Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Drummer Anthony Fung's "Flashpoint" release show @ Nublu, NYC, Oct 4

Canadian drummer Anthony Fung is proud to establish himself as a composer, producer and bandleader on his sophomore album "Flashpoint," out today! The album will be celebrated at Nublu, New York City on October 4.

"FlashPoint" features Erin Bentlage (vocals), Edmar Colon (tenor/soprano saxophones & percussion), Josh Johnson (alto saxophone), Alex Hahn (soprano saxophone), Jon Hatamiya (trombone), Isaac Wilson (piano), Simon Moullier (vibraphone), Mats Sandahl (bass) and percussionists Oscar Cruz, Oscarin Cruz, Manolo Mairena alongside a string quartet comprised of Yu-Ting Wu, Niall Ferguson, Jonathan Tang and Lauren Baba. On FlashPoint, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance alumnus is excited to introduce and exhibit a new global aspect to the realm of jazz.

In contrast to his debut album "Chronicles," Fung takes credit for the composition, arrangement and production of all eight tracks on "Flashpoint." Having honed his craft under the tutelage of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chris Potter and Billy Childs​, Fung now sets out on a new course to establish himself as more than a jazz drummer - he is excited to set the focus of this project to his new path as a composer, producer and bandleader.

Although "Flashpoint" serves as a showcase for the fresh perspective Fung takes with this music, the compositional process for each of these tracks pays homage to his former tutors. Recalling the writing approach of these mentors, the inspiration for each of Fung’s tunes has been derived from an array of various mediums.

"Flashpoint" showcases Fung’s desire for social unity and change. Acting as a humanitarian for the music, the LA-based Canadian native has consciously brought together an international ensemble including Swedish bassist Mats Sandahl, French vibraphonist Simon Moullier, and Puerto Rican tenor saxophonist Edmar Colon. While “A Call For Peace” was written for Colon, in remembrance of the terrifying times he endured in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, “The Flash” draws attention to “Tambor Norte” - a well-known Panamanian rhythm.

Inspired by the Netflix series superhero known for his speedy run, Fung wrote this tune to incorporate the rhythm of Panamanian drums with a cinematic sound. “Forever” - a tune written about heartbreak and Fung’s favourite track of the album - is the bandleader’s first experience with lyric writing, while “St. Augustine and The Devil” highlights the drummer’s string writing. This track, featuring a lone string quartet, is inspired by a painting by Michael Pacher from the 1400’s.

Drummer, composer, producer and bandleader Anthony Fung was born in Richmond Hill, Canada and has been playing the drums  since the age of ten. Currently based in Los Angeles, CA, Anthony has established himself as one of the foremost up-and-coming  drummers of his generation.

Anthony is an alumnus of the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance (2018), where he earned a master of music  (M.M.) degree while studying and performing with ​Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chris Potter, Billy Childs​, and many  others. Previously, Anthony also earned both his bachelor of music (B.M.) and master of music (M.M.) degrees from the Berklee  College of Music and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute under the tutelage of ​Danilo Pérez​.   

Having performed at festivals and other venues worldwide, Anthony has appeared at International Jazz Day (St. Petersburg, Russia  and Havana, Cuba), Panama Jazz Festival, Panama Percussion Festival, Sitka Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, Toronto Jazz Festival,  and the Montreal Jazz Festival. He has performed alongside ​Danilo Pérez, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, John Patitucci,  Joe Lovano, Miguel Zenón, Esperanza Spalding, George Garzone, Luciana Souza, David Binney, Dave Douglas, Jerry  Bergonzi, Danny Rivera, Ruben Blades,​ and​ Ingrid Jensen, ​among others.   

As a bandleader, Anthony released his debut album, ​"Chronicles" (2014) with the Anthony Fung Quintet, and now his second  album, ​"Flashpoint"​ in fall 2018. Anthony also co-leads a Toronto-based band called “JabFung” with bassist Julian Anderson-Bowes. This project brings international  artists to Toronto to perform alongside local musicians. Occurring on a semiannual basis, JabFung residencies have hosted  international artists such as George Garzone (Boston), Simon Moullier (France) and Isaac Wilson (Los Angeles). Anthony proudly endorses Vic Firth Sticks, Canopus Drums, and Zildjian Cymbals.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month - "Jennifer Lee: My Shining Hour"

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month
Jennifer Lee: "My Shining Hour" (SBE Records) 2018
Rating: ***** (music performance & sonic quality)

Co-Produced & Arrangements by Peter Sprague & Jennifer Lee
Recorded by Peter Sprague @ Spragueland Studios (Encinitas, CA) and Gary Mankin @ Knob & Tube (San Francisco, CA)
Photos:Remo Fioroni
Graphic Design: Jennifer Lee

Featuring: Jennifer Lee (vocals, piano, guitar), Carey Williams (vocals), Peter Sprague (guitar), Randy Brecker (flugelhorn), Adam Shulman (piano, Rhodes electric piano, organ), Murray Low (piano), Bob Magnusson, Gunnar Biggs and Buca 'Bootza' Necak (bass), Justin Grinell (electric bass), Duncan Moore (drums), John Santos (percussion), Rich Kuhns (accordion), Tripp Sprague (sax), Mads Tolling (violin) etc.

