Title - 2001: A Garden of Personal Mirrors [7” Single]
Artist - Mike Kaplan ft. Naomi Gardner
For those unaware, Wave Theory Records have just released a limited edition vinyl of a single written for Stanley Kubrick’s masterwork, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The song, subtitled “A Garden of Personal Mirrors”, was written in 1968 by the film’s marketing strategist Mike Kaplan. Kubrick proposed it immediately following an unsuccessful pitch by MGM Records, who wanted to release a single to tie in with the film, and amid reports the Beatles were also writing a song.
Presented by Wave Theory as a historical release, 2001: A Garden of Personal Mirrors adds a new chapter to the film’s mythology.
This limited edition, 7” vinyl is infamous in the annals of film music history for the way that Kubrick abandoned Alex North’s original score in favor of classical and popular pieces that have become synonymous with the movie.
Following a digital release last year that caught the imagination of the film’s fans, Wave Theory now release a limited edition CLEAR vinyl that will give the opportunity for soundtrack aficionados to own a piece of movie history.
Mike Kaplan explains, “The Single’s intent was to capture the different responses 2001 was generating from audiences and the media, the many levels of interpretation and appreciation, from its hypnotic visuals to it’s metaphysical illuminations. We also wanted to instill curiosity among audiences who had not yet seen what was becoming a cultural phenomenon.”
Co-founder of Wave Theory Records Dan Jones said, “Attempting to write any music for Kubrick would be a daunting task, as Alex North — and now we discover Mike Kaplan — were both to discover. Both of them are examples of the complex creative interactions that Kubrick’s films distilled.”
As for the track itself, it is safe to say that it was not what I was expecting, but my goodness, what a gorgeously atmospherically-charged, and musically symbolic of that mid-1960s, lushly orchestrated, gentle psych-prog era flashback it most certainly is.
Layered from start to finish, each chorus is set in motion by some stern piano work before we are gloriously presented with a rhythmical bounce of melodies and hypnotic storytelling within.
2001: A Garden of Personal Mirrors [Official Listen]
Rough Trade 7” Single Purchase Link
Amazon Digital Purchase Link
Title - Messages from Aphrodite
Artist - Lauren Monroe
For those unaware, Lauren Monroe - singer, songwriter, and healing artist - announces her third album, Messages from Aphrodite (releasing September 9th, 2022), with the release of the new single, “If You Want.”
Co-produced by Monroe with the renowned Jim Scott, “If You Want” features a guest performance from the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rick Allen, drummer of Def Leppard, and Monroe’s husband and frequent collaborator.
With its old-school Americana groove and splash of Southern soul, “If You Want” would slide seamlessly into a 1970s playlist featuring Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt.
The song embodies Monroe’s messages of positivity, love, and healing through music. “In every moment we have a choice to live in love or in fear. To live in love or anger, in love or worry. In every moment we have the opportunity to choose love over and over again,” she says. “I believe that love is not just a feeling, it is a place, a home, a sanctuary of hope and meaning, but only if you choose it.”
Music and healing have always been a focal point in Monroe’s life. Through performance, storytelling, and art, she creates an intimate experience for her audiences, showing them how music can impact healing and growth.
Earlier this year, she and Allen played some intimate East Coast club dates during which they also displayed their mixed-media art, which was then auctioned online to benefit Raven Drum Foundation, an organization they founded with the mission to serve, educate and empower veterans dealing with PTSD and combat trauma, people in crisis and other at-risk individuals.
2. If You Want
4. Void of Course
5. Dream Again
6. Kiss Me Now
7. My Love
8. Big Love Lullaby
9. Can’t Let Go
10. Beautiful World
11. Calling All Angels
This beautifully crafted, creatively ambient new album opens on the aching yearn within Gold and then brings us the exquisite hipsway of the lead single, If You Want (which reminds us we have a choice to live in love or fear, to live in love or anger, in love or worry), which itself bleeds seamlessly into the second single, the effortless gossamer of Sparrow (a song that teaching us how to grieve, and be present with people who have crossed over), then comes the third single, the reaching, guitar-led rocker Void of Course (which lyrically comes from her interest in the ancient science of astrology).
Next up is the joyously rambunctious Dream Again and the joyously lush, Celtic-imbibed, mid-tempo balladry bounce of Kiss Me Now, and they are in turn followed by one of my own personal favorites from this quite diligently wonderful album, the passionate longing within My Love, and then comes the gentle foot tapper Big Love Lullaby, the country pop-rock raunch of Can’t Let Go, the recording rounding out on the free flowing Beautiful World, coming to a close on the stilled, yet fibrous Calling All Angels.
The title of the new album, Messages from Aphrodite, references the ancient Greek goddess of love in its myriad aspects, and signifies the emotional expanse of Monroe’s songs, to which she brings a rarefied degree of insight and compassion, enabling her to nimbly plumb the depths and scale the heights of the human condition in her songwriting.
Producer Jim Scott, who’s worked with more than his share of legends over the years, bears witness to Monroe’s alchemy. “Lauren is a special artist,” he asserts. “She’s tuned in to the spiritual workings of the heart and the mystical nature of the universe. She’s an empath, a healer, a teacher, visual artist, producer and songwriter; I also think she’s a time-traveler. Her songs guide, direct and uplift and are sonically beautiful.”
The songs are enlivened by Scott’s deft sonic sculpting of song-serving performances from musical luminaries such as guitarists Greg Leisz (k.d. lang, Matthew Sweet, Bill Frisell), Tyler Bryant (Larkin Poe, Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown), Brian Whelan (Dwight Yoakam), Doug Pettibone (Lucinda Williams) and David Garza (Fiona Apple, Watkins Family Hour); bassists Bob Glaub (Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon), Sebastian Steinberg (Soul Coughing, Fiona Apple) and Mai Leisz (David Crosby), keyboardist John Ginty (Neal Casal, the Allman Betts Band); and backing vocalist Tammi Brown (Bobby McFerrin, Quincy Jones). In addition to Allen, the Heartbreakers’ Steve Ferrone and young dynamo Beth Goodfellow (Iron and Wine, Allison Russell) anchor the proceedings from behind their drum kits.
Monroe will be dropping a string of singles and videos in anticipation of Messages from Aphrodite, and touring surrounding the release. She’ll next appear on May 23rd, 2022 in Nashville, TN, at The Lounge at City Winery. Fall dates will be announced soon.
Lauren Monroe - If You Want (Official Music Video)
Lauren Monroe - Sparrow (Official Music Video)
Lauren Monroe @ Facebook
Lauren Monroe @ Instagram
Lauren Monroe @ YouTube
Title - Rock ‘n’ Roll With The Modern Lovers [Remaster]
Artist - Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
For those of you not in the know, this is now the second release from Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers and which features the U.K. Singles Chart Top 5 hit, “Egyptian Reggae.”
While his desire was for his band to be more of an acoustic/harmony based endeavor, Jonathan was blindsided when his true debut was overtaken by a compilation of early recordings. Singles like “Roadrunner” and “Pablo Picasso” were in the forefront—but that did not deter Jonathan.
After original drummer David Robinson left, (eventually finding success with Hall of Famers, The Cars), Richman hired D. Sharpe, and the band recorded and released the aptly titled Rock ’n’ Roll With The Modern Lovers.
Now, one might wonder how “rock ’n’ roll” and album with songs titled “Ice Cream Man,” “Dodge Veg-O-Matic,” and a version of “Wheels On The Bus” is — but, Greil Marcus called it “the purist Rock and Roll album I’ve heard this year.” And, due to the U.K. fascination with the band’s perceived debut, “Egyptian Reggae” hit #5 on the singles charts!
The date is 1977. Revel in where the “real” Jonathan Richman story started, and how it evolves. The original releases are available on CD and LP, with a unique red colored vinyl variant available for independent retail. His true, Beserkley catalog is available once again. The way Jonathan intended.
1. The Sweeping Wind (Kwa Ti Feng)
2. Ice Cream Man
3. Rockin’ Rockin’ Leprchauns
4. Summer Morning
6. Fly Into The Mystery
7. South American Folk Song
8. Roller Coaster By The Sea
9. Dodge Veg-O-Matic
10. Egyptian Reggae
12. The Wheels On The Bus
13. Angels Watching Over Me
In truth, here on Rock ‘n’ Roll with the Modern Lovers, Richman branches out to Japanese music, a South American Folk Song, and even Egyptian Reggae, but the real highlight on Rock ‘n’ Roll is that ode to a totaled car, Dodge Veg-O-Matic; in my humble opinion.
Thus, and as you might well have expected, mixing traditional folk songs, with covers of Jamaican music and his own left-field jaunty compositions, Richman left audiences perplexed as to what future musical direction he was actually taking here on this recording.
Opening on some Japanese-embodiment within The Sweeping Wind (Kwa Ti Feng) and the raw, earthy Ice Cream Man, along next is the titular sounds found within Rockin’ Rockin’ Leprchauns, the atmospheric storytelling within Summer Morning, then comes the psych chanting and rhythms of Afternoon and then the veritably acoustic balladry of Fly Into The Mystery
Up next is the melodic bounce, ebb and flow of the contagious South American Folk Song and the hand-clapper Roller Coaster By The Sea, the aforementioned Dodge Veg-O-Matic, which are in turn followed by the brilliant Egyptian Reggae (an instrumental version of a track by Jamaican musician, Earl Zero), the album rounding out with the skip-pop-bounce of Coomyah, an upbeat, Rock ‘n’ Roll version of the kids song The Wheels On The Bus, everything coming to a close on the finger-snapping melodies of Angels Watching Over Me.
Official Purchase Link
Jonathan Richman @ Bandcamp
Title - Unconditioned
Artist - Intelligent Music Project VII
For those unaware, the Bulgarian rock band Intelligent Music Project have just released its seventh studio album entitled Unconditioned, and trust me when I tell you it was well worth the wait!
The legendary Simon Phillips (TOTO, Protocol) returns as percussionist and musical co-producer of the new album, while the lead vocalist on this release will again be one of the most popular names in rock music today: Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, MSG).
This will be Romero’s third album with Intelligent Music Project, and for the first time the group has expanded its compositional approach: two of the songs are entirely the work of Ronnie, Biser Ivanov and Ivo Stefanov.
For the first time on Unconditioned, the band’s lead singer shows off his skills as a lyricist, having penned the words to those two songs. All the other songs and lyrics are once again the creation of Intelligent Music Project’s founder and producer, Dr. Milen Vrabevski.
In honor of the tenth anniversary of the band’s first album, The Power Of Mind, the seventh album follows its format and also begins and ends with instrumental tracks written by Dr. Milen Vrabevski in collaboration with Biser Ivanov and Ivo Stefanov.
1. Topic (Instrumental)
3. Sunshine Boulevard
5. Blue Morning
7. The Long Ride
9. And Stars Never Fall
11 Wait for the Night
12. New Hero
13. Finale Grande (Instrumental)
14. Intention (Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Version) [Bonus Track]
15. Intention (Singback) (Instrumental) [Bonus Track]
This beautifully crafted and wholly creatively ambient new album opens on the scorching guitar balladry of the instrumental Topic and then brings us the exquisite AOR of Intention, the low slung, yet reaching ’80s-esque Sunshine Boulevard, and then comes the piano balladry of How, the clenched fist embrace within the vibrant Blue Morning, the atmospherically-charged Soulmate, and then we get the forthright rock of The Long Ride and the mid-tempo AOR (complete with Wurlitzer-imbibed creamy center) of Madness.
Next up is the free-wheelin’ And Stars Never Fall which is itself followed by the, at first, ornate piano ballad, but which subsequently ebbs and flows with a beautiful blues rock vibe within Spirit, and then we get the rambunctious Wait For The Night, the yearning New Hero and the soaring guitar instrumental of Finale Grande, this CD rounding out with two more versions of Intention.
Intelligent Music Project - Intention (Official Video)
Intelligent Music Project - New Hero (Official Video)
Official Purchase Link
Title - Ride
Artist - Walter Trout
For those not in the know, today, the iconic blues-rock guitarist Walter Trout has revealed the official video for Ride, the title track of his 30th solo album, out August 19th, 2022 via Provogue/Mascot Label Group.
Arriving on the West Coast two weeks before album sessions began, Trout settled down to write the material on Ride in his now-deserted house in Huntington Beach, California.
But even in this beach side paradise, among the swaying palms and ocean breeze, the past came calling. As long-standing Trout fans know, the Golden State has been the blues man’s home for 47 years.
Fully realizing that nobody ever really leaves their old selves behind, here on Ride, Trout provides an emotional release valve – both for its creator and his loyal listeners – perhaps this veteran artist can reconcile with his past, accept his future and live in the present as it unfolds.
“I think you can interpret this album title a few different ways,” he concludes. “I mean, this album is definitely a musical ride and I certainly tried to cover a lot of ground. But, really, life is kind of a ride too, isn’t it? And I want to live mine to the fullest.”
3. Follow You Back Home
4. So Many Sad Goodbyes
5. High Is Low
6. Waiting For The Dawn
7. Better Days Ahead
8. Fertile Soil
9. I Worry Too Much
10. Leave It All Behind
11. Hey Mama
The album opens on the laid back, blues roll of Ghosts and then the deceptively upbeat, harmonica-led title track Ride (a track that recounts a locomotive that rattled past his childhood home each night) and they are backed by the wonderfully emotive balladry within Follow You Back Home, the mid-tempo, Hammond-inspired blues So Many Sad Goodbyes, and the comes the vast splendor of another harmonica-driven track, High Is Low and the drum and guitar-led stylings within Waiting For The Dawn.
Next up is the layered, beautifully crafted Better Days Ahead and the swinging blues of Fertile Soil and they are in turn followed seamlessly by the veritably shimmering I Worry Too Much, the soulful, yearning thrill within Leave It All Behind, this vibrantly authentic, heartfelt and wholly embracing new album rounding out on the old school, soul-filled blues within Hey Mama, coming to a close on the rolling blues ebb and flow of Destiny.
Trout joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers lineup in ’85, before embarking on an acclaimed solo career from ’89 onwards. But before that came his chaotic, self-destructive years as a jobbing lead guitarist, whether for revered-but-tricky blues pioneers like John Lee Hooker and Big Mama Thornton, or an unhinged tenure in an ’80s Canned Heat line-up controlled by the Hell’s Angels.
Trout’s well-documented excess in this era was darker than a young rock star cutting loose. It could all be traced back to his troubled childhood in New Jersey, he explains, where an unstable stepfather – himself the victim of shocking cruelty as a prisoner of war – was a terrifying presence.
As Ride took form, such memories couldn’t help but flavor the music. “This album is obviously what I was going through mentally and emotionally,” Trout considers. “All I did was express it. I spent a lot of time crying, because I would dig down into my emotional core. I want my songs to have some sort of truth to them.”
Walter Trout is the beating heart of the modern blues rock scene. Respected by the old guard, revered by the young guns. Adored by the fans who shake his hand after the show each night, and after five decades in the game, Trout remains a talismanic figure.
But, however fast or far a man travels, he can never truly outrun his past. On the new album Walter Trout found himself eyeing the horizon and the green shoots of his triumphant late career. There was a new record deal with Mascot/Provogue. A move from California to Denmark with his beloved family. Even now, aged 70, Trout was still writing fresh chapters of his life story.
Walter Trout - Ride (Official Music Video)
Official Purchase Link
Walter Trout @ Facebook
Walter Trout @ Twitter
Walter Trout @ Instagram
Title - The Dream Is Free
Artist - Joe Macre
For those not in the know, hot on the heels of his critically acclaimed first solo album, bassist Joe Macre has released his sophomore album The Dream Is Free on Cuppa Joe Records.
Joe is known as the original bassist for the progressive rock band Crack The Sky best known for achieving debut album of the year in Rolling Stone Magazine and still included in the top 50 albums of all time.
Joe was a member of Crack The Sky from 1975-1980 and 2004-2009. Joe has also worked with The B. E. Taylor Group, Wild Cherry, King Friday, Jim Croce, David Sanborn, The Brecker Brothers, Marie Osmond, Keith Green, Clint Brown, and others.
In 2018 Joe began work on Joe Mac’s American Garage with the debut album, Bullet Train released in 2021 with a cast of musicians and superstars including Grammy Award Artists Oliver Wakeman (Yes), and Andy Timmons (Danger Danger), Robert Schindler (Johnny Nash), Madukwu Chinwah (Erikah Badu), Chris Elliot and Jerry Oxendyne (86 Bullets), Pete Hewllett (Billy Joel), John Palumbo, Rick Witkowski, Bobby Hird and Joey D’Amico (Crack The Sky).
Joe’s latest effort, The Dream Is Free was written immediately after the Bullet Train release and features him on all instruments and voices, with guest appearances by Crack The Sky’s Rick Witkowski and Al Macre (keys) and solos by Chris Elliott. It’s a collection of 10 songs with Bonus tracks and the lead single is a light commercial song entitled I Need You.
1. The Dream Is Free (3:51)
2. Tell Me (3:46)
3. Ride Or Die (3:13)
4. Drop Me Off At The Rainbow (4:58)
5. Life In The Theater (3:55)
6. These Cool Years (Graduation) (4:10)
7. Not Looking Back Tonight (3:18)
8. Tomorrow Is Today (5:20)
9. The Dark Sky Sea (6:07)
10. Get Up, Crack Down (3:48 )
The album opens on the virtually shimmering AOR of the titular The Dream Is Free and the drum-led rocker Tell Me and then brings us the slightly heavier side of Macre on Ride Or Die, the low ebb, relatively acoustic Drop Me Off At The Rainbow and then the mid tempo balladry of Life In The Theater is brought forth.
Next up is the foot tapping, sweeping rock of These Cool Years (Graduation) and the rhythmically melodic Not Looking Back Tonight, and they are in turn followed by the glistening hipsway of Tomorrow Is Today, the album rounding out on the guitar-led The Dark Sky Sea, coming to a close on the stuttering prog rock vibe of Get Up, Crack Down.
Says Joe, The Dream Is Free album is a reflection on my life experiences as a musician. The Dream Is Free BUT the pain’s sold separately. It takes some talent to get in but there are consequences if you have no idea of the BUSINESS of music. So, I guess it’s a loosely concept album but also a collection that was written during the Covid times. I write all the songs and play all the instruments and vocals with the exception of some solos by Chris Elliott, Rick Witkowski and Al Macre; two incredible soloists and a classical keyboardist who played on a few songs.
My former bandmate Rick Witkowski co-wrote two songs with me on this album. My musical inspirations are The Beatles, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Strawbs. I grew up playing Funk as a bassist. These early years were filled with Motown, James Brown and anything with a cool rhythm. The context for my songs is positive, giving the listener the chance to explore what I’m saying. Most are based on my musical experiences and years on the road.
Joe Macre’s Award-winning Post Production mixing credits in films include Monster in Law, House of D and Fire Down Below. His Cuppa Joe Music Library and Sound Design are chosen for many national spots, including the award-winning Super Bowl Tabasco’s Mosquito, Corona’s Ship in a Bottle, Nickelodeon, Showtime, Ford, McDonald’s, Corona, Hyundai, and Oprah Winfrey.
Joe was inducted into the board of directors for SPARS (Society of Professional Audio Recording Services) with Leslie Ann Jones, Audio Director at Skywalker Sound, Kevin Mills at Larrabee West Studios, Tim Butler at Chicago Recording (CRC), Jeff Greenberg at The Village Recorder and Steve Davis at Crawford Communications Atlanta. Joe is an active member of AES and the American Federation of Musicians.
Official Purchase Link
Joe Macre @ Facebook
Title - Tone Paintings
Artist - Craig Davis w/ John Clayton & Jeff Hamilton
For those unaware, the music of the mysterious Dodo Marmarosa finds new life in this recording, Tone Paintings, by jazz pianist, arranger, composer, and educator Craig Davis.
Joined by John Clayton on bass and Jeff Hamilton on drums and recorded in Los Angeles where Dodo found his voice in the progressive form of jazz, bebop, Tone Paintings combines masterful compositions with contemporary arranging and exquisite soloing from three Masters of Jazz.
Michael “Dodo” Marmarosa, bebop pianist, composer and arranger who retreated to his childhood home in Pittsburgh after years of touring with several major big bands, including those led by Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, and Artie Shaw and recording with leading bebop and swing musicians, including Howard McGhee, Charlie Parker, and Lester Young, as well as leading his own bands in the 1940s due to mental health issues.
1. Mellow Mood
2. Dodo’s Bounce
3. Dodo’s Blues
5. A Ditty For Dodo
6. Opus No. 5
8. Dary Departs
9. Tone Paintings
10. Battle Of The Balcony Jive
11. Dodo’s Lament
This well crafted and harmoniously melodious album opens on the playful Mellow mood and the sprightly Dodo’s Bounce and then comes the aptly-titled, low slung Dodo’s Blues, the drum-led, energetically cheerful Escape, and the last dance, slow twirl of A Ditty For Dodo.
Up next is the elegant gossamer within Opus No. 5 which is in turn followed by the peppy Compadoo and then comes the late night, smoky blues club appeal within the upright bass-led Dary Departs, the feel changing, the rhythmic gears worked down to balladry level for the titular track, and then the album rounds out with the zippy Battle Of The Balcony Jive and the sheer elegance of musical splendor found within Dodo’s Lament
MCG Jazz is a social enterprise of Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, a subsidiary of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, a non-profit arts and learning center in Pittsburgh, PA. MCG Jazz supports its mission to preserve, present, and promote jazz through its annual subscription concert series, dedicated to hosting the world’s finest jazz musicians; a specialty, jazz recording label; and a multi-faceted educational outreach program that reaches thousands of music lovers and students locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Official Purchase Link
MCG Jazz @ Bandcamp
MCG Jazz Official Website
Title - Rituals
Artist - Jim McNeely w/ Frankfurt Radio Big Band
For those unaware, with a tribute to Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) by Igor Stravinsky, the hr Big Band, which plays here as the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, and the American tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, fills essential parts of their new CD Rituals (out now via Challenge Records).
Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) by Igor Stravinsky is regarded as a key work of classical music of the 20th century. Due to its rhythmic and tonal structures, interspersed with numerous dissonances, it created turmoil in the audience at its world premiere in Paris in 1913, but was then able to quickly establish itself as a central work in the repertoire of concert halls.
The work on this new album was commissioned by the Alte Oper Frankfurt, which held a Stravinsky Festival in 2013, Olaf Stotzler recalled, producer of the hr Big Band. At that time there was a music festival around a central work of classical music, in this case Le Sacre du Printemps.
The idea was to commission Jim McNeely to compose this work for Chris Potter. However, it is not a jazz version of Le Sacre du Printemps, but instead a new composition. It was inspired by the sound language of Le Sacre du Printemps.
The performance was a huge success, which is why Potter and the hr Big Band decided to record the whole thing again in a studio. With plenty of verve and aplomb, the hr Big Band glides through the complex rhythmic and harmonious score that McNeely composed in the spirit of Stravinsky.
With Chris Potter, one of the best contemporary saxophonists could be won over for the role of soloist. With a unique sonorous tone and inexhaustible inventiveness, he actually seems to play as if his life depended on it. Chris Potter is the voice of this spring sacrifice, Olaf Stotzler explained. He embodies this character, which is why we chose a soloist in the first place. Musical representation of this spring sacrifice is a mammoth task. He really plays all the time, and that is a challenge for which we wanted to have one of the best.
1. Rituals - Adoration I (6:58)
2. Rituals - Adoration II (5:12)
3. Rituals - Adoration III (2:16)
4. Rituals - Sacrifice I (7:40)
5. Rituals - Sacrifice II (6:36)
6. Rituals - Rebirth (4:21)
7. Dawn (7:46)
8. The Wheel (8:45)
9. Wine Dark Sea (8:32)
10. Okinawa (10:22)
This beautifully crafted, creatively juicy new album opens on the firecracker Rituals - Adoration I and then bleeds seamlessly into the huge cinematic scope of Adoration II, which then leads us into the frenetic Adoration III, then comes Rituals - Sacrifice, which does not break step as it also comes complete with some breathtaking musicianship, whereas Sacrifice II subtly brings the uproar down a level, the laid back, at first, then volcanic, Bond-esque Rituals - Rebirth a simply stunning track that follows.
Up next is what seems to be a cumulative, layered jam track, Dawn, and that is itself followed by the jamboree brought forth within the triumphant The Wheel, the album rounding out on the uproarious Wine Dark Sea, the entire recording coming to righteous close on the free-wheeling melodies and rhythms within the ten minute Okinawa.
Amazon Purchase Link
Title - Woodstock: 20 Years After [CD / DVD]
Artist - Sha Na Na
For those not in the know, Sha Na Na, the popular 1950s revival group which has sold over 20 million records and starred in its own syndicated television series, was one of the performers at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival.
Twenty years later, Sha Na Na joined original fellow musicians for the Woodstock: 20 Years After concert held 3,000 miles away at Cal-State Dominguez Hills in Carson, California on August 20th, 1989.
This 1989 performance from Sha Na Na is scheduled for release on CD, DVD and digital on August 5th, 2022 via Liberation Hall.
1. Rock Around the Clock
2. Tossin’ and Turnin’
3. The Stroll
4. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
5. High School Confidential / At the Hop
6. Let’s Dance
7. Queen of the Hop
8. Save the Last Dance for Me
9. Chantilly Lace
10. You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
11. You Can’t Sit Down
12. Blueberry Hill
14. Hit the Road Jack
15. Tonite, Tonite
16. In the Still of the Night
17. Get a Job
18. Oh Lonesome Me
19. Promised Land
20. Introducing the Band
21. Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay
22. Goodnight My Love
23. Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite
Opening on the vibrant, yet short duo of Rock Around the Clock and the swinging rhythms of Tossin’ and Turnin,’ they are followed by a low slung The Stroll, a rampant Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, the hoppin’ and a boppin’ of the blended High School Confidential / At the Hop, the once organ-infused (now guitar-revved) version of Chris Montez’s twister Let’s Dance, the finger-snapping, one-minute long Queen of the Hop, a warm and tender version of Save the Last Dance for Me, and then comes an upbeat and gently frenetic Chantilly Lace, a powerful You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and then a fervent You Can’t Sit Down.
Up next is the thrill of Blueberry Hill and the urgency of chords within the beloved instrumental Tequila and they are in turn backed by the groovy Hit the Road Jack, the street corner do-wop of Tonite, Tonite, the soulful In the Still of the Night, more do-wop in the form of a .38 second instrumental snippet of Get a Job, the countrified Oh Lonesome Me, a pulsating rendition of Promised Land, and then after intro’ing the band (for nearly three minutes), they bring the recording to a close by saying they have one last thing to say, which is that Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay, before the encore provides us with two goodbye tracks in the form of the laid back hipsway of both Goodnight My Love and Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite.
Whether it be the CD you are listening to or the music and visuals coming from your TV via the DVD, this live show is performed by a highly-spirited and genuinely heartfelt group of guys that know their target audience is having as much fun as they themselves are!
There is just so many on-going, and still choreographed (to a point) dance routines on display along with impassioned vocals performances, shiny attire, and, of course, some electrifying, and at times high-kicking piano fare rolled in!
Sha Na Na’s first appearance at Woodstock was only the band’s eighth performance. Formed during the 1968-1969 school year at Columbia University in New York City, the idea for the band was conceived by George Leonard, a humanities graduate student who also became the group’s choreographer.
The original lineup featured a dozen members and performed a song-and-dance repertoire based on popular rock and doo-wop hits of the 1950s. Within two months we were the hottest rock act in New York, held over week after week at Steve Paul’s Scene, where the stars themselves partied, recalled Leonard.
According to the band’s drummer, John Fair Jocko Marcellino, it was on the final night that The Scene was open that Jimi Hendrix personally introduced Sha Na Na to Woodstock’s producers, Michael Lang and Artie Kornfeld.
We were booked that night, Marcellino told Yahoo Entertainment’s Lyndsey Parker. We got $350, the check bounced, and we got a dollar to be in the movie. But that was a good dollar.
Sha Na Na’s high energy presentation and set-closing rendition of Danny & the Juniors’ At the Hop was a highlight of the concert and appeared in Michael Wadleigh’s award-winning documentary film, Woodstock (1970).
The movie helped make Sha Na Na a sensation in the U.S. and triggered a 1950s nostalgia craze that inspired the Broadway musical Grease (1971), George Lucas’ feature film American Graffiti, and the long-running television series Happy Days (1974-1984).
When director Randal Kleiser’s big budget film adaptation of Grease arrived in 1978, the accompanying soundtrack included six songs by Sha Na Na, and the group performed two songs in the film as as Johnny Casino and the Gamblers.
During their 1970s heyday, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, and Jay Leno all opened for Sha Na Na.
Sha Na Na continues to play concerts, and the current lineup features original members Marcellino and Donny York, as well as Screamin’ Scott Simon who joined in 1979. Simon co-wrote the much-loved Sandy which appears in the Grease film. They are the only surviving members from the original band and TV show.
Woodstock: 20 Years After features 23 classic rock and doo-wop performances by Sha Na Na and runs 51 minutes. Order the first digital single, You Can’t Sit Down, at
Sha Na Na now.
Sha Na Na - Woodstock: 20 Years After (Official Trailer)
Official CD / DVD Purchase Link
Title - Raw [Vinyl LP]
Artist - ZZ Top
For those unaware, Raw was recorded in connection with the band’s wildly popular and critically lauded 2019 Netflix documentary That Little Ol’ Band From Texas.
The Grammy-nominated feature from Banger Films and director Sam Dunn includes an interlude that finds the group’s classic line up - Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and the late Dusty Hill - gathering for a very intimate session at Gruene Hall, “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas.”
That performance provided the basis for the RAW album release.
1. Brown Sugar
2. Just Got Paid
3. Heard It On The X
4. La Grange
7. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
9. Gimme All Your Lovin’
10. Blue Jean Blues
11. Certified Blues
12. Tube Snake Boogie
The album, released through Shelter Records/BMG and available now, opens on the, at first, slow poke roll and then soon thereafter, the rambunctious blues rock of Brown Sugar (penned by Billy F Gibbons, and thus should not be mistaken for the Rolling Stones song of the same title; the latter of which was actually released three months after ZZ Top’s first album) and the sturdy guitar rock of Just Got Paid (from their 1972 album Rio Grande Mud), and backs those up with the duel-sung Heard It On The X, which made its debut in 1975 as part of ZZ Top’s fourth album Fandango!
Up next is La Grange, a little ditty about a “shack outside La Grange” that was mostly known as the Chicken Ranch, although it was a Texas brothel open from 1905 to 1973, and that is followed by Tush and the slow blues crawl of Thunderbird, both from the aforementioned Fandango! album, although the former was the only single released from it, and then the first side rounds out with the melodic blues of I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide (a song inspired by Texas bluesman Joey Long) and from their brilliant Degüello album.
The second side opens on the beloved pairing of MTV favorites, and softer AOR of both Legs and Gimme All Your Lovin,’ from their now-infamous Eliminator album, and then this excellently crafted, rawly recorded album continues onward with another track from Fandango!, the blues balladry of Blue Jean Blues; where the realness of the lyrics, coupled with the imagery of the covered oil and gasoline, work day pants, much like the titular pair of blue jeans in the tune, are brought vividly, if not achingly to life, the album rounding out on their earthy Certified Blue (from First Album - yup, that was it’s title - from 1971), coming to a righteous close on Tube Snake Boogie; which debuted in 1981 as part of their El Loco album and is still one of their most enduring in-concert favorites to-date.
The classic honky-tonk setting of Gruene Hall established back in 1878, was chosen for an unfettered, roots-oriented recording session that is chronicled in the documentary. Released by Banger Films, the feature offers insight into the history of the band’s classic Gibbons/Beard/Hill incarnation.
The new album’s liner notes by Gibbons and Beard note of the RAW sessions, “..it was, in a very real way, a return to our roots. Just us and the music, no audience of thousands, no concession stands, no parking lot social hour, no phalanx of tour buses. Just us. We knew right then it was a very special circumstance, all of us in the same place at the same time, and what a time it most certainly was!”
Gibbons commented, “The Director suggested we find a way to illustrate the early style from the start of our five-plus decades run. Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas, was selected as a fitting backdrop to replicate the look of the band’s very beginnings. When we arrived, we were surprised to see that all our gear had been transported there so, as cameras rolled, we picked up the instruments and commenced an unplanned jam session.”
“Fortunately, our stage engineers were on hand with tape machines in place to capture the performances that went down. That became, in essence, the soundtrack to the film and now it’s also an audio document of ZZ Top’s early beginnings. Still going strong today.”
Gibbons continues, “Our director suggested going back to what it was like when we first started recording in our early days: the band in the studio together in a mostly unfettered way. We were quite comfortable in the room as heard on the tracks, with that level of branded intimacy.”
RAW’s 12 tracks include “Certified Blues” which was originally heard on ZZ Top’s First Album as well as “La Grange,” the band’s 1973 breakthrough, and “Tush,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Legs” and other eternal ZZ Top song catalog standouts.
The album was captured in one day, keeping the whole process simple and straightforward. A nod to the band’s early days. Billy F Gibbons served as producer, with engineering by Jake Mann and G.L. G-Mane Moon; RAW was mixed by Ryan Hewitt. It is available on 180-gram vinyl, CD, and digital platforms.
Official Raw Vinyl LP Purchase Link
Title - Rhythm of the World
Artist - The Cowsills
Some of the best music made in the last 60 years has been delivered by musical families. Think about it. The Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys, Bee Gees, The Jackson 5, The Staple Singers, Pointer Sisters, Kings Of Leon, Oasis … and The Cowsills!
Starting in 1965, The Cowsills was composed of six siblings, performing their instruments and singing those glorious harmonies as only families can. Originally starting as a regional act (from Newport, Rhode Island), the group was “founded” by Joda Records owners Danny Sims and reggae/pop singer Johnny Nash (“I Can See Clearly Now”) in the mid-’60s for whom they recorded a handful of singles before turning towards more national recognition when they were signed to MGM Records in 1967.
At this point, the group’s mother Barbara and young sister Susan joined the act and they were awarded a Gold record for over one million copies sold of their very first single for MGM, the sublime, “The Rain, The Park & Other Things.”
This began a series of chart records that dominated the Top 40 for the next three years. Among the classic Cowsills recordings are “We Can Fly,” “Indian Lake,” “Hair” (from the rock musical Hair), and “Love American Style” (the theme song from the popular ABC-TV show of the same name).
The group also recorded and charted with five successful albums during this time period. The band and their story were even the inspiration for the popular 1970s sitcom The Partridge Family.
The group was also a prosperous touring attraction up through 1972, spreading their harmonious hope and love to an adoring fan base. They even had their own comic book published in 1968.
As all families do, the group went through a series of changes, disbanding in 1972. But music never left the soul of this tuneful and melodic kin. Over the years, the group, as individuals, continued to make music and even reunited in 1978 and 1993 to make historic records that are woefully out of print.
Now, nearly 30 years after their last recordings as a group, The Cowsills are returning with new music for the new world! Omnivore Recordings is proud to announce the release of Rhythm Of The World.
This new album features eleven brand new songs written by the band and the ambassadors of goodwill and love will be on the road through 2023 thrilling fans with their classic hits and soon to be new favorites!
1. Ya Gotta Get Up!
2. Lend A Hand
3. Hawks On The Line
4. Every Little Secret
5. Nuclear Winter
6. Rhythm Of The World
7. Largo Nights,br>
8. Goodbye’s Not Forever
9. The Long Run
10. Try To Believe It Too
This beautiful new album opens on the buoyant message within Ya Gotta Get Up! and the mid-tempo, rhythmic rocker Lend A Hand and they are followed by the tumbleweed-imbibed, countrified Hawks On The Line, the jangling, melodic guitar work within Every Little Secret and the late ’90s-esque alt-pop vibe of Nuclear Winter is then brought forth.
Next up is the titular Rhythm Of The World and the late ’70s melodies within Largo Nights, and then we get the comfortable, low ebb balladry flow of Goodbye’s Not Forever, the album rounding out with the gently fervent The Long Run, the upbeat and loving Try To Believe It Too, coming to a close on the acoustic guitar-led, sweeping ’70s embrace of Katrina.
Official Purchase Link
The Cowsills @ Facebook
Title - American Cult Candy
Artist - Joybomb
For those not in the know, if punk rock keeps evolving, then Joybomb is its latest incarnation. With its unique blend of power pop, alternative, and post-hardcore, this trio of Memphis mashers reels out a steady
stream of sonic hooks designed to galvanize audiences and hit them with something new.
Equal parts sin and salvation, Joybomb is a stiff shot of clever rock and roll that comes without a chaser! From the very first note, the band flies in hot and sharp, strafing the floor with a barrage of burning riffs
that detonate on impact.
Although operating out of Memphis, TN, Joybomb was actually conceived in nearby Starkville, MS, where frontman and songwriter Grant Beatty met original members, bassist Adrian Lewis and drummer Collin Whitten as early as teen punks.
