In its folkloric grandeur and ambitions that make it leap far beyond a more restricted sense of abum there is a collision of poetry, music and however implicit dance. Folkloric in one sense, a rewriting of priorities in terms of society and attitudes to gender and more in another there is a mystical sense of revelation drawn from Xhosa traditions, Rastafarianism and more in the lyrics and inspirations and above all a sense of otherworldliness.
In all the above this actually contributes to a larger more convincing world view than you get in the more basic bounce and euphoric beat of Shabaka's other bands Sons of Kemet and The Comet Is Coming.
By the way Shabaka plays just as beautifully as ever and there are waves of solos breaking through that indicate once again what a world class saxophonist he is and how his stature grows with every record. His tenderness is more evident here than ever.
The beautiful 'Go My Heart, Go To Heaven' is one exemplary track on a griot themed album conception and "meditation on the fact of our coming extinction as a species.'' How clarivoyant is that in the current climate at a time of global existential crisis?
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Since the beginning of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States and the world earlier this year, many, if not most, have put a stop to social gatherings. A shelter in place order directing all residents to stay inside until further notice went into effect in Sacramento County on March 20. A day later Governor Gavin Newsom announced a stay at home order for all of California.
In response to the call for social distancing to keep the virus at bay, arts organizations and presenters began canceling performances even before the stay at home orders were issued.
Artists and musicians know, however, that the idea of a life without music is inconceivable. Thus, like so many aspects of our "new normal," musicians took to the internet and social media to begin performing for the public virtually.
Virtually is how Sacramento resident and internationally acclaimed pianist Lara Downes will release her new album. In lieu of a live tour, Downes will host a livestream performance on Facebook, Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m. from her home in Sacramento, co-produced by CapRadio. You can watch directly on this page or tune in on Facebook Live at facebook.com/capradio/videos.
Other public radio stations across the country will be sharing the event in real-time on their respective Facebook pages.
Lara Downes' uplifting new album "Some of These Days" revisits freedom songs and spirituals, historic expressions of hope and courage that remind us - in this time of global unrest and chaos caused by the coronavirus - of our human capacity for optimism, activism, and unification in the face of crisis. "For me, the motivation in creating this record has always been the relevance and timelessness of these songs," says Downes. ‘There's the pain, reaction to oppression, always hope, always a vision of a better place. All of those things are relevant and current today.'
With her livestreamed concert, Downes will also raise funds for Feeding America in support of national relief efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We invite you to be part of this celebration of the power of art in time of crisis. Watch, listen and share this Friday April 3 at 5 p.m. Tune in on Facebook Live at facebook.com/capradio.
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Since first appearing on the scene in 2007, Toronto's Sultans Of String has never taken the easy road in terms of crafting their internationally acclaimed hybrid of folk, jazz and world music. Their latest album, Refuge, is their most ambitious yet, a collection of 13 songs that speak to the challenges facing the world's displaced peoples-their stories, their songs, their persistence and their humanity.
It features the group collaborating with over 30 artists, from the renowned banjo player Bela Fleck to Ojibway poet Duke Redbird and a string section from Istanbul, Turkey. However, all plans surrounding the release of Refuge on March 20 were put on hold because of the COVID-19 crisis, putting the band's expected earnings from touring in jeopardy and dampening what was supposed to be a celebration of the year of hard work put into making the album.
It is sadly a common story with many musicians who have had spring album releases scheduled. We spoke with Sultans Of String co-founder Chris McKhool about how he and the band are coping with our current reality, and how it could shape the future of the music industry. Refuge is available to purchase now physically and on all digital and streaming platforms. Find out more at sultansofstring.com.
fyi music news has 5 questions for Sultans Of String's Chris McKhool. Here they are
Pianist and composer Jon Batiste is a young, energetic powerhouse full of the Crescent City party spirit. They start with an all out jam on "Blacck" that continues through "PWWR" fully engaging the audience in the celebration. We caught a taste of ragtime on "Kenner", Jon's bow to his hometown (a New Orleans suburb). Batiste celebrates the late Roy Hargrove with the cool funky vibe of "Soulful". He performed this tune with Hargrove during his first appearance at New York‘s Village Vanguard a decade ago. It's very timely to record this set at the same venue starting on the day we lost Roy (Nov-2-2018). Chronology Of A Dream is a fitting dedication to Hargrove.
