integrity. In the long run, my career has taken place outside the box,” said Garfield, about “Outside the Box,” the extensive collection of recordings that he’s curating featuring a stellar cast of A-listers and premier session players that will be released on his Creatchy Records label.
The multi-part, genre-crossing project spanning various types of jazz, R&B, pop, country and rock will unfold in a series of record releases beginning with the March 23 release of “Jazz Outside the Box,” a straight-ahead jazz set with performances by Randy Brecker, Michael McDonald, The Doors’ drummer John Densmore, Tom Scott, Jason Scheff (Chicago), Will Lee, Eric Marienthal, Steve Ferrone, Vinnie Colaiuta, John Clayton, Michael Thompson, Brian Auger and Charlie Bisharat along with the accompaniment of full horn and string sections.
The second outing, “Jamming Outside the Box,” slated to drop this summer, has already spawned a Billboard No. 2 single with “Go Home,” showcasing a sizzling lineup on the Stevie Wonder original comprised of Grammy-winning saxophonist Kirk Whalum, guitar aces Paul Jackson Jr. and Tony Maiden (Rufus), bassist Freddie Washington, fellow keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, and horn players Marienthal and Stephen “Doc” Kupka (Tower of Power). This disc will be comprised of smooth/contemporary jazz cuts, including the second single presently climbing the charts, “Jamming,” a remake of the Bob Marley classic showcasing guitarist Mike Campbell (a member of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers) and saxophonist Brandon Fields (The Rippingtons, Tower of Power). Icons David Sanborn and George Benson are among the luminous guests on the album, the latter for whom Garfield has served as music director since 1986. Other prominent players in the mix are Rick Braun, Nathan East, Marcus Miller, Ray Parker Jr. and Rickey Minor.
Presently rising up the Mediabase country charts is a preview of “Vox Outside the Box,” a set of vocal songs that will be the third release of the series. “I Lied” is one of two songs Garfield wrote for the project with legend Smokey Robinson and radio programmers have been swift to embrace the cinematically sweet ballad with adult contemporary crossover potential (http://bit.ly/2BolVeF).
The fourth component will be “Stretchin’ Outside the Box,” which Garfield describes as “more adventurous with extended intros and special arrangements, a record perhaps geared towards musicians and music enthusiasts. It’ll have more fusion plus bonus tracks and alternate versions.” Garfield is also planning a seasonal selection entitled “Holidays Outside the Box.”
“Outside the Box” includes some of the final performances from the late guitarists Chuck Loeb and Larry Coryell. Their passings are part of what sparks Garfield’s inspiration for this enormous undertaking.
“The truth is we’re all getting older, and I wanted to gather all these great talents together while everyone is still alive, active and accessible,” said the St. Louis native and longtime Los Angeles resident. “I think that this will be the last time I’ll have the chance to do anything like this, especially of this scope and magnitude. The feeling I had throughout the project - from session to session, even as the personnel changed - was that we were collectively creating a powerful sense of community through the music.”
Despite all that he has done and achieved, including composing music for television, film, commercials and several international organizations, “Outside the Box” feels like it will be a career capper for Garfield, a crowning musical statement that he hopes will have a lasting impact. “I’m thinking about both the present and future, putting these tracks out in the world for consumption now, but in the hopes that after we’re gone, musicians who come up years from now will know what it was like to set up a Fender Rhodes and a drum set in the garage and play. Despite all the technology we have at our disposal, that’s where the raw energy begins. That energy is the core and driving force behind these songs, which to me truly represent not just the incredible musical legacy of Los Angeles, but various music communities from around the world.”
Our roots run deep, and keep us connected to and nourished by the soil of our birth. But they also twist, tangle and intertwine while feeding our growth and evolution. With his American Roots Project, saxophonist/composer Owen Broder explores the weft and weave of American roots music - from Appalachian folk to early blues, spirituals to bluegrass - through bold and inspired new interpretations envisioned through the perspective of another distinctively American musical tradition: jazz. On the American Roots Project's debut album, Heritage, Broder combines several of modern jazz's most acclaimed composers and arrangers with an outstanding ensemble of gifted musicians to create a striking blend of tradition and innovation.