With her first two albums, Oakland-based vocalist Jennifer Lee established herself as a gifted interpreter of the American and Brazilian Songbooks, producing a critically hailed body of work. On her new CD, "My Shining Hour," Lee emerges as a composer who, in the nine years since her last release, has developed a striking repertoire exploring the human condition with humor, compassion, and imagination.

“I always wrote a little bit,” says Lee, “but I certainly never thought of myself as a songwriter. Then a shift happened and all this music started channeling in. It’s like some crazy, overactive muse attached itself to me.”

Released on guitarist Peter Sprague’s SBE Records, "My Shining Hour" features Lee in the company of her band, the Ever-Expanding Universe, along with special guests including trumpeter Randy Brecker, bassist Bob Magnusson, Grammy Award-winning violinist Mads Tolling, and percussion maestro John Santos.

Sprague, known for his extensive work with Chick Corea, Charles McPherson, and Hubert Laws, produced the album, which was recorded at his studio in Encinitas. He also produced Lee’s first two discs—"Jaywalkin’" (2003), named “finest debut of the year, big label or small” by Dan McClenaghan of All About Jazz, and "Quiet Joy" (2009), a mix of originals, standards, and Brazilian songs described as “a JOY from start to finish” by the late drummer and Grammy-nominated producer Bud Spangler.

“Peter is an extraordinary musician and a deeply soulful player,” Lee says. “Working with him over the years, watching how he’ll reharmonize or phrase a line, I’ve learned so much. It’s definitely influenced my writing.”

Lee wrote 11 of the 13 songs on "My Shining Hour"; all 13 were co-arranged by Lee and Sprague. The Harold Arlen-composed title track (and album opener), which contains an original vocalese written by Lee, is dedicated to her stepfather. “Song of Happy,” the other non-original on the album, is an ebullient Latin number by guitarist Abel Zarate, best known as a co-writer of the Malo hit “Suavecito.”

“Song of Happy” and “Perfect Rendezvous” are duets pairing Lee’s light and bright sound with the warm, resonant baritone of Carey Williams, Jennifer’s life partner and musical collaborator who played with Zarate in the 1970s rock/funk/fusion band The Force. “Carey and I had been performing ‘Song of Happy’ live since 2011, and I fell in love with the song. It’s just so fun and uplifting,” Lee says. “When I brought it to Peter, he created a super-dynamic arrangement for it, which inspired me to write that intricate tapestry of background vocals. The recording is a gift we get to give to Abel.”

Other album highlights are the soulful ballads “Speak Your Love” and “Home,” and the playful, gospel-like “Crammin’ Crepes with Cathi at the Cock-a-Doodle Café,” a tribute to the late jazz singer/songwriter and Jennifer’s close friend Cathi Walkup: “She was a very clever lyricist who encouraged my songwriting endeavors before I ever thought of myself as a songwriter.”

Born in 1964 in Redwood City, just south of San Francisco, and raised in nearby Menlo Park, Jennifer Lee ended up at Menlo-Atherton High School as a pianist to take advantage of the school’s respected jazz program. She continued her jazz piano studies at Foothill College, often accompanying vocalists, all the while nursing her secret desire to sing. She didn’t take the plunge until an early, unwanted glimpse at mortality radically changed her priorities in the late 1980s, when she dropped out of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst to tend to her stricken father.

“My dad got really sick and I came back from school to take care of him,” Lee says. “He died the next year. He was only 51. That really brought things into focus for me. I realized that none of us knows how long we have here on planet earth, so I’d better do what I want to do now.” After her father’s passing, she returned to the Foothill College music department, but instead of backing other singers she took over the microphone herself.

Subsequently studying with esteemed Bay Area jazz singer Kitty Margolis, Lee gradually worked up the courage to start performing in public and honed her jazz technique on a succession of regular gigs around the Bay Area. She made her first appearance on CD in 2001 on "Quintessential," an album featuring three tracks each by five Bay Area singers, including Jenna Mammina and Cathi Walkup.

“It took me so long to come to singing—to finally admit to myself that this is really what I want to do,” says Lee. “Then it took another decade-plus for the songwriter in me to emerge. I’m the epitome of the late bloomer.”

Jennifer Lee brings her Ever-Expanding Universe band to Dizzy’s in San Diego, 8/11, and the Sound Room, Oakland, 9/23, for a pair of concerts showcasing "My Shining Hour."

Friday, September 28, 2018

Daniel Rotem offers an optimistic view for a united perspective on "Serenading the Future"

Visionary Israeli saxophonist Daniel Rotem is proud to announce the release of "Serenading the Future" today, September 28. On this magnetic tour-de-force double album, Rotem is joined by violinist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, pianist Miro Sprague, bassist Alex Boneham, and drummer Roberto Giaquinto. Guitarist Jeff Parker is featured on one track and vocalist Erin Bentlage on two.

A follow-up to Rotem’s debut album "Be Nice," this new project "Serenading the Future" reflects upon the saxophonist’s life experiences, the wide-spanning perspective he has gained and the lessons he has learned – “in short, it’s about being alive.” 

Daniel is excited to celebrate this new release at the Blue Whale, Los Angeles this Saturday, September 29th at 9pm.