There, smack dab in the heart of Bulldog country, the three recognized they shared a similar musical vision and committed their energies to bringing it to life. Initially calling themselves The Jarheads, the trio would
later adopt the moniker of Joybomb as a descriptor of both their sound and intent.
Years later, the band continues defying traditional perceptions of modern pop punk, opting for curiously melodic power riffs injected with a healthy dose of feedback! The instrumentation offers a musical language all of
its own, as the trio finds new ways of expressing discontent and optimism with each new song.
Beatty’s lyricism is both earnest and witty, cleverly infused with a mix of garage aestheticism and social reflection. He now carries the torch as the remaining original member, embracing a fresh lineup to support an
all-new chapter for the band, which opens with the release of their first full-length album, American Cult Candy.
1. New Light
2. Twin Hearts
3. Running Blind
4. Outside the Frame
5. High Crimes & New Lows
7. Foreign Affair
8. Bloody Rubber Bands
9. En Vogue
10. Speak Shallow
11. The Charade
The album opens on the mid-tempo AOR of the melodious New Light and the cranked Twin Hearts and then brings us the free flowing rock of Running Blind, the jagged, low ebb flow of Outside the Frame, the drum led High Crimes & New Lows and then comes the upbeat and gently rambunctious Blueprints.
Up next is the mid-tempo rocker Foreign Affair which is itself followed seamlessly by the upbeat ride of Bloody Rubber Bands, which is then backed by the angst-fueled En Vogue, the album rounding out with the grippingly layered Speak Shallow, coming to a close on the forthright The Charade.
We sought to make a HUGE sounding, smart, authentic, guitar-driven rock record with our unique flavor of power pop and punk aesthetic ... essentially, hi-fi meets DIY! We definitely got that working with Drew, who allowed us time to breathe and explore, says Beatty.
Official Facebook Page
Official Instagram Page
Joybomb @ Bandcamp
The Jarheads @ Bandcamp
Title - Chasing Horizons
Artist - Russ Hewitt
For those not in the know, this new album Chasing Horizons from Russ Hewitt is an experience. It is a 10-track journey through samba, montuno, milonga, fatback, rumba Flamencom guajira, and four-on-the-floor grooves!
It begins with his breezy, fluid and melodic Allende, where if you close your eyes, you might just hear the rustling of palm leaves as you sit on your mental warm sandy beach of choice!
With a total of four tracks with Hewitt in the spotlight, he is equal to the task of making the album so inviting, perhaps more so than anything he has done in the past.
2. Chasing Horizons (feat. Nuno Bettencourt)
3. Vivir Libre (feat. Marty Friedman)
4. Amor Perdido (feat. Bucharest All-Star Orchestra)
6. Sunset Samba (feat. Jorge Strunz)
8. Cubalia Cafe (feat. Ardeshir Farah)
10. Return To Simitai (feat. Tri Nguyen)
This vibrantly alive and wholly musically compelling new album opens on the beautifully free flowing Allende and smoothly follows that up with the vibrantly titular Chasing Horizons (featuring the expert guitar work of
Extreme’s very own Nuno Bettencourt), and then the tempo is taken up a further notch on the effervescent Vivir Libre (featuring Marty Friedman),
the aching balladry of Amor Perdido (featuring the always impressive Bucharest All-Star Orchestra) is next, and then comes the languishingly ornate musings within the aptly-entitled Luminous.
Up next is one of my own personal favorites from this new recording, the dulcet hipsway of Sunset Samba (featuring Jorge Strunz) and the veritably shimmering Luna, and they are in turn backed by the drum-led orchestrations within Cubalia Cafe (featuring Ardeshir Farah), the album rounding out with the mellow Serein, coming to a close on the lightly playful Return To Simitai (featuring Tri Nguyen).
Official Facebook Page
Russ Hewitt @ Instagram
Russ Hewitt @ Bandcamp
Title - Weighted Keys (EP)
Artist - Potter’s Daughter
For those not following along at home, Melodic Revolution Records is proud to announce that Art Rock/Prog Folk artist Potters’ Daughter’ new 3-track Art-rock EP Weighted Keys is now available worldwide.
A compilation of three songs that were dear to lead singer Potter Voegtlin during three different phases of her life, Potter’s Daughter released their debut album, The Blind Side, in August 2018 and in 2019 they released two singles, Blood and Water (featuring Annie Haslam, Renaissance as guest artist), and the holiday single, This Winter’s Child; which was composed for the MRR Holiday album.
In 2020, they released the EP, Casually Containing Rage and in 2021 they released the single, Pyrrha’s Song (featuring drummer, Jimmy Keegan), for Nick Katona’s project, Troubleshooting Pandora’s Box.
Last year, Dyanne and bassist/producer Jan Christiana formed the band, Octarine Sky, and released their debut album, Close to Nearby, which featured Simon Phillips, Guthrie Govan, and Amit Chatterjee.
1. Night of the Swallow
3. That Song About the Midway
This short, but ultimately sweetly charming, and always musically breathtaking EP opens on their aching version of a rarely heard, semi-acoustic version of Kate Bush’s dramatic song from her album, The Dreaming (from Dyanne’s time in NYC, when she first discovered Kate Bush) and then moves seamlessly into a solo piano rendition of Tom Kelly’s Catherine, the EP rounding out on the veritable gossamer, semi-acoustic version of That Song About the Midway from Joni Mitchell’s beautiful 1969 album, Clouds.
Featuring some rather lovely cover art by Joe Ganech of Pink Glasses Girl, this quite wondrous new EP, due out August 19th, 2022, and available digitally and on CD, is not only everything and more that you would expect from Potter’s Daughter, but is also a most exquisite, and wholly elegant musical experience from start to all-too-soon finish.
Official Facebook Page
Official Instagram Page
Duduka Da Fonseca @ Bandcamp
Title - Mountain City Four [Unreleased]
Artist - Mountain City Four
In 1963, Jack Nissenson and Peter Weldon recruited Kate McGarrigle to form a trio. A few months later, Kate’s sister Anna joined, and the group became the Mountain City Four. Playing locally at Montreal folk clubs,
the band developed a loyal and substantial following and played into the 1970s.
Kate and Anna began writing songs which were passed from friend to friend, and eventually found their way into the repertoires of Maria Muldaur and Linda Ronstadt. While in L.A singing backups on Maria’s first record,
they were invited by Greg Prestopino to record a few of their other compositions.
Greg passed the demo on to Warner Brothers Records who quickly offered Kate and Anna their own recording contract and they were off and running. For several years, the Mountain City Four continued as the opening act for Kate and Anna’s live shows and contributed backup vocals and instrumentals to the sisters’ early studio recordings.
The McGarrigles origins shine brightly on Mountain City Four which contains sixteen previously unissued recordings from 1963–1964, 1969–70, and a final one in 2012 two years after Kate’s passing which featured members
of the Mountain City Four’s extended family. The tracks include classics like Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” the traditional “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “This Train,” and
“All The Good Times,” written by Lead Belly and Alan Lomax.
Mountain City Four is produced by original member Peter Weldon and Jane McGarrigle. The packaging contains photos and liner notes from Weldon, both Jane and Anna McGarrigle, and Joe Boyd, outlining the history and sharing
memories of the Mountain City Four. Not only is Mountain City Four a window into the origin of one of the world’s foremost singer/songwriting sisters, but a look into the incredible folk music scene of the 1960s.
1. JESULEIN SÜSS/WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN
2. MEAN OLD FRISCO
3. EREV SHEL SHOSHANIM
4. MOTHERLESS CHILDREN
5. DARK AS A DUNGEON
6. BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY
7. REUBEN RANZO
8. YOU’VE GOT TO WALK THAT LONESOME VALLEY
9. EN FILANT MA QUENOUILLE
10. THIS TRAIN
11. THE LOG DRIVER’S WALTZ
12. V’LÀ LE BONNE VENT
13. YOU’RE GONNA NEED SOMEBODY ON YOUR BOND
14. ALL THE GOOD TIMES
15. SAM HALL
These historic, early recordings from Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s beginnings as members of the Mountain City Four open on the warmly melodic rumblings of JESULEIN SÜSS/WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN and the harmonica-driven MEAN OLD FRISCO and then lovingly bring us the simply beautiful Israeli favorite EREV SHEL SHOSHANIM, the impassioned MOTHERLESS CHILDREN, the guitar picking showcase within DARK AS A DUNGEON, and then we get the upbeat and joyous BLUE MOON OF KENTUCKY, the gently raucous sing-along REUBEN RANZO and then comes the old blues of YOU’VE GOT TO WALK THAT LONESOME VALLEY.
Next up on this quite breathtakingly ambient new collection is the jubilant melodies within EN FILANT MA QUENOUILLE and the harmonious THIS TRAIN which are in turn backed by the old time Canadiana of THE LOG DRIVER’S WALTZ, the lushly ornate V’LÀ LE BONNE VENT, the uniquely rhythmic blues of YOU’RE GONNA NEED SOMEBODY ON YOUR BOND, the recording rounding out with the wonderfully heartwarming ALL THE GOOD TIMES, the mid-tempo storytelling of SAM HALL, coming to a simply achingly passionate rendition of SHENANDOAH.
Omnivore presents Mountain City Four Featurette
Official Purchase Link
Title - Let It All Lay Bare
Artist - Scott Clay
Nashville-based Americana/roots rock singer-songwriter Scott Clay is set to release his album, Let It All Lay Bare, independently on September 23rd, 2022. Recorded partially at Hall of Justice in Seattle and
partially remotely, the album was produced/engineered by Mike Davis (Modest Mouse), mixed by Steven Aguilar, and mastered by Rachel Field.
Let It All Lay Bare showcases themes important to Clay: relationships, stunning displays of natural beauty, and even famous historical events. The collection of songs that compromise his fifth full-length gives listeners a
multi-faceted picture of a storyteller in his element.
1. Let It All Lay Bare
2. Nothing Like the Real Thing
3. Open Country
4. It’s Easy
5. Simple Kind
6. Chief Joseph
7. Baptize Me
10. The Captive
Blessed with a longing ache within his vocal delivery akin to a young Adam Duritz and, perhaps, at times, the great Michael Stipe, Scott Clay opens this album with the upbeat, easygoing titular track and then comes the jaunty alt-country rock of Nothing Like the Real Thing, and they are followed by the aching yearn within Open Country, the rockin’ grooves of It’s Easy and the harmonica-imbibed, reticently restrained Simple Kind.
The seasoned Seattle-based performer continues onward with the Counting Crows-esque Chief Joseph and the blazingly euphoric Baptize Me, and then follows them seamlessly with the dulcet, Americana-embed, hauntingly ethereal Aurora, the album rounding out on the mid-tempo Utah, coming to a close on the sententious balladry within The Captive.
“This album represents an evolution in my musical career, and I am hoping it will connect deeply with my listeners,” Clay says of Let It All Lay Bare. “I feel honored to continue touring and look forward to
engaging with my audience on a new level.”
Clay plans to roll out a series of singles with accompanying videos leading up to the album release in the fall.
Scott Clay – Let It All Lay Bare (Official Video)
Official Purchase Link
Scott Clay @ Facebook
Scott Clay @ Twitter
Scott Clay @ YouTube
Title - Pandemic Radio
Artist - Charles Xavier
San Francisco composer and recording artist the Xman aka Charles Xavier is releasing an ambient/melodic/neo-jazz album titled Pandemic Piano on September 9th, 2022. The music speaks for
itself for it is new age ambient piano music that Charles will perform as he crosses the country and live streams the tour.
He will continue his Xman drama with the first single titled “When I Think Of You” (Dolby Atmos mix by immersive mix engineer McKay Garner) on July 29th. The second Atmos single titled “Sexual Vibration Chakra” will be released on August 19th.
Says Charles, “I was creating out of my comfort zone. I improvised each morning after I had awakened from my unconscious dark shadow and I recorded endless loops of anguish and despair. I was capturing the moment until I was able to release my darkness with loving light through this piano. Isn’t that what every artist strives for? To capture our souls on fire, so that we can present to our audience the true essence of our art, engage our listeners in our battles, our conflicts with egos that are present in every man.
There’s a magic in our madness as human creatures that the superior beings that control the universe cannot predict or prescribe into ... DIG.”
1. You Know
2. Perfect Mold
3. Grand Happiness
5. Covid Oddity
6. Little Portugal
7. When I Think Of You
9. I Sat Outside There
12. Sexual Vibration Chakra
13. Mary’s Pond
14. Stories New, Stories Old
16. Ascended Masters
17. Profile Rock
18. St. John’s Cathedral
19. Round Hill
Encouraging meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness, these songs are a perfect introduction to Charles Xavier and he opens on two of my own personal favorites from the new set, the dulcet stillness of You Know and then follows that up with the gentle flow of possibility within Perfect Mold, the almost crystalline Grand Happiness, the veritably shimmering Swallow, the aptly-named Covid Oddity, and then comes the quietly flirtatious Little Portugal, the self awareness of When I Think Of You and the thoughtful Africa (no, not the Toto song!).
Up next is the delicate, almost stoic embrace of I Sat Outside There and then the perfect bookends of both the lucid Morning and the translucent Evening, and which are both seamlessly backed by the atmospheric Sexual
Vibration Chakra, the effective mixtures found within Mary’s Pond, the echoing ebb of Stories New, Stories Old, the lightly jaunty Expectations, and then the album rounds out on the glassy ambience of Ascended Masters,
the gentle breeze of calm brought within Profile Rock, coming to a righteous close on the intricately sculptured St. John’s Cathedral and the elegance of Round Hill (and a handful of 30 & 60 second Radio Tags).
Says Charles, “I present this new set of songs recorded during the pandemic and throughout its current state of osmosis, separation, disruption, disdain and frustration from our being separated from our commutative, tribal, creative souls. This living project began as the last six albums have but quickly took shape into a life changing force all-encompassing into oneself. I exist now as a solo human being drifting across America…”
Ambient solo piano music by composer/percussionist/sound designer Charles Xavier. Pandemic Piano is sometimes spontaneous, then magically serene, dipping into quadrants of clarity then unspoken shifting moods, pain then
dreams, dreams then gain. Different pianist, different speed. It’s worth a listen.
What’s next for Charles? The show “ELLA ACROSS AMERICA” is a real-time docudrama about a Composer/musician/post-production director who separates from his wife after 30 years, he leaves a thriving Silicon Valley Suburbia named San Bruno with his dog Ella, a spiritual breed of a dog Great Pyrenees, then he travels cross country in a specially equipped RV van for capturing streaming media.
The short synopsis: “One man, one dog, one piano. He decides to leave California after his marriage ends, so he buys an RV, then sets out to explore 5,000 miles while busking & performing ACROSS AMERICA!”
In closing Charles has this to say, “Live in the present! A year ago I never would have predicted this tour to happen.”
Official Purchase Link
Charles Xavier @ Facebook
Charles Xavier @ Twitter
Charles Xavier @ YouTube
Title - You Hit The Spot
Artist - Tracye Eileen
On You Hit The Spot, Chicago singer Trayce Eileen returns to her straight-ahead jazz roots on an album of standards performed with a contemporary edge. This is Eileen’s fourth release and third full-length album. Always exploring new ways to express herself, each of her previous recordings covered different genres and stylistic approaches.
Eileen is a regular on the Chicago jazz scene and has enjoyed a 6-year residency at Buddy Guy’s Legends, the famous Chicago blues and jazz club, where she has opened for many of the biggest names in the music business.
On You Hit The Spot, Eileen is joined by two different bands made up of some of the top jazz artists Chicago has to offer. Her trio appears on five cuts that were recorded live at PianoForte, the beautiful performance space, recording studio, and high-end piano boutique. She also brought on board Thomas Gunther to arrange and produce an additional three studio tracks that feature her six-piece band.
The songs on You Hit The Spot have been performed and recorded over the years by many wonderful artists, but Tracye Eileen brings her own perspective and successfully delivers authenticity to every style she chooses to sing.
For Eileen, You Hit The Spot is a homecoming to straight-ahead jazz, which has been part of her life for as long as she can remember. Her father was a professional jazz drummer who missed an opportunity to tour with
Count Basie’s band because he was drafted to serve in Vietnam.
“My father, Ed Smith, an accomplished jazz percussionist, was a major influence in my life. His inspiration many years ago led to successful roles as lead singer in my high school and college jazz bands and my continued love of jazz music.”
When she got older, she performed professionally with her father many times.
1. I Love Being Here With You
2. You Hit The Spot
3. They Can’t Take That Away From Me
4. Almost Like Being in Love
5. The Very Thought of You
6. Just in Time
7. This Can’t Be Love
8. The End of a Love Affair
This vibrant and heartfelt album opens on the hot to trot swing of I Love Being Here With You and the quietly rambunctious, horn-led You Hit The Spot and then backs those up with the sultry They Can’t Take That Away From Me, the finger-snapping melodies of Almost Like Being in Love, the soft piano balladry of both The Very Thought of You and Just in Time, the album coming to a close on the upbeat, layered harmonies of This Can’t Be Love, and the veritable cinematic embrace of The End of a Love Affair.
Eileen launched her professional career with the release of her first straight-ahead recording, Love’s Journey (2012). She recorded the album shortly after studying at the Bloom School of Jazz in Chicago, where the owner of the school was so impressed with her talent that he briefly served as her manager, helping her hone her straight-ahead sound for her debut album.
On her next album, Why Did I Say Yes? (2018), she veered away from straight-ahead jazz into soul and R&B. Then, in 2020, she released It’s Time, a smooth jazz album featuring originals co-written by Eileen on which she reflected on her journey of love as she moves through life.
The album charted on several major music charts in the U.S. and abroad and was played in 67 countries on over 220 radio stations. Smooth Jazz Daily said, “The special feature of Tracye’s performance is not only her voice
but also the ingenious use of her vocals in the arrangement, for which she constantly finds new approaches.”
Eileen has also enjoyed a 6-year residency at Buddy Guy’s Legends, the famous Chicago blues and jazz club. The club’s talent manager had found Eileen on LinkedIn and offered her and her band a monthly residency.
She still performs regularly at the club, and over the years she has opened for many of the biggest names in the music business, such as Babyface, The Stylistics, Mary Wilson, Chante Moore, After 7, and Buddy Guy himself.
Official Purchase Link
Tracye Eileen @ Facebook
Tracye Eileen @ Apple Music
Tracye Eileen @ YouTube
Title - Listen to the Red Rock
Artist - Various
For those unaware, Gigi Love celebrates the upcoming release of Listen to the Red Rock, a compilation
album in which she collaborates with several artists who are passionate about seeing America’s Red Rock
Wilderness Act (ARRWA) signed into law.
The album, which will be released on October 7th, 2022 and will be available for purchase at Bandcamp.com,
highlights Love’s goal to alert listeners to the importance of protecting these lands and to motivate them to
reach out to their senators and representatives in support of this important legislation.
Listen to the Red Rock compiles a variety of folk, folk-rock, and bluegrass songs in support of the passage of
ARRWA. By designating this federal land as wilderness, it will be protected and keep a viable corridor open to
biodiversity and species connectivity, as well as prohibiting mining, drilling and development.
Indeed, in a first-of-its-kind act, the Navajo Nation has endorsed this congressional bill.
Along with Love, the line-up of wonderful musicians who are contributing their talents include Anke Summerhill,
Cosy Sheridan, Kate MacLeod, Leraine Horstmanshoff, Marv Hamilton, Meander Cat, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys,
Tyler Grant, and Walkin’ Jim Stoltz. Every song carries listeners on a musical journey into the Red Rock
canyonlands of Utah’s mythic wilderness.
1. Dancing with the Beauty [Gigi Love]
2. Desert Song [Leraine Hortsmanshoff]
3. Red Rock [Kate MacLeod]
4. 18 Holes on the Open Range [Cosy Sheridan]
5. The Long Hard Way [Ben Weiss]
6. Hayduke [Marv Hamilton]
7. Meander Canyon [Lenore McDonough]
8. Stars at Noon [Anke Summerhill]
9. Desert Flatpicking [Tyler Grant]
10. Down in the Blue [Walkin’ Jim Stoltz]
This simply divine, atmospherically ambient, and wholly heartfelt new work of musical art opens on the poetic
summers breeze of Dancing with the Beauty and the soulfully smooth, low grooves of Desert Song and then follows
those up with the almost ethereal yearn of finger-picking guitar woven within Red Rock, the piano-led, poignant
beauty within 18 Holes on the Open Range, and then we get the melodic bluegrass hipsway of The Long Hard Way
(from Pixie and The Partygrass Boys).
Next up is the low key, richly toned Folk/Americana of Hayduke which is itself backed seamlessly by the
throaty musings within Meander Canyon (named after the regional Meander Cat, born of the Utah desert land),
then comes the achingly heartfelt folk of Stars at Noon, the album rounding out on the banjo-led Desert
Flatpicking (from National Flatpicking Champion himself, Tyler Grant), coming to a glorious close on
the lonesome, harmonica-led storytelling of Down in the Blue.
Official Gigi Love Website
Dancing With The Beauty (Gigi Love) - In Support of America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act
Gigi Love @ YouTube
Title - Bridges
Artist - Ana Nelson
For those unaware, Ana Nelson is a clarinetist, saxophonist, composer, and arranger known for her
multi-genre diversity in classical and jazz styles. Currently residing in Bloomington, IN, Ana has performed
with a variety of groups and artists across the Midwest, including Michael Spiro’s “Descarga 5,”
the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and the Buselli-Wallarab Jazz Ensemble.
As a recording artist, Ana has appeared on recordings with Bootsy Collins for his remix of the “Indiana
Fight Song,” Indiana University Jazz Ensemble performing “Gennett Suite” recorded for WTIU TV, Liberation
Music Collective’s Rebel Portraiture, and releases for Oberlin Orchestra and IU New Music Ensemble.
In Summer of 2020, Ana Nelson co-founded the Virtual Woodwind Academy, an online program that brings music and
education to students of all ages and backgrounds through masterclasses, summer programs, and courses in jazz
and classical genres.
In her career so far, Ana Nelson has shown that she has equal skill and sensitivity in playing jazz, classical
and Latin music whether on alto-sax or clarinet. She has mellow tones on her instruments but also displays inner
passion in her improvisations.
Bridges, her first full-length release as a leader, features the up-and-comer on seven of her originals.
She is also joined by by pianist Jamaal Baptiste on six of the seven selections and bassist Brendan Keller-Tuberg
and drummer Carter Pearson on the first four numbers.
4. Blue Flower
5. NelBap Choro
6. Let the Light In
7. Fruit of the Groove
This dutifully masterful, always heartfelt, and melodious new album opens on the passionately-imbibed Wanderlust
and the clarinet-led, at times sombre, but most assuredly warmly driven Waltz and then backs those up seamlessly
with the melodic interplay found within LCB (the initials of her family members) and the hauntingly melodic, and
string quartet-enhanced balladry of Blue Flower.
Up next is one of my own personal favorites from this new collection, the Brazilian joy of the clarinet-piano duet
known here as NelBap Choro, which is in turn followed by the sweetly mellifluous Let the Light In (which also
features the string quartet), the album rounding out on the hard swing of Fruit of the Groove (which brings
together the clarinet, the piano work of Baptiste, her father and tenor-saxophonist Bill Nelson, bassist Jeremy
Allen and drummer Steve Houghton).
About the album, Ana says, As a classical musician who fell in love with jazz, and then later discovered
Brazilian music, it’s difficult for me to label this album as any one specific genre, as I view it more of a
melding of music and people I love.
The title, Bridges, is my way of reflecting that cross-blending. I hope that my album can exemplify the
connection between genres, people, and the personal joy and empowerment that creating original music brings
Ana Nelson - Fruit of the Groove (from Bridges)
Ana Nelson @ Facebook
Ana Nelson @ Instagram
Ana Nelson @ YouTube
Title - I’ll See You In My Dreams
Artist - Doug MacDonald
There are some musicians who earn the label “a players player”. Individuals who possess a quality and integrity
that peers look up to, not for mere bursts of blazing notes or chops, but for the perfection of their
performances and the joy they bring.
Such a musician is West coast based Jazz journeyman guitarist Doug MacDonald. “I’ve simply never lost my
love affair for warm notes, a good standard and striving for the best performance” states the guitarist.
In that regard, MacDonald’s musicianship evokes thoughts of such artists as Chet Baker and Sinatra,
to name a few, who performed and excelled in a particular style their entire careers while keeping it
fresh for their audiences time after time.
On his brand new album, I’ll See You In My Dreams, (out August 30th, 2022), guitarist Doug MacDonald
teams up with three longtime musical friends who happen to be among the finest jazz musicians in California.
As a quartet, MacDonald, pianist Tamir Hendelmann, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton perform
joyful, infectious and swinging jazz.
1. I’ll See You In My Dreams
2. I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)
3. Don’cha Go ’Way Mad
4. My Ship
5. New Mark
6. Easy To Love
7. ’Tis Autumn
8. More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows
9. Will You Still Be Mine
This easy breezy, harmonious summer’s breeze of an album opens on the four guitar breaks brought forth within
the titular exhilaration of I’ll See You In My Dreams and a masterful take on Duke Ellington’s I Got It Bad
(And That Ain’t Good) and then backs those up with the majestic bowed bass-imbued Don’cha Go ’Way Mad, the
medium-tempo bossa of My Ship and then comes the, at times, uproarious, and yet always blues-centric New Mark.
Up next is their gloriously crafted rendition of Easy To Love (complete with guitar-piano and bass-drums tradeoffs)
which is in turn followed seamlessly by the heartfelt ’Tis Autumn, the album rounding out all too soon on
their original jazz waltz More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows, closing on the sprightly, highly spirited Will You
Still Be Mine.
Originally from Philadelphia, he began his career in Hawaii, where he played with Trummy Young and Gabe Balthazar,
and with Del Courtney at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Relocating to Las Vegas, Doug found himself immersed in a
vibrant music scene, and began playing in lounges and showrooms with jazz greats, including Joe Williams,
Carl Fontana, Jack Montrose, and Carson Smith. On to Los Angeles, Doug played in the bands of Bill Holman,
Ray Anthony, and John Clayton, and performed and recorded with Jake Hanna, Rosemary Clooney, Jack Sheldon,
Bob Cooper, Ross Tompkins, Ray Brown, Buddy Rich, and Ray Charles.
Doug also began recording and performing with his own trio and quartet, as well as his 13 piece ensemble,
The Jazz Coalition. Throughout his career the guitarist has caught the attention of noted jazz writers and
critics. Michael Nastos of All Music Guide wrote, “a veteran guitarist who know his influences cold,
and consistently plays to his strong suit.” Scott Yanow wrote of MacDonald,
“...a fine bop-based guitarist in the tradition of Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel, and Joe Pass.”
Chicago Tribune’s Zan Stewart captured so much of MacDonald when he wrote, “...beautiful bell-clear sounds
and a sure-footed sense of swing.” drummer Harold Acey round out the personnel.”
To date, MacDonald has released a prolific catalog of 15 CDs spanning configurations as a soloist, in duos,
trios, quartets and big bands. A selection of discs include 2009’s orchestral project Fourth Stream for
13-piece brass and woodwind ensemble augmented with strings. 2014 saw the release of Solo Plus, a 14 song
collection of standards played solo by MacDonald. In 2016, he released Doug MacDonald’s Reorganized Quartet.
Bill Milkowski writes in the liner notes for the CD, “On this potent outing, MacDonald is surrounded by a pair
of like-minded old school burners on the LA scene in tenor saxophonist Clarence Webb and 70-year-old Hammond B-3
master and Columbus, Ohio native Bobby Pierce (who recorded with a young Pat Martino in his band on a couple of
Cobblestone and Muse sessions from the early 1970s). Tenor saxophonist Rodger Neumann and drummer Harold Acey
round out the personnel.”
Doug MacDonald @ Twitter
Doug MacDonald @ Facebook
Doug MacDonald @ Instagram
Doug MacDonald @ YouTube
Title - Radiance
Artist - The Dead Daisies
For those unaware, The Dead Daisies will release their sixth studio album, Radiance, on September 30th
, 2022. Chock full of ten powerful tracks of pure unadulterated brilliant rock, the power of Doug Aldrich and
David Lowy’s dual guitars provide a wall of sonic nectar.
Frontman Glenn Hughes’s rock-solid bass grooves and unmatched vocal intensity, still among the greatest rock singers of all time, and the matrix of
Brian Tichy’s drums set the engine room on fire.
Radiance is the second album THE DAISIES have made with esteemed producer Ben Grosse at the helm, recorded at
The Mix Room in North Hollywood, California.
The first singles off the album, the titular Radiance and Shine On, went straight to air on radio across the
globe, were added to digital playlists and received with open arms by tens of thousands of fans and
audiences on THE DEAD DAISIES’s summer 2022 European tour.
1. Face Your Fear
2. Hypnotize Yourself
3. Shine On
5. Born To Fly
6. Kiss The Sun
9. Not Human
10. Roll On
The in your face and purposefully boisterous new album opens on the thrusting, bluesy swagger of Face Your Fear
and the powerfully passionate Hypnotize Yourself and backs those up neatly with the veritably flying Shine On,
the solid rock ’n roll of the titular Radiance and then we get the drum-led, guitar rocker Born To Fly.
Up next is the heavier fare of the deeply groovy Kiss The Sun which is itself backed seamlessly by the funky rock
of my own personal favorite from this new set Courageous, and then comes the cut and rockin’ thrust of Cascade,
the album rounding out on the mid-tempo Not Human, coming to a close with the soulfully stripped-back rock of
Said Aldrich: The new album Radiance is our second album with Ben Grosse producing from top to bottom. We had
a great time composing and recording the record and I’m very excited for you all to hear what we put
together. Definitely a heavy album but with some cool twists and turns! Hope you all like it.
All the songs on Radiance were written by Lowy, Aldrich and Hughes with Tichy returning to THE DAISIES in
early 2022 to lay down the drums on Radiance.
Said Tichy: I am very much looking forward to the release of Radiance, the newest LP from THE DEAD DAISIES!
It was great to start off being back in the band by getting together with Doug, Glenn, David, and
producer Ben Grosse at his studio dialing in the songs that make up Radiance. It was a very smooth,
organized process of jamming with the guys getting all drum grooves and parts just right. The final result
is another slab of butt-kicking rock! The guys all brought their A-game and a tight, powerful record
was created! I’m looking forward to everyone hearing it and playing more of these songs live in the near future.
Radiance will be available as a digipak CD with sticker, gatefold black vinyl with printed inner sleeves
The Dead Daisies - Hypnotize Yourself (Official Lyric Video)
The Dead Daisies @ Facebook
The Dead Daisies @ Twitter
The Dead Daisies @ YouTube
Title - Lotus Blossom Days
Artist - Vicki Burns
Although vocalist Vicki Burns specializes in the romantic music of the 20th Century, she is not
tethered to the Great American Songbook. Her newest album, Lotus Blossom Days, comprises 12 songs,
three of which are originals.
Of the other tunes, all started life as instrumentals, except for the standards, This Times the Dream’s on Me
and Out of this World, both by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, and Close Your Eyes written by Bernice Petkere.
The album is a showcase for Burns’ appealing three-octave range, gorgeous tone, heartfelt expression, and
assured sense of rhythm and dynamics.
1. If You Never Fall in Love with Me / Del Sasser
2. Close Your Eyes
3. Love Spell
4. Lotus Blossom Days
6. Watch Out / The sidewinder
7. A Long Way to Go / Equinox
8. It’s Over Now / Well You Needn’t
9. You Don’t Have to Believe
10. This Time The Dream’s On Me
11. Siren Song
12. Out of this World
Burns’ third album as a leader, and which follows Live at Anna’s Jazz Island (2008) and Siren Song (2005), opens
on the buoyant hipsway of If You Never Fall in Love with Me / Del Sasser and the late night smoothness of Close
Your Eyes and follows those up seamlessly with the sultry affair Love Spell, the veritably cinematic, titular
Lotus Blossom Days, pure balladry gossamer of Bittersweet and the finger-snappin’, foot-tappin’ Watch Out /
Up next is the languishingly resplendent A Long Way to Go / Equinox and the drum-led hop within It’s Over Now /
Well You Needn’t, and then we get the melodiously sculptured You Don’t Have To Believe, the upright bass, smoky
club-imbued hue of This Time’s The Dream’s On Me, the album rounding out with the quietly rhythmic tones of Siren
Song, coming to a close on the sweetly upbeat, luscious hipsway of Out of This World.
Lotus Blossom Days is a collection of rare standards, most of which started as instrumentals and original music by Vicki Burns,
Tessa Souter and lyrics by Roger Schore, Carol Sloane, Mary Ellen Donald, Chris Caswell and
Arrangements were made by Bassist Sam Bevan who also plays on the album along with Art Hirahara on piano,
Billy Drummond on drums and special guests, Dayna Stephens on saxes, Grammy Winner Josh Deutsch on trumpet,
Nick Vayenas (Michael Buble) and Mas Koga on flute and baritone sax.
Vicki Burns @ Facebook
Title - Heal the Heart
Artist - The Deer’s Cry
The Deer’s Cry is a Nashville based band named after an old Irish prayer. They play and sing original
music inspired by Irish, Bluegrass, Jazz, and other world traditional genres.
Their debut album, Rise with the Dawn, is both a haunting invocation and joyful praise, expressing the power of
light in the darkness. The album was a journey of the soul for over a two two year period it expanded from a
small collection of original songs with harp into a larger, more diverse collaboration.
The Deer’s Cry band is Karen Ballew (Vocals, Celtic Harp, Portative Organ), Bryan Brock (Percussion),
Patrick Atwater (Double Bass), and Will MacLean (Banjo), but they also collaborate and record with other artists.
Set to release their sophomore album, Heal the Heart on September 30th, 2022, even though hope permeated the new
collection of 10 songs, the album’s creation grew out of dark, sad times.
Recorded at The Doghouse Studio, the album finds harpist/vocalist Ballew grappling with the isolation of the early
days of the pandemic and the stories of hatred and division leading the news, a heartbreaking set of circumstances.
Full of uncertainty, she wrote new songs to follow the band’s debut Rise with the Dawn, however, sparks of joy crept
in, she noticed messages of transformation and healing throughout her work.
Music itself cannot cure all the wrongs in the world, but there is much we can do through art to remind one
another of the beauty in our universe, the intrinsic worth of every living creature, the interconnected nature of
all things and the invitation to be part of a story bigger than ourselves, Ballew reflects.
1. Cavern Cathedral
2. Dogwood Tree
3. I Want to Get Through to You
5. I See His Blood Upon the Rose
6. Heal the Heart
7. The Sermon of St. Francis
8. Night Falls
9. Morning Light
10. Jesus Sees Me
This quite stunningly opulent, and wholly heartfelt new album opens on the veritably ethereal Cavern Cathedral and the flirtatious rhythms within Dogwood Tree and follows those up seamlessly with the mid-tempo melodies of I Want to Get Through to You, the strongly toned Pieces and then comes the pure gossamer of the yearning within I See His Blood Upon the Rose.
Next up is the titular Heal the Heart which is itself backed lovingly by the upbeat and joyous The Sermon of St. Francis, and then come the layered, measured cadences within the spectacular Night Falls, the album rounding out on the Renaissance-imbibed Morning Light, coming to a close on the piano-imbued, ornate and immaculately sculptured Jesus Sees Me.
The Deer’s Cry celebrates the coexistence of different voices and the beauty of various backgrounds and sensibilities
working together to serve something greater than any one of us, while at the same time, honoring the character
of the individual, Ballew continues.
Indeed, with Heal the Heart, The Deer’s Cry explores the beauty and symbolism of the spiritual, consistently
reminding the listeners of both the vastness of our universe and the importance of their role in it.
The band’s name, The Deer’s Cry, comes from a translation of the title of an Old Irish prayer, St. Patrick’s
Breastplate, which reflects on the natural beauty, personal strength and protection given by a higher power.
The Deer’s Cry @ Facebook
The Deer’s Cry @ Instagram
The Deer’s Cry @ YouTube
Title - Parallel Motion
Artist - Yellowjackets
For those unaware, Parallel Motion — the new album from jazz fusion legends Yellowjackets — is a true testament to the longevity and resilience of a band who debuted over 40 years ago.
Consistently reinventing themselves through elevated instrumentation in their signature electro-acoustic soundscape, the current lineup consisting of Bob Mintzer (tenor & soprano saxophone/EWI), Russell Ferrante (piano/keyboards), Will Kennedy (drums, keyboards) and Dane Alderson (electric bass, MIDI Sequencing) showcases a collective at their prime.
Furthermore, this album features 9 new original compositions and guest vocalist Jean Baylor (4x GRAMMY® Award Nominee of the Baylor Project and R&B duo Zhané) on “If You Believe."
2. Challenging Times
3. Parallel Motion
4. Onyx Manor
6. Il Mio Amico
8. If You Believe
This beautifully crafted and wholesomely organic new album opens on the quietly fervent Intrigue and the seamless melodic musings within Challenging Times and they are followed by the methodically orchestrated, titular Parallel Motion and then comes the opulent Onyx Manor and the gentle hipsway of Samaritan.
