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Drummer Franklin Kiermyer Returns With His Most Spiritual Release To Date

Posted on September 6th, 2016 by admin

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Closer To The Sun (Mobility Music) Furthers A Lifelong Practice Of Meditation And Contemplation, Co-Produced by Famed Producer Michael Cuscuna

Kiermyer Presents a New Band with Lawrence Clark (saxophone), Davis Whitfield (piano) and Otto Gardner (bass) – Each Committed to Depth and Openness of Spirit

On his newest album, Closer To The Sun, drummer, composer and bandleader Franklin Kiermyer pursues his singular quest, digging deeper to the roots of transformational music. It was always the feeling of the music that motivated his playing and on this latest offering, his focused spiritual practice leads the music even further. Co-producer Michael Cuscuna remarks, “Franklin went beyond his influences. He found his own way to play drums–his own time concept–his own way of organizing a performance. The music always swings in it’s own way, on it’s own terms.”

Kiermyer’s album Solomon’s Daughter (Evidence, 1994)–featuring Pharoah Sanders, John Esposito and Drew Gress–put him on the map. His subsequent album Kairos (Evidence, 1994) established him as a leader in what one writer called “Ecstatic American Music.” For the next few years, Kiermyer toured with his quartet, appearing at leading venues like Yoshi’s, Sweet Basil and The Montreal Jazz Festival. Soon after, he seemed to virtually drop from view.  From 1997 to 2013 Kiermyer only released two albums and toured rarely. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Jazz Festival Announces New NextGenJazz Stage for 2016

Posted on July 26th, 2016 by admin

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For the 8th consecutive year, The Chicago Community Trust Jazz on the Rooftop stage will be a part of the Chicago Jazz Festival at the Harris Theater Rooftop Terrace in Millennium Park on Saturday, September 3 and Sunday, September 4. Presented by The Chicago Community Trust, the Jazz on the Rooftop stage aims to showcase up-and-coming Chicago native jazz musicians alongside the notable regional and national touring acts that attract nearly 150,000 jazz fans. This year, the festival is pleased to present Jazz Institute of Chicago’s Jazz Links alumni saxophonist John Foster-Brooks, pianist Alexis Lombre, vibraphonist Joel Ross and the Hanging Hearts among the next generation of Chicago jazz greats.

The Chicago Community Trust Rooftop Jazz performances start September 3rd with a showcase of “Young Jazz Lions” featuring some of the most dedicated elementary and high school bands including the Lenart Regional Gifted and Harold Washington Elementary School Jazz Combos, the Jones College Prep Jazz Combo, the Whitney Young Magnet High School Jazz Combo, the Curie High School Jazz Ensemble, the Pritzker High School Jazz Ensemble, and the Kenwood High School Jazz Ensemble. Performances run from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Read the rest of this entry »

Slavic Soul Party! Celebrates Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s Masterpiece, The Far East Suite, with Their Newest Album on Ropeadope Records, Out September 16th

Posted on July 18th, 2016 by Matt

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The past 50 years have seen a lot of borders come down: the Iron Curtain, the European Union, the Cuban embargo, apartheid in the USA and South Africa all come to mind.  But lately we’ve heard talk of reinforcing borders and building walls, watched as refugees from the Middle East pile up on newly reinforced European borders.  Many of these borders – between Macedonia and Serbia, Turkey and Europe, “the east” and “the west”, host culture and “other” – are the very same borders that Slavic Soul Party! has crossed for years.  They’re also many of the same borders crossed by the Duke Ellington Orchestra in 1963, when the US State Department sent the band on a “jazz diplomacy” mission to the Middle East, South Asia, and the Balkans.  50 years ago Ellington recorded his brilliant collaboration with Billy Strayhorn, the Far East Suite in New York City masterfully integrating the sounds they heard into the Ellington band, itself one of the defining sounds of jazz.