Upon utilizing this sophomore album as a platform to express the personal meaning he draws from being human, Rotem has led himself to sequentially look forward to the future. As the saxophonist explains, “every moment in the present is already in the past once it is experienced, and the past, as beautiful and glorified as it might be, is merely a memory.” Rotem encourages us to embrace our past moments and experiences, acknowledge our present blessings and so foresee and celebrate the potential in our futures. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz graduate refers to this album as “a tribute to the future that could be - a call to embrace ourselves, recognize the privilege we have to be alive, respect the world we live in and the people around us, and treat our paths with the same care and love we would treat a partner or a child.”

Growing up in Israel to a mixed family of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews, Rotem inherited an awareness for the importance and need for unity and universal equality. “I grew up in a family that embraced equality and respect to all people. It is difficult for me to imagine any other scenario - we are all equal, we are all the same, and share similar if not identical fears, hopes, and yearnings.” Combining this perspective with his approach to music, Rotem strives to establish a sonic landscape that highlights the importance of each human involved in its creation. Rather than focusing on any one individual, Daniel Rotem’s compositional and performance process displays the significance of the artistic collective as a whole - the communication and interaction between people as they interpret and create in union. The opening track “Different But The Same” immediately sets the tone. Featuring prolific guitarist Jeff Parker, this  pulse-free, meditative track symbolizes the absolute truth that while each member of the human species is individual and unique, as a collective, humans everywhere experience the same angst and concern, aspirations and desires.

Amongst other stand-out tracks from the album is “Who Is It?” -  the only song on the record previously recorded on Rotem’s debut. Following his decision to move to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music, where he completed his undergraduate degree, Rotem was feeling both out of place and right where he needed to be. The core genesis of this song is about becoming - who you are vs. who you want to be. While studying at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, Rotem had the privilege to perform this track alongside Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter for the Playboy Jazz Festival. Understandably so, the track still retains a personal significance for the composer.

“Push Through” speaks to those who experience setbacks in their lives. With its repetitive rhythmic motif, it is a reminder for those individuals to never give up, and to continue to trust in themselves, the path they choose to take, their beliefs, perspective and potential. This track exudes an air of solidarity. While “Between Lives” and “Country of Mind” both speak of Rotem’s relationship between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, “A Cold Ode” was written during a visit to Vermont last December.

In contrast to the Mediterranean climate Rotem grew up in, the snowy surroundings he experienced in Vermont were magical for him. He explains, “the motif for this song came as the sun came out of the clouds: it was cold, but there was a scent of hope, a promise of warmth, and it made the cold more beautiful and less painful.” “Conversation on Letting Go”, as well as the Intro for “Country of Mind” were improvised by the band as a collective. Both tracks reflect the nature of the band, and the emphasis on listening to each other as part of the creative process.

The title and closing track of the album, which features Erin Bentlage on vocals, conveys the idea that we can all achieve the future that we want, not just for ourselves but for the world - “It is about proactively chasing our vision for how things should be and not settling for how things are.” With a lyrical, memorable melody, blending the vocals, saxophone, and violin together to the point where it is difficult to distinguish each, this arrangement mirrors the unity Rotem hopes his music creates and emanates.

“There are a lot of things that are happening in the world right now that are completely unacceptable but I believe in our ability to make things right. If we remember to listen at least as much as we speak, and to offer the same respect and love to others as we would like to be offered ourselves, the world would be different. That is the future we are serenading for.”

"Daniel Rotem is a real seeker.  He has the rabid curiosity of someone who needs to do something new to feel alive.  At this time, when it is rare to find players and artists in the Jazz world who are concerned with more than either technical or commercial validation, he is one of the young artists who one seldom comes across.  One of the rare musicians whose curiosity is part of their DNA.” - Larry Klein

Saxophonist, composer, and educator Daniel Rotem fell in love with music at an early age and started playing tenor saxophone when he was thirteen. Now at age 27, Daniel is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston and the world-renowned Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at UCLA. He has performed on four continents and has had the honor to share the stage with legendary artists from Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dave Liebman, and Billy Childs, to Stevie Wonder, Usher, and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. Daniel went on a U.S. State Department Tour to Morocco, and had the privilege of leading and narrating a jazz history masterclass and performance hosted by the First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama, as part of International Jazz Day in 2016.

Daniel has performed at acclaimed festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival, the Playboy Jazz Festival, and the Red Sea Jazz Festival, and at famed venues such as The Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, the Hollywood Bowl, The Microsoft Theater in LA, and many more. Daniel has taught at the Stanford Jazz Summer Camp and Jazz Institute, and is currently on faculty at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), and teaches the LAUSD All-City Jazz Band. His debut album Be Nice was released independently in February 2017.
For more information please visit www.danielrotem.com.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

R.I.P.: Randy Weston (1926-2018)

(born Randolph Edward Weston on April 6, 1926, in Brooklyn, NY, USA; 
died September 1st, 2018, in New York City, NY, USA) 

Piano and composer giant. 
Below, cover images of different issues of my favorite Randy Weston album, "Blue Moses," recorded for CTI in 1972, featuring extraordinary arrangements by Don Sebesky and an all-star cast of musicians: Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Airto, Hubert Laws and Grover Washington, Jr. among others. I had the honor to supervise the first CD reissue, that came out in Japan in 2000. The first CD release in the U.S. came out only in 2010.

