Carla Bley/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow 'Life Goes On' is richly poignant but never lugubrious / the absolute sound

If there's an air of resignation to the way pianist/composer Bley has titled the movements of her opening suite-"Life Goes On," "On," "And On," "And Then One Day"-it is belied throughout this gently gripping album by Bley's indelible wit and unsinkable sanguinity. Both are evident in her pithy liner notes, her quotes of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "The Star Spangled Banner" in the "Beautiful Telephones" suite (inspired by remarks made by the current president during his first week in the White House), her play on call-and-response in the closing suite, "Copy Cat," and the unfrantic flow of her elegant melodies and soothing harmonies. The album title could reference Bley's career (more than five decades of recording), her age (she turns 82 in May), or the longevity of this uncannily simpatico trio (25 years and counting). Touching here on the blues and there on tango, now buoyant, now contemplative, the music is richly poignant but never lugubrious, bent but not sharply angular, spacious and light but never ungrounded. Swallow's unique electric bass sound and Sheppard's stately tenor and soprano sax tones, heard in ample solo space, seamlessly lock in with Bley's eccentric phrasing as the band sublimely plays on. SEE the absolute sound PAGE
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89.9 WUCF: Orlando Interviews Robin McKelle

Robin McKelle released her new album Alterations on Doxie Records in February. On it, McKelle delves into the catalogue of some of the most celebrated women of song, interpreting these masterworks through the lens of the jazz idiom. McKelle follows in a long tradition of female song interpreters, lending her sultry vocal stylings to classics by a diverse list of female innovators including Dolly Parton, Sade, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Janis Joplin, Carol King, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, and Lana Del Ray. McKelle is joined on this release by a group of consummate musicians including co-producer, pianist and arranger Shedrick Mitchell, acoustic and electric bassist Richie Goods, drummer Charles Haynes, guitarist Nir Felder.  In addition, esteemed saxophonist Keith Loftis is featured on McKelle's sole original composition on this release, "Head High"; and renowned trumpeter Marquis Hill is featured on Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die".  The first single from Alterations, McKelle's rendition of Sade's "No Ordinary Love." WUCF: Orlando FL interviewed McKelle about the new recording and living in the COVID reality. Listen to the attached file
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Mark Abel's 'The Cave of Wondrous Voice' is itself a wondrous creation / CultureSpot LA

The Cave of Wondrous Voice, the latest recording featuring new works by composer Mark Abel, is itself a wondrous creation. It features a variety of chamber music pieces in a traditional style but with a contemporary sound. The Delos CD includes three chamber works, two for clarinet, including Intuition's Dance for clarinet and piano and Clarinet Trio, as well as a piece for violin and piano, titled The Elastic Hours, and Four Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva for soprano, English horn and piano. The two compositions for clarinet bookend the album, beginning with the wispy Intuition's Dance, and both works feature renowned performers, clarinetist David Shifrin and pianist Carol Rosenberger. READ THE FULL CultureSpot LA REVIEW
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Jazz Foundation Of America & Relix presents: #TheNewGig Live!

"They really define the gig economy. These are the people who fall through the cracks when something like this goes down. We're talking about people who virtually live from gig to gig."  - Steve Jordan, Artistic Director of The Jazz Foundation. In demanding times, musicians keep us grounded. They call up the strong, beautiful parts of our spirits. But without a single gig taking place during this crisis, there are no clubs to visit and no concerts to attend. The pandemic has left thousands of vulnerable artists in a state of financial free fall. The need is unprecedented, but our mission is as urgent as it has ever been: to provide emergency assistance to these artists in times of crisis. JOIN THE JAZZ FOUNDATION & RELIX, TONIGHT - THURSDAY, MAY 14th 8:00 – 10PM EDT. Rebroadcast at 10PM EDT
(Concert will remain online for 24 hours only) For 31 years, the Jazz Foundation of America (JFA) has been keeping jazz, blues, roots, and R&B alive by helping the musicians who have played the soundtrack to our lives. With compassion and discretion, JFA makes it possible to pay someone's rant and keep them from eviction or homelessness when illness, accident, or old age prevents them from working. Our social work services and Musicians' Emergency Fund provide housing assistance, pro bono medical care, disaster relief, and financial support to musicians and their families in times of crisis. In the past year, the JFA provide assistance in more than 9,000 cases. Through our Jazz and Blues in the Schools and Gig Fund performance programs, we create purpose and dignified employment for hundreds of musicians every month and bring free concerts to thousands of underserved audience members at public schools, hospitals, nursing homes, museums, parks, libraries and community centers across the country. Whatever the need is, we don't just fix the problem, we heal it with love.
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2002's 'Celtic Fairy Dream' could not have come at a better time, bringing a healthy dose of healing relaxation / Mainly Piano