Next up is one of my own personal favorites off this new recording, the sweepingly mesmeric ambiance created within Il Mio Amico which is itself backed by the gentle R&B-jazz funk of Resilience, the album rounding out on the gentle, almost ethereal balladry of the Jean Baylor-vocalized If You Believe, closing on the drum and percussion-led Early.
Russell Ferrante — piano, keyboards
Bob Mintzer — tenor and soprano saxophones, EWI
Will Kennedy — drums, keyboards
Dane Alderson — electric bass, MIDI sequencing
Official Purchase Link
Yellowjackets @ Facebook
Yellowjackets @ Spotify
Title - Reflections
Artist - Al Foster
Approaching 80 years of age is occasion enough for anyone to take a moment and look back on a life well lived. For legendary drummer Al Foster, those eight decades have been more memorable than most, filled with exhilarating sounds and encounters with some of the music’s most iconic legends.
On Reflections (out now via Smoke Sessions Records), Foster revisits the work of several of those peers alongside an inspiring quintet of all-stars: Nicholas Payton, Chris Potter, Kevin Hays, and Vicente Archer.
Throughout the session he propels this supremely talented unit through fresh, vital treatments of well-known and less-traveled numbers by iconic legends Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Sonny Rollins, and McCoy Tyner, all of whom regarded Foster as their first-call drummer for long portions of his celebrated career – at times competing for his services.
Band members Payton, Potter, and Hays each contribute a tune apiece, while Foster penned three well-wrought songs, including two homages to Thelonious Monk that bookend the program.
1. T.S. Monk (6:20)
2. Pent-Up House (5:04)
3. Open Plans (7:17)
4. Blues on the Corner (6:23)
5. Anastasia (5:32)
6. Six (8:21)
7. Punjab (5:11)
8. Beat (6:56)
9. Alone and I (4:51)
10. Half Nelson (5:36)
11. Monk’s Bossa (6:18)
This simply magnificent, richly layered and melodically rhythmic new album opens on fun the free for all being had within T.S. Monk and the euphorically-charged Pent-Up House, before we soon slide into the quieter balladry of Open Plans, then comes the soft shuffle of Blues on the Corner, before another ballad in the form of the beautiful Anastasia is brought forth.
Next up is the shimmering, veritably cinematic Six and the emotive Punjab which are in turn backed by the translucent melodies within Beat, and then comes the quietly dulcet, late night smokey jazz club appeal of Alone and I, the recording rounding out with the upbeat and joyous, trumpet-led Half Nelson, coming to a close on the restrained, and yet magnificently free wheeling Monk’s Bossa.
It’s hard to overstate Foster’s contribution to the musical production of the aforementioned giants over his 60 years as a professional. But, as much as Foster likes to wax nostalgic about the past, it’s also evident on every note of this 68-minute gem that he’s fully committed to living in the moment and playing in the here and now.
This follow-up to his well-received 2019 Smoke Sessions debut, INSPIRATIONS & DEDICATIONS, is Foster’s fifth leader recording and, as even the notoriously self-critical drummer surprisingly says, “It is my best record yet.”
Official Purchase Link
Al Foster @ Facebook
Title - As We Lay – The Elektra Recordings 1985-1991
Artist - Shirley Murdock
For those not in the know, Shirley Murdock’s work and success with famed funk group Zapp and Roger Troutman in 1984 provided a springboard for her solo career which began in earnest in 1986.
Featuring the self-titled US certified gold LP Shirley Murdock!, which included the US Top 20 and RnB Top Five hit, As We Lay which established Shirley as a mainstream recording artist and performer; 1988’s A Woman’s Point Of View, featuring the US RnB chart- making single ‘Husband’; and the 1991 set Let There Be Love! which, like Shirley’s previous solo albums, included a number of Shirley’s own compositions and was also produced by Roger Troutman.
With stellar artwork from Roger Williams and excellent mastering by Donald Cleveland, As We Lay – The Elektra Recordings 1985-1991 includes a total of ten bonus tracks.
CD 1: Shirley Murdock! (Expanded Edition)
1. Be Free
2. No More
3. Go On Without You
4. Truth or Dare
5. Danger Zone
7. As We Lay
8. The One I Need
10. Be Free (Sexy Sax Thang Mix) - Bonus Track
11. No More (Extended Mix) - Bonus Track
12. Go On Without You (Vocal/ Extended Mix) - Bonus Track
13. Truth or Dare (European Mix) - Bonus Track
14. As We Lay (Midnight Mix) - Bonus Track
15. Tribute (Extended Mix) - Bonus Track
Disc 1 reprises six cuts from the expanded edition of Shirley Murdock!, released by SoulMusic Records in 2018.
A little lost among the heavy-hitting R&B/funk stars of the ’80s, Shirley Murdock nevertheless made some impact on the charts and clubs. This debut album emerged in 1985 in the US and went gold.
The overall sense is of something understated, underrated and often in a gentle, soulful, easy-listening style that was never going to compete with the likes of Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Alexander O’Neal, etc.
The production, vocals and sound quality are very good and the bonus material completes the experience well. All six extra versions are excellent, though worth pointing out that Tribute is a Jesus-praising ballad and not at all a dance track.
For my money, it actually works better here in its extended form more than the one and a half minute original album cut and is nicely heartfelt - rather than some over-emoting and preachy histrionics.
CD 2: A Woman’s Point of View (Expanded Edition)
2. (Everybody Wants) Somethin’ For Nothin’
3. Found My Way
4. If I Know
5. Woman’s Point of View
6. Oh What A Feeling
7. I Still Love You
8. Spend My Whole Life
9. Modern Girl
10. And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going
11. Instrument of Praise
12. Husband (Single Edit) - Bonus Track
13. Found My Way (Single Edit) - Bonus Track
14. Oh What A Feeling (Extended Version) - Bonus Track
Disc 2 includes three edits and mixes not previously available on CD.
For my money, this is the best album Shirley Murdock ever made! The arrangements and production by the great Roger Troutmann are fabulous and Ms. Murdock’s vocals are stunning. She also sings some great backup vocals with herself, if you listen closely enough.
Her first album with Troutmann is also good, as noted, but I’d say you can’t go wrong with this one. Later, she went back into Christian music, but as far as I’m concerned, these kind of albums have way more soul than all of her Christian albums put together.
Innovative production, great vocals, and the album now complete with three bonus tracks (albeit two are just single edits), I mean, come on now, what more can you ask for?
CD 3: Let There Be Love! (Expanded Edition)
1. In Your Eyes
2. Stay With Me Tonight
3. Let There Be Love
4. Say It, Mean It
5. The Last Hurrah
6. We Should Be Together
10. Save The Children
11. You Brought The Sunshine - Bonus Track
Disc 3 also has Shirley’s version of The Clark Sisters’ classic, You Brought The Sunshine, first released in 1990 on the 40th Elektra anniversary compilation, Rubaiyat, which has been out of print for a number of years.
As we all know by now, Shirley Murdock was an emotional, passionate belter who believed in wailing and letting it rip! Let There Be Love! (once again produced by Roger Troutman, the funkster and George Clinton associate who was known for his extensive use of the vocoder with his band Zapp) also contains a few hints of P-funk on this more than decent, ballad-oriented release.
While Let There Be Love! isn’t the soul extravaganza Murdock is quite capable of delivering, R&B/pop ballads and slow jams like The Last Hurrah, Say It, Mean It and the Anita Baker-ish Anywhere aren’t anything to be embarrassed by either.
Meanwhile, Murdock increases the tempo with likable results on the house-influenced title song and the slightly jazzy We Should Be Together, this release now adding the bonus track You Brought The Sunshine.
This is a first-of-its-kind box set of expanded editions of the three stellar albums by renowned RnB/soul and gospel artist Shirley Murdock.
It is a 40-track 3CD deluxe package including Shirley’s trio of albums plus ten bonus tracks.
It comes with extensive liner notes from acclaimed music historian and writer Tim Dillinger, who co-produced this reissue with SoulMusic Records’ founder David Nathan, including an in- depth interview with Shirley who continues to work as a popular gospel artist and her husband, producer and musician Dale DeGroat specifically for this box set.
Official 3CD Purchase Link
Title - Uncharted Faith
Artist - J.A. Deane & Jason Kao Hwang
J.A. Deane, called “Dino” by his friends, passed away before this CD was completed. Dino started his musical life touring with Tina Turner and eventually became a great innovator of electronic music, which is by any measure, an extraordinary journey. I met him in the mid-1980’s, playing together in various Butch Morris ensembles. Here is the story of Uncharted Faith, his last project.
After his life partner Colleen Mulvihill passed away in 2019, Dino moved from Denver to a tiny house parked in a rural field in Cortez, Colorado. There, alone in nature with his two dogs, he completed his book, Becoming Music, Conduction & Improvisation as forms of QiGong, which he sent me in December 2020. I reciprocated by sending him my CDs, including Conjure, my duets with Karl Berger, which he especially loved. Despite the pandemic, we agreed to collaborate on a duo recording!
On January 28, 2021, I heard his zoom concert for the Red Room in Baltimore. Dino’s phantasmagoric symphonies, vivid and luxuriant with unique sounds, were stunningly beautiful. We corresponded further and our duo project gained momentum. Dino proposed that I send him “5 to 10 minutes of solo acoustic violin” improvisations. He would “work with it,” then send me tracks to overdub. In March I sent him my tracks. All tracks on this CD, from both Dino and myself, are completely improvised.
Dino edited the tracks into “57 gestures” that he would then “map a subset to another instrument (Sensei Morph touch controller & Spacecraft granular synthesizer software).” On May 12 Dino cryptically mentioned health issues. On May 14, he sent me the first five tracks, not yet titled but in the same order as this CD.
He wrote: “Every track was created on an Akai MPC Live Digital Audio Workstation (and your original sounds have been shifted and mutated intensely), and then performed and recorded in real-time. I’m obsessed with exploring, exploding & exalting the DNA of sound. Now there is no question that many of these pieces are harmonically dense. I encourage you to embrace and multiply that density with multiple overdubs if you choose to go that way.”
On July 2, I completed my overdubs on a Tucker Barrett solid-body electric violin (with a Richard Barbera bridge) through an Atomic Amplifire 12 multi-FX processor with expression pedals assigned to wah, whammy, and delay feedback. I asked him to send me one more track, which surprisingly, he had ready to go. Only for track 5, Speaking in Tongues, and track six, Uncharted Faith, did I record multiple violin tracks.
On July 11, Dino wrote: “I have been avoiding this because I didn’t want it to negatively shade your contribution to what is probably going to be the final project of my life. I am honored that it will be with you. I have stage four throat cancer. Please follow your heart with how you want to play into this final world. Please forgive me and understand that I simply didn’t want the weight of this to shade your performance as you were coming from a place of such joy, the same place I was coming from when I created my performances.”
Dino had a concrete belief in the spirit world, having communicated to Colleen through psychic mediums several times. He decided not to receive treatment and on July 12 wrote: “What is compelling is to be with Colleen in spirit form. I am making a conscious journey to transition.”
On July 13 I wrote: “Your decision is courageous and from a deep spiritual wisdom gained through your extraordinary musical journey. I am deeply moved by your faith. I am so thankful that we have created music together. You opened my mind and ears to the expressivity of electronic processing, which enriched my life. I had not heard anyone play in that sonic universe with your boundless imagination and soul. I know your journey forward will be full of beauty and wonder, just like your music.”
On July 15, I began sending him mixes and he gave me insightful suggestions. He also empowered me to name the tracks and complete this production. On July 23, 2021, J.A. Deane transitioned in New Mexico with his dearest friends, Joe Sabella and Katie Harlow at his side. Born on February 16, 1950, he was 71. [Jason Kao Hwang]
1. Parallel Universe
3. Crossing the Horizon
4. Shamans of Light
5. Speaking in Tongues
6. Uncharted Faith
This quiet stunningly opulent, and wholly heartfelt new album opens on the atmospherically-charged Parallel Universe and the jaggedly scattered melodies within Singularity and follows those up seamlessly with the searingly crystalline Crossing the Horizon, the harmonically frazzled Shamans of Light, the album rounding out on the lighter, quietly frenetic fare of Speaking in Tongues, closing on the euphorically reaching, titular Uncharted Faith.
Title - Isn’t It Romantic
Artist - Judy Whitmore
For those unaware, acclaimed vocalist, pilot, best-selling author, psychologist and theater producer Judy Whitmore has announced her new jazz album Isn’t It Romantic out September 16th, 2022 along with the music video for second single Sunday In New York (see link below).
Indeed, most people would need two or three lifetimes to accomplish as much in life as vocalist Judy Whitmore has so far. Named after the legendary singer Judy Garland (a friend of her grandfather from his days in the MGM Studio Orchestra), as noted, she is not only a respected jazz and cabaret performer and recording artist, a bestselling novelist, a theater producer, but is also a Board member of Pacific Symphony, and a Marriage and Family therapist with a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and a licensed commercial jet pilot!
Now, on her third album, Isn’t It Romantic, Whitmore lends her lilting, appealing voice to some of the most iconic tunes of the Great American Songbook.
On Isn’t It Romantic, Whitmore chose a mix of ballads and swing tunes to which she applies her velvety vocals. Although her life’s journey had taken her down many different paths, she never lost her love of music.
Whitmore says, “I always wanted to sing full-time, but it was never possible. I had done all these exciting things, and none of it was easy, but I always felt something was missing,” she admits.
“I knew it was time to get a box of dreams out of the closet and embrace the music career I had always wanted.”
1. It Could Happen To You
2. I Remember You
3. Sunday In New York
4. You Go To Mt Head
5. The Nearness of You
6. The Birth of The Blues
7. Speak Low
8. Isn’t It Romantic
9. In the Wee Small Hours of The Morning
10. But Beautiful
11. Just A Little Lovin’
12. Hallelujah I Love Him
This stunning majestic and just all round magically shimmering new album opens on the sultry It Could Happen To You (complete with a stunning piano solo from award-winning pianist/conductor Tamir Hendelman) and the unbreakable I Remember You, before we get Sunday In New York, where Whitmore infuses every line with her palpable affection for the city where she was born, and that is in turn backed seamlessly by the soulfully-imbibed You Go To My Head, the lushly orchestrated The Nearness of You and then comes an enraptured The Birth of The Blues.
Up next is the beautifully crafted Speak Low and the evergreen balladry of the titular Isn’t It Romantic and they are backed by the enigmatically sorrowful ache of In The Wee Small Hours of The Morning, the quietly melodious But Beautiful, the album rounding out on the heartfelt hipsway of Just A Little Lovin’, coming to a righteous close on the deliciously righteous Hallelujah I Love Him So.
With her music amassing over one million streams, Isn’t It Romantic is the follow-up to her highly lauded 2020 debut album Can’t We Be Friends and marks a new era musically for Whitmore with a bold departure from the more traditional arrangements of its predecessors, unfolding in a more free-flowing sound imbued with the improvisational spirit and exploratory musicianship of jazz - a feat she achieves with both dazzling ingenuity and extraordinary grace.
Produced by John Sawoski (a composer, orchestrator, and musical director who also helmed the production of Can’t We Be Friends,) the track came to life at the legendary Capitol Studios in Los Angeles (where her story began as a singer in college) in a series of sessions with Grammy Award-nominated recording engineer Steve Genewick (Barbra Streisand, Burt Bacharach).
Sunday In New York - Judy Whitmore (Official Video)
Judy Whitmore @ Facebook
Judy Whitmore @ Facebook
Judy Whitmore @ Twitter
Title - Times Like These
Artist - Nica Carrington
It took a worldwide epidemic to make vocalist Nica Carrington fully realize that tomorrow is not promised to anyone.
Although she has been singing and studying voice since she was a young child, her shyness made her feel more comfortable singing in choirs surrounded by others rather than stepping into the spotlight as a solo performer.
But now with the release of her debut album, Times Like These (due out September 23rd, 2022), audiences will get to appreciate her smokey, warm voice and soulful interpretations of great American standards.
For her debut album, Carrington chose songs from the Great American Songbook that she learned about from her father’s record collection. Says Carrington, “I’ve always admired the composers and lyricists of the great standards. Their songs are timeless and I wanted to stay true to them, but I also wanted to present them with my own more contemporary style. The album is also an homage to my father. He passed away a couple of years ago, but his influence on me is indelible, and I needed to channel my feelings through music.
2. Left Alone
3. When Sunny Gets Blue
4. Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye
5. We’ll Be Together Again
6. The Summer Knows
7. You Don’t Know What Love Is
8. Angel Eyes
9. The Shadow of Your Smile
10. Here’s to Life
This beautifully crafted and wholly heartfelt new album opens on the stillness of Skylark and the lushly orchestrated Left Alone and then follows them up with the beautiful When Sunny Gets Blues, the yearn of Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye and then the gentle flow of We’ll Be Together Again is brought forth.
Up next is the veritably shimmering The Summer Knows the aching ode within You Don’t Know What Love Is and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the quietly perky Angel Eyes, the album rounding out with the exquisite The Shadow of Your Smile, closing on the sculptured intoxication of Here’s to Life.
“Times Like These began as a “pandemic project” with my vocal coach, John Proulx, singer, pianist, composer, recording artist, arranger, and instructor,” Carrington further explains. “I met John through JazzVoice.com, an online vocal jazz educational community founded by Alexis Cole.”
“It was truly a divine nudge that led me to join JazzVoice.com. Prior to becoming a member of the JazzVoice.com community, I had been a serial vocal and trumpet student floating from one vocal and music coach or workshop to the next, doing the “hokey pokey” with my singing, trumpet, and piano lessons. I had dabbled at my musicianship most of my life, taking a course here and there, mostly singing to my bathroom walls—and then came COVID.”
“When the COVID-19 pandemic upended the world, I finally got serious about my craft. There were songs I had to sing.”
“I had my first lesson with John on August 17, 2020 and a year later on August 13, 2021, we were in Paul Tavenner’s Big City Recording Studio recording an album with two of John’s musical mentors, jazz legends Chuck Berghofer (bass) and Joe LaBarbera (drums).”
“It was a blessing to record with John, Chuck, Joe, and Paul. Featuring songs about endings and beginnings, this album is meant for Times Like These.”
Nica Carrington @ Facebook
Nica Carrington @ Instagram
Title - Acoustic Burnside [Splatter Vinyl]
Artist - Duwayne Burnside
Acoustic Burnside (due out on September 23rd, 2022 via Dolceola Recordings) is the first album in 17 years by the legendary hill country bluesman Duwayne Burnside, ex-member of North Mississippi Allstars and son of the late R.L. Burnside.
Recorded in his hometown Holly Springs Mississippi, this album captures raw and vivid aspects of his solo acoustic playing by analog field recording, and features a number of masterpieces written by his father such as See My Jumper Hanging on the Line and Going Down South, Junior Kimbrough’s classics like Meet Me in the City and Lord Have Mercy, as well as his own pieces.
1. Going Down South
2. See My Jumper Hanging on the Line
3. Poor Black Mattie
4. She Threw My Clothes Out
5. Alice Mae
6. Dust My Broom
This quite stunningly opulent, earthy and wholly heartfelt new album opens on the foot-tapping beauty Going Down South and the jagged, raw blues of See My Jumper Hanging on the Line and follows those up seamlessly with the jaunty blues-rock, complete with background noise of Poor Black Mattie (the anthem of the Magnolia State’s hill country blues), the aching yearn within She Threw My Clothes Out and then comes the false-started, yet impassioned, R.L.’s ode to his wife, Alice Mae and the infectious Robert Johnson foot tapper Dust My Broom.
7. Meet Me in the City
8. Stay All Night
9. She Threw My Clothes Out (Alt. Take)
10. 44 Pistol
11. Bad Bad Pain
12. Lord Have Mercy on Me
The second side opens on the quieter fare of Meet Me in the City which is itself backed lovingly by the rhythmically upbeat, and smoother vocals of Stay All Night, and then comes the an alternate take of She Threw My Clothes Out, the album rounding out on his guitar picking genius showcased on 44 Pistol, the free flowing Bad Bad Pain, coming to a righteous close on a folk-funk reworking of Junior Kimbrough’s atmospheric Lord Have Mercy on Me.
I learned most of the songs on this record from my daddy, Duwayne says. When I play them, I’m doing my best to show respect and love for him and the music. When I play on acoustic guitar, especially, it goes back even further, because this music started without electricity.
I think about all the musicians who came up from the early says, out of the Delta and the hills, and took their music to the big cities and all around the world. It makes me feel like I’m part of all that history.
Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Duwayne Burnside is one of 14 children born to legendary North Mississippi musician R.L. Burnside and his wife, Alice.
He has been a frequent performer with the North Mississippi Allstars since the early 1990s, when that group, fronted by Luther and Cody Dickinson, formed.
Dust My Broom / Duwayne Burnside (Official Music Video)
Official Purchase Link
Duwayne Burnside @ Facebook
Duwayne Burnside @ Instagram
Duwayne Burnside @ Twitter
Title - The Kreutzer Project
Artist - The Knights
The Knights, the bold Brooklyn-based orchestral collective, embody the spirit of exploration with The Kreutzer Project, a program that posits Tolstoy’s response to Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata:
What exactly is it? I don’t understand. What is music?
What does it do?
And why does it do what it does?
Beethoven and Tolstoy in turn inspired Czech composer Leoš Janáèek, whose first string quartet is also called “Kreutzer Sonata”. The Knights’ response to these iconoclastic touchstones is to reimagine the Beethoven as “Kreutzer Concerto”, arranged by The Knights’ co-founder Colin Jacobsen who is also the orchestrated version’s violin soloist; and the Janáèek as orchestrated by The Knights’ co-founder and conductor Eric Jacobsen.
They keep the canon going with Colin’s newly composed “Kreutzings”, which makes buried allusions to both Beethoven and Janáèek; and a commission from Anna Clyne, whose piece “Shorthand” takes its title from a line in Tolstoy’s novella: “music is the shorthand of emotion”.
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Violin Sonata No.9 in A Op.47 (arr. Colin Jacobsen)
1. I. Adagio sostenuto – Presto (14:27)
2. II. Andante con variazioni (15:21)
3. III. Finale: Presto (9:07)
Colin Jacobsen, solo violin
COLIN JACOBSEN (b. 1978)
4. Kreutzings (6:48)
ANNA CLYNE (b. 1980)
5. Shorthand* (11:06)
Karen Ouzounian, solo cello
Colin Jacobsen, Emily Daggett Smith, violins
Mario Gotoh, viola · Eric Jacobsen, cello · Logan Coale, double bass
LEOŠ JANÁCEK (1854–1928)
String Quartet No.1 JW 7/8 ‘Z podnštnu Tolstého Kreutzerovy sonáty’
(arr. Eric Jacobsen, orch. Michael P. Atkinson)
6. I. Adagio – Con moto (4.22)
7. II. Con moto (4.24)
8. III. Con moto – Vivo – Andante (4.18)
9. IV. Con moto – Adagio – Più mosso (5.15)
This quite stunningly opulent, and wholly heartfelt new album opens on the veritably sweeping, almost flirtatiously purposeful in its construction, Ludwig Van Beethoven ‘Kreutzer Concerto’ Violin Sonata No.9 in A Op.47 and the fourteen minute opus Adagio sostenuto – Presto and then comes the delicate, ornate at times, fluttering, shimmering even fifteen minute Andante con variazioni, the culmination of the work being the sterner, more triumphantly pronounced, ten minute Finale: Presto.
Colin Jacobsen’s almost cinematic, seismic Kreutzings is a pure, unadulterated joy to behold, and is followed seamlessly by the more assertively sculptured work of Anna Clyne’s eleven minute Shorthand.
Closing this absolutely magical recording is a quartet from Leoš Janáèek entitled ‘Kreutzer Sonata’ String Quartet No.1 JW 7/8 ‘Z podnštnu Tolstého Kreutzerovy sonáty,’ which opens on the uproarious Adagio – Con moto, then brings us the quieter, at times, sternly joyous at others, mid-tempo palette of Con moto, rounding out on the playfully fervent Con moto – Vivo – Andante and then the scattering, free falling melodies found within the rather jubilant Con moto – Adagio – Più mosso.
The Knights - Janáèek (orch. M. Atkinson) - "Kreutzer Sonata" Mvt. I [Official Video]
Official Purchase Link
Title - Strange Shores: Old Singles & New Hits
Artist - The Breakers
The Breakers, a Surf / Psychedelic / Garage / Punk combo
from the Chicago area, are back on the scene with Strange
Shores: Old Singles & New Hits.
There’s no shortage of fun times on Strange Shores. Released following 2021’s Torch Light, Strange Shores is a must hear CD that collects orphan
cuts, several new songs, remixes, singles and compilation
The 2022 core lineup of The Breakers features lead
guitarist Jim Abrahams, Marc Lockett (drums, percussion)
and Jayson Slater (bass guitar). Torch Light was a masterful
album of beguiling instrumentals and likewise, Strange
Shores is equally enjoyable. A few songs incorporate some
of the band’s musical buddies, particularly Dan Klapman and
Gary Kretchmer on horns.
1. Crystal Pistol (2:46)
2. Rotation (4:03)
3. Steppin’ Porpoise (4:08)
4. Escalation (2:28)
5. Tubular Bells (2:37)
6. Point Conception (2:18)
7. Vodka Sonic (Techno Tonic) (6:30)
8. The Moldau (Reprise) (4:30)
9. O’ Holy Night (3:14)
10. Icicle Park (3:54)
11. Don’t Go Into The Woods (Twilight Version) (4:11)
12. Strange Shores (2:07)
This brilliantly alive and abundantly rhythmic new collective album opens on the virtually riotous Crystal Pistol and the quietly melodic Rotation, before bringing the levels down on the tongue in cheek humor balladry of Steppin’ Porpoise (an obvious cover of (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone), the mid-tempo pomp of the aptly-named Escalation and then comes the foot-tapping melodies of their dubious rendition of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells and the languishing Point Conception.
Next up is the frenetic Vodka Sonic (Techno Tonic) and the mellow psych, brass twirl of The Moldau (Reprise), a beautiful O’ Holy Night, the album rounding out on the rhythmic Icicle Park, an all-embracing Don’t Go Into The Woods (Twilight Version), closing on a reverb-infused, layered psych mix within the titular Strange Shores.
Listeners that followed the band’s previous albums including Torch Light, A Date With Destiny and 2020’s Voodoo Treatment will dig Strange Shores, even as the album moves beyond the tried and true surf-rock sound.
Highlights are limitless especially the title track, “Strange Shores”
with its eerie shroud of tremolo guitar sounds that morphs into a neoclassical melody line that then reverts back to the intro theme, and the CD-opener “Crystal Pistol” with its hit and run melody, while for surf-purists “Rotation”, with its Dick Dale-inspired sound, sets the scene. A
Breakers cover of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” moves in unexpected directions before backing into the prog-friendly vision of the original. “Point Conception” blasts out of your speakers with
ferocity while “Icicle Park”, with sonic transcendence, borders on psychedelic surf for the 2020’s.
Strange Shores features eye-popping CD cover art that adds luster to a most impressive album release. With something old, something new, something borrowed and something, well strange! Strange Shores is clearly essential listening for surf-rock fans young & old.
The Breakers - Vodka Sonic (Techno Tonic) - The Breakers (Official Video)
Official Purchase Link
The Breakers @ Facebook
The Breakers @ Bandcamp
Title - The Healing Guitar
Artist - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan is renowned among those that have followed his career—equally as a guitar technician and a composer, as well as a recording artist and co-founder of the acclaimed jazz-rock fusion band, The Flyin’ Ryan Brothers.
On his 2021 CD Astral Café, Jimmy scaled the heights of the guitar summit, providing us with his unforgettable guitar melodies, powerful arrangements, and his studio wizardry.
To compliment his electrifying instro-rock sound and perhaps reflect on his recent health challenges, Jimmy Ryan has released another, all-new heaven-sent album in the middle of 2022.
The Healing Guitar, Jimmy’s new, 5-track, 51-minute album was issued on CD in the Summer of 2022 on the Chicago-based Salvatori Productions.
For the release of The Healing Guitar, producer Tom Salvatori compiled five recently-recorded instrumental tracks performed by Jimmy and has presented them in two distinctive sonic settings: First, the album showcases four tracks featuring Jimmy Ryan (Electric Guitar, Bass) and Dan van Schindel (Drums, Percussion) in a normal studio setting.
Second, the fifth track called “The Healing Guitar In Nature Suite,” clocks in at 28:33 and becomes the centerpiece of the album with its five pieces that merge into each other. It is made up of the same four studio tracks but also features the recently discovered fifth track entitled “Continuum.”
Tom has creatively woven all five of these tracks into an ambient nature journey with wonderful background sound effects…starting with morning songbirds in a field, moving on to a visit to the ocean, with sounds of surf, seagulls, and children playing on the beach and then ending in an evening field teeming with crickets, birds and even the hoot of a late night barn owl!
Merging the five tracks, including the ultra-rare “Continuum,” featured at the end of the suite, into one nearly 29-minute piece of music is a feat of engineering brilliance.
The first four tracks, preceding the “Nature Suite,” with Jimmy and Dan, present the two musicians in a very reflective yet supremely relaxed setting.
The concept of The Healing Guitar is quite commendable, both as an immersive instrumental guitar experience as well as a salute to the healing powers of the guitar, especially when put into the hands of musicians of this high caliber.
In the face of his recent health struggles, Jimmy Ryan truly rises to the occasion on The Healing Guitar.
5. Healing Guitar In Nature Suite (inclusive of Continuum - Bonus Track)
This quiet stunningly opulent, and wholly heartfelt new album opens on the dutifully languishing Walden and the almost ethereal Twilight and follows those up seamlessly with the veritably shimmering Alphaville, the solidly euphoric Equinox and then comes the atmospherically-imbued Healing Guitar In Nature Suite (which features all four aforementioned tracks merged with the closing bonus track Continuum).
Elixir for the soul; balm for the scrapes…salve for the wounds; aspirin for the pain…and…music for fatigued ears. Take two Jimmy Ryan listens and call me in the morning. Literally.
We have produced Jimmy’s instrumental guitar pieces in two showcases; first, as studio work featuring long-time bandmate and percussionist Dan Van Schindel, and second, woven into nature itself and presented in a twenty-eight-minute suite worthy of any spa/healing experience anywhere, anytime.
Our nature journey starts in a morning meadow and then spends the day surfside (what is more healing than watching children play on the beach?) and ends in the peaceful warmth of an outdoor cafe nestled in an open field where the quiet nighttime sounds are teeming with life.
The suite features a bonus track “Continuum” which was lost in the studio but saved through the grace of an mp3 copy and then woven into the suite thanks to some studio magic.
Working with Jimmy and Dan has been a real treat during the production of this album, and special thanks to our mutual friend and music associate Robert Steven Silverstein of Rock Rose Music and mwe3.com for introductions and persistence.
Quietly Enjoy. [Tom Salvatori, Producer Salvatori Productions, Inc.]
Title - Bakersfield Gold: Top 10 Hits 1959-1974 [2CD]
Artist - Buck Owens & the Buckaroos
Buck Owens is a country music icon. As one of the best-selling artists of the 1960s, he accumulated numerous Top 10 hits with 19 of them reaching the #1 top spot on the charts. Now all of Owens’ Top Ten hits from 1959–1974 have been compiled on Bakersfield Gold: Top 10 Hits 1959–1974 (out October 7th, 2022 via Omnivore Recordings).
Collecting 46 tracks, this release is available as a double-CD, triple-LP, and Digital release. Featuring new liner notes from Grammy®-nominee, Randy Poe (author of Buck ‘Em: The Autobiography Of Buck Owens), this is the first collection to compile Buck’s Top 10 hits on vinyl, with a limited edition gold vinyl version for independent retail.
Bakersfield Gold is the ultimate collection of Owens’ biggest hits, with The Buckaroos, Rose Maddox, Buddy Alan, Susan Raye, and more. With its availability across all formats, this is a perfect introductory collection for the new fan, and an incredible ride for those who already love the magic of Bakersfield.
1. Under Your Spell Again
2. Above And Beyond
3. Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got A Heartache)
4. Foolin’ Around
5. Loose Talk – Buck Owens & Rose Maddox
6. Mental Cruelty – Buck Owens & Rose Maddox
7. Under The Influence Of Love
8. Kickin’ Our Hearts Around
9. You’re For Me
10. Act Naturally
11. Love’s Gonna Live Here
12. My Heart Skips A Beat
13. Together Again
14. I Don’t Care (Just As Long As You Love Me)
15. I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail
16. Before You Go
17. Only You (Can Break My Heart)
18. Gonna Have Love
20. Waitin’ In Your Welfare Line
21. Think Of Me
22. Open Up Your Heart
22. Where Does The Good Times Go
23. Sam’s Place
This stunningly opulent, and wholly heartfelt new collection of country songs opens on the free-wheeling Under Your Spell Again from the first disc and follows that up seamlessly with the joyous Above And Beyond, the melodious twanging within Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got A Heartache), the Southern Maryland-imbibed Foolin’ Around, the fantastic duet Loose Talk (Buck Owens & Rose Maddox) and then we get the nostalgic honky tonk country of Mental Cruelty (Buck Owens & Rose Maddox), the foot-tapper Under The Influence Of Love, the mid-tempo Kickin’ Our Hearts Around, the twanging beauty You’re For Me, and then comes the crystal clear guitar playing and buoyant rhythms of Act Naturally and the definitive Bakersfield sound of Love’s Gonna Live Here.
Next up on this first disc is the song that went to #1 on the country charts in 1964, My Heart Skips A Beat and the pedal steel guitar balladry of Together Again and they are in turn backed by the feisty song that went to #1 for 6 weeks on the country music charts in 1964, I Don’t Care (Just As Long As You Love Me), the Hee Haw-imbued I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail, the guitar-led Before You Go, the always pleasant to the ear ballad Only You (Can Break My Heart), the perky country of Gonna Have Love, and then along comes one of my own favorites, the Bakersfield sound of Buckaroo, the cleverly written Waitin’ In Your Welfare Line, a song that went to #1 on the country charts in 1966, Think Of Me, the opening disc rounding out on the country pop of Open Up Your Heart, the bittersweet ode within Where Does The Good Times Go, closing on the twangy Fender Telecasters of Sam’s Place.
1. Your Tender Loving Care
2. It Takes People Like You (To Make People Like Me)
3. How Long Will My Baby Be Gone
4. Sweet Rosie Jones
5. Let The World Keep On A Turnin’ – Buck Owens & Buddy Alan
6. I’ve Got You On My Mind Again
7. Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass
8. Johnny B. Goode
9. Tall Dark Stranger
10. Big In Vegas
11. The Kansas City Song
12. The Great White Horse – Buck Owens & Susan Raye
13. I Wouldn’t Live In New York City (If They Gave Me The Whole Dang Town)
14. Bridge Over Troubled Water
15. Ruby (Are You Mad)
16. Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms
17. I’ll Still Be Waiting For You
18. Made In Japan
19. Big Game Hunter
20. On The Cover Of The Music City News
21. (It’s A) Monsters’ Holiday
22. Great Expectations
The second disc opens on the heartwrenchingly beautiful Your Tender Loving Care and the mid-70s country pop haze of It Takes People Like You (To Make People Like Me) and then we get the gently frenetic How Long Will My Baby Be Gone, the beautiful, yearning balladry of Sweet Rosie Jones, the upbeat and jubilant duet Let The World Keep On A Turnin’ (Buck Owens & Buddy Alan), then comes the mid-tempo hipsway of I’ve Got You On My Mind Again, that 60s fuzz with those double layered vocals that harken back to the Beatles sound, Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass, a turbulent Johnny B. Goode, the brilliant bass line threaded through Tall Dark Stranger, and up next is the last song Buck ever sang, live on stage at the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield the evening before he passed away, Big In Vegas and one of the best country themes there has been, The Kansas City Song.
Along next is the harmonious Duet The Great White Horse (Buck Owens & Susan Raye) and the sentiment-laden I Wouldn’t Live In New York City (If They Gave Me The Whole Dang Town), the rarely heard within country circles now country gem, Bridge Over Troubled Water, the banjo-led beauty Ruby (Are You Mad), then comes the forthright ode Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, the pure gold balladry of I’ll Still Be Waiting For You, the cool breeze hipsway of a song that went to #1 on the country charts in 1972, Made In Japan, the divine picking and singing within Big Game Hunter, this collection coming to a triumphant conclusion with the upbeat and joyful ditty On The Cover Of The Music City News, the rock ’n’ roll of (It’s A) Monsters’ Holiday and the languishing country majesties within the lonesome storytelling of Great Expectations.
Official Purchase Link
Title - So Schön
Artist - HEMESATH
After the release of the first single Heile Segen for the tour with MAERZFELD in May of this year, HEMESATH will release the new album So Schön (So Beautiful) on October 7th, 2022.
Musically, the new songs not only tie in with the predecessor Für Euch, but go a significant step further in all areas. The band has long since broken the corset of the so-called New German Hardness and shows that hard German rock music doesn’t just have to be bludgeoned.