Heritage (due out March 1, 2018 through ArtistShare) calls on the talents of an impressive roster of composer/arrangers. They offer striking new twists on familiar American folk tunes as well as their own new pieces, each inspired by its creator's deeply personal take on the country's rich musical tradition. In addition to Broder, whose two originals open and close the album, there are contributions from Ryan Truesdell, founder of the celebrated Gil Evans Project, who also produced the album; Grammy-winning pianist/arranger Jim McNeely, known for his long tenure with the renowned Vanguard Jazz Orchestra; composer/arranger Bill Holman, long associated with the legendary Stan Kenton Orchestra; in-demand trumpeter/composer Alphonso Horne; and Tokyo-born bandleader/pianist Miho Hazama, whose m_unit ensemble melds big band jazz and classical chamber music.
Broder's American Roots Project interprets these remarkable pieces through the voices of an exceptional eight-piece ensemble: Broder on woodwinds; Sara Caswell, a violinist who regularly bridges the worlds of jazz and Americana; trumpeter Scott Wendholt; trombonist Nick Finzer; vibraphonist and percussionist James Shipp; pianist Frank Kimbrough; bassist Jay Anderson; and drummer Matt Wilson. On three tracks the band is joined by the transcendent vocal trio of Wendy Gilles, Kate McGarry and Vuyo Sotashe.
"It's an amazing group of people who all have great relationships with each other," Broder says. "All of these composers really brought the musicians' personalities into their writing. I think we all prefer to write for the people that are going to be playing rather than just the instruments."
That's certainly true of the bandleader himself, whose "Goin' Up Home" begins the proceedings with an entrancing, gradually expanding piece that works as an introduction to the ensemble and the concept. Sparked by the work of contemporary Americana innovators like Chris Thile, Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss, the song dawns slowly, with Caswell and Finzer intoning the folksy melody over Shipp's tick-tock pulse. As it proceeds, the song builds in complexity, layering in jazz harmonies and infectious swing rhythms. Broder just earned a 2018 Herb Albert Young Jazz Composer Award for the piece.
Hazama's first contribution, the original "Wherever the Road Leads," is a singular meld of perspectives, coming from the sole composer who doesn't share the others' American background. Taking on the role of the inspired outsider, Hazama borrows rhythmic and melodic themes from Appalachian tunes and reimagines them via a twelve-tone harmonic progression, leading to a kaleidoscopic collage of folk idioms. For her second piece, Hazama gives Gillian Welch's "I'm Not Afraid To Die" an impressionistic gloss pierced by the gorgeous melody sung by Wendholt's flugelhorn.
Hank Williams' familiar "Jambalaya," is transposed from the Crescent City to a more urban jazz environment in Bill Holman's rendition - as Broder writes, "this swinging re-imagination of the Cajun
tune has closer ties to Birth of the Cool than the streets of New Orleans." McNeely, meanwhile, drew upon his love of bluegrass music for his radical remake of the folk song "Cripple Creek," taking a narrative approach that leads the tune on an adventure through an ever-changing landscape.
Frank Kimbrough's brooding piano sets the tone for Truesdell's take on the timeless "Wayfaring Stranger," which also introduces the sublime vocal harmonies of Gilles, McGarry and Sotashe. The cleverly-titled "Brodeo" is Truesdell's version of a foot-stompin' bluegrass tune, setting the scene for a somewhat abstract rodeo. Broder, who has worked with the composer's Gil Evans Project, praises Truesdell as a bandleader, composer, and as Heritage's producer. "Ryan's a leader on a level that few others are," he says. "He's such a perfectionist and so detail-oriented, with incredibly fine-tuned ears. As a producer he was invaluable."
Horne's soaring "The People Could Fly" looks at a different side of the American odyssey, taking a piece of Bantu folk music from South Africa through the travails of slavery as it survives to find a place in the African-American church. Broder returns to conclude the album with "A Wiser Man Than Me," a looser piece that reflects the improvisational storytelling tradition through a wistful group improvisation on a simple, gospel-tinged melody.
