Jazz has always been Slow Culture's forte. That being said, vocal jazz never really got our full attention. But that was before Laila Biali's single Sugar hit our inbox on a rainy morning. At that time, we din't believe that the whole album would stay in our playlist for long. Little did we know! We will review ‘Out of Dust' – Laila Biali's eighth album – next week. To cure our wait (and hopefully, yours!), we're delighted and honored to publish today the interview we did with The Artist Formerly Known As Laila Biali.
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Last summer, back when family trips were still a thing you could do, our family took a great one – starting with a family event in southern California, there was a day at Disneyland, some Los Angeles sightseeing, and then a Route 66 road trip all the way from San Bernardino to Albuquerque.
But in our family, even a family vacation ends up including some radio – and so while the kids went off to see the Peterson Automotive Museum, your editor took advantage of the chance to meet one of radio's most interesting owners. Saul Levine, now in his nineties, put 105.1 FM on the air in Los Angeles back in 1959 as KBCA and has owned it ever since, now as one of the last independent big-market radio owners in the country.
After expanding his empire over the years with stations as far away as Hawaii and San Francisco, Levine's Mount Wilson Broadcasters is back to his base here in Los Angeles, anchored in an office building hard by the side of the 405 freeway in West LA. (It's visible mostly for the big billboard that advertises Saul's stations to what's usually a packed audience of rush-hour drivers a few yards away.)
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JUNO Award winner Laila Biali's deeply personal 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."
Laila Baila's 'Take Me To The Ally' from Out of Dust is the Jazz FM Breakfast Track of the Week for April 6, 2020
Jazz FM had the pleasure to have had the World first exclusive play of Nina Simone's 'Fodder In Her Wings'. The song is taken from an obscure French Nina Simone recording from 1982 and is set to have its full commercial release for the first time - Fodder On my Wings.
Originally recorded for a small French label and only sporadically available since its initial release, Fodder On My Wings will be reissued tomorrow. The original album will be expanded with three bonus tracks from the recording sessions from a rare French reissue released in 1988.
A lesser-known but important part of Simone's musical history, Fodder On My Wings contains deeply personal songs.
At the time she recorded the album, Simone was living in France and extremely lonely; her mental illness was worsening and her family life was fractured. It's out of this despair that one of the many album standouts, the near title track "Fodder In Her Wings," was birthed.
An 'A list' track, Nina Simone - Fodder on My Wings gets 'JazzFM world exclusive' & 'Album of the Week'
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Maybe it's the impact of the movie Harriet; maybe it's all the fine work of artists such as Mavis Staples and Rhiannon Giddens and others who have brought more awareness of old spirituals sung in the fields by slaves, some of which later became rallying songs for the Freedom Rides and the Civil Rights era. Whatever the catalyst, this music seems more present than ever. Pianist Lara Downes delivers these mostly well-known spirituals and freedom songs, some alone on the piano, and others with a diverse cast of guests on Some of These Days.
Some of this music Lara Downes is playing has been with us for centuries. Her interpretations are so precious, that they should continue to extend for centuries to come. It's a masterful recording.
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I first became aware of the Canadian singer/pianist Laila Biali over a decade ago thanks to her version of Joni Mitchell's ‘Woodstock'. It was a terrific performance that swept majestically along with a soaring vocal that completely floored me (it sounds just as good today). If you're not familiar with the artist, she's a classically trained pianist, touring musician with Paula Cole, Sting and Chris Botti, a member of the rather wonderful Rose and The Nightingale, a jazz radio DJ, a self-releasing album artist and the winner of the Best Jazz Vocal category at the 1999 Juno Awards for her eponymous album.
Over the last few years she has had some personal issues to contend with, not least a nasty and debilitating illness brought on by the mould hidden behind the walls of her home studio. Hence her new album's title ‘Out of Dust', and an opportunity to move forward with a positive outlook.