O's Notes on O's Place
Wolfgang Muthspiel, whom The New Yorker has called "a shining light" among today's jazz guitarists, returns to the trio format with Angular Blues, his fourth ECM album as a leader, following two acclaimed quintet releases and his trio debut. Like Driftwood – the 2014 trio disc that JazzTimes dubbed "cinematic" and "haunting" – Angular Blues finds the Austrian guitarist paired with long-time collaborator Brian Blade on drums; but instead of Larry Grenadier on bass, this time it's Scott Colley, whose especially earthy sound helps imbue this trio with its own dynamic. Muthspiel plays acoustic guitar on three of the album's tracks and electric on six more. Along with his characteristically melodic originals – including such highlights as the bucolic "Hüttengriffe" and pensive "Camino" – he essays the first standards of his ECM tenure ("Everything I Love" and "I'll Remember April"), as well as his first-ever bebop rhythm-changes tune on record ("Ride"). Angular Blues also features a single guitar-only track, "Solo Kanon in 5/4," with Muthspiel's electronic delay imbuing the baroque-like rounds with a hypnotic glow.
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Muthspiel, Colley and Blade recorded Angular Blues in Tokyo's Studio Dede after a three-night run at the city's Cotton Club. The album was mixed with Manfred Eicher in the South of France at Studios La Buissonne, where Muthspiel had recorded his two previous ECM albums, Rising Grace and Where the River Goes (both of which featured pianist Brad Mehldau and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire). Each of the groups that Muthspiel has put together for his ECM recordings has had a special rapport. About his new trio, the guitarist says: "Scott and Brian share my love of song, while at the same time there is constant musical conversation about these songs."
The Louisiana-born Blade has been a member of the Wayne Shorter Quartet since 2000, along with recording with artists from Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Daniel Lanois and Norah Jones to Charlie Haden, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Joshua Redman. Since the mid-'90s, Blade has also co-led the gospel-infused Fellowship Band. Regarding the subtly virtuoso drummer, Muthspiel says: "Brian is famous for his sound and touch, that floating way of playing, how he creates intensity with relatively low volume. It's also a great pleasure for me to witness how sensitively Brian reacts in his playing to whether I play acoustic or electric guitar. I've done a lot of concerts and productions with him over the years, including in our guitar-drums duo, Friendly Travelers, as well as on Driftwood and Rising Grace. He always offers complete interaction and initiative, as well as his individual sound. To play uptempo swing on something like ‘Ride' with Brian was really luxurious, a gift."
After being mentored by Charlie Haden, Colley was the bassist of choice for such jazz legends as Jim Hall, Andrew Hill, Michael Brecker, Carmen McRae and Bobby Hutcherson, along with appearing on albums by Herbie Hancock, Gary Burton, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Chris Potter and Julian Lage. Colley, a native of Los Angeles, has released eight albums as a leader. "Scott and Brian have also played a lot together over the past few years, so they know each other well," Muthspiel notes. "I performed with Scott in New York in the '90s, and I've always felt that he was an extremely giving musician, who – with his warm tone and his flexible, dancing rhythm – simultaneously animated and supported the music. I wrote the bass melody of the new album's first tune, ‘Wondering,' especially for him. His sound develops a flow and harmonic movement that is inviting to play on."
After "Wondering" – which includes extended soloing by Colley that embroiders on Muthspiel's melody beautifully – comes the album's title song, the highly trio-interactive "Angular Blues," so titled for its "rhythmic modulations and strange breaks," the guitarist explains. "Somehow Chick Corea's album Three Quartets was an association, but so was Thelonious Monk." Those first two tracks, as well as the album's third, "Hüttengriffe," feature Muthspiel on acoustic guitar, his sound on the instrument both warm and extraordinarily fluent. After that – on "Camino," "Ride," "Everything I Love," "Kanon in 6/8," "Solo Kanon in 5/4" and "I'll Remember April" – he plays electric. Muthspiel's ever-liquid electric phrasing buoys both an emotionally rich original such as "Camino" and the two different turns on his kaleidoscopic "Kanon," the trio version in 6/8 and the solo, mostly improvised rendition in 5/4.
