Music affords an escape, takes us back in time to reflect on the present, mirrors our aches and joys and offers serenity. As relentless news about the coronavirus continues, these albums were gifts during difficult times.
This month, that included surprise drops from British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings has a deep, thrashing bond with the South African musicians in the Ancestors, a band for our time. Their aptly titled sophomore release, We Are Sent Here By History, is an album of stark admonitions and unruly energies, anchored by the pull of an ecstatic communion. - Nate Chinen, WBGO
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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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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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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.
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‘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.
SoulTrackers responded big time last year when we debuted the song "Leaving LA" by the New York-based collective, Snack Cat. Mixing elements of Yacht Rock with 80s R&B – and even a touch of jazz, the band consistently delivers high infectious pop/soul with strong instrumentation. They've become "go to" musicians for many of the soul and rock artists in the region, and are popular at music festivals.
The band's newest single, "Young Love," comes out today, and it is another tasty slice of accessible – though deceptively complex - music. The song was born on an L.A. rooftop, where guitarist and bandleader Aleksi Glick was ruminating on his first serious relationship back in college, and all of the passionate twists and turns it took.
Just like their debut EP, Snack Cat's newest single "Young Love," was born on an LA rooftop. Guitarist and bandleader Aleksi Glick was in town, this time for a wedding. Something about the time and place got him thinking about his first serious relationship back in college with a girl from LA. He thought about the concept of one's first love, and how with all the rocky and passionate twists and turns, it plays such a huge part in shaping just about everyone's human experience.
The track is an infectious blend of R&B, soul and jazz, with a pop-like chorus that will have you singing along. Much of it was recorded live to capture the magic of the band's ‘live sound' and energy. It was recorded by heavyweight producer/recording engineer John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Kurt Vile) with help from Jeremy Delaney at Kaleidoscope Sound and mastered by the legendary Greg Calbi (John Lennon, David Bowie, John Mayer, Bruce Springsteen) at Sterling Sound.
Snack Cat's first official release has been a long time in the making. The band has been refining its sound for a few years now, drawing inspiration from classic funk, soul and rock while never forgetting its jazz roots. Guitarist and bandleader Aleksi Glick wrote most of the music for this debut EP in January 2018 on a rooftop in LA. It was something about the setting of the dirty yet iconic city that got the creative juices flowing - the many dreamers trying to make it big and putting on whatever face or facade got them through the day. While the songs come from a reflective and almost pensive place, they express a certain joy and hopefulness. At its heart, Glick's music is inspired by his hometown of New York City, but for some reason these particular songs needed to come to life and grow elsewhere. Along the way, Glick's old bandmate, Madhava Hansen, and Snack Cat frontwoman, Chantal Mitvalsky, contributed final touches to the songwriting behind the tracks.