Slavic Soul Party! celebrates 50 years of the Far East Suite with a new record that re-imagines the iconic suite as an Eastern European brass band discovering an exotic American sound, reversing the “exotic tinge” and reveling in this subtle, funky, and brilliant music.  The essence of Ellington and Strayhorn’s collaboration is apparent from the first notes – the pulsing, harmonically rich chords of Tourist Point of View – but there’s something clearly different here. The slight of hand that SSP! has achieved with deft arrangements and strong Balkan playing is wonderfully disorienting.  This is music that has taken several trips across the Atlantic, in both directions.  It’s obviously a brass band that has fallen in love with the sound of jazz, but where is this music from? Read the rest of this entry »

Alto Saxophonist Jim Snidero Celebrates His 20th Recording as a Leader with MD66, Inspired by Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet, Scheduled for Release on August 26, 2016 on Savant Records

Posted on July 14th, 2016 by Matt

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Over the course of a career lasting more than 35 years, Jim Snidero has established his reputation as a leader both on the bandstand and as an influential author of jazz education books. A pioneer in music education technology, with his venture The Jazz Conception Company (TJCC), the release of MD66 only affirms the alto saxophonist’s role as an important and evolving jazz artist.

MD66 is scheduled for release on August 26 on Savant Records, marking Snidero’s 20th album as a leader and sixth release for Savant. The album celebrates 50 years since the heyday of the second great Miles Davis Quintet (with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams). Snidero remarks on how Davis was a critical beacon for being a great leader. He had a gift for hiring musicians who best fit his evolving vision, often inspiring them to create innovative music.”

Consisting primarily of Snidero’s original compositions, along with a piece by pianist Andy Laverne and Davis’ immortal “Blue in Green,” the music on MD66 came about as a result of Snidero’s careful attention to the musical interplay between the members of Davis’ second great quintet. “That band is at the very top of the ladder of any kind of music that I’ve ever listened to,” says Snidero.  Assembling his own stellar band consisting of trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, pianist Andy Laverne, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Rudy Royston, Snidero sought to explore his own music while conveying the same sense of intimacy demonstrated by Davis’ second quintet.
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Prolific Guitarist, Trumpeter, Flutist and Composer RHYS CHATHAM Releases Pythagorean Dream on Foom Records

Posted on June 8th, 2016 by Matt

Rhys Chatham returns with his first new album in 3 years, the apocryphal and enchanting Pythagorean Dream. Primarily focused on the electric guitar (but also featuring flute and a bit of trumpet) the recording is named after the Pythagorean guitar tuning it employs. The new album is a truly singular endeavour; composed, performed, produced, engineered and mastered solely by Chatham.

Following his Guitar Trio Is My Life! and A Crimson Grail recordsthe latter: the extensive revisiting of his groundbreaking “Guitar Trio” (1977) which featured the entire guitar section of Sonic Youth, and members of Swans, Tortoise, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Modern Lovers, A Silver Mt. Zion & Hüsker Dü; the former: his work for for 400 guitars which premiered in Paris in 2005 and was reworked for the Lincoln Center Out Of Doors Festival in New York City in 2009Chatham felt a need to get back to basics, returning to that most intimate and direct way of experiencing music: the solo.

Going back to the model of composer as performer that was pioneered in the 1960s by artists such as Tony Conrad and Terry Riley, Chatham began to develop solos that he would play himself, choosing to incorporate the multi-second delay effect pioneered by Terry Riley with two Revox Tape Machines. Feeling that it tied in with his overall minimalist aesthetic (having studied under, and then worked with La Monte Young in the early 1970s) and that the effect (which gives the impression that choirs and choirs of instruments are playing) was fitting as a succession to his 100-guitar idea, Chatham created and layered feedback loops of varying durations using Riley’s method in order to create rich, overlapping layers, which in practice transcend the limitations of their start and end points, blooming into free-flowing melodies in their own right.