About his first-time inclusion of jazz standards on one of his ECM albums, Muthspiel says: "I was inspired to record standards with this trio because everything about the way the group plays feels so free, open and far from preconceived ideas, but at the crucial moment a jazz language is spoken, what we do does justice to these tunes. I learned ‘Everything I Love,' the Cole Porter song, from an early Keith Jarrett album, and I first came to know ‘I'll Remember April' from a Frank Sinatra recording. In that latter song, I hardly play solo. It's more about the head and the vamp-like atmosphere that prevails from the start and is savored again in the end. As in many moments with this trio, it's about playing with space: leaving it, creating it, filling it."
Produced by Max Horowitz - Crossover Media, This content, as well as the related podcast, are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) for redistribution and adaptation.
Deutsche Grammophon marked World Piano Day on Saturday 28 March with a global livestream virtual festival featuring ten of their legendary pianists. Over 4 million people in over 100 countries have so far enjoyed the virtual festival, featuring three and a half hours of piano music, via YouTube, Facebook and Medici.tv.
The emotionally charged programme was performed by Maria João Pires, Víkingur Ólafsson, Joep Beving, Rudolf Buchbinder, Seong-Jin Cho, Jan Lisiecki, Kit Armstrong, Simon Ghraichy, Daniil Trifonov and Evgeny Kissin. The pianists pre-recorded intimate live performances on smartphone video, from the safety of their current locations, which were then streamed online to create a unique global virtual festival. Those who missed Saturday's World Piano Day livestream can watch the full concert on the attached video.
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Like Rachmaninoff, Danill Trifonov was born in Russia, and is already considered one of the world's great pianists at age 29. He is also a composer, and made his way to the United States where he settled in New York. Despite all these parallels, Trifonov didn't start studying and performing Rachmaninoff's music until he was 21, but he has made up for lost time by releasing three albums devoted to the composer: an album of Rachmaninoff's three sets of variations in 2015; "Departure", featuring concertos 2 & 4, in 2018; and "Arrival", featuring Concertos 1 & 3, in October 2019. All three were done in collaboration with The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. It was in January 2019, just a few months after the release of Departure, that WETA evening host James Jacobs spoke to Daniil Trifonov backstage at the Kennedy Center during a week in which he was appearing with the NSO. In a wide-ranging conversation Trifonov shares his thoughts on Rachmaninoff and reflects on his own career.
LISTEN TO THE WETA: Wash DC INTERVIEW
‘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.
What we have here is an extremely rare example of a "complete" musician among the violinists of the present day: one of the most sought-after soloists in today's world of music, he regularly performs with leading international orchestras under the most high-profile conductors.
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.
Jane Ira Bloom: Valuing Choices Made in the Moment
While thinking beyond musical genres is a hallmark of a great many of today's musical creators, Jane Ira Bloom clearly maneuvers within a genre while at the same time subverting any attempt at making generalizations about her work. The primary mode of music-making she engages in is performing her own instrumental compositions on the soprano saxophone in the company of a small group of like-minded collaborative improvisers, and those compositions are clearly indebted to the jazz tradition. But there are important exceptions to just about every detail of that description that are key to defining who she is as a musician.
She primarily performs her own musical creations, but just about every album she has ever recorded, as well as most of her live performances, also include at least one example of her own extremely personal interpretations of an American standard or a classic jazz composition. But while the American songbook has been an unending fount of inspiration for her improvisations and has even informed the ways she has constructed melodies in her own compositions, she has never featured a singer in any of her projects thus far. And, with the exception of her most recent recording, Wild Lines, which includes recitations of poetry by Emily Dickinson, all her performances are un-texted instrumentals. She performs almost exclusively on the soprano saxophone (there's been a stray track here and there over the years of her on alto), but she began her musical studies on the piano, and the grand piano she keeps in her living room is the main instrument on which she composes. She has primarily performed with and composes for a small cadre of fellow travelers with whom she has worked for decades (e.g. Fred Hersch, Mark Dresser, Bobby Previte), but she has also written music for orchestra, wind band, dance and film, and has participated in improvisatory world music collaborations with Chinese pipa virtuoso Min Xiao-Fen and South Indian vocalist and vina player Geetha Ramanathan Bennett (who died just a day after we recorded our talk with Jane Ira Bloom). Bloom acknowledges and embraces the jazz tradition, but for more than 30 years her saxophone improvisations have incorporated an electronic music component which she triggers in real time through the use of foot pedals, and sometimes the other musicians in her combos operate electronic devices as well.