The American Roots Project scans the history of American music and, through the inspiration that Broder finds there, discovers a new path into a profoundly personal contemporary vision. Heritage is an apt name for this moving collection, at once an inheritance and a gorgeous new link in a continually growing chain.
"The strains of American musical tradition are as deep and diverse as the lands of our forebears," Broder writes in his liner notes. "Heritage celebrates that diversity and the different backgrounds that combined to shape an American cultural identity."
Based in New York City, saxophonist/composer Owen Broder runs in a variety of musical circles as both bandleader and sideman. Broder's jazz quintet, Cowboys & Frenchmen, received critical acclaim for its 2015 release, Rodeo, and its 2017 follow-up Bluer Than You Think. Broder is a member of the Anat Cohen Tentet and has performed with internationally respected jazz artists including Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project and Trio Globo; he has traveled with The Temptations and The Four Tops, and opened for Grammy Award-winner John Legend with his own soul band, Bitchin' Kitchen; in musical theater, he was a member of the pit orchestras for the German tour of Grease and the off-Broadway production For the Last Time, appeared with the band in David Bowie's Lazarus, and originated the woodwind chair in the U.S. Premier tour of The Bodyguard: The Musical. Broder holds a bachelor's degree from the Eastman School of Music and a master's from the Manhattan School of Music and recently earned a 2018 Herb Albert Young Jazz Composer Award.
Resonance Records is proud to announce the release of The Quest, the third recording from twenty-year old guitar virtuoso, Andreas Varady.
With the release of Questions (2010) and his eponymous CD in 2014, the native of Slovakia, and resident of Ireland, emerged from thin air and put the guitar playing world on notice that there was a new force on the instrument to be reckoned with. On The Quest, Varady's artistry has reached new heights, and it's staggering to behold. His unadulterated command of the guitar, his highly-developed skills as a composer, his rhythmic facility (which speaks volumes about his roots in Gypsy music), and his ability to craft an astonishing flow of single-note lines while traversing chord changes, all by ear, has attracted the attention of many legends of this music, not the least of which is Varady's mentor, manager, producer and friend, the esteemed Quincy Jones. The Quest, available on April 6, 2018, features Varady in the company of his father Bandi on bass, younger brother Adrian on drums, fellow Slovak Radovan Tariska on alto saxophone, and Venezuelan native (and current New York City resident) Benito Gonzalez on piano.
At just twenty, Varady has already performed at major festivals and venues around the world. The next exciting new chapter in the journey of this uber-talented musician begins with the release of The Quest. Varady has expressed that this album, comprised of all original music, feels very much like his first fully realized artistic statement, and indeed it showcases Varady's evolution from child prodigy to consummate artist, one with an abundance of fresh, bold energy. "I feel like I'm giving you a piece of me on this album," said Varady. The album title, which also reads like a mission statement is, "about this whole quest that I'm on in music - seeking cool things, playing cool music in cool places, enjoying it all and having fun and doing what you wanna do," said Varady. The album is also his debut release on the boutique non-profit jazz label, Resonance Records, which signals a departure from his self-titled major label debut on Verve in 2014. Two other Quincy Jones protégés, Justin Kauflin and Alfredo Rodriguez, will also be releasing new albums in 2018.
Resonance EVP/GM (and executive producer on The Quest) Zev Feldman said about first hearing Varady, "Upon first listen, I was struck by his talent and artistry. Then getting a chance to meet him in Ireland, and spending some time talking with him, he just fits the mold of what Resonance is all about in terms of promoting younger artists and sharing their music. We're very happy to have him on the label. It's also a great honor to work with Quincy Jones and his team, and partnering with them to get Andreas' music out there is something we're very proud of. Resonance believes strongly in living artists also, not just those from a bygone era, and it's going to be very exciting to continue to watch him develop and we're thrilled to be able to add a chapter to his legacy on our label."