This is a big-sounding album, well produced by Laila Biali and Ben Wittman with great mixes by Tim Abraham. Everyone delivers, from the core musicians and soloists to the backing vocalists and string players. I'd enjoy to see some of this performed live and maybe I'm lucky she'll even play ‘Woodstock' again.
READ THE FULL London Jazz News REVIEW
Even though in-person concerts have been suspended, many talented artists and ensembles are committed to sharing stunning music through the internet. Here's a guide to some upcoming classical livestreams you should add to your calendar!
On Friday, April 3 at 7 pm CT, Pianist Lara Downes launches her new album, Some of These Days, with a Facebook Live performance from her home in Sacramento, California. The album's uplifting content - freedom songs and spirituals - offers hope in this troubled time. Plus, you can make a difference just by tuning in: the e-concert is a fundraiser for hunger relief organization Feeding America.
On Saturday, April 4 at 7:00 pm CT, there's an Artist Relief Virtual Benefit Concert. Classical music stars, including Rachel Barton Pine, J'Nai Bridges, Anthony McGill, and Emanuel Ax, will come together (digitally, that is) for a virtual concert to benefit Artist Relief Tree, a new fund for artists affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Tickets are available for a donation of $5 or more.
READ THE FULL 98.7WFMT: Chicago ARTICLE
‘Love Letters' marks a different direction for the internationally celebrated artist; it offers a shift in intimacy and content and comes at a pivotal time in her career as she signs to her new record label, Mercury KX.
Milan Records today announces the February 28 release of WENDY (ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) with music by award-winning composer, songwriter and producer DAN ROMER and the film's award-winning director BENH ZEITLIN.
Wolfgang Muthspiel, whom The New Yorker has called "a shining light" among today's jazz guitarists, returns to the trio format with Angular Blues, the Austrian's fourth ECM album as a leader, following two acclaimed quintet releases and his trio debut.
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, due out on earMUSIC on March 13, 2020.
Robin McKelle chooses to fuse, on 'Alterations' / MAKING A SCENE
Posted: February 17, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Alterations is jazz vocalist/composer Robin McKelle's follow-up to her 2018 Melodic Canvas which we covered on these pages. While that was mostly an album of originals, McKelle chooses here to, as she says, "fuse jazz, soul, r&b, blues and rock while keeping continuity in the music." These are mostly familiar songs from some of the most celebrated women in song interpreted through a jazz lens. They include Dolly Parton, Sade, Amy Winehouse, Adele, Janis Joplin, Carole king, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, and Land Del Ray. For good measure, McKelle adds just one of her own, in tribute to female artistry.
Robin McKelle is pleased to announce the February 14th, 2020 release of her new album Alterations. Vocalist Robin McKelle delves into the catalogue of some of the most celebrated women of song, interpreting these masterworks through the lens of the jazz idiom. On Alterations, 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", will be released in late January. Alterations will be released on Doxie Records and distributed and marketed by the Orchard.
An Enigmatic Sound, a Storyteller's Narrative and a Live Performance Style Imbued with Rat Pack Moxie Singer and Writer Robin McKelle is a Genre-Blurring Musical Alchemist, Taking Listeners on a Sonic Trip to the Old South, Sprinkling in Hints of the Motown Era or Even a Sade Album, and Mixing it Together to Create Her Inspiring Melodic Canvas' of Soul, Jazz, Gospel and More. On her new album - Melodic Canvas, McKelle is empowered by not trying to fit into a box, and the music is deeply textured, rich, and authentic. Melodic Canvas is also a timely social commentary, from the struggling teen in ‘Lyla' to the immigrant tale of ‘Simple Man'; the moments of social awareness, in ‘Yes We Can Can' (an Allen Toussaint cover featuring Chris Potter) and ‘It Won't End Up', are wise and inspiring without feeling heavy-handed; on first single ‘Do You Believe', McKelle questions religion, hate, misogyny.