"I'm definitely a lateral thinker," Bloom acknowledged when we visited her to talk about her various musical experiences and how they have shaped her aesthetics as a composer and a performer. "There's no question in my mind that my strong background as a melodist, as someone who's loved and studied melody in many forms, takes me wherever I go. I'm a saxophonist who's very much interested in sound, and I've spent a long time working on a particular sound that I really invested a lot of thought in on the instrument I play-the soprano saxophone. And I'm interested in phrasing and breath. All those things travel with me wherever I go, and when I'm using the live electronics, that's where they're compelled from. It's me; it's not a black box. It's not an idea. I've learned an awful lot from the Afro-American music tradition and the American songbook, as well as exposing myself to world musics and all kinds of contemporary classical music. … I know what's authentic and real about who I am, and I take that with me wherever my imagination takes me."
In addition to the aforementioned 2017 Emily Dickinson-inspired album, Bloom's imagination has led her to create a series of responses to abstract expressionist paintings by Jackson Pollock ("the freedom he was in touch with … is something that, as jazz musicians, we can tap into so easily") as well as motion-inspired melodic improvisation ("I collaborated with choreographers who were much more cognizant of this quality … you could make sound change by moving"). Her use of real-time live electronic processing in her saxophone playing has been an ongoing component of her musical explorations. Her description of it makes it seem a lot simpler than it actually sounds:
Basically what I do with the electronics is I still play the saxophone, but I play through microphones that access electronic sounds that I blend and combine with my acoustic sound. And I trigger them using foot pedals, live and in the moment. Over the years, I've gotten skillful playing on one foot and tapping my toe on some pre-programmed settings that I've designed-on basically an old harmonizer and an old digital delay-and combining them in unusual ways. … I've spent some time trying to get the way I use them as an improviser as fluid as if it was a key on my saxophone. … It makes sense to me when the sounds appear and when they don't, when I choose to use them and when I choose not to use them. It's got to be fast. It's got to be intuitive, because I'm using them very much in the moment of improvising.
Perhaps the most unusual place Bloom's imagination has taken her was to work with the American space program, which happened, as she explained to us, as a result of an unsolicited letter to NASA that her friend, actor Brian Dennehy, suggested she should write.
"I thought he was nuts," she remembered. "But some time went by and I actually sat down and I wrote a letter in the dark-a letter in a bottle, right?-inquiring whether NASA had ever done any research on the future of the arts and space, in zero gravity environments. Something I was always fascinated with. Six months later, I get this envelope back, which has the NASA logo on the front of the envelope from a guy by the name of Robert Schulman, director of the NASA Art Program. … Bob and I corresponded for years. He was interested in jazz musicians-lucky me, you know. Eventually I posed the idea, how about NASA commissioning the first musician for the Art Program? And he loved the idea."
Dennehy's "nutty" suggestion ultimately culminated in a 1989 concert at the Kennedy Space Center featuring the Brevard Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Fire and Imagination, an original work by Bloom scored for soprano saxophone, electronics, orchestra and "a whole bunch of ringers, the jazz musicians that were in the piece." Although the work has yet to be performed in its original version since the premiere and has also never been commercially recorded (though some reworkings of that material surfaced on her landmark 1992 album Art and Aviation), Bloom's association with NASA has had some unusual ripple effects. In 1998, an asteroid discovered on September 25, 1984 by B. A. Skiff at the Anderson Mesa Station of Lowell Observatory was named after her-6083 Janeirabloom!
As for what her next project will be, she has no firm ideas and, as an adherent to valuing choices made in the moment, she seems to like it that way.