If there are any superstars in the new age/Celtic genres, 2002 is certainly in that category. Pamela and Randy Copus released their first album as a duo in 1992 and later became one of the best-selling names on the Real Music label before forming their own label, Galactic Playground Music. Their daughter, Sarah, started coming aboard at the age of 10 and the group is now a full-fledged trio that records all of their music in their state-of-the-art home studio in Texas. Celtic Fairy Dream is something of a follow-up to their 2016 album, Celtic Fairy Lullaby, but is more a second collection of stories rather than a sequel or continuation of the first album. Celtic Fairy Dream is a group of ten soothing songs from ancient lands that feature a blend of harp, flute, piano and orchestration with peaceful lyrics in Gaelic, Welsh and English. Eight of the songs have lyrics, but two are instrumentals in the layered, ethereal style that made 2002 famous. The CD (to be released on May 29, 2020) contains a lovely eight-page booklet with the lyrics to the songs and gorgeous illustrations that add visuals to the music. 2002's recordings have always had a distinctive spacious, floating feeling and this one is no exception. Unless you understand the languages of the lyrics, Sarah's angelic voice becomes another even more soothing instrument that caresses the mind and quiets the soul. Celtic Fairy Dream couldn't have come at a better time to bring us all a healthy dose of healing relaxation. READ THE FULL Mainly Piano REVIEW
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Sony Soundtracks - Keeping Score podcast features 1917's Jos Slovick in 'I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger'

Jos Slovick is the featured guest on Sony Soundtracks Keeping Score podcast, produced and hosted by Crossover Media's Max Horowitz. Jos gives us a glimpse into what it was like acting and singing in the film 1917, as well as his experience recording at Abbey Road Studios.  The folk song "I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger" was performed by Jos Slovick in the film 1917, directed by Sam Mendes. Click Here To Listen To The Podcast "I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger" arrives in the wake of Thomas Newman's critically acclaimed score for 1917. Towards the end of the film, actor Jos Slovick appears as a British soldier singing the song to his fellow troops prior to battle. Of the release, Slovick says, "1917 is an incredible film to be part of.  It felt like a special moment when we filmed that scene, and I'm so pleased it's resonating with people. Recording the song at Abbey Road Studios was a dream come true." ABOUT THE FILM - Set at the height of the First World War, 1917 centers on two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), who are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers – Blake's own brother among them.  ► Watch the I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger (from 1917) - Official Video:  ► Listen to the 1917 soundtrack: 
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Al Di Meola again delves into the Beatles songbook and again it works surprisingly well / Jazz Weekly

This is the second time that Al Di Meola, usually associated with electric fusion musculature or Mediterranean passions, has delved into the Beatles songbook, and for the second time it has worked surprisingly well. Di Meola wisely doesn't try to reconstruct the moods of the Fab Four (although he does bring in the moody reeds for "Strawberry Fields Forever"), instead using the well -known songs as launching pads into his own world view. The album cover, a  juxtaposition of the guitarist recreating John Lennon's Rock and Roll album with a flamenco guitar pose is a perfect reflection of the maestro's attitude. READ THE FULL Jazz Weekly REVIEW
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Sarah Traubel demonstrates perfect technique and dramatic aplomb on 'Arias for Josepha' / Opera Lounge