Driving drums, robust guitars and singer Christopher’s charismatic vocals combine proverbially playfully with gripping melodies (Elysium, Dies Eine Leben) and in the quiet passages sometimes have an emotional impact on the listener’s soul, as Schattenseele impressively shows.
Epic titles such as Flieg or the darkly pounding album finale Bleib bei mir fit seamlessly into the overall musical concept, so that the musical variety and the change between aggressiveness, tempo and melody runs like a red thread through the songs.
Lyrically, the themes move pleasantly away from genre-typical clichés, especially in relation to the well-trodden paths of striking pseudo-provocative text lines.
In any case, it’s worth consciously following the stories that singer and lyricist Christopher has to tell and letting yourself be carried away by the music and the violence of words.
1. Heile Segen
3. Die Stadt verbrennt
7. Dies eine Leben
8. So Schön
9. Bleib bei mir
This quite stunningly mesmeric and brilliantly constructed new album opens on the driving Heile Segen and the melodically catchy Elysium and follows them up seamlessly with the canorous aggression veined throughout Die Stadt verbrennt, the impassioned Tanz and then comes the epic saga within Flieg.
Up next is the soulful depth found hauntingly within Schattenseele and then one of my own favorites is brought forth, the rhythmically excellent Dies eine Leben, and they are in turn backed by the core pseudo-provoking verses of the titular So Schön, the recording coming to a close on the dispiritedly dark Bleib bei mir.
In truth, it is worth consciously listening to the stories that singer and songwriter Christopher has to tell, and letting oneself get carried away by the music as well as its overall eloquence.
All in all, So Schön (So Beautiful) proves that rock music with German lyrics can be exciting, energetic as well as emotional and, in the end, offers lots of fun.
HEMESATH @ Facebook
Title - Fire Rider [Limited Edition DigiPac]
Artist - Winter
Following the latest official album, Pale Horse, from autumn 2021, as well as the re-release of he Best Of album, Looking Back, from spring/summer 2022, the project Winter releases the next long-player, Fire Rider with brand new songs this October.
While Pale Horse was primarily based in the genre of gothic rock, the new songs really hit the creative gas pedal and surprise with an extremely gripping mixture between the aforementioned goth sound (Unholy Blood, Into The Void) and almost classic rock with the style of the 80s as demonstrated by the title song, Fire Rider, the proverbial Children Of The 80s as well as the first single, Pray.
A stylistic description of the mixture on the album is the cover version of the Sisters Of Mercy song Under The Gun, which even in its original version ranges between different genres.
Fire Rider will be released on October 14th, 2022 (Via Bob Media) and will be available on CD, limited edition digipac CD, double vinyl and in digital form.
In addition, the double vinyl and limited edition CD feature a special version of Into The Void with guest singer Florian Grey plus another exclusive bonus track called Shortcut To Your Heart on the vinyl edition.
1. Unholy Blood
2. Fire Rider
3. That Much Is True
4. Child Of The 80s
6. Under The Gun (feat. Nera Mamić)
7. Lost In The Ice
8. Rough Love
9. Violent Dream (feat. Aliz AJ)
10. Into The Void (feat. Florian Grey)
11. You’ve Been On My Mind
12. Can’t Hold Back The Tears
13. Never Again (feat. Angelina DelCarmen)
14. I Want it Black
15. When All Is Said And Done
16. Run Away From Pain (Pale Horse Part III)
This rousing, AOR-imbibed album of great rock tunes one after the other opens on the forthright Unholy Blood and the melodic rock of the titular Fire Rider and then backs those beauties up with the aching yearn buried within That Much Is True, the euphoric Child Of The 80s, the melodic mid-tempo balladry and ’90s vibe of Pray, and then come their rendition of the mesmeric Sisters Of Mercy track Under The Gun (backed by the popular Croatian artist Nera Mamić), the bold AOR of Lost In The Ice and the smash and grab textures of Rough Love.
Up next is my own personal favorite from this new recording, the quite brilliant Violent Dream (featuring 3-octave rock vocalist Aliz AJ) and then comes the free flowing Into The Void (featuring rock/gothic rock/pop musician Florian Grey) and they are in turn followed by the mid-tempo rock balladry of You’ve Been On My Mind, the early ’90s AOR of Can’t Hold Back The Tears, the absolute belter Never Again (featuring power house vocalist Angelina DelCarmen), the album rounding out on the manically-charged I Want it Black, the triumphant When All Is Said And Done, coming to a close on the rhythmic melodiousness of Run Away From Pain (Pale Horse Part III).
Overall, and in musical terms, Fire Rider is bolder and occasionally slightly more aggressive than the previous album, but also very catchy.
A prime example is the song When All Is Said And Done, which perfectly combines a wonderful Chris Isaak vibe in the verses and a rousing up-tempo sound in the chorus.
WINTER - Pray (Official Video 4K)
Winter @ Facebook
Winter @ YouTube
Title - Seasons 25
Artist - Flying Circus
For those unaware, Seasons is an old album. With their 1997 debut, the German band Flying Circus from Grevenbroich (somewhere between Dusseldorf and Cologne) immediately became an insider tip for all lovers of classic rock music between hard rock and progressive rock.
Enthusiastic reviews flooded in from all corners of the world, and that hasn’t changed with the seven additional releases that the band now has under their belt.
The excellent reviews and the status of Flying Circus as a band to be reckoned with was soaring now and then, last year, the band’s Best Of album suddenly found itself as #14 in the German album charts for metal and rock and stayed on the hit list for a whopping 10 weeks.
Since then, the band has received significantly more media attention, and so Michael Dorp (vocals), Michael Rick (guitar), Rüdiger Blömer (keyboards and violin), Roger Weitz (bass) and Ande Roderigo (drums) decided to rewind the band’s history for all newcomers to the band and completely re-record the 12 original tracks contained on Seasons for the album’s anniversary 25 years after its release.
And in the process, the band took all liberties. Instead of just adapting the song arrangements to the current Flying Circus line-up and instrumentation, the five musicians treated the initial tracks as if they were new musical ideas that still had to be fully developed.
Some songs are now in a different key and/or have new parts added and others left out, most of the pieces were tightened up or even (in the case of the ballad Follow the Empress) saw the singer changed (drummer Ade Roderigo instead of main singer Michael Dorp).
Seasons 25 Version:
1. The Jewel City
2. Footprints In The Sand
3. In All Ways And Always
4. Follow the Empress
5. Seasons (Acoustic Version)
6. Antigone’s Lament and Triumph
7. Let It Be Gone
8. Interior Monologue
9. Evening Solace
10. Supersonic Man
11. Never Again
12. The Jewel City (Reprise)
Named after the Monty Python’s television series, this intensely rousing, updated and remodeled recording opens on the drum-led rock of The Jewel City and the the brilliant Hammond Vs. Guitar blues rock of Footprints In The Sand is brought forth, and they are followed by the veritably acoustic, Renaissance-imbibed In All Ways And Always, the mid-tempo balladry of Follow the Empress, an acoustic rendition of the titular Seasons, and then we get presented the brilliant, soaring one minute, low ebbed roll the next, guitar opus Antigone’s Lament and Triumph.
Up next is the funky rocking blues of Let It Be Gone and the sturdy AOR of Interior Monologue which are in turn backed by the shimmering, balladeer qualities within the lush instrumental Evening Solace, and then we get the incredible Hammond organ solo that then feeds us seamlessly into the quiet AOR of Supersonic Man, the album rounding out on the pulsating 10 minute opus Never Again, coming to a close on a reprise of The Jewel City.
The result of this exciting experiment (which also features the aforementioned 12 Remastered tracks directly after the 25th Anniversary versions) presents the five musicians audibly matured and each individual as a virtuoso in his respective profession, while all the 12 pieces sound incredibly fresh.
Not only because of the powerful, contemporary production, but above all because of the band’s infectious joy of playing that makes one thing utterly clear: Seasons 25 is a NEW album.
The separately available, elegant digipack of the new recording alone demonstrates this in a more than impressive way, but in addition a double CD pack adds in a remaster of the original recordings from 1997 as a bonus disc and thus gives everyone the possibility of a direct compassion between yesterday and today.
Flying Circus @ Facebook
Flying Circus @ Instagram
Title - Standing Eight
Artist - Jeremy Green
For those unaware, guitarist Jeremy Green has a message for you: “At long last, my first full length, artist solo album is completed. It was a long haul, but finally Standing Eight is wrapped and released. All songs have been completely remixed and some new sonic additions to make the experience much better than the singles. It’s truly an album as I envisioned.”
“The recording sounds fantastic, mixed and mastered by Jerry Guidroz in Nashville. The recording sounds lush and punchy. The runtime came in at a tidy 48:08 and I assure you it is a good bang for the buck if you count all the notes! Needless to say I am very happy with how it all came out.”
“It should be said that Keith Carlock has been instrumental in making this recording become what it is. I am so grateful for his time, spirit and involvement. Such talent and an asset to the project in so many ways. I truly can’t thank him enough.”
Guitarist Jeremy Green has recorded with musicians such as: Mike Stern, Oz Noy, Keith Carlock, Victor Wooten, Billy Sheehan, Jimmy Haslip, Tim Lefebvre, Chase Baird, Rich Brown and others.
Indeed, his original works have gained praise from studios and industry experts and his music has featured on traditional and online radio stations around the world.
1. No Jacket Required (Mike Stern, Keith Carlock, Jimmy Haslip) (6:05)
2. Ain’t No Chevy (Robben Ford, Will Lee, Keith Carlock) (6:34)
3. Michael & Me (Victor Wooten, Keith Carlock, Chase Baird) (6:23)
4. The Land of Oz (Oz Noy, Keith Carlock, Rich Brown) (4:57)
5. Big Shoes (Keith Carlock, Tim Lefebvre) (5:48)
6. Mr. Beast (Billy Sheehan, Keith Carlock) (4:49)
7. Close with the Jab (Michel Cusson, Moto Fukishima, Keith Carlock) (6:12)
8. Car Rock (Oz Noy, Keith Carlock, Ian DaSouza) (7:14)
This intensely rousing, heartfelt and lovingly constructed new funk-fusion romp entitled Standing Eight opens on the soaring guitar rocking blues of Jackets Required and then my own personal favorite here, some deeply funky grooves come forth within the brilliant Ain’t No Chevy, and then comes the drum-led, funky bass lines of Michael & Me and then the strident low ebb prog blues of The Land of Oz.
Along next is the harder-edged Big Shoes and that is itself backed by the free flowing, fervently frenetic rock of Mr. Beast, the album rounding out all too soon on the foot-tapping melodies within Close with the Jab, coming to a close on the grand rock jam opus of Car Rock.
Jeremy Green @ Facebook
Jeremy Green @ Instagram
Jeremy Green @ Bandcamp
Title - Attitude & Gratitude
Artist - Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra
The Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra’s sophomore release, Attitude & Gratitude, is a collection of tributes to the many communities and experiences that have shaped Godfrey’s artistic vision and worldview.
Featuring premiere young musicians in the Boston jazz scene, each track brims with boundless excitement and energy, each solo a statement of identity weaving through the chord changes.
Godfrey’s writing both proclaims an individual vision of groovy, funk influenced jazz, while honoring the jazz luminaries who paved the path so far.
1. For McCoy (7:56)
2. Mad Max (12:54)
3. Forgetting What Will Never Be (9:47)
4. Hot Water (8:26)
5. We’ll Get There (11:25)
This stupendous, totally heartfelt and yet intricately sculptured new recording opens on the forthright swinging melodies within For McCoy and then backs those up with the drum-led, and thoroughly joyous notes brought forth within the near 13 minute opus Mad Max, and then comes the laid back, late night club hipsway of Forgetting What Will Never Be, the euphorically-charged Hot Water, the album closing on the near 12 minute, and totally, beautifully uproarious We’ll Get There.
Saxophones - Aaron Dutton, Alex Ramirez , Ian Buss , Anton Derevyanko , Nicholas Suchecki 
Trumpets - Miles Keingstein, Matt Kelly , Eli Block , Zoe Murphy
Trombones - Joey Dies , Jasmine Sloane , Sam Margolis
Tuba - Michael Prentky
Guitar - Pritesh Walia 
Piano - Rowan Barcham 
Bass - Anna Abondolo 
Drums - Henry Godfrey [2,5]
Official Purchase Link
Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra @ Facebook
Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra @ Bandcamp
Title - Gliding and Hiding
Artist - Malka Spigel
For the uninitiated, Israeli vocalist Malka Spigel’s music feels like something that is altogether new and fresh. And that may seem like quite the feat when you consider that she has been in the game for well over 30 years, both as a solo artist and as a member of post-punk outfit Minimal Compact.
But with the release of Gliding and Hiding in June 2022, Spigel has delivered something that is not exactly new, but is certainly fresh.
Gliding and Hiding is a mashing-up of selections from two of the songstress’ previous albums; 2014’s Gliding EP and the 2997 release, Hide.
This new title serves this marriage well, and having never heard either of the individual records, I was very keen to take a listen.
1. Strumgliding (2014 version)
2. Hacol Zaram Beyachad (2014 version)
3. Tall Grey Buildings (2014 version)
4. Dreamwalking (2014 version)
5. Hide (2022 version)
6. I Just Want (2022 version)
7. Besof Hayom (2022 version)
8. Returning Wheel (2022 version)
Strumgliding is an ambient jam that approaches an impressive seven minutes in length. Hazy electronics give way to resonant, plucky guitars and a driving drum beat. Any kind of vocal doesn’t kick in until nearly three minutes into the song. And even then, the lyrics consist of only one word: “Strumgliding.” I don’t know what it means, exactly, but I get serious Joe Satriani Surfing With the Alien vibes from it.
That almost mystical undertone carries over into Hacol Zaram Beyachad, a song that was overall an instant contender for Favorite Track. The words to the song are all in Hebrew, so knowing that language would certainly enhance the listening experience. But even without the benefit of understanding the lyrics, not much is lost because the listener still has the pleasure of enjoying a background of pop-tronica and singing that deftly straddles the line between breathy and melodic.
In many ways, Spigel almost feels like Israel’s answer to Enya, both vocally and musically. This is for both the better and worse, as many of the songs sound stylistically very much the same, particularly when it comes to the electric ambience that runs continuously under every other instrument. And like Enya, the lyrics can be occasionally lost inside the featherlight singing. This is especially the case with Tall Grey Buildings.
Indeed, this is an album best listened to with headphones in; if not to ensure that you catch the words in I Just Want, then to get wholly lost in the track’s drum machines and pumping bass beats.
Malka Spigel’s collaboration with Colin Newman to put a new twist on some old songs is a commendable effort, if not one most appreciated by longtime fans. For everyone else, this is as good of an introduction as we could have hoped for.
Review by: Ashley J. Cicotte
Official Purchase Link
Malka Spigel @ Facebook
Malka Spigel @ Spotify
Title - Zenith
Artist - Seven Kingdoms
For those needing to fill out one more spot on their shelf, Seven Kingdoms has come out with their latest album. After their debut in 2007, Seven Kingdoms has gone through several changes and if they continue the way they are now, they will be killer for many years to come. Power metal with aspects of thrash and synth, Zenith is great all around.
I must admit, I have never heard this band before, but once I plugged in my headphones, it was hard to pay attention to anything else. I really wanted to concentrate on the great combination of sounds. Alas, I couldn’t find any credit for the ones responsible for the keyboard, but whoever was in charge of putting the electric behind certain songs did a great job. It was pretty unique and it flowed well with the guitars.
Speaking of guitars, Kevin Byrd and Camden Cruz are fantastic. Good amount of rhythm and deeper bass work hand in hand with their solos and riffs. The intros to A Silent Remedy and Chasing The Mirage are both good examples of their abilities to get into the heavy style and easily able to transition into passionate solos.
1. “Diamond Handed”
2. “A Silent Remedy”
3. “Love Dagger”
4. “Chasing The Mirage”
6. “Empty Eyes”
7. “Magic In The Mist”
8. “Universal Terrestrial”
9. “The Water Dance”
10. “Life Signs”
11. “I Hate Myself For Loving You”
Keith Byrd effortlessly brings the timing and energy to a crux with his skills on the drums. His work in the ballads are perfect to keep things slow but then he just amps things up in the next song like a master. A great example is the song Valonqar.
The guitars are soulful and the need to bring things together with the drums are done with such ease. Empty Eyes is probably the best example of Byrd’s ability. Yes, I know people might expect a faster song to be his best, but what he does is just incredible with his fills. You’ll have to listen to get it.
Normally I talk about singers first, but I wanted to give Sabrina Valentine a special shout out. Her voice is a great fit for this band. It matches the tone for each song uniquely. The fact that she has multiple styles of vocals she can fall back on is one of the band’s greatest assets.
She can go from a melodic, almost semi operatic-range like in Valonqar, to a rock queen in Diamond Handed. Her ability to go between each note is something to behold. Even her rendition of I Hate Myself For Loving You, by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, is top notch.
Overall this album is a fantastic add to any discography. With the power aspects, down to the ballads, this band can do it all. Easily in my top 5 favorite female lead bands. I can’t wait to see where they go next.
Review by: John Cicotte
Seven Kingdoms @ Facebook
Seven Kingdoms @ Spotify
Seven Kingdoms @ Twitter
Seven Kingdoms @ Instagram
Title - Written By Life
Artist - Radiant
For those looking to expand their discography, Radiant has just come out with a new album, Written By Life, totally inspired by hard ’80s rock combined with hair metal aspects. Written By Life exudes powerful vocals, melodic tones from the guitar, sick beats from the bass, and thrills from the drums.
The album consists of 11 songs that their homepage dubs as “no filler, just killer.” I would agree to this bold statement, as each track embodies everything you would expect from ’80s style rock and metal.
Herbie Langhans does lead vocals and he continues to shine. His experience in Firewind, Avantasia, as well as other metal bands, makes this a perfect addition to his repertoire. His use of keyboards throughout certain songs just amps up the epic factor.
2. “Don’t Stop The Daydream”
3. “Real Passion Will Never Die”
4. “Live The Adventure”
5. “Stand That Fight”
6. “Because Of You”
8. “Rock And Win”
9. “Dare To Fail”
10. “Twice A Week”
11. “Hang Around With Friends”
The guitars are meshed together for a seamless sound that makes you think back to bands like Van Halen and Bon Jovi. Flo Gottsleben and Carsten Stepanowicz use rhythm and riffs to expertly craft their vision to bring a full and epic sound.
Practically every band’s least acknowledged position is bassist. Markus Beck solidly brings the beats and definitely deserves as much cred as possible. Rock And Win is a great example of his skills. However it also points out one of the small flaws I have with this album.
With so much guitar going on, it can easily drown out the deeper tones of the bass. We all know metal is guitar heavy but if I could be so bold to say, they could amp up the bass just a tad and it would make for a more full experience.
No band is complete without its drummer. Manni Spalka has expert level timing and his fills are fabulous. Don’t Stop The Daydream actually gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it. The fills were subtle and nothing extreme but were just enough to give it the oomph the song needed.
Overall, I’d give Written By Life 2 horns up. It makes you want to bob your head, and if I had metal hair I’d be swinging it away during some of the solos. I’ll definitely be seeing them live if they ever come to my area. Metal on!
Review by: John Cicotte
Radiant @ Facebook
Radiant @ Apple
Radiant @ Instagram
Title - Lit From Within
Artist - Leticia Walker
For those unaware, aside from being a singer-songwriter, Leticia Walker is also a published author. So, aside from now releasing her brand new album, Lit From Within, she has also written a new inspirational book entitled “Never Lucy” - which talks about a journey of trials, triumphs, and faith. Her written work is available online and at your local bookstores.
On this new project, Steve Jankowski laid the groundwork for Leticia to work with a plethora of prodigious musicians, starting with Aaron Graves, a very accomplished musician and arranger from Philadelphia. An extraordinary talent, Aaron created 10 of the 11 arrangements on this project.
His skill and delicate, soulful touch on the piano and organ lead the way to a gourmet meal of sophisticated arrangements with artistic, enlightened harmonies. He even added a tasty jazz piano solo to Better Than Anything and other tracks. Aaron then put together the rhythm section that laid down the tracks for 10 of the 11 songs.
Steve Beskrone, a master of his craft and a virtuoso, played bass on this project. His sensual and provocative playing adds to this marvelous musical gourmet meal. Leon Jordan is a phenomenal drummer and a master of his craft also. He brought the meat and the heat to cook this delectable musical meal, hot and steamy when needed to simmer, cool and collected when necessary.
Richard Tucker is an incredible guitarist, evidenced by his solo on This I Know for Sure. He makes his instrument cry. His tasty guitar licks added the sauce to the pot, which he also tastefully sprinkled on the meal.
And, others that came to the musical cook out include Deb Lyons, a consummate performer, her vocal in the duet with Leticia being both expressive and glorious. Kimberly Davis and Audrey Martells are also superb vocalists, individually, and as a trio (with Deb) singing background vocals.
Doug DeHays is a fantastic horn player, who also played alto, tenor and bari saxes, and flute. In addition he added some flavorful garnish to the meal. He was delicate and sweet on the flute and hot and sassy on the saxes.
1. Lit From Within
2. This I Know For Sure
3. Speak To Me
4. Better Than Anything
5. Power of Love
6. Prayer of St. Frances
7. Highest Praise Medley
8. My City of Ruins
9. Just A Closer Walker with Thee
10. Happy Days / Get Happy
11. Jesus Is Mine
This wholesomely delicious and magically uplifting recording opens with the upbeat and funky rhythms of the titular Lit From Within and then comes the magnificently smooth grooves of This I Know For Sure, and they are followed seamlessly by the piano and trumpet-imbued balladry of Speak To Me, the jazzy Better Than Anything, and then comes the mid-tempo ballad Power of Love.
The atmospherically-imbued balladry of Prayer of St. Frances makes it a mighty fine stand out, and that is itself backed by the gently Samba-esque melodies within the Highest Praise Medley, then comes the organ-led stillness within her unique cover of Bruce Springsteen’s My City of Ruins, before the album rounds out with the trumpet-led beauty Just A Closer Walker with Thee, the euphonious duet with Deb Lyons (originally done by Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand) of Happy Days / Get Happy, coming to a righteous, funky close on the joyous bounce of Jesus Is Mine.
Lit from Within - Leticia Walker [Official Video]
Official Purchase Link
Leticia Walker @ Facebook
Leticia Walker @ Apple
Leticia Walker @ Instagram
Leticia Walker @ Twitter
Leticia Walker @ YouTube
Title - Strike A Nerve [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Drowning Pool
For those unaware, Drowning Pool have long been hailed as champions of blue-collar hard rock and metal, not just because of their consistently incendiary live shows and vastly impressive catalog, but because of the trials and tribulations that have marked their career.
They aren’t unique in that regard. What they are is resilient, their everyman, working-class ethos and stubborn perseverance creating a bond few bands ever realize.
Drowning Pool’s seventh album, Strike A Nerve, will be released via T-Boy Records and UMe on September 30th, 2022. With over 1 billion streams and over 1 million in album sales, the alternative metal band delivers a headbanging, whiplash-causing collection of songs, two of which ("Strike A Nerve," "Hate Against Hate") have been served up to fans on recent live dates with a massive positive response.
1. Doing Time in Hell
2. Hate Against Hate
3. Stay and Bleed
4. Strike a Nerve
5. Racing to a Red Light
This genuinely pulsating new album opens on the melodic Doing Time in Hell and the heavy, yet canorous Hate Against Hate and follows those up with the thunderous Stay and Bleed, the rhythmically excellent titular Strike a Nerve, and then the first side rounds out with the foot-pounding Racing to a Red Light and the free flowing Choke.
7. Everything But You
8. Down in the Dirt
10. A Devil More Damned
11. Mind Right
Next up is their rock balladry in the form of Everything But You and that is itself backed seamlessly by the dark metal of Down in the Dirt, and then comes the cavernous Rope, the album coming to a close on the nu metal-imbibed A Devil More Damned and a drum-led, alt-metal dive into Mind Right.
Their heaviest record to date, Strike A Nerve was inspired by wearing life’s battle scars on their sleeves. Those bumps and bruises got magnified during the worldwide COVID lockdowns; lockdowns that started mere months after Drowning Pool completed recording, mixing and mastering Strike A Nerve, an 11-song tour-de-force through the torn and battered psyche of a band.
Written and recorded before the pandemic that halted the world in its tracks for more than two years, Strike A Nerve became more poignant with its time on the shelf.
Drowning Pool @ Facebook
Drowning Pool @ Instagram
Drowning Pool @ Twitter
Title - A Free Society [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Night Crickets
Iconic and foundational bands in the history of alternative music certainly include Bauhaus, Love And Rockets, and Violent Femmes. San Francisco born artist Darwin Meiners was a fan of all three. A chance meeting 13 years ago with David J (Bauhaus, Love & Rockets) grew into a friendship, and Darwin not only became a band mate, but David J’s manager.
After reaching out to Victor DeLorenzo through e-mail, Darwin met the Violent Femmes drummer after the Femmes’ Coachella set in 2013. Soon after the three collaborated on Darwin’s 2014 release Souvenir.
As the pandemic took hold, Darwin was looking for a new project to occupy the lock-down time and approached Victor, who was keen to proceed and suggested that David join as well. The musical trust established between these three was immediate and Night Crickets were born.
Within weeks a global process was initiated between them, the recordings eventually forming the album, A Free Society. To say this is something of a dream come true for music fans would be entirely accurate.
“There’s a lot of analogue warmth to this album which will only be emphasized all the more on vinyl” says David J of Omnivore recording artists Night Crickets about the imminent vinyl release of their debut album A Free Society on July 29th, 2022.
1. Black Leather On The Inside
2. Candlestick Park
3. Amanda’s Mantra
4. A Free Society
5. Roman À Clef
6. Soul Wave
This new album, constructed by layers of heartfelt, yet affectionately moody art-pop opens on the acoustically-imbibed, almost countrified Black Leather On The Inside and the melodic, low ebb, balladry song about the baseball park Candlestick Park and those are followed up by the short, but synth sweet Amanda’s Mantra (a track constructed around an infamous kiss between Marilyn Monroe and James Dean), the tambourine-led, shimmeringly catchy title track Free Society, the sweeping fuzz of Roman À Clef and then comes the slow, mesmerizingly groovy, mid-tempo balladry yearn of the aching Soul Wave.
7. Little Did I
8. Sloe Song
9. The Unreliable Narrator
10. Down Below
11. Return To The Garden Of Allah
12. Sacred Monster
13. I Want My Night Crickets!
Next up is the upbeat, funky and rhythmically smooth Little Did I and the almost ethereal Sloe Song and they are in turn backed by the veritably spoken word, wistfully somber The Unreliable Narrator, the sonically-charged, yet atmospherically eerie Down Below, the Bowie-esque Return To The Garden Of Allah, the album rounding out on the, again, tambourine-led, darkly enjoyable Sacred Monster, closing on the all-hands-on-deck, veritably instrumental, strange psych-pop hipsway of I Want My Night Crickets!
A member of iconic post-punk bands Bauhaus and Love & Rockets, David J embraces the format, especially when it comes to this release. “Vinyl was the format that I initially listened to music on when I was a kid and when it first became so important to me. So there is a degree of nostalgia there but what transcends that is the enveloping warm, rich quality of the sound.”
Together with band mates Victor DeLorenzo (Violent Femmes) and multi-instrumentalist/artist Darwin Meiners, Night Crickets are excited for the format. “A vinyl record is where it all started for me,” reinforces Victor. “The pressing of our album gives the listener a rich, round and full-bodied sound with wonderful detail along the spectrum! It swings and sings.”
The band’s name came from one of many Zoom meetings between the three members. After addressing various pressing musical issues the conversation rambled somewhat and turned to the subject of David Lynch, with David J telling an anecdote which was told to him by Lynch’s sound designer, John Neff.
Lynch had asked Neff to obtain a field recording of crickets chirping at night for inclusion in Mulholland Drive. When Neff played him the tape, the director immediately recognized the sound that the insects make when it is light which is apparently a little different to their nocturnal chirp.
“No! No! No! These are day crickets, John! I want my night crickets!” Victor, Darwin, and David then shared a look of mutual realization and instantly agreed that the project now had a name!
Night Crickets - The Unreliable Narrator (Official Video)
Official Purchase Link
Omnivore Night Crickets - A Free Society (Official Trailer)
Night Crickets @ Facebook
Title - Chronic Town (EP)
Artist - R.E.M.
Although preceded by the Hib-Tone version of “Radio Free Europe” the previous year, to all intents and purposes, Chronic Town — R.E.M.’s 1982 debut EP — was the start of R.E.M. as we know them.
These five songs showcased the true extent of the Athens-based four-piece’s potential and talent in a way that a single — even one as good as “Radio Free Europe” and its accompanying B-side “Sitting Still” — didn’t have the capacity to do.
Indeed, while those two songs were the sound of a band finding themselves, the five songs that comprised Chronic Town were the sound of a band asserting themselves.
And while this motley crew of three early-twentysomethings (Bill Berry, Peter Buck, and Mike Mills) and a teenage Michael Stipe surely had no idea of the profound, world-conquering impact their songs would go on to have on alternative music and culture, these songs nevertheless sound revolutionary, vital, important.
R.E.M. will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its classic, five-song debut EP, Chronic Town, by releasing it as a standalone CD for the first time in the U.S. on Aug. 19th, 2022 via I.R.S./UMe.
Augmented by extensive new liner notes from original producer Mitch Easter, the project will also be available on picture disc vinyl and cassette.
1. Wolves, Lower
2. Gardening At Night
3. Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars)
Introducing their arpeggiated guitar playing, cryptic and often indecipherable lyrics, and radiant choruses that would soon emerge as signatures of the classic R.E.M. sound, Chronic Town opens on the differently refreshing, catchy and upbeat melodies of Wolves, Lower and then backs that up with the jangling guitars of the rhythmic Gardening At Night.
Next up is the my own personal favorite track from this EP, the raggedly fierce, harmoniously spectacular Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars), which its itself followed by more of Buck’s energetic guitar chords and Stipe’s raw and defiant vocals on 1,000,000, coming to a close on the autumnal mist of the excellent raw, enigmatic ambience within Stumble.
Chronic Town was recorded in October 1981 at Easter’s Drive-In Studios in Winston-Salem, N.C., a few months after the release of R.E.M.’s aforementioned debut single, “Radio Free Europe.”
The EP introduced R.E.M.’s distinctive early sound to the wider world on staples such as “Gardening at Night,” “Wolves, Lower” and “1,000,000,” setting the stage for the band’s debut full-length, Murmur, in April 1983.
“There is a certain spare, almost live quality to the sound of this record, which makes it especially fascinating now,” Easter writes of Chronic Town in his new essay. “You hear what R.E.M. actually sounded like in its early days, only slightly enhanced with a little studio fun. No other R.E.M. record is like Chronic Town, but you hear traces of it throughout the band’s entire career.”
R.E.M. - Gardening At Night (Official Remastered 2006 Video)
Official Purchase Links
R.E.M. @ Facebook
Title - Signs & Wonders
Artist - Sun King Rising
For those unaware, Signs & Wonder (out September 29th, 2022 via Peacock Sunshine Records), is a collection of Sun King Rising’s southern noir stories set to music, with a cast of colorful characters, intrigue, tales of sin and redemption, murder without justice, and love without limits.
Indeed, had William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams been lyricists, they might have written deeply nuanced musical stories like Sun King Rising.
Sun King Rising is a solo project by singer-songwriter John Blangero from Port Isabel, Texas, that is steeped in the tradition of southern rock and country soul.
1. Bitter Waters Sweetened (4:20)
2. No. 6 Magnolia Avenue (4:11)
3. Lanterns On The Levee (3:58)
4. Buried In The Blues Again (3:56)
5. Jubal Takes A Wife (4:29)
6. She Was A Blonde (4:56)
7. One More Story To Tell (3:24)
8. Low Wine And Cruel Ruin (4:39)
9. Anchorless (5:48)
10. Alabama Nocturne (3:01)
With Blangero’s music draws from his southern family roots, the literary genius of William Faulkner and the bluesy compositional brilliance of George Gershwin imbued throughout his lushly sculptured works, this new album opens on the impassioned Bitter Waters Sweetened and the drum-led, soulful percussional blues of No. 6 Magnolia Avenue and they are backed seamlessly by the veritable hipsway shimmering within Lanterns On The Levee, the rawly organic feel of Buried In The Blues Again and then comes the heartfelt ode within Jubal Takes A Wife.
This vibrant collection of blue-eyed soul, all sweetened by the funky rhythms and horns of the 60s-70s, continues onward with the joyously upbeat She Was A Blonde and the Cash-esque One More Story To Tell, and then we get the brilliantly atmospheric Low Wine And Cruel Ruin, the album coming to a close on the subtly reined Anchorless and the expansive Alabama Nocturne.
Signs & Wonders Sessions:
John Blangero – Piano, Keys, Lead Vocals, Orchestral Arrangements
George Perilli – Drums on all tracks except 4 and 10
Roger Humphreys – Drums 4
George Elliott – Bass Guitar on all tracks
Willie Ross – Guitar 1 2,3 4.5,8
Steve Schuffert – Guitar 6,7 8 9
Ace Acker – Acoustic Guitar 3
Fred Delu – Electric Piano 4
Background Vocal Arrangements by Stevee Wellons and Ace Acker
Background Singers: Stevee Wellons – All tracks but 10; Joy Brown – 1,3,4,5,7,8; Bernice Wilkerson – 1,3,4,5,7,8; Pete Hewlett – 6,9; and Ace – 2,6,9
Raloh Guzzi – Horn Arrangements
Ralph Guzzi, Eric Defade, Kevin McManus – Horn Section
Kennv Blake – Saxophone 4
Official Purchase Link
Sun King Rising @ Facebook
Sun King Rising @ Instagram
Title - Jack Songs
Artist - Jeff Berlin
For those unaware, bass icon Jeff Berlin will be releasing a new tribute album to legendary Jack Bruce titled Jack Songs” on August 2nd, 2022.
Jack Bruce, best known for his work with classic rock group Cream as well as his critically acclaimed solo work passed away in 2014. Jeff Berlin, who has been called “the greatest bass player in the world”, was a personal friend of Jack’s and wanted to record his songs in remembrance of how Jack helped Jeff to find his own musical path.
Says Jeff, “Recording the music of Jack Bruce has been the most emotional recording project of my career. Jack was the greatest bass influence I ever had. In the center of his music were these strange and wonderful bass lines weaving in and out of the key, reaching for resolutions and finding them, again, and again. Jack’s playing was a living evolving improvisation.”
2. Theme From An Imaginary Western
3. A Letter of Thanks
4. L’Angelo Misterioso
5. Rope Ladder to the Moon
6. One Without a Word
7. Smiles Story and Morning Grins
8. Folk Song
9. Traintime Time
10. Fuimus (We Have Been)
With an album that is most definitely not a cover recording, well, not in the literal sense, except maybe for a couple of tunes from Bruce’s Cream period (all be they arranged in ways that should surprise people), and with most of these songs coming from other periods in his life after Cream, the album opens on the funky blues of Creamed and the piano-led balladry of Theme From An Imaginary Western and then follow those up with the upbeat and joyous A Letter of Thanks, the drum-led, Hammond and horn-imbued beauty L’Angelo Misterioso and then comes the mid-tempo hipsway of Rope Ladder to the Moon.
Along next is one of my own personal favorites, the lyrically-majestic ballad One Without a Word and then that is in turn backed by the masterful piano work heard within the gentle AOPR of Smiles Story and Morning Grins, the quiet, veritable gossamer of Folk Song, the album rounding out on the aptly-named, gently frenetic Traintime Time, coming to a close on the earnest piano ballad Fuimus (We Have Been) (aka the Bruce Clan Motto).
“Jack was the Alpha and Omega for me,” Berlin Continues. “I never would have become the bass player I became if I didn’t hear his unfettered improvisations and innovations, his creating a completely original bass tone, and his playing every gig as if it was his last.”
“When he died, I immediately set out to honor him by reviewing his music to choose some of my favorite songs of his and recording them via my own musical vision. As was his legacy of musical brilliance, I wanted this record to be brilliant to honor his spirit. He really means this much to me.”
For over 40 years, Jeff Berlin has stood as one of the most innovative electric bassists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Known for his one-of-a-kind tone, jaw dropping technique and highly advanced harmonic approaches to the bass, Jeff has been one of the major figures in firmly establishing the electric bass as a solo instrument well deserving of its own distinct place in modern music.
Jeff’s recording and performance credits include a who’s who of jazz and rock. They include: Bill Bruford, Allan Holdsworth, Larry Coryell, Pat Martino, John McLaughlin, Anderson Wakeman Bruford Howe, Frank Zappa, Patrick Moraz and many more.
Sammy Hagar, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Gregg Bissonette, Gary Husband, Eric Johnson, Bill Frisell, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, Alex Ligertwood, Scott Henderson, Marcus Miller, Ron Carter, Tony Levin, Michael League, Nathan East, Mark King, Bruce Guttridge, Billy Sheehan and Johnny Hiland!