SACD of The Month - "Deodato/Airto: In Concert" + "Airto: Fingers"

SACD of the Month
"Airto: Fingers" + "Deodato/Airto: In Concert" (CTI/Vocalion) 2018
Rating: ***** 

First reissue, on Super Audio CD format, of two albums recorded by percussionist Airto Moreira for the CTI label in April 1973: "Fingers," a flawless studio session cut at Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs (New Jersey), and "Deodato/Airto In Concert," taped live on April 20, 1973 at the Felt Forum of the Madison Square Garden Center in New York City, NY, but released only one year later in truncated form.

This hybrid SACD includes both the stereo and quadraphonic mixes done by Rudy Van Gelder and producer Creed Taylor. Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to include the complete Felt Forum concert for a simple reason: the only 5 tracks mixed for quad system (two performed by Airto, three by Deodato) were the ones selected for the original vinyl LP release.

I hope someday we will see a 5.1 surround remix of the complete concerts performed by Deodato (previously issued on the stereo CD "Deodato Live At Felt Forum" in 1988) and Airto (a total of 6 tracks, 4 of them never released) on that historic event billed as "CTI 2001 Space Concert."

For now, this Vocalion SACD, remastered by Michael J. Dutton, becomes a must-have item for CTI, Deodato and Airto collectors!
Original albums produced by Creed Taylor
"Fingers" recorded & mixed by Rudy Van Gelder @ Van Gelder Studios (Englewood Cliffs, NJ) in April 9, 17 & 18, 1973
"In Concert" recorded by Frank Hubach @ the Felt Forum of the Madison Square Garden Center (New York, NY) on April 20, 1973, with additional recording and mix by Rudy Van Gelder @ Van Gelder Studios
Cover Photos on both albums: Pete Turner
Back Cover Photos on "In Concert": Duane Michaels (Deodato) and Frederico Mendes (Airto)

Airto's band on both albums: Airto Moreira (drums, percussion, lead vocals on "Paraná" and "Tombo In 7/4"), Hugo Fattoruso (acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano, Hammond organ, harmonica, arranger, lead vocals on "Fingers" and "Romance Of Death"), Ringo Thielmann (electric bass, backing vocals), Jorge Osvaldo Fattoruso aka George Fattoruso (drums, backing vocals), David Amaro (6- & 12-string acoustic guitars, electric guitar), Flora Purim (percussion, lead vocals on "San Francisco River" and "Branches"; Flora also plays acoustic guitar on "Branches")

Deodato's band: Eumir Deodato (Fender Rhodes electric piano, arranger), John Giulino (electric bass), Rick Marotta (drums), Rubens Bassini & Gilmore Digap (congas, percussion), John Tropea (electric guitar), Joe Shepley & Burt Collins (trumpet), Garnett Brown (trombone), Joe Temperley (baritone sax).
Additional string arrangements by Bob James

Vocal CD of the Month - "Anna Luna: Urubú"

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month
Anna Luna: "Urubú" (self-release) 2018
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

After some great more orthodox jazz albums, Spain's best singer delivers a surprising and awesome project that fuses jazz, flamenco and Brazilian music. She's also an excellent composer ("Un Cuento," "Vivo, Siento," "Déjame,"), but excels also on Brazilian tunes by Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Chovendo Na Roseira" with Spanish lyrics by Luna herself), Djavan ("Nobreza," "Nem Um Dia") and João Bosco ("Água Mãe Água") and in a haunting rendition of "Afonsina Y El Mar," made famous by Mercedes Sosa.

Executive Producer: Salvador Montés
Arranged by Rafael Madacasgar and Jaume Vilaseca
Artwork: Laura Auladell & Anna Luna

Featuring: Anna Luna (vocals), Jaume Vilaseca (piano), Rafael Madagascar (keyboards), Toni Porcar and Pedro Javier González (flamenco guitar), Roberto Faenzi (drums & percussion), Martín Laportilla (electric bass), Lautaro (bouzouki & laúd), Pablo Gómez (cajón flamenco), Carol Morgado (flamenco rhythmic footwork & clapping)

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

João Donato's first "Quem É Quem Concert" in Rio, next Saturday! Directed & Produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro.

For the first time, João Donato will be playing ALL the songs from the legendary "Quem É Quem" album in Rio de Janeiro! 45 years after the album release... The concert is directed, produced and presented by Arnaldo DeSouteiro, who will also act as MC, conducting an on-stage interview with Donato.

Pela primeira vez o Rio verá o show de lançamento do histórico disco “Quem É Quem”, de João Donato, comemorando os 45 anos de lançamento do álbum!!!
O espetáculo marca também a estréia da série “Discos Históricos da MPB” que levará grandes nomes da MPB à Sala Baden Powell, apresentando, na íntegra, trabalhos cultuados pela crítica e pelo público!