Varady has many influences. As expected, guitarists such as George Benson, Django Reinhardt, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Peter Bernstein have greatly impacted his playing, but Varady explains, "I've always been obsessed with saxophone players. I get as much influence listening to John Coltrane as I get from guitar players. But at the end of the day, I could list every musician that I've ever listened to as an influence. I act like a sponge that way. Whatever I listen to I always pick up some things, no matter if it's Radiohead or A Tribe Called Quest or Trane. It can be from hip-hop to rock and jazz...everything kind of all inspires me and influences me."
A child prodigy of Hungarian Roma descent, Varady picked up guitar at age four and quickly revealed his uncommon gift, learning Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa" by ear. At age nine, he moved with his family to Ireland and by age 11, having already absorbed the influences of George Benson and Django Reinhardt, he began busking with his father on the streets of Limerick and Cork. Gigs around Ireland soon followed, mainly with drummer-producer David Lyttle, who produced Varady's first album, 2010's
Questions. In 2011, at age 13, Andreas appeared with guitar master Martin Taylor at the Inishowen International Guitar Festival in Culdaff and later that year became the youngest headlining artist at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Invited to play at the 2012 Montreux Jazz Festival by founder Claude Nobs, he performed for and met Quincy Jones, who signed him to his management company. He was signed to Verve Records in 2013 and his stateside debut, executive produced by David Foster and Quincy Jones and produced by Toto's David Paich, featured guest appearances from singer Gregory Porter and trumpeter Roy Hargrove.
More about the music on The Quest:
(with excerpts from the album's liner notes by Bill Milkowski)
The opener on The Quest, "Lost Memories," serves as a kind of mini-overture as Varady unleashes a fusillade of notes over the engaging theme. Up next is the dynamic "Radio Joint" establishing the flexible group chemistry while also showcasing urgent solos from Varady and Tariska over a driving 12/8 groove. Gonzalez pushes the envelope in his harmonically probing solo here, which is fueled by Adrian's intense, whirlwind attack around the kit. "He's in a huge growing place right now," says Varady of his younger brother. "He has this kind of ballsy playing style that I felt was the right thing for the tunes on this album." The 15-year-old further showcases his considerable drumming skills on the modal "Follow Me," which culminates in a kinetic call-and-response between the brothers. (By the way, that's Andreas playing double bass on the hip-hop flavored tag).
Varady combines speed and finesse combine on the driving 6/8 composition,
"The Time Is Now" and utilizes some Frisellian backwards guitar effects on the evocative interlude "Patience." The adventurous title track is a centerpiece for this compelling album. Opening with a rubato free section that has Gonzalez playing inside the piano while his band mates add provocative colors and textures, it resolves to a buoyant theme with Andreas and Radovan tied together in tight unisons while navigating a tricky time-shifting terrain. "He's a great player," says Varady of the Slovakian saxophonist, "and I like his strong, darker sound."
The guitarist shows his urbane side on "Story" and the uplifting, melodic number
"Her Dream." Then he swings unabashedly on the up-tempo "Radiska," a burner that also turns Tariska loose and has Gonzalez channeling his inner McCoy Tyner. "His soloing is swinging and very interactive," says Varady of the gifted pianist, who turns in a monstrous solo here. "That's the thing with all of us...we're very interactive on the album. No one is told, 'You do this, you do that.' It's more of a sketch and then see where it goes from there. So it was a natural process. This album was really open, like pure jazz...straight in the moment. That's what I was going for."
The closer, "Outro," featuring more backwards effects over a simple, serene melody, serves as a bridge to what Varady plans to explore in more depth on his next recording. "I thought it would be interesting to just add some of the elements that would be for my upcoming music," he explains. "I'm into a lot of electronic music, I'm into a lot of hip-hop. That's also a part of me, and I thought it would be cool to add that color to the album. It's almost like my one foot is solidly in jazz and on my other foot, my toes are in something else. And it's not like I'm crossing genres, it's more of like going from one of my styles to this other style and merging it all together to create this ultimate thing."
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