Jeff Berlin - Jack Songs (An All-Star Tribute to Jack Bruce) [Official Invite Video]
Official Purchase Link
Jeff Berlin @ Facebook
Jeff Berlin @ Instagram
Jeff Berlin @ YouTube
Title - Love Wins
Artist - David Young and Friends
Imagine going into another dimension at a creative presentation where the live music soothes your soul and mystical-inspired art surrounds you. This magnificent dimension is now a reality.
On Love Wins, David Young & Friends has captured this power through his soulful healing music, meditations and beautiful spiritual stories alongside his eclectic band.
An award winning artist, author, painter and musician, Young showcases his eclectic style with unique and talented musicians to create a captivating sound experience of Celtic-inspired acoustic music enhanced with soul-soothing mandolin and earthy native drums.
1. Everybody On The World
2. Love Wins
3. Heaven Is The Place
4. The Best Is Yet To Come
6. I See The World With Different Eyes
7. The Other Side of The Clouds
9. Troubled Waters
10. The Perfect Place at The Perfect time
11. The Way of Love
This beautifully harmonious album opens on the free flowing melodies within the gentle caress of Everybody On The World and the melodic pleas within the titular Love Wins and then comes the smoothly organic Heaven Is The Place, the drum-led, reggae-esque pop ebb and flow of The Best Is Yet To Come and then some gentle acoustic guitar work is brought forth within the mid-tempo yearn of Clues.
Both the simply beautiful I See The World With Different Eyes and the impassioned viewpoint of a happy world within The Other Side of The Clouds are stand outs here for me, and they are in turn backed by the playful, reggae-pop bounce of Everyday, the veritable balladry gossamer of Troubled Waters, the album rounding out on the melodious The Perfect Place at The Perfect time, coming to a close on the rockier side of Young, the foot-tapping, blues-rock of The Way of Love.
David Young is an award winning artist, author and musician well known for playing two renaissance flutes in harmony. He has recorded 67 albums, sold over one million copies and 25 millions streams as of 2022. David’s music, revered for its soothing sounds and healing properties, is a staple in healing centers, hospitals and spas throughout the world.
Currently, David is teaming up with an array of talented musicians to embark on a world-wide concert tour of his Celtic inspired music featured on this new album, Love Wins.
David Young & Friends - LOVE WINS (Official Album Sampler)
David Young @ Facebook
David Young @ Instagram
David Young @ YouTube
Title - Better Than Heaven: Expanded 2CD Edition
Artist - Stacey Q
For those unaware, Stacey Q, an American singer songwriter, dancer and actress hit the charts in 1986 with ‘Two Of Hearts’ peaking at number 3 is the US singles chart and going top 10 in multiple territories.
‘Insecurity’ became a # 1 hit in the US Dance Charts, with the ‘Better Than Heaven’ album being awarded a gold certification for sales in the USA.
Better Than Heaven: Expanded 2CD Edition, releasing September 16th, 2022 via Cherry Pop Records, is the definitive collection of Stacey Q’s debut album, and it celebrates her lasting legacy 36 years on from its original release.
The two CD collection features the ten original album tracks plus all the related bonus material, sourced and mastered from the original analogue tapes from the Atlantic archives.
And also comes with 19 of the tracks appearing on CD for the first time!
Better Than Heaven + Bonus Tracks:
1. TWO OF HEARTS
2. WE CONNECT
4. BETTER THEN HEAVEN
5. DON’T LET ME DOWN
6. MUSIC OUT OF BOUNDS
7. LOVE OR DESIRE
8. DON’T BREAK MY HEART
9. HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND
10. DANCING NOWHERE
11. TWO OF HEARTS (Q-MIX EDIT) [BONUS TRACK]*
12. WE CONNECT (DANCE RADIO EDIT) [BONUS TRACK]*
13. INSECURITY (GUITAR MIX) [BONUS TRACK]*
14. MUSIC OUT OF BOUNDS (EDIT) [BONUS TRACK]*
15. DANCING NOWHERE [BONUS TRACK]*
CD 1 features the original LP version of ‘Better Than Heaven’ including the shorter album version of ‘Two Of Hearts’, plus versions of her singles, ‘Two Of Hearts (Q-Mix Edit)’, ‘We Connect (Dance Radio Edit)’, ‘Insecurity (Guitar Mix)’, ‘Music Out Of Bounds (Edit)’ and the 7” B-side ‘Dancing Nowhere’.
1. TWO OF HEARTS (EUROPEAN DANCE MIX) *
2. WE CONNECT (EUROPEAN MIX) *
3. INSECURITY (USA DANCE MIX) *
4. MUSIC OUT OF BOUNDS (OUT OF BOUNDS MIX) *
5. TWO OF HEARTS (Q-MIX) *
6. TWO OF HEARTS (ORIGINAL MIX) *
7. WE CONNECT (SAFARI MIX) *
8. INSECURITY (INSTRUMENTAL) *
9. MUSIC OUT OF BOUNDS (INSTRUMENTAL) *
10. TWO OF HEARTS (INSTRUMENTAL) *
11. INSECURITY (BONUS BEATS 1) *
12. INSECURITY (BONUS BEATS 2) *
13. STACEY’S DREAM (ACAPELLA) *
14. WE CONNECT (12” DANCE RADIO EDIT) *
15. TWO OF HEARTS (CD ALBUM VERSION)
* denotes appearing on CD for the first time
CD 2 is crammed full of 12” mixes and remixes of ‘Two Of Hearts’ – the European Dance Mix, Q-Mix, Original Mix, Instrumental and the CD Album Version; ‘We Connect’ – Q-Mix, Safari Mix and the 12” Dance Radio Edit; ‘Insecurity’ – USA Dance Mix, Instrumental and Bonus Beats 1 & 2; ‘Music Out Of Bounds’ – Out Of Bounds Mix and Instrumental version.
Stacey Q was one of the myriad of Madonna wannabes who saturated the airwaves in the mid-’80s, but, unlike many of the pack, her debut album Better Than Heaven showed panache and a knowledge that she shouldn’t take herself too seriously.
The sexy monster hit ‘Two of Hearts,’ synthesized and insistent, benefited greatly from Q’s breathy, little-girl vocals (and the fact that it didn’t hit #1 on the Hot 100 is a crime!), while ‘We Connect’ was her only other venture into the Top 40. Tracks like ‘Music out of Bounds,’ ‘Love or Desire’ and ‘Dancing Nowhere’ all followed in the same vein, without being an actual copy of the blueprint lead single.
But, she does stray from the sex-kitten image on some cuts, and for the most part it is a cotton-candy result which is rather more, well, lighter than air, but nevertheless a tasty treat.
The title track is a sweet ode to love whereas ‘He Doesn’t Understand’ is repetitive to the point where she’s practically chanting, but the effect is almost lulling and ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ is so frothy the song practically floats!
Her vocals are simply perfect for this type of pop, let alone the more hyperactive tunes, and with a voice so well finely tuned, anyone can sing along.
Though she became more experimental with successive albums, Better Than Heaven is Stacey Q’s most accessible and most enjoyable work, in my humble opinion.
And now with a second disc of Bonus Tracks to enjoy, the stand outs here for me are the supreme ‘Two of Hearts (European Dance Mix),’ the dance floor, and keytar excellence of ‘Insecurity (USA Dance Mix),’ and then both the ‘Stacey’s Dream (Acapella)’ (where Overdrive was used in the Theme from S-Express) and the smooth synth riff grooves within ‘We Connect (12” Dance Radio Edit)’ (and which all now appear on CD for the very first time).
Official 2CD Purchase Link
Stacey Q @ Facebook
Title - The Teammates: 20 Years of Making Music
Artist - Dean Torrence & Friends
Dean Torrence’s The Teammates: Twenty Years Of Making Music 1965-1985 (out October 14th, 2022 via Omnivore Recordings) is a curated collection that traverses the decades of the various musical teams Torrence has captained.
Whether it was in the producer’s chair, behind the microphone or putting together musical entities, Dean has done it all.
This collection includes many of Dean’s rare collaborations with the likes of Mike Love, Jan Berry, Bruce Johnston, Harry Nilsson, and Leon Russell.
The Teammates: Twenty Years Of Making Music 1965-1985 also offers extensive liner notes by Torrence, a track-by-track conversation with David Beard on the album’s contents and a forward by longtime Jan & Dean associate, and entertainment executive Winston Simone.
1. Buy Our Album – The Legendary Masked Surfers
2. Summertime, Summertime – Our Gang
3. The Theme From Leon’s Garage – Our Gang
4. Louisiana Man – Jan & Dean
5. Snowflakes On Laughing Gravy’s Whiskers – The Laughing Gravy
6. Vegetables (Alternate Mix) – The Laughing Gravy
7. Moving Day – Locksley Hall
8. It’s A Beautiful Day – Hogfat Cantina Singers & Bel Air Bandits
9. Just Keep It Up – Terry Melcher, Bruce Johnston, Dean Torrence
10. Love Lace – Terry Melcher, Bruce Johnston, Dean Torrence
11. A Teenager In Love – Dean Torrence
12. I Only Have Eyes For You – Dean Torrence
13. Get A Job – Dean Torrence
14. One Summer Night – Dean Torrence
15. Dead Man’s Curve (Dr. Landy Version) – Dean Torrence
16. Be True To Your Bud (Budweiser Fight Song) – Mike & Dean
17. Lightnin’ Strikes – Mike & Dean
18. Her Boyfriend’s Back – Mike & Dean
19. Alley Oop – Mike & Dean
20. Jingle Bell Rock – Mike & Dean
21. Ride The Wild Surf – Flo & Eddie with Dean Torrence
22. Order Our Album – The Legendary Masked Surfers
23. Fun, Fun, Fun (Commercial) – Mike & Dean
Tracks 1, 4, 6–10, 15, 21–23 previously unissued.
On this simply brilliant new collection of tunes, that are noticeably about friendship, being buddies, and having teammates in life, this true team effort (from behind the scenes to the music itself) kicks things off with the short, tongue in cheek Buy Our Album (The Legendary Masked Surfers) and the Beach Boys-imbibed Summertime, Summertime (Our Gang) and then brings us the surfing melodies within The Theme From Leon’s Garage (Our Gang), the chatty session intro to the scratchy blues of Louisiana Man (Jan & Dean), the old timey lean of Snowflakes On Laughing Gravy’s Whiskers (The Laughing Gravy), an alternate mix of Vegetables (The Laughing Gravy), the light and airy magnificence of Moving Day (Locksley Hall), and then we get delivered the upbeat and perky, finger-clicking It’s A Beautiful Day (Hogfat Cantina Singers & Bel Air Bandits), a pair from Terry Melcher, Bruce Johnston, Dean Torrence; the drum-led, funky guitar and pop bounce of Just Keep It Up and then the rhythmic pop flow of Love Lace, before the mellow pop of A Teenager In Love (Dean Torrence) is laid before us.
A quartet from Dean Torrence are up next in the shape of the laid low, mid-tempo balladry of I Only Have Eyes For You, a great rendition of the Silhouettes’ foot-tapper Get A Job, the reaching, soulful Dead Man’s Curve (Dr. Landy Version), and then the horn-imbibed surfer ode One Summer Night, and those are lovingly followed by a quintet from Mike & Dean; the free flowing Be True To Your Bud (Budweiser Fight Song), the drum-led Lightnin’ Strikes, their rendition of The Angels’ of Her Boyfriend’s Back, the finger-snapping Alley Oop 9which was a song inspired by the V. T. Hamlin-created comic strip of the same name), and then the sentimental Holiday tune Jingle Bell Rock is brought out, with the recording coming to a close on the gently frenetic surfer song Ride The Wild Surf (Flo & Eddie with Dean Torrence), the instructive book ending Order Our Album (The Legendary Masked Surfers), and then, finally, we get the rambunctious Fun, Fun, Fun (Commercial) by Mike & Dean.
Teaming with The Beach Boys/Jan & Dean historian David Beard (also editor/publisher of Endless Summer Quarterly), Torrence raided his vaults and discovered previously unreleased recordings from 1965–1985. Beginning with the ultra-rare single of “Summertime, Summertime” by Our Gang (never available on CD and taken from the original 2-track master), this collection is a treasure trove of rarities and previously unheard music.
There are alternate recordings by Jan & Dean, never before heard music from 1973 by Terry Melcher, Bruce Johnston & Torrence, and a slew of rare tracks by Mike (Love of The Beach Boys) & Dean from the early ’80s that has never been made available on CD or digitally until now!
Omnivore Recordings is proud to continue its association with Dean Torrence on this exciting and rare compilation of historical music from one of the early progenitors of rock ’n’ roll.
Official Purchase Link
Title - Signature
Artist - Sylvia Brooks
Since her captivating debut in 2009, jazz vocalist Sylvia Brooks has displayed a gift for inhabiting different personas, with a sub-specialty in film-noir inspired femme fatales.
On this, her fourth brand new album, Signature (Rhombus Records), Brooks embraces the most challenging role of all; defining herself with a set of beautifully crafted original songs.
Her evocative lyrics and emotionally direct delivery imbue the music with hard-won authenticity. Whether looking back with wry affection on her walk-on-the-wild-side youth or lamenting a lost love, Brooks brings bracing honesty and poise to the material.
1. Your Heart Is as Black as Night
2. Catch 22
3. Red Velvet Rope
4. Over and Done
5. The Boy That Lived There
7. The Flea Markets of Paris
8. Holding Back Tears
9. Boogie Street
This heartfelt, and wholly organic new album opens on Melody Gardot’s sultry blues within Your Heart Is as Black as Night and the gentle finger-snapper, swingtown wit of Catch 22, and then they are followed by the searingly upbeat and joyous melodies within the cautionary tale Red Velvet Rope (which is set to a sensuous Latin groove by cuatro master Kiki Valera), and then come the quietly-imbued balladry of Over and Done and then an despairingly aching tale is brought forth within The Boy That Lived There.
Along next is the upright bass-led, piano infused, late night club vibe of Sixteen which is in turn backed seamlessly by the atmospherically-charged, passionately romantic The Flea Markets of Paris, the album coming to an all-too-soon close on the veritable gossamer of Holding Back Tears, and then the mid-tempo, bluesy hipsway of the Leonard Cohen/Sharon Robinson erotic lament, the six minute Boogie Street.
Artistically, Brooks has collaborated with Southern California’s most creative accompanists: ace pianists Tom Ranier, Jeff Colella, and Christian Jacob designed beguiling, harmonically rich settings for her incisive lyrics.
The stellar rhythm section tandem of drummer Ray Brinker and bassist Trey Henry appear on almost every track and it also features cellists John Waltz, lead cellist for The Los Angeles Opera Company, Stephanie Fife and Mike Kaufman.
Official Spotify Purchase Link
Official Apple Music Purchase Link
Sylvia Brooks @ Facebook
Sylvia Brooks @ Instagram
Sylvia Brooks @ Twitter
Title - How Do I Get That Star
Artist - Zannie
How Do I Get That Star is Zannie Owens’ debut record under their own name, as well as the first release with Kill Rock Stars.
Previously, they performed as Potted Plant and they co-helmed the band Really Big Pinecone alongside Michael Buishas (0 Stars, .michael).
This latest effort is self-produced, and features contributions from friends in New York, as well as zannie’s brother Sam, who plays bass and also mixed the record.
Made over the course of four years, the record deals with feelings of pining for the unknown, the mystical, and the mundane. To paraphrase zannie, the record was produced mitotically from their mind.
The resulting 11 songs (picked precisely because of the number’s magical, symmetrical qualities), are warm to the touch. To listen to How Do I Get That Star is to immerse oneself in a sound bath or look up at the stars on a summer night in the middle of nowhere.
1. Mechanical Bull
2. A Rose for Every Puppet
3. Get That Star
5. For a While
6. Forest Flesh
7. Poison Plant
8. Song of Rose Pain
9. Route 32
10. Holy Ghosted
This heartfelt, and sweetly organic new album opens on the gentle Summer’s eve breeze of Mechanical Bull and the veritably shimmering synth pop, mid-tempo, arpeggiated keys and drum machine balladry of A Rose for Every Puppet (which explores the range and power of love, not just in the big feeling romantic kind, but also in a more platonic sense), and then comes the gentle, melodic psych-pop of Get That Star, the sultry, breathy, less-than-a-minute Lovers, and then comes the drum-led, pop bounce of For a While.
The atmospherically-charged, drum-led, psych guitars within Forest Flesh are up next and they are seamlessly followed by the aching, informative yearn within Poison Plant, the synth-psych twirl of Song of Rose Pain, the acoustic guitar work of the beautiful Route 32, the album rounding out on the psychedelic synesthesia of Holy Ghosted, coming to a close on the euphorically-imbued, science ballad Doppler.
Brooklyn’s Zannie Owens conceived of their debut solo record, How Do I Get That Star, as an homage to Voyager One Golden Record, the album that Carl Sagan and Lynn Margulis sent into space in 1977. “I was following this narrative idea about an alien on Earth trying to find their way back to their home planet,” says zannie. The idea also comes from one of their favorite poets, Jack Spicer, “He had this whole thing about artists being radio transmitters for Martians or ghosts.”
“I wrote Mechanical Bull after waking up from a particularly vivid dream involving the fusion of various bull mythos: namely the bull of heaven, the Minotaur of Minos, and the modern mechanical bull,”
“The dream followed a dysfunctional family on vacation. At the end, the father became obsessed with a giant glowing mechanical bull in a maze beneath a deserted house the family entered to call for help. The twins went down to the basement to look for their father, and happened upon an underwater mirror room where they converged into one entity.”
“The father spent the rest of his days following the mechanical bull through the maze. Here the bull is both the solution and problem...the mechanical bull represents a system of our own creation we’re forced to hop back on again and again.”
“Yet that mystic bull can also represent the comfort one can access feeling the weight of their body on the earth, and not needing to be perceived to exist. Quite simply it’s tough out here, give yourself a hug!”
How Do I Get That Star, is a sort of Spicer-esque exercise in spooky, spectral auto-dictation that has its roots in the outer limits of our galaxy. Made over the course of four years, the record deals with feelings of pining for the unknown, the mystical, and the mundane. To paraphrase zannie, the record was produced mitotically from their mind.
Official Purchase Link
Zannie @ Spotify
Zannie @ Instagram
Title - VIVALDI Concerti per violino X Intorno a Pisendel
Artist - Julien Chauvin & Le Concert de la Loge
For those unaware, this tenth volume of violin concertos, VIVALDI Concerti per violino X Intorno a Pisendel, marks the return of Julien Chauvin and his Concert de la Loge to the Vivaldi Edition, with works linked to Pisendel, a major musical figure in the court of Dresden in the 18th century.
Julien Chauvin and his Concert de la Loge released a hugely successful volume of Vivaldi concertos with a theatrical theme in 2020.
In this new album they perform works focusing on Johann Georg Pisendel (1687-1755), konzertmeister at the Dresden Court chapel, and pupil and friend of Vivaldi, who played a key role in the popularity of the Red Priest’s music in Dresden.
It is thanks to the admiration and foresight of this eminent German violinist not only that the city possesses a considerable Vivaldi catalogue, but also that certain signed manuscripts were preserved that are to be found only in Dresden.
This album comprises three concertos composed for him (RV 237, RV 314 and RV 340) and three others copied by his hand (RV 225, RV 226 and RV 369).
All the many contrasts which mark Vivaldi’s concerto repertoire - whatever the instrument -are magnified here under the supple bow of Julien Chauvin: his close bond with Le Concert de la Loge flourishes in a free, rich and diverse discourse, fiery and passionate in the external movements, and lyric or gently melancholic in the central parts.
Worth mentioning among the many examples are the splendid elegiac song of the Adagio in concerto RV 237 or the delicate slow movements accompanied by the pizzicato of the strings in concertos RV 314 and RV 226.
1 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 314 In G Major - 1. Allegro
2 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 314 In G Major - 2. Adagio
3 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 314 In G Major - 3. Allegro
4 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 226 In D Major- 1. Allegro
5 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 226 In D Major- 2. Largo
6 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 226 In D Minor - 3. Allegro
7 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 369 In B - Flat Major - 1. Allegro Mà Poco
8 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 369 In B - Flat Major - 2. Largo
9 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 369 In B - Flat Major - 3. Allegro
10 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 237 In D Minor - 1. Allegro
11 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 237 In D Minor - 2. Adagio
12 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 237 In D Minor - 3. Allegro
13 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 225 In D Major - 1. Allegro
14 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 225 In D Major - 2. Largo
15 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 225 In D Major - 3. Allegro
16 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 340 In A Major - 1. Allegro
17 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 340 In A Major - 2. Adagio
18 - VIVALDI - Concerto RV 340 In A Major - 3. Allegro
This stunning majestic and just all round magically shimmering new album opens on Concerto RV 314 In G Major and the sheer vibrancy of the Allegro, the veritable gossamer of the Adagio and then the forthright perkiness of the Allegro is brought forth, and then we get the Concerto RV 226 In D Major which brings us the flirtatious filly of the Allegro, the hankering yearn within the Largo and for the Concerto RV 226 In D Minor, next comes the spirited Allegro.
The Concerto RV 369 In B - Flat Major opens on the sturdy, confident chords and notes displayed within Allegro Mà Poco, the grandeur of Largo, and the lively, almost animated Allegro, which are in turn followed by the Concerto RV 237 In D Minor’s vigorously vital Allegro, an aching Adagio, and a highly studious Allegro.
Next up we get brought forth the Concerto RV 225 In D Major, which opens on the free flowing majesties within the Allegro, the elegant dance floor swirl of Largo, and the almost vivacious, frenetic even Allegro, the collection rounding out on Concerto RV 340 In A Major, which first brings us the vividly powerful Allegro, then comes the almost fibrous Adagio, it itself coming to a close on the determined qualities within the Allegro.
CD Purchase Link
Julien Chauvin @ Facebook
Title - Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Various Works
Artist - Fabio Biondi & Europa Galante
For those unaware, taking inspiration from his predecessors in the German tradition, Mendelssohn polished his counterpoint, and practiced the fugue - as Mozart had done before him on discovering Bach - and the concerto.
We discover a young composer well versed in Baroque and Classical forms, which he embellished with his own sparkling charm.
This album is also an opportunity to discover some of Mendelssohn’s lesser-known works, including the note-worthy Salve Regina sung by the soprano Monica Piccinini, several solitary fugues, a Largo and Allegro for piano and strings and a Concerto for violin and string orchestra in D minor.
“This is a profound work,” says Fabio Biondi about his new album, Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto, Various Works, who also plays the violin solo here, “with a rich orchestral part, which does not merely accompany the soloist, but is also fully engaged in all its sections, and a particularly interesting violin part. It conveys a constant good humor, in a huge kaleidoscope of formulations, while always retaining its formal construction.”
1. Sinfonia In D Major MWV No2 - 1 Allegro
2. Sinfonia In D Major MWV No2 - 2 Andante
3. Sinfonia In D Major MWV No2 - 3 Allegro Vivace
4. Concerto For Violin In D Minor MWV 03 - 1 Allegro
5. Concerto For Violin In D Minor MWV 03 - 2 Andante - Allegro
6. Concerto For Violin In D Minor MWV 03 - 3 Allegro
7. Salve Regina In B Flat MWV C2
8. Fuga For String Quartet In E Flat
9. Strings Symphony In B Flat MWV No5 - 1 Allegro Vivace
10. Strings Symphony In B Flat MWV No5 - 2 Andante - Presto
11. Strings Symphony In B Flat MWV No5 - 2 Presto
12. Largo And Allegro In D Minor
13. Fuga A Tre In G Minor
14. Fuga A Tre In D Minor
This divinely ornate and wholly invested new album opens on the flourishing Allegro of Sinfonia In D Major MWV No2 and then brings us the almost stoic Andante, culminating in the joyous embellishments within Allegro Vivace, before we are into the Concerto For Violin In D Minor MWV 03 series, with the upbeat and perky Allegro leading the way, and then we get the moderate wane of the Andante - Allegro, it all coming to a close on the super lively Allegro.
The vocalized Salve Regina In B Flat MWV C2 is just a most beautiful work of musical art and is backed seamlessly by the ornately crafted, stirring Fuga For String Quartet In E Flat and then we get brought forth the Strings Symphony In B Flat MWV No5 - 1 series, with the cheerfully jaunty Allegro Vivace leading the way, then comes mid-tempo yearn of the Andante - Presto, the work closing on pulsatingly orchestrated Presto.
This new collection culminates with the, at times, stern, but moreover elegantly cinematic notations within Largo And Allegro In D Minor, closing on the aching longing found within Fuga A Tre In G Minor, and the veritable buoyancy of Fuga A Tre In D Minor.
CD Purchase Link
Fabio Biondi @ Facebook
Title - The Warehouse Sessions
Artist - Kaeshammer
Over the course of three decades as a professional performer, Kaeshammer has developed a style that weaves threads of classical, jazz, blues, boogie-woogie, stride, and piano pop into a signature sound.
Kaeshammer has been nominated for seven Juno Awards, has received the West Coast Music Award for Musician of the Year and Entertainer of the Year, and has represented Canada at numerous Olympic ceremonies.
With The Warehouse Sessions (due out October 7th, 2022 via Linus Entertainment), Michael Kaeshammer and his trio, bassist David Piltch and drummer Johnny Vidacovich, are captured with live off the floor performances in Bryan Adams’ recording studio in performances that are electric and spontaneous.
The trio are battle tested: Countless gigs all over the world, hundreds of kilometers traveled and thousands of happy listeners. And on this album, you hear these three friends finding joy in making music with each other.
1. You Got It in Your Soulness
2. How Long Blues
3. Down By the Riverside
5. Bourbon Street Parade
6. Quizas, Quizas, Quizas
7. Ain’t She Sweet
9. The Preacher
This vibrantly alive, wholesome and justifiably craved for new album opens on the boogie-woogie of You Got It in Your Soulness and then, having requested some train beats, Kaeshammer gets exactly what he wants on the atmospheric, and aptly-named How Long Blues, and then we get their old school, raw blues-imbibed version of the traditional Down By the Riverside and then comes the drum-led, acutely-cultivated Caravan.
On this new album, much like, in all truth, all the music he has released since his 1996 debut album, Blue Keys, Kaeshammer keeps the grooves a’coming, and next brings us the infectious melodies within Bourbon Street Parade, the playful rhythms of Quizas, Quizas, Quizas, the upbeat and joyously delicious Ain’t She Sweet, the recording rounding out on the drum-led mastery of the hushed blues-funk tones within Ramblin’, coming to a close on a stridently impassioned The Preacher.
“When I play, I don’t worry about if it’s jazz or pop or classical or whatever; I just play what I hear and let the music decide what it wants to be,” Kaeshammer explains. “Sure, there are different styles, different eras, different approaches, but when you really look at it, it’s all just music based on 12 notes.”
Kaeshammer @ Facebook
Kaeshammer @ Twitter
Kaeshammer @ YouTube
Title - 3
Artist - Revolushn
For those not in the know, myself included, Revolushn is an experimental psych rock group from California formed by longtime friends and collaborators NO Mansfield and David “Dekay” Kendrick.
They recorded dozens of songs together for other artists as part of a studio group in Los Angeles, and in 2016 began writing and recording their own material for what would become Revolushn.
They enlisted the talents of multiple friends for their debut release The Freshman (2016) and their follow-up Further!! (2018) and have now solidified their lineup around NO (guitar/vocals), Dekay (drums, percussion), Olga Schubert (keys), and Neil Nyberg (bass guitar/vocals) for their new album, entitled 3, set for release September 30th, 2022.
Revolushn is extraordinarily versatile and showcase an assortment of styles, leaning into experimental art rock along with their love for dance rock and loud guitars and drums.
Produced by NO Mansfield and Arron Connor (Bone Thugs and Harmony, Cher, Ed Sheeran, Dr. Dre), their new album 3 also features Scott Page (Pink Floyd, Toto, Supertramp) on sax and Harlan Spector (Redbone, Buffalo Springfield) on keys on the track Electric as well as Kim Aston on backing vocals.
3. My Living Brain
5. Spiral Galaxies
6. Little Red Dolls
9. Papa Fell Down
10. The Beast Inside
This heartfelt, and sweetly organic new album opens on the upbeat and infectious psych grooves of Jackfix and the drum and sax-led rocker Electric and then they are seamlessly followed by the melodious, mid-tempo balladry of My Living Brain, the pop-rock of Puppy, before we are brought forth the foot to the floor melodic psych rock of Spiral Galaxies.
Up next is the trippy, psych-infused, guitar rock of the brilliant Little Red Dolls and the free flowing, fervently drum-led Hover and they are in turn backed up by the early Alice Copper-esque Pushing and the rocker Papa Fell Down, with the album coming to a close on the layered rhythms and guitar licks within The Beast Inside.
This incredible new Revolushn album highlights their influences including Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Black Keys, Lady Gaga, Manaskin, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and more. 3 was recorded at Swamptone Studios in Northern California, Cypher Sound Studios in Kansas City, MO, Hailer Studios in Los Angeles, and Coast Mastering in Berkeley, CA, and the album was mastered at Coast Mastering by Michael Romanoff (Pentatonix, Nine Inch Nails, The Who).
NO Mansfield lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and has written several hundred songs since he picked up the guitar at six years old. NO is a respected studio musician and multi-instrumentalist that has recorded music for television and film and has played with dozens of artists including Aretha Franklin, Berlin, DEVO, and many more. NO Mansfield also recently scored the horror movie The Beast Inside.
David “Dekay” Kendrick plays drums/percussion and writes many of the song’s lyrics. Dekay lives in Los Angeles, CA. A lifelong musician, Dekay has played everywhere from the Hollywood Bowl to Madison Square Gardens. He has been a member of Sparks, DEVO, Gleaming Spires and Xiu Xiu. Dekay and NO write the songs for Revolushn and have been playing together in different bands for over 25 years.
Olga Schubert plays keyboards and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was born in Russia and studied classical piano during her youth before going on to medical school to become a doctor. After moving to America, she studied art and became a respected and internationally known painter. NO and Olga are married and when NO realized how good she was at keyboards she was drafted into the group. Since joining Revolushn she has also become a talented videographer and now creates all their videos.
Neil Nyberg plays bass guitar and sings for Revolushn. Neil lives in Berkeley, CA. He has been a musician since a young age and has played in several prominent San Francisco Bay Area bands. He also plays guitar and sings for his band Nalamora. Neil is also creating a fashion brand.
To release their newest album 3, Revolushn signed with the bay area independent music label Candy Gram Music Company. With a mission to promote the SF Bay Area music scene as a world class entertainment center in California for mind-blowing music and art, and as an inspiring place for artists to live and love, the label is cultivating a San Francisco sound reminiscent of the 60s summer of love that is also firmly rooted in the present day.
Revolushn - Little Red Dolls [Official Music Video]
Revolushn - Electric [Official Music Video]
Revolushn - Spiral Galaxies [Official Music Video]
Official Purchase Links
Revolushn @ Facebook
Revolushn @ Twitter
Title - Future Classic
Artist - Orphantwin
For fans of hardcore metal, Orphantwin has come out with their latest album. Elements of thrash, metalcore, synth, and so much more are prevalent throughout Future Classic. Brothers Cory Brandan, and Mathew Putman put together a wild and fun six-track masterpiece.
Right off the bat, we are treated to a nice electric intro in Negative Threads that leads into a melodic tone. Then, quite suddenly, the listener is suddenly hurled into a fury of epic screaming vocals that will be the defining factor in each song. The way Cory and Mathew’s voices match is phenomenal.
The low singing in Headphones or Die is a great contrast to the rest of the album. It showcases just how skilled they really are by making it quite apparent they don’t need screams to make their songs great. The beats to this album are fantastic from the drums, to the bass, and then the rhythm work in the guitars.
Brandan on guitar and bass masterfully brings both instruments into the fray expertly, matching them with his synth production. Putman on drums and percussion has great timing throughout the album. His occasional blast beats are mixed in well with other fills to give each song a unique feel. He doesn’t just smash away; each beat is deliberate.
1. “Negative Threads”
3. “Headphones or Die”
4. “The Glimpse”
Grayson Stewart gives some extra volume to songs Negative Threads and The Glimpse. Adam and Tristan Putman add their own spice with piano and French horn in Hominy. It’s certainly a calmer song with melodic vocals that gives your eardrums a nice break after pumping the volume up from the earlier tracks.
The production quality for this album is something to behold. There’s so much nuance that it’s hard to describe in words. Little things like echoes and electric sounds match so well with the music. The occasional speaking elements are in a tone purposely muted and gives a sense of mystery behind the context. Matt Marquez lends aid to the duo in the production element in Headphones or Die to give it an even more unique flair.
Overall, this album was a fun ride. It was nothing like I’ve heard before and will definitely keep my eyes open for more content from this group.
Review by: John Cicotte
FUTURE CLASSIC by ORPHANTWIN is available on all streaming platforms.
Orphantwin @ Facebook
Orphantwin @ Twitter
Orphantwin @ Instagram
Title - Sunir
Artist - Ianai
The Twitter bio line for Ianai states, “songs from the sons of God and daughters of man.” This description becomes particularly interesting when the listener learns that the act known as Ianai may or may not be more than one person. At the very least, the spokesperson for the project is an entity known only as Trevenial, not even disclosing if they are a man or woman.
The musical style is equally ambiguous, classified as “alternative folk” on Apple Music, and “alternative world music” by Ianai’s own description. It is this label that feels the most accurate, with the songs on Sunir, the debut album, bringing to thought acts like Dead Can Dance.
1. Savoj Icoil
3. Manda Navaja
9. Akrar Adi’re
11. Ovu Lusta
Opening track Savoj Icoil has a mystical Middle Eastern, possibly South Asian vibe, with crashing percussion and twangy strings. This title — like many others on the record — looks and sounds like it could be a real language, but none translate into any discernible words. Thus, the lyrics offer very little. This is a particular shame when numbers like Elitha lean more into these (very smooth) vocals.
And while this record offers little to nothing for listeners who are especially attune to what lyrics mean, it is impossible not to cheer the album’s musical grandiosity. The crescendos and decrescendos come along like a beautiful, quasi-orchestral ocean wave.
Manda Navaja may be a song about a Spanish-language knife attack, or nothing at all, and it is here that the unknown nature of the lyrics becomes the most maddening. This feels like an impossible river to cross, but the urgent, sweeping music carries you across with relative ease. The same movie score sound continues on through Anaia (an anagram of the artist’s name).
Sunir begins with an inflective vocal after a slow fade-in, leaving the listener unquestioning of its beauty, but deeply questioning of the significance the title holds in order to make it the title track for the whole album.
In the end, Ianai is the sum of all of their parts, and that is its greatness. This album, though the first, I hope is not the last, for Ianai’s music is a marvelous mystery to behold.
Review by: Ashley J. Cicotte.
SUNIR by IANAI is available on all major streaming platforms.
Ianai @ Facebook
Ianai @ Bandcamp
Ianai @ Instagram
Title - Got To Believe
Artist - Blue Largo
Blue Largo was formed by guitarist Eric Lieberman and vocalist Alicia Aragon in 1999. Eric has been a fixture on the Southern California blues scene since 1981, when he began his four year stint with San Diego’s now legendary King Biscuit Blues Band.
He then went on to form The Rhumboogies, and subsequently The Juke Stompers. As part of the Southern California blues community during the 1980’s, Eric became closely associated with The Paladins, The James Harman Band, Hollywood Fats, Kid Ramos and Junior Watson. He was even lucky enough to play a gig with Hollywood Fats at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, California, just two weeks shy of Fats’ untimely death.
Both The Rhumboogies and The Juke Stompers have shared bills with B.B. King, Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, Little Charlie and The Nightcats, Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets, The Paladins and The James Harman Band.
And two of Eric’s greatest disciples, Robby Eason and Nathan James, both went on to play guitar for James Harman. In addition to Robby and Nathan, pretty much any blues musician who has lived in San Diego from 1981 to the present will attest to Eric’s major influence on the San Diego music community for the past four decades.
Blue Largo released its debut album, What A Day, produced by Mavis Staples’ guitar player and musical director, Rick Holmstrom in 2000, its second album Still In Love With You in 2003, their third album Sing Your Own Song in 2015, then came their fourth album Before The Devil Steals Your Soul in 2018, and now their fifth album, Got To Believe is out this year.
1. A World Without Soul
2. Got to Believe
3. Soul Meeting
4. What We Gotta Do
5. Disciple of Soul
6. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
7. Soldier in the Army of Love
9. Gospel Music
10. Rear View Mirror
11. Santa Fe Bound
Opening on the funky blues grooves within A World Without Soul and the forthright Gospel-imbued title track Got to Believe, this incredibly vibrant new album continues onward with the mid-tempo, languishing blues of Soul Meeting and the comes the uproarious, guitar and Hammond-led beauty What We Gotta Do and the reggae-pop bounce of Disciple of Soul is brought forth.