Considerado um dos melhores discos da história da música brasileira, “Quem É Quem”, gravado pelo genial João Donato em 1973, terá pela primeira vez um show de lançamento no Rio de Janeiro no dia 4 de agosto, sábado, às 20hs, na Sala Baden Powell. O álbum, que já teve inúmeras reedições em vinil e CD, é cultuado por novos e antigos fãs do maestro, compositor e arranjador, tanto no Brasil como no exterior, onde vem sendo seguidamente sampleado por rappers e DJs da geração hip-hop.

“Quem É Quem”, que inclui clássicos como “Amazonas”, “Até Quem Sabe”, “A Rã”, “Ahiê” e “Cala Boca Menino”, foi um divisor de águas na carreira de João Donato. Marcou não apenas o seu retorno definitivo ao Brasil, depois de 15 anos morando nos EUA, mas também a primeira vez em que se ouviu Donato cantando suas músicas, que receberam letras de poetas como Paulo Cesar Pinheiro, Geraldinho Carneiro, Lysias Enio e João Carlos Pádua. Uma idéia de Agostinho dos Santos incentivada por Marcos Valle, produtor do álbum.

Por uma grande ironia do destino, Donato nunca havia feito um show de lançamento de “Quem É Quem” no Rio! “Apesar de ter investido pesado na produção do álbum, gravado com orquestra sob a regência de maestros famosos como Gaya, Dori Caymmi e Laercio de Freitas, a Odeon não destinou verba publicitária para a divulgação do disco,” comenta o jornalista e historiador Arnaldo DeSouteiro. “Chateado com essa postura da gravadora, Donato não se animou a fazer shows, limitando-se a literalmente lançar os vinis do alto do Outeiro da Glória, numa inusitada ação de marketing que foi documentada por emissoras de televisão.”

Agora, 45 anos depois, os cariocas poderão finalmente assistir ao show de lançamento de “Quem É Quem”, que será executado na íntegra - seguindo a ordem original das faixas - pelo fenomenal Donato e sua banda, além de convidados especiais que participaram do disco. Um espetáculo certamente antológico, que terá ainda um bate-papo de João Donato com Arnaldo DeSouteiro, revelando detalhes e curiosidades sobre as músicas e a gravação do álbum.

A série “Discos Históricos da MPB” acontecerá sempre na Sala Baden Powell, no primeiro sábado de cada mês, com concepção, curadoria, direção e produção musical de Arnaldo DeSouteiro.
Roteiro do show:


                PRIMEIRA PARTE
5.A RÃ

             SEGUNDA PARTE

             TERCEIRA PARTE


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wanda Sá today, July 25, @ MIS-RJ with Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Carlos Lyra, Gilson Peranzzetta, Joaquim F. dos Santos and Rosa Maria Araujo

Legendary bossa nova singer Wanda Sá (aka Wanda De Sah) was interviewed today, at Museu da Imagem e do Som, in Rio de Janeiro, by Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Carlos Lyra, Gilson Peranzzetta, Joaquim Ferreira dos Santos and Rosa Maria Araujo, the President of the museum.
 (Arnaldo DeSouteiro & Wanda Sá)
 (Arnaldo DeSouteiro & Wanda Sá)
 (Joaquim Ferreira dos Santos, Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Wanda Sá, Rosa Maria Araujo, Carlos Lyra & Gilson Peranzzetta; photos by Daniel Veiga)
(Arnaldo DeSouteiro & Wanda Sá)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

João Donato's first "Quem É Quem" concert in Rio, August 4th! Directed by Arnaldo DeSouteiro.

News published today, on the "O Globo" daily newspaper, about the upcoming first release concert of "Quem É Quem" in Rio de Janeiro, scheduled for August 4, 2018 @ the Baden Powell Hall. Directed & Produced by Arnaldo DeSouteiro. 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Tamba Trio's Bebeto Castilho interviewed @ MIS

 (Arnaldo DeSouteiro & Bebeto Castilho)
(Tárik de Souza, Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Bebeto Castilho, Pedro Só, Armando Pittigliani and Ruy Castro, photos by Daniel Veiga)
 (Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Bebeto Castilho, Pedro Só and Armando Pittigliani)

(Bebeto Castilho, seated, with Tárik de Souza, Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Ruy Castro, Armando Pittigliani and Pedro Só; photos by Daniel Veiga)

Monday, July 2, 2018

R.I.P.: Bill Watrous (1939-2018)

R.I.P.: Bill Watrous.

One of the all-time greatest trombone masters. I love his big band albums for Columbia. He and Garnett Brown were the trombonists who topped DownBeat polls in the 70s. And I love this video (I bought a DVD copy in Japan some years ago) from one of the best jazz TV concerts ever, featuring the winners of the DownBeat Readers Poll in 1975. Btw, that's why jazz attracted a young audience in the 70s: it had swing, energy, positive vibes, enthusiasm and communication between players and between players and the audiences. It was not an intellectual exercise of ego trips.

The first time I saw Watrous' name was on Deodato's "Prelude." A couple of years later, he signed with Columbia and released two acclaimed albums leading his own big band: "Manhattan Wildlife Refuge" (1974) and "The Tiger of San Pedro" (1975), which led him to be voted as #1 Trombone player in the 1975 DownBeat Readers Poll.