American original Jane Ira Bloom does it again. This time the 21st-century soprano saxophonist reimagines the poetry of 19th-century visionary Emily Dickinson in two different settings. This new 2 CD pack, has the quartet (Dawn Clement (piano), Mark Helias (bass)& Bobby Previte (drums) interpretating Dickinson's poetry both instrumentaly and in spoken word settings that feature readings by popular stage & film actor Deborah Rush. After the success of her 2016 trio album release Early Americans, Bloom shifts gears with Wild Lines / Improvising Emily Dickinson. Bloom composed Wild Lines when she was awarded a 2015 CMA/ Doris Duke New Jazz Works commission. She was inspired to musically reimagine Dickinson when she learned that the poet was a pianist and improviser herself.
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You never know what American original soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom is going to do next. After the success of her 2014 all-ballads release "Sixteen Sunsets" Bloom shifts into another gear showcasing the kinetic energy of her acclaimed trio playing with the musicians that she knows best on Early Americans (OTL142). It's her first trio album, sixteenth as leader and sixth recording on the Outline label. Her sound is like no other on the straight horn and she lets it fly on every track. She's joined by long-time bandmates Mark Helias on bass & drummer Bobby Previte and with over fifty years of shared musical history together the album is sure to be a winner. Bloom's collaboration with Helias dates back to the mid 70's in New Haven CT and her unique chemistry with Previte has been ongoing since 2000. She brought the group together in summer 2015 to Avatar Studio B in NYC to capture their breathtaking sound in both stereo and surround-sound with renowned audio engineer Jim Anderson. The album features twelve Bloom originals ranging from the rhythmic drive of "Song Patrol" and "Singing The Triangle" to the spare melancholy of "Mind Gray River." She closes the album with a signature solo rendition of the American songbook classic, Bernstein & Sondheim's "Somewhere." World-renowned portrait photographer Brigitte Lacombe contributes a stunning cover image of Bloom. "Playing in threes" has always held a special fascination for jazz artists - it offers the possibility that something can be slightly off balance and that's just what fires the imagination of players like Bloom, Helias, & Previte. With Early Americans Jane Ira Bloom stands in the vanguard of her generation carving out new territory in the heart of the jazz tradition. Don't miss this trio of "fearless jazz explorers who share a commitment to beauty & adventure."
"I grew up listening to these songs and knowing the lyrics. They were a part of my earliest listening experiences so playing them is like breathing to me. As time's gone by it's been easier to let the meaning of the songs come through the horn."- Jane Ira Bloom
Award winning soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom has always had a special feeling for ballad performances. So much so that she has now finally released: Sixteen Sunsets, a beautiful new recording featuring expressive interpretations from the American Songbook along with five compelling slow tempo original compositions. With this her 15th album as leader and her first all-ballads album, Sixteen Sunsets pairs JIB with long-time colleagues Cameron Brown on bass and Matt Wilson on drums, along with an exciting new pianist we will all be hearing a lot more from: Dominic Fallacaro.
After thirty years, Award winning soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom has returned to her original label, Outline Records, for a disc employing an electro-acoustic band which brings together fellow 70's New Havenite Mark Helias on bass, drummer Matt Wilson, and Seattle new comer Dawn Clement on keyboards for Mental Weather. After premiering the piece with the Doris Duke new jazz works program, Bloom then brought the band into Avatar Studio B in NYC with audio engineering legend Jim Anderson and laid down nine thrilling tracks.
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Whether adventuring into interior or outer space in her music, award winning soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom continues to navigate her unique musical path with creative abandon. Wingwalker, her 14th album as leader and fourth album on the Outline label reunites Bloom with long-time bandmates Dawn Clement on piano, bassist Mark Helias, and drummer Bobby Previte. After two years since Bloom's last release "Mental Weather," she brought the band together in June 2010 to record new compositions written during time made possible by a Guggenheim Fellowship. Wingwalker was recorded in Avatar Studio B in New York City with renowned audio engineer Jim Anderson. The album features eleven Bloom originals and a solo sax rendition of Lerner & Lowe's classic "I Could Have Danced All Night." From the groove inspired "Life on Cloud 8" to the spare simplicity of "Adjusting to Midnight," Jane has journeyed further into jazz dimensions without a safety net. The CD also features an extra mp3 downloadable version of the music condensed into a 5 minute 49 second event.
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