Along next is their softer, cultured rendition of the song written specifically for pianist Nina Simone, and made mainstream famous by The Animals, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood and that is in turn followed by the finger-snapping, toe-tapping, percussion-imbued Soldier in the Army of Love, the funky storytelling within Ronnie, the aptly-named, Hammond-led Gospel Music, the album rounding out on the low slung Rear View Mirror and closing on the upbeat and joyous ode within Santa Fe Bound.
With the completely organic and unintentional stylistic change from playing vintage blues covers to writing their own original material, Blue Largo now likes to think of their music as Americana Soul. Eric just lets the songs come to him as they do and he doesn’t try to write in anyone’s voice other than his own.
In spite of his deep love and respect for traditional blues of the 1940’s and ‘50’s, which he dedicated the better part of his adult life studying and playing, it’s not surprising that his original songs are much more evocative of the 1960’s soul music that he came of age hearing on his parents’ car radio, and the great singer / songwriter albums he immersed himself in as a teenager in the early seventies; with lyrics that reflect his own life experiences, and which he and Alicia hope others can relate to their own life experiences.
In addition to Eric and Alicia, Blue Largo’s current line-up consists of Taryn ‘T-Bird’ Donath (piano), Marcus P. Bashore (drums), Mike ‘Sandlewood’ Jones (Fender bass), and Dave Castel De Oro and Eddie Croft (saxophones).
Blue Largo @ Facebook
Blue Largo @ Bandcamp
Blue Largo @ Instagram
Title - The Shape of Strings
Artist - Wayne Alpern
Composer and multi-instrumentalist Wayne Alpern has been on a proverbial magic carpet ride. An endless journey motivates him to listen to his inner voice and in equal measure to learn from mentors covering a broad spectrum of musical styles.
His lengthy catalog of recordings never grows old. The way classics like the iconic television series I Love Lucy is eternal to TV viewers and The Wizard of Oz is perennial to movie buffs, Alpern’s releases are ageless to music, continuously relevant through the passage of time.
Many artists create music that reflects the time in which the music is made, but Alpern makes music with more permanence, reaching generations long after his own generation will pass. The source of his creativity is multi-fold, able to regenerate his imagination with infinite possibilities for improvisations.
“I’ve always been interested in the confluence of multiple musical styles, genres, and traditions,” he discerns. “I don’t elevate one over the other, or view them qualitatively as better or worse, high art or low. The different styles of jazz, classical music, pop music, folk music, country music, and ethnological music from various cultures around the world are merely different ways of approaching organized sound, emphasizing various technical aspects and musical qualities in relative degrees. I value them all.”
Now, here on his fourth album, The Shape of Strings New York-based composer and musicologist Wayne Alpern has invited into his circle a string ensemble composed of the best New York masters: six violins, two violas, two cellos and a double bass, led by concertmaster Monika Bauschwitz.
Thus, here on his new program of works entitled The Shape of Strings, we get to listen along as they take us from the 21st century into the 18th century, bringing forth the very kind of music that Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and other composers of his time would indeed themselves compose.
1. Reinvention 1
2. Reinvention 2
3. Reinvention 3
4. Serenade 1
5. Serenade 2
6. Serenade 3
7. Divertimento 1
8. Divertimento 2
9. Divertimento 3
Opening on the sternly orchestrated, yet lovingly smooth, ten minute Reinvention 1, the gentle gossamer of Reinvention 2 and then the boisterously flirtatious one minute, perky and playful the next Reinvention 3, he backs those up with the veritably shimmering Serenade 1, the aching longing within Serenade 2 and the gently frenetic Serenade 3, bringing this quite incredible new recording to a close on the fleeting Divertimento 1, the awe-inspiring and wholeheartedly encapsulating reach of Divertimento 2, and then comes the uplifting rhythms within the coquettish Divertimento 3.
Wayne Alpern @ Facebook
Wayne Alpern @ Twitter
Wayne Alpern @ Instagram
Title - Love and the Catalyst
Artist - Aimée Allen
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, vocalist Aimée (pronounced emAY, or M.A.) Allen’s intimate connection with music began as a child. Her childhood was scored with classic jazz, because her mother kept selections from the tradition on the family turntable.
Though singing was a part of her childhood, Aimée first began singing professionally with jazz a cappella groups in college. After graduation, Aimée moved to Paris where she performed regularly in jazz clubs and festivals.
The deep relationship between the francophone audiences and Brazilian bossa nova, led Aimée to form Les Bossa Novices, a Paris-based group dedicated to bossa and jazz.
Aimée now performs regularly in New York City and abroad, having toured in France, Italy, Russia, and Senegal. Standards and bossa are part of her repertoire, but now an accomplished songwriter, she also sings her original compositions, many of which have become audience favorites.
Her original music has been licensed for feature film and network television and she has sung with many renowned musicians including Romero Lubambo, Ron McClure, François Moutin, Rozwell Rudd, Ari Hoenig, and Yomo Toro and More.
Aimée Allen’s latest release, Love and the Catalyst presents her striking original music alongside a few diverse, yet familiar selections form the jazz cannon.
The songs address change and the catalytic agents that bring it about. Transformation, large and small, personal and collective, social and scientific, is the them, with the alchemy of romance explored through the surprisingly sensual metaphors of science and the cosmos.
1. Little Sunflower
2. Earth is Waiting
3. Quantum Entanglements
4. Crystal Silence / 500 Miles High
5. Star Eyes
6. Love’s Crescendo
7. Reaction Time
8. Mortally Immortal (Requiem)
9. The Comet’s Tail
10. Man Ripples Through Time
11. Hidden Place
12. Worlds Collide
Opening on her beautifully encased and effectively joyous rendition of Little Sunflower and then the Japanese-infused stillness and musical intricacies within Earth is Waiting and they are then in turn followed by the playfully organic rhythms and melodies of Quantum Entanglements, Allen’s achingly heartfelt tribute to Chick Corea on two golden 1970s period tracks (Crystal Silence / 500 Miles High) and then comes the quietly modified Star Eyes and the late night jazz bar, lush ambiance of Love’s Crescendo.
Up next is the furtively buoyant Reaction Time and the sterner, albeit still elegantly crafted Mortally Immortal (Requiem) - which also revisits Mozart’s Requiem as a jazz-infused mass for those lost to Covid - Allen returning to her more free flowing and pleasingly filled with jazzy blues hipsway ways on The Comet’s Tail, then comes the atmospheric storytelling of Man Ripples Through Time, the album rounding out on the melodiously mid-tempo Hidden Place, coming to a close on the heartfelt, all encompassing love within Worlds Collide.
The end result is a musical prism, leading the listener through bold, moving and soulful takes on issues such as climate change, George Floyd’s death and legacy, the human toll of the pandemic, and love as the ultimate agent provocateur.
Tribute is also paid to one who changed the art form, Chick Corea, in a tour-de-force medley of two of his best-known compositions.
An array of rhythmic and harmonic textures is reflected and refracted as Love and the Catalyst invites the listener to chance, be changed, and make change.
Aimée Allen @ Facebook
Aimée Allen @ Bandcamp
Aimée Allen @ Instagram
Title - Findings
Artist - Jim Dedrick
Few local names are establishing themselves so firmly in the Greater Wilmington world of music like the Jim Dedrick Trio.
Multi-talented artists, the Jim Dedrick Trio takes listeners on a compelling journey of thoughts and emotions with improvised music.
The Jim Dedrick Trio presents modern jazz with roots in the styles of great historic performers like Kieth Jarrett, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, and Chick Corea.
Music is composed of original creations, standards, and modern interpretations of of artists like the Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Nirvana.
Known for creating developmental and free jazz sections over original and traditional music, the Jim Dedrick Trio is most frequently seen in the Washington DC to Philadelphia and surrounding areas.
Findings is the latest release by Jim Dedrick. The album title Findings is intended to reflect music unfolding and developing as it is played. It is Modern Jazz utilizing both traditional and non-traditional forms.
Most of the music is improvised with either developmental sections and/or free solo areas. Melodies, harmonies, forms, and progressions are introduced to inspire improvisations and then edited or replaced with each musician’s individual interpretations.
3. Spontaneous Blues
5. Bullfrog Burp
7. Rough Waters
Opening on the rhythmically juxtaposing Kelly and the late night, foot-tapping musings within Lugubrious, they are in turn seamlessly followed by the gently frenetic Spontaneous, the European-esque vibe of Tension, the free flowing Bullfrog Burp, the album coming to an all-too-soon close on the more pronounced Demon and the crystalline jazz-rock of Rough Waters.
Dedrick explains, I wanted the project to be free from traditional musical guidelines. Musicians simply stated their musical thoughts as they pleased. My intent was to open up a space for all three musicians to collaborate, interact, communicate, and serve the music.
Jim Dedrick (double bass)
Tom Reyes (piano)
Chuck Ferrell (drums)
Title - Strong [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Ian Flanigan
For those unaware, Reviver Records recording artist and The Voice’s Season 19 runner-up, Ian Flanigan will be releasing his new album Strong on September 2nd, 2022.
For the last decade, troubadour Ian Flanigan has toured his whiskey-soaked voice and evocative lyrics across America, with a country sound reminiscent of Joe Cocker and Chris Stapleton.
In 2020, Flanigan was a celebrated finalist on NBC’s The Voice, finishing third as the representative from Team Blake. The country music world has since tapped him as an up-and-coming artist to watch.
Flanigan has since then, continued to tour as direct support to Trace Adkins and Chris Janson, he has released his debut single, “Grow Up” featuring Blake Shelton (over 1.2 million streams), he represents Taylor Guitars and KICKER AUDIO, gains exposure as a Reviver Publishing writer in Nashville and looks forward to releasing his debut album in 2022 on Reviver Records.
Containing all his now popular singles - such as “Grow Up” featuring Blake Shelton, “Under A Southern Sky”, “Last Name On It” and more - much like all those singles did, his new album Strong has already become a staple on the country album charts.
1. As Far As Love Goes
2. Help Me Drink This Wine
3. Under A Southern Sky
4. Home Sweet Home
5. Shine Like The Moon
7. Grow Up (feat. Blake Shelton)
8. Devil In My Hands
9. Last Name On It
10. The Quiet
11. Shine Again
This beautifully crafted, wholesome and heartfelt new album opens on the smoothly free wheeling As Far As Love Goes and the mid-tempo balladry of Help Me Drink This Wine and they are followed by the foot-tapping rhythms within Under A Southern Sky, the forthright appeal of Home Sweet Home, this first vinyl side rounding out on the majestic country-pop bounce roll of Shine Like The Moon and the stand out ballad Strong.
The second side opens on the hauntingly ethereal, at times, shimmeringly euphoric the next, country balladry of Grow Up (featuring Blake Shelton) and that is itself backed by my own personal favorite, the uproarious Devil In My Hands, then comes the joyous hand clapping hipsway of Last Name On It, the side, and the album, coming to a close on the shining beam of an aching yearn within The Quiet and then the upbeat, mid-tempo rocker Shine Again.
Ian Flanigan - Grow Up (Featuring Blake Shelton) (Official Music Video)
Official Purchase Links
Ian Flanigan @ Facebook
Ian Flanigan @ Twitter
Ian Flanigan @ YouTube
Ian Flanigan @ Instagram
Title - Commit Yourself To Bethlehem Asylum
Artist - Bethlehem Asylum
Bethlehem Asylum’s only two albums, combined into this brand new CD Commit Yourself To Bethlehem Asylum (out September 23rd, 2022 via Liberation Hall), provide an insight into the future of fusion and prog rock artists that will follow.
The first album (Commit Yourself) offers a more jazzy instrumentation and superb work on piano, sax and flute.
The eponymous second album has more harmonizing but the psychedelic sounds of the late 60’s are on full display, with rock and jazz fused and then veering into more spacey prog rock.
They originated from the St. Pete/Tampa area in Florida although they toured extensively all around the South, had a good live reputation as a live act and were often double-billed with The Allman Brothers.
1. Lady Author
2. The Year’s Biggest Rain
3. Another Time Another Place
4. I Know A Lonely Man
5. Ring My Bell
6. Blind Man’s Bluff
7. Tales From The Citadel: Vol. 1
8. Child Of The Mountain
9. Sailboat Ride
11. Sea Rider
12. Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
13. It’s About
This wonderfully weird flashback to a musically pleasing era opens on their self-titled album, and the free flowing majesties and acoustic guitar-laced folk rock of Lady Author and the more forthright, albeit still country-rock folk veined The Year’s Biggest Rain, and those are backed with the purely magical psych twists and turns of the veritably shimmering Another Time Another Place, the piano ballad I Know A Lonely Man, the slow poke, blues-psych brilliance of Ring My Bell and then comes the low down blues, complete with airy flute percussion within Blind Man’s Bluff and the uproariously euphoric storytelling (lest we forgot to mention an extended bass and drum solo that features even more jazz piano and lush sax) within the 13 minute Tales From The Citadel: Vol. 1.
The second album (Commit Yourself) opens on the folk-imbued, harmonized vocals and delicious flute harmonies within Child Of The Mountain and the light and breezy, free flowing, jazzy rock of the British Canterbury-sounding Sailboat Ride, then comes the all-genre-encompassing instrumental Earth, the jaunty, gently frenetic, at times surf rock guitar-imbued instrumental Sea Rider, the album coming to a close on the funky, groovy, Chicago-esque jazzy blues of the foot-tapper Talkin’ ‘Bout Love and the foot-tapping, mid-tempo melodic rock of It’s About.
Bethlehem Asylum - Ring My Bell (Official Music Video)
Bethlehem Asylum - Talkin’ ‘Bout Love (Official Music Video)
Amazon Purchase Link
Title - Generations
Artist - Steve Turre
Trombonist/composer Steve Turre was passed the jazz torch early in his career by some of the music’s greatest masters – Art Blakey, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Woody Shaw, and Ray Charles, among others.
In recent years he’s kindled the same flame in a younger crop of rising stars. On his new album, Generations, Turre brings the eras together, inviting still-vital legends to join a gifted band of fresh blood while paying tribute to the elders who have helped shape his sound.
Set for release on September 16th, 2022 via Smoke Sessions Records, Generations features literal second-generation players including the trombonist’s own son, drummer Orion Turre, as well as trumpeter Wallace Roney Jr., whose late father was a close friend and collaborator of Turre’s.
In addition, the core band includes young pianist Isaiah J. Thompson and the more tenured Corcoran Holt on bass, who has been working with Turre for more than a decade.
Over the course of the album this stellar group is joined by the likes of saxophonist James Carter, guitarists Ed Cherry and Andy Bassford, keyboardist Trevor Watkis, bassists Buster Williams and Derrick Barnett, drummers Lenny White and Karl Wright, and percussionist Pedrito Martinez.
“There’s a balance between youth and age,” Turre says, “Age brings wisdom and knowledge, and youth brings enthusiasm and energy. Playing with each of them stretches me in a different way. The elders stretch me in ways of wisdom, but the youngsters fire it up. All of that is inspiring.”
That inspiration bears fruit in one of the most scintillating and eclectic recordings of Turre’s storied career, ranging from burning modal jazz to tender ballads, sophisticated swing to reggae grooves to Latin rhythms, and of course, at the root of everything is the blues. “The blues don’t never get old,” Turre declares. “I like playing the blues. To me, it’s quintessential to American music.”
1. Planting the Ceed (8:46)
2. Dinner with Duke (6:58)
3. Blue Smoke (6:34)
4. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (4:54)
5. Don D. (5:00)
6. Pharoah’s Dance (8:30)
7. Flower Power (8:29)
8. Good People (6:54)
9. Sweet Dreams (6:04)
10. Resistance (8:04)
The album opens with the eventfully cinematic Planting the Ceed, an homage to Cedar Walton (He’s one of my heroes,” Turre says of the great pianist, who was a member of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers when Turre joined the band in 1973) and then comes an even earlier influence for Turre, as he honors Duke Ellington on the divinely elegant Dinner with Duke, and that is itself followed by the straightforward blues of Blue Smoke (a nod to Turre’s home label for his past four releases and its namesake club, where he’s a regular performer), a veritably simmering rendition of the classic Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and then we get the Caribbean-reggae appeal of Don D. (a tribute to the legendary Skatalites trombonist Don Drummond) brought forth.
Next up on this wondrous new album is the translucently vibrant Pharoah’s Dance, itself a joint tribute to saxophone titan Pharoah Sanders and the genius pianist McCoy Tyner, and then comes the dreamy ambiance within Flower Power, the Latin-influenced hipsway of Good People, the album rounding out on the gentle, late night balladry of Sweet Dreams, closing on the boisterously determined Resistance (a song about resisting all the negative forces that we must encounter in the world today).
Official Purchase Links
Title - Halloween Nuggets: Haunted Underground Classics
Artist - Various
For those unaware, the brand new album Halloween Nuggets: Haunted Underground Classics features eighteen spooky rock ’n’ roll deep cuts from the 1950s and 1960s, alongside three classic horror movie trailers!
Also featuring a cover illustration by NYC cartoonist Cliff Mott it will be available on August 19th, 2022 (via Rock Beat/Liberation Hall) as a CD, Digital and more importantly, a Limited Edition neon orange vinyl LP!
Trust me when I say this is the ULTIMATE Halloween-themed novelty rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack, featuring witches, ghouls, teenage monsters, graveyards, haunted houses, devils, ghosts, and zombies that you will ever need!
1. The Keytones - I Was a Teenage Monster
2. Ervinna & the Stylers - Witch Queen of New Orleans
3. Bobby Bare - Vampira
4. Jim Burgett - Jekyll and Hyde
5. ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ Trailer
6. The Invasion - The Invasion Is Coming
7. Johnny Fraser & the Regalaires - It
8. Jackie Morningstar - Rockin’ in the Graveyard
9. The Phantom Five - Graveyard
10. The Vettes - Devil Driver’s Theme
11. Kenny & the Fiends - House on Haunted Hill
12. The Shades - Strolling After Dark
13. The Elites - Jack the Ripper
14. Billy Ghoulston - Graveyard Stomp
15. ‘The Blob’ Trailer
16. The Graveyard Five - Marble Orchard
17. Larry & the Blue Notes - Night of the Sadist
18. Jericho Jones - Black Magic
19. Richard Rome - Ghost A’ Go Go
20. The Contrails - Mummy Walk (Walking Death)
21. ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ Trailer
Opening on the drum-led, funky brilliance of The Keytones’ I Was a Teenage Monster and coming complete with a blood curdling scream, the rock n roll of the foot tapping Ervinna & the Stylers Witch Queen of New Orleans, we then get to hear the hand-clapper from Bobby Bare in Vampira, the dance floor swirl of Jim Burgett’s Jekyll and Hyde, the one minute ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ movie trailer, and then comes the surf rock of The Invasion’s The Invasion Is Coming, the purposely ghastly, shambolic instrumental rock of Johnny Fraser & the Regalaires’ It, before we are given the groovy rock of Jackie Morningstar’s Rockin’ in the Graveyard, The Phantom Five’s soaring surf rock instrumental Graveyard and the laid back, atmospherically charged instrumental The Vettes’ track Devil Driver’s Theme.
Opening on yet another blood curdling scream, the drum-led, surfer rock instrumental House on Haunted Hill by Kenny & the Fiends and the low ebb, bass and horn-imbued rock instrumental work within The Shades’ Strolling After Dark, they are in turn followed seamlessly by the light and airy rock of The Elites’ Jack the Ripper, the finger-snapping hipsway of Billy Ghoulston’s Graveyard Stomp, The Blob movie trailer, the pulsating rhythms within The Graveyard Five’s Marble Orchard, the upbeat pop-rock bounce of Larry & the Blue Notes’ Night of the Sadist, the album rounding out on the Elvis-esque imbued Jericho Jones hit Black Magic, Richard Rome’s mid-tempo psych rock instrumental Ghost A’ Go Go, the music coming to a close on the seasonally effective, Hammond melodies within The Contrails’ Mummy Walk (Walking Death), and the movie trailer from ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon.’
Official Purchase Link
Title - We’re Still Here
Artist - NYO Jazz
Carnegie Hall today announced the release of NYO Jazz’s first full-length studio album, We’re Still Here, featuring Artistic Director and Bandleader/trumpeter Sean Jones and special guest Melissa Aldana on tenor saxophone, plus an appearance by trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, available on June 24th, 2022.
The album will be released by Platoon and will be available for digital download and on all streaming platforms in standard and Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio formats.
One of Carnegie Hall’s three acclaimed national youth ensembles, NYO Jazz—comprising outstanding young musicians ages 16–19 from across the United States—showcases the legacy and bright future of American jazz.
Created in 2018 by the Hall’s Weill Music Institute, NYO Jazz annually brings together some of the nation’s finest teen jazz musicians to train, perform, and tour with world-class jazz masters while also serving as music ambassadors for their country.
“You close your eyes and think they’re all 20 years older than they are,” said Sean Jones who pays it forward through his passionate leadership of NYO Jazz, carrying on the tradition of mentorship in jazz.
We’re Still Here features four new works written for the band since its inception, a range of classic and contemporary charts that are hallmarks of its live concerts, and works exploring themes that include social justice, resilience, and the power of music to spark joy.
The four Carnegie Hall-commissioned works on the album are: “Run with Jones” by Miguel Zenón, featuring Melissa Aldana as soloist; “Mr. Jones and Co.” by Ayn Inserto, featuring Jones as soloist; “Fête dans la Tête” by John Beasley; and “RPM’s” by Igmar Thomas.
In addition to these commissions, among the album highlights include: “We’re Still Here” by—and featuring—trombonist and NYO Jazz faculty member Wycliffe Gordon, which has become the band’s rousing encore theme song; hence, the album’s title; “The Art of War” by Ralph Peterson; “Oyelo” by Zenón, featuring Aldana as soloist; “A Taste of Honey” by Duke Pearson; “Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool” by Duke Ellington, arranged by NYO Jazz ensemble coach Reginald Thomas; and “Transitions” by Jones.
The album—recorded during the ensemble’s summer 2021 training residency at Purchase College, State University of New York, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic—is a declaration of resilience and longevity.
A summer that began with the disappointment of a year without touring evolved into the opportunity to create this 97-minute showcase of the incredible artistry and enormous versatility of this remarkable ensemble, a recording poised to reach audiences around the world just as the ensemble resumes touring this summer 2022 (US tour dates to be announced this spring).
1. Oyelo (Miguel Zenón)
2. Mr. Jones and Co. (Ayn Inserto; 2019 NYO Jazz commission)
3. Bedouin (Duke Pearson)
4. We’re Still Here / He’s Alright (Wycliffe Gordon)
5. Fête dans la tête (John Beasley; 2020 NYO Jazz commission)
6. Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool (Duke Ellington and Laura Rembert, arr. Reginald Thomas)
7. RPM’s (Igmar Thomas; 2021 NYO Jazz commission)
8. Run with Jones (Miguel Zenón; 2018 NYO Jazz commission)
9. Cute (Neal Hefti)
10. The Art of War (Ralph Peterson)
11. Transitions (Sean Jones)
Produced by NYO Jazz Artistic Director Sean Jones and recorded at The Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, this vibrantly heartfelt new album opens on the euphoniously-crafted, organically-grown Oyelo and the frenzied skittle-skattle of Mr. Jones and Co. and then we get the delicate gossamer of the veritably shimmering one minute, triumphant and standing tall the next Bedouin, the counted in, playfully fun and eagerly animated We’re Still Here / He’s Alright and then the keen bounce of Fête dans la tête.
Up next is one of my own personal favorites from this new recording, the laid low, at first, then boldly resolute musical jousting within Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool and that is itself backed by the gently frenetic, deliriously smooth RPM’s, the cultured jazz of Run with Jones, the album rounding out with the finger-snapping, toe-tapping melodies of Cute, the trumpet-led magnificence of The Art of War, closing on the triumphant rhythms and layered, melodic harmonies within Transitions (Sean Jones).
“We’re thrilled for NYO Jazz to release its debut album this spring—the first recording by any of our national youth ensembles,” said Sarah Johnson, Chief Education Officer and Director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for these gifted young players to train, perform, and now record alongside some of today’s leading jazz artists including special guest Melissa Aldana.”
“It was especially meaningful for the musicians to gather for an extended residency last summer as it marked the first time many of them had the opportunity to come together to play in a full ensemble since the start of the pandemic.”
“With We’re Still Here, we are proud to showcase the incredible depth of talent and high level of musicianship of these standout jazz musicians from across the country who will help ensure one of America’s quintessential art forms is preserved for generations to come.”
“The big band has always been America’s orchestral format and one of the most wide-ranging ensembles ever devised,”
said Jones, NYO Jazz’s Artistic Director and Bandleader. “It can convey nearly any style of music in a sonically stimulating and interactive way. This recording exhibits that diversity by placing classics by Duke Ellington and Neil Hefti alongside pieces that utilize the big band as a vehicle for contemporary American music and represent a wide variety of genres.”
This summer, NYO Jazz embarks on its first-ever US tour after performing at Carnegie Hall on July 28, 2022, with special guest vocalist Jazzmeia Horn. It follows successful international tours by NYO Jazz including a 2018 inaugural European tour with Dianne Reeves as special guest, and the ensemble’s debut tour to Asia in 2019 with Kurt Elling as special guest.
Although NYO Jazz was unable to travel during the past two years, the musicians convened virtually during the summer of 2020 and at Purchase College, just north of New York City, in summer 2021, rehearsing and recording a wide range of repertoire, including this debut album.
Melissa Aldana appears courtesy of Blue Note Records.
Wycliffe Gordon appears courtesy of BluesBack Records.
Official Purchase Links
Title - Glory Daze [EP]
Artist - Rachel McIntyre Smith
With her lyrically driven songs, Rachel McIntyre Smith’s comfort twang music reminds listeners of the classics while also adding a relevant and fresh perspective.
Three Chords Country writes that her “flair for storytelling and her killer voice set her head and shoulders above the rest.”
Raised in the small East Tennessee town of Oliver Springs, Rachel began intensive piano training at 9 years old. She won the Tennessee State Piano Competition twice and earned the Paderewski Medal for Guild for 10 years of superior ratings in a row.
This strong background of music theory allowed Rachel to excel in other areas of music. She taught herself ukulele and guitar and also served as clarinet section leader in her school band.
Although she always dreamed of being a singer, her bashfulness kept her from singing in public until she was a junior in high school. She made her debut singing “Please Mister Postman” in the high school theater arts production of “Ducktails & Bobby Socks.”
She went on to study Communications and Spanish at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. There she learned web design, graphic design, social media marketing, videography, and other skills needed in order to succeed in a world where all musicians have to double as content creators.
Some of her first original songs were “The Kitten Song” (an ode to a rescued kitten) and “Miss Highfalutin” (a cheeky song poking fun at condescending people). Upon graduating from college, she compiled 13 demos of her original music and began sending them to venues.
Due to the quirky subject matter of “The Kitten Song,” she became a regular performer at cat cafes. “It’s like playing a cozy house show with 30 or so cats,” comments Rachel. “It’s amazing.” In early 2020, she launched a concert tour of those feline-friendly venues.
Rachel began working with producer Dran Michael in the fall of 2020. Since the beginning of their partnership, Rachel has released several singles and is set to release her debut EP, Glory Daze, in the fall of 2022.
After the title track, “Glory Daze,” went viral on TikTok, Rachel saw her audience double in a matter of days. People compared her songwriting to the stylings of country music legends, including Dolly Parton, Brandi Carlile, and Linda Ronstadt.
Her brightly colored style, smooth vocals, and small-town charm leave a lasting impact on audiences. Today’s Country Magazine states, “She has absolutely been turning heads with her incredibly witty lyrics and vintage vibe.”
Rachel’s had the privilege to share the stage with some impressive names in country music, including Lee Roy Parnell, Larry Fleet, Paul Thorn, and Caleb Lee Hutchinson, who called Rachel’s debut single, “High School Reunion,” “Real country music, smart wordplay, excellently written and sung even better.
1. Glory Daze
2. Queen Of Our Hometown
3. The Woulds
4. First Love
5. Miss Highfalutin
6. High School Reunion
Opening on the languishingly beautiful, dulcet, yet threaded with rainbows of aching color, titular Glory Daze, a simply magnificent, Summer’s molasses haze of a track, that is backed by the spirited energy within the solar-powered Queen Of Our Hometown and then we get the joyous country-pop, balladry bounce of the cartwheeling The Woulds.
Up next is one of my own personal favorites from this stunning new EP, the charmingly delicate, yet fearlessly astute, mid-tempo ballad First Love, before we are brought forth the twanging, thigh-slapping, foot-tapping, social media-imbibed Miss Highfalutin, coming to a close on the cheerfully blessed High School Reunion.
Glory Daze- Rachel McIntyre Smith (Official Lyric Video)
The Woulds (Official Audio) - Rachel McIntyre Smith
Miss Highfalutin (Official Audio) - Rachel McIntyre Smith
Rachel McIntyre Smith @ Facebook
Rachel McIntyre Smith @ Instagram
Rachel McIntyre Smith @ YouTube
Title - True Treasures
Artist - Leroy Van Dyke
Leroy Van Dyke’s True Treasures album has been released by Country Rewind Records. Many people remember the Leroy Van Dyke Show and his role as a co-host on the Country Crossroads with legendary DJ Bill Mack for 10 years which aired on WBAP radio syndicated to 800 stations and is a part of radio history.
The exposure brought to his name via the radio and TV shows were instrumental Leroy becoming a household name. Leroy is literally a living piece of country music history and as we all know there are very few of his generation left.
“I thank each and every person on the label, all of whom did masterful work in their respective aspects of this product’s development. The attention to detail and professionalism is superb, and I know our country music fans will treasure it,” expressed LeRoy Van Dyke.
“These true unreleased treasures have been skillfully brought up to 21st century standards by producer Paul Martin, for a new generation of country fans and his longtime fans of the past. Leroy has had an amazing musical career that started in 1956 and is still going strong,” shared Executive Producer Thomas Gramuglia.
1. Walk On By
2. Oklahoma Hills
2. Just A State Of Mind
4. If A Woman Answers (Hang Up The Phone)
5. San Antonio Rose
6. You Couldn’t Get My Love Back (If You Tried)
7. Anytime-Oh Lonesome Me (Medley)
8. Be A Good Girl (Til I Get Back In Town)
9. I’ve Never Been Loved
11. The Other Boys Are Talking
12. The Last Letter
13. The Auctioneer
14. Big, Wide Wonderful World Of Country Music
15. Ol’ Man Mose
Opening on the joyous bounce of both Walk On By and the lushly orchestrated country-pop of Oklahoma Hills, they are in turn followed by the mid-tempo balladry of Just A State Of Mind, the lovingly upbeat storytelling of marriage within If A Woman Answers (Hang Up The Phone), the rambunctious San Antonio Rose, the stern foot-tapper and tambourine-slapped You Couldn’t Get My Love Back (If You Tried), and then we get the beautiful balladry of Anytime-Oh Lonesome Me (Medley) and the rhythmically melodic Be A Good Girl (Til I Get Back In Town).
Next up is the delightful ballad I’ve Never Been Loved and the playfully perky guitar work of Hank Williams’ Jambalaya and they are in turn backed smoothly by the free flowing country-pop of The Other Boys Are Talking, the lonesome, aching ode within The Last Letter, the fast-talking The Auctioneer, the album rounding out on the expansive, Elvis-esque Big, Wide Wonderful World Of Country Music, closing on the melodic storytelling within Ol’ Man Mose.
This unique album includes a stellar rendition of “The Auctioneer” and "Walk On By" along with many more great songs. These recordings were made exclusively for radio airplay and were never previously commercially available - until now. Long thought to be lost, the original master tapes were “rescued” by executive producer and president of Country Rewind Records, Thomas Gramuglia, and placed in the experienced hands of producer Paul Martin, who skillfully brought the recordings up to twenty-first century standards of audio quality.
Leroy Van Dyke is one of the true treasures of country music. In a remarkable career spanning more than six decades, he has recorded hundreds of songs and has continually toured, both in the USA and overseas, to worldwide acclaim. Van Dyke’s amazing musical career was launched in 1956 with the iconic song “The Auctioneer,” entertaining thousands of his fellow servicemen as an opening act for Marilyn Monroe, becoming the only country music personality to do so.
Upon returning to civilian life he began working as a journalist. While doing so his recording of “The Auctioneer” became an immediate million-selling hit, and he became a regular member of Red Foley’s “Ozark Jubilee” on ABC-TV, remaining until the end of the show’s run.
He then moved to Nashville and shortly after that joined the Grand Ole Opry. Proving he was not a “one-hit-wonder” he followed up with a hit recording of “Just Walk On By” which remained on the charts for a remarkable 42 weeks, including 19 weeks at number one. Billboard would later name his “Walk On By” the biggest country record of all time, based on sales, plays and number of weeks in the charts.
Leroy became a multimedia star before the phrase was invented. In addition to a stellar recording career, he would co-host “Country Crossroads,” the most widely-syndicated show in radio history, host “The Leroy Van Dyke Show” on syndicated television and become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
On the big screen, he starred in the 1967 movie “What Am I Bid?” that also featured his cousin Ray Sims as an auctioneer. He was also the first country artist to headline a fully-produced, self-contained, choreographed country music show on the famed Strip in Las Vegas.
The only thing to slow him down at age 92 was the global pandemic. Now we can once again enjoy his unmistakable voice on this collection of unique recordings.
Official Purchase Link
Official Facebook Page
Title - The Lost Souvenir Collection
Artist - Hank Snow
Country Rewind Records has announced the release of Hank Snow’s The Lost Souvenir Collection with Special Guest Artist Jimmie Snow.
Country Rewind Records is proud to present a special collection of newly discovered recordings from “The Singing Ranger,” Hank Snow.
One of country music’s most gifted performers who has influenced several generations of musicians. He was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1978 and was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979. He was also recognized by the Nova Scotia Music Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.
He passed away December 20, 1999. His son, Jimmie Snow, was quite pleased to hear these songs 45 years later and be in the studio while the additions and the updates were completed. This album is a tribute to Hank’s long and illustrious career.
1. Down The Trail Of Aching Hearts
2. I Don’t Hurt Anymore
3. The Rhumba Boogie
4. How Do You Think I Feel*
5. Tangled Mind
6. The Wreck Of The Old ’97
7. Conscience I’m Guilty
9. Calypso Sweetheart
10. Loose Talk
11. Among My Souvenirs
14. Hobo Bill’s Last Ride
15. Tell The World He’s Coming*
16. Me And My Fiddle (Inst.)
* performed by Jimmie Snow
Opening on the aptly-named Down The Trail Of Aching Hearts and the lonesome ode I Don’t Hurt Anymore, up next is one of my own personal favorites, the upbeat and lush hipsway of The Rhumba Boogie, the Jimmie Snow-performed beauty How Do You Think I Feel, the mid-tempo balladry of Tangled Mind, the atmospherically-charged The Wreck Of The Old ’97, and then we get the laid back Conscience I’m Guilty and the stunning ballad from Jimmie Snow, Precious.
Next up is the flirtatiously playful Calypso Sweetheart and the finger-snapping, toe-tapping Loose Talk, and they are in turn backed by the yearning ache within Among My Souvenirs, the Jimmie Snow-sung Rainbow, then comes the gently frenetic Caribbean, the album rounding out on the troubadour storytelling of Hobo Bill’s Last Ride, the gentle drum and harmonica-led Tell The World He’s Coming (again from Jimmie Snow), coming to a close on the delightfully ambient instrumental Me And My Fiddle.
Clarence Eugene “Hank” Snow was born May 9, 1914 in Brooklyn, Nova Scotia, Canada. The country and honky tonk music artist boasted several number one hits, including the self-penned “I’m Moving On,” “The Rhumba Boogie” and “The Golden Rocket,” as well as popular versions of “I’ve Been Everywhere,” “Hello Love,” “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” and “Let Me Go, Lover!”
An accomplished songwriter known for his clear baritone voice, Snow’s songs touched a wide variety of subjects, from the anguish of tortured love to the joys of freedom and travel. With songs inspired by his impoverished beginnings during the Great Depression in Nova Scotia, Snow was encouraged to pursue his dream of becoming a famous singer, like his idol Jimmie Rodgers, by his mother, who was also musically talented.
The recipient of numerous awards and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Hank Snow earned legendary status by overcoming adversity and becoming one of the most influential artists of all time.
If you are a fan of classic Country, you know the name Hank Snow, and if you are a Hank Snow fan, you’ll recognize many of the song titles on this album. But you have never heard Hank or these songs the way you will hear them on this unique collection!
In 1949, Hank made the big move to Nashville, Tennessee, and began recording songs for RCA Victor. As was the case with many future stars, his big break came in 1950 when he was invited to play on The Grand Ole Opry, whose radio broadcasts were heard over much of the USA.
He quickly established a reputation as a singer and guitar player, noted for his flamboyant sequined stage outfits. He was also a prolific and successful songwriter, writing many of the songs heard on the 80 million albums that he sold over his long career.