Watrous also played and/or recorded with Milton Nascimento ("Courage"), Paul Desmond, Kenny Burrell, Maynard ferguson, Woody Herman, Quincy Jones, Art Pepper and many more.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

DVD of the Month - "Randy Brecker Quintet: Live 1988 at Sweet Basil"

DVD of the Month
Randy Brecker: "Live 1988 - Sweet Basil" (MVD Visual/Gazell) 2018
Contains bonus CD of complete performance

Featuring: Randy Brecker (trumpet), Bob Berg (tenor sax), David Kikoski (acoustic piano & synth), Dieter Ilg (acoustic bass), Joey Baron (drums)

Recorded & Mixed by Malcolm Pollack direct to digital 2-track @ Sweet Basil (New York, NY) on November 18-19-20, 1988
Assistant Engineer: Roy Hendrickson
Mastering: Michael Sarsfield @ Frankford Wayne Mastering Labs (NY, NY)
Production Coordination: Christine Martin
Painting by Henry Denader
Region 0, NTSC
Total Time: 74 minutes

For three decades, I've dreamed to watch the live performances by the Randy Brecker Quintet that yielded the album "Live At Sweet Basil," released in Europe, in June 1989, by the Swedish label Sonet on both vinyl and CD formats. One month later, I was able to buy the CD in a Munich record store, while on vacation after having attended the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Now the dream comes true with this DVD release containing the best takes from three nights taped live at the now defunct Sweet Basil jazz club. Besides six superb originals -- the hard bop gem "MoJoe" (dedicated to Joe Henderson), "No Scratch," "Moontide," "Ting Chang," the haunting ballad "Incidentally," and the r&b-funk-rock "Hurdy Gurdy" --, there's a splendid previously unreleased version of Cole Porter's standard "Love For Sale," with Randy on muted trumpet, Miles ahead.

The group performs on a telephathic level. Randy proves to be the best trumpet player of his generation, and one of the all-time greatest jazz musicians. The much missed Bob Berg was my favorite tenor player in the 80s, after Michael Brecker. Pianist David Kikoski (sometimes also using a small keyboard placed above the piano), bassist Dieter Ilg (a monster in the Niels Pedersen tradition) and drummer Joey Baron (reminding me a lot of Tony Williams on those nights) are on fire, killing in all songs.

The video quality has some imperfections, but the musical performances are flawless. Highly recommended and, surely, one of the most important releases of 2018.

Liner Notes by Randy Brecker:

"As I said in the liner notes on the original release at the time: “This band is a true highlight of my career” and that statement is still true some 30 years later! The original Vinyl LP ‘dropped’ on June 15 1989. CDs were still being established as a competitive format and ‘dropped’ meant that something had fallen on your toe. It ‘came out’ to really great reviews, and being that all of us were close friends, we were all thrilled at the reception.

This was all brand new music played for the very first time that week at Sweet Basil, so everything was fresh, and Sweet Basil was the happening Jazz Club at the time, with the best ambient sound in NYC due to its wood floor and walls.

Bob Berg, I had been associated with for many years since the late 60’s with the Free Life Communication organization started by Dave Liebman and I had guested on some of Bob’s great recordings. He had a sound and intensity in his playing all his own and was a big part of the Liebman, Brecker Grossman, Berg tenor saxophone conglomerate.

Dave Kikoski who I had first heard with the great Roy Haynes, had some deep swing in his step, and reminded me of Phineas Newborn. After hearing him, I immediately hired him for my record ‘In the Idiom’.

Dieter Ilg I had met on a gig in Europe, and I was impressed with his technique and unique conception leaving  ‘harmonic sonic holes’ for you to jump through.

As for Joey Baron, what can I say? He had played with everyone from Al Jarreau to John Zorn, and could play absolutely any style with complete authenticity and originality.

We did some tours of Europe, had great fun together, and the music was always spectacular… I went to Sweden around a year later and met with Dag Haggqvist my old friend from Sonet Records who had originally recorded, filmed and released this. We looked at the video to maybe edit it, and Dag exclaimed after viewing it…”Let’s just leave it as it is!” The music was so great it was impossible to edit.

But then one thing after another happened in the music business, and things got stalled, and then stalled some more, and it wasn’t until Ed Seaman of MVD Entertainment in Pottstown, PA got involved in a co-production with Dag and his newer company: Gazell Records AB from Stockholm, that this video is finally seeing the light of day as a DVD all these years later. So thanks go out to them for saving the life of this performance, and another thanks for all the hard work that went into in releasing it.

Eventually the five of us went our separate ways but stayed friends. Everyone became bandleaders and started doing ‘their own thing’. Then sadly on Dec 5th, 2002 Bob Berg was killed in a tragic traffic accident on Rt 27 out near where we both lived in the Hamptons, on a snowy afternoon...a cement truck skidded into his lane and he was gone.