With special interest one registers a new publication with SONY Classical with the young German soprano Sarah Traubel (S80496C). Of course, the opera friend immediately thinks of the famous Helen Traubel with this name - and this name relationship is actually not accidental. The singer, born in Mannheim, is the great niece of the American soprano legend and the conductor Günter Wand. For her debut album entitled Arias for Josepha , which was created in Prague in August 2019, she has compiled a selection of arias that Mozart and other, less known composers for a coloratura diva of the time, Josepha Hofer, Have written. A connection to Sarah Traubel is also established here, because Hofer was born in 1758 in Zell im Wiesental under the name Weber and also grew up in Mannheim. From there she went to Munich and Vienna, was Mozart's sister-in-law and his first queen of the night in the Magic Flute . She sang the part from its premiere in 1791 to 1801, four years later she retired from the stage. The Queen's two arias can of course also be found in the CD program, but in reverse order. The "revenge" aria from the second sounds first and, in addition to the brilliant exposed location and perfect technique of Sarah Traubel, also demonstrates her dramatic aplomb. The aria from Act 1, "O zittre nicht", follows afterwards. In the expression of the recitative it does not have the slyness of famous predecessors, but in the aria it does have the necessary vigorous emphasis and the brilliance in the coloratura runs. The Queen of the Night also appears in another opera because Peter von Winter composed the continuation of the Magic Flute on a libretto by Schikaneder The Labyrinth or The Struggle with the Elements, premiered in 1798 with the Hofer as queen. In their pathetic aria "Ha! Good luck to me! Hear it, nature, " Traubel even lets hysterically excited sounds and garish coloraturas be heard, which is entirely committed to expression. - Bernd Hoppe READ THE FULL Opera Lounge REVIEW
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Laila Biali discusses deeply personal new album; 'Out of Dust' with 90.7WGXC

JUNO Award winner Laila Biali's new album, Out of Dust features not only contributions from the singer/pianist's husband; Ben Wittman and son, but also multiple GRAMMY nominees and winners including Lisa Fisher, Alan Ferber, John Ellis, and Larnell Lewis. "There's a line from a song by the indie gospel group, Gungor, that has become like an anthem to me," Biali says. "‘He makes beautiful things out of dust.' That's where the title for the album comes from, and as a songwriter and musician, my ultimate intention and hope is to spread a little more love." Listen to the attached Laila Biali - 90.7WGXC Hudson NY Interview
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  Interview with WGXC's Cheryl Symister-Masterson

Russian professor's poetry translations set to Mark Abel's 'The Cave of Wondrous Voice' / Bowdoin

The latest album by California-based classical music composer Mark Abel owes a lot to Bowdoin scholar Alyssa Gillespie, chair of the Russian department. "It was a wonderful experience collaborating with Professor Gillespie," he said. The Cave of Wondrous Voice, released this month on the Delos label, is a collection of chamber music recordings, featuring a song cycle based on four poems by the "great and tragic" twentieth-century Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, translated into English by Gillespie. Abel said he compared Gillespie's translations of Tsvetaeva with others in circulation "and quickly realized that hers were on a very high plane. It's one thing to produce detailed analyses of a writer's work in an academic setting and quite another to render them very poetically and incisively in a language different from the original." "Mark reached out to me first in February 2019, having read my scholarly book on Tsvetaeva," said Gillespie. "He had a few questions about her, and we pretty quickly decided to collaborate together on the piece he was hoping to compose." Gillespie has been translating Tsvetaeva's poetry for over twenty-five years, picking up several international translation prizes for her translations. For her sabbatical next year, she plans to work on a book-length collection of the poet's verse in translation, alongside several scholarly book projects related to the poetry of Alexander Pushkin.  The four poems in this particular song cycle were chosen because they provide a good introduction to a poet who still has a "semi-obscure status in America's world of letters," said Abel. "Tsvetaeva's poetic subjects span a vast amount of terrain-from mythology to political upheaval to intense personal relationships to romantic and existential musings (and more). I'm hoping that the cycle on which Professor Gillespie and I collaborated will spur listeners and readers alike to delve further into Tsvetaeva's universe."  When the Bowdoin campus went into lockdown, Gillespie had been planning a concert in late March with Beckwith Artist in Residence George Lopez, "to consist entirely of song cycles written on the verse of Tsvetaeva and her fellow female Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, in both English and Russian." They're hoping to reschedule the concert for sometime next year, she said. READ THE FULL Bowdoin ARTICLE
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Al Di Meola discusses sophomore homage to the Beatles with 89.9WUCF: Orlando

World-renowned guitar hero Al Di Meola welcomes a new decade with an ambitious follow-up to his 2013 studio recording All Your Life: A Tribute to the Beatles with a sophomore homage to the Beatles, entitled Across The Universe, on earMUSIC. Al Di Meola's exquisite mastery of the fretboard is equal only to his appreciation of the Beatles' legacy that has inspired generations of both musicians and music fans with their famed recording catalog. A retrospective of Al Di Meola's nearly 50-year acclaimed career expressed through his virtuosic arrangements of 14 Beatles songs, Across The Universe journeys alongside one of America's foremost guitarists as he revisits classic hits and more obscure tunes written by the ingenious Fab Four who have helped define the man he is today.  89.9WUCF: Orlando FL, Kendra Weaver speaks with Al about the recording and his great career. Listen to the interview.
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  Interview with WUCF's Kendra Weaver