This special collection of songs was recorded at Eastside Manor Studio in Nashville, Tennessee with Executive Producer Thomas Gramuglia and Producer Rex Allen, Jr., for Boxer Productions. Aaron Dethrage served as re-recording and mastering engineer. Studio musicians included Dug Grieves on electric guitar, Joshua Cobb on drums and Kristen Rogers provided background vocals.
"Special thanks to Jimmie Snow and Rex Allen, Jr. for their help in making this special project come together,” expressed Executive Producer Thomas Gramuglia.
Official Purchase Link
Official Facebook Page
Title - A Country Boy Singing His Heart Out
Artist - Webb Pierce
A new album, Webb Pierce’s A Country Boy Singing His Heart Out, has been released by Country Rewind Records featuring the hit singles There Stands The Glass and I Ain’t Never along with 13 other favorites.
The audio quality on these tracks has been upgraded and additional instrumentation has been added to set the release apart from the other albums out there.
Perhaps the following quote best sums up Pierce’s remarkable appeal: “A honky-tonk innovator, Webb Pierce was a fine singer, responsible for many of the hardest-cutting and daring recordings of honky-tonk’s golden age. His revival of Jimmie Rodgers’ In the Jailhouse Now was the bridge between the country’s hillbilly roots of the 1930s and the burgeoning rockabilly of the 1950s,” reflected Alan Cackett - author, country music historian, and 47th member of the British Country Music Hall of Fame.
This one-of-a-kind record contains recordings that were never intended for commercial release and were believed to have been lost or forgotten. They are recordings that Pierce made solely for radio airplay, and stations frequently just discarded them after they were aired. Country Rewind Records founder, Thomas Gramuglia, rescued the master tapes and entrusted producer Rex Allen, Jr. and engineer Aaron Dethrage with the task of bringing the audio quality up to twenty-first century standards.
Webb Pierce was the most popular vocalist of the 1950s, holding the distinction of charting more number one hits than similar artists like Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Eddy Arnold and Lefty Frizzell.
1. I Ain’t Never
2. Why Baby Why
3. I Don’t Care
6. Memory #1
7. Back Street Affair
8. There Stands The Glass
9. That Heart Belongs To Me
10. I’m Walking The Dog
11. Fool, Fool, Fool
12. Yes, I Know Why
13. How Do You Talk To A Baby
14. Goodbye City, Goodbye Girl
15. It’s My Way
Opening on the foot-tapping, melodious beauty I Ain’t Never and the free flowing Why Baby Why, they are in turn followed seamlessly by the lonesome ode within I Don’t Care, the aching yearn of Slowly, the openhearted Wondering, the twanging Memory #1, and then we get the mid-tempo balladry of Back Street Affair and the slow, piano-imbued roll of There Stands The Glass.
Next up is the flirtatiously loving That Heart Belongs To Me and the thigh slapper I’m Walking The Dog and they are in turn followed by the low slung, lush balladry of Fool, Fool, Fool, the euphonious Yes, I Know Why, the album rounding out on the rhythmic ache within How Do You Talk To A Baby, the troubadour-imbibed Goodbye City, Goodbye Girl, coming to a close on the melodic, harmoniously-layered It’s My Way.
Webb Pierce was the most popular vocalist of the 1950s. He holds the distinction of charting more number one hits than similar artists like Hank Williams, Eddy Arnold, Ernest Tubb and Lefty Frizzell. Pierce was the quintessential honky-tonk artist known for his unique vocal styling and guitar playing, as well as his signature rhinestone-encrusted, lavish and flamboyant Nudie suits.
Many of his songs would reign atop the country charts for multiple weeks, making him the most recognizable face of country music. Webb called his style “a country boy singing his heart out” and if you are a fan of the “Honky-Tonk Country” style, you know that’s an accurate description of his pure hillbilly twang with overtones of the country & western music of the era.
It was a styling he was to use for most of his career. Today, many people remember Pierce for his extravagant lifestyle, his guitar-shaped swimming pool and his 1962 Pontiac with its steer-horn hood ornament and pistols on the doors and fenders, which is now on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The project, distributed by Select-O-Hits, was recorded at Eastside Manor Studio in Nashville with Executive Producer Thomas Gramuglia and re-recording and mastering were done by Aaron Dethrage. Musicians on the record included Dug Grieves (electric guitar), Ernie Reed (fiddle), Rex Allen, Jr. (acoustic guitar) and Diane Manon, Deegee McCall, Ben Hall and Rex Allen, Jr. (background vocals).
“Bringing back these long-lost recordings means so much to me,” said Thomas Gramuglia. “Hearing Webb’s voice and guitar playing again is truly a joy. This one-of-a-kind album contains recordings that were believed to be lost or forgotten. Webb was one of the most popular honky-tonk vocalists of the 50s. These updated recordings will really bring joy to any classic country fan," stated Executive Producer Thomas Gramuglia.
Official Purchase Link
Official Facebook Page
Title - When A Boy Falls In Love [Vinyl LP]
Artist - Mel Carter
For those unaware, Mel Carter’s first full-length album, When A Boy Falls In Love, originally released in 1963, will be back in print in May 2022.
ABKCO, steward of Sam Cooke’s SAR Records catalog of which this title is part, has announced that the album, including the hit title track and 11 other selections will be available on LP, while the CD and digital releases will contain bonus material.
When A Boy Falls In Love originally awarded 4-stars by Billboard, has long been unavailable and much sought after by collectors over the decades since its initial release 58 years ago.
Like Sam Cooke, Mel Carter’s roots are in gospel music. He was a prodigy whose first recordings were made when he was a child in his hometown of Cincinnati. The two first met in the early 1950s, when Carter’s group The Robert Anderson Singers shared a bill with Cooke’s group The Soul Stirrers while touring on the gospel circuit.
Years later, Mel Carter moved to Los Angeles and reconnected with Cooke who was one of the biggest names in the business. Cooke, along with manager J.W. Alexander and former Soul Stirrer Senior Roy Crain had started SAR Records in 1959 and it was the label home of numerous artists including, 16-year-old Billy Preston, gospel stars The Soul Stirrers, The Valentinos, a group consisting of Bobby Womack and his four brothers, soul man Johnnie Morisette, Sam’s brother L.C. Cooke, and secular R&B recordings by Johnnie Taylor who came to SAR with The Soul Stirrers.
J.W. Alexander saw Carter at a downtown Los Angeles jazz club and suggested he come to SAR’s office on Hollywood Boulevard. Carter showed up the next day and Cooke soon signed him to a recording contract.
1. Time Of Young Love (2:51)
2. We’ll Bless Each Day With Our Love (2:38)
3. So Wonderful (1:56)
4. When I Fall In Love (2:37)
5. Twelfth Of Never (2:39)
6. Why I Call Her Mine (2:20)
7. When A Boy Falls In Love (2:55)
8. Hold Me (2:25)
9. For Your Love (2:09)
10. Wonderful Love (2:17)
11. After The Parting The Meeting Is Sweeter (2:28)
12. You Can Count On Me (3:13)
This beautifully crafted, wholesome and heartfelt flashback of an album that is, still today, the epitome of all love songs, opens on the smooth balladry of Time Of Young Love and the gentle toe-tapper We’ll Bless Each Day With Our Love and they are in turned followed by the euphoniously delicious So Wonderful, the soon-to-become, aching standard When I Fall In Love, the first side of this vinyl LP rounding out with the lullaby-esque Twelfth Of Never and the mid-tempo hipsway of Why I Call Her Mine.
The second side opens on the lushly orchestrated, educational, Sam Cooke cover When A Boy Falls In Love and the dancefloor swirl of Hold Me and they are both in turn backed seamlessly by the reaching yearn of For Your Love, then comes the playfully perky pop bounce within Wonderful Love, the recording coming to a close on the forthrightly earnest After The Parting The Meeting Is Sweeter and the finger-snapping, hip-shuffling, velvety tones of Carter on You Can Count On Me.
Now in his early 80s, Carter recalls, “Sam liked my phrasing as I was as adept as he was at fitting the lyric to the melody.” Cooke wrote “When A Boy Falls In Love” and arranged for Carter to track it at United Recording in Hollywood with J. W. Alexander and Fred Smith producing. The February 25, 1963 session was engineered by Bones Howe, who would later work with a wide range of artists including The 5th Dimension, Johnny Rivers, Elvis Presley and Tom Waits.
“When a Boy Falls In Love” was not released on SAR, but rather on the newly established Derby label that Cooke and Alexander, at the urging of SAR office manager Zelda Samuels (and Carter’s future manager), had earmarked for pop-oriented material. By the time summer ended, the single had spent ten weeks on both the Pop and R&B charts and was named a “Breakout Single” by Billboard in June 1963.
To this day, Carter delights in noting, “It was the first crossover record from a black-owned company.” Wink Martindale, the disc jockey who was one of the first to play Elvis Presley on the air in1954 when he was with WHBQ in Memphis, was a popular personality at KFWB, the powerhouse LA Top 40 radio station whose studios were down the street from SAR’s Hollywood office.
Underscoring Mel Carter’s pop/crossover appeal, Martindale was enlisted to write the album’s liner notes, included with the faithfully restored package. R&B scholar Bill Dahl has been enlisted to add current-day liner notes to the LP and CD packages.
The success of “When A Boy Falls In Love,” which spent 10 weeks on the pop chart, begat a full 12-track album, set for reissue under its original title. Produced by Cooke and Alexander, the album includes songs written by Cooke, Alexander, and Samuels as well as some pop standards and “Why I Call Her Mine,” a Mel Carter original composition that would be issued as a single in 1963.
Carter performed “When A Boy Falls In Love” on numerous TV shows including Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, but he was back in Cincinnati when he first heard the song on the radio while cruising Central Avenue in a car full of friends. They screeched to a halt with Mel and friends exiting the vehicle, but not before turning the radio up for all the passers-by to hear his hit.
Today, Mel Carter, who went onto a career marked by a massive hit record (“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me”) and as an actor with roles on such TV shows as Sanford and Son, Marcus Welby, M.D. and Magnum, P.I., recalls his days at SAR/Derby with great fondness. “Sam Cooke was like an older brother to me; he took care of everybody at the label. It was really like a family for us.”
Official Purchase Links
Title - American Dust
Artist - Chris Berardo & The DesBerardos
For those unaware, Chris Berardo’s latest album is also his oldest for the New York-born/Connecticut-based singer-songwriter recorded American Dust in 1997.
For its 25th anniversary, Berardo is releasing it digitally for the first time on September 27th, with the first single, Old Man’s Eyes, available across digital media platforms on August 26th.
When Berardo first started performing around New York City in the 80’s he attracted the attention of superstar manager Bill Aucoin (Kiss, Billy Idol), who offered his help and encouragement. Berardo’s bands were always on the verge, but never broke through.
Aucoin helped Berardo move to Los Angeles and get situated in L.A.’s music scene. Berardo honed his songwriting craft working with hit songwriter/producer/ Songwriter’s Hall of Fame member Bob Crewe (Four Seasons, LaBelle).
Returning to New York from Los Angeles, he put together a band with an assortment of New York and Connecticut musicians, including his brothers Marc and Scott, mandolin/lap steel player, and the co-producer of American Dust, Dick Neal (who has produced and played on several subsequent Berardo albums), and bassist Tom Marotta (Indigo Girls). “There was no budget; there was no plan,” Berardo admits. “I just wanted to document this stuff.”
Pristine sound isn’t the point of American Dust. It’s an album about an artist rediscovering the joy of creating music for the sheer love of it. A prime example is the sole live track, Still Your Friend. Recorded at 3 am in Larchmont, NY’s Cellar Bar, as an acoustic duo with his brother Marc, and at the end of the band’s second gig of the day, the track has uneven sound, bar room sounding performance, but it conveys the wholehearted exuberance that is only achieved after a group and its audience are locked in.
The recording is significant to Berardo because “it is just the sort of thing that made me realize what’s good about bringing music to people directly.”
1. American Dust
2. Old Man’s Eyes
3. One Step Closer to Goodbye
4. The Top of the Stairs
5. Is There Anybody Out There
6. Somewhere Down the Line
7. Hard Times for the Lonely
8. She’s Leaving Me
9. Still Your Friend
10. One Chance
Opening on the roots rockin’ acoustic and electric guitar feast that makes up the titular American Dust and the heartwarming, highly personal ode within Old Man’s Eyes, they are seamlessly backed by the Eagles-esque, mid-tempo, balladeering harmonies within One Step Closer to Goodbye, the aching yearn of The Top of the Stairs and then comes the uptempo, yet gentle rocker Is There Anybody Out There.
Next up is the porch swing summer vibe within Somewhere Down the Line and the slow melodic rock of Hard Times for the Lonely which are themselves in turn followed by the heartfelt melodies within She’s Leaving Me, the album rounding out on the acoustically live, near seven minute balladry of Still Your Friend, coming to a close on the foot-tapping storytelling within One Chance.
Of late, Berardo has released a series of singles. His song Somewhere Blue, as well as a knock-out cover of the Badfinger classic Baby Blue, and his gorgeous original holiday tune This Year. These songs were all done in collaboration with longtime Reckless Kelly guitarist, David Abeyta, who also produced Berardo’s upcoming full-length album which will be released in the near future.
Although American Dust has been available over the years, it has been only on a small scale - like merch stands. It’s understandable why Berardo is excited about bringing these songs, which come from such a pivotal time in his career and life, to a larger audience.
“When I hear American Dust, it actually gives me a wonderful feeling,” he confides. “I think, well look at this: you wrote 10 songs you’re really proud of, recorded them, and started a cool band that’s lasted essentially to this day. So that gives me a very happy feeling.”
Official Purchase Links
Official Facebook Page
Title - Manhattan Whispers
Artist - Yola Nash
For those unaware, Yola Nash’s new album Manhattan Whispers blends and blurs the lines between Jazz, Pop, Latin and Eastern European colors as she expertly crafts a personal musical style that is simply irresistible.
Indeed, it is the Polish-born jazz singer-songwriter’s eagerly awaited third studio album as a leader and she produced the project with Grammy-winning musicians and producers Edsel Gomez (Dee Dee Bridgewater) and Lonnie Park.
The unique smooth jazz artist’s style is stamped with her signature seductive sound, and her exotic delivery is flavored with Eastern European folk and brilliantly anchored in the Latin grooves.
Furthermore, Yola wrote all of the lyrics for eight of the nine songs, the lone song on Manhattan Whispers not penned by Yola being Truth Tango, a cabaret-like track that she describes as “musical exploration.”
Indeed, it is set to a beautiful theatrical poem by an award-winning Poet, Writer, Poetry Film Director, Fella Cederbaum, the music written by the author, a unique musical collaboration of which Yola is so very proud of having on her new album.
1. Manhattan Whispers
2. Lovers In Paris
3. Still Love You
4. World On Fire
5. Pray For Love
6. Angel’s Tears
7. So In Love
8. Truth Tango
9. Wonderful Life
This lushly orchestrated, delightfully Parisian in its overall construction, infectiously-imbibed, Latin-tinged work of musical art opens on the titular Manhattan Whispers and that Parisian-embodiment continues onward within the dance floor rumba Lovers In Paris and the swing embodiment of Still Love You, with the, at first, aching balladry, the next a fully upbeat and melodious ride within World On Fire and the gentle roustabout of Pray For Love both along next.
Next up on Yola’s quite stunning new album is the heartfelt yearning within the ballad Angel’s Tears which is itself followed by the buoyant jazz-pop vibe of So In Love, the album rounding out on the forthright melodies and rhythms within the aptly-named Truth Tango, coming to a close on the beautifully harmonic coming together of her multi-faceted skill set on Wonderful Life.
She is also joined on the album by the masterful pianist Edsel Gomez who serves as her music director. Gomez tailored powerful musical soundscapes around the award-winning jazz chanteuse’s passionate vocals. Also on the album are Grammy nominated accordionist Alex Meixner, guitarist Graham Keir, bassist Dave Baron, and Grammy–winning drummer-percussionist Luisito Quintero (Chick Corea).
Yola Nash - Manhattan Whispers [Official Music Video]
Official Facebook Page
Title - From A Window To A Screen
Artist - Kirsten Lambert
For those unaware, From a Window to a Screen is the debut album by North Carolina chanteuse Kirsten Lambert.
Produced and written by noted producer Chris Stamey, the predominantly acoustic jazz collection features performances by Bill Frisell (guitar) and a North Carolina jazz dream team of Will Campbell (saxes), John Brown (bass), Jim Crew (piano), and Dan Davis (drums), along with special appearances by Nels Cline (treated and untreated guitars), Django Haskins (harmonies), Brent Lambert (nylon-string guitar), Allyn Love (steel), Matt Douglas (bass clarinet), and James Wallace (additional drums).
Recorded in performance at the renowned Fidelitorium Studio and then completed at Modern Recording, the album is finally due out October 28th, 2022.
I like finding the moment a song goes from hopeful to heartache, Kirsten says of her upcoming release, which features new songs Stamey wrote especially for this outing. These, including What Is this Music that I Hear? and the bossa nova-styled waltz The Woman Who Walks the Sea, join others reimagined from his earlier catalog, including the smoky, noir title cut (which itself might well have been a reimagining of the old Icicle Works album From A Whisper To A Scream).
Although optimism is at hand in uptempo numbers such as There’s Not a Cloud in the Sky, heartache is also not in short supply in reflective ballads such as 27 Years in a Single Day and I Didn’t Mean to Fall in Love with You.
And Lambert’s effortless and highly personal interpretations display an intimate knowledge of the material; with her resonant and expressive alto, she has clearly made it her own.
1. What Is This Music That I Hear?
2. On An Evening Such As This
3. The Woman Who Walks The Sea
4. Occasional Shivers
6. Song For Johnny Cash
7. I Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love With You
8. There’s Not A Cloud In The Sky
9. From A Window To A Screen
10. There’s A Love
11. 27 Years In A Single Day
12. And I Love Him
This ornately sculptured, Karen Carpenter-esque imbibed album of pure, and unadulterated light jazz gossamer from the North Carolina chanteuse Kirsten Lambert opens on the simply breathtaking What Is This Music That I Hear? and the lushly opulent On An Evening Such As This, and those are in turn followed by the sumptuous The Woman Who Walks The Sea, the breathy, late night smoky club vibe of Occasional Shivers, the veritably shimmering Insomnia (featuring Bill Frisell and Nels Cline), and then we get the gently luxuriant Song For Johnny Cash.
Along next is one of my own personal favorites from this debut set, the delicately dignified I Didn’t Mean To Fall In Love With You and the upbeat folly of the free flowing There’s Not A Cloud In The Sky, which are in turn followed by the lavishly cinematic, softly aureate musings within the titular From A Window To A Screen (featuring Bill Frisell), the softly endearing There’s A Love, the album rounding out all too soon on the quietly enigmatic, tender dance floor swirl of 27 Years In A Single Day, closing on the graceful balladry of And I Love Him.
Bill Frisell layers and weaves his distinctive hypnotic textures on Insomnia and steps up for a classic solo on the dB’s classic From a Window to a Screen.
The album’s melodic and lyrical twists harken back to the era of the Great American Songbook. In fact, its harmonic language would not be out of place in such a setting, and Stamey’s Nelson Riddle- and Gordon Jenkins-inspired string arrangements underline this kinship.
And Harry Connick, Jr.-alumni Will Campbell’s sax solos make every chordal connection catch fire, his improvisations, recorded live with the rest, seem both startling and inevitable.
Official Kirsten Lambert Trailer: From a Window to a Screen
Official Apple Purchase Link
Title - Music For Hope
Artist - Amjad Ali Khan-Wu Man
For those unaware, Pipa Virtuoso Wu Man and Sarod Grand Master Amjad Ali Khan blend Chinese and Indian music traditions on new recording Music for Hope, released by Zoho Records on September 23rd, 2022.
The cultural dominance of China and India in Asia stretches back thousands of years. Their musics are quite distinct though they share many significant features, especially highly developed modal systems.
Because these find their most sophisticated expression in single melodic lines, often improvised, it is often asserted that they lack harmony, but that is an over-simplification, as this recording demonstrates. Harmony means so many different things, not only within music theories, but also on a human level.
These musicians, from diverse musical traditions, are already seeking harmony by coming together to make a new music, and are finding it by responding to each other in their musical creativity. Harmony is a joining together of peoples and cultures, not just musical phrases and responses.
The principal aim of this project is to support the AAPI movement and raise awareness of its struggle, which can be seen as the restoration of harmony amid the discord created by discrimination, victimisation and violence. AAPI stands for Asian-American and Pacific Islander, a group that comprises dozens of ethnicities and many more languages and dialects, harmonised by their common objective of resisting discrimination.
The musicians expressing this power of music, transcending national boundaries, are leading virtuosi on their instruments, and all have ventured extensively into cross-cultural collaborations.
Both Wu Man and Shane Shanahan are founding members of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad project, and Wu Man remains an active touring and teaching member of the Silkroad Ensemble. Amjad Ali Khan and his two sons, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, represent the sixth and seventh generations of a family of sarod masters.
1. Stream Of Love
2. Rhythm Of Life
3. Beyond Borders
5. Of Tradition and Heritage
This heartfelt, and genuinely organic new album opens on the acutely melodic, spiritually Indian, veritably shimmering Stream Of Love and the more rhythmically-imbibed, Eastern-influenced Rhythm Of Life and they are seamlessly followed by the stoic, at times, almost ethereal for the most part, work within Beyond Borders, the album rounding out on the almost cinematic Maya, coming to a close on the gently frenetic mysticism’s within Of Tradition and Heritage.
To allow you into the thinking of the actual creators, here are their very own thoughts on each track: On Stream of Love, Wu Man, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash follow the Indian structure of a slow improvised opening section in free rhythm, in the pentatonic North Indian Raga Durga, to which Wu Man responds with improvisations in the corresponding Chinese pentatonic mode.
On Rhythm of Life, Wu Man, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash are joined by Shane Shanahan for a rhythmic composition and further improvisations in Raga Durga, with drum accompaniment.
In Beyond Borders, Amjad Ali Khan and Wu Man follow the same structure, starting with a slow improvised section in free rhythm, this time in the South Indian Raga Vachaspati, which uses a seven-note scale, with a sharp fourth and flat seventh, and a touch of the flat sixth. Wu Man effortlessly extends her pitch set accordingly in her improvisations, thereby dispelling the misconception that Chinese music is all pentatonic.
On Maya, Amjad Ali Khan and Wu Man are joined by Shane Shanahan for a rhythmic composition and further improvisations in Raga Vachaspati, with drum accompaniment.
In the final track Of Tradition and Heritage, the spirit of improvisation and search for new harmonies are perhaps at their freest. Amjad Ali Khan, Wu Man and Shane Shanahan combine melody and rhythm in the Raga Zila Kafi, a relatively flexible classical structure that uses a seven-note scale, akin to the D-mode, with the possibility of introducing sharpened or flattened versions of notes.
The five tracks on the recording capture the spontaneity of improvisation while retaining and honoring structural traditions. The project expanded to include contributions and improvisations from Mr. Ali Khan’s sons, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, who are seventh generation sarod musicians, and American percussionist Shane Shanahan.
Amjad Ali Khan sarod (3, 4, 5)
Wu Man pipa (1-5)
Amaan Ali Bangash sarod (1, 2)
Ayaan Ali Bangash sarod (1, 2)
Shane Shanahan percussion (5)
Despite obvious differences in appearance, the Indian sarod and Chinese pipa (Wu Man’s instrument) are leading members of the plucked lute extended family. The pipa is made of wood, pear-shaped, with a fretted fingerboard and four strings; the sarod has a narrower wooden body, covered with goatskin, and a fretless metal fingerboard, the key factor in enabling the slides that are essential to Indian music.
In addition to the playing strings there are drone strings and an extra set of sympathetic strings.
Both Wu Man and Amjad Ali Khan and his family have contributed enormously towards the establishment of their instruments on the world stage. Hope, looking to a better future, is expressed by these five artists through this coming together; their harmony is immediate.
Amazon Purchase Link
Amjad Ali Khan @ Facebook
Title - Cuban Sketches For Piano
Artist - Leo Brouwer & Mariel Mayz
For those unaware, to know contemporary classical music is to know Leo Brouwer. An acclaimed Cuban composer, conductor, Brouwer has long been celebrated as a modern-day Mozart who has birthed an inimitable body of work.
While he has composed for a variety of formats, from quartets to orchestras, Brouwer’s canon is most widely associated with the guitar. For starters, he is a terrific classical guitarist whose teachers come from impressive lineage.
His teacher’s teacher’s teacher was Francisco Tárrega, widely considered “the father of classical guitar.” As the saying goes, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
But to truly know Brouwer is to also know that he has also composed exquisite works for solo piano. Enter, Mariel Mayz. She is a remarkable pianist, composer, and teacher who has performed at venerable institutions such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
She even wrote a chamber opera that premiered during New York Opera Fest. She helped to start Porto Pianofest, an annual piano festival in Porto, Portugal. Like Brouwer, she wears many hats and moves deftly among these roles.
Quite naturally, Mayz first became aware of Brouwer via his guitar compositions. Some of these impactful compositions include “El Decamerón Negro”, “Variations on a Theme of Django Reinhardt”, “Tríptico”, and the “Estudios Sencillos.”
Mayz heard some of these selections performed by João Luiz, a fellow ZOHO label Artist, and was thoroughly impressed. “I came to truly experience the detailed layers, references, and unequivocal finesse of Brouwer’s sound world,” she says.
In fact, she credits Luiz for suggesting that she learn Brouwer’s Diez Bocetos for solo piano. “This music was utterly idiomatic, imaginative, and brilliant,” she reflects.
Ergo, the just-released Cuban Sketches for Piano is a thoughtful, elegantly rendered piano solo album that features world premieres of two multi-part pieces: “Diez Bocetos” and Nuevos Bocetos para Piano.
Listening to these works is surely an awakening, as you’ll come to see Brouwer in a new light. And you’ll no doubt be enveloped by Mayz’s magical virtuosity as a performer and composer on this production.
Leo Brouwer: Diez Bocetos (Ten Sketches)
1. Boceto No.1 Raúl Milián (2:59)
2. Boceto No.2 René Portocarrero (2:08)
3. Boceto No.3 Nelson Domínguez (6:18)
4. Boceto No.4 Acosta León (4:35)
5. Boceto No.5 (Choco) Eduardo Roca (3:09)
6. Boceto No.6 Mendive (2:46)
7. Boceto No.7 Cabrera Moreno (4:22)
8. Boceto No.8 Fabelo (3:23)
9. Boceto No.9 Carlos Enríquez (2:58)
10. Boceto No.10 Raúl Martínez (4:03)
11. Mariel Mayz: Variations on a Theme by Brouwer (12:34)
Leo Brouwer: Nuevos Bocetos para Piano (New Sketches for Piano)
12. No.3 Leonel Lopez Nussa (3:56)
13. No.4 Antonia Eiriz (5:41)
14. No.5 Amelia Pelaez (7:35)
15. Leo Brouwer: An Idea (Passacaglia for Eli) arr. Mariel Mayz 3:2
Opening on Diez Bocetos (“Ten Sketches”), these were composed by Brouwer between 1961 and 2007, ultimately published by his own publishing imprint Ediciones Espiral Eternal. There’s a lot packed into each selection. Not only is each piece numbered but each is titled after a Cuban visual artist.
Each is also dedicated to another individual. For example, “a Egberto Gismonti”, “a Chucho Valdez”, and “a Isabelle, mi mujer.” Brouwer imbues his music with even more vitality, notating passages when the performer should improvise: for example,“Improvisación (ad. lib.)” and “Cadenza ad. Lib. (alla Gismonti).”
Mayz performs these ten pieces with aplomb, navigating complex chromaticism and sprawling jumps with precision. Boceto No.1 is an opulent, if not purposefully acute to the ear work, Boceto No.2 is a free flowing work of musical art, Boceto No. 3 is particularly moving, in and unto itself, and Mayz performs it with a tender touch and reflective balance, Boceto No.4 starts off quietly, but soon flourishes, and Boceto No.5 is an ornate, yet playful number, without a shadow of a doubt.
Continuing along, and Boceto No.6 is one of the sterner pieces, and the beginning rumblings of Boceto No. 7 are a pure joy to behold, with the tranquility found within Boceto No. 8 a dulcet pleasure to behold, the kaleidoscopic habanera of Boceto No. 9 yet another mesmerizing work, the work closing on the gently fervent, yet sculptured and controlled key work within Boceto No.10.
With the world premiere of Variations on a Theme by Brouwer, we meet Mayz the composer, who wrote these variations based on Brouwer’s melancholic theme from Dia de Noviembre, the 1972 movie directed by Humberto Solás.
The piece begins with the well-known opening, and as it moves to the B section, Mayz reveals her variations, which unfold thoughtfully throughout. Variation 1 is notated “Lontano; unanticipated” and showcases Mayz writing with a new compositional language.
Each variation moves seamlessly to the next. No doubt, you can hear Brouwer’s inspiration in passages with this trademark of angular, melodic cells. Yet these themes have the texture of something more: rhythmic chords, brash tonal tensions, rich improvisations, and a panoramic understanding of Latin America’s musical traditions and stream-of-consciousness soundscapes.
Nuevos Bocetos Para Piano (“New Sketches for Piano”) are three Brouwer pieces completed in 2021 and sent to Mayz in early 2022. They have a similar structure as “Diez Bocetos” with intriguing and vivid passages. Each selection is also given the name of a Cuban visual artists.
That they are numbered 3 through 5 suggests that there must be two bocetos that haven’t yet been made public by Brouwer. Mayz performs these three pieces with alacrity. For the sprightly Nuevos Boceto No. 3, not only is Mayz’s intrepidness on full display, moving with thought and yet as if it’s second nature, but the key work here is veritably hypnotic.
The encapsulating, almost ethereal work within No. 4 makes it one of my own personal favorites here and also comes complete with a gravitas that renders this work flawlessly opaque and generously giving, whilst the enigmatic No. 5 is a searing and searching piece that Mayz brings to life to full effect.
“An Idea” (Passacaglia for Eli) is Brouwer’s stirring tribute to Eli Kassner, a Canadian guitarist on his seventy-fifth birthday in 1999. Mayz was drawn to this particular piece because of a peculiar notation in measure eighteen: “quasi fiorituri Chopiniana,” which means “almost flowering Chopiniana.”
That, of course, refers to the Chopin-like embellishments familiar to pianists such as Mayz. To be sure, “An Idea” has become a recurring one at her shows, as Mayz likes to program this striking number at her concerts.
Amazon Purchase Link
Title - Upon Further Reflection
Artist - John Wilson
For those unaware, the dynamic young American pianist John Wilson first encountered Michael Tilson Thomas in 2015 when he was a fellow with the New World Symphony.
John’s protégé status quickly evolved to that of close confidant and collaborator, leading to this solo debut album featuring the world-premiere recording of the title track, MTT’s three-movement suite for piano, Upon Further Reflection.
MTT explains innumerable influences that are embedded throughout the work, including the piano music of Debussy and Schumann, bossa nova, gamelan, ragas, Monteverdi, Berg and Peggy Lee’s rendition of the song Alley Cat, all of which flowed together in a way that seemed completely natural, to me anyway, Wilson says.
In 2019, John premiered a portion of Upon Further Reflection that was broadcast live on MediciTV to an audience of over 50,000. John embellishes the album’s Americana theme with two titans of the solo piano repertoire - Aaron Copland’s early Piano Sonata - a work lesser-heard than the composer’s other works for solo piano - and Earl Wild’s virtuoso arrangements of seven of George Gershwin’s most iconic tunes.
1-3 Upon Further Reflection (24:11) [Michael Tilson Thomas]
4-10 7 Virtuoso Etudes after George Gershwin (20:52) [Earl Wild]
11-13 Piano Sonata (24:07) [Aaron Copland]
Beginning with the titular, and world premiere recording of the near twenty-five minute Upon Further Reflection, a piece that itself opens on the playfully perky, at times sternly ornate Bygone Beguine (1973), that is itself backed by the more serene Sunset Soliloquy (Whitsett Avenue, 1963) and the mischievous musings within You Come Here Often? (Hello Stranger, 1977).
The ornately scattered Liza opens the seven Virtuoso Etudes after George Gershwin, the splendidly opulent Somebody Loves along next and they are in turn followed by the delicately free flowing The Man I Love, the ornately joyful, veritably shimmering Embraceable You, the quietly elegant Lady Be Good, before the tempo is raised for the flirtatiously fervent I Got Rhythm, the works culminating in the expertly melodiously crafted work within the foot-tapping Fascinatin’ Rhythm.
The recording comes to a close on the first of the three Piano Sonata’s, the stern, at times burgeoning, and yet always forthright and rhythmic Molto moderato, the sprightly Vivace, itself coming to a close on the eleven minute keyed master work within Andante Sostenuto.
Official Purchase Links
Title - The Scriabin Mystery
Artist - Vincent Larderet
For those unaware, The Scriabin Mystery is brought to vivid life by acclaimed French pianist Vincent Larderet and celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Russian composer.
Making his AVIE debut, Larderet presents a comprehensive survey of the scope of Scriabin’s output and the evolution of his style, from his early, post-Romantic works influenced by Chopin and Liszt, through to the modernism of the 20th century in his final works.
His harmonies famously colored by his synesthesia, Scriabin’s craft was a revolutionary fusion of freedom of expression underpinned by a sense of unity and geometric proportion, his psychologically complex constructions infused with incandescence and mysticism.
Scriabin’s music has long held pride of place in Larderet’s repertoire. He offers a brilliant and broad overview of the composer’s evolution in chronological sequence, revealing the mystery of one of the most visionary composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Scriabin’s life was tragically cut short at the age of 43, leaving his final work, Acte préalable, unfinished. Long thought lost, the sketches were re-discovered by composer and musicologist Manfred Kelkel, who used the material for his composition Tombeau de Scriabine. Vincent includes the Prelude of this work as a touching encore to The Scriabin Mystery.
1. Etude in C-Sharp Minor Op.2 No.1 (3:17)
2. Etude in F-Sharp Minor Op.8 No.2 (1:44)
3. Etude in B-Flat Minor Op.8 No.11 (4:08)
4-5. Prelude & Nocturne for the left hand, Op. 9 [I. Prelude: Andante / II. Nocturne: Andante] (7:22)
6-7. Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 19 "Sonata Fantasy" [I. Andante / II. Presto] (13:24]
8. Etude in C-Sharp Minor Op. 42 No. 5 (3:47)
9. Piano Sonata No. 7 Op. 64 “White Mass” (15:07)
10. Piano Sonata No. 9 Op. 68 “Black Mass” (10:50)
11. ’Vers la flamme’ Op. 72 (“Poeme”) (6:16)
12-16. 5 Preludes, Op. 74 [I. Douloureux, déchirant / II. Très lent, contemplatif / III. Allegro drammatico / IV. Lent, vague, indécis / V. Fier, belliquex] (8:18)
17. ’Tombeau de Scriabine’ Op. 22: I. Prelude (5:16)
Opening on the delightfully rich opulence of Etude in C-Sharp Minor Op.2 No.1, the forthright, yet playful Etude in F-Sharp Minor Op.8 No.2 and the finale of the trio, the gently-orchestrated, harmoniously-imbibed Etude in B-Flat Minor Op.8 No.11, those are seamlessly backed by the the sweetly-enthralling two-hander Prelude & Nocturne for the left hand, Op. 9: I. Prelude: Andante and Nocturne: Andante.
Up next is the beautiful pairing of Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 19 "Sonata Fantasy" Andante and the prosperously thriving Presto and they are in turn backed by the soaring Etude in C-Sharp Minor Op. 42 No. 5, and then we get the ten minute, sternly pointed, yet delicately balanced Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 64 “White Mass,” and the quieter, much more controlled, yet still gently fervent within the darkness Piano Sonata No. 9 Op. 68 “Black Mass.”
Rounding out the work is the flinty, hard-edged approach within ’Vers la flamme’ Op. 72 (“Poeme”), the recording coming to a close on five Preludes, Op. 74; the first being the spiky Douloureux, déchirant, then comes the softer touch of Très lent, contemplatif, the aptly-named, short but controlled Allegro drammatico, the aching yearn within Lent, vague, indécis, and finally the free flowing Fier, belliquex.
However, in addition to those wondrously crafted tracks we also get treated to the exquisitely graceful work ’Tombeau de Scriabine’ Op. 22: I. Prelude, the extra bonus tracks being two Dances, Op. 73: I. Guirlandes, a playfully delicate number, and II. Flammes sombres, the sterner of the two pieces.
Amazon Purchase Link
Title - Man On A Mission
Artist - Hezron
For those unaware, Montego Bay, Jamaica raised vocalist, songwriter and producer Hezron Clarke will be releasing his album, M.O.A.M. (Man on a Mission), on August 19th, 2022 via Tad’s Record (Ernie Ranglin, Tanya Stephens).
Recorded in Reggae’s birthplace, Kingston Jamaica, M.O.A.M. features some of Jamaica’s greatest musicians including Dean Fraser (saxophone), Kirk “Kirkle Dove” Bennett (drums), Donald “Danny Bassie” Dennis (bass), Mitchum Khan (guitar), Carol “Bowie” McLaughlin (keyboards) and Robbie Lyn (keyboards).