So this DVD, finally released after so many starts and stops, is dedicated to his memory. He’s at the top of his game here. May his sound and his one-of-a-kind personality live on…"

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month - "Tiffany Austin: Unbroken"

Vocal Jazz CD of the Month
Tiffany Austin: Unbroken (Con Alma Music CAM 002) 2018
Rating: ***** (musical performance and sonic quality)

Produced by Richard Seidel
Co-Produced & Arranged by Mitch Butler
Recorded & Mixed by Adam Munoz @ Fantasy Studios (Berkeley, CA)
Mastered by Bernie Grundman @ Bernie Grundman Mastering (Hollywood, CA)
Photos: Bill Reitzel
Graphic Design: Amy Woloszyn

Featuring: Tiffany Austin (vocals), Ashlin Parker (trumpet), Mitch Butler (trombone), Teodross Avery (tenor sax), Cyrus Chestnut (piano), Rodney Whitaker (bass), Carl Allen (drums)

The best jazz vocalist that I've heard in the last ten years. Period. 
And finally a record with a producer! One extra star for this.
Influenced by Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Rachelle Ferrell, Tiffany takes vocal jazz to a new dimension.
She adds lyrics to Charles Mingus' "Better Git It In Your Soul" and Ornette Coleman's "The Blessing," performs a powerful version of John Coltrane's "Resolution" with impressive wordless vocals, exhibits a wonderful phrasing on Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" (lyrics by Sonny Henry), and offers a haunting rendition of Michel Legrand's gorgeous ballad "You Must Believe In Spring."
So far the best vocal jazz release of the year.

With the release of "Unbroken," on her Con Alma Music imprint, Tiffany Austin further solidifies her standing as one of the leading vocalists on the current international jazz scene.

Austin was propelled onto the national stage in 2016 when her debut recording, "Nothing But Soul," received rave reviews from media outlets such as DownBeat and NPR's Fresh Air as well as airplay on jazz radio stations across the U.S. With her sophomore CD "Unbroken," Austin has raised her artistry to a higher level both conceptually and musically. Her silky smooth voice has gained an earthy smokiness and a gravitas ideally suited to expressing her broadening, deepening artistic vision.

"Unbroken" is a soul-steeped affirmation embracing the blues and swing, spirituals and R&B, bebop, post-bop, and Austin's Louisiana Creole heritage. "I've experienced multiple instances of people trying to separate blues from jazz," Austin says. "How can you divide the music that comes from the same diaspora, the same spirit? The idea behind this album is that the African-American spirit remains unbroken. After all of the things we go through we're still here, joyfully creating great art and great music."

Produced by the Grammy Award-winning jazz advocate Richard Seidel (former President of Verve Records) and arranged by trombonist Mitch Butler, the music on "Unbroken" is impeccably executed by the rhythm section of pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and drummer Carl Allen as well as Butler, veteran tenor saxophonist Teodross Avery, and the formidable young trumpeter Ashlin Parker. In addition to four originals, Austin penned lyrics for the arrangements of Charles Mingus's "Better Git It in Your Soul" and Ornette Coleman's "The Blessing."

The multi-generational band mirrors the album repertoire, which touches on several eras of African-American history. The CD opens with two Austin compositions that speak to the vicious response that has sometimes met black accomplishment -- "Blues Creole" evokes the pioneering Louisiana Creole accordionist Amédé Ardoin, and the searing "Greenwood" connects Watts and Ferguson to the 1921 pogrom that wiped out Tulsa, Oklahoma's prosperous "Black Wall Street" neighborhood.

As if in direct response to these tales of oppression, Austin answers with a rollicking version of the old gospel song "Ain't No Grave," which builds to a glorious sanctified scat solo. She embraces the transformative power of love with a sumptuous "You Must Believe in Spring" and offers an object lesson in gratitude with her lyric for Ornette's early free bop invocation. Soaring to the heavens on Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free," Austin also summons the spirit with a wordless sojourn through Coltrane's "Resolution," scatting his entire solo note for note.

Unbroken closes with righteous marching orders by way of a riveting duet with Whitaker on the civil rights anthem "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize." The song provides the key to Austin's overarching argument, that whether the source is Sunday morning worship, Saturday night revelry, or an afternoon protest, African-American music is animated by a liberating imperative. "Freedom songs aren't only about freedom from an oppressor," she says. "It's about living your life soulfully. We must live with soulful connection to ourselves and our history."
Born and raised in South Los Angeles, Tiffany Austin grew up in a house filled with music. Her parents listened to soul and pop masters like Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder, while her Louisiana Creole grandmother introduced her to jazz. Austin graduated from the prestigious Los Angeles High School of the Arts and then attended Cal State Northridge where she majored in creative writing, while studying classical voice.

After graduating in 2004, Austin set out for Tokyo with the plan that she'd look for work as a singer and spend a year in Japan. After finding regular work as an R&B chanteuse, Austin ended up staying in Tokyo through 2009 and only returned because UC Berkeley's School of Law made her a scholarship offer she couldn't refuse. Austin submerged herself in law school and left music behind but after her first year realized she desperately needed a musical outlet and began performing with bassist, composer, and bandleader Marcus Shelby on numerous projects, including the title role in "Harriet's Spirit," an opera about Harriet Tubman. (She went on to earn her J.D.)

With a series of prestigious gigs and residencies, Austin quickly gained attention as the most exciting new vocalist in the region. Now, with Unbroken, Austin makes it clear that she's far more than a beautiful voice. Claiming her cultural birthright, she's an artist drawing nourishment from all of jazz's roots.

Tiffany Austin has planned a series of CD release concerts on the West Coast and in New York City: 6/7 Birdland, NYC; 6/29 Stanford Jazz Festival; 7/5 Kuumbwa, Santa Cruz; 8/11 SFJAZZ, San Francisco. At all but the Stanford date, Austin's septet will feature special guest Carl Allen; Cyrus Chestnut will be with Tiffany at Birdland.