Part One of Pythagorean Dream is comprised of a brief trumpet intro, followed by a guitar piece which implements a finger picking technique (Chatham has long been a fan of this style; John Fahey was one of his teenage musical heroes), before moving to an eBow section, and concluding with the fast tremolo flat-picking technique used in the context of his 100 guitar pieces.

Part Two is principally about Chatham’s return to the flute, the instrument which sparked his love of contemporary music; which he mastered in his adolescence prior to experiencing the early Ramones show at CBGB’s and which caused him to changed course and focus on the electric guitar. While composing this solo work, Chatham figured that the flute’s timbre would make a suitably interesting contrast to the guitar and trumpet, which led him to pick up the instrument again. Pythagorean Dream features Chatham on C, alto & bass flutes. The recording is brought to a close with a final guitar piece.

After Years of Steady Collaboration, Sara Gazarek and Josh Nelson Debut as Vocal-Piano Duo with Dream in the Blue, Out August 5, 2016

Posted on May 19th, 2016 by Matt

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Since 2002, vocalist Sara Gazarek and pianist Josh Nelson have nurtured an uncommonly strong musical bond. It’s no mere happenstance that Nelson played as a band member on all four of Gazarek’s albums, and she, in turn, sang on two of Nelson’s own recording projects. But over the past 18 months, this Los Angeles-based pair has taken their collaboration to a new level, touring extensively as a duo and developing a diverse repertoire that showcases their combined artistic maturation. Gazarek and Nelson recorded their new album Dream in the Blue (funded exclusively through the crowd-sourcing website pledgemusic.com) as a tribute to their extraordinary partnership.  

“I remember feeling so incredibly comfortable with Josh that I held on tight and never looked back,” says Gazarek, recalling their very first gig in LA. “We’ve spent the last decade and more writing together, arranging, recording, making silly videos; essentially growing up together, personally and musically.” Nelson, in addition to citing his close rapport with Gazarek, sees Dream in the Blue as “a nice snapshot of our musical tastes in general — decidedly welcoming and accessible for a wide variety of audiences.”

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Chicago Jazz Festival Announces 2016 Lineup

Posted on May 9th, 2016 by admin

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is pleased to announce the 38th Annual Chicago Jazz Festival. The Labor Day Weekend tradition will take place in Millennium Park and at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Street) September 1-4, showcasing some of the greatest jazz artists from Chicago and around the world. The FREE admission Chicago Jazz Festival is produced by DCASE and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago (JIC).

The Chicago Jazz Festival has always taken pride in celebrating the full spectrum of jazz with a special emphasis on the city’s unique place in the music’s artistic development. This year’s programming takes a special look at that history while celebrating the artists, events and moments that continue to shape jazz today.

The range of headlining artists at the 2016 festival runs the gamut from jazz legends celebrating momentous occasions to commemorations of key contributions by lost giants, from influential modern masters to crucial new voices in the music’s continuing evolution. The roster includes revered saxophonist/composer Benny Golson, saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen the John Scofield/Joe Lovano Quartet and a 95th birthday celebration for legendary percussionist Candido Camero.

In addition to these still-thriving greats, this year’s festival will look back at some of the legends that the jazz world has lost in recent years. Irreverent trio The Bad Plus will perform the music of Ornette Coleman’s 1971 album SCIENCE FICTION with saxophonists Tim Berne and Sam Newsome and trumpeter Ron Miles. Composer/arranger Carla Bley will lead the Liberation Music Orchestra, the politically-charged ensemble founded by late bassist Charlie Haden, with in-demand bassist Scott Colley filling Haden’s shoes. Rambling Boy, the 2009 documentary on Haden, will also screen as part of the festival.

The year 2016 marks the centennial of the Great Migration, the mass movement of more than 6 million African Americans from the rural South to the urban Midwest, Northeast and West that took place beginning in 1916. Chicago was a key destination for that transformative relocation, with a momentous impact on the development of jazz as a vernacular music from New Orleans and transformed into an industry in Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Bobby Avey Announces New Record, ‘Inhuman Wilderness’

Posted on April 14th, 2016 by Matt

 

For a young musician, Bobby Avey has quickly establishing himself as an emerging voice in the creative music scene. The Guardian describes him as, “a player and musical thinker with an intriguing future,” who The New Yorker asserts “[Avey is] a young pianist of invention and refinement.” In 2011, he won the Thelonious Monk Competition for Composition, following the release of his first album,  A New Face, which the New York Times called “A promising debut.”

Inhuman Wilderness, the fifth recording from the esteemed pianist, promises to be a major artistic statement. The release is a multi-hued tapestry that eloquently portrays the tragedy of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man and to nature. Releasing June 24th, 2016, the album will be Innervoice Jazz’s second release after pianist Marc Copland’s Zenith.

Once again, Avey’s has enlisted longtime bassist Thomson Kneeland and drummer Jordan Perlson to support the underlying framework of his unusual concepts.  The trio have almost a decade of playing under their belts. Indeed AllAboutJazz.com proclaimed the three, “a strong, intuitive trio.” The fourth voice joining the quartet for Inhuman Wilderness is alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher.  Avey met O’Gallagher in 2014 when the two played a gig together in NYC, and it was in that moment Avey knew he had found the final component to complete a new quartet. Avey says “John was simply the best fit for the repertoire.  He internalized the music quickly and brought it to life.” Read the rest of this entry »

Amir Elsaffar’s Rivers of Sound

Posted on April 2nd, 2016 by Matt

Rivers of Sound is a large ensemble of instrumentalists from Western and Middle Eastern traditions, exploring the confluences of a musical language that transcends notions of tradition and style. In performing Not Two, an original composition by Amir ElSaffar, each musician interacts with the group through both improvised and composed material to create a novel composite sound.

Composer, trumpeter, santur player and vocalist, Amir ElSaffar, an expert in Jazz and Iraqi maqam, has forged his novel approach to combining musical languages through his six-piece ensemble Two Rivers. Over the past eight years, the group has released three CD’s on Pi Recordings. Crisis, the most recent, was a Newport Jazz Festival commission. Jazz critic of the The Chicago Tribune, Howard Reich, declared Crisis “one of the most beautiful and evocative jazz recordings of the year.” A reviewer for The Wire, stated that “ElSaffar is uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music without doing either harm…the result of engagement across the board, presented with clarity and eloquence.”

Rivers of Sound: Not Two is a continuation of the Two Rivers concept, but projected onto a wider canvas unprecedented in scope and imagination.  Microtonal maqam melodies traverse a richly-textured bed of sound created by oud, buzuk, and santur, in combination with cello, violin, saxophones, English horn and trumpet. Also at play are multilayered, rhythmic patterns and harmonies performed by re-tuned vibraphone, piano and guitar. The drum set, mridangam, dumbek, frame drums and double-bass provide the rhythmic foundation and subdivisions of the multiple currents. Resonance across rhythmic, tonal, and timbral spectra, and across musical traditions, is the guiding principle.

ElSaffar’s music is at once unique and engaging, full of heart and passion. Challenging notions of composition vs. improvisation, tradition vs. modernity, microtonality/modality vs. harmony, his compositions bring to light the universality of music across cultures. Given the catastrophes befalling the people of the Middle Eastern and Arab lands, his music is both timely and urgent as he is preserving elements of these cultures by bringing them into context with contemporary musical forms.

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Jeff Lederer Takes A Left Turn with Brooklyn Blowhards – Drawing A Parallel Between Sea Shanties and The Music of Albert Ayler

Posted on March 21st, 2016 by Matt

“One should play the guitar like a man drowning at sea….”  – Captain Beefheart

The sea can be a terrifying place. “I love sea shanties because they embody the spirit of men holding on in the face of a vast and unknowable ocean which combines beauty and fear in equal measure,” says saxophonist and clarinetist Jeff Lederer.

“I love the tension of individual and group that is so present in the very form of these songs through the call and response structure.  I love the way this music is connected to the acts of physical labor on a ship – it’s feeling of resistance-the pushing and pulling of the beat; actually, more pulling of the beat than pushing – you don’t push with a rope.”

Years ago in conversation with longtime musical collaborator Matt Wilson (who appears here on various concert percussion), Wilson shared his impressions of first hearing the great Albert Ayler recording Love Cry. “He told me how it sounded very folk-like to him, almost like sea shanties.”

Years later, cornetist Kirk Knuffke (also present on this recording) played Lederer a recording of the traditional vocal group The Foc’sile Singers which contained much of the repertoire we hear on this recording.  “The idea of connecting sea shanties with the music of Albert Ayler seemed to me to be not only completely natural, but inevitable.  It is sadly relevant to mention that Albert Ayler met his own tragic death at sea,” notes Lederer.

A Los Angeles native, Lederer was initially turned on to the jazz icon when his Oberlin college professor Wendell Logan hipped him to Love Cry. “It spoke to me right away. It has a folk music quality to it, a directness.  People don’t always identify the lyricism in play with Albert because they’re so taken aback by the sound and the extended technique. But it’s right there. I’m drawn to tenor players who work that gritty aspect. Like George Adams on Mingus at Carnegie Hall.”

Lots of modern improvisers try to balance the joy of boundless expressionism with the buoyancy of swing, but few do it with Lederer’s sense of ease.  On Brooklyn Blowhards the relatively tame sea shanties are punctuated by the leader’s roars and rumbles, which lovingly conjure the heady atmosphere of late-‘60s jazz.

The shrieks here have a soulful purpose, fluttery murmurs have an attractive warmth. When he rockets a solo from 0 to 100, there’s always a story being told between the lines. “When I would do that at the Showman’s Club, they definitely understood that the squeaking and honking wasn’t coming from an artsy intention, but an emotional one.  I like that my ecstatic thing differentiates me from other cats, but I like it most when it fits in, when it comes from what’s around me.”

Chemistry is key and Brooklyn Blowhards has a noticeable family feel to it. Wilson, Knuffke and Lederer often work together in Wilson’s quarter. Drummer Allison Miller, here playing concert percussion and bass drum has Knuffke in her band BOOM TIC BOOM and trombonist Brian Drye is a ubiquitous presence on the Brooklyn creative music scene, often playing with everyone here in different contexts. Miller and Lederer are bandmates in Honey Ear Trio. Art Bailey was the perfect man for the job here adding his reedy accordion to the pentatonic sound of the shanties. Petr Cancura is Lederer’s favorite tenor sax player and loves the folky aspect of his sound. He feels they are kindred spirits.

The artwork associated with this project comes from visual artist Matt Kish, whose book Moby Dick: A Picture for Every Page, Lederer discovered in a whaling museum in Nantucket.  “The art seemed to me to embody everything that I was feeling about the sea; the creatures that live in it, and the men whose lives centered on killing them.” The artwork is as elemental and spiritual as Herman Melville’s words that inspired it. “The images reflected everything I heard in this music as well – violence, a Quaker spirituality, and a striving for order in the midst of turmoil.  These are all qualities that I hear in the music of Albert Ayler as well.”

A key member of The Matt Wilson Quartet & Christmas Tree-O, the 51-year-old saxophonist is one of New York’s most versatile horn players. He has accompanied tap dancers at Harlem’s famed Showman’s Club, grooved the five boroughs as part of Jimmy Bosch’s salsa outfit, and played frequently with larger-than-life Afro-Cuban drummer and bandleader Bobby Sanabria. Regardless of setting, the impassioned peal of his sax is always on display.

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