On a lyrical front, the album embodies feel-good vibes with motivational and inspirational concepts that encourage patience and resilience.
1. Man On A Mission
2. House Of The Rising Sun
3. Plant A Seed
4. Tik Tok I’m Coming
5. Blame It On The Wine
6. Taxi Driver (ft. Dean Fraser)
7. Stronger In Love (ft. Dean Fraser)
8. Made For The Battle (ft. Turbulence)
9. Kuja Nyumbani (I Want To Go Home)
10. Smile Today
11. Black Widow
12. Warriors Code (ft. Tony Skrelunas, ’Navajo’ and Gabriel Yavia ’Hopi’)
13. Holding On (Grandpa’s Chair)
14. Save The Children
15. One Day Outta Seven
17. Walk In Love And Light
This expertly sculptured, heartfelt and organic new album opens on the brilliant reggae hipsway of the titular Man On A Mission (a song about his personal journey as a goal oriented person) and a refreshingly wonderful rendition of The Animals’ House Of The Rising Sun and then he follows those up with the reggae-pop bounce of Plant A Seed, the loving, R&B-laced balladry within Tik Tok I’m Coming, the mid-tempo rhythms of Blame It On The Wine, and then comes my own personal favorite, the free flowing, Marley-esque Taxi Driver.
Up next is the melodious Stronger In Love and the sterner Made For The Battle and they are in turn backed by the informative pleas within Kuja Nyumbani (I Want To Go Home), the upbeat Smile Today, the rhythmic Black Widow, the gently rapped storytelling within Warriors Code, the earnest Holding On (Grandpa’s Chair), Save The Children (a heartfelt commentary on the alarming number of brutal acts committed against the youth), the album rounding out on the sunny reggae-pop bounce flow of One Day Outta Seven, the aching mid-tempo balladry within Resilience, coming to a close on the acoustically-imbibed Walk In Love And Light.
With inspiration from classic soul artists such as Luther Vandross, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, to 90’s favorites KC and Jojo and Dave Hollister to iconic Jamaican singers Beres Hammond and Dennis Brown, Hezron has embodied his own classic vocal and musical style while taking notes from some of the greats.
Hezron released his debut album The Life I Live(d) on Tad’s Record in 2015. His return to the label with M.O.A.M. unites two established Jamaican brands, each committed to proving that quality reggae with the potential for widespread global appeal is still being made in the music’s birthplace.
Although many younger Jamaican artists embrace trap and hip-hop over indigenous reggae and dancehall, a stark contrast to the proliferation of young American reggae bands, especially in California, Tad’s Record founder Tad Dawkins is determined to see Jamaican reggae restored to prominence internationally.
It’s an objective he firmly believes will be fulfilled with the release of M.O.A.M. “Hezron is trying to pivot to a wider audience and propel his achievements to the next level. He has that fire in him and he is going to make it work because he is a man on a mission,” states Tad.
“M.O.A.M (Man on a Mission), in its truest sense, is a mission to bring back great Jamaican music and musicianship to the mainstream,” offers Hezron. “It’s a reminder of where reggae is supposed to be in the world.”
Hezron Clarke - Man On A Mission (Official Video)
Hezron Clarke - Resilience (Official Video)
Hezron Clarke - Save The Children (Official Video)
Hezron Clarke - Tik Tok I’m Coming (Official Video)
Official Spotify Purchase Link
Official Facebook Page
Title - Icarus and Other Music
Artist - Elena Ruehr
For those unaware, Composer Elena Ruehr adds to her extensive discography with Icarus and Other Music, an album of chamber music infused with hints of history, legendary literature and close collaborations with a multitude of musical colleagues.
Throughout, history elides with the present day, and Elena’s sumptuous and evocative compositional voice shines through.
The repertoire revolves around the string quartet, a genre that generated great acclaim for Elena’s Six String Quartets.
1. String Quartet No. 7: A Thousand Cranes (2019) (14:04)
2. Icarus for clarinet and string quartet (2018) (11:38)
The Worlds Revolve for piano and string quartet (2016)
3. I. The Worlds Revolve (3:56)
4. II. Like Ancient Women (3:13)
5. III. Gathering Fuel (4:38)
6. IV. In Vacant Lots (7:25)
Insect Dances: Suite for String Quartet No. 8 (2020)
7. I. Spider Swing (2:45)
8. II. Dragonfly Flit (2:15)
9. III. Wasp Stomp (2:29)
10. IV. Bumblebee Boogie-Woogie (2:51)
11. V. Lady Bug Waltz (1:51)
12. VI. Grasshopper Polka (2:19)
This expertly sculptured, heartfelt and organic new album - which was actually made possible with support from the MIT SHASS Research Fund - opens on the stirring, veritably translucent at times String Quartet No. 7: A Thousand Cranes and then brings us the aching yearn within the comprehensively earnest Icarus for clarinet and string quartet.
Up next is the the four-piece The Worlds Revolve for piano and string quartet which opens on the delicately playful The Worlds Revolve and then brings us the full on, all be they sterner (at times), orchestrated majesties within Like Ancient Women, then we get the melodic fervency of Gathering Fuel, the work closing on the flinty, quietly foreboding at times, rhythmically soaring at others, In Vacant Lots.
This simply wondrous new recording comes to a close on the six-part Insect Dances: Suite for String Quartet No. 8, the first piece being the playful Spider Swing and that is backed by the flirtatiously-ornate musings within Dragonfly Flit, the aptly entitled urgency of Wasp Stomp, the delightful ebb and flow romp within Bumblebee Boogie-Woogie, rounding out on the pure, unadulterated gossamer of Lady Bug Waltz and the perky, buoyant, and statically-charged Grasshopper Polka.
Elena’s String Quartet No. 7: A Thousand Cranes, evokes experiences and resilience of children in wartime, including the internment of Japanese in American camps, and her own father’s escape from Nazi Germany. Her playful Insect Dances: Suite for String Quartet No. 8 – “written for listeners of all ages” – finds a diverse family of bugs engaged in an impish dinner party.
Inspired by T. S. Eliot, The Worlds Revolve, for piano and string quartet, conjures elements both ancient and prescient. The title track, Icarus for clarinet and string quartet, centers on the Greek mythological character’s excitement as he builds his wings of wax and dares to fly, rather than his dark demise as he flies too close to the sun.
Jon Manasse, clarinet
Donald Berman, piano
Borromeo String Quartet
Delgani String Quartet
Tom Stone, violin
Official Purchase Link
Title - Completion
Artist - Griffin Woodard Group
For those unaware, Griffin Woodard’s debut album, 𝑪𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒍𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏, is an uninhibited, autobiographical recount of potent memories and experiences that shaped the course of his life. The 10 original compositions and 1 arrangement chronicle Woodard’s formative experiences and lessons in love, isolation, connection, and spirituality.
“The Completion album has nothing to do with endings. The word completion means to me, spiritual wholeness,” states Woodard.
The journey on the 11 tracks from Little Angel to Completion captures the prolific virtuosity of the ensemble in a variety of contexts from solo to septet. The resplendent display of each band member’s self-expression demands the listener’s undivided attention.
The Griffin Woodard Group’s magnetic sound features vocalist Georgia Heers, vocalist Deneen Jones, saxophonist Coleman Rose, pianist Abe Gold, bassist Miles Gilbert, and drummer Hugh Kline.
1. Little Angel (6:40)
2. Doxology (2:12)
3. Bass Interlude (1:20)
4. Camillus House (9:22)
5. Bridget’s Song (5:40)
6. Alchemy (2:54)
7. Marmalade (5:26)
8. Route 1 (6:24)
9. Bridget’s Song (Quintet) (2:25)
10. Kyrie (6:34)
11. Completion (10:18)
This ornately, passionately sculptured new album opens on the gentle, yet stealthy Little Angel (featuring Georgia Heers) and the veritably translucent Doxology and after a short, but sweetly embracing Bass Interlude, we next get the free flowing, musical majesties contained within the near ten minute Camillus House, the dulcet, almost crystalline Bridget’s Song and then the fervent Alchemy.
Up next is the beautiful Marmalade (once again featuring Heers) and the drum-led fervency within Route 1 and they are in turn backed seamlessly by the full quintet sound of the aforementioned Bridget’s Song, the harmonic clinch of Kyrie (which features both Heers and Deneen Jones on vocals), the album coming to a close on the ten minute, softly titular opus Completion.
Georgia Heers - vocals (tracks 1, 7, and 10)
Deneen Jones - vocals (track 10)
Coleman Rose - soprano saxophone (tracks 2, 4, 9, 10, and 11); tenor saxophone (track 8)
Griffin Woodard - bass clarinet and composition
Abe Gold - piano
Miles Gilbert - bass
Hugh Kline - drums
Official Purchase Link
Griffin Woodard Group @ Twitter
Griffin Woodard Group @ YouTube
Griffin Woodard Group @ Instagram
Title - Jazzy Italian
Artist - Vanessa Racci
For those unaware, on her ZOHO debut, and second studio recording, New York based singer, Vanessa Racci revisits songs by Italians and Italian-Americans who left their mark on jazz, from Nick LaRocca to Frank Sinatra to Louis Prima, Chick Corea and John Pizzarelli.
The gifted pianists/arrangers Steven Feifke and Glafkos Kontemeniotis provide creative horn writing and harmonic and metric alterations to bring even century-old songs into the present.
Vanessa’s sultry vocal style combines a tart, brassy, catch-in-the-throat sound with Italianate ardor, dramatic flair, and swing here on Jazzy Italian (out October 21st, 2022) - James Gavin.
1. Betcha I Getcha
3. At The Jazz Band Ball
4. Moon River
6. Make Love To Me
7. I’m A Fool To Want You
8. A Lifetime Or Two
9. A Sunday Kind of Love
10. Come Back Home With Me
11. September In The Rain
12. You’re Everything
13. At Last
This vibrantly cultivated, wholly heartfelt, and genuinely delicious to the ears new album opens on the gently swinging inflections within Betcha I Getcha and the Latin-imbued hipsway of the quietly frenetic Volare and then brings us the vibrant At The Jazz Band Ball, the sultry, dulcet Moon River and then both the mid-tempo Coquette and the Latin-imbued shuffle Make Love To Me.
Next up on this exciting album (originally entitled Italiana Fresca) is the low slung I’m A Fool To Want You and the finger-snapping balladry of A Lifetime Or Two and they are in turn backed by the ornately cultured within A Sunday Kind of Love, the infectiously swaying rhythms within Come Back Home With Me, the effortlessly impassioned September In The Rain, the album coming to an all too soon close on the measured melodies within You’re Everything and a euphorically embracing At Last.
Growing up with her Southern Italian grandfather in New York, Vanessa learned Italian American classics and jazz at an early age, hearing Dean Martin, Connie Francis, Frank Sinatra and the like played throughout the house. She developed as a singer in musical theater (starring in professional theater at age 12), discovered her love for jazz in her 20’s and started touring with a trio.
After her grandfather passed away, Vanessa was inspired to reinvent the Italian classics that he taught her with modern jazz arrangements to keep the music alive for future generations.
She teamed up with Gianni Valenti of Birdland Jazz Club, producer, David Finck, and Manhattan Transfer arranger, Yaron Gershovsky, to realize her vision.
The result was a sold-out album release show at Birdland in June, 2017 and a unique album entitled, Italiana Fresca, that reached #65 on the jazz charts.
Since then, she has performed at over 70 festivals, events and jazz clubs across the country and has been played on over 20 Italian radio stations across the US and Italy.
Vanessa Racci @ Official Facebook Page
Vanessa Racci @ Official Instgram Page
Vanessa Racci @ Official YouTube Channel
Title - Puttin’ On The Ritz
Artist - Rich Willey
For those unaware, Rich Willey plays trumpet, bass trumpet, valve trombone, tuba and Electronic Valve Instrument (EVI) and he is also a composer, arranger, and bandleader, performing regularly in the southeast.
Rich taught at University of North Carolina Asheville for 12 years and Clemson University for 7 years and continues to teach privately.
Rich’s new album, Puttin’ On The Ritz is mostly comprised of beautiful and fun jazz standards that Rich arranged for four horns. He played and recorded all the horn parts with a talented group of all-star Chicago rhythm players.
The album is produced by the phenomenal trumpeter and gifted arranger Carey Deadman who also masterfully arranged string parts on eight tunes.
Of the eleven selections (three of which are originals), two are vocal numbers: one featuring Zeke Listenbee and the other, Rich. Two of the original compositions reflect Rich’s deep spiritual beliefs.
Rich writes: These small group arrangements represent how I hear jazz. I prefer taste over virtuosity. I like hearing melodies, I like hearing interesting ensembles, and I like hearing a certain amount of structure between improvised passages.
My concept of jazz and jazz improvisation has to do with communicating with the audience. I hope to always be ’telling a story’ via my writing and my playing.
1. Poor Butterfly
2. If I Should Lose You
3. I’ll Be Seeing You
4. Puttin’ On The Ritz
5. My Melancholy Baby
6. Holy Trinity (Radio Edit)
7. Song For Janet
8. Uncle Remus
9. Sweet Lorraine
10. Hard Hearted Hannah
11. But For The Grace Of God
12. Holy Trinity (Full Version)
This vibrant, some might say sparkling new album opens on the free flowing Poor Butterfly (a track inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly) and the finger-snapping melodies within If I Should Lose You (which itself was first introduced in the 1936 film Rose of the Rancho) and then they bring us the stern fair of I’ll Be Seeing You (which was interestingly inserted into the Broadway musical Right This Way, which closed after fifteen performances), the absolutely stellar, spirited and yet cultured, titular Puttin’ On The Ritz (made famous by the 1930s film of the same name) and then comes the laid low My Melancholy Baby (first published in 1912) and the Rich Willey-written Holy Trinity (Radio Edit).
Up next is another Rich Willey-written track, the gentle dance floor swirl of Song For Janet and the always wonderful to hear Uncle Remus (written by the brilliant Frank Zappa and George Duke, and first released on Zappa’s 1974 album Apostrophe), and they are in turn backed by the popular jazz standard Sweet Lorraine, a track that tells, in humorous fashion, the story of a sadistic vamp, the uproarious Hard Hearted Hannah, the album rounding out on the Rich Willey-written, ornately beautiful, humble and thankful But For The Grace Of God, coming to a righteous close on the full ten minute version of the aforementioned Holy Trinity.
A U.S. Army bandsman, he studied at the U.S. Navy School of Music and later attended North Texas State University where he studied jazz improvisation with Rich Matteson, Jack Petersen and Dan Haerle.
Rich spent his formative years as a jazz player in Philadelphia and New York City jazz clubs and participated in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop studying with Bob Brookmeyer and Manny Albam. He studied trumpet and bass trumpet with the legendary Dr. Donald S. Reinhardt in Philadelphia from 1978-1986.
Rich is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned a master’s in jazz performance/trumpet. While there he studied arranging with Mike Abene, trumpet with Byron Stripling, improvisation with Garry Dial and film scoring with Ed Green.
Rich has toured with Maynard Fergusion’s Big Bop Nouveau and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and has played numerous times for the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, the Cab Calloway Orchestra, the Sammy Kaye Orchestra and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.
Rich has played with or for many great musicians, including Lionel Hampton, Hank Mobley, Don Patterson, Buddy Morrow, Bob Haggart, Dick Hyman, Claude Roditi, Chris Potter, Conrad Herwig, John Swana, Bob Mintzer, Kenny Drew Jr., Brad Mehidau, Mel Torme, Bobby Sanabria, Skitch Henderson, Tommy Flanagan, and countless others.
Rich owns and operates Boptism Music, a publishing company he formed in 2001 for the purpose of offering and distributing his jazz and brass method books, over 40 to date.
Official Purchase Link
Rich Willey — Puttin’ On The Ritz (Official Promo)
Title - Talking Hands
Artist - Greg Hatza & Enayet Hossain
For those unaware, Talking Hands is an album conceived by two members, Greg Hatza and Enayet Hossain, of the jazz-world fusion group Melodic Intersect.
It entails their years of experience in the genre and their chemistry with each other.
It can be best described as a musical amalgamation of styles and vibes which goes beyond cultural differences and music styles.
It represents a mosaic of cross-cultural musical expression which produces a unique borderless muscical experience.
1. Talking Hands
2. Crazy Calcutta Streets
3. Sweet Shop
4. Dark Matter
5. Midnight Mood
6. Deep Love
7. Sultan’s Dream
8. The Conversation
This wholesome, nurtured and amazingly melodic album opens on the titular, infectious rhythms within Talking Hands and the bass-led funky grooves of Crazy Calcutta Streets and then brings us the fine-tuned inflections within the rhythmic hipsway of Sweet Shop, the almost synth-imbibed Dark Matter and then comes the softly centered Midnight Mood.
Up next is one of my own personal favorites, the virtually effervescent tones within Deep Love and that is itself followed seamlessly by the Eastern-embed brilliance of musical arrangements within Sultan’s Dream, the album rounding out on the flourishing The Conversation, coming to an all too soon close on the near ten minute, aptly-named, back and forth opus, Dialogue.
Greg Hatza is an American jazz organist born in 1948 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Hatza started on piano at age five, and switched to organ at age fifteen. He played professionally from age sixteen, working for four years at Lenny Moore’s club.
He recorded two albums for Coral Records in the late 1960s with guitarist Eric Gale and drummer Grady Tate, then switched to electric keyboards in the 1970s as the organ’s popularity waned. From 1974 to 1984, he studied tabla under Ustad Hamid Hossain.
He later performed ragas on piano, in concert with Hamid, in the U.S., India, and Bangladesh. He returned to playing the organ in the 1990s after hearing Joey DeFrancesco, and recorded again as a leader with his ensemble, the Greg Hatza ORGANization.
In 1996, he began to study Chinese classical music on the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese fiddle, under Shanghai instructor, Liang Shan Tang.
Enayet Hossain was born into a musical family, his grandfather, the late great Ustad Kader Buksh was acknowledged as one of India’s foremost musicologist/musician. Enayet learned the tabla from his father, Ustad Hamid Hossain, a very well known Indian music teacher and musician based in the United States.
Enayet was born in Bangladesh and raised in the United States and represents a new breed of musicians who received their musical training outside of India.
Enayet is a versatile performer of tabla. He is at ease with accompaniment with North Indian classical music, instrumental music, light and semi classical music including thumri, ghazal, dadra, et al. as well as giving solo performances.
Official Spotify Purchase Link
Greg Hatza Official Website
Enayet Hossain Official Website
Title - Feelin’ It
Artist - Jim Witzel Trio & Quartet
For those unaware, Jim Witzel grew up in the north-Bay Area town of San Rafael and began learning guitar at age twelve. He explored various styles (folk, pop, rock and blues) and began studying jazz guitar in high-school with well-known Bay Area teacher and performer Dave Smith.
After graduating high school Jim attended San Francisco State University, completing a Creative Arts Interdisciplinary (Music Emphasis) Bachelor of Arts degree. During college he focused on film scoring and composing for jazz combos. While attending SF State he was fortunate to study with Bay Area alto-saxophonist legend John Handy.
After graduation Jim freelanced extensively around the Bay Area, working clubs and concerts as both a leader and sideman with such players as Mark Isham, Art Lande, Mike Clark, Delbert Bump, Michael Barsimanto, Glenn Cronkite, Mike Formanek, Chris Amberger and Todd Dickow.
During this period he joined the “Life is Color” band along with vocalist Jesse Foster and vibist Jon Ericson. Jim hosted and performed on his weekly television series “Jazz After Midnight”, leading a quartet with featured guest performers.
Soon afterward he received a National Endowment for the Arts Travel Study grant, studying with guitarists Jack Wilkins (New York) and Howard Roberts (Los Angeles).
Moving to Los Angeles Jim teamed up with singer-songwriter Joyce Yarrow, exploring the ’jazz-pop’ side of the L.A. music scene. Jim also worked clubs and concerts with saxophonist Dave Lefebvre’s six piece jazz-fusion group and played on Dave’s “Marble Dust” album.
He freelanced with such notable players as Bob Sheppard, Scott Colley, Henry Butler, Richie Cole, Casey Schuerell and Clay Jenkins. Jim recorded a trio album (“Up Until Now”) with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Ralph Penland.
While teaching privately and studying with guitarists Joe DiOrio and John Abercrombie, Jim helped form and co-lead a quartet with pianist Phil Aaron, Eric VonEssen and Tony Jones. “Hyperion” played a mix of jazz standards and originals composed by band members, working clubs around the greater LA area.
Before moving back up to the Bay Area Jim recorded his first recording of all original music (“Give and Take”) featuring an all-star cast including Ernie Watts, Russ Ferrante, Marc Johnson, Ralph Penland and John Abercrombie.
After relocating to the Bay Area he formed a new band performing the material from “Give and Take”. His group, featuring saxophonist Dann Zinn, drummer Wally Schnalle and pianist Murray Low performed at the San Jose, Monterey and Stanford Summer Jazz festivals.
Later Jim toured Italy multiple times with both the San Jose Jazz Festival Quartet and the Gulio Capiozo Quintet. Currently Jim is a faculty member (Professor of Jazz Guitar Studies) at both San Francisco State and Santa Clara Universities.
He also teaches through the Google Corporate Arts program (CSMA) and has a private teaching studio located in downtown Mountain View. Jim continues to work as both a leader and sideman with such Bay Area musicians as Adam Shulman, Akira Tana, John Worley, Matt Clark, Lorca Hart, Dann Zinn, Wil Blades, Andrew Speight, Jason Lewis, Brian Ho and others.
His brand new album, Feelin’ It, under the banner of Jim Witzel Trio & Quartet, is out now and can be purchased on all manner of platforms.
1. Feelin’ It (7:18)
2. Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise (5:35)
3. Norwegian Wood (6:13)
4. Beyond BeijingCamillus House (9:22)
5. I Loves You, Porgy (5:16)
6. If Ever I Would Leave You (5:40)
7. Ms. Information (6;14)
8. The Old Country (5:11)
This vibrantly fresh, upbeat and infectious new album opens on the joyous tones within the titular Feelin’ It and then we get the delightfully blissful and wholly melodious Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise and that is in turn backed by a quite mesmerizing rendition of the Beatles’ Norwegian Wood and then comes the gently fervent, and rhythmically addictive, Beyond Beijing.
Up next is the ornate, veritably translucent I Loves You, Porgy and that is in turn followed by the spirited If Ever I Would Leave You, the album rounding out on the transcendent sensitivity within Ms. Information, coming to a close on the upbeat and sincerely earnest The Old Country.
Title - The Pan American Nutcracker Suite
Artist - Joe McCarthy New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band
For those unaware, the Latin Grammy Award-winning New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band (NYABABB) is an Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble based in New York City.
As winner of Latin Jazz Album of the Year at the 9th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2008 for the recording “Afro Bop Alliance, featuring Dave Samuels,” released on the Heads-Up label, this recording was also nominated for a Grammy in the same category that same year at the 51st Grammy Awards.
NYABABB was founded and is led by drummer Joe McCarthy. The band is comprised of first call Jazz and Latin Jazz players from New York City who collectively perform with the greatest names in the business.
The band draws from their own extensive catalog of charts featuring the writing and composing talents of members of the band and collaborations with Dave Samuels and Roland Vazquez, among others.
The music of NYABABB has long been inspired by the great bebop tradition, married to the rich rhythmic stylings of Afro-Caribbean music.
Joe McCarthy’s New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band Returns with The Pan American Nutcracker Suite, a Pan-Afro Reimagining of the Tchaikovsky Classic on September 9th, 2022 via Angelface Records.
3. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
5. Arabian Dance
6. Chinese Dance
7. Dance of the Reed Flutes
8. Waltz of the Flowers
Opening on the totally wild and vibrantly alive Overture, the album continues onward in much the same vein with the expressive March and then comes the Latin-hipsway within Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, the strongly assertive Trepak, and then we get the wondrous pairing of the earnestly stirring Arabian Dance and the upbeat and joyous Chinese Dance.
Next up is the free flowing majesties found within the rhythmically exuberant Dance of the Reed Flutes and then comes the closing, and most well known of the works (most notably in British TV), the enthusiastically ebullient Waltz of the Flowers.
The New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band:
Nick Marchione | trumpet
John Chudoba | trumpet
Brandon Lee | trumpet
Alex Norris | trumpet
Andrew Gould | alto saxophone
Alejandro Aviles | alto saxophone
Ben Kono | tenor saxophones
Luis Hernandez | tenor saxophones
Frank Basile | baritone saxophone
Mark Patterson | trombone
Ryan Keberle | trombone
John Yao | trombone
James Borowski | bass trombone
Luis Perdomo | piano
Vinny Valentino | guitar
Boris Kozlov | bass
Samuel Torres | percussion
Official Purchase Link
Title - Modern Lovers ‘Live’
Artist - Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
For those of you not in the know, Jonathan Richman formed The Modern Lovers in 1970 in Boston with Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), Ernie Brooks and David Robinson (The Cars).
The band recorded a series of demos, first with John Cale (The Velvet Underground) and later with producer Kim Fowley. Both sets of demos were eventually released, but not until the original group had disbanded.
In 1975 Jonathan relocated to California and secured a recording deal with Beserkley Records. By 1976 he had pulled together a new version of The Modern Lovers. This group included the holdover David Robinson from the original band and added, Leroy Radcliffe and Greg ‘Curly’ Keranen (The Rubinoos).
The self-titled release delivered on Richman’s desire for more acoustic and harmony-based material. Unfortunately, nearly on top of the bands’ debut album release, the earlier demo material drawn mostly from the Cale demo sessions was issued, and Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers was overshadowed by “Pablo Picasso,” “Roadrunner,” and their—now classic—“debut.” Shortly after the release of their actual self-titled debut, Robinson departed to join The Cars.
Needing a new drummer, the band found D. Sharpe (later of the Carla Bley Band) and this new line-up recorded Rock ’n’ Roll With The Modern Lovers which was released in 1977 and achieved some chart success in Europe with “Egyptian Reggae” making it to #5 on the U.K. Singles Chart.
Greil Marcus called it “the purist rock ‘n’ roll album I’ve heard this year.” However, another in the series of personnel changes, Keranen left the group. Modern Lovers ‘Live’ followed in 1977 with new bassist Asa Brebner.
While the U.S. might not have caught on to the magic of Jonathan Richman, the U.K. certainly did. Recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, Live features Jonathan and the Modern Lovers performing classics from their first two releases to an enthusiastic crowd. (The eight-minute version of “Ice Cream Man” should inform that!).
The set includes the recent Top 5 single “Egyptian Reggae,” as well as tracks from the Modern Lovers’ previously releases and new tracks.
Captured on tape by Beserkley founder Matthew King Kauffman and Kenny Laguna (whose rock pedigree runs from Buddah Records through Joan Jett’s biggest hits), Live is a true, time and place document of the magic that is Jonathan Richman.
The performer who The Farrelly Brothers chose to include in their classic 1998 film There’s Something About Mary, rather than simple licensing his music.
A pivotal release in Richman’s catalog, Live spotlights how captivating a performer he was, and continues to be and his original releases return on CD and LP, with a unique colored yellow vinyl variant available for independent retail; meaning his true, Beserkley catalog is available once again. The way Jonathan intended.
1. I’m A Little Ariplane
2. Hey There Little Insect
3. Egyptian Reggae
4. Ice Cream Man
5. I’m A Little Dinasaur
6. My Little Kookenhaken
7. South American Folk Song
8. New England
9. The Morning Of Our Lives
Live catches Jonathan Richman at the height of his candy-floss novelty period. The music is warm and mild, almost all of it derived from ’50s and early-’60s models such as surf idioms and guitar instrumentals.
The lyrics are sweet and charming, sure to appeal to fanciful youngsters with visions of ice cream men and little dinosaurs in their heads. Tracks such as the buoyant opener I’m A Little Airplane Now (Wangity Wang), the low rolling, soft pop rock of My Little Kookenhaken and the autobiographical New England are simply too infectious not to enjoy with a smile.
The only bothersome misstep here is the repeated encore reprise of the chorus to Ice Cream Man, which extends well past the point of honest enjoyment, in truth!
Sound quality and instrumental balances are excellent, and performances are low-key and winsome. While not an essential album in the Modern Lovers’ canon, this sunny little platter is a fetching listen.
Official Purchase Link
Jonathan Richman @ Bandcamp
Title - Back In Your Life
Artist - Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
For those of you not in the know, Jonathan Richman formed The Modern Lovers in 1970 in Boston with Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads), Ernie Brooks and David Robinson (The Cars).
The band recorded a series of demos, first with John Cale (The Velvet Underground) and later with producer Kim Fowley. Both sets of demos were eventually released, but not until the original group had disbanded.
In 1975 Jonathan relocated to California and secured a recording deal with Beserkley Records. By 1976 he had pulled together a new version of The Modern Lovers. This group included the holdover David Robinson from the original band and added, Leroy Radcliffe and Greg ‘Curly’ Keranen (The Rubinoos).
The self-titled release delivered on Richman’s desire for more acoustic and harmony-based material. Unfortunately, nearly on top of the bands’ debut album release, the earlier demo material drawn mostly from the Cale demo sessions was issued, and Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers was overshadowed by “Pablo Picasso,” “Roadrunner,” and their—now classic—“debut.” Shortly after the release of their actual self-titled debut, Robinson departed to join The Cars.
Needing a new drummer, the band found D. Sharpe (later of the Carla Bley Band) and this new line-up recorded Rock ’n’ Roll With The Modern Lovers which was released in 1977 and achieved some chart success in Europe with “Egyptian Reggae” making it to #5 on the U.K. Singles Chart.
Greil Marcus called it “the purist rock ‘n’ roll album I’ve heard this year.” However, another in the series of personnel changes, Keranen left the group. Modern Lovers ‘Live’ followed in 1977 with new bassist Asa Brebner.
Enter Back In Your Life. While credited to Jonathan and the Modern Lovers (which now included Andy Paley—Brian Wilson, Chris Isaak, NRBQ, John Wesley Harding), the release was Jonathan, accompanied on about half of the material by the Lovers and it followed the aforementioned ‘Live’ record.
Another musician on the record, and co-producer, was Kenny Laguna, whose work with Buddah Records (The Ohio Express, 1910 Fruitgum Company, The Lemon Pipers,) plus Tommy James & The Shondells, Crazy Elephant, Bow Wow Wow, and Joan Jett. Laguna was a perfect person to put Jonathan’s sound where it needed to go.
Featuring the Richman staples, “Abdul And Cleopatra,” “Affection,” and the title track, Back In Your Life signals the ending of his Beserkley tenure, but with much more to come!
1. Abdul And Cleopatra
2. (She’s Gonna) Respect Me
3. Lover Please
5. Buzz Buzz Buzz
6. Back In Your Life
7. Party In The Woods Tonight
8. My Love Is A Flower (Just Beginning To Bloom)
9. I’m Nature’s Mosquito
12. I Hear You Calling Me
Sweet, fun, and honest aptly describe this 1979 long-player by Jonathan Richman. And while some singers badly fumble at being innocently possessed, Richman keeps it all engaging with his unbridled enthusiasm, wit, and crack songs.
For all intents and purposes, this was Richman’s first solo venture since forming the Modern Lovers in the early ’70s, and the newfound freedom shows on loose doo wop rockers like Party in the Woods Tonight, Sesame Street-issue nature odes such as Buzz Buzz Buzz, the yearning ache within the opener Abdul And Cleopatra, and the low brow, acoustically-imbibed, titular Back In Your Life.
Indeed, the breezy tone is further plied on surf-toned instrumental Lover Please and a harmony and hand clapping-rich Lydia. But it’s not all passing fancy, as Richman also waxes sincere and lonely on strong, yet often hushed sides like Affection, Emaline, and the wholly melodic Affection, his terminally congested vocals and jangly guitar chords perfectly echoing the wistful sentiment.
Official Purchase Link
Jonathan Richman @ Bandcamp
Title - Blossom-ing!
Artist - Roberta Donnay
For those of you not in the know, vocalist Roberta Donnay celebrates Blossom Dearie on her 10th album, Blossom-ing!.
Yes, you heard that right for award-winning Roberta Donnay’s tenth album, Blossom-ing!, celebrates the music of Blossom Dearie, whose wispy, delicate voice is the perfect foil for Donnay’s own appealing sound.
Music critic Bob Leggett called Donnay’s voice pure sugar and honey, while JazzTimes said, With her singularly enticing sound, few contemporary vocalists are as well suited to dustily vintage material as jazz-blues stylist Roberta Donnay.
Donnay, a singer, composer, and producer, has been on the jazz and blues scene for over three decades. She has performed and recorded with some of the biggest names in the music industry and toured throughout the U.S. and internationally, performing at clubs, theatres, concert venues and jazz festivals.
Furthermore, Donnay is a recipient of the prestigious ASCAP Composers Award for her song, One World, which was selected as a world-peace anthem for the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations. Her music has been heard on both film and TV, as well on Serious XM Radio. She has received features in both DownBeat Magazine and JazzTimes for her prior releases.
Her earlier albums with her group, The Prohibition Mob Band, featured swinging, danceable jazz popular in speakeasies from the 1920’s and 1930’s. Donnay’s performances have become audience favorites as she dresses in period clothing and assumes a gun moll character fronting her band dressed as gangsters from the same time period.
Drawn years ago to Blossom Dearie for her simple but swinging storytelling, Blossom-ing! is a true labor of love for Donnay. Dearie was a minimalist with a kittenish voice and a playful style. Donnay’s homage to Dearie captures her essence, but she adds her own sassy, bluesy interpretations that audiences have come to love.
Donnay chose 16 songs associated with Dearie for the album, written by diverse composers and lyricists. They include Peel Me A Grape, Spring In Manhattan, Just One Of Those Things, The Party’s Over, Moonlight Savings Time, and Someone To Watch Over Me, among others.
1. Roberta’s Blues
2. Peel Me A Grape
3. Just One Of Those Things
4. Inside A Silent Tear
5. Plus je t’embrasse
6. Someone To Watch Over Me
7. Moonlight Savings Time
8. A Paris
9. The Party’s Over
10. If I Were A Bell
11. Spring In Manhattan
12. Unless It’s You
13. You Fascinate Me So
14. I Wish You Love
15. It Amazes Me
16. Put On A Happy Face
Opening on the beautifully crafted, low slung, autobiographical Roberta’s Blues and the free flowing, harmonic melodies within the always-elegantly orchestrated Peel Me A Grape, they are followed seamlessly by the upright bass-led Just One Of Those Things, the Latin-tinged guitar work within Inside A Silent Tear, the gentle foot-tapper, and sultrily French-sung Plus je t’embrasse, and then comes the dulcet Someone To Watch Over Me, the quietly upbeat and melodic Moonlight Savings Time and the softly whispered, in French, A Paris.
Up next are the finger-snapping delights of The Party’s Over and the more stridently-keyed If I Were A Bell and they are in turn backed by the effortlessly gorgeous, veritably sumptuous Spring In Manhattan, the delicate musings within Unless It’s You, the summer’s breeze of You Fascinate Me So, the album rounding out on the gracefully-contoured I Wish You Love, the smoothly tender It Amazes Me, coming to a close on the upright bass-led, gingerly jaunty Put On A Happy Face.
Donnay gathered some of Northern California’s finest jazz musicians for Blossom-ing!, including MIKE GREENSILL (piano), RUTH DAVIES (bass), MARK LEE (drums), JOSE NETO (guitar), DAVID STURDIVANT (harmonica), and Los Angeles-based MB GORDY (percussion).
Having a mentor can change your life and Roberta has been fortunate to have had three top names in the music business who took her under their wings – Bob Dorough, Dan Hicks, and jazz producer Orrin Keepnews. All provided guidance, encouragement, and opportunities for her vocal talents to shine.
Keepnews loved her singing and offered to produce an album for her. They began a friendship in which he shared his extensive knowledge of jazz and the music industry with her.
One of the longest and most important professional relationships Donnay has experienced was with Dan Hicks, who blended elements of swing, jazz, folk and country music to create his own unique sound with his group The Hot Licks. Roberta worked and recorded with Dan over the last ten years of his life, touring the country performing in the group’s very theatrical shows.
Her association with Bob Dorough, with whom she became friends, provided the direct linkage to Blossom Dearie’s music, as he was Dearie’s close friend and collaborator. After meeting him at the Hooker’s Ball in San Francisco in the 1990s, Donnay recorded two of his songs on What’s Your Story?, produced by Keepnews.
They shared musical tastes and became fast friends, and in 2011, Donnay recorded five songs with Dorough. They recorded several of the duets he had performed with Blossom, and he shared his personal insights into Blossom’s life and music.
Roberta’s appreciation of Blossom’s music only grew deeper, inspiring her some twenty years later to create Blossom-ing!, this tribute album that truly captures Blossom’s essence.
Roberta Donnay Twitter
Roberta Donnay Facebook
Roberta Donnay @ LinkedIn