Photography: Bill Reitzel

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month - "Andrea Brachfeld: If Not Now, When?"

Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month
Andrea Brachfeld: "If Not Now, When?" (Jazzheads JHI229) 2018
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)

Produced by Andrea Brachfeld & Bill O'Connell
Recorded @ Mozart Studio and Trading8's Studio
Mixed by David Kowalski & Harvie S
Mastered by Dave Darlington
Photo & Graphic Design: Christopher Drukker

Featuring: Andrea Brachfeld (flutes), Bill O'Connell (acoustic piano), Harvie S (acoustic bass) and Jason Tiemann (drums)

We had Joe Farrell, Herbie Mann and Dave Valentin. We still have Hubert Laws. But now is Andrea Brachfeld's time as the top jazz flute player. Gorgeous tone, outstanding phrasing, and also a brilliant composer.

The "incredible clarity of purpose" flutist-composer Andrea Brachfeld gained after spending 2016 in deep introspection about her life and music generated the nine original compositions on her exhilarating new album "If Not Now, When?," released by Jazzheads Records. The quartet outing, featuring the dynamic rhythm section of pianist, arranger, co-composer, and co-producer Bill O'Connell, a longtime collaborator, as well as bassist Harvie S and drummer Jason Tiemann, is an uncompromising manifestation of music Brachfeld recalls came to her on a cold day in January 2017.

"It seems that music always chooses me, and I very politely acquiesce to its energy. This has been my journey throughout my life and If Not Now, When? is no exception," she explains. "Of all my projects, this recording is the closest yet to my heart. Every note felt good in my body."

The album's song titles, which include "The Listening Song," "Creating Space," "The Silence," "Anima Mea," "Deeply I Live," and "Moving Forward," allude to the year Brachfeld spent on an inner journey meditating as opposed to composing, an experience that was clearly cathartic. "The way I composed all of the songs was like taking a huge block of marble and chopping away until I got the image inside the marble," she says. "It was about seeing what melodies came out and working on them until they felt right."

A grant from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for the CD -- "a wonderful affirmation" -- assured Brachfeld she was on the right path. "In the end," she says, "it's all about your voice, your journey to find your voice."
Brachfeld's flute playing has what the late New York Times critic John S. Wilson described as a "vigorously dark, gutty quality." It's no wonder the first jazz flutist to turn her head was free jazz pioneer Eric Dolphy. In her music, that energy she described can pour out to bruising effect. "If you want to play jazz, you have to be able to get the articulation of Charlie Parker, to make the instrument sound like a trumpet or saxophone," says Brachfeld. "With a lot of flute players, I don't hear those articulations."

Andrea Brachfeld was born May 3, 1954 in Utica, NY and raised in New York City. She began playing piano at age six and flute at 10. In 1969, she enrolled at the High School of Music & Art, and, at 16, got her first jazz gig, playing her own pieces with her quartet at an "All Night Soul" presentation at St. Peter's Church. She attended Saturday morning Jazzmobile workshops; Jimmy Heath was one of her flute instructors.

She went on to study flute at the Manhattan School of Music, where her fellow students included Kenny Kirkland, Fred Hersch, and Angela Bofill. After connecting with the Charanga band Tipica New York, Brachfeld recorded with the legendary band Charanga '76, which catapulted her to fame as the first woman to play flute with a Charanga band in the United States.

Andrea Brachfeld Brachfeld recorded her first album, "Andrea" (1978), with Tito Puente percussionist José Madera producing. A year later, she accepted an invitation to perform in Venezuela and ended up staying for two and a half years, during which time she led her own group, opening for such visiting luminaries as GaryBurton, Chick Corea, and Paco de Lucia.

When she returned home to New York in 1981, she devoted herself to her family and attended graduate school, acquiring a Master's in education. For nearly 25 years, she taught ESL and bilingual education while maintaining a local profile as a musician.

Then, in 1998, Brachfeld approached acclaimed jazz flutist (and former high school classmate) Dave Valentin with material she had written and asked if he wanted to record any of it. "His response was, 'I want you to record it.'" That she did, acting as her own producer on 2002's Latin-tinged "Remembered Dreams" (Spirit Nectar). Over the next decade and a half she would release a half dozen albums, eventually moving away from Latin music and back toward her first love, bebop.

Andrea Brachfeld has recently performed at the following venues (all dates with Insight -- Bill O'Connell, piano; Harvie S, bass; Jason Tiemann, drums -- except as indicated): 4/28 The Jazz Loft, Stony Brook, NY; 4/29 An Die Musik, Baltimore; 5/18 Trumpets, Montclair, NJ; 6/18 Triad Theater, NYC; soon she will be appearing at: 8/10 Pavillion Café, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (with Bill O'Connell, piano; Lincoln Goines, bass; Robby Ameen, drums); 8/25 Long Branch (NJ) Jazz & Blues Festival; 10/4-7 La Cote Flute Festival, Gland, Switzerland; 10/12 Flushing (NY) Town Hall.
Photo: Maureen Plainfield
Web Site: andreabrachfeld.com