Robin McKelle might have called this album The Real McKelle. "It's the record I've always dreamed of making. Not that there was anything stopping me in the past, it's simply that things panned out differently." The singer herself wrote most of the songs on this new production, a contemporary blend of soul and rhythm 'n' blues that avoids today's retro tendencies. "I love that music so much that I couldn't see myself doing something ‘in the style of…". I grew up listening to Nina Simone and Gladys Knight. I sang their classics and what I enjoy most today is building my own repertoire in that same soulful vein." Soul Flower mainly consists of original tracks along with a few covers, including an upbeat Walk On By.
21 NEW 78 Total Stations/Shows
SYND: CBC Music Direct: MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Cleveland, Portland, Austin, New Orleans, Long Is. NY, El Paso, Rochester NY, Madison WI, Hartford CT, Canada Online: RadioIO, The Jazz Intersection, Green Arrow Radio, Hot Time Radio Show, otticFM, Taintradio, Live 365, Paul Leslie Hour, Blues and Beyond, Jazzweekly, GURU
Robin McKelle comes out swinging on her second disc of big band jazz, Modern Antique. The bassist plucks some fat, rich chords, the pianist skitters over the keys, and McKelle herself confidently scats over the melody while the horn section eggs her on. The mood is playfully flirtatious, just this side of naughty. The entire combo is having so much fun and so are you that the tune is almost over before you realize it's an ingenious re-arrangement of Steve Miller's seventies classic, "Abracadabra."
2 New 'ON' this week: 140 Total
Peak: #19 Jazzweek SYND: WFMT: Jazz w/Bob Parlocha, PRI: Jazz After Hours, Jazz Variations, Music of Your Life, Sixty Second CD, The Bill Miller Show Networks: CBC, GPB, KPR Direct: XM: Real Jazz, Bloomberg Radio Markets include: Los Angeles, Boston, Wash DC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Houston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, Detroit, Las Vegas, San Diego, Long Island NY, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, Orlando, Raleigh NC, Tucson AZ, Sacramento, Wichita, Omaha, CANADA
On her newest release: Mess Around, Robin McKelle's warm contralto surrounds a first class rhythm 'n' blues record. After two albums devoted to big-band jazz and swing - Introducing Robin McKelle (2006) and Modern Antique (2008), Mess Around is a departure drawing from artists and groups such as The Bee Gees, Leonard Cohen, Doc Pomus, Willie Dixon and The Beatles. The aesthetic choices lend a wealth of meaning and consistency to the session, led by McKelle.
4 New ON this week: 163 Total Synd: Jazz Inspired, PRI/Jazz After Hours, WFMT/Jazz with Bob Parlocha, Sixty Second CD Direct: SiriusXM: Real Jazz & NPR Now(Jazz Inspired) Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Wash DC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Minneapolis, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, Cleveland, Denver, Portland, Baltimore, San Diego, Detroit, Las Vegas, San Diego, New Orleans, Memphis, Sacramento & Berekeley CA, Salt Lake, Austin TX, Orlando, Canada Online: The Jazzintersecion.com, RadioIO, Taintradio, Live 365, RadioIO
Having worked with Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard, Michael McDonald, Wayne Shorter, Jon Secada & others, Robin McKelle now releases her debut album that broadens the boundaries of retro-swing. Introducing Robin McKelle evokes the spirit of 1940's America, while retaining an edge that speaks of a new time. With its balance of swing and balladry, the album heralds the arrival of a peerless interpretive artist.
1 New "ON" this week: 148 Total
SYND: NPR: Morning Edition, Bob Parlocha's Jazz Sat Network, The Bill Miller Show, Anything Goes Markets include: Los Angeles, Boston, Wash DC, Seattle(ADI), Houston, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Cleveland, Denver, St. Louis, Baltimore, San Diego, Portland(ADI), Long Island(NYC:ADI), Las Vegas, Salt Lake, Louisville, Buffalo, Rochester, Raleigh NC, Australia, The Netherlands