Al Di Meola brings an electric and electrifying attitude to Beatles tribute album / Elsewhere

Guitarist Al Di Meola is not the first and certainly won't be the last jazz musician to pay tribute to the Beatles, the band he credits with getting him into playing music: "That was a major catalyst for me to want to learn music, so their impact was pretty strong". And actually it isn't the first time he's been down this route. In 2013 at Abbey Road he recorded All Your Life; A Tribute to the Beatles. This one comes in a better cover homage (to Lennon's Rock and Roll album). Di Meola being of the jazz (and jazz-fusion) persuasion brings an electric – and sometimes electrifying – attitude to the familiar catalogue which is largely weighted towards the band's final three years when the songs were more complex and therefore more open to interpretation. So here is a blend of acoustic playing (he's quite the picker) alongside that searing and rapid electric – and often exotically Latin – style he is best known for. READ THE FULL Elsewhere REVIEW & LISTEN TO THE 2009 INTERVIEW
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Top 10 Albums for May

John Scofield :

Swallow Tales

Guitarist John Scofield celebrates the music of his friend and mentor Steve Swallow in an outgoing and spirited recording, made in an afternoon in New York City in March 2019 - "old school" style as Scofield says, acknowledging that more than forty years of preparation led up to it. John was a 20-year-old student at Berklee when he first met and played with bassist Swallow, and they have continued ever since, in many different contexts.  "I love these songs", says Scofield of the selection of Swallow compositions explored here – a broad range including tunes that have become standards, as well as some lesser-known works. The rapport between Scofield and Swallow is evident in every moment. John: "Sometimes when we play it's like one big guitar, the bass part and my part together."  Behind the drum kit, Bill Stewart is alert to all the implications of the interaction. "What Bill does is more than ‘playing the drums,'" Scofield says. "He's a melodic voice in the music, playing counterpoint, and comping, while also swinging really hard." The guitarist himself plays with fire and invention throughout: "These two giants bring out the best in me."
Vox Clamantis :

Cyrillus Kreek - The Suspended Harp of Babel

Vox Clamantis, under the direction of Jaan-Eik Tulve, has established itself as Estonia's foremost small vocal ensemble, at home in the worlds of both old and new music. Their ECM New Series discography, accordingly, has ranged from Gregorian chant and Perotin (as on Filia Sion) to present-day composers including Arvo Pärt (The Deer's Cry), Erkki-Sven Tüür (Oxymoron) and Helena Tulve (Arboles lloran por lluvia). On The Suspended Harp of Babel Vox Clamantis turns its attention to Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962), whose work also took nourishment from ancient sources as well as from contemporaneous musical currents.
Jay Wadley :

Driveways OMPS

Milan Records today releases Driveways (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) with music by composer and music producer Jay Wadley (Indignation, Tales of the City, ADAM).  Available everywhere now, the soundtrack features music written by Wadley for the forthcoming film directed by Andrew Ahn.  Nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, Driveways is out now and available to watch on demand.  Of the soundtrack, composer Jay Wadley says, "In my score for Andrew Ahn's Driveways, I took an understated, paired down approach with textured analog production on a felted grand piano and chamber string ensemble.  The film is a delicate and subtle piece, so Andrew and I felt the score needed to take extra care not to step on or get in the way of story and character.  As I began the creative process, my way into Cody and Del's sound was through an attempt to capture the mood of childhood experiences like tooling around in the yard and on the porch during long, lazy, hot summer afternoons. I find a certain dreaminess, comfort, and melancholy to those days that informed the music's overall tone and character. To echo the simple yet profound nature of Del and Cody's friendship, I used equally simple recurring melodic and harmonic material that often plays as intimate duets between strings and piano. These melodies thoughtfully blossom and mature throughout the film, deepening their associations, and help us connect to relationships that have shaped us and remind us of the beauty and tragedy of their impermanence."
Sharon Isbin :


On this historic ZOHO release, legendary guitarist Sharon Isbin performs multi-faceted and virtuosic new works for guitar, written for her by four leading composers. From the Africa-influenced El Decameron Negro by iconic Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer, through the Chinese and Spanish-inspired Seven Desires for Guitar by Tan Dun, to Richard Danielpour's sensual song cycle Of Love and Longing (with multiple Grammy winner Isabel Leonard) and the  jazz and world music-influenced Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra by Chris Brubeck with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra/Elizabeth Schulze, Sharon Isbin gives her inimitable imprint to, and vastly enriches major new repertoire for guitar. The four world premieres also include a two-guitar arrangement for her by Colin Davin of Antonio Lauro's Waltz #3 Natalia.   The recording will be available May 22, 2020 on the ZOHO label (ZM 202005).  
John Williams :

John Williams in Vienna w/Vienna Philharmonic

John Williams has just added to an already incredibly long list of achievements by making his conducting debut with the Wiener Philharmoniker. Their two concerts at Vienna's Musikverein on January 18 & 19, 2020 – which were also the first performances he had ever conducted in continental Europe – were produced by Deutsche Grammophon in partnership with the Wiener Philharmoniker and ServusTV and filmed by Bernhard Fleischer Moving Images (BFMI). John Williams in Vienna is now set for international release by the Yellow Label on August 14, 2020 and will be available on all relevant physical and digital mediums, including Blu‑ray, CD, vinyl and eVideo, in both stereo and Dolby Atmos surround mixes. The film will be broadcast in Germany, Austria and Switzerland by ServusTV on Whit Monday June 1, 2020.
William Susman :

Fate of the Lhapa

Scoring the documentary Fate of the Lhapa was an inspiring experience. I worked with a marvelous director, Sarah Sifers, who trusted my musicianship and gave me the freedom to compose a score that attempts to capture the place, culture, spirit and passion of the Tibetan Shamans and their broader historical context.    As with many of my scores, I look for melody and instrumentation that the filmmaker has captured on film. In Fate of the Lhapa, there were stunning musical moments including ritual chanting, a prayer vigil, bells, gongs, drumming and dance. All of these sonic elements contributed to my choice of melody, harmony, rhythm and instrumentation. 
Sharon Isbin :

Strings for Peace w/Amjad Ali Khan, Am&Ay Bangash

Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin's new recording, Strings for Peace, with sarod master, Amjad Ali Khan, and his virtuoso sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash, is a groundbreaking release steeped in the tradition of ragas and talas of North Indian classical music.  Available May 22, 2020 on the ZOHO label (ZM 202004), it was recorded in New York following a successful joint 2019 tour in India. Strings for Peace features four Khan compositions based on popular ragas specifically written and arranged for Sharon Isbin: By the Moon - Raga Behag, Love Avalanche - Raga Mishra Bhairav, Romancing Earth - Raga Pilu and Sacred Evening - Raga Yaman.  The four artists are joined on the tabla by Amit Kavthekar, a disciple of Indian drumming giants, Alla Rakha and his son Zakir Hussain. They will tour across the US in 20/21 beginning in Tanglewood and Caramoor festivals this July.
Kristian Eidnes Andersen :

Vivarium OMPS

Described as an existential trip to suburban Hell, Vivarium follows a young couple looking to for the perfect place to live. In search of their dream home, the couple find themselves trapped in a bizarre labyrinthine neighborhood of identical houses. In time, the surreal situation spirals further and further out of control.
Robin Coudert (Rob) :

Le Bureau des Legendes - Saison 5 OSS

The Bureau (original title: Le Bureau des Légendes) is a French political thriller television series created by Éric Rochant and produced by TOP - The Oligarchs Productions and Canal+, which revolves around the lives of agents of the DGSE (General Directorate of External Security), France's principal external security service. Originally aired in France from 27 April 2015, it was launched in the United States and Canada on iTunes on 1 June 2016 as part of a new international "Episodic Cinema" label, quickly reaching the Top Five. In the United Kingdom, the series was released exclusively by Amazon Prime on 17 June 2016. The NYTimes ranked The Bureau third on their The 30 Best International TV Shows of the Decade list.
Heather Mcintosh :

The Quarry OMPS

Milan Records today releases THE QUARRY (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by composer HEATHER MCINTOSH (Z for Zachariah, The Art of Self-Defense).  Available everywhere now, the album features music written by McIntosh for the newest thriller from Grindstone Entertainment Group, a Lionsgate company, which is available now on demand.  Also included on the album is an original song entitled "The Man" written and performed by GRAMMY, Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham.