Saturday, February 24, 2018

Anna Mjöll live in NY, March 3!

LA-based Icelandic Jazz Princess Anna Mjöll makes her debut at FEINSTEIN'S/54Below in New York City on March 3! Hoping to see all my NY friends there! 😊
For tickets go to:

Charles Carlini Presents "Dangerous Rhythms" with T.J. English & Bobby Sanabria

Join bestselling author T.J. English as he curates a series of the best in contemporary Latin Jazz to celebrate the launch of his latest book, "The Corportaion."
Featuring Bobby Sanabria & Sexteto Ibiano @ Zinc Bar, NYC
April 5m 7pm & 8:30pm
Tickets: $20 advance / $25 day of show

Fernando Garcia CD release show for "Guasábara Puerto Rico" on March 10, NY

Fernando García Band: Guasábara Puerto Rico - CD Release Concert

Puerto Rican drummer, composer, and bandleader plans to release his third album this year. It showcases his talents as a drummer and composer, as well as his ability to unite an amazing group of energetic musicians from the New York City Latin-Jazz scene. It also features the Grammy-nominated and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón.

"Puerto Rico native García organically blends folkloric Bomba rhythms and Latin jazz in a myriad of satisfying ways. His simpático crew of youngbloods push the envelope on García's third album as a leader and debut for ZOHO music." - Bill Milkowski, Jazz Times

The concert will be 9 pm at Teatro Latea: 107 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002
Cover: $15

Blues guitar legend Chris Cain live in Pasadena, tonight!

Friendly Warning to All Blues Lovers!

Come see Chris Cain tonight, Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 at Big Mama's Rib Shack in Pasadena. 
The show starts at 8 pm.  Show up any time after 7 pm for tickets at the door, or get tickets in advance at

The long-anticipated return of Chris Cain this weekend means one thing.  All three shows will may SELL OUT in advance. They expect a mob scene at each show!
Cadillac Zack Presents
*** CHRIS CAIN ***
FEB. 24, 25 & 26, 2018


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Spin Cycle further refines its adventuresome sound on "Assorted Colors," set for April 6 release

One of the freshest sounding bands to emerge on the jazz scene in this or any decade, Spin Cycle follows up its critically acclaimed eponymous debut from 2016 with the release on April 6 of "Assorted Colors" (Sound Footing Records). The new recording, coming after two years of intensive touring that further refined their distinctive take on jazz, sustains the praise bestowed by DownBeat's Ed Enright in his rave review of their first album that hailed the band as "a cohesive unit that commands an exceptional stylistic range and exhibits a go-for-broke attitude."

On their sophomore release, the piano-less quartet delivers more of the "bright melodic lines, deep-seated grooves, catchy rhythmic devices and sophisticated harmony" cited by Enright, who praised them for "improvisations run wild, as soloists embrace aggressive and daring ideas from the realms of modal jazz, free-jazz, second-line and soul, not to mention good old-fashioned swing."

Founded in 2014 and co-led by drummer Scott Neumann and saxophonist Tom Christensen, who have known and played with each other in various settings for well over 25 years, Spin Cycle is rounded out by guitarist Pete McCann and bassist Phil Palombi. The four musicians are mainstays of the New York jazz scene.

The title "Assorted Colors" alludes in part to the broad and eclectic stylistic palettes Christensen and Neumann each draw upon while crafting the compositions that define Spin Cycle's musical direction. (Christensen contributed six tunes to the session, Neumann five.) "One of our aims was to develop the songs not by adding sections but by building on the form itself via solos or concepts," Neumann says. "We wrote things that got to the heart of the matter, but also were vehicles that allowed us to stretch," Christensen adds.
 (L. to r.: Phil Palombi, Tom Christensen, Scott Neumann, Pete McCann)

Spin Cycle's decision to use a guitar rather than a piano in the band enables the creation of unusual blends of airy textures that are a trademark of the band's tonal tapestries. "Guitar chords are more sparse than piano chords, they're more open sounding," says Christensen.

Among the Christensen tunes on "Assorted Colors" are the arresting minor-key "Possum Dark," in his words a "swaggering bad ass blues" named after the enforcer in the post-apocalyptic novella Ginny Sweethips' Flying Circus, and the stripped-down, minimalism-streaked "Two Pan Man," on which he lets it rip on tenor while guitarist McCann, according to the composer, "sounds almost like a second wind player."

Neumann's compositions include the sharp-angled, Monk-inspired "Break Tune," whose infectious swing and sense of fun provide a spirited introduction to the album. Neumann, who spent a week in Cuba in 2017 studying with Cuban drummers, also composed "To the Puente," an intriguing blend of the son montuno and modern mambo accents à la Chick Corea. "Affirmation" has a cool, rolling vibe recalling some of Pat Metheny's classic recordings.

Tom Christensen studied classical music and jazz at both undergraduate and graduate levels at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and moved to New York in 1989. For eight years, he was a member of the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra, appearing on five of their albums. He also has played on such notable recordings as Joe Lovano's "Celebrating Sinatra," Rufus Reid's "Quiet Pride," and the David Liebman Big Band's "Tribute to Wayne Shorter." His 2000 debut, "Gualala," and 2002 effort, "Paths," team him with multi-reedist Charles Pillow. His other recordings include "Americana" (2003) and "Kailash" (2007), on which he joins the Kailash Trio.

Scott Neumann attended North Texas State and, before moving to New York in 1988, played with the Woody Herman Orchestra for a year. On his 2006 album, "Osage County," he led a quartet including pianist David Berkman and saxophonist Sam Newsome; he recorded "Blessed" in 2014 as part of the Neu3 Trio, with Michael Blake and Mark Helias. A busy player on the New York scene who has collaborated with such luminaries as Kenny Barron and Ben Allison, Neumann has also accrued impressive credits as a vocal accompanist, a Broadway musician, and educator (he directs the drum studies program at Lehigh University).

Spin Cycle will be performing a CD release show at Smalls, NYC, on Friday 4/13. They've also scheduled several appearances in Ohio, including a concert and master class at Youngstown State (Bliss Hall), in Youngstown, 1-4pm on 4/5; concert at Andrews House, Delaware, OH 4/6; concert with Denison University Jazz Band, Granville, 8pm on 4/7; and the Bop Stop in Cleveland, 4/7.

Photography by Dennis Connors
CD graphic design by Fanny Chiari-Gotschall
Web Site:

R.I.P.: Didier Lockwood (1956-2018)

(born 11 February 1956 in Calais, France;
died 18 February 2018 in Paris, France)

Drummer Jonathan Barber announces the release of his debut album "Vision Ahead"

"Vision Ahead" due out May 11, 2018
Release show May 10, 2018 at Rockwood Music Hall, NYC

Featuring Taber Gable (piano), Andrew Renfroe (guitar), Godwin Louis (saxophone) Matt Dwonszyk (bass), Denise Renee (vocals) & Sasha Foster (vocals)

Hartford, Connecticut-native Jonathan Barber is proud to announce his arrival with the Friday, May 11th release of his highly-anticipated debut album "Vision Ahead." Featuring pianist Taber Gable, guitarist Andrew Renfroe, saxophonist Godwin Louis, bassist Matt Dwonszyk, and vocalists Denise Renee and Sasha Foster (collectively and eponymously known as the album title), "Vision Ahead" is Barber's product of six years spent cultivating a distinct and immaculately tailored sound with like minded musicians who, together, now present themselves as an undeniable, sonically-solid unit. "Vision Ahead" serves as a showcase of the fresh prospects that can be envisioned and the greatness that can be achieved when one is forced to face unanticipated, desolating life-challenges.

Upon hearing the devastating and unexpected news of his one and only brother's death in November 2016, Barber struggled to comprehend life, and the purpose of his own, individual fore-planned and foreseen envisage slipped out of his understanding. 

"I became confused with the direction that life was taking me and numb to the new norm that instantly presented itself to me; for it was that stand still moment the words "Vision Ahead" became the theme of my next chapter in life."

Sonically, "Vision Ahead" not only paints a picture of fresh perspective but one of perseverance. Aside achieving goals through adversity, it is a creation of polished craft and art that strives to breakthrough in a music industry that lacks the attention of an intellectual artist.

"My music not only helped me through my grieving process, but sparked a fresh musical style in hopes of carrying on the spirit of this American art form; jazz."
Eight out of the twelve tracks on "Vision Ahead" were personally composed by the young musician, named Best "Up & Coming" Drummer in the 2018 Modern Drummer Readers Poll. "Think On These Things" was the first composition that Jonathan Barber wrote for the album back in 2015. At the time there were no lyrics written but Barber wanted to write a ballad that reflected upon positive thinking. Inspired by the scripture Philippians 4:8, Barber aimed to portray the message that "you are what you eat and you become what you think." After the passing of his brother the lyrics came to him.

The rhythm of the title track's intro played by Andrew Renfroe lays perfectly with the syllables of the name "Vision Ahead" (spelling out the word "Vision" and saying the word "Ahead"). As the title track lifts into solos, the band provides an open section for Renfroe to let his fiery lines ring in the air.  Towards the end of Renfroe's solo he gives a call and response cue for Godwin Louis to step up to the plate and swing over the classic chord changes of Benny Golson's "Stablemates".  Once Louis is finished telling his story he cues the band to go to the bridge of "Vision Ahead" which is looped for Taber Gable's solo. Lastly, the solo section ends with Barber soloing over the intro creating a pulsating vamp. Keeping the "Vision Ahead" theme Barber sets a whirlwind of rhythms on top of this syncopated vamp. Collectively these musicians demonstrate how to take the language played by Jazz Masters and interprets it into an original composition.     

Originally written by pianist Eldar Djangirov, the seventh track off the album, "Airport" lifts off into the sky from the start. While flying to Europe on a music tour Jonathan Barber was listening to this song played by Djangirov and his trio, and inspired by the melody played in the high register on the piano, Barber began to set lyrics to this classic gem. The lyrics have a double meaning. In one sense they shine light on the function of an airplane; flying all over the world, transporting people to various destinations and living its purpose in the sky. The second message behind the lyrics is one of encouragement, to chase dreams. "Airport" is well executed, presenting a song that expresses vision and freedom.

"Believing in the Reunion" was the last composition that Jonathan Barber brought to the band. Its initial propose was designed to be the final statement to another composition. At the time it just seemed like a blueprint. Close to the end of day one in the studio, Barber wanted to record this sketched track, just to have it on file. Still unsure of the total outcome, a plan was made at that very moment. After hearing the completion of this composition in the mixing process, Jonathan knew that this song had to be a song by itself. For 1 minute and 40 seconds these musicians challenge the concept of time; There's no time signature to this composition. This closing track is played off of the present moment. Barber began to reflect about the afterlife and what reuniting with loved ones who have passed away might sound like. Would it be confined into 4/4, 3/4 or 7/8 time? Or would it sound like this composition - no time just motion.

"Collectively we capture the deep emotion and the intention that encompasses the compositions of these songs."

This tightly-knit ensemble has successfully created an album of hope and positivity. Whether itʼs graduating from The Jackie Mclean Institute of Jazz or being natives in the State of Connecticut, the seeds that were planted in one of the smallest states in the U.S. are still growing.

Jonathan Barber was first introduced to the drums by his father and began nurturing his passion and talents at his family church. During his senior year of high school, Barber became a member of the Artists Collective in Hartford, CT founded by Jackie and Dollie McLean. There he studied with master artist, Renee Mclean, who introduced him to jazz and its African roots and rhythms; it was at that point Jonathan knew he wanted to be a musician. He furthered his studies at the University of Hartford, Hartt School of Music, Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz, where he graduated Cum Laude, receiving a B.A. in Music Performance (Jazz Studies).

Wasting no time Jonathan became an ondemand drummer in the Hartford, CT jazz scene and also began building his career in the New York jazz scene. Jonathan has had the opportunity to perform with many artists such as Jimmy Greene, Erykah Badu, Wallace Roney, Jeremy Pelt, Rene Mclean, J.D. Allen, Kenny Barron, John Patitucci, Terrace Martin, Charnett Moffett, Stanley Jordan, Harold Mabern, Steve Davis, Larry Willis, Abraham Burton, Stefon Harris, Marcus Strickland and many more. Currently, Jonathan Barber continues to tour nationally and internationally and is now stepping out as a bandleader introducing his new band "Vision Ahead".

In May 2017 Jonathan debuted in his own international tour, traveling all over Japan. In January 2018 Jonathan was named best "Up & Coming" drummer in the Modern Drummer Readers Poll. Jonathan endorses Canopus Drums, Istanbul Agop Cymbals, Evans Drumheads, Promark Drumsticks and Sunhouse Percussion.

"I recognize my God given gift. Maximizing this gift to its full potential is the best thing you can do for yourself. Operating in this gift is how you give back to the world."

Friday, February 9, 2018

Frank Vignola returns after near-fatal crash - Live @ Iridium, NY, Feb 12

Frank Vignola @ Iridium - Monday, February 12, 8pm
1650 Broadway
New York, NY 10019
(212) 582-2121

with the John di Martino Trio
Frank Vignola - Guitar
John di Martino - Piano
Nicki Parrott - Bass
Drums - Dag Markhus

"Vignola returned on Sweet Georgia Brown, exhibiting his acoustic mastery in exhilarating single string runs, complex flurries and astounding full register riffs. When speed and clarity were demanded, Vignola stunned."- DownBeat

It 's been almost a year since top guitarist Frank Vignola catapulted into a tree from an off-road-vehicle in a tragic accident that nearly took his life. After being air-lifted to a renowned N.Y. area trauma center, Frank's family learned of his extensive injuries which included four broken ribs, a broken clavicle, shoulder (in two places), and arm, which has since required multiple surgeries. Additionally, Vignola suffered two collapsed lungs and massive internal bleeding.

Enduring a long but steady recovery, Frank returns to the stage in collaboration with the John di Martino Trio performing great American popular songs by Gershwin, Porter, Van Heusen, Berlin, Bernstein and more. He is grateful, and he's excited to be back to introduce the John di Martino Trio.

Frank Vignola, born December 30th, 1965, is one of the most extraordinary guitarists performing before the public today. His stunning virtuosity has made him the guitarist of choice for many of the world's top musicians, including Ringo Starr, Madonna, Donald Fagen, Wynton Marsalis, Tommy Emmanuel, the Boston Pops, the New York Pops, and guitar legend Les Paul, who named Vignola to his “Five Most Admired Guitarists List" for the Wall Street Journal. Vignola's stellar technique explains why the New York Times deemed him "one of the brightest stars of the guitar".

John di Martino is a jazz pianist, arranger and producer, based in New York City. He has been described as a "shape - shifter", for his creativity across musical genres. John has performed and recorded with David "Fat Head" Newman, Pat Martino, Houston Person and Taj Mahal. Mr. di Martino is a sought after musical director. He has accompanied Jon Hendricks, Keely Smith, Billy Eckstine , and Janis Siegel. John's talents as arranger and pianist can be heard on recordings with Gloria Lynn, and Grady Tate. John's discography includes many Grammy nominated CDs, among those are: "Love" with Issac Delgado, "Freddy Cole Sings Mr. B", and "Live & In Clave" with Bobby Sanabria.

For further information on Frank Vignola, visit his website at
For interviews and other inquiries contact :
Jim Eigo - Jazz Promo Services

For bookings contact:
Dynamic Artists
510 - 558 - 4000

Monday, February 5, 2018

Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Mark Whitfield & Joe Cohn: Strings Attached live in NY, Feb 9 & 10

4 Good Reasons to Catch Strings Attached at the Jazz Forum on Feb. 9 & 10: Jack Wilkins, Vic Juris, Mark Whitfield, Joe Cohn!
Presented by Charles Carlini.

Meg Okura prepares the release of two new albums

Visionary violinist and composer Meg Okura will be releasing two new albums in the coming months. She, along with Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc, will be releasing "NPO Trio Live at The Stone" on Chant Records on March 15th. On May 13th, which is Mothers Day, Meg along with the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble featuring Tom Harrell will release "IMA IMA." The latter will be celebrated at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 20th.

Okura ushers in the Spring season with two new recordings: "NPO Trio Live at The Stone," the debut album from NPO Trio, which features Okura on violin, alongside Sam Newsome on soprano saxophone and Jean-Michel Pilc on piano, out Friday, March 15, and "IMA IMA," which features The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble with Tom Harrell out Sunday, May 13.

While "Live at The Stone" introduces the impressive tightly-knit trio, who as a group weave through musical idioms of jazz and classical - from impressionism to minimalism, blues to free jazz, "IMA IMA" successfully blends the musical cultures of East and West for a new and exciting direction in modern jazz expression. With this highly-anticipated double release, Okura showcases both her truly versatile musicality. "IMA IMA" will be celebrated at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on August 20th.
Newly established avant-garde and world music label, Chant Records is excited to announce the arrival of NPO Trio with the release of "Live at The Stone," which was recorded by the trio, led by Meg Okura during her residency at The Stone in the East Village, New York in April of 2016. Following the 2017 release of a duo album by Sam Newsome and Jean-Michel Pilc, Magic Circle, the duo multiplied its dimensions by adding the violinist to their line-up. NPO Trio is now a dynamic group of like-minded friends celebrating freedom of expression through music and sounds. Although the music presented by these three is improvisational, listeners will also hear hints of familiar melodies including well-known Yiddish songs and even excerpts of John Coltrane.

Okura explains that she has always felt emotionally connected to Yiddish melodies. The melodies are always sad and happy at the same time (typically a minor melody with major chords), just like the Japanese expression of happy sad. Reminiscing upon her childhood, Okura recalls consoling herself by truly believing that, "...sadness is absolutely necessary for me to experience true happiness in the future. And everytime I hear Jewish songs, it reminds me of my childhood."

The entire concert at The Stone consisted of three extensive improvisational parts. The first part, which is 38 minutes in total, is divided into 6 shorter segments, each given individual titles for the purpose of this album. The melody often quoted during these first six tracks is a famous Yiddish song by Mark Warshawsky (1848-1907), "Oyfn Pripetchik". The song is about a rabbi teaching his children about the value of education and perseverance. It also mentions exodus, reminding us of the sacrifices made by our ancestors, which presents us with the freedom we have today. Track 7, "Unkind Gestures" is a shorter improvisation, which pays homage to John Coltrane's Giant Steps.
With unique instrumentation including Shinobue (Japanese flute) "IMA IMA" brings together some of New York's finest jazz artists including Sam Newsome, Pablo Aslan, Brian Marsalsa, Anne Drummond, Brian Marsella and Riza Printup as well as special guest trumpeter Tom Harrell. Hailed by the New York Times as "vibrant" and "sophisticated", Okura's Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble presents "IMA IMA" as a celebration of womanhood, particularly motherhood.

Meg Okura became an Ima (meaning mother in Hebrew) seven years ago, so along with being a tribute to Okura's grandmother, who recently passed away, it is only fitting that "IMA IMA" will be released on Mother's Day this year. Okura explains that although many refer to this period of time as an interruption, she prefers to regard it as a constant state of disruptions.  "The earliest compositions on this album being the ones from my pregnancy period only support that claim. However, I do not believe motherhood has had a negative impact on my music."

Okura explains that disruptions forced her to think more creatively and resourcefully, and so inevitably made her music stronger. It inspired the Japanese native towards integrity, and excellence in her composition, improvisation and performance. Being anything other than the first-rate was not acceptable. "The last thing I wanted to do as a mother was to use motherhood as an excuse for not being able to achieve excellence."

Ima Ima -(L'dor Vador) by The Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble was supported by New Music USA, made possible by annual program support and/or endowment gifts from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Francis Goelet Charitable Lead Trusts, Anonymous. To follow the project as it unfolds, visit the project page:


Formerly a concert violinist, Okura made her U.S. solo debut at the Kennedy Center with the late Alexander Schneider's New York String Orchestra. She then moved to New York City and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in classical violin from The Julliard School.  Advancing her career as a jazz violinist while at the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles, Okura was soloist and the concertmaster for the orchestra backing up Herbie Hancock, Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, and Terence Blanchard, under the batons of music icons as Quincy Jones, Jerry Goldsmith, and Jack Elliot.

Okura quickly became one of the most sought-after violinists on New York City's music scene, appearing on dozens of recordings with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Lee Konitz, Diane Reeves, Heidi Grand-Murphy, Sam Newsome, Jesse Harris, Jeremy Pelt, Ziggy Marley and many more. She has toured internationally with the late Michael Brecker, Steve Swallow, Tom Harrell, appearing at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Barbican, Madison Square Garden, Village Vanguard, Blue Note Tokyo, Hollywood Bowl and at numerous festivals and concert halls around the world. In 2016, Okura held a week-long residency at the Stone in New York City, performing and presenting 12 concerts with her 10 different groups.

Recipient of numerous grants and awards including Metlife Creative Connections Grant (Meet The Composer), Brand Personality Award (Asia Pacific Brands Foundation), Manhattan Community Arts Fund (Lower Manhattan Cultural Council), Jerome Composers Commissioning Program (American Composers Forum), and most recently, New Music USA Project Grant, Okura has also composed/ arranged for several film and television programs such as The Congregation (documentary) and Louie (TV series), as well as, the New York Symphonic Ensemble, Sirius String Quartet, and C. Eule Dance.

She has herself also appeared on many movie soundtracks as a violinist, and erhu player, has been featured in three Cirque du Soleil productions (Varekai, Wintuk and Corteo), and has collaborated and performed with Oscar nominee actor and Columbia recording artist Terrence Howard. For the past ten years, Okura has also been a member of a Jewish/Middle Eastern band "Pharaoh's Daughter" led by ex-orthodox singer-songwriter and cantor Basya Schechter.

Jazz Club of Sarasota announces "World of Jazz" for 38th Sarasota Jazz Festival, March 7-10

Jazz, the uniquely American musical art form, was born in New Orleans in the early 20thcentury and nurtured on a lively diet of music from around the world--the blues of the American South, rhythms from Africa and the Caribbean, classical music from Europe and France, and more. It’s entirely fitting, then, that the Jazz Club of Sarasota --one of the most active jazz societies in the nation-- will present “A World of Jazz”for its 38thAnnual Sarasota Jazz Festival.

The four-day event, from March 7-10, 2018, will feature14 musicians from seven nations in four concerts, over a dozen locally based musicians for a Pub Crawl by Trolley, and the French art film Django.

In addition, at one of the concerts the Club will present its highest honor, the Satchmo Award, to a musician for “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.” Festival activities will be presented in various Sarasota venues including Marriott’s new Art Ovation Hotel, downtown Sarasota night clubs and Burns Court Cinema. Live jazz will fill the lobby before each concert, and four special VIP receptions—for those who purchase VIP ticket packages--will add to the luster of this star-studded festival.

“We’re pleased to recognize the global impact of jazz, and we’re especially honored that the celebrated Ken Peplowski, one of our audience favorites, is the festival’s music director,” said Peg Pluto, Jazz Club president. “We’re also delighted that our vice president, Ed Linehan, is managing director for the festival. Ken and Ed have both worked with our festivals before so we know we’re in good hands.

“In keeping with our theme, Ken will present the world of jazz as interpreted by internationally respected musicians and fast-rising young stars from around the world,” Pluto said. “Many of them have never played together before, and they may never share the same stage again. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Acclaimed reedman Peplowski, based in New York, will both direct the international cadre and frequently join them on stage. “These accomplished performers will play the universal language of jazz, an American language that everyone now speaks,” he said. “They’ll draw on musical influences from their homeland countries—Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States—to present the exciting sound of what jazz has become today.”

Ken has designed a playbook of two sets for every concert, each with a differentmix of performers. “We’ll present unique combinations of musicians for every set with a fresh sound for each segment,” he said. He’ll also add another treat: “After each concert, we’ll bring back all of the evening’s musicians for an All-Star jam session number or two—an improvised finale that takes us right into the very essence of jazz.” 

Peplowski has been highly praised and frequently honored. “Ken Peplowski is arguably the greatest living jazz clarinetist,” said Russell Davies of BBC2. Will Friedwald(The Wall Street Journal)wrote, “Mr. Peplowski sounds the way (Benny) Goodman might if he had kept evolving … polishing his craft . . . into the 21stcentury.”

Among other credits, Ken has been a featured performer at practically every significant jazz festival, was music director of the Oregon Festival of American Music for eight years, has backed dozens of major performers, and has recorded some 50 CDs as a soloist and nearly 500 more as a sideman. He has also been a frequent performer for the Jazz Club of Sarasota, often with Dick Hyman, and in 2014 received the Club’s highest honor, its Satchmo Award, for his “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.” (Other Jazz Club Satchmo winners since 1990 have included Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Gerry Mulligan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dick Hyman, Branford Marsalis and Family, Four Freshmen, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, and Wycliffe Gordon.)

In addition to Peplowski, several other musicians will make encore appearances with the Jazz Club of Sarasota. These include Houston Person, saxophone; Diego Figueiredo, guitar; and Jeff Hamilton, drums.

The festival’s house band is the Scandinavian Jazz trio:
Writer/musician/composerKristian Leth(Denmark), drums; a DanishAcademy Award-nominated film composer and Grammy-winning recording artist who has written, performed andproduced scores for TV series, films and commercials.
Hans Backenroth (Sweden), bass; acclaimed as “one of the best bass players Sweden has developed—ever!” (Arne Domnérus, Swedish jazz legend).
Ole Kock Hansen(Denmark), piano; “one of the most significant artists in modern Danish Jazz” (Wikipedia).

“Some of our festival musicians currently reside in the United States as well as abroad. We’ve hand-picked performers who beautifully understand and represent the musical influences they bring from their countries of origin,” Peplowski said.

In addition to the Scandinavian Jazztrio, festival musicians (in alphabetical order) are:
Ehud Asherie,piano, Israel; “a master of swing and stride” (New Yorker); a jazz pianist who integrates the New York piano tradition with his inventive style.
Graham Dechter, guitar, U. S.; honored in the DownBeat Critics Poll as "Rising Star Guitar" (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017)
Sinne Eeg, vocalist, Denmark; considered the preeminent jazz vocalist in Scandinavia.

Diego Figueiredo,guitar, Brazil; a fast-rising star among the world's greatest jazz guitarists; plays with an infectious, joyful feeling.
Jimmy Greene,saxophone, U.S.; GRAMMY Award-nominated saxophonist, composer, and arranger.
Jeff Hamilton, drums, U.S; known for his versatility as a drummer, composer, arranger, and educator; leads his own trio and performs with other respected groups including the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra.
Chiara Izzi,vocals, Italy; described by JazzTimesas “a talent to be heard, admired and anticipated.”
Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, U.S.; featured by Nat Hentoff in The Wall Street Journal; voted "Rising Star - Trumpet" for five years byDownBeat and the Jazz Journalists Association.
Houston Person, saxophone, U.S.; a “rock-solid, full-toned” musician, recording artist and winner of the Eubie Blake Award and the 2016 Jazz Station Awards.
Akiko Tsuruga, organ, Japan; called “Queen of the Organ”; winner of the 2017 Hothouse Magazine Jazz Award for Best Organist. 5, 2017).
Sinne Eeg, vocalist, Denmark; considered the preeminent jazz vocalist in Scandinavia.

Festival Schedule
TROLLEY rides from5:30 p.m.; JAZZ at downtown CLUBS from6-10 p.m.
Jazz lovers and club-hopperswillboard trolleys for the 20th consecutive Jazz Pub Crawl by Trolley, riding to downtown nightclubs where over 50 local musicians will swing the night away. Trolleys will run continuous loops of the venues throughout the evening. A wristband, available from the Jazz Club office* or at the trolley parking location, is required for admission to the trolley and all clubs. This is a separately ticket event, not included in Festival VIP or Combo Tickets.Wristband are$20 in advanceand $25 on the day of the event.

THURSDAY EVENING,MARCH 8: CONCERT and other events, Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N. Palm Avenue

5-7:30, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;6-7:30, VIP RECEPTION;7:30 p.m., CONCERT;10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS.
Co-Hosts: Ken Peplowski and Mike Cornette, director of jazz & on-air host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa
1st Set:Scandinavian Jazztriowith special guest vocalistSinne Eeg.
2ndSet:Scandinavian Jazztriojoined byJimmy Greeneon saxophone andJeremy Pelton trumpet. Featured performances bySinne Eeg,vocals, andKen Peplowski,reeds.
Finale:All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians

10 a.m.-10:45, LIVE GYPSY JAZZ; 11 a.m., 2017 FILMDJANGO
Keven Aland(violin) andJon McLaughlin(guitar) of the Hot Club of SRQ present a Gypsy Jazz performance to set the mood forEtienne Comar’s film Django. This new film, called “a plucky historical drama that leverages a famous musician into a story about fighting fascism,” will be screened with English subtitles. The “dazzling biopic,” which had its world premiere at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, depicts the struggles of the famous French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in German-occupied Paris.
Seating is limited:ALL guests must make reservations. Contact the Jazz Club office* for reservations and tickets. Admission: FREE for holders of VIP Festival Passes; $10 for Jazz Club members; $15 for nonmembers.

FRIDAY EVENING, MARCH 9: CONCERT and other events, Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N Palm Avenue
5-7:30, JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;7:30 p.m., CONCERT;10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS
Co-Hosts: Ken PeplowskiandWhitney James, jazz vocalist; on-air jazz host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa
1st Set:Diego Figueiredo, guitar; Chiara Izzi, vocals; Jimmy Greene, saxophone.
2nd Set:Scandinavian Jazz trio; Houston Person, saxophone; Graham Dechter, guitar.
Finale: All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON, March 10: CONCERTand other events,Art Ovation Hotel,1255 N Palm Avenue12:30-2, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;2 p.m., CONCERTCo-Hosts: Ken Peplowski and  Kayonne Riley, general manager, WUCF 89.9 FM, Orlando; host of “Middays with Kayonne Riley Mix-and-matchconcertwith Scandinavian Jazztrio; Graham Dechter, guitar; Akiko Tsuruga, organ; Jeff Hamilton, drums; Houston Person, saxophone; Diego Figueiredo, guitar; Chiara Izzi, vocals; Ehud Asherie, piano; and Ken Peplowski, reeds.

SATURDAY EVENING, March 10: CONCERT and other events,Art Ovation Hotel, 1255 N Palm Avenue
5-7:30, Local JAZZ MUSICIANS in lobby bar;7:30 p.m., CONCERT; 10-11 p.m., VIP MEET-AND-GREET with FESTIVAL MUSICIANS
Co-Hosts: Ken Peplowskiand Bob Seymour, retired director of jazz and on-air host, WUSF 89.7 FM, Tampa; honorary member, Jazz Club of Sarasota Board of Directors
1stSet:Kristian Leth, drums; Hans Backenroth, bass; Ehud Asherie, piano; and Ken Peplowski, reeds
Presentation of the Jazz Club’s highest honor, the Satchmo award, to honor a person selected by the Jazz Club for “unique and enduring contribution to the living history of jazz.”
2ndSet:Jeff Hamilton, drums; Akiko Tsuruga, organ; Graham Dechter, guitar; and Houston Person, saxophone.

Festival Finale: All-Star Jazz Jam with all of the evening’s musicians
Sarasota Jazz Festival ticket prices peak at $49, with discounts available for Jazz Club members and through several combination packages including a VIP ticket that includes admission and preferred seating for all concerts and four private receptions. Prices for the movieDjangoand the Jazz Pub Crawl are lower. Contact the Jazz Club* for Jazz Pub Crawl wristbands ($20/advance; $25/at event), information about the movie, VIP Combo Ticket Packages, and other options. To purchase general admission tickets for single concerts ($39/member; $49/nonmember), contactbrownpapertickets.comor800.838.3006.

The Jazz Club of Sarasota, founded in 1980, is dedicated to preserving, promoting and presenting jazz, America’s original musical art form.The Club has provided over 50 jazz-related events annually for more than 37 years. Chief among them is the highly respected Sarasota Jazz Festival, including the 38thAnnual Festival set for March 7-10, 2018. In addition to producing numerous jazz events, over the years the Club has granted more than $200,000 in scholarships to aspiring young jazz musicians.

*Jazz Club of Sarasota: For more information visit,, or phone941.366.1552 (Wednesday throughFriday9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Monday-Friday during Festival Week).

Saturday, February 3, 2018

"For Lew," CD Tribute to Lew Soloff by Bill Warfield Big Band, Due March 9

Bill Warfield Big Band For LewBill Warfield's career as a trumpeter was launched the moment he heard Lew Soloff's immortal solo on the Blood, Sweat & Tears hit "Spinning Wheel." "It just completely knocked me out," says Warfield, who was 18 at the time and gigging as a pianist, having given up hope of earning a living as a horn player due to dental problems. "I'd never heard anything like it. I decided at that point that I wanted to play the trumpet again."
Eventually, Warfield would get to know, study, and record with Soloff, who died in 2014 at age 71. Warfield's latest album, For Lew, set for release on March 9 by Planet Arts Records, is a tribute to his late mentor, colleague, friend, and inspiration. Compiled from material Warfield recorded with his big band between 1990 and 2014, the album includes ten selections that first appeared on New York City Jazz (1990), The City Never Sleeps (1994), A Faceless Place (2005), and Trumpet Story (2014). Two of the tracks are previously unreleased.
"Lew was such a warm, supportive human being," Warfield says of Soloff. "When he died, it took me a week to get over it. I patterned my playing after him. I wanted to do the gigs he did. I wanted to sound like him. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be him. I patterned my whole career after that guy. He was a little nerdy guy who would put a horn in front of his mouth and became Superman. He was the guy who got me to take my writing seriously. On the second record I used him on, I used a few other people's charts. Then he pulled me to the side and said, 'Look, your writing is really special. You shouldn't include anybody else's stuff on your records.'"  
Bill Warfield 
Five tunes on For Lew are Warfield originals; six arrangements are his. While drawn from four different sessions, each made up of different players, every track is an all-star affair. Soloff is the soloist on one track, "Salsa En Mi Alma," and is heard playing lead trumpet on that song and two others. In addition to Warfield, who solos on three tracks, other world-class instrumentalists among the disc's collective personnel are trumpeters Randy Brecker and John Eckert; trombonist Matt Havilan; saxophonists Dan BlockAndy FuscoBob HanlonRich PerryChris Potter, and Walt Weiskopf; pianists Ted Rosenthal and Joel Weiskopf; guitarists Vic Juris and Dave Stryker; bassist Mike Richmond; and drummers Tim Hornerand Bob Weller.
Warfield followed Soloff's advice and over the past quarter century has created a canon of music for large ensemble that showcases his distinctive composing and arranging style. He counts Hank Levy, Fred Lipsius, Dick Halligan, Mike Abene (who would produce his first two big band albums), Michel Colombier, Charles Mingus, Thad Jones, Gil Evans, and Bob Brookmeyer, along with Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Webern, Prokofiev, and other classical composers, as influences on his arranging style.

Bill WarfieldBill Warfield was born in Baltimore on March 2, 1952. He took up trumpet in the fourth grade because, he says, "it looked cool. Because it only had three buttons, I thought it would be easier to play." By the time he was 14, he played Saturday mornings with the orchestra and brass ensemble at the Peabody Conservatory Preparatory School and Saturday afternoons with the Maryland Youth Symphony, as well as with a teenage soul band called Nina and the Marcels.
After recovering from a car accident in which he lost his front teeth, he studied for four years at Towson State with Hank Levy, an arranger noted for his charts for Don Ellis and Stan Kenton who was a key early influence.
Warfield moved to New York City in 1980 and began subbing in the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra, playing and arranging for the Bill Kirchner Nonet, and copying music for Lester BowieJoseph Jarman, and others, while earning a master's from the Manhattan School of Music. He toured Europe with Ornette Coleman, having been recommended by Lew Soloff.
Warfield has spent three decades as an inspiring music educator. After stints at the Dalton School in New York, Brooklyn College, Towson State University in Maryland, and the University of North Florida, he joined the faculty at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, in 1996. He continues to teach and direct the jazz program there three days per week.
The other four days are usually spent in back in Manhattan, where he currently directs four bands: the New York Jazz Repertory Ensemble, the New York Jazz Octet (which includes tenor saxophonist Don Braden and pianist Kenny Werner), the Hell's Kitchen Funk Orchestra, and the Bill Warfield Big Band.
The Bill Warfield Big Band will be performing two sets (7:00pm/8:30pm) at the Zinc Bar in Greenwich Village to celebrate the release of For Lew

Photography by John Abbott

R.I.P.: Ndugu (1952-2018)

(born on July 1st, 1952, Shreveport, Louisiana, USA;
died on February 3, 2018, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

R.I.P.: Leon "Ndugu" Chancler (1952-2018). One of the world's greatest drummers. The man behind many hits by people like Michael Jackson ("Billie Jean" and other tracks for "Thriller" and "Bad") and Santana ("Dance Sister Dance," that he co-wrote), also played with Frank Sinatra (a poweful version of "Stormy Weather" for the "LA Is My Lady" album, produced by Quincy Jones, as we can watch on the video "Portrait Of An Album"), George Duke (some of his best sessions for MPS and Epic), Weather Report ("Tale Spinnin'"), Hubert Laws (killing on the "Family" album, on a fantastic interplay with bassist Nathan East), Patrice Rushen, The Crusaders, Lalo Schifrin, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Azar Lawrence, Joe Henderson, Alphonso Johnson, Gato Barbieri, Johnny Hammond, David Axelrod, Jean-Luc Ponty, Kenny Rogers, George Benson, and dozens of others. 

His Brazilian connection was very strong: Ndugu recorded several albums with Flora Purim ("Nothing Will Be As It Was... Tomorrow," that he produced, plus "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly," "Encounter," "That's What She Said," "Carry On") and played on Raul de Souza's "Sweet Lucy" and "Don't Ask My Neighbors," as well as on Paulinho da Costa's "Sunrise." 

He was also the drummer on all tracks of Fuse One's album "Silk" (CTI), for which he wrote the title track. "Silk" also includes "Hot Fire," a brilliant song that Ndugu originally composed for George Duke's "Reach For It." Prior to "Silk," Ndugu had recorded in some tunes for the first Fuse One project, "Fuse."  

In August 1980, when Ndugu performed at Rio de Janeiro's Maracanãzinho with an all-star band featuring George Duke, Airto Moreira, Raul de Souza, Stanley Clarke and Roland Bautista (plus guests Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau), I was there! Another fabulous all-star concert, in tribute to Duke Ellington at the Wiltern Theatre, in 1987, in LA - with Dianne Reeves, Randy Brecker, Tom Scott, Roger Kellaway etc - was documented on 2 LaserDiscs released under the title "Echoes Of Ellington." Rest in Power.
(George Duke, Ndugu, Alphonso Johnson, Flora Purim, David Amaro, Hermeto Pascoal, Airto Moreira during the recording sessions for Purim's "Open Your Eyes You Can Fly" album in 1976)
(Ndugu, Alphonso Johnson, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Orrin Keepnews, George Duke, Hermeto Pascoal)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Book/DVD of the Month - "O Que É Morar No São Francisco"

Book of the Month:
"O Que É Morar No São Francisco" (Instituto Arquibrasil)
Rating: ***** (book & DVD movie)

Written by Danielli Costa Wal & Key Imaguire Junior
Film Director: João Marcelo Gomes
Concept by Danielli Costa Wal
Director of Cinematography: Renata Correa
Original Soundtrack by Enrico Gianotti

For additional info about this haunting project:

DVD of the Month - "André Mehmari & Gabriele Mirabassi: Miramari"

DVD of the Month
André Mehmari & Gabriele Mirabassi: "Miramari" (Estúdio Monteverdi) DVD + CD
Rating: ***** (musical performance, audio & video quality)

Produced by André Mehmari
Music Directors: André Mehmari & Gabriele Mirabassi
Video Director: João Marcello Zanogni (aka João Marcelo Gomes)
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by André Mehmari
Director of Photography: Otávio Sosa
Camera Operators: Fernando Chamelet, João Marcello Zanogni & Otávio Sosa
Garphics: Lumen Design
Liner Notes: Guinga
Featuring: André Mehmari (acoustic piano) and Gabriele Mirabassi (clarinet)