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.
Performances are superb on William Susman's 'Collision Point' as crystalline music shines / Fanfare
Posted: January 23, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Back in Fanfare 38:2, I wrote about a disc of William Susman's music entitled Scatter My Ashes. Like the current disc, similarly on the Belarca label, playing time was short, but a sense of fun and enjoyment of life was long. Susman's minimalist tendencies are fully on display again in this release, itself entitled Collision Point.
Scored for flute, alto sax, violin, cello and piano four-hands, Camille (2010) is based on the Afro-Cuban clave rhythm, with 3+2 layered against 2+3 in the first movement, "Vitality". Susman suggests the aural equivalent is that of Escher's woodcut Illustrations, where the eye can choose to concentrate on wither white fish or brown fish; here, it is the ear that opts which division of the measure to concentrate on. Booklet annotator David Sanson puts it well when he refers to Susman's music as a "labyrinth of rhythms, a perpetually moving trompe-l'oeil," a statement that seems to fit particularly well with Camille. The contrasting second panel "Tranquility," is like a slowly turning kaleidoscope, before the pulsating finale, "Triumph," emerges. The work was written for the current ensemble and is performed with the sense of rhythmic cleanliness and exactitude minimalist music requires.
The 2010 piece Clouds and Flames finds the scoring reduced to piano trio. Seven short movements are inspired by events in Colum McCann's novel Let The Great World Spin and also by the tightrope walk of Philippe Petit between the World Trade Center towers on August 7, 1974. The central theme of Clouds and Flames is remembrance and loss, nowhere more evident than in the fourth movement, "The Alphabet of Dying". The title of the next movement, "Collision Point," a restrained movement built on slow-moving piano against pizzicato strings, also forms the title of the disc as a whole. The scoring for piano trio gives the piece a brilliant sort of clarity completely different from the ensemble used or Camille; again, the performance is beyond criticism.
The two remaining pieces date back into the 1990s. Based on cyclical melodies and chord progressions, Motions of Return for flute and piano (1994) takes its title from Francis Bacon's 1627 The New Atlantis and is, like Camille, based on the idea of illusion. The agile flute part is superbly rendered by Alessandra Amoreno; Fabio Silvestro is the most fluent-fingered of pianists. Together, they negotiate the tricky asynchronous passages with great confidence.
The disc is bookended by ensemble pieces, that for The Starry Dynamo (1994) only one pianist short of that used for Camille; the original clarinet part has been replaced here by the alto sax of Claudia Di Pietro to fit in with the line-up of Piccolo Accademia degli Specchi. And, as in Camille, it is an Afro-Cuban rhythm that forms the basis, this time especially the montuño, a repeated syncopated figure. It is a poem by Allan Gunsburg, HOWL, that forms the inspiration for The Starry Dynamo, including the line, "angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night". This is a work that, in one continuous movement of nearly 15 minutes, goes further than any on this disc to offer a sense of immersion into Susman's world.
Performances are superb throughout, while the recording is perfectly judged, enabling the crystalline aspect of Susman's music to shine through. Recommended. Colin Clarke
OCTET''s inaugural album has been recorded over the past few years with renowned engineer John Kilgore and was released by Naxos on the label Belarca. The album features the music of William Susman including two song cycles (with poems by his sister Sue Susman) Scatter My Ashes and Moving in to an Empty Space performed by soprano Mellissa Hughes, as well as his Piano Concerto and the ensemble work Camille.
OCTET takes the instrumentation of the American big band and scales it down to a brass section of saxophone, trumpet, and trombone and a rhythm section of piano, electric piano, double bass and drums plus vocals.
"William Susman's remarkable achievement is to take the familiar instrumentation of American popular music, harmonic and rhythmic influences from jazz and Afro-Cuban music and sinuous melodic lines that are uniquely his own and weave them into something new and fresh, yet timeless and haunting. Memorable yet enigmatic, simple yet profound, Susman's music is irresistible." - John Kilgore (Grammy Award-Winning Classical Engineer)
Scatter my Ashes reached No. 1 on Amazon's Classical Hot New Releases, No. 8 on Billboard's Classical and was featured in iTunes Classical New and Noteworthy.
Belarca Records presents Collision Point, a new album by American composer William Susman and Rome-based ensemble Piccola Accademia degli Specchi celebrating a 10-year collaboration. Collision Point features music inspired by love, loss, redemption, and the writings of Allen Ginsberg, Colum McCann and Francis Bacon.
The album brings together four premiere recordings including two pieces for the full ensemble: Camille (2010), which was written for the ensemble, and The Starry Dynamo (1994), as well as a piano trio, Clouds and Flames (2010) and a duo, Motions of Return (1996) for flute and piano.
Susman's music is described by AllMusic as "the next developments in the sphere (of) minimalism," and has earned praise from The New York Times for being "vivid, turbulent, and rich-textured," from Gramophone as "texturally shimmering and harmonically ravishing," and from textura as